Some folks have figured out my e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or I gave it to them. They have good questions but they have many of them and they repeat. I think it would be easier to answer them all in one reply here since they are so similar.
Where did you go when you left your family?
I'd answer that question with a question- which time? In my family, you were never supposed to leave the unit unless you had permission from my dad. That was one of the things I struggled with very early on. Even routine things like a trip to the store had to be with a member of the family and cleared by my mom or my father. It was hard to get time to yourself, outside of the house. Alot of times, I would just go to libraries or school playgrounds to sit and think. The night I ran from my "beloved", I ran to a sympathetic neighbor. When I left for good, I went to family outside the movement. They are still conservative Christian but not ATI or QF. They graciously allowed me to stay with them for a year while I adapted to society. This flows into the next question I get.
Were you prepared for "normal" life?
That's a big, fat NO. Other than being trotted out for working on "our mission" (which was to evangelize and save souls by getting them to follow our beliefs), my entire life was centered around our house. I didn't have outside friends. I wasn't allowed to socialize with the neighborhood kids. We only got to know our neighbors to one side because they were elderly and by my father's estimation "harmless". We didn't do public school or sports and we didn't work outside the home. TV and radio were forbidden. We had Sunday School and that was our "socializing". I do have close friendships with my closest siblings, or I did before leaving. The main problem as I see it is that I'm really easy to take advantage of and I have to be careful with my "servant's heart". I was trained to serve and give which is great if you're surrouded by people who have an interest in your outcome, but it's not so great in "the world". It took me a long time before I could say "no" to anyone and feel not guilty. I was also not prepared for managing my own money or knowing how much it cost to live in "the real world". My health suffered for a while because I had been so sheltered that I didn't have a healthy immune system. My parents were non-immunizers (very common in ATI families) so I had to get those shots to get into school. I am terrified of men because I was taught that men outside ATI were no good and that's hard to shake off. Friendships with boys feels dirty even though I consciously know it's not and that limits me. It may be a good thing study wise. haha I struggle to do what I'm doing and make it work.
Do you miss your family?
Are you still Christian?
I think so but I'm trying to figure out what that means to me.