Through the Darkest Nights of My Life: Asher’s Story

Homeschoolers U

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Asher” is a pseudonym.

I’m a rising junior at Patrick Henry College.

You invited us to share our own stories rather than speculating in universal commentary, and I appreciate that invitation. The best place for me to start, though, might be with a bit of commentary on a universal aspect of life at PHC. I think it illustrates and introduces well what I hope to say.

First, a little background: at PHC, we have corporate chapel three times a week. In the spring semester, usually one of those weekly slots will be set aside for senior testimonies. In the space of one chapel service at about 20 minutes each, two graduating seniors have the opportunity to reflect, thank, and share the story of what God has done in their life and time at PHC with the whole student body.

As a freshmen, I didn’t know well most of the seniors who shared at the podium, though I knew of practically all of them (the perks and sometimes frustration of a tiny campus like ours). Some were more eloquent or funnier or more spiritually insightful than others. Some of them merited spontaneous, almost immediate standing ovations from the whole student body. Some of them simply produced appreciative applause. Sometimes the audience was awkwardly dragged by politeness into standing, or even more awkwardly divided between standing and not standing. Whatever the effect might have been on the student body as a whole, though, I know how it affected me. I don’t remember every life detail they shared or spiritual insight they told us. But I walked away changed.

Some of their life stories were unspectacular and ordinary from a worldly standpoint. Others reached down deep and opened up their darkest parts: struggles with crippling depression, debilitating eating disorders, pornography addictions, and more. Yet through nearly every last one of them, I saw the same story repeat itself again and again: a driven, determined young person who would somehow change the world – or perhaps just their own world, and escape the long-worn chains and burdens of the past – and prove that they were worth something. That they were worth loving. Then, failure after failure would set in… frustration and anger, despair and sometimes deep darkness would descend. And slowly, slowly, gentle hands would guide them out of their darkness and bondage… and they would re-learn what it means to need and accept grace. Redemption would do its slow, painful, but sure work. And senior after senior, while often admitting that their journey was incomplete and would extend far beyond the halls of PHC, would stand as a witness to the redeeming grace of God on a life too broken for anything else.

I walked away from those testimonies a different person.

I was awestruck to think that so much pain, struggle, hope, desperation, loneliness, longing, fear, striving, failure, victory, joy, sorrow, love, brokenness, and redemption could be possible underneath the daily exterior. These stories were drawn up, streaming and bleeding with the truth of lives lived, from depths too deep for our minds to fathom, much less search out in full. And it blew my mind to think that these kinds of stories were happening all around me without me having any idea. So I prayed a dangerous prayer – to know the hidden pain and suffering around me, and somehow, to ease it by bearing a part of it.

The fall of my sophomore year, my prayer was answered beyond anything I could have dreamed, asked, or imagined. I saw more of broken, hurting, messed up humanity than I’d ever seen before… and through that anguish, I saw hope, redemption, and beauty as I could not have conceived of in my wildest imaginings. It’s a long story; far longer and deeper and richer than my feeble words could share even if you were interested in hearing its entirety.

A crucial part of that story, though, are the brothers and sisters who were with me through every part of it. Through the darkest nights of my life – through seeing friends dearest to my heart battling weariness, grief, depression, cutting, eating disorders, and even suicidal thoughts – people were there for me when I needed them most. Whatever I needed – words of wisdom, the wordless comfort of a hug, a willing recipient for me to vomit my troubles on (if you think about it, it’s a pretty accurate picture of the kind of friend we all need at times), and endless prayers – they gave generously, lovingly, and unfailingly. Even before we entered that season of more darkness than I’ve ever known before, the friendships I’ve cultivated at PHC have been some of the deepest and most meaningful of my life. That may well be the case with most college experiences – but there’s a unique camaraderie and love that comes with being in a war-zone together. Under fire, bonds are welded that will not be easily broken.

I say all this for a few reasons, I suppose, but this might be the main takeaway: if you step foot on our tiny, NOVA campus, you will see many things. You’ll see students strolling in their business causal best as they laugh together between classes or attentively (usually) take notes in the classroom. You’ll hear debates on predestination, deep philosophical discussions on the Lord of the Rings, and no shortage of some of the most awful puns I’ve heard in my life in the dining hall. You’ll see us holed up in our rooms alone with Plato or in small platoons with Call of Duty (at least in the guy’s dorms, since we’re not co-ed; ask the girls what they do in theirs). You’ll see our jocks practically living in the weight room, and couples infesting our lobbies and lounges. During finals season, you’ll see us slouched over our desks on many a late night hammering away at a paper or procrastinating while we pretend to do so. During chapel, you’ll see us raising our voices to praise the One to whom we owe everything in one of the most beautiful voice ensembles I’ve heard or sung in (though you may well see a few people texting or struggling to stay awake during the speaker). On Sunday nights, you’ll see some of us gathered around a darkened room or out in the open night air, the resonance of a guitar mingling with voices of worship and the whispers of people praying fervently for each other.

Depending on who you are, there are other things you’d see too. You might see a strong Christian community that you’d love your son or daughter to be a part of, or a mob of young people emanating naivety and arrogance in the form of homeschoolers who think they can change the world. What you see in that case, either way, might be determined more by what you expect to see than what’s before you.

You’d see all these things and many more – but there’s a lot you wouldn’t see too.

If you had eyes that could penetrate walls and souls, you might see a bit more.

You’d see good Christian kids with burdens, pains, and hidden tears like everyone else. You’d see some strive harder in hopes that they can earn the love of God, in desperation and loneliness, thinking somehow that they have to do this on their own and not let anyone see behind their façade. You’d see conversations stretching into the deep of night between the hurting and those who feel the hurt just as deeply out of love. You’d see patient listening and long walks around the Farris wheel or tennis court in the dead of night, and tears of relief flooding out on sympathetic shoulders in the dorm rooms. You’d see the prayers, you’d see the hope that comes through giving and receiving love; you’d see the redemption. You’d see that there’s a lot more going on at PHC than just Mock Trial and a crowd of homeschoolers doing homework on the weekends.

If you could see past our exteriors, you’d also see a good deal of soul-weariness, from both the intensity of academics and the burdens of life. You’d see our insecurities and fears, our lonely nights spent wrestling with our various doubts and demons. You’d see hearts perhaps prone to gossip more than they should be, too often stepping carelessly in and around one of the easiest pitfalls of a small, tightly-knit community. You’d see the stubborn pride and judgmental cynicism that God is still weeding out of our hearts, and all of the areas in which we are still being sanctified, made more like the God we fall desperately short of.

At our very core, however, I pray that you would see not homeschoolers, not conservatives, not even college students or young people with drive and talent, but a broken, inadequate sinners who are being made into the image of Christ.

That is my heartbeat at PHC, and I know I’m not alone in that.

Some of that is more a hope than a description of the way PHC is now, and perhaps most of that entails far more universal commentary than you were asking for. What I can say is that I could only ever say any of this because I have experienced it personally, deeply, and repeatedly. More importantly, a core of that very experience is sharing it with many others around me. And I build my hope only off of what I have already seen; though I have seen much brokenness, I have seen the pieces redeemed into beauty – and only because it has been done so many times and so faithfully before, do I have any hope that the work will continue in and among us.

I love PHC. Like all things worth loving on this earth, I know that PHC is far from perfect, and I do my best to let my love give me a more accurate view (not a white-washed one) of PHC’s flaws and shortcomings. And as the student charge at our most recent graduation reminded us, as America will one day go the way of all nations, so PHC will one day go the way of all human institutions. It too was pass away. Yet, when I speak of the PHC I love, I don’t mean a little physical campus out in Loundon County, or even a vision of a liberal arts curriculum centered on Christ. I mean the people. The community of PHC will continue to grow and change over time; but I know that they will far outlast whatever endures of PHC institutionally.

What will remain is this: a broken people redeemed by a grace greater than we will ever know.

That, as best as I can describe it in a too-long-but-too-brief account like this, is what PHC is to me.

Here There Be Dragons: St. George’s Story

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Series disclaimer: HA’s “Let’s Talk About Sex (Ed)” series contains frank, honest, and uncensored conversations about sexuality and sex education. It is intended for mature audiences.

Pseudonym note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “St. George” is a pseudonym.


My youth pastor once told me the story of how his parents gave him “The Talk”. You know the one I mean. Apparently, his mother walked into the room and said, out of the blue and with no prologue, “Gary, soon you’re going to have certain feelings about girls. Just make sure you don’t get it in her.” She then exited the room, leaving Gary hopelessly confused.

Sometimes, I envy him. He received better instruction than I did.

You see, my parents didn’t talk to me about sex at all. I mean I suppose it was a more open subject in our family than in some. But I never received anything even remotely resembling “The Talk”.

Instead, we got the internet. I don’t know if the two were related in my parents’ minds or not. Probably not.

So there I was. Little guy, totally lost in the woods of human sexuality, not a clue how the trees grow in that forest, but absolutely sure that there must be an explanation.

For a long time, I thought that the phrase “sleeping together” was to be taken literally. I had cunningly deduced that pregnancy occurred when a man and a woman slept in the same bed at the same time. This explained why those people on TV always seemed to be acting so enthusiastic and yet secretive about what I assumed were romantic activities — after all, it must be difficult to find time to fall asleep together for several hours and not get woken up.

I remember a family vacation from around that time in my life. The entire family was sharing one hotel room to save money, and it was determined that I would share a bed with my two sisters. I was terrified, and after I was sure my parents were asleep, I slipped out of bed and slept on the floor that night. I couldn’t imagine what kind of sick bastards my parents must be for thinking I was ready to be a father, and with my own sisters no less.

Eventually, as no further sign of my parents’ mental illness emerged, I reasoned that I must not have figured out all the details on this “sex” thing everyone seemed so keen on.

The game was afoot once more.

By this time, my powers of deduction had begun to emerge. I had heard it rumored that men and women were “different”. This much seemed obvious; obviously, women had longer hair. As I thought more about this, however, I realized that my aunt had very short hair. There must be more, I thought.

If I hadn’t noticed any other significant difference, then the difference must be on a part of the body that was hidden. From there, I made the necessary deductions rather quickly. It’s all a matter of engineering, and I’d played that peg game at Cracker Barrel before.  Of course, now I understand that these deductions were guided by instinct as well, but it certainly felt as though I were performing some sort of arcane conjecture, a modern alchemist speculating on the very meaning and nature of life itself.

But how to confirm my theories? This was what troubled me. Then, I remembered: the internet. That tool for finding animated Pokemon cursors, for downloading favorite sound clips from Star Wars and M*A*S*H? Perhaps it could help me in this matter.

And that is how I came to Ask Jeeves: “sex?”

It wasn’t a real question, but it was enough to point Jeeves in the right direction. As he retrieved resources to educate me, my heart started to beat faster. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but suddenly I realized that I was probably doing something that would displease my parents.

Ever have quests for knowledge been so opposed by those in authority. Like any true scientist, I remained resolute in curiosity and jumpy in disposition, listening for the sound of my mother returning from…actually, I have no idea where she was.

But she stayed there, as Jeeves began to educate me. It wasn’t enough, he was using big words. I needed something more instructive. Like a video.

Jeeves! “sex video?”

Now, Jeeves was asking me lots of strange questions. “Asians”? Why, does it work different in Asia? I want to know how it works in America first, we can start cross-cultural studies later, Jeeves. Something about pictures of money. I wasn’t interested in that; I knew what money looked like. “Amateurs”? No, I wanted an expert to teach me about this stuff.

Eventually, God only knows how, I actually got to a video. On a dial-up connection. Yeah. You can be impressed at my tenacity now. I’ll wait.

I honestly don’t remember what sort of video it was. With what I know now, it’s a miracle I didn’t pick up some very strange ideas about sexuality that day.

Regardless, my suspicions were confirmed. I knew How It Worked now. My afternoon then proceeded much as usual, with Pokemon and the Legend of Zelda. Somehow, I had the presence of mind and tech savvy to clear the browsing history. As far as I know, my parents never discovered what had happened. They certainly never mentioned it to me. It certainly no longer mattered to me — the mystery had been solved, it was time to move on.

Unfortunately, I developed into a very insecure person, for reasons that had nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with…well, with me. I’m just that way.

The point is that even today, because I was never “formally educated” in matters of sexuality, there persists a lingering doubt in the back of my mind. That is, I doubt my knowledge of sexuality and sexual behavior. Like, what if there are dragons involved? There could be dragons involved.

I don’t think there are dragons involved.

But then again, nobody experienced in such things has ever explicitly told me that there are never any dragons involved. What if I’m, like, with my wife someday and we’re all like happy times but then a dragon bursts through the wall all like RAWR!!! and my wife is all kill it using the ancient secret method and I’m like fuck fuck fuck what the fuck is the ancient secret method how do I even?

(These aren’t rational fears. I get that.)

When I’m able to take a step back from my anxieties, to examine my thoughts rationally, I’m actually not worried about dragons or anything so fanciful.  But I don’t like to approach anything serious without what I feel is an adequate explanation of what to expect. I get the same sort of fears about paying my taxes, or taking a required drug test, or applying for a job.

My point is, talk to your kids about sex. Also, talk to your kids about dragons.  But mainly the sex thing. 


Growing up is a process fraught with insecurities and fears already, without worrying about things like whether it’s possible to accidentally commit incest.

Maybe you can’t talk to your kids about sex.  Maybe you just don’t know how to have that conversation, or perhaps (like me!) you’re too insecure in your own perception of sexuality and sexual issues to address your child’s questions in a helpful and reassuring way.  In that case, consider trusting someone else with the responsibility – a family member, perhaps.  Someone trustworthy.

Just get it done. 

That way, when your kid grows up and hears he needs to “bring protection”, he’ll grab some condoms instead of a sword and shield.

Like Acid on Skin: Myra’s Story

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Series disclaimer: HA’s “Let’s Talk About Sex (Ed)” series contains frank, honest, and uncensored conversations about sexuality and sex education. It is intended for mature audiences.

Pseudonym note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Myra” is a pseudonym.

Trigger warnings: the following story contains descriptions of physical and sexual abuse of a child.


Perhaps this is just for me, for me to finally put into words the terrible pain in my heart, which seems to slowly eat away at life like acid on skin. Sexual education.

I received none as a child, absolutely none.

The following story might be confusing in places because I have recently been told I suffer from PTSD and DID, or dissociative identity disorder. Large portions of my childhood are missing, confused, or simply changed. Only recently has the truth been resurfacing in my mind.

I was homeschooled my entire life growing up, and my family was the homeschooling family to be in our area.

My mother kept a computer in the house that was password protected and we were never allowed to use it unless we were typing. I found her password book one day tucked under her mattress when I was cleaning the house. When I was a teenager I snuck out of my room in the middle of the night and I searched sex, rape, and pornography on the World Wide Web. They were all terms I had heard before, mostly associated with evil and the world going to the devil at church.

Needless to say I got a first-hand pseudo sex education from the porn industry.  And I was hooked. I spent every night on that computer watching pornography in a trance. I realized, eventually, that I had been masturbating since before I could remember as a self-soothing mechanism when I was spanked. I also realized that my father touched me after beating me (it was called spanking but I was always left with bruises from the middle of my back to my knees) to make me stop crying.

I had my first orgasm as a small child with my father.

Frankly, the experience was beyond confusing. The actual experience with him was pleasurable not painful at all, but it forever associated being beaten with sex for me. And obviously, I was being molested even thought I did not know it. I honestly thought it was how people were supposed to comfort their children. The intense shame and regret I felt as a teenager immediately caused me to dissociate the memory and place it in my mind in a place that was carefully guarded.

I do not know how long this abuse continued or when it started. There are other elements of the abuse that I have recently remembered but are too fresh, raw, and frankly too explicit to detail.

My mother spanked me between the legs whenever she caught me masturbating. When I was almost a teenager I was raped by a family friend.

Today I am left with a confusing mixture of sexual issues. I have a hard time not associating sex with punishment. I have a hard time not seeing sex as something used to make someone feel better, basically, used as a commodity, I have a hard time associating intimacy with sexual action.

Having any sort of sexual education might have helped me see that I was being taken advantage of by the people who were supposed to care for me. Perhaps it would not have, I honestly do not know. I do know that it could have saved me from a life long struggle with pornography addiction.

I hear others talking about how wonderful, intimate and generally fireworkery, sex is.

I wish that had not been taken from me.

I wish I had not been so isolated. I wish I had been told more about sex.

Ignorance is Safety?: Christina’s Story

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Series disclaimer: HA’s “Let’s Talk About Sex (Ed)” series contains frank, honest, and uncensored conversations about sexuality and sex education. It is intended for mature audiences.

Pseudonym note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Christina” is a pseudonym.

Trigger warnings: the following story contains descriptions of physical and sibling sexual abuse of a child.


“I know a bad word.”

I was seven, standing in the bathtub and my mom was washing my hair.

“Tell me what it is.”

“I don’t want to say it.”

“Tell me what it is or else I’ll spank you.”

I was petrified, my heart was racing a mile a minute. I couldn’t tell mom; I was afraid of being punished for even knowing the word. I was shaking and crying. My mother took out the hot-glue stick that we were regularly beaten with and proceeded to spank me there in the bathtub. Between each swat she would order, “tell me!” until, sick with fear and pain, I told her.

The dirty word: Bra.

Hello, my name is Christina. My purpose for writing this today is to help those who have gone through something similar to me and to spread awareness to those who haven’t.

Growing up, my mother told us nothing about sex. Nothing. As girls, she didn’t educate us about having your period, bras, body changes, nothing.

I was introduced to sex when my brother molested me on Christmas day when I was eight years old. He was only eleven at the time and I write this with his permission. In the last year my brother told me stories of what led up to that day. He was only four years old when our mother would “spank” him until bruises formed for “touching his penis”. Other than these beatings he had received no sexual education at all when he stumbled across pornography on the internet. He didn’t even know the word pornography when he described to me what he had seen. I didn’t know what it was but I knew it was wrong. I was too scared to tell anyone what happened on Christmas, so I kept quiet for four months. In the meantime my brother had molested my little sisters as well, and I knew about it. I told my brother not to hurt my sisters anymore, so when it didn’t stop I finally got up the courage to tell my older sister.

My sister told my mom, who called our youth pastor for help.

Our youth pastor called Child Protective Services, and my brother was removed from the home.

He lived in foster care for a year and we weren’t allowed to see him during that time. When he finally came home things were awkward between us for a while, but when we were willing to open up to each other he was able to apologize, and we were able to talk openly about what happened. If I wasn’t terrified to go to my mom for help, the whole situation might have been prevented. My mom was not a person I could go to with my fears and questions. She never talked about sex, and never made us feel that we could talk with her about whatever we needed to talk about.

I thought I had cancer. I was eleven and scared to death. After weeks of worrying I built up the courage to talk to my mom. I told her I was developing these lumps.

Her exact words were, “welcome to adulthood.” Nothing else.

I lay awake that night and put the pieces together. I wasn’t dying after all. In the months that followed I stole my sister’s bra, and on three separate occasions I shoplifted bras from stores. During that time I kept dropping hints to mom, but she made it awkward, and I was so nervous. My mother never made herself available for any serious conversations. Even when approached, she would make the conversation as short and surface as possible. Finally, at age thirteen, I got up the courage to confront her. I told her how I had been shoplifting and taking from my sisters and her reply was, “why didn’t you tell me I needed to take you shopping?” I told her that she made it hard for me, but she wouldn’t listen. She waited seven months before she took me bra shopping for the first time.

I began to watch pornography regularly when I was eleven.

I don’t know how to tell you why. I would go to great lengths to be able to access a computer with internet. I began to masturbate. It was an unsaid rule in our household that anything sexual outside of marriage was evil. Because of this, I felt guilty for masturbating, I felt like I was defying God. I prayed to God, promising that I would never masturbate again. The next day I broke that promise. I felt like shit, like I had let God down. I was weighed down with a load of guilt. I felt I deserved death.

I was prepared to hang myself; the only thing that kept me from tightening the rope was the thought that if I left them, my little sisters will go through exactly what I did, and I want to be around to prevent that from happening.

When I was fourteen I tried to be open with my mother. I told her what I went through as a pre-teen and a teen, and her response was to send me to therapy; she didn’t want to handle me herself. One day on the drive home I was trying to explain to her how she wasn’t there to help me as a kid going into my teenage years, but she refuses to listen. We start talking about masturbation, and she tells me anything sexual outside of marriage is wrong. There I was, opening up to my mother and sharing how I tried to hang myself as an eleven year old because I felt so guilty, and she contributes to my guilt, telling me that what I did was wrong. No comfort, no empathy, no help. Just guilt. I ask her, “from a biblical perspective, how is it wrong?” She can’t answer me.

I pushed the question, and she finally told me, “you need to move out. I don’t want you around your little sisters.”

I am no longer living with my mom. I feel free to talk about masturbation, sex, and gender expression with my siblings, something I never felt I could do before. My brother and I have had conversations I never saw us having. Today I am inspired to help others, and I feel more confident about how I want to raise my children. My mother lost custody of my younger sisters in August and I know that they have a brighter future ahead of them.

I am so grateful that they will never experience what I did.

My sister has also written about her sexual education, the link to it is here.

I Was Trained to Torture Myself: Grace’s Story, Part Two

I Was Trained to Torture Myself: Grace’s Story, Part Two

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Grace” is a pseudonym


In this seriesPart One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four


January 25

I’m finding that my story is more about my parents, and their relationship with each other, which is now falling apart, than it is about homeschooling or religion. Everything I learned about the world was from them. That knowledge motivates me to be a better parent to my babies.

I am trying to make my life more organized and manageable, and ask for help when I need it. I had been really good about not isolating myself and shutting down, but I did shut down last week and it got bad fast. I found myself staring at [my husband’s] rifle thinking it was an easy way out.

Usually I recognize the depression symptoms before that point and catch myself.

I hope that sharing this might help you to not feel so alone, because I bet you can identify in some way.


February 17

I’m going to talk about the depression and anxiety with which I struggle. This is going to be mostly about my life now, maybe not so much about when I was younger.

I have felt a tangible darkness in my life almost as far back as I can remember. And I think the anxiety started more around my teens. When I was younger depression took the form of guilt, and not measuring up. I remember learning about God in the earliest stage of my life. At 5 years old I felt the weight of my sin like a burden (remember Pilgrim’s Progress? Did your family have that book?) and gave my life to Jesus because I felt the need to be forgiven.

When I think about it now, it is amazing that I have continued to follow God, because that first conversion was very much out of a fear (afraid, not respect) of God and his wrath because of what my parents taught me. I have always been extremely sensitive, caring, and aware of others’ feelings, whether in general or their feelings towards me. I believe it is a gift, but it also has its challenges.

So here I was, 5 years old, feeling the need to be saved from myself because I believed that I was very evil. I’m not sure when the voices started, but I did hear voices as a child. I’m not talking about negative self-talk, which did happen later in life. I’m not talking about a still small voice that is supposed to be God. I heard narration in my head of what I was doing. My mind was tortured.

I believe it stemmed from witnessing and experiencing the violence my father dished out. I was “disciplined” by being spanked with a wooden paddle, which was bigger than my dad’s hand, and his hands aren’t small.

I learned later that he made the paddle himself. It sickens me to think about it.

I really do forgive my parents for the things they did, because I think they were doing the best they knew how, and even when my dad got a little nuts and hit us or threw us around, which was totally wrong, you simply cannot live a healthy life without forgiveness.

So as a result of being abused, which to me was not as hard to deal with as the trauma of watching my dad hurt my siblings or my mom, and seeing what I saw, I think my child-brain dissociated, and the part that distanced itself decided it was safer to tell the story so that perhaps there would be a happy ending.

This is all speculation.

Another theory about this is that I wanted to be able to blame myself for my father’s outbursts, because if it was something I had done wrong, I had control over that, I could fix that.

So I became a perfectionist and a control freak.


February 20

Anxiety has been a part of my life in a big way since I was 12. I walked in on my dad looking at a picture of a naked woman on the computer. I confronted him about it, and he said he didn’t want Mom to know. I waited until he fell asleep on the couch, and with my heart pounding out of my chest, snuck out of the house, over the backyard fence, and slept in my neighbor’s backyard until 5 am when my friend’s mom woke up. Then I scared her half to death by knocking on the window. She invited me in, and let me sleep on their couch until morning.

My dad came over, looking for me, and then took me out to breakfast. We talked about other things, and he finally said that he had told mom about what happened.

The thing was, it took me years, more than a decade, to realize the damage done by witnessing that one event. The anxiety and anorexia started at the same time. I became afraid of gaining weight, because in my young mind, that was the only thing I could see that was wrong with my mom, that she was slightly overweight, and not happy about it. I somehow equated my dad mentally cheating with my mom’s so-called imperfection.

My mom even remembers that all through my teens, I was never hungry. I didn’t even become aware of my eating disorder until I was in my 20s and didn’t gain enough weight with my pregnancies, and lost weight after I gave birth. At one point I was 111 pounds, and I’m just over 5’6′.

Counseling, years of counseling, has brought up all these issues, and I have been able to work through many of them and continue growing and maturing. There is much pain in my heart, but pain is what helps people grow.

So back to my story.

I was anxious, fearful, and never hungry. I was afraid, no, convinced, that a man would leave me, whether emotionally, sexually, or just plain get up and walk out the door, if I was fat. The thing is, my mom has never been obese. I never thought she was overweight. My mother is beautiful. Her eyes and smile are radiant. And she’s curvy, in a good way. I never saw anything wrong with her. But she was unhappy about her weight, and I picked up on that. So I thought it must be really easy to gain weight. I thought maybe I wouldn’t even know when I was fat. So I didn’t eat very much.

When I did eat a lot, I felt guilty, like I was doing something wrong. I’m not even talking eating a lot. To me, a lot is like what normal people consider a regular portion of food. This fear of being left eventually drove me to losing my virginity before I was really ready for it, to practically manipulating my ex-husband to marry me after we slept together for the first time, before we were married.

A lot of these situations were also exacerbated by my fear and religious zeal. I was so worried about trying to obey God so that I wouldn’t be in trouble, I tried to fix any mistake, and would many times mentally beat myself up because I had made what I considered the wrong decision, whether I had the information to be able to make a better decision or not.

I was mean. I was harsh. I hated myself, and hated on myself.

Negative self-talk was a way of life. Sometimes I joke about this being from the “Catholic” side of the family, because of the idea of penance, or atoning for your own sins. But Jesus… the whole reason he died was supposed to be to save us from these sins we’re trying to make up for.

My eyes are tearing up as I write this. So much wasted time spent trying to make things right that were already covered by God’s grace. Imperfection. God loves it. He loves us. It took me so long to know this, to experience this.

I had heard it many times but it meant nothing because my parents modeled self-hatred. I think this is the core of what tortures many of us: our parents’ modeling of behaviors.

It would be impossible had I not already been sharing it all along, in bits and pieces, with friends, and hurting people who needed to hear it. I so appreciate the opportunity to reach people on a broader scale. Connection is the heart of existence, I think.


February 26

There are plenty of times when I want to just have it out with people, but experience (being the scapegoat, especially having my dad yell at me, which I still have nightmares about on a regular basis) has taught me that:

1. Nobody likes being yelled at, and

2. The people who have made the biggest impact on my life are the ones who always assume the best of people.

I want to be like the latter, because it will have a positive and comforting impact on the people around me, and shows the love of Jesus. I will, however, attack religious zealots with great fervor. See Jesus v. Animal Sellers at Temple.


February 27

More about depression and anxiety. From January until April, my depression is hardcore. I had a miscarriage in late March, another in early April (different years), right after my grandfather died.

When I was 11 I was molested (in January), and again in April.

My sister was sexually assaulted in April when she was young, and was hospitalized as a result.

February is my birthday, Valentine’s Day, and the anniversary of my ex and my marriage. January was when I left my ex, and also when he took the kids from me and wouldn’t give them back.

One year I tried to commit suicide in April.

March I was served with divorce papers.

April he had his first supervised visitation and I started smoking.

The list goes on… These are definitely not in chronological order. But you get the idea. So, left unchecked, my auto-pilot goes into self-destruct mode during those months. It’s not too bad the first couple months of the year, and I can get through it alright, but once the end of March rolls around, I am a dead woman walking. It’s a struggle to do anything productive. The rest of the year, the depression is much more easily manageable.

This hasn’t always been the case. It’s taken years of counseling to even realize I had depression.

I could describe some of the symptoms, but my parents had always called it laziness. I thought I was just stupid, lazy, a bad person, and not good at life. Even though it’s clear that mental illness runs in my family, ex. depression, anxiety, possible bi-polar, and a distant relative was institutionalized when I was a kid. I know relatives who have eating disorders, paranoia, OCD, and aggressive tendencies. But almost none have been evaluated or diagnosed. I think it’s more about the stigma, and not enough information being out there about these illnesses, than refusal of treatment.

I think there is a correlation between mental illness and homeschooling. Not that homeschooling creates or affects mental illness, but that those who suffer from mental illness tend towards the option of homeschooling their children. When people with social disorders who have a hard time getting along with others are deciding on school options for their children, they may have the idea that their child may suffer from the same anxiety when around other children that they did when they were kids. I think unfortunately they may only think about this subconsciously, and not think about it as possibly a challenge to be overcome, but rather something to be avoided.

So we see a lot of socially awkward parents, isolating their children, homeschooling them, and the children may or may not be socially awkward, and whether this is a genetic disorder that is passed on, or simply something the children learn from their parents is something else to figure out.

I think another sad reality of people who choose homeschooling is that some use it as a way to hide abuse in their home. They are already paranoid about the authorities, especially in homeschooling-hostile states, and don’t realize how damaging, illegal, and cyclic abuse is. They also seem to believe they are above the law.

It really is like a separate religion.

And then when you have crazy cult leaders like Bill Gothard and make your children wear jean jumpers to the floor and dear God no shorts or tank tops!

It just makes the whole bunch look like nutcases.

So don’t drink the koolaid. Homeschooling is not evil, as I used to say, and neither is communism, and in a perfect world, they would work.

But this world is imperfect.


To be continued.