This is a joint letter that we received this week. Please bear with the writers as they try to sort through what they are trying to say.
Dear X-ATI Girl,
I have to admit that I am a little confused about your blog. I was never in ATI so I cannot claim to be an X-ATI guy or claim any real knowledge of the Advanced Training Institute. While I am a Christian, and I was homeschooled, I do not understand the realm of ATI’s impact on lives.
I am now trying to develop a friendship with an X-ATI girl such as yourself, and your blog has shed some light on some of the struggles that she is facing. Since reading some of the letters that people have written to you, I have begun to put some of her comments into context and my heart breaks to comfort her broken heart.
I do not really know where to begin our story. Our “relationship” (or lack thereof) is like a roller coaster ride where she’s on the first hill, and I’m still standing somewhere in line. Every 3 days she has a need to question the sincerity of my efforts and whether I do really like her. X-ATI girl, I do. Please tell me how I can get her to understand this.
She begins to speak about a rain shower, an umbrella, the 10 unchangeables, and my being a spiritual leader, and I get lost in her language while I try desperately to understand what she means. I do not understand courtship. I do not understand her parent’s authority in her life (she is 28). I do not understand the guilt that she faces daily. All that I see when I look at her is this wonderful, independent, strong, Christian girl whose wholesome morals and positive outlook on life have changed mine for the better.
X-ATI Girl, please tell me how I can get this message across to her: I am in love with this woman. I need her to trust that I love her more than anything in life. I do not care what her past was, I do not care what her present is, it doesn’t matter to me who her parents are or how many siblings she has. I love her and I just want her to let me love her.
Hopeful in Halifax
Dear X-ATI Girl,
I do not know how to explain to the non-X-ATI guy where I am coming from. Of course he must be trying to deceive me; I have never had anyone “love” me like this before now. I doubt his sincerity daily because his actions are so out of the ordinary for me. He sends me flowers on a regular basis. He buys my dinner every time we spend time together. He cooks for me (and cleans without making any “that’s a girl’s job” jokes). He calls me just to check in and see if I’m okay. He always comments on my being able to do anything in life that I want to do even when it is a career that I have always believed to be un-lady-like. He tells me all of the time that he feels so lucky to have met me. (Isn’t the fact that he’s even using the word “luck” a bad sign?)
The only relationship I have had previously was when I was 15 and a man approached my father about the possibility of courting me. This man had been previously married, his wife had left in a terrible act of defiance, and he desperately needed my help to raise his 5 children…oh yeah, and he felt it was God’s will that he court me, too. After 5 hours of careful consideration, my parents granted him permission to court me, and we began sitting together in church. From the onset of our relationship, he did everything that I had grown to expect in a man. When one of the children got upset in church, I took them out. He never changed a diaper while he was in my presence. He never cooked a meal (that was a girl’s job after all). He began to believe that it was not God’s will that I be allowed to drive, and after sharing this conviction with my father, my car was quickly sold to the highest ATI bidder. This man was 18 years my senior and eager to share his thoughts on my life actions, making sure that I did not make the same mistakes that he did in his youth. It was during this time that most outside influences were removed from my life.
We courted for 3 years before he told me one day that God had clearly shown him that he should not marry me and our courtship should end. I felt used and abused by both him and my parents. How could this have ever been God’s will? Who was faking it? Who was lying? Who just didn’t care what happened to me? While I was relieved that I did not have to marry him, my emotional attachment to his children and his life ran deep. The separation felt like the tearing apart of a cloth that had been woven together. My parents felt as if the end had been my fault – if only I had been able to be more submissive, maybe he would have married me.
One of the things that I find most confusing about the non-ATI-guy is that he just doesn’t care what my past was. In fact, he tells me often that he can’t imagine my being with anyone else, and that my talking about past relationships is hard for him to listen to. While he will and does listen to me, he asks me that I not tell him details because it pains him too much. Does he not care that I am now a broken woman? Doesn’t he need to know what he’s getting into? I feel like I am betraying him.
I have now moved out of my parent’s home and have my own small apartment in my hometown. The thought of giving up my freedom scares me terribly. I know that the non-X-ATI guy tells me that he is sincere, but how can I believe this? How can I trust that he too is not just using me? Granted he has no children, he does have a job, and he is only two years from my own age, but I still have nightmares about letting my heart go to him.
Have you experienced any of this? Can you help me?
Praying for God’s blessings and freedom,
Hurting in Halifax