Image by R.L. Stollar.
HA notes: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Elisheba” is a pseudonym.
Content warning: descriptions of self-injury.
I used to be a good homeschooler.
I used to be a good Christian. I used to be a model daughter. Then something happened. I’m not sure what it was, I’m not even sure how it happened.
When I went to college I was determined not to lose myself to “the world”. I didn’t want to be another statistic for why you shouldn’t send your kids to college. I didn’t want to be written off. I was going to defy the odds.
My first full time semester of college was a blast. Learning with other people and having a social life? Hot damn! Sure my 17 year old sister was taking the same classes as I was and would comment on my new found friendship with a fellow homeschooler who happened to be a guy.
Fast forward six months. I am enjoying college as much as ever and even am proud to say I have a boyfriend. Sure I can’t talk about him around my parents, sure hardly any of my friends know about him but I have a guy. Things are slipping. I am becoming one of those people. One of my friends that my mom used as an example to warn me about. One of those girls who I’d have coffee with to try to encourage her to do the right thing. I wasn’t any different.
Then the depression started to hit.
Not only was I not a good daughter anymore, God had turned His back on me, or so I thought. I spent countless nights on the bathroom floor crying and holding a knife to my arm. Pushing it in just enough to leave an impression but never deep enough to actually cut myself. Even in self harm I failed. I didn’t have the guts to do it. Only to tell my boyfriend that I was losing it and that I was going to do it or that I wanted to die. The only relief I could find was being with my boyfriend, which led to more excuses, less time spent on homework and more lies to my parents and more guilt tripping from my boyfriend because I wouldn’t grow a spine and move out, all of this lead to more feelings of being a failure and depression.
Fast forward another six months. I was finding out that my prince charming (it sounded less worldy and in your face than “boyfriend”) wasn’t all that I thought he was, but I had given him my heart which meant I was never going to get that piece back (Boy Meets Girl, anyone?) and could never give anyone my whole heart so logically, I was stuck with him.
I had made my choice and once again I was not going to be another statistic.
My first college relationship would last. I was going to marry him no matter what, even if that meant moving to Texas to live in a trailer with his grandparents and dropping out of school. No price was to high to pay to not be a statistic. So here I was, my relationship with my parents in shambles. God? Yeah. Not really on good terms with Him. Good homeschooler? Not so much. I hated that I had been subjected to that.
The one thing I had was my best friend. She was honest with me, but somehow not harsh. She got through to me. Literally the only reason I did not move to Texas was because of her. To this day I am so thankful for her influence in my life. She saved me from so much pain and ruined dreams. My boyfriend moved to Texas for school. I wrote letters in class instead of taking notes. My grades continued to be mediocre or worse.
Then my parents gave me an ultimatum, him or them.
Some how, even though my relationship with my parents was totally shattered, I chose them. Even now, I’m still not sure why. But I did. Enter major heartbreak, anger, some more lies, and eventually surrender. I still seriously thought we were together, only now we couldn’t talk, okay, don’t become a statistic. We can still make this last. Until the day of all my finals, a mutual friend texted me and told me that my boyfriend had a new girlfriend and that he was a jackass. I got out of my car, stopped crying, threw up, walked in to take my first final and then repeated until all of my finals were over. So there I stood, still not the good, model daughter that I once was. Not a good christian, in fact I really hated God, that day especially. And now to top it off, I was dumped, damaged goods. It did not help that I was crushing really hard on this catholic guy that I knew even though I was sworn to my first guy. It made the depression and the feelings of guilt worse. Not only could I not make a relationship work and I was used and damaged now, I was emotionally cheating on my guy.
Three strikes and you’re out, right? I had them all.
Now I was trying to rebuild myself. Who was I? I was a broken, used, depressed, put in any similar adjective here, person. How should I redeem myself? How could I get my model status back? Fall in love with somebody else? Sure. Enter catholic guy. The perfect gentlemen. The guy who wasn’t afraid of my parents. The guy who my siblings and mom loved. The guy who knew how to handle almost all situations. The guy who treated me like a lady and made me feel like I was valuable and important. The guy who (though he did and doesn’t know it, helped me rebuild myself). Enter the perfect prince charming. No sneaking around this time, except in my head (Leslie Ludy’s books, anyone?). I was having an emotional love affair and giving more of myself away. More guilt, but no lies and no emotional abuse from this guy so not nearly as much depression. I felt loved and cared for and safe. Life was good. Fast forward. Things are good, in my head at least. Ends up he has a girlfriend and has had one for quite a while. Enter sobbing and telling my story to a guy that I don’t really don’t know (he will be one of my best friends eventually).
Again. I’m used and broken. But were we ever actually dating? This drives me nuts. Then the self loathing. Not only was I a sucker for another guy, he was catholic of all things.
Good homeschooled, christian girls don’t fall for catholic boys.
Good homeschooled, christian girls don’t have a chain of boys period. No good homeschooled, christian boy will ever want me now. Hell. God probably doesn’t want me now.
On the other hand I don’t have as many pieces to pick up this time. My grades are good. I have a supportive, loving group of ladies that I study with that are like second moms to me They get that I’m heart broken, they also get that finals are coming up and I have to study. During these study time we talk about everything. Life. Women’s roles. Religion. I learn that there are different types of christians and I like it. Maybe it’s more important to show people that God loves them than to show them where they’re wrong and how confused they are about God. Maybe God could accept the broken, used, messed up me. Maybe He doesn’t care if I’m the perfect homeschooler, daughter, christian girl that I once was. Isn’t that the gospel anyway? He takes something used and broken and renews it? Life isn’t too bad.
I’m still determined to not become a statistic. I will not lose my faith. I will not become too liberal. I will stay conservative. I will believe in courtship. I will follow my parents and obey them. I will not be crazy. I will only attend our church as it is the best and the right way to worship. I will of course homeschool my future children.
Fast forward. I have a best friend who is an atheist. I have another best friend who is struggling with their faith. I have other best friends that are rock solid in their faith. I’m just me. I don’t want to offend anyone. I’m not sure how to defend my beliefs but I think they are true, maybe. Then I start hard core struggling with my faith. What if there really is no God? What if my whole life has been a lie? What if nothing that I told was important, is important? The depression starts creeping it’s way back. I start cutting for real this time.
Now I’m a homeschooler that cuts. That’s not supposed to happen.
I’m a christian who isn’t sure if their God is real. That’s not right.
And I’m a daughter who isn’t telling her parents any of that.
Say goodbye to any chance of getting the daughter of the year award.
Who do I go to? My friend that was struggling and decided for their sanity that they cannot believe in God anymore. They get my problems. I go to my friend who is an atheist. He listens and tries to help. Several months later, I go to my friends who are rock solid in their faith. They still love me and don’t judge.
Fast forward a bit. I’m here. Now. I am tired of trying not be a statistic. Yes. I still hate the idea of it but people are going to make statistics out of whatever they want and as I learned in my research class, they can make those statistics say whatever the hell they want. Who am I to fight it?
Here I am. A homeschooler, christian, not so model daughter who is wondering if living at home is really biblical, if courtship is biblical, if modesty really matters (how is it all the girl’s responsibility?) basically I’m questioning everything I was ever taught was the correct thing to do.
How did I get here? I’m still not sure but it was through slow disillusionment of my life. I’m never going to fit the mold. I can’t. I’m too broken. Does that bother me? Sometimes. Sometimes it really gets to me. Sometimes I still want to die. Sometimes I’m still so depressed I can barely function. Sometimes I still want to cut. But do those things define me? Not really. Does not fitting the mold ruin my life and my plans? No freaking way. It opens up opportunities for me. It allows me an escape.
I’m starting to realize not fitting the mold may be one of the best things that has ever happened to me. The not ideal, disillusioned homeschooler, christian me.