Pseudonym note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Reumah” is a pseudonym.
< Part One
Part Two: Trapped
I was trapped.
As I’d gotten older, my parents had gotten stricter, more isolated, and more focused on minute details of our lives. We spent our mornings listening to my father read the Bible to us and decry the evils of the world, the culture, and anything he associated with it. We weren’t allowed to watch films in the movie theater. My brothers weren’t allowed to participate in organized sports, or watch football games; it took them away from family time and smacked of worldliness. The only music in our home was hymns or peaceful praise songs. Even Christian radio was out of the question. Dating was completely off the table…my parents were firmly entrenched in the values of courtship, and any potential relationship would be controlled completely by my father.
As time passed, I became less and less content with my life as a home maker in training. I’m not sure what changed. Perhaps it was just the passage of time, or perhaps it was the endless monotony of my days as they ran into each other. Getting up, weeding the garden, fixing breakfast. Washing the endless amounts of dishes, watching my little brothers, putting in laundry. Fixing lunch, lying around most of the afternoon on the internet or reading a book, then sluggishly helping put together dinner and going back to my computer to entertain myself until it was time for lights out. I didn’t have any friends, and nothing with which to break up my days. I didn’t have anything to look forward to, and the glorious prospects of winning the culture war and raising a family of warriors for Christ began to seem a little bleak. I began to envision the reality of the future I had willingly committed to, and it wasn’t a prospect I liked at all.
Yet, in spite of my growing restlessness, I was trapped. No, I wasn’t being forcibly held at home. My family loved me, and I loved them. But I slowly began to see the bars of the invisible prison into which I had unknowingly walked.
I was stuck.
I had no discernible skills. As a home school student, I hadn’t participated in any extra curricular activities, teams, or competitions for fear of being corrupted by worldly influences. I’d never held a job outside of my family, and didn’t have any means of getting one without a vehicle. I’d briefly brought up the prospect of perhaps a part time job at our local library or a little boutique, but my father had quickly shot that down with a reminder about the Biblical role for women, and had placated me by piling on lots of mundane tasks he needed done for his own business. To him, I already had a job.
Without my father’s approval and permission, I wouldn’t be allowed use of the family vehicles to get to a potential job. So that was out of the question. Without a job, I had no income. And without income, I was powerless. The money I did have came from my parents; wages I ‘earned’ for helping out around the house or for balancing my father’s checkbooks each month. I searched for ways to fill the void that wouldn’t clash with my parent’s ideals. I looked for ways to volunteer (online, of course), and tried to start a web based business. I explored the idea of beginning online classes in business; starting my college education was grudgingly allowed as long as I did it from the comfort and safety of my bedroom. And, it was made clear, any post high school education would only be for the purpose of preparing me to be a better home schooling mother and a more helpful and supportive wife. Somehow, this didn’t sound very appealing.
I started blaming my situation on our location. If only we would move to a different place, it would all be better. I would find friends. More importantly, I would find a husband. Prince Charming, my future husband, would be the key to freeing me from my prison. But after years of staunchly backing the patriarchal movement and spewing my legalistic views on Biblical womanhood to everyone who would listen, I felt embarrassed when I started questioning my long held ideals.
This inner turmoil haunted me for over a year and a half. A constant battle between what I knew I “should” believe, and what another part of me was starting to explore. I was curious about the world beyond the four walls of my home. I caught snatches of secular music at the grocery store, and didn’t hate what I heard. I saw commercials for TV shows that were well below my age level, yet I was still captivated with what I saw. I noticed happy college students, books in tow, walking freely along the streets close to the campus of a nearby university, and harbored a quiet jealousy for the opportunities they had.
I started to resent my parents and their rules, and I started to resent myself for having trapped myself into a prison from which I saw no escape. I became angry for the time I had lost, the things I had never experienced, and the life that I saw slipping away from me. I secretly resented my church, religion, and eventually the God I had believed in for so long.
The God who would send me to hell if I didn’t do what he wanted.