Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Questions and my date

I was wondering, have you been able to adjust to having non-familial relationships (i.e. friendships). I dont mean "dating" necessarily, but have you been able to make friends at your university, to provide you with the emotional support you may not be getting from your family? - Natalie

It's been very hard for me to adjust to non-familial relationships. I am always hesitant to trust (which is why my therapist recommended this blog). After twenty years of being told, daily, that the world was a horrible, sin-filled place with people who "walked with Satan", it's hard to see the world as anything other than that. I am getting better every day, but it takes time. The thing is, within your family, you miss out on introductions. I have the hardest time just walking up to someone and joining a conversation. It's foreign for me. My entire life, I knew everyone in my life (with few exceptions) from birth (theirs or mine). My friends were my siblings and a few others who were in our church. Our conversations with non-family members were closely guarded. As a result, I didn't learn that social thing that kids learn from getting to know complete strangers in school.

Strangers are referenced to as "the wolves". When you hear a fundamental parent say "we're not going to throw our children to the wolves", they're not referring to pedophiles or criminals. They are referring to you,...and me. The wolves are the general public. ATI families, especially, believe that it's the "normal" people you have to fear the most because "they are everywhere" and they "look harmless". It's the influence of normality that they fear because they know (most parents having been "average" themselves at one point), in their hearts, that there's nothing WRONG with being an everyday, non-ATI Christian or family. It's the non-control that they fear. That's why ATI kids don't go anywhere alone. You can be tempted to believe that that girl in line is a nice, normal person if you don't have another ATI kid to keep you focused on "the right".

My date didn't go very well. It was my fault. I'm just not ready for it.


  1. That's OK. You'll learn the skills around dating soon. I hope you have a good day today, and remember that you are learning so many new things that it might seem overwhelming at times, but you are still making HUGE progress!


  2. very interesting about the wolves.

    Don't worry, there will be many more dates. :) I always tell my friend, that even bad dates are good because they teach what to look for/what you want.

  3. Hi Ruth,

    I'm greatly enjoying your blog. I respect you a lot. Sorry to hear about your date...try not to blame yourself. You WILL be ready sometime. :)

    (I have to set this as Anonymous, but my name is Morgan.)

  4. I just found your blog today. I was influenced by IBLP rather significantly, but not from childhood, and not by ATI -- just the seminars, and people who attended the seminars. But that caused its damage. I don't feel its effects much more, but it took a while to shake it off. And I think I'm at least twice as old as you are.

    I do empathize with feeling the whole world is an icky place, even in matters where God gives great freedom. What a horrible feeling! Worried about spiritual "ick" around every corner you walk. No freedom to talk to other people without this feeling. No freedom to go to ball games or the beach without this feeling. No freedom to talk to believers and nonbelievers without measuring their spirituality to see if you are still in a safe bubble when you are with them.

    "Only a few things are necessary, really only one," said Jesus to Martha. And that is to look to Him, to rest in His finished work. Gothardism adds a lot to that that isn't in the Bible.

    Regarding the dating, I remember those days. I am an introvert, and I found I was most comfortable on dates with guys who just wanted someone to go to the campus movie, for example, and that was all, and I knew it, or else guys I knew really well from the Christian fellowship I was in, where we did something fun. I never got completely comfortable with going on dates, but that's due to my personality.

    I guess what I'm saying is it's OK to remain uncomfortable with permissable things. A lot just depends on your personality and what you like and don't like, and so an and so forth. You'll find your own level, so hang in there.

    Hope I didn't overdo it. The man who helped set me free from Gothard's influence just died, and I'm grieving right now. I happened to find your blog, and a lot of feelings are hitting me in the face.

    Anyway, if I did overdo it, my apologies, and again, hang in there. You have my prayers today.

  5. Jenny makes a good point, that I suspect is probably TOTALLY glossed over among ATI--doing things on your own, and even having them go wrong, can be vital learning experiences. The point of life is not perfection, missteps do not damn you for eternity--honestly, you'd think God (or your "godly" family) would understand this about humanity and allow some leeway, being the party responsible for your creation.

    Don't feel too bad about the date. Maybe put off dating a bit longer? Try a book club instead, with mostly women, to practice conversation and being casual.

  6. Oh sweetie! There will be more will get easier!

  7. I felt totally awkward. In some ways I am very mature and in other ways I haven't got a clue. The man I went out with was sweet and considerate. He did everything right and it made me uncomfortable! Who is uncomfortable with a guy who treats you very well? I guess I'm more messed up than I thought I was because him acting nice started making me feel awkward. I told him this during our walk and he was kind. He said he couldn't imagine how my life was growing up. See? What a nice guy. I don't know what's wrong with me.

  8. There's nothing wrong with you, Ruth. What was wrong was your upbringing.

    Don't worry about the date too much. You'll get there. Baby steps.

    I have to say, it might be a good idea for you just to get to know men as friends for a while. That's how I got together with my husband. We were friends who fell in love. It allowed me to be more comfortable and open up to someone when I didn't have the anxiety of dating over me.

  9. Hi Ruth,
    I've read your blog from the beginning (found you through TWOP) and have nothing but admiration for the courage it took for you to realize that the life you were being forced to lead wasn't anything close to REAL life. I was also raised to be guarded with my emotions and innately trusted no-one. I am old enough to be your mom (a young mom :) ), but I am still dealing with my disconnectedness.

    As for dates, maybe it's best to start slow: bowling with a mixed group and no expectations, study groups, clubs at school...common interests will be the best indicator of a guy you can spend dinner and a movie with and not be nervous. Or too nervous at first; butterflies are normal and wonderful. I even got them and the best date I ever had lasted all day (picnic at the beach, a matinee movie [Cool Runnings] and a casual, messy Italian dinner). That was 16 years ago and we've been together ever since.

    Good luck with school; I suppose you're wrapping up finals, which to me (even in my mid-40's) are even MORE nervewracking than dates ever were.

    (anon b/c I don't blog; addicted to facebook!)

  10. Thanks for the advice. It's welcome. I am almost done with finals. I have one more (math, thank god!) and then I'll be spending my break with a professors' family.

  11. I'm so happy you have a place to stay and someone to enjoy the holidays with!

    As far as the date...

    It's okay. Your upbringing was extremely restrictive and you are not comfortable with the world at large. You're getting there--just take it at your pace, know your limits. There is not a thing wrong with you--you are a wonderful person who has much to offer. True friends will see this and be okay with you setting the pace. I don't know you, but I have to say I am proud of you for taking such a big step and "giving it a whirl!"

    I cannot imagine growing up in a cloistered community where all others outside of it "walk with Satan." You have overcome a lot and are very brave to have left. As you go it will be less difficult.

    You are a wonderful young woman, I know you will be okay!!!

  12. Oh, Ruth, Honey...

    It's not your fault. Bad dates happen. They're part of dating and taking chances. Bad relationships happen, and yes, they hurt-and you move on. If you wait until you're ready, you'll never be ready. But each time will get better as you build up your skills and emotional capital.

    I have a dear friend, in her 60s now, who left a Catholic order when her convent closed, and she had the choice of being released from her vows, or moving away from her family and friends. She went through a lot of the same emotions you are going through, not only with dating, but just plain with having friends who were not Nuns-or at least Catholic. It's tough to go out of a role you were trained to believe was ordained by God.

  13. Ruth,
    As someone else mentioned, take your time. I didn't find my Mr Right (and he wasn't always) till I was in my 30's. I learned a lot, still am and as my kids are adults now, we've got some time to be friends again.
    I hope you have a wonderful holiday with new friends and that your new year will be filled with wonder and joy.

  14. *hugs* Don't worry too much about having a bad date. The first date with any guy is awkward. And it happens to everyone. =) Just take your time and do what you feel comfortable with and ready for.

    Good luck on your last final! Math is just torture to people, in my opinion of course.

    And just because I'm not PC, have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  15. Sounds like you are doing good! I was not raised in a religious family but for my own personal reasons I did not date until my early to mid-20s. Awkward, yeah, I know all about that! :) Good on you for going out on the date anyway.

  16. I just want to write how much I admire your courage and wish you well.

    Dating is all about learning about yourself and other people, so like someone else posted, all dates are successful in that regard.

    And I think it is a huge success that you were even able to accept in the first place and then show up! Courage in action!

    Be good your heart and give yourself lots of grace and support. You are overcoming a lot. You have the perserverance to keep progressing, and that alone is worth celebrating.


  17. Dating is awkward even for the "wolves." You may do better making some friends and hanging out in group settings. I think there will come a time when you meet someone who just plain makes you feel good to be around them, and then it will be easy.

  18. Ruth,

    Thanks for answering my question. I am sorry you hear your date did not go well. Don't feel pressured to do anything you arent comfortable with. First dates are often uncomfortable- even for us "wolves" :) Perhaps you and this guy will continue to be friends?

    I am happy to hear you are spending the holidays with a professor and you wont be alone. Happy Holidays to you Ruth, as always thanks for writing.

    P.S. There is NOTHING wrong with you. You are an intelligent, articulate woman who is trying to better herself through education and selfawareness. Don't think there is something wrong.

  19. I agree with Natalie. If your first date was awkward, you sound very "normal" to me. In 10 years, you'll probably have a good laugh whenever you remember it. Go easy on yourself and focus on how far you've progressed.

  20. I'm just echoing everyone else that there isn't a thing wrong with you. I really admire you and how brave you are/

  21. "After twenty years of being told, daily, that the world was a horrible, sin-filled place with people who "walked with Satan", it's hard to see the world as anything other than that."

    The only people I've seen in the comments be a jerk to you is your family.

  22. I agree with Lauren and the others. Perhaps concentrate on becoming friends with men for now, and get used to seeing them as your equals (not people to whom you must be subordinate). Find activities that interest you that may also interest men and just get to know people.

    I married my best friend going on 28 years ago, and we were friends long before we became involved romantically. We were silly together and did fun things with other people. Our relationship did not develop under the pressure of "romance". To me, he was just a fantastically great man who was funny and good and kind. Later, when we realized there was attraction there, we already had built a strong foundation of friendship.

    Anyway, that's one way to go about it that kind of takes the pressure off a bit.

    Hang in there - it will get better. You are doing just fine!


  23. Hi, Ruth.

    I stumbled across your blog (and seeing a few of my readers here, I'm a little miffed they didn't point me your way before!), and just wanted to say, wow! Your experiences, your forthrightness, your writing style- it's all so interesting. I feel like I found a fancy necklace on the sidewalk, and now it's mine!

    Anyway, it's not just you that has trouble relating to others and forming friendships. Those of us who were bullied as children, as well as the neuroatypical (think Asperger's Syndrome) have similar problems. I have no advice, really, other than keep trying. Eventually, you find people who suit you, who understand without seeming to try, and make you happy.

    The internet, and my own blog, have been wonderful for me in that regard.

    Anyway, all the best and happy new year.


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