Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Is depression cyclical?

Can depression come in cycles? I think it must because I'm back in that dark place again. I have a nice guy. I'm making progress in school and with therapy, so I should be happy. Right? I should be. I have food in my belly and a place to live. I have friends (like you, readers).

Today, I started thinking about my dad's responses here and the things he's told my brothers about me. After I wrote Part 11, he went phone crazy and called each of my siblings, and I'm sure he questioned the siblings at home, to ask them about Martin. My dad was sure I was lying about the pantry incident. I guess he didn't get what he was bargaining for because my brother confirmed that Martin did inappropriate things with other kids he knew and my dad started accusing my brother of being 'poisoned' by my negativity. Now I'm poisonous?

A commenter said something like, "you probably picture your dad when you picture God" and she's right. I am having a hard time with my faith. I keep hoping that God has a purpose for the struggling people like me have experienced (and worse). That's really difficult to believe - that a god would punish people or make them suffer for His purposes. That depresses me. But I don't want to be one of those people who loses faith and belief because they're angry or confused. If I don't believe, I want to not believe based on better reasons than that.

I'm getting stressed about summer, too, and I know that's not helping. I'm going to miss Harris. I'm going to have to find a place to live, with roommates I guess. I neeed to find a job. I might nanny but I worry about how well I'll do with children.

I'm sorry for this post. It's mostly complaining. I hope you're all having a great day.


  1. Yes, depression can be cyclical. This is the time to surround yourself with people you love/like and trust and KEEEP talking!

    Struggling with faith after your upbringing would not be surprising at all. I believe you'll find your way to believe in time.

    Summer jobs---have you considered being a camp counselor? Room and board for a whole summer plus the "safety" of having others around if you feel overwhelmed with your reactions. Most camps start hiring about now so there should be lots of resouces (some of the best camps,IMO, to work at are those for disabled/special needs kids.

    http://www.campjobs.com/ one place to look.
    ps sorry you're having a tough day

  2. Hang in there, Ruth! Depression can indeed come and go, but rest assured that it will "go" again.

    Once your life is more settled and stable you may well find that depressive episodes will leave for years, maybe forever.

    Everything is going to be all right
    Why should I not be glad
    To contemplate the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window
    And a high tide reflecting on the ceiling
    There will be dying,
    There will be crying, but there is no need to go into that
    The poems will flow from the heart unbidden
    And the hidden source is the watchful heart
    The sun will rise despite everything
    And the far cities are beautiful and bright
    I lie here in a riot of sunlight watching the daybreak and the clouds flying
    Everything is going to be all right
    --Derrick Mahon (famous Irish poet)

  3. First off, don't feel bad about writing negative things here. You said you started this blog to supplement therapy. I greatly appreciate that you've let others read your thoughts, but don't let us get in the way. Also, you aren't required to be happy and cheerful all the time!
    I don't have the answers about God's purpose in suffering, but in my experience people learn and grow a lot more from mistakes and hardship than they do from good times. Not sure yet how that connects to God and His plans, but it's something I've been contemplating as well.

  4. Ruth, don't apologize! Remember that you have a right to tell your story and to speak in your own voice. Never let anyone efface you, or transform you into "poison". You are nothing of the kind! The truth, even when it is unpleasant, can only injure those who are either too timid or too callous to face reality. Your father is clearly intimidated by your blog because you are manifesting the kinds of genuine courage and strength here that people like him have systematically failed to achieve.

    Depression can absolutely be cyclical, and can be triggered by specific forms of stress, emotional pressure and so forth.

    I remember way back you mentioned the goal of becoming a librarian, which generally means grad school for an MA. A possible employment for your summer would be a paid internship, or at least one that provides a stipend for living expenses. I'm sure your university/college has an office that helps link students and alumni up with jobs and internships, and you might even be able to find a roommate through your school.

    Best of luck, Ruth. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.

  5. Ruth,
    I think depression can be cyclical. Depending on where you live and how the weather has been, for instance if it's been cold and rainy, the lack of natural sunlight can cause you to become depressed. I also think your Dad's comments might be playing into this as well. I think you Dad is sort of a nut case.
    You should look into the local library and see if they have summer positions open. What about the library at the university you attend? I don't know if you are planning on taking summer classes or not, it might be cheaper to stay in campus housing. Or, and I know this sounds crazy, but my college has fraternities and sororities. In the summer, the fraternities would rent out rooms cheap to students needing housing for the summer. I had a friend who lived in a frat house for the summer and in exchange for a reduction in the amount she paid, she helped the brothers clean and paint during the summer. You might see if that is an option on your campus. You might also see if a sorority house needs a house mother for the summer-- I think it would be like being an RA.
    I think you would be a fine nanny! Ask around and see if any of the professors need someone. You can do a lot of fun, cultural activities with the kids and learn a lot about, have some fun. Sometimes the professors might give you room and board and a small salary. If you didn't have to pay for a place to live and food, a little salary isn't great, but many times, the professors will take you on vacations with them so you can help with the kids. You get everything covered and get to see stuff and stay in hotels or condos. A change of scenery is good for any of us! Good luck!! Know that all of us out here in internet land think you are amazing!

  6. Ruth, this is your blog. Plain and simple. End of story. You must get those feelings out.You've had years of holding it all in and that is not good.

    Your father's posts make us all feel sick at heart and so, we can only imagine what you must feel.

    Annie and Amy have great suggestions about summer work. It will work out. Ask some of your friends at college or the Student Union.

    You're depressed & that is not unnatural given the circumstancs. It should pass but if it you find it going on too long, speak to your therapist. S/he will know what to do.

    Take care, Ruth.


  7. Ruth,

    I've never posted before, but I want you to know how much I enjoy your blog and am rooting for you.

    I'm an academic librarian and I think the suggestion by earlier posters is a great one. We often hire students for full-time work in the library and they are given the option to live on-campus. (But look into it soon - these positions fill up quickly!). A student job at the library would also give you the opportunity to gain experience, which is great when you're applying for more professional library jobs. Of course, being a nanny and camp counselor are great summer jobs too!

    One more thought: professors often leave for sabbatical and need housesitters for the summer. They sometimes let you stay in their homes rent-free in exchange for watching the house. You may want to ask around at your university.

    Best of luck!

  8. Ruth, this is your blog. Plain & simple; end of story. You can write whatever you wish on here. It is meant to help you sort through years of anger and hurt.

    Of course, you're feeling depressed. Who wouldn't after the barrage from your father? If we all feel sick to our stomachs and in our hearts, we can only imagine what it does to you.

    The previous posts have excellent suggestions about summer work. Check around & something great just might happen!

    If you start feeling overwhelmed with sadness, talk to your therapist. S/he will know what to do to help. Hang in there, my dear, and take care. Focus, if you can, on your studies for now. I hope you keep blogging if for no other reason but to tick off BG! LOL.

    Take care.


  9. Hmmm.. my first post didn't show up, so I wrote another & now I see my first post.LOl. Just ignore my 2nd.


  10. Yes depression is cyclical. Sometimes you need to have your meds adjusted.

    I concur with looking into a camp job, I think you'd have fun and get paid for it.

    Bless you.
    I love this quote:

    "Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them -- every day begin the task anew."

    Saint Francis de Sales

  11. Sweetie, the previous posters? What they said. Depression IS cyclical. And there is NO WAY you're going to come bouncing out of your childhood experiences and immediately all will be sunshine and roses. You're going to have ups and you're going to have downs. It's all part of the recovery process. So do NOT beat yourself up.

    This IS your blog, and you can say anything you want here. And we, as your readers, are here to support you. Well, with one exception who shall remain nameless.

    We care about you, we admire you, and we believe in you. Hang onto that when things are dark, and you'll get back through to the roses and sunshine. We're there with you all the way. :-)

  12. As someone who has suffered from depression her whole life, yes, it is cyclical and yes it sometimes doesn't make sense. Like you, I have a lot of good stuff going on in my life - great husband, in grad school, all my necessities taken care of. But sometimes, I just feel down.

    It take an anti-depressant, and that helps keep level. You might want to talk to your doctor about that possibility. Now, it's not something that you would have to be on your entire life (I will, but I have very severe depressive issues) - it would be something to just help you get through a rough patch.

    I'm sorry your dad is just continuously piling on all of the negativity. It is NOT your fault. YOU have done NOTHING wrong.

    As to your faith, frankly, I think that really is the least of your worries. Figure out yourself, and you'll figure out where you stand, with or without God.

  13. Yes, depression is cyclical, I know because I've had clinical depression since I was a child.
    Its also possible if you're on medications that your body has adjusted and you need a higher dose/different drug. If you are taking anti-depressants you should talk to your psychiatrist about it now since they will often make you wait for a period before they allow you to adjust your medication and you don't want to get worse in the meantime.
    Otherwise you can try taking a walk outside if its nice enough where you are, that always helps me. That or listening to fun music is always good to. I'm praying for you. Best of luck.

  14. As my therapist was prone to telling me when I worried that I was clinically depressed, "The symptoms of depression are selfish." To the outsider that doesn't deal with depression regularly, it just looks as though you're being selfish, but this doesn't *make* you selfish. I really hope that makes sense.

    You have a right to your sadness just as much as you have a right to your happiness. Both emotions are equally valuable. Just try not to wallow. You shouldn't have to force happiness all of the time, but there's nothing wrong with giving yourself a good mental shake to help you rise above.

    I had a troubled childhood. Very troubled. My mother is, to this day, as unrepentant as your father. But my abuses weren't perpetrated in the name of Faith, they were just because of a selfish woman. I think that you've got it tougher than I did. The acts of abuse were much more brutal than yours, but when I got older, I was able to chalk them up to my mother's incapability to look past her own nose. My ability to believe in a God was untouched. I feel that having your abuse and your faith paired together in the same breath makes things much harder.

    I used to wonder why a loving God would have allowed the horrors that I lived through to happen to me from such an incredibly young age. And now that I'm an adult, I fervently believe that it was to toughen me up and give me perspective for "real life". Nothing seems as bad, nothing is as insurmountable as my childhood. I went through that and came out the other side, so there's nothing left for life to dish out to me that I can't handle.

    You're doing good things, and yes, if you hadn't had such a rough time of growing up, you wouldn't have to deal with this turmoil. BUT! If you inspire just one person to leave the ATI/IBLP/QF ridiculousness, think of the ripple effect that will have! And the only way you'd be capable of standing up is to have been through the fire.

  15. You're not poisonous. If anything, you're the antidote. Considering what you're still going through, I'd be surprised if depression didn't come back a lot. Your memories and your father's insults will probably always have an effect on you – it'd be weird if they didn't – but you're gradually building up enough love and good experience to be able to balance it out (hopefully, tip the balance).

    I don't have any wisdom re: God apparently letting people go through horrible things in order to make a point. When I do think God exists, it's a subject that makes me angry and confused – and I think that's fine as a reaction. I suspect that some people have gone analysing scripture very carefully (rather than, say, letting Emperor Gothard do all the work) because of confusion, and resisting fundamentalist dogma because of anger. What I hope is that, if God exists, and he's a lot more reasonable than his nuttier fans make out, he's happy that you've escaped ATI and that you've chosen to use your abilities to learn and help others.

    Everyone else's practical advice sounds great. It will suck to be away from your nice guy – it's pretty obvious, but being able to keep in touch helps a lot. May you meet lots of new, loving, trustworthy people this summer.

    (btw, good on your brother for exposing yet more abuses).

  16. don't be sorry for your post. THis is YOUR blog... and God knows best. It sounds cliche and corny, but God knows best. Please beleive that.

  17. Dear Ruth,

    In addition to all the most wonderful advice you've already received, all I want to add is this: you are loved, beautiful and sweet girl. Go forth in happiness, peace, and love. It's okay and perfectly normal to feel anything and everything that you're feeling. You don't ever have to worry about typing "negativity", etc. Type whatever you want and need to say and we will always support you 100%. Take care, Ruth. :)

    With many (((Hugs)))


  18. It is common to wonder "why does God let good things happen to bad people." Especially when you did not do anything wrong and just happened to be born to the people you were born to.
    My brother says he stopped believing in God when my dad was drunk one night, told my brother that he was not his son, and kicked him out of the house (to which my brother never returned, by the way). I too wonder why God had to give my brother and I such awful parents. Just wanted to let you know you are not alone.

  19. Amy wrote:

    "Your father is clearly intimidated by your blog because you are manifesting the kinds of genuine courage and strength here that people like him have systematically failed to achieve."

    That is so profound!!!!

    Ruth, you exhibit so many character traits (kindness, honesty, humility, courage, to name a few) that your ATI family lectured on incessantly, totally misunderstood and failed to personally achieve.

    And look at you! You're living it! You are amazing, and I am so proud to have the honor of being acquainted with you, even though it is only by cyberspace. n_n

    I ditto what Val wrote. I also survived an abusive childhood (though not as totally intensely dominating and cruel as yours) and why God "allowed" it used to hurt me.

    I guess I've come to believe that God didn't "allow" it- people did! I so believe in free will.

    And yet I still believe that God exists, and that He is love, and that He loves me. He helped me survive. Even when I had no greater goal than to live to be eighteen, Love had better plans for me.

    Now I have been away from my family of origin longer than I was living in it. I loved it when I hit that milestone! Life keeps getting better and better, and like Val wrote, even when I am experiencing hardship it has never ever been as bad as those first seventeen years.

    "Gone...like yesterday is gone...the world keeps spinning on...it's going going gone..." LOL Those early years are gone! (Switchfoot lyrics)

    Anyways, the depression will come and go and hopefully be less intense with each go-round and stay a little less time. A friend explained it to me this way once, "Feeling are like visitors. They drop in to tell you something. Invite them in, listen to what they have to say, and then show them the door. Don't let them move in with you, but don't ignore them either. You'll be healthier and wiser in the end for the experience."

    I like that. He was a smart guy.

  20. (((HUGS))) Ruth. I don't want to repeat what everyone has stated above, but this is YOUR blog- YOURS! You let you feelings out, how and when you want. There are people out in cyber-space reading who are so inspired by you. As Dori said in "Finding Nemo"(which I know you probably haven't watched, but it is very cute!)

    "Just keep swimming."

  21. Ruth, I am going to tell you something. You can do with it what you want. I am in no way trying to turn you away from your God, but it is something that has helped me in life, particularlly through very challenging times. I don't believe in God - at least not a religious God who is actively involved anyones life. Maybe there is some creative force in the universe that is beyond any of our comprehension, but I don't believe in a personal, Christian God, or a Greek god coming down from Mt. Olympus to mess with my life. And you know what? It is the most freeing realization I have ever had. It gives me the freedom to believe in MYSELF. It allows me to realize that sometimes horrible stuff just happens, and there is no rhyme or reason for it. It is up to US as humans to find our inner strength to over come the randomness of life, and to make ourselves happy in the process. We don't have to rely on a God, or outside force, to give us happiness or justify our choices. We don't have to find a reason for the challenges. We just get the chance to grow as people when we find the heart and means to overcome them. We can be wonderful, kind, loving people without a God telling us to.

    Religion has some valuable lessons. In my opinion, that's why it was created (among other things). It makes life so much better to move through the world with kindness and love. But I don't think there is anything wrong with not letting religion (in a formulaic, ritulistic sense of the word) hold you back. My greatest realization that is even if there is a God, if he is going to let innocent children get raped or die of cancer, there is no love in that. I would rather believe that there is no God than a God that cruel to humankind for no purpose. (What purpose can there be in torturing an innocent child? Or never giving her a chance to live?) Trying to comprehend why something that supposedly loves us as his own children would inflict such horrors on his own creations, who have done NOTHING to deserve it the most depressing mental undertaking. I don't think a person is weak to give up on that. Who tells you it is weak or a lack of faith? It is the same people who have been controlling and manipulating you your whole life to do what THEY want you to do.

    Everyone needs to find their own faith, that feels right to them. I am just saying believe in YOU first. Trust that you will find what is best for you. It will be the hardest, and most rewarding thing, you can ever do.

  22. I just want to clarify that I am in no way trying to make you not believe in God. I just suspect that no one in your life has ever told you it is ok NOT to believe. It has always been the worst possible thing you could do. But I (random girl in cyberspace ;-) am telling you, if that is the decision you come to, you can still live a wonderful life as a good kind person.

    If you do believe, it is still ok to accept that maybe there isn't a reason for everything. Shitty stuff just happens. Sometimes life is just randomly awful. Trusting yourself, and loving yourself is the most empowering way to overcome those challenges, no matter what you believe.


  23. Sorry one last post!

    I mild depressive symptoms and the first thing that helps me is exercise. I don't know if you ever work out, but sometimes going for a run can really change your spirits. Both the endorphins and the chance to just get out of your head and focus on your body can really help. All you need is a pair of running shoes and some shorts or track pants. Your university might also have a free gym for students. Don't be self-conscious about taking advantage of it. (I promise no one is watching you.)


  24. Ruth, I'm praying for you. Stay strong- it's totally normal for depression to rear its ugly head when all around you things are fitting into place. Keep writing, keep getting it out there.

    I almost get this feeling like your dad is sort of a tantruming little boy, who is so angry that he worked so hard on something that the "cool kid" told him about, and it just simply isn't working (because the "cool kid," of course, had no idea what he was even talking about to begin with). So he's lashing out at the people he *should* be caring most about. He has basically wasted his life, his marriage, and has done profoundly horrible things to all of his children, and he can't take it back. I pray he can someday open his eyes, and make amends the best that he can, and learn that the God he crammed down your throat simply doesn't exist. There is a very grace-filled, loving, and forgiving God who does, though.

    I agree with the rest of the posters- get out into the sunshine, get your body moving, keep writing, and at the end of the day, remind yourself that tomorrow is a brand new start.

    It's just so interesting- so many people never really understand what it's like to live in the "After." Movies show the end of a crisis, everyone is happy, and the screen fades to black. And everyone can change the channel, or leave the theater, and that's the end of that. You get the dubious distinction of being a person who has that "Now I have to keep going" kind of a life- like any one of us who has survived traumatic childhood abuse (or war, or child loss, or any other profoundly, life-changing moment). It's still a life, it still can be wonderful, and you hold the power to make it absolutely magnificent... but it's still different, and you still need to get used to the new-ness of it all. Take it slowly- you can do it.

    Lots of love to you. Clara

  25. are you making sure to get enough sunlight? I have depression and take meds, but if I don't get at least ten minutes per day of sunlight (letting it soak directly into my skin) my depression gets worse. Or maybe you don't have clinical depression, but you are dealing with some issues that are making you very sad. When someone is coming out of a tramatic situation, they may develop temporary symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD etc. Does your depression seem to "cycle" when you are particualry upset about something?

  26. yes, i'm struggling with a recent bout of depression as well... and my life is going well so i know it's not because of circumstance this time!

    anyway, keep your head up and know we're all rooting for you. even if you don't have family support, you have ours. i don't know what to say about your faith because i am not a christian anymore, but also i realized that my break with christianity was the most freeing thing that ever happened to me. some people need to find faith to find a better life, and some need to lose it.

    also, it's kind of good that depression is cyclic because all i need to tell myself is that it'll pass soon and i just need to ride through this and there will be better times ahead. that my emotions are not connected to my partner, life situation, etc... they are just moods that i need to deal with until they pass. and they always do, and then i can enjoy life again.

  27. Ruth, in my opinion, God is not punishing you. He is opening your eyes to the consequences your father created by following ATI/patriarchy. It is because your father so indoctrinated you into legalism that these thoughts of punishment may be rearing their ugly heads. My bet is that Gid is angry FOR you, just as He was/is when the people He love are mistreated. Scripture is full of examples of that. He willunderstand your questioning, your anger, your sadness and dismay. And when you feel joy again (in the right sense, not an ATI sense) God will be overjoyed for and with you. He's big enough to understand your doubts and if you decide that faith isn't your bailiwck right now given your experiences and patient enough to wait for you if you decide to seek Himagsin on *your* terms. He loves you enough to have made you *exactly who you are* as Caroline Ingalls once told Laura on Little House.

    I would imagine He grieves for you and what your father put you through; part of giving us humans free will is the acceptance to know that some who claim to know Him will abuse it and try to craft Him to fit their purposes rather than do like David (flawed, just like the rest of us, and God calls David a man after His own heart.) And seem guidance before acting rather than a ting and seeking justification after the fact.

    Punishment is but one of the hammers in the bag yor father is trying to force you to carry around. Put that hammer back in the bag, and visualize yourself laying down that bag of hammers. As often as you need to.

    You will work through this low ebb; depression can be cyclical, and the beauty is that cycle--low ebbs are followed by high tides. Then we may see another low ebb, but because we *know* the tide will come in, we can hold on and wait it out.

    You are in a season where you are FREE to experience the myriad emotions we humans have without somone who is supposed to have your back trying g to "train" these natural emotions out of you or trying to hamper your ability to deal with them, so it is absolutely and complety understandable that you are having this struggle right now. Hang in there, Ruth. You have more support and encouragement from us readers than you can ever imagine!

    Take care,

  28. Forgive the misspellings; still don't have the knack of typing on a mobile device that tries to spell for me. :-)

  29. Ruth, I don't think you realize that your father is terrified of you. You are the mirror he can't avoid looking into and what he sees is the ugliness in himself. If he weren't afraid of you, he wouldn't be so desperate to discredit you. He would merely divorce himself from you and cast you into the outer darkness he thinks is hell.

    I read the abject fear in his comments here. You have a power over him that he can't handle. Give yourself credit for your strength that YOU have developed yourself, with help from your therapist and your friends. Depression comes and goes but your strength will always be there from now on.

  30. Ruth,

    Don't fret about questions and doubts. If you weren't having a crisis of faith about now, you wouldn't be real. Everyone has to question her faith sooner or later or simply keep layering on the denial. Doubting doesn't always lead to a loss of faith but it does always makes faith more real, more personal, more true for you. Questioning the dogma of your religion--even stuff like "if God is Love, why does evil exist?"--will transform your spiritual life. If you never stop the questioning, never give up seeking Truth, you will never stop finding the God who is bigger than all your questions and doubts.

    I've been there, done that, still finding God--I grew up fundy in the seventies and left Christianity for a long time because I couldn't believe that the God who was enough to spin the universe into being was also small enough to fit into the dogma boxes I was taught. I spent the next twenty years looking for God outside fundegelicalism and discovering him everywhere.

    I am praying you realize peace in the midst of your struggles. Depression, doubts and questions are normal--all the more so when you've got your Dad as your own personal nemesis--and I pray that when your own capacity to sustain faith wavers, that you can rest on the faith of we who support you. Let our energy carry you through the dark days. Let us be the face of God when the god you were taught turns away.

  31. I left a christian cult a little over a year ago and still experience days like these. They are fewer and further between, but they still happen and hit me like a ton of bricks. I refer to them as 'dark days'. Although our experiences are different, I feel like I can relate in so many ways. Abuse, emotional/mental/spiritual from people that we allow to become authorities in our lives takes a long time to recover from, unfortunately. I'm still struggling through the process of detaching God from my experience, but it's hard and it's going to take a long long time to come to terms with it. I have nothing positive to offer you other than, I'm sorry you have to go through this, it sucks, I know.

  32. I'm not sure if this helps. Maybe this isn't what you meant, but I had a professor once who addressed the issue of having trouble seeing God as a Father. He had a student who felt it difficult to picture God as a loving Father when his own father was so abusive, i.e. describing God as a Father didn't make God seem loving. The prof's response was that when you recognise your father's faults, you are comparing them to what a good or perfect father would be like. God is that perfect Father.


  33. Ruth, I'm so sorry to hear that you are in that black hole again.
    I have been struggling with depressions for ten years now and at first I didn't want to take any medicine. But when I finally did, it made a great difference and gradually made the dark cloud that surrounded me and dragged me down a little lighter. It really helped me.

    Now I get by without medicine but there are things that are very important for me to stay healthy: get enough sleep, eat on regular hours (and get a lot of protein! eggs and cans of tuna are great!), exercise every day (a 30 minute walk is enough), get sunshine every day (vitamin d is essential for not getting depressions), eating good fats (I take omega-3 pills and a teaspoon of evening primrose oil every day).
    When I feel that the dark cloud is catching up on me, I get very careful to just stay on my schedule even though I just would want to stay in bed all day.
    It does help, but it is a struggle. I also take magnesium at night when I'm stressed and it really helps me to wind down.

    I would be more than happy to sponsor some supplements for you every month if you would like to try them. :)

  34. I haven't read all the prior responses yet, but depression is definitely cyclical.

    For the summer - does your school have RAs in the dorms over the summer? My school had RAs for both the summer college dorms and for the summer camps that used the dorms. Also, see if they hire students to lead the summer orientation groups. Sometimes professors who will be traveling all summer will have a student housesit, so that's something to look into.

  35. "Ruth, you exhibit so many character traits (kindness, honesty, humility, courage, to name a few) that your ATI family lectured on incessantly, totally misunderstood and failed to personally achieve."

    ^yeah that^ (((Ruth)))

  36. Depression comes and goes, and Spring is a prime time for depression, coming at the end of cold, sunless months. Exercise can help. I've noticed my issues with depression have become far less since I lost my license (seizures) and started to having to walk everywhere.

    As for complaining- do it! Get it out! It's your blog. You don't have a responsibility to make us happy or to entertain us. I know America as a whole, and the QF/ATI subculture in particular, views sadness as something to be covered up and gotten over ASAP, but you need to feel your feelings, even the "bad" ones like sadness and anger.

  37. I've been accused of toxicity too, in a very different kind of situation, but I know how that feels.

    Don't let your father's words define you. Know that any poison is coming from him and from those who mistreated you. They would try to smear this filth on you but it will never stick.

    Will be holding a positive prayerful space for you to find a great job and supportive environment for the summer.

  38. Ruth, there is some great advice here. I know you feel really low right now, but know that you are not alone and it is not your fault. There are a lot of great people in this world that care about you and don't blame you for things you didn't do.

    Now I know this is radical, but let's look at your father as a human being. Hard to believe, but he is. He doesn't always act like one, but deep down, he's just as flawed and vulnerable as anyone.

    When he heard about the abuse from his fellow Christian Man, of course he reacted in anger to you. If he didn't, he'd have to accept guilt for not doing what he should have done, which was protect his innocent child. Rather than accepting that, he blamed his innocent child, and then blamed the adult you'd become. Deep down, he knows he set you up for it, made you even more vulnerable, and it's his fault. He can't accept responsibility for anything, despite what he preaches, so this was a huge blow to his foundation. He may not recognize it as such, but he does know that he really dodged a bullet here--you could have been raped. That is on his head.

    I don't know if he truly has love for you, but I hope he does, somewhere, deep down. It's easy to feel angry at him (for us, the readers, anyway), but I really also feel pity for him. I suspect you might, too. You are healing; he is not, yet. I hope he can, it will help you.

    Your own feelings of guilt and depression are normal at this stage, but you're dealing with it, and in a healthy way. You're going to get through this. You're doing the right things--you're getting help, you're venting, and you're seeking answers. Keeping your mind and emotional health in focus is important, and don't ignore your physical health, too. Eating right, exercising (a yoga class can help with both mind and body!), and looking toward your future will help you on your path.

    I am so proud of you. I pray that not only will you continue to heal, but that your healing will help your father to start to realize his own trespasses, and to give up control to his Creator. He is so very weak.

  39. Ruth, yes, depression is often cyclical. Especially when you are leaving behind a way of life that was painful, confusing, and abusive. This WILL pass. These are the times when you lean back and let God carry you ... if you can get yourself to trust Him that much.

    I found C.S. Lewis's book "The Problem of Pain" to be profoundly helpful in dealing with the difficulties I faced in leaving IBLP/ATI. Lewis faces the problem squarely and doesn't rely on the old platitudes to solve the problem. Maybe you would find it useful.

    As for your Dad and the "Martin" question, I hope what he got from those he talked to was confirmation that you ARE telling the truth, and I hope that he is now labouring under a burden of profound guilt for not only having failed to protect his daughter, but for throwing her under the bus when she tried to protect herself.

    I agree with those who've said that your college's placement office (and maybe your therapist) can help you with the issue of summer lodging and work.

    And never apologize for sharing your pain. Not only is it your blog, but if you share only the good and not the bad of your journey, then you're being fake. And isn't that the kind of life you're working so hard to escape?

    Love and prayers,

  40. Ruth,

    Add me to the list of people living with depression. I can tell you that it is absolutely cyclical, but the fact that you are even trying to work through your childhood is a huge step forward that many, many people don't even make.

    My therapist once explained depressive episodes like this: You're driving to work, and there's a huge pothole. The first time it's there, you fall in and can't get out for a good long while. The next couple of times you drive down the road, you see the pothole coming, but you still fall in because it's so big you just can't get around it. Eventually, you find a way to take a different road to avoid the pothole, but even if you do need to take the damaged road sometimes, you might still fall in the pothole, but eventually you learn how to get out more and more quickly.

    Basically, it's a way of saying, you live and you learn. You're not always going to be able to avoid what triggers your anxiety/depression, but the more you work to understand why certain things set off an episode, the more you can do to rationalize your way out of it.

  41. In Spiritual CommunionMarch 17, 2010 at 7:41 AM


    You need MORE faith. I'm not suprised by your missing belief in our Father. When you throw him out with both hands and deny his commandments how can you expect it to be easy to find Him or His Grace? You have enough people giving you sugar-coated assurances of your worth but you still seek it out and desire the counsel of darkness. Adopt a visionary attitude about your life and your depression will be taken care of by God. You left a loving home because you were "sad" about that home and you're still sad. Which came first the depression or the lack of faith?

  42. Ruth,
    I am by no means a doctor, but I can offer up some things that work for me. I am not diagnosed as a depressive, but respond to extreme stress with depressive symptoms. My therapist likens it to slamming my foot on a brake: I freeze up and shut down emotionally, usually wanting to isolate. So, here's some stuff that works for me:
    1. St. John's Wort & Vitamin B complex: St. John's Wort has been used for thousands of years to aid in depressive symptoms, and a lack of Vitamin B12 has also been linked to depression.
    2. Diet: I can't tell you how much overhauling my diet has helped me. About 3 months ago we instilled a "whole foods" only policy in our house. Basically, if there are ingredients not found in nature, we don't eat it. This does not have to be expensive, but I'll readily admit that it can be time-consuming, cooking wise. But I feel it's totally worth it.
    3. Yoga/meditation: A HUGE help. Even if I can only get 10 minutes of stretching and quiet focus in, it's something I consider to be a crucial part of my day.
    Hang in there. This too shall pass.
    PS-Can I just say that I think you would love a camp job? I worked at one for several summers in college, and it was an incredible experience.

  43. In Spiritual Communion,
    Loving home? That's a joke if I ever heard one. Abuse doesn't happen in a loving home.

  44. Hmmm...and sometimes depression is a chemical imbalance,"In Spiritual Communion". I'm wondering how we have 'sugar-coasted' her worth. I believe we all know what you believe Ruth's worth is!


  45. Take a look at the web page he posted. Interesting? Shakes head.


  46. In Spiritual Communion, I see that reading comprehension is not your strong suit. The home that Ruth left is so far from "loving" that I wonder what blog you have been reading, because it certainly wasn't hers.

    Since you seem to think it's a good idea, hows about you lock yourself in a prayer closet for a day or 10.

  47. Ruth, many have said it, but I will say it again. Depression is cyclical. Times of the year, times of the month, times of the day. A hundred other triggers. But, listen, many people who suffer from depression fail to factor in the simple exhaustion that comes from the battle. Don't despair. You may just be tired and finding it hard to cope right now.

    People like "In Spiritual Communion" would try to get us to think that if we just had enough faith we would be happy all the time. Hypocrites! They aren't happy. In fact, Jesus wasn't happy all the time. You have the right to ignore the stupid lies.

    As far as your faith goes, give thanks that God is not like your father. You are hurting right now and a little afraid. That makes you feel vulnerable and confused. We all go through that from time to time and you are right in the middle of a serious battle, so give yourself a break. Even though it feels lousy, it isn't a big deal. You will get through it. Your life is becoming more healthy and more enjoyable.

    I wish I could convince you of how much God loves you. There are a lot of voices these days, but He will always be there for you. You just keep going. You are doing the right thing.

  48. To "In Spiritual Communion"

    The only spirit you are in communion with is what most cultures call the Devil.

    You are an evil person, with a blame-the-victim mentality. You are posting here hoping to destroy your daughter's mental health and so discredit her and/or shut her up.

    You will not succeed.

    Ruth will grow stronger every day. She will continue to find friendship, support and love every where she goes. She will laugh, deep belly laughs of true delight and she will have real friends laughing along with her. Life will be a delight to her.

    She will thrive away from the poisonous family that almost killed her. You will not succeed!

    ROFLOL You will not succeed, wicked man!

    You are vile. I do not pity you at all. When you hardened your heart to your own children you forfeited your option to be pitied.

    James 2:13 "judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful"

    Bam!You got thumped!!

  49. Daddy Darth, you wouldn't know a loving home if it jumped up and beat you around your oblivious head. But thanks for reaffirming what I already knew, that you can't possibly let one of Ruth's posts go by without some useless, hate-ridden comment.

  50. In answer to parts of In Spiritual Communion's post:

    'When you throw him out with both hands and deny his commandments how can you expect it to be easy to find Him or His Grace?'

    When you grow up with (and throw away) a false, legalistic version of God, it *isn't* easy to find the real one. From what I've read, Ruth's family life was so far removed from grace that finding *that* is another huge obstacle to overcome.

    'You have enough people giving you sugar-coated assurances of your worth but you still seek it out and desire the counsel of darkness.'

    I think that Ruth is intelligent, courageous and gracious. No sugar-coating involved; I'm being completely honest. If Ruth desired the counsel of 'darkness' she'd go back into that prayer closet of yours.

    'Adopt a visionary attitude about your life and your depression will be taken care of by God.'

    Sure, Ruth, adopt a visionary attitude. Envision what you would like your life to be and what you want to learn and accomplish and share with people.

    Now, this 'if you do A, it will cause B' attitude. You *might* end up with B. Sometimes, you do. But nobody, no matter how righteous, can make God do something – suppose he wants to go to C, or go through D, X and N, in that order. The typical response to this is "I needed something to happen, and it didn't happen. It can't be God's doing, because he's completely good, so I guess I'm not good enough." Faith as you describe it is awfully short-lived.

    'You left a loving home because you were "sad" about that home and you're still sad. Which came first the depression or the lack of faith?'

    I can't speak for Ruth, obviously, but my guess would be the lack of unconditional love, or the constant pettiness, or the victim-blaming, or all three. Quite enough to cause depression and a lack of faith at the same time.

  51. Ohhhhh, Darth. A visionary attitude? Let's have a look at that. Webster's Dictionary has as its first definition of "visionary" - a person given to fanciful speculations and enthusiasms with little regard for what is actually possible. Oxford English Dictionary says that visionary means - airy: not practical or realizable; speculative; "airy theories about socioeconomic improvement"; "visionary schemes for getting rich"

    Soooo... Ruth should live her life in a delusion that can never be realized? I think you and your fellow cult members do that enough for ALL of us.

  52. Ruth, it's not poison you're spreading - it's sunshine. Sometimes when you let that into a closed-up house it hurts people's eyes.

    I second all the suggestions for applying for jobs now (I know it's hard, when you're depressed) and for contacting your school's job office, and also mentioning to any professors you talk to that you're looking for a summer housesitting gig.

    Just get the word out and eventually a job will pop up, even in this economy. Let your dorm-mates know you don't have summer housing yet too, they may get a job or roomate offer they don't want and pass it on.

    This is a common problem for working-class college students and kids who have aged out of foster care or otherwise can't go home - your college will have some ideas for it. They want you to come back next year and that means not being homeless for the summer.

  53. Ruth,

    I too grew up with some major issues regarding my dad. Our stories are very different, but the outcomes are similar.

    I won't go into details because this is your story, but I will say this.....Our God is amazing! He will heal you. But, that healing will not come over night. It took me years. I remember some very ugly places in my life and I rejoice now how God brought me through. While there were tons of areas of pain, there was great peace and healing too.

    The only way to get past your upbringing and all that has happened to you is to go through it. Ruth, as a child you were brainwashed. You were conditioned from a very young age and that is never going to go away. There are many different kinds of memories in your brain and one of those areas is specifically for emotional memories. No matter what happens, those memories do not go away.

    What you will end up needing to do is to learn new ways to think and react. So, when your dad goes crazy over your posts and such and when he says the same kinds of things that trigger reactions in you, it is a matter of learning how to react differently to them and understanding why they are there and what to do about them.

    One word here on faith....it is NOT what you were taught as a child. Faith is a growing process. It is the basis of our relationship with our creator. Since the god you were introduced to is not the real God, you have a lot to relearn. The things your father represents is NOT God. ATI has taken God's words and twisted them in a way that brings glory to man. And, all the glory goes to God.

    There are so many things I'd love to talk to you about Ruth. And while you are helping lots of people here understand more about the dangers of cults and ATI specifically, please remember the ultimate goal of this blog....as one of many vehicles for healing. If you need to take breaks to help process and such between entries...do it. Do what is necessary for you. We can wait ;-)

    You are in my prayers Ruth.

  54. Dear Dad (or other member of her family),

    You seem to be laboring under the delusion that God's grace is only extended to certain people who must perform in a certain way. I'm deeply sorry that you can't see that grace is everywhere. God rains on the righteous and wicked alike. His blessings are for all those who have eyes to recognize them. It's really too bad that you can't see past the end of your nose.

    Be sure that I am praying for you today. I pray that you open your eyes to the enormous, extravagant, extraordinary grace that God gives us all every day. May you be so overwhelmed by the infinity of grace that you learn to love wastefully.

    God is not a vengeful Scrooge and neither should any of us who think to speak on his behalf.

    Sending much love to you, Dad, and to you, Ruth. I'm off to spend a beautiful day with my kids and every smile and laugh and joke we share today is for you, too.

  55. What I really hate about Daddy Darth is his complete lack of anything resembling love for another person, not even his own child. She admitted she was weak and vulnerable so he moved in for the kill.

    He is a predator in every sense of the word.

    It is tragic that he found a religious system that would prop up his delusions of grandeur.
    Love what Lolly said: growing up in this family is "quite enough to cause depression and lack of faith at the same time".

  56. Dear Daddy Darth...first, Ruth did NOT leave a loving home. Her home was NOT loving. Second, she is depressed because she was raised by a man who worships principles instead of the Lord, and who didn't even serve the principles correctly.

    I'm still waiting on you to repent for child abuse, btw.

  57. In Spiritual Communion, you are full of it. You have some mighty cahoonas there, fella.

    Sign me a mom of 7 who would like to reach through the screen and wring your scrawny neck. Or maybe I can give you some obedience training like you gave your children.

    I've never met (in person or online) a person as deluded as you are. I have no idea who you are (her father, another relative, or just another fundie psycho in the camp), but you need serious help. You make all Christians look like frickin psychos. There is NOTHING Christian about you, WHATSOEVER!!! Why you keep mentioning how good you are and how bad everyone else is - is a joke.

    Take yourself, ATI/Bill Gothard, and the rest of your women-hating, child-hating, people-hating control freaks with you back to the Dark Ages where you belong.

    I've never read such horrendous things as the the things that were done to this poor child (Ruth) and the rest of her brothers and sisters. I won't even get into the Mom as she went into this "religion" (ha ha - NOT!) willingly. Sorry, but unless someone held a gun to her head and made her sign up for this gulag under duress, then she made the "choice" to go with it.

    Why don't YOU try eating liver and onions and dyed oatmeal, you jerk?!!!! I want to throw up every time I read that. And after all that torture and abuse, you show up here to abuse some more??? What in the bloody hello is wrong with you?!!!! Buzz off.

  58. Let me first reiterate what several people have said: depression can indeed by cyclical, and there is absolutely nothing shameful or hopeless about it. It is only natural that you feel grief at this time...to expect yourself not to would be absurd, and a denial of your humanity. Yet it is not hopeless. You can, and will, slowly find ways to build happiness. In many ways, being happy is a learned skill. Admit your sorrow, have your cry, and then begin to learn what helps you shed those feelings. Talking? Painting? Jogging?

    Once you find the things that help you shed grief, stick to them. I, for example, know that if I dont have a daily walk Im apt to be sadder. And that doing something that shows physical, tangible results (like baking or cleaning or building) helps make me happy. So I make sure to do these things regularly, even if I dont feel like it at the time and would MUCH rather curl up in bed, and especially when I feel the grief setting in. Do I still struggle with depression? Always. Do I learn how to manage it better every day? You bet. And you can to. Just keep learning about yourself, find methods to pull yourself out of grief, and don't feel like you're weird or defective because you're sad sometimes anyway. It's only natural and part of being human.

    I wouldn't be too scared about your relationship with God changing either, by the way. That too is only natural given the circumstances and the rather perverse way God has been presented to you up til now. How could you not have issues?

    My only advice to you would be to not let other people dictate your relationship with God. To let them poison your spiritual aspect would be sad indeed. So question, read, take religion classes, and meditate on things...but do it on your terms and because you want to. If you desire a relationship with God, over time I am confident you will figure out who that God is, and how to connect with them with a spirit born of love (rather than fear). And if in the path of figuring out your own relationship with God you stop believing temporarily or permanently...thats OK. God isn't an insecure little child who demands constant homage; and no matter how your struggle or do or don't believe, that won't change the eternal love that exists for you. Nothing can :)


  59. hi ruth! i just wanted to encourage you that ... i went through a time when i was so scared that God wasn't real once... not just any God, but ya know... the real one. the Christian one. i thought, "what if He isn't real? or what if He isn't who i thought He said He is? what if nothing has a reason or a purpose, and when we die... that's just the end of it?" *shudders*, it was a yucky mind game. i would pray "please be real!" and feel silly while i prayed it. but then i tried, "if You're real, please show me!"

    and it didn't happen overnight. but it happened. i was raised Catholic, and still have a place in my heart for Catholicism. but it's not how i find/understand God best.

    i remember during that time, there wasn't anyone i wanted to talk to about it. i didn't want to talk to Christians because i didn't want to hear "you just have to have faith" and i didn't want to talk to non-Christians because i didn't want them to talk me further out of my belief. i know it wasn't the brave thing to do, but i tucked it away and just didn't tell anyone.

    (you are so brave, ruth! just so ya know =)it's true!)

    so then one day i was sitting in the cafeteria eating a grape. and i thought to myself "it's amazing that our bodies need so much to survive, much less thrive, much less survive COMFORTABLY... and even more amazing the all the things we need are provided for us in the world we live in. and even MORE amazing that our bodies were made with a way to PROCESS that which we put in it... that there's a way to put the things we need into it!"

    and that was my way of starting at the very beginning foundation of what i believed about God again.

    in the end, i have to say, it's C.S. Lewis i tend to find the most helpful. he once said “Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods” ... and then went on to say (i think it was in the same paragraph) something to the effect of: faith does not deny reason.

    and told a story about how, given his knowledge of surgeons, he knew it was reasonable to believe that a proper surgeon would never start cutting into him until he was properly under. but when the surgeon started lowering that horrid mask down onto his face and telling him to count backwards from 10, he emotionally panicked and lost all faith that the surgeon would do his job the right way.

    hahaha i'm so sorry - i ramble and i hope i make any sense! what' i'm really trying to say is that i really don't believe that God would ever be opposed to someone seeking out the reasons why they believe what they do. i think, infact, that is one reason He says to us that if we seek we will find =).

  60. i can definitely understand how it would be really hard not to see God as being like your dad. i think it's pretty standard for parents to represent God to their children in a way... but God is not your dad. i honestly don't believe that God is cruel to us. He's only ever been gentle in His dealings with me.

    you can read and interpret His words for yourself - you can find out the hebrew and greek meanings for phrases that seem to go against His character (which is love! that's not to say that He doesn't have a standard or that He doesn't correct, but His love is not tyrannical. it is genuine.)

    like, it was so interesting to me when i found out the meaning of the "rod verses" in Scripture. when the original language and when placed in historical, cultural context, it doesn't come out meaning that God ever wanted us to strike our kids at all! in fact, in one of the verses "rod" means something more like a "shepherd's staff" or a "king's scepter" and "beat" was the same version of the original word "beat" from the story of jonah and the whale, where it said "the sun beat down on jonah" and literally translated it was something more like "the sun was *ever present, not always 100% pleasant, constantly aware* on jonah" hahaha... so the verse (which says something like "if you beat your child with the rod he will not die" ..think it's in proverbs) actually comes out more like "if you are constantly present and aware of your child with your gentle guiding staff of authority, he will not die"

    a further study on sheep in that culture shows that a shepherd would NEVER have hit a sheep with his staff (and kings weren't really into whacking people with their scepters either hahaha) - a shepherd's staff was used for 1)the gently nudge a sheep in one direction or another, 2)the curved part was to gently lift any sheep who fell into a hole or ditch out of the whole or ditch, or 3)if a lamb was eating berries and made it's way too deep into a thorn-bush to get out by itself, the shepherd would use his staff to gently untangle the lamb from the bush so it could go free.

    the ONLY time a shepherds staff was ever used for hitting anything, was if something tried to attack the sheep. in which case the attacking thing would get whacked. not the sheep.

    so anyway, ALL THAT TO SAY (hahaha i'm so sorry, i'm long winded...) that once you know God's character better, it's easier to find what needs more studying out in Scripture.

    step one, know that God is not like your dad <3

    step two... if you've never read the chronicles of narnia, i recommend it, highly =)! i do note that aslan is c.s. lewis's interpretation of God's character, but ... from what i know of the Lord, i have to say i think it's pretty accurate - at least, as far as human interpretations go. =)

    i'm so sorry your dad keeps saying hurtful things to you. it isn't right, and i will be praying that he understands someday - that he allows himself to be reasoned with <3


  61. I find that when things even out in my life is when depression kicks in the worst.

    Its as if the peace allows you space to allow painful things time to surface and be dealt with.

    (((Good luck.)))

  62. "The ONLY time a shepherds staff was ever used for hitting anything, was if something tried to attack the sheep. in which case the attacking thing would get whacked. not the sheep."

    It sounds to me like Ruth's dad needs a shepherd's staff across his backside. Of course, Ruth leaving the house and bringing this up on a public blog IS rather like a shepherd's staff across the backside!

    As for depression, I think of it as a mental sinking down under a weight. When a child is trained up by being beaten down, the child will sink under the weight, or stay very still and frightened to avoid the beating. Even when released from this way of training you are still "mentally beaten down".

    For example, I about 7 months ago I received a terrible back injury. I was bedridden for 3-4 months and in agony. My muscles reacted to the nerve damage by seizing up and contorting. They were like that 24 hours a day for those months. So even now, when the back injury is healed, my muscles have been trained that way...it is a habit for them in reaction to a previous damage. I have to conscientiously retrain them and work at them to straighten them out. There are times when the nerves pinch and scream at me, and sometimes I just give up for the day and let them be.

    Depression is like that. For more than 20 years you were mentally/spiritually trained a certain way. You are trying to release that training of the mind and grow and straighten out. Some days your therapy will feel great, and other days your mind and spirit will complain. Some times you will catch yourself mentally limping out of habit.

    Therapy takes time, and effort, and it leaps ahead occasionally, and other times it feels like you've been in the same spot forever.

    Day by day, Ruth. Little by little.

    And I will reiterate what others have said here. God is not your father, or Bill Gothard, or the Pearls, or the Ezzos.

    He is a loving shepherd who uses what happens in our lives (circumstances, choices, what others inflict upon us) for our good if we trust and love Him, if we are being called according to His purposes.


  63. I don't consider myself Atheist but more Agnostic but I question the existence of a God & if there is one why would he punish people? If God does exist some are taught of his love and acceptance & yet some are taught of his wrath. If you are questioning those things do some soul searching before deciding on a path. It's okay to not believe in something just because you grew up a certain way. I know people who were raised in church but are Atheists. As others have said you will have cycles of depression & given what I've read here it's going to be awhile before you may come to grips with everything. But don't ever feel bad if you question God based on how you grow up because that's the sort of decision or feeling that lots of people have & it's okay to question.

  64. Yes it is okay, agnostic anonymous. =)

    It is okay to question, okay to decide not to believe, okay to make your own beliefs. It is all good.

    I do believe in God, but am constantly questioning things I hear/read from my religion. I won't accept anything that takes away free will (because it doesn't square with reality) or anything that denies the Great Love that touched my heart one day.

    I know the Great Love as Jesus. That's my understanding. I make room in my life for people with a different understanding.

    I do not believe in the idea of a God in the sky who micromanages all of life and preplanned every bit. And if I did, I would have to hate his guts, frankly, because of all the evil in the world.

    I like what one person wrote earlier, some find healing in believing. Some find healing in not believing. And some, like Sue Monk Kidd (Dance of the Dissident Daughter, Secret Life of Bees) find new ways of relating to God than what they were raised with.

    It's kinda creeping me out to write anymore about religion though, as there have already been some long posts and it sounds to me (just to me! not saying anybody means it to be this way!) like other people are trying to tell Ruth what to believe.

    Because of my own controlling abusive parent, I shy away from people telling me what to believe and I hope I don't come off as pushy to anyone else.

    Peace out. =)

  65. Oh Ruth, if you didn't occasionally be depressed I'd be worried about you. It's part of the healing process. There will be good days and bad days. Sometimes the bad days seem to surface when things are going well which seems counter intuitive. I think this is because our minds and hearts have a way of tossing us things to work on when they know we're ready for it, when we're in a good place and have a good network around us. Reach out to friends, your counselor and write write and write some more!

    No surprise that your father is calling you poison. He's wrong of course but to expect him to behave any differently would be insane. At least he is consistent! I'm so glad your brother validated your memories and confirmed Martin is a creepy pedophile! That is HUGE! Thanks Ruth's brother, that took courage to do!

    Ruth, your father's facade is showing cracks and he will say and do anything to keep his facade in tact. Expect some bizarre behavior on his part a you grow stronger and more autonomous. There's nothing an abuser hates more than when their victims succeed!

    You may have heard this phrase before, I remind myself of it all the time: Living well is the best revenge.

    Also wanted to say what so many others have said before me. It's OK to forgo religion and God either temporarily or forever or in any combination that makes sense for you. God didn't create religion, man did. I am a happy agnostic. I'm sure that equates to heathen in the ATI world but out here in the real world it's common and acceptable. There's a philosophy and book I've been researching called, Good Without God, that might appeal to you. It focuses on how to be a good person without religion with the focus being on ethics and humanity.

    Hang in there Ruth!

  66. first time commentor.

    firstly: i hope that your dad's words aren't too triggery for you. i'm sure that the patterns of his speech and accusations could put you in a bad place.

    please try and step back from that and let his comments just reveal him for the person he is.

    frightened. angry. selfish.

    secondly: i read once that sometimes depression or anxiety is the only sane response to an insane situation.

    if you came out of all of this scott free i would be more concerned that you were just shutting down and not allowing yourself any emotions at all.

    i hope that you find a way to walk through the depression. i am sure that your therapist would have some suggestions.

    so much respect for what you are doing. you are a gracious, sensible, intelligent and interesting person. i admire you greatly.


    (ps i think that library job sounds cool. a little bit of something without the pressure to be 'Good With Kids' before you have your confidence. at some point i'm sure it could be very therapeutic for you to do some work with children and discover that you are not your parents and that you are capable of changing those patterns.)

  67. I was hoping you'd write again soon. I wondered if maybe you were
    waiting for your father to respond to the first post before writing
    another one. Frankly, I was shocked when he finally did answer at the
    VENOM that was contained in the post. It was enough to make me pause,
    so I can understand how it would be difficult for you to take and might
    bring you down.

    You don't deserve that.

    Also, I remember this time of year as being very full of stress and the
    kinds of emotions that you are describing even with a supportive family.
    It is hard to simultaneously study for exams and write papers while
    searching for summer employment.

    I have heard from other nannies that even if you have a way of raising
    kids, you have to put that aside because the parents of the kids will
    have their own ideas (and neuroses) that you would have to cater to. I
    read about one nanny who had a bad experience with her family, and so
    she used her time as a nanny to watch other mothers love their kids so
    that she would be a better parent when she had her own kids.


  68. When things start getting better, I get afraid. What if I don't deserve this? What if I mess it up? What if I lose it all and end up back where I started? I've lived so much of my life in darkness that I'm almost comfortable there...where everything is familiar... all my life I have felt safest in the darkest place in my heart.
    It gets better. It gets worse. And then it gets better again. I ask God to shine His light on me and to lift me up out of my self. Sometimes He does immediately and I am so very thankful. And sometimes I just keep waiting. But at some point, it always gets better.

  69. Ruth,

    Not that being good with kids is particularly crucial for you at this time, but I expect that it would ease your mind greatly to be able to put your parenting fears to rest.

    Because of the dysfunctional relationship I had with my parents (largely due to fundy Christianity being used addictively--see Father Leo Booth's "When God is a Drug"), I wondered during my college years if I could be a better parent than I'd had. I wish I'd known then a few of lessons that have now stood me in good stead in my 13 years of parenting.

    1. The golden rule goes a long way. Regardless of method, philosophy or pedagogy, children are just regular people and they respond well to being treated with respect.

    2. Treat your children as if they were honored guests in your home. I got this one from Sandra Dodd, one of the more well-known of unschoolers on the internet. Children are almost always invited into life, if not always consciously then at least by parents' participating in behavior that can result in a child. Give that child the same respect and gracious manners you would bestow on any other person you have invited into your house.

    3. Parenting is a spiritual practice. Taking care of children is relatively easy to do. But to offer your best self to your children with the respect and honor due to a guest requires always growing and learning who that best self is. Jon Kabat Zinn said in "Mindful Parenting" that children are the best Zen masters because they will always know how to expose your weaknesses. How you handle those exposures are your opportunities for spiritual and personal growth. The idea works just as well in Christian families as it does in Buddhist families.

    While I understand your fears about how/who you will be with children as a result of your own childhood, don't borrow trouble. Children only need you to be thoughtful, humble, willing to make mistakes and own up to them, and to recognize them for the whole people that they are. Children are also remarkably forgiving, which is good because parenting is always an on-the-job training, no matter where you came from.

  70. oh - i just wanted to add to this statement that you made:

    " I keep hoping that God has a purpose for the struggling people like me have experienced (and worse). That's really difficult to believe - that a god would punish people or make them suffer for His purposes."

    *hugs* i 100% do not believe that God punishes people or makes them suffer for His purposes. i think it happens because we live in a fallen world with people who are allowed to make their own choices. and sometimes the choices people make hurt each other. and i know that it makes God sad when His little ones (like you <3 ) are hurt.

    but there's a Scripture romans 8:28 that says "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

    i think this means that He didn't choose for those bad things to happen to you, and certainly didn't want those things to happen to you - but He can bring about a purpose for them. He can use your experience to help keep other little ones from being hurt the same way. <3


  71. "Your reduced capacity to experience desire and satisfaction is one of the many effects of our turning away from God to find happiness, wisdom, or satisfaction elsewhere. If you turn to God now, you can look forward to a repaired capacity for desire, along with a superabundance of everything that will truly satisfy you, in the new heavens and earth that God has prepared for his people. That will be the first step toward spiritual health."

    This is an excerpt from the link Darth Vater so, um, 'kindly' provided for his daughter.

    Isn't it amazing that even his chosen title "in spiritual communion" reeks of judgement against Ruth and overweening, preening spiritual pride for himself?

    The link he provided is utter ignorance and stupidity, expostulated in the arrogance of the patriarchal voice, no doubt from some Son of Hell of similar ilk to himself.

    Both men, as well as being crassly insensitive, uneducated and ill-informed, clearly have done no reading, research or sitting down to humbly listen to people and people groups who have ever experienced oppression, injustice, violence, restriction or loss of basic freedoms, autonomy and human rights, a regime of fear, intolerance, PTSD and abuse. If they had, they would know that depression is a very common symptom of a human spirit that has suffered, during the long and gradual healing process. They would also know that anger and rage are normal and appropriate responses to abuse, and that this anger needs cartharsis and to be acknowledged. Depression *can* be this righteous anger turned inwards, when it is not *allowed* or not *nice* to be angry. And I mean really angry. Anger in women is rarely validated and acceptable - especially in toxic, misognynistic patriarchal circles. One freeing experience when dealing with the anger and depression stages of the healing journey is to see a picture/vision of Jesus really ANGRY and wrathful on your behalf towards your abusers. There are significant times when jesus got really angry. Towards abusive shepherds. Towards judgemental, self-righteous pharisees. Towards people who abused children and caused them to stumble and made it hard for them to trustingly approach Jesus to receive his blessing.

    Ruth, I'm not suggesting this depression you are experience is due to suppressed anger, you know yourself and what you need the best, the above is more for the information of Darth Vater et al. Both anger and depression are normal parts of the greiving process which those callous fools would know if they had any compassion and care for people at all.

    It is terrifying to think that this man has been brow-beating your mother all these years with such mistruth, error and vitriol. It is amazing that she hasn't had a total break-down. I deplore his ways of perverting scripture to mentally bash and maim you. It is really sick. I am a devout, Bible-believing Christian (and a refugee from Gothardism) but even for a legalisitic Christian your father has a screw loose.

    David knew depression, after severe stress, loss, betrayal etc. Many Christian 'counsellors' are dangerous loose canons who just can't keep their ignorant leaps of illogic and sweeping, stereotypical judgements out of the counselling room. But there are people who specialise in child abuse and cult exiting support, who would understand and provide wisdom, not yet more judgement and proscription.

    God says he is near to the broken hearted and saves those crushed in spirit. He is there for you and He'll never leave you. He is nothing like your earthly father and nothing like the patriarchs make him out to be. He is NOT THEIR PERSONAL HENCHMAN!

  72. I absolutely agree that depression can "come and go". It's not necessary cyclical, although it can be. I have had to be on anti-depressants at one point in my life to resolve a depressive episode. I also have utilized therapy...these are great tools to minimize the impact and get THROUGH the depression, but it didn't make instantly "un-depressed"

    I also found my faith and walk with God to be cyclical as well. There are times that I really feel close to God and in my faith walk, and it feels like I'm in constant growth. Then there are those times when my world doesn't make sense and I feel like God is distant.

    My prayer for you is that you will find that growth filled, close walk in your faith. And also that you will be able to leave the darkness behind.

    While your parents abused Christianity, it doesn't mean you have to lose your faith. I pray you don't.


  73. I'm sorry about your depression coming back. Yes, it is cyclical for many people who have it. Lots of good advice here about meds and so on, and sunshine, and good nutrition, and exercise. I find sunshine and exercise help even tho' I hate making the effort.

    What you're doing is really hard, analysing, coming to terms with, exposing, dealing with everything you've been put through: it's not surprising that sometimes the black clouds roll in, even when things are going well.

    You are a strong, and kind and gracious person - and that's not sugar coating it.

    You have lots of friends here, and lots of people are keeping you in their prayers.

    I hope your clouds do lift soon. Be kind to yourself, and care for yourself in small ways as well as in the big way you're trying to by dealing with your background.

  74. Ruth - I found your blog through the Gentle Christian Mothers message board and have been absolutely glued to it.

    So many others have talked about the faith angle and the depression angle that I will just let their words stand. Just know that God is big enough to handle ALL our questions.

    As far as summer jobs go, I will 2nd (3rd?) looking at your university library. I worked at ours every summer and loved it. Most universities will have a host of summer jobs available, especially if they are larger and have lots of activities going on. One of my friends worked landscaping for the summer, some worked the information desk, some the cafeteria. Look now and see what you find.

    Keep pressing on, you have an amazing strength.

    Oh, and this morning I was listening to Barlow Girl singing 'Stand in the Rain' and it made me think of you...maybe look it up on youtube and listen to it.


  75. Hi Ruth,
    I have never commented before and have only checked your blog occasionally (it's often linked to from TWOP). I just wanted to share with you about something my husband and I have been through.

    My husband and I are 22. When we were 18 and just dating, he was diagnosed with leukemia. Since our dads are both pastors, his cancer battle was on public display as people from the churches were often coming to the hospital, calling, writing, etc...While this was all very helpful, it was also very difficult as we each had to process what it all meant in regards to our faith...why he had cancer, what was God doing up there while we were hurting, and so on.

    What I eventually came to (through reading Ecclesiastes) is that this world is so messed up. I don't believe God causes the suffering. Perhaps he allows it (as he did with Job), or perhaps it's just the result of a fallen world.

    I still don't know the answers; I suspect I won't until I die. I just want to encourage you to go ahead and be angry. Yell at God. He can take it. And then cry. Cry over what you have lost, and missed out on, and suffered through. Then look to Jesus, because he went through infinitely more on the cross than we ever will.
    Grace, Peace, and Best of Luck!!

  76. Ruth, did your mother ever have depression/post-natal depression? What was your father's take on that?


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