Posts Tagged ‘dashed dreams’

“Me Too”

December 8, 2010

 

Some of the most comforting words ever said are “me too.”

 

So here we go:

 

Do you know that feeling that you get when you see a girl wearing a blue jean jumper?

 

The ones that are shapeless, low waist, faded denim, long hem?

 

The ones like our pseudo X-ATI girl {Miriam Reede} wears in her profile picture.

 

The ones that you wear a t-shirt under – many different colored t-shirts.  Oh the possibilities.

 

You know that cringing feeling you get?

 

You know how it felt to be her.

 

Me too.


You know how that girl feels to be somewhat ashamed that she has anything feminine, any indication of the sex that God made her, and she hides behind a blue jean jumper in hopes of disguising it.

 

You were her.

 

Me too.


Maybe it is equal parts: she’s heard so many words that have made her ashamed of her figure, and the adults in her life insist that this type of modesty is what God intends for her little body.

 

{What is modesty anyway?  And why do these people talk about it so much?}

 

You still wonder; there are still equal parts.  You still aren’t quite sure why a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving would make something to be ashamed of.

 

And yet you feel ashamed.

 

Me too.


You are still wondering how much of that stuff to believe.

 

You’ve heard people speak, you’ve read sites like ours, you know so much of it was crazy – even a cult.

 

And yet you find yourself wondering: where does that end and I begin?

 

Me too.  I wonder, too.


You know how you feel when you pass the girl who has the white kerchief over her head and she imitates the older women in her life when she humbly says,

 

“I just want to show that my father is my authority.”

 

Me too.  I did that.  I remember how it felt at the time, and I remember it vividly today.


You wonder what went wrong.

 

You live with your parents, you’ve waited patiently, you wrote the journals, but at 28 your life is still where it was when you were 14 and you wonder why your patience hasn’t paid off.

 

You wonder if you’ll live in your pink bedroom forever if “a fellow” doesn’t come along who will ask your father if he can court you.

 

We know.


You regret not going past the eighth grade in math.

 

You regret it because it holds you back now from getting where you want to be.

 

At the time it sounded like a plan: you won’t need that!  You’ll be a wife and mother anyway!  You won’t have to support a family, and cooking does not require algebra!

 

We know.  Us too.  Me too.


You have these questions and many more.

 

We do, too.

 

You’re not alone.

 

You’re not the only one asking or wondering.

 

It doesn’t matter how much it turns your stomach or how dark it may seem…

 

We have been there, too.


And so have a host of other people.

 

Thousands of other people.

 

So ask the questions.

 

And look at it even when it’s dark and sickening.

 

Face the regrets and start addressing them.

 

We have too.

 

 


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What was it really?

July 27, 2010

Dear X-ATI Girl,

Please advise.  Recently someone asked me the question: what is ATI?

It’s hard for me to ponder the question ‘what is ATI’ because I guess I really don’t know myself.  (Why, it’s the Advanced Training Institute.  Training in what?  Well I’m not sure actually…)

Whether it’s because I grew up so closely associated with this organization and way of life, or because the majority of my friends grew up in it as well thus rarely requiring me to explain it to another, but I always find it difficult to successfully place words in any order that could describe such a ‘way of life.’

After fumbling for words and getting them all mixed up for a few minutes, this individual asked the shocking question: is ATI a cult?



I gasped.  I stopped.  All the wind was knocked out of me.  What?  Was ATI a cult?  Was he serious?  Why yes, unfortunately he was.

I didn’t know how to respond.  I still don’t know how to respond.  Here is a loose narrative of my mixed up and jumbled response:

Well, ATI was started by Bill Gothard, a guy who worked with intercity youth and then his car broke down on the interstate one day and he ran leaping for joy because he was so happy.

Can I pause here and ask a question?  My family always had vehicles that broke down.  As in they broke down all the time – all the time with all of us 12 siblings and my expectant mother.  No one was leaping for joy in those moments, hours, eternities of being stuck on the side of the road.  I digress.

Mr. Gothard lived with his parents until his father died and then he just lived with his mother.  He began courting a nice widow when he was in his 50’s, but his mother told him that she didn’t feel it was God’s will for him to court this nice lady so he never saw her again.

Mr. Gothard still lives in his parent’s house – as far as I know – and has a cabin in the woods on some land that ATI owns.

Mr. Gothard started the Institute in Basic Life Principles in the 1970s.  It was a basic seminar, an advanced seminar, a men’s seminar, a bunch of seminars.  In the 1980s he started ATI – which was at that time ATIA.  This was his Homeschooling limb that wrote Wisdom Booklets, Character Sketches, journals of all types, etc.  (The Wisdom Booklet is my most prevailing and perhaps painful memory.  Oh, and the monthly newsletter they sent out – those were prevailing and painful as well.)

He built a Headquarters (proper noun) for the organization and most of my siblings went there for trainings and to work for free.  Kids went there when they did rebellious things like told their parents they didn’t want to read the Wisdom Booklets or that they couldn’t memorize the Sermon on the Mount.

He started an auctioneering school, a chalk talk school, a law school, and even the Medical Training Institute of America (MTIA).  The irony is that none of us went to school…

Later I got to thinking about some of the things that I learned while in the program:

  • How to conquer the addiction of rock music

  • How to sew and wear skirts that glorified the Lord
  • How to honor my parent’s authority

  • How formal schooling would kill me
  • How sugar was the drug that Satan could use to control us
  • How some people believe in head coverings and some don’t, but lets not fight about it

  • How if you have an impure thought at lunch, you should confess it just before a Knoxville session
  • How you should wear light makeup and your hair in flowing curls
  • How sheep go to heaven and goats go to hell (wait…wait, now I’m getting confused.  I think that was a song, not Gothard.)
  • That beards are bad, bad, bad

  • You should always use CharacterLink to protect yourself from the evil influences of the internet (did this make anyone else suspicious?)

  • The only approved college was Verity College
  • That I was to be a keeper at home

  • How ATI was “Giving the world a new approach to life!”
  • Try to stay away from the flaming darts of Lucifer, ie. get back under that umbrella
  • How to tear down the strong holds in your life ie. my desire to wear pants (gasp)
  • Letters we were supposed to write that started out like this: “Dear Dad, I love you.  I want to give you my heart.”
  • Something about rhemas
  • Al Smith approved music

Do you have similar experiences?

I’ve given this a lot of thought.  I’m going to go ahead and make this bold statement:

ATI was and is a cult.

Here’s just a part of my reasoning:

Dictionary: Cult n.

  1. A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader.
  2. The followers of such a religion or sect.
  3. A system or community of religious worship and ritual.
  4. The formal means of expressing religious reverence; religious ceremony and ritual.
  5. A usually nonscientific method or regimen claimed by its originator to have exclusive or exceptional power in curing a particular disease.
    1. Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing.
    2. The object of such devotion.
    3. An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest.

Wasn’t that umbrella a little extreme and false?

Come on, those blue and white outfits were unconventional.

So was learning medicine from a Wisdom Booklet written by a man who lived with his parents.

Nonscientific guide to medicine – check.

Obsessive, faddish devotion to a person, principle, and thing

Being told to write a letter to your dad giving him your heart.

I’m stopping here with my argument because this letter is long.  Please advise.  What in the world am I going to do with the bomb-shell realization that…that…I was raised in a cult?

I thank you in advance for your time,

Cliqued out in Clairmont


Why Men Leave Women

March 11, 2010

Dear X-ATI Girl,

Thank you for reading my letter.  

I am writing you to ask your opinion on the real reason that men leave women.  I am pondering carefully why men leave young ladies after my seven month courtship ended three weeks ago.  I have done a little research on the library computer, and this is what I have found:

1. Men have a fear of commitment and when they feel the gates of matrimony are closing in, they bolt.

2. Men begin to feel stifled when women focus on them too much.

3. Men feel that the women become the dominate person in the relationship. 

I am not supposed to use the library computer because it does not have any protection for my heart or my eyes, but every Wednesday when I take my younger siblings on our weekly outing I use the library computer to explore subjects such as the one mentioned above. 

At home we only use Character Link when going online.  When I type in “why men leave women” on CharacterQuest, this is the one-line answer the search produces: 

“The number one reason that marriages fail can be directly attributed to women deciding to go to college.” 

Is this true?  My grandmother always told me that men don’t like stupid women.  I was allowed to opt out of all school subjects beyond the 8th grade because my dear mother assures me that every woman should stay dependent on her husband so that she is not tempted to leave her home.  The Internet tells me that men feel stifled when women are too devoted, but Character Link tells me that men leave women because they go to college.  Please help me sort this out before I make any more life decisions.

Very sincerely yours,

Quest for Success in Syracuse

P.S.

Could you also give me your comments/opinions on this book?

Dear X-ATI Girl, Where Did I Stray?

January 8, 2010

Dear X-ATI Girl,

Please advise.

The life of blissful marriage and non-stop childbearing is the one that good, obedient ATIers live. 

Although things were supposed to supernaturally fall into place for me around the age of 14 {when a fellow would come along and ask my father for permission to court me}, the days of grinding wheat and teaching children to read are nowhere nearer for me now than they were when I was a teen.

Faith {and Wisdom Booklet #23} told me that by now I would more than likely have approximately 5.2 children with that number rising rapidly with each passing month. 

Around 5:00 am each morning, I should be able to expect my “quiver full” of “dear sons and dear daughters” (DSs and DDs) to cheerfully and enthusiastically rise to meet the sun which would appear over the crest of the furthest hill of our family farm.  They would gleefully run to the barn {through any and all weather}, which my husband had built bare handedly, and milk the goats which were, of course, the price of the field.  The lambs would not be milked, however, but would be sheared by my DSs and their wool would be spun into yarn by my DDs who would then knit them into our clothing. 

I somehow feel guilty for not achieving this life {wait, is achieving the correct word?}.  I thought that some fellow would have already proposed matrimony and swept me off to live in the barn on his parent’s property which he had begun building in his early teens, even then preparing for his chosen bride. 

What happened? 

There’s no barn around here anywhere. 

Do you think it could be because I’m not debt free?

– Barnless in Beulah