Friday, April 9, 2010

Part 16 - Puberty

(Note: This is not a post about "sex" or purity. This is a post about how my journey into puberty occurred. I'll get to the purity stuff later.)

Discretion vs. Simplemindedness
The ability to avoid words, actions, and attitudes which could result in undesirable consequences (Proverbs 22:3)- Bill Gothard

My body started developing secondary sex traits very early. By the time I was ten, I had breast buds and needed a training bra. What might surprise some is the fact that my mother and father saw this and immediately set about taking me to the thrift store to find some training bras. Yes, much to my embarassmenmt, my father went along for the purchase. It was humiliating to have the entire family standing outside the fitting room while my mother handed bra after bra over the partition for me to try on. When I found one that fit, she loudly announced the size to my entire family so they could search the racks. It's one of the subtle hypocrisies of my family: your body was supposed to be a highly personal, spiritual thing, but because of reasons I'll state below, it wasn't kept private.

I also started having body odor and a need to shave my armpits a year later. This was problematic because, unless you were a boy, there wasn't room in the budget for antipersperant or razors. I realized that I smelled gamey so I took to stealing my mother's deodorant on the sly. The razors were a bit more difficult. My father ran the boys' lives like a prison warden. To get a new razor, they had to leave the used one on his sink. He would look it over and decide if it was dull enough to require a new one and then leave the new one in their plastic basket under the bathroom sink. They were in charge of their razors and since my father hated wasting money, they were encouraged to use them until it cut their faces from dullness. If they went through more than a certain quantity every month, it was discussed during family time.

I wasn't allowed, technically, to shave. Anything. My mother wasn't allowed to shave anything, either. Dad decreed that god put that hair on our bodies for a reason and he didn't see why women should shave at all. I always wanted to ask him why men should shave, then, given the biblical justification for growing a beard and applying the same standard of "God put it there" rationalization to men. I never did ask. I did, however, start sneaking razors from the homes of people we visited and I'd hide them around the house, in places most people wouldn't think to look. I just wasn't comfortable with having hair under my arms and, at a certain point, I didn't like it on my legs. When it started growing on my pelvic area, I was in a panic! That hair stood for something I didn't want to think about. It was an outward symbol that my childhood was coming to a close and in ATI-fundamental-QF circles, that had broader implications. Consequently, for about a year, I butchered my pubic hair in uneducated attempts to get rid of it. I plucked it. I shaved it. I did anything to try to stop it's inevitable appearance or spread. One afternoon, I hadn't been so careful after my shower and I left some of the evidence in the bottom of the bathtub. One of my brothers saw it and told my father. He punished me publicly with the "rod". I was humiliated.

My period started when I was thirteen. I had been feeling very crampy and grumpy for several days. It was so uncomfortable that I had told my mother I thought I was ill. I had snapped at a younger brother for something petty and my mom reminded me of the JOY principle. In our house, there was no room for PMS. That evening, when I was changing into my nightgown, I saw the blood in my underwear. Once again, panic set in. I had no older sisters and my mother's idea of educating me on my own body was limited to telling me the rudimentarily how babies were made. She'd neglected to tell me about how painful a period could be or how much blood there would be. I knew that periods existed because I'd seen her sanitary napkins and been with her when she bought them. I'd seen the calendar and the dots marking the start and end of her flow. I knew about planning intercourse around ovulation. It was the physical experience of it that had never been discussed. I shoved my dirty underwear in the fireplace when no one was looking and shoved tissue into my new undies to keep from telling anyone about my new "womanhood". I went to bed.

As you might guess, this didn't go well. When I woke up the next morning, my nightgown and bedsheet were bloody. I didn't have time to hide the evidence. My younger sister woke up and started screaming when she saw the blood. My father ran into our room and shook uncontrolably. Seeing the sheets, he assumed I'd "defiled my body". I am still shocked that this was his first impression. Rather than seeing his teenage daughter standing there in obvious shock and terror and putting two-and-two together, he assumed I'd somehow snuck someone into my room and had sex! My mother followed my sisters screams and my father's shouts into my room. She, fortunately, recognized the look of confusion on my face and calmed my father into reason. It was like a light switched on in his head and his mood changed in an instant. He was now congratulating me and smiling ear to ear. Telling me we'd have a "special lunch" later in the week to "celebrate". That was the last thing I wanted to do but I didn't have the strength to argue after the shock of the morning.

My mother helped me clean up and it was business as usual until that evening when my dad handed me a marker and proudly, almost, told me to mark the day on the calendar with a "pink dot". Mom's dots were red. I was horrified. He meant for me to keep track of this publicly? In front of my brothers? But what could I do except obey him and walk to the calendar to "place my dot of womanhood"? The following day, he and my mother took me out to lunch and explained menstruation to me. It was one of the most humiliating days of my life but it didn't stop at menstruation. I was subsequently informed of my status as a woman, now, and how I should start praying for the "one God had for me" and thinking about the type of mother I'd be.

99 comments:

  1. Oh, Ruth, how utterly embarassing. O.M.G.

    I truly feel sick to my stomach reading this post. You have been through too much, in my opinion, & I am so glad that you found a way to get out of that situation. Too much entirely!

    Take care.

    Jean

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  2. ew ew ew ew ew ew

    I can't believe they had a calendar where everyone in the household could see when your mother's period was........did they mark the days they had s*x on it as well?

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  3. I thought you and your readers might be interested in looking at Gothard's teachings from a Biblical perspective. Needless to say Gothard has no idea how to interpret scripture.

    http://www.pfo.org/evol-fad.htm

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  4. Wow, I'm sorry. I didn't got through anything that bad, but my first bra experience wasn't very good.

    My mom told my dad I needed to start wearing a bra, and he walks in and says, "You need to start wearing a bra, your little points are getting too sharp." Then I got an old bra of my sisters, not a new one. Then I started crying, and my dad said,"Why are you crying, you should rejoice." The thing is I wasn't crying because he needed a bra, I was crying because of his demeanor.

    The rest of the stuff was handled ok, and my mom did later on take me shopping from brand new bras.

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  5. Woops...that should say because I needed a bra. I really need to edit better.

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  6. Your father is a sick man. A very, very, very sick man.

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  7. Oh Ruth, that's horrible. I can't believe the first thing that popped into his mind was that you had snuck someone into your room. It really shows where his mind is most of the time, doesn't it?

    My mother was NO help during this time for us either. I had to figure it out all on my own. She had severe shame surrounding being a woman and the way she dealt with our development was to ignore it completely. Thank goodness for friends and the library!

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  8. Ruth that sounds so horrible! I'm so sorry!

    Puberty can be difficult for young people (especially girls), and so many parents make it embarrassing. Why were you not allowed to have deodorant or antiperspirant, that seems like a basic hygiene need like toothpaste.

    Because my Mom is an Ob/Gyn, she felt it was important for me to keep track of my periods (to see if they were regular, if my flow changed etc), but she gave me the option of keeping track on the big calendar in the kitchen or my personal school homework planner- even though no men lived in my house (besides my blind grandfather), I choose to keep track in my school planner and she understood! I would think discussing periods etc with one's father would be very embarrassing.

    Why in the world would your father associate bloody sheets at 13yrs old with SEX? GRRRR, I have so many things to say about that, but I do not want to take up too much room on your blog with my anger. But I just have to say that not all women bleed when they have vaginal intercourse for the first time. His "pride" at your menstruation is strange, well not really, it now means you are of reproductive age, and for his ilk that is a woman's sole purpose.

    Poor Ruth, as if puberty isn't odd enough. I just hope if you had cramps or other pains you were allowed to take something for it, rather than make you "suffer" for the "sins of Eve".

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  9. Your father has a sick mind. You were only thirteen and he thought that you somehow found some guy, brought him up without anyone knowing, and had sex in the same room your sister was in ??? How horrible is that ?

    See, sometimes I wish my mom would have taken me to dinner and celebrated. Instead she got angry and told me "I don't understand why you are happy about this". She was in a bad mood for the rest of the day.

    I knew too, you were bleeding when you are menstruating. What I did not know is that it did not stop during the night ^^

    And my mom kept track of my periods until I was 17 (I started at 11) and muster the courage to tell her I could do that by myself.

    I think there are a lot of social problems surronding periods and all. I think that those who are not at ease with it are the less able to handle it well for their daughters.

    Then I found the keeper. And all new perspectives around menstruation arose. Ruth, you should look at this option ^^ I think it's part of the process of feeling well about one's menstruations.

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  10. Oh, Ruth, Ruth. A lot of the stuff you write about your early life is sad, but this is the saddest. I'm so glad you're out of that madness and living life on your own and healing.

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  11. What an a*s your father was/is!!! Sorry, Ruth, but I am SO angry reading about this whole debacle about your period/puberty issues and how horribly they were handled. Looking back, I know how hard that whole period in my life was even under the best of circumstances (my circumstances were not the "best", but they were certainly not as horrible as yours was (with your dad's involvement). It took me a few years at least to get comfortable with what was happening with my body and learning how to handle the whole monthly thing (pads, etc.). I can't imagine what you went through. And what the hello was it your dad's business anyways?!! UGH!!!Bleck!!! (I'm sorry).

    One thing that I think is hypocritical to the max regarding the whole "Quiverfull", "Let God close and open the womb" B.S., "Let God control how many kids we have" - is that your mother/dad kept a calendar of when your mother was the most fertile, when her ovulation would most likely take place. Sounds to me like these Quiverfull people are the ones that plan their pregnancies by taking elaborate measures to make sure to have sex when the woman is most fertile. How is that "letting God" control the number of chilren they have?

    Ruth,

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  12. I forgot to address the marking the calendar with the start/end of your monthly cycles. How in the world is that anyone's business other than your own? From what I understand, the Duggar hypocrites ("we let God choose how many kids we have" (liars)) do the same thing. Their daughters are aware of when their mother is fertile. Am I missing something here Ruth (and the other bloggers)? Am I being overly sensitive about this whole thing? Are there any things at all that are private, that are somewhat "discreet"?

    I am over the edge PO'd right now that any woman can let herself and her girl (and boy) children be controlled to this level. What in the heck is wrong with these people? It is beyond me how anyone can live within the confines of this sytem without totally going bananas at some point!!!

    Ruth, you dear sweet girl, what you have been through makes me SO angry. Believe me when I tell you that you made the 100% correct decision to get out of there!!! No one, I repeat, NO ONE, should have to live like that!! God gave you a brain for a reason and that is because you are to think for yourself. You don't need an intermediary to think for you; not your Dad and not Bill Gothard and ATI. They can both go jump off a rolling doughnut. How dare they infringe on women's personal and sacred part of themselves. Just unbelievable! What incredible control freaks!!! While I am mad at them, I think that I am even madder at the fact that the women in this movement LET that occur. Sorry, but my period is my period (and every woman's is her own). What business does any man have with that??? I mean, if the woman wants to tell her husband, fine, but for the husband to HAVE to know about it so that he can control her and "her" fertility, etc., sounds like HE's the God!

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  13. I am sick to my stomach after reading this, as a mom and as a woman.

    Your Dad is a freak. He is a sick, sex-obsessed freak. He did not deserve to be a parent.

    God have mercy on your siblings. So he screwed your brothers over too, making them beg for razors? He gets to abuse and control everyone. What a disgusting a****e.

    I am soooo glad you got out! Hugs and good will and birthday cake and parties and movies and dancing and LIFE to you, Ruth! Enjoy it all. It was made to be enjoyed. =)

    After reading this, I will add to my daily prayers a request that God get your siblings out and help them heal too.

    If I were a half-decent Christian, I'd pray for your parents too. But I just can't bring myself to do that. They deserve to lose everything and be publicly humiliated. How dare they treat other human beings that way, or stand by and let another treat their babies this way?!

    Sorry, Ruth. I am guessing you didn't expect this much shock, disgust and anger at your parents when you told this story. How could you know that in truly loving homes, people are allowed real privacy, parents make personal sacrifices so their children's needs are all met (deodorant, razors), and mom's explain about the future changes your body will experience long before it shows up.

    I took my daughter for a weekend at Tampa Bay Busch Gardens, along with some really good library books, one titled simply "Period". We read the books, ate pizza and talked. It was the weekend of her 9th birhtday. I gave her a little bag of supplies for when the big day came. The next day we went to Busch Gardens and had a blast. She got her hair braided and beaded and a zookeeper let her feed the emus.

    I wish your life had been more like that. You deserved to be truly loved and truly educated and truly celebrated.

    And you still do! Enjoy school today! Play nice with the other kids! :)

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  14. Ruth,
    I can't for the life of me, understand why or HOW you still respect your father. I thought he was wierd and ridiculously controlling, but after reading today's post he sounds like a child molester. Beating you w/a "rod" at 13yrs old... publicly??? Being PROUD of the fact that you are menstuating??? SICK. I want to vomit & beat him w/the same rod he used on you. PLEASE find the mental healing you need. And if I were you I would NEVER speak to him again. EVER. What a disgusting excuse for a man... and a "christian" man at that. This post makes me want to hug you, take you shopping for lots of cute, sexy, girly bras/underwear & just love on you. It makes my blood boil to hear how you were treated for something so NORMAL.

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  15. I am so sorry, Ruth. Out of all of your stories, this is the saddest one yet. You did not deserved to be treated this way.

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  16. I'd love to be able to laugh at your dad for wanting to have control over periods, but it seems that he tried his hardest. I hope (optimism alert) that he'd learned a few facts by the time your younger sisters hit puberty. How horrible it must have been for you to have to be the first - his ignorance and terror really shine through in this bit. (There's a related rant about the assumption that women bleed the first time they have sex, but I'll skip).

    I'd like to add long hair for men to the 'God put it there' rationalisation.

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  17. Ugh! I can't believe your *dad* came along to get your first bra... yuck. Yuck. Yuck.

    Is keeping track of one's cycles NORMAL in a QF/ATI family? I can understand keeping track of a married woman's cycles - but certainly not in public, in front of the whole family...!!! Such an act is surely humiliating to someone who's going through these changes in her body. Why would any girl want her BROTHERS to know about when her period is?? (Well, I did tell my younger (by 2 years) brother sometimes when I was on my period, when I was snappy and PMS-y. But that's totally different.)

    But why would one keep track of a daughter's cycle? I don't get that at all.

    I suppose it comes down to this: a woman's body seems to be PUBLIC PROPERTY. There's no room for privacy at all; to want privacy is BAD. That's so counterintuitive to... basic human instincts.

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  18. I have to say, I find it weird he thought women bled *that much* the first time they had sex. I mean...ew. Eeeeew! Very Sylvia Plath.

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  19. The parts about your dad beating you for shaving, and thinking your blood meant you were sneaking someone in for sex--at 13 years old!--makes my blood boil, too. Your father really is a very sick man.

    I would have been mortified if anyone had told my dad I started menstruating, but other than that, my puberty had some similarities to yours. My mom couldn't really deal with it, and got this lost, faraway look in her eyes and said something about how "she guessed I was developing." That's what she said when my breasts started to develop at age 9, and I told her they hurt. I found it embarrassing, and somehow it made me feel depressed, like I was losing something.

    She didn't want me to shave, either, so I did it anyway but I sliced myself under my arm because I didn't know what I was doing. Then I hid it. She wouldn't buy me a bra, even though a couple of girls came up to me in grade 5 (age 10), and said, "Pssst! You NEED a bra!" So my grandma bought me one through a catalogue, and phoned me when "the merchandise" was in. That's how we referred to it. :o)

    I remember that I first got my period at school (age 11), but that's pretty much all I remember about it. My mom got me pads (well, my teacher got me one, too, until I went home--but she was awesome about it and thank god I had a female teacher that year!), but I don't remember what my mom said. I don't think she said much about it, but I still felt depressed and ashamed to be a girl about the whole thing. I remember that. Then I became fascinated by it. I kept a lot to myself because I didn't feel like I could talk to my mom about it.

    She did not, however, tell my grandma (this is a different grandma than the bra grandma), which I was SO grateful for. I asked her not to, because I remembered that when my cousin Cindy got her period, my grandma got off the phone with my aunt and announced to my mom and me that, "Cindy's a young lady now!" I was SO MORTIFIED!!! I didn't want her telling anybody that about me, lol. I was 11 when I got it, and I said something about PMS when I was 17 and my grandma said, "I didn't know you got that yet." Hah!

    I'm jealous of those with mothers that would do something special with their daughters to help them feel good about it!

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  20. Oh, RUTH. Bad enough to be a teen experiencing her first period, but this? THIS???

    Ruth's father, if you're reading all this, and I bet you are, you deserve your own very special place in hell for immediately assuming the worst of your daughter. You are a pathetic, sick, disgusting individual.

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  21. I should also add that if Daddy Darth is reading this and brings up the "being under his protection" or his "umbrella of authority" mantra, I just want to tell him that there's a place where I'd like to stick that umbrella!

    Sorry, but this is BEYOND religion!!!! This is the work of very sick, demented, twisted, sadistic, sexually repressed men who use religion to mask the fact that they are 100% bonafied mentally ill!!! You have humiliated and abused both your precious sons and your daughters. You make me positively sick!

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  22. Long time reader, first time commenter. I just want to say I'm sorry, Ruth. Sorry for this and everything else you've had to go through. Most of all, sorry that these people are "allowed" to distort the Bible and God's ways into this, that they can twist scripture and take good principles so far to this level of patriarchal control. Gothard, Phillips, Botkin, Pearl... all of them are, frankly, nut-jobs.

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  23. I have just recently come across your post. I have read most of your back posts and I am so sad for you. But I am more appalled at what families like the one you were raised in are doing to the good name of Jesus. I was fortunate to have grown up in a gracious, merciful and loving Christian home. I have two children. We stopped at number two when he was born with numerous disabilities. Yes, we used our God-given sense of wisdom to stop procreating. The expenses and time needed to care for this child have been immense. I am humbled daily at the difficult task of parenting with love and consistency. I can only do so by the grace of God. I find it interesting that a century ago a baby like Josie Duggar would have died minutes after birth. Yet, using all the modern miracles available this child is likely to have a full life. Isn't it a bit of a contradiction to "trust" baby Josie to modern science, yet you can't use modern methods to control fertility (and I DO NOT mean abortion)?? The ATI/Quiverfull teachings are a contradiction at best...at worst they are legalism, prideful, extra biblical, using scripture out of context and self-aggrandizing...not at all living under the beautiful grace of Jesus.

    I pray you find comfort in your blog journey and that your are filled with love and grace and courage from others on their journey.

    Below are the lyrics to a song by Amy Grant:"What about the Love"...Love is the missing ingredient from ATI/Quiverfull movement. I hope the ATI lurkers read this and think twice…probably not though….

    “WHAT ABOUT THE LOVE??”
    I went to see my sister.
    She was staying with a friend
    Who had turned into a preacher
    To save the world from sin.
    He said, "First deny your body,
    And then learn to submit.
    Pray to be made worthy,
    And tithe your ten percent."
    I said, "Is this all there is,
    Just the letter of the law?"
    Something's wrong.

    I went to see my brother
    On the 32nd floor
    Of a building down on Wall Street;
    You could hear the future's roar.
    He said, "Here we make decisions,
    And we trade commodities;
    If you tell me where there's famine,
    I can make you guarantees."
    I said, "Is this all there is,
    Power to the strong?"
    Something's wrong.


    I went to see my neighbor.
    He'd been taken to a home
    For the weak and the discarded
    Who have no place to go.
    He said, "Here I lack for nothing;
    I am fed and I am clothed.
    But at times I miss the freedom
    I used to know."
    I said, "Is this all there is,
    When your usefulness is gone?"
    Something's wrong.

    Something's wrong in heaven tonight.
    You can almost hear them cry.
    Angels to the left and the right,
    Saying, "What about the love?
    What about the love?
    What about the love?"

    I looked into the mirror
    Proud as I could be,
    And I saw my pointing finger
    Pointing back at me,
    Saying, "Who named you accuser?
    Who gave you the scales?"
    I hung my head in sorrow;
    I could almost feel the nails.
    I said, "This is how it is
    To be crucified and judged
    Without love."

    Something's wrong in heaven tonight.
    You can almost hear them cry.
    Angels to the left and the right,
    Saying, "What about the love?
    What about the love?
    What about the love of God?"

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  24. OK - could somebody explain the QF penchant of keeping track of every female's menstruation on a calendar that the whole family sees. What is that about anyways?? It just doesn't seem to fit with the overly modest theme. I know I'm a very private person - but it seems kinda creepy to me.

    Jennie

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  25. As a man and father, I have to say that this is disgusting. Someone above said that this is way beyond religion and I would have to agree. This is about control and ownership. Wives and children are property in this thinking. There is also a voyeuristic perversion here. I have done a great deal of counseling with ATI families and I would say this goes beyond anything I have seen among the "normal" families. There were some who had sexual issues and used the authority and separation provided by the system to satisfy the father's (or brother's) sickness. Only one or two in the years I have counseled with them, though.
    One family may have come close. They wore head-coverings and each girl began wearing her covering when her period began. That way the whole church and community could know about it. Still seems incredible to me today.
    Ruth, I continue to pray for you. You are on a journey of healing and self-discovery that can only be good. You are also blessing others by saying things they cannot say.

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  26. Oh, Ruth. I am so, so sorry. That time and age are the worst for feeling vulnerable and strange in your own body, and your family both made you feel guilty, victimized, wrong, and then publicly shared it with everyone. I can't imagine anything worse.

    I hope you were at least regular. I never was (6-8 months between cycles) so I can just imagine the horrible things that would have happened to me under your father's paw. Sick.

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  27. Oh Ruth,

    I'm so sorry. This one just upset me so much I had to comment. I'm SO SORRY. Puberty is hard enough when you're growing up with people who respect your privacy, but with this kind of sick, controlling, perverse family dynamic, it must be hellish.

    I am so very glad you had the courage and resolve to break free.

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  28. Dis-fricking-gusting. I am shaking my head in disbelief at the man who fathered you. I believe like the others: his response to your first period is indicative of a sex-obsessed control lunatic. I too would like to take that rod to him. Beat some sense into his head.

    I get more and more disgusted the more I read. I am SO sorry you had to go through this, and I know that God will hold these people accountable. I am so glad you are out of it and making your own way.

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  29. This is so sad, yet none of it surprises me. Why did her dad automatically think it was Ruth who had "defiled" herself? If he is that clueless and uneducated as to blood/sex/periods, why didn't he assume someone attacked her? It just goes to show how women are viewed in this cult. Not only are they property, they are evil, conniving and stupid, and not to be trusted. Because women in jewish culture in the Bible days were treated like this, they somehow think that was ok. It is not ok. It was not ok then. Jesus did not think it was ok. It is just silly to have rules such as women should not speak/preach in church, wear head coverings, keep silent, submit to men, not work, be the primary care-givers "just because", not be educated, not make decisions, etc. That is not biblical. It was what Jesus had to work with during those times, because of the culture. It was never condoned by Jesus.
    I hesitate to say this, but I think it is necesary. I had a sister that was raped. (And, I am not talking about a date rape, although I would never minimize date rape, by any means) She did not report it to the authorities, nor did she tell our parents. This was 20 years ago. She still refuses to deal with/talk about it. Why? Because deep down, she believes it was her fault. Probably because she was wearing pants, and at a party that involved alcohol. We knew nothing about alcohol growing up except that all forms were forbidden by the Bible and therefore a sin. (Same with how babies were made/pregnancy is prevented. Thus I will most definitely educate my children on how to prevent pregnancies, and on the effects of alcohol) We were always told that rape victims "bring it on" b/c of their mannerisms, their immodest dress, failure to avert ones eyes around males, etc. We were taught rape, other horrific things, etc. happen if we are rebelling/out from under the umbrella of protection BS, etc., and so I am sure she figured it was just all her fault, and a consequence of going to a party (I could give more detail so you could see how she was sooo not rebelling, etc., but it could give away her id).
    Ruth, you are at such an advantage because you are able to verbalize these issues. I don't know if you realize this, but there are people in this cult that have gotten out, and are older than you, but still feel guilt and shame for doing it, and believe they are sinning for leaving. Or they hate God and turn their back on him, b/c they see God as a patriarchal monster like your father. God is so not like that, and one day I hope you can see that. Also, God totally understands why you could not and cannot see God for who He really is right now. He understands, and it is ok.
    By the way, I got the "rod" too when I was 16, for rebelling by buying/using tampons. I don't quite get the reasoning, but I was told that they were immoral.

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  30. Tampons are thirsty little albino penises, dontchaknow.

    (all credit to ironhymen.com)

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  31. Ruth, after reading this post I just have to comment. I hope you know that you are a beautiful, strong woman! I think that's what your father didn't want you to realize lest you get enough self-esteem to get out from under his authority. I also want to share a quote from another brave woman, that seems appropriate for your blogging endeavor: "The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off." ~ Gloria Steinem ~

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  32. H!, I had to comment again after reading your Gloria quote; it's one of my faves.

    And I also want to second your commendation of Ruth.

    Because Ruth, the more I think about what you wrote today (and I have; I haven't been able to STOP thinking about it), the more I admire your strength. To not only overcome what you've suffered, but to rise above it AND have the courage to tell your truth makes you a powerful force.

    You do know eventually someone is going to approach you about a book deal, if they haven't already, don't you? You're that talented and your story is that meaningful. And I'll be first in line to buy it. :-)

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  33. I feel so awful for you! I wish I could give you a hug!

    This is just a hunch, a teeny tiny hunch, but I'm guessing your brothers didn't face such harsh criticism when they reached puberty.

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  34. Ruth,

    Your father was sexually abusive - end of discussion. I began my period the last day of third grade, at nine years old. Not coincidentally, that began seven years of sexual abuse by my father.

    After many years of counseling, I have realized that none of it was my fault and that I have a loving, merciful Father. He is nothing like my earthly father, and wants only the best for me. I pray that you think on this every day, especially when feeling conficted about your father and family.

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  35. Oh Ruth! I thought I had it bad with a super strict Catholic parents who didn't talk like to about anything of a sexual nature, but your parents take the cake. What a painful experience to go through and I'm sorry that you had to go through that. I hope you are able to heal from that experience (and the rest of them!. I am glad that you have this outlet to talk about it. Keeping you in my prayers.

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  36. Re: Amy Grant song. I was listening to that song just yesterday.

    1. I was also wondering if you were forbidden from using tampons. I’ve heard of parents who wouldn’t let their daughters use them because a girl might get pleasure from using them.

    2. I think you mentioned before that you had to have someone else in the washroom with you when you took showers. Did you bribe whatever sibling was with you to not tattle about you shaving?

    - Leia

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  37. Not to get too personal here, but deriving pleasure from tampons? That notion had to have come from a man who had no clue about female anatomy/physiology. Or, maybe my mother just dreamed it up on her own, I don't know. Seems so bizarre, now that I think about it.
    The Amy Grant song: the ATI'ers wouldn't read the lyrics, b/c they wouldn't be able to get past the author of the song - Amy Grant is from the pit of hell, in their minds.

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  38. Oh Ruth, I'm so sorry! It was mortifying enough for me when my period started on a family vacation and all of us trooped to Wal-Mart to buy pads. What happened to you is just awful and stupid on Dad's part. My stomach turned while I read this.

    Your father is an ass. Pink dots?! It's one thing to do it privately so you and Mom can predict when it's coming, but on the famiy calendar? Did it tickle you, Darth Daddy, knowing when your own child might be fertile? You sick freak!

    Ruth, there are a lot of misconceptions concerning menstruation. The majority of society sees it as something dirty and shameful. You possess a gift no man can ever have: the power to create and harbor life within you. Every month celebrates a new opportunity for this. It's power; power that some men fear. Yes, it's messy and seems to strike at in opportune times (white slacks are unflattering anyway :-p), but it represents a special relationship with the Creator.

    As always, I enjoy your writing, and I always look forward to new posts. Even when they turn my tummy, like this one did.

    Ivy26

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  39. Someone mentioned your brothers, and it brought a question to mind--um, I'm not sure how to put this, but boys have, um, "issues" (yes, that is a double entendre) during puberty, too. At night, that is. Uncontrollable. What happens to them for that?

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  40. I just had to come back...such great comments. I'm the one who hogged up so much space with the Amy Grant song (sorry...it didn't look so "large" on my browser). I have been reading a lot of different "mainstream" evangelical’s critiques of ATI and Gothard. Many think it's become a cult and disavow any of Gothard's former teachings from their churches. One very famous preacher (will Call him Dr. Mac) considers Bill Gothard and Gary Ezzo modern day Machiavelli's. Whatever you want to call it...it isn’t anything like Christ!!

    Much love and prayers your way…Sue

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  41. All I have to say is OH MY G-d!!!! I can't beleive your father would think like that after the 1st night. I agree with the other what an A*S. If that had happened to me, both of my parents would thought I had hurt myself. I was an early developer as well, my mother never told me about I kind of learned it in school. (I got my first at 11 and we were in Florida) I also can't beleive that ones father would make someone mark it on the calander!!

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  42. Oh my God Ruth...what a freaking nightmare that must have been for you. Having dear old Dad along for the bra buying and then getting your own marker to track you period on the big family calendar makes me ill. Those should have been Mother/Daughter only times. A trip to the local store to get some pretty training bras and if you wanted to track "that time" ...your own calendar to keep in a spot known only to you. And the girls-don't-shave rule? WTF was he thinking? He is a sick, sick man Ruth. You made a wise decision when you got out of that freakfest.

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  43. Hi Ruth. I know I'm a bit off topic here, but I was curious if you were going to say a little more about standards for modesty, particularly what you were allowed to do with your hair, makeup, and clothes. Could you braid your hair or cut it? What kind of makeup was acceptable?

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  44. Your father absolutely disgusts me. He is vile and abusive and just, just...I don't even know what to say.

    Re: the tampons/menstruation. My catholic mother told me that if you used tampons, you were no longer a virgin. I'm only 28, it's not like this was 40 years ago.

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  45. I am so sorry you had to go through all that, it breaks my heart to read about it.

    I totally agree with the above posters, regarding your father. He is /was a digusting, creepy, vile pig.

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  46. Oh Ruth that is so horrifying!!!

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  47. Ruth, I agree with the others. This is the saddest of your posts that you have trusted us with so far. I am so, so, so sorry that your initiation into puberty included humiliation, outlandish accusation, and being "disciplined" with the "rod." My stomach turned as I read this.

    If you have access to a bookstore or any natural family living stores close by, this month's issue of Mothering magazine has a lovely article in it about educating young women on all things menses. Even if you don't want to spend the $$$ on the whole issue, just reading the article might help re-train your thinking on this aspect of womanhood.

    Again, I am just so, so sorry.

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  48. Ah. :( Horrifying. :( I am sorry you went through that-just reading it made me cringe the whole way through. Can't imagine living it. It sounds a lot like the garbage some of my peers in the cult went through. I distinctly remember a big blow-up about the "bad influence" of some girls visiting from another church who had the audacity to shave their legs, and that for a while deodorant was banned (as "vanity") even to teens from the cult who were attending public highschools at the time.

    What is it about twisted people and deodorant? Very odd.

    *******
    I did want to address this:

    "One thing that I think is hypocritical to the max regarding the whole "Quiverfull", "Let God close and open the womb" B.S., "Let God control how many kids we have" - is that your mother/dad kept a calendar of when your mother was the most fertile, when her ovulation would most likely take place. Sounds to me like these Quiverfull people are the ones that plan their pregnancies by taking elaborate measures to make sure to have sex when the woman is most fertile. How is that "letting God" control the number of chilren they have?"

    If someone is Quiverfull (which does not necessarily mean ATI or even patriarchal by the way--they are seperate beliefs which overlap sometimes but not always), to actively manipulate things in order to concieve is indeed hypocrisy.

    However, stating that all QF are hypocritical in this regard on the basis of observing a few hypocrites is painting with a very broad brush. "These QF people" addresses perhaps a certain segment of those holding that belief (and rightly points out hypocrisy) but not all, by any means.

    Some people chart, some don't, Some QF chart, some don't, some do it in detail, others have a general idea, and the differences are for a variety of reasons. Mine are health (having had a molar pregnancy I need to keep a close eye on things) and being sure of the dates of pregnancies since I tend to go way overdue (it helps to be able to look back at the calendar in retrospect when dates come into question). I also like to know when PMS is going to show up because mine is nuts right now and it's nice to be able to remind my family that this is a hormonal thing and I haven't actually gone stark raving mad. ;) I'm trying to imagine my husband being as invasive (or even interested) in the details of monthly goings on and the idea is just laughable. Ruth's dad gets more creepy and disturbing post by post.

    Ours is a small family, in spite of being QF (and we are **NOT ATI**, just ftr). That is just the way it works out. The losses hurt and I would be delighted to have another baby, or many, but I do trust that if 3 is the number God has for us, that it's a good thing. And the 3 we do have are certainly more of a blessing than we could ever deserve. :)

    Not all conservative Christians, or QF families, are insane.

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  49. Margaret, I don't think all of us think QF or conservative Christians are insane. It's the screwed up Fundies that give a LOT of people bad names. Ruth's dad is insane. Bill Gothard is bug nuts. The Duggars are a whole 'nother subject. I view the basic philosophy of QF as I would any couple who eschews BC. When you "leave it up to God", it's exactly that. There is no dots on the calendar, no excessively trying. You express your love for your spouse and if it happens, it happens.

    Not all conservatives are insane, but until more mainstream conservative Christians come out and decry Gothard, you'll just have to be patient and explain the big difference between Conservative and Fundie

    Ivy26

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  50. What I find saddest about this is the comprehensive perversion of what should have been such a joy. The capacity for childbearing is the greatest gift God has given women, and the onset of puberty and menstruation sould be a celebration of that. The buying of the first bra, the seeing the first blood, the meal out with your parents to discuss adulthood, the first pink dots on the calendar, it should have been exciting and happy. For you, Ruth, it was all frightening, disempowering and viciously intrusive... I'm sorry.

    My prayer for you is that one day you'll experience that joy, through the purity of a healthy sexual relationship and through giving birth to your own child. And that those things will take place in your own time, without any interference or pressure...

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  51. Wow, Ruth - was there no aspect of your life that your father did not micromanage? Who the hell cares if one's child shaves armpit hair? Heck, I think all humans should shave their armpit hair... I've smelled too many people!

    Growing up fundie, I certainly didn't want my period. I felt the same sense of dread that you did - I didn't want to be a woman. I knew what womanhood entailed. I didn't want my father to know about it and tried to convince my mother not to tell him. She had the class to exclude him from 'girl matters' and it breaks my heart that your mother didn't stand up for you. Whatever happened in my house came nowhere close to what you experienced (I had to think about it, and all I can really remember is that my period came on a public playground and I had to go find my mother in a curriculum fair with my skirt wadded up in my fist - I was well enough prepared to know what it meant and not to freak out). I agree with the chorus of posters who have called your father a sex-obsessed freak.

    I certainly didn't want to 'celebrate' my period, though I knew many fundie women who did. If I had a daughter now, I'd try to explain that she is normal and what she's experiencing is natural, but not try to push a view that the period is a 'special gift' any more than it's 'Eve's curse.' It's up to her to decide how she feels about it. The 'gift' of maternity is so closely bound up with the *obligation* of using it in fundie circles that it still makes me angry hearing about how fertility makes me special. Maybe I'd like the chance to decide what being a woman means to me - and for me, the ability to get pregnant has diddly squat to do with it.

    On a tangential note: the whole menstruation-as-curse thing is a bit weird. Doesn't the 'curse' say that Eve would have pain in childbirth? WTF does that have to do with one's period?

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  52. For the debate and Margaret answer :

    Actually, I always wonder, you can't be totally cut off from your period and the state of your cycle (well unless your as irregular as me). So at least the wife usually know where she's at. you can't just forget when your last period was. So no need to be as crazy as posting your period on a public calendar, you can't just erase that to truly leave it up to God.

    And anyways if you have sex several times a week, and that you are really fertile then knowing when you are ovulating or not should not be an issue.

    Just sayin'

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  53. you can't just erase that to truly leave it up to God.

    Even leaving charting aside, I find it a very strange expression to say you're "letting God decide how many children you will have" or all the other variations on that idea.

    If leave your W2s to sit neglected in a filing cabinet and say "we're letting God file our tax returns this year", I think even QFers would understand that what's actually happening is you're not filing your tax returns. Similarly you wouldn't let your teenager drive while doing makeup with one hand and holding a cell phone in the other, even if she assured you she's "letting God steer the car" - because it's blatantly obvious to anyone that the car isn't being steered.

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  54. I don't chart to know when I'm ovulating Sophie. And it's not public. In my case it's retrospective and important to have a record of my cycles to be able to look back at over several months rather than relying on my fairly poor memory.

    Perhaps you can't concieve (lol) of leaving it up to God completely, but I can, and do.

    However this is Ruth's blog about her family and I don't want to push it into a birth control debate blog because it isn't that.

    I hope you didn't get the idea from my post that I thought what Ruth's father did was OK. I was sure I was pretty clear by using words like "creepy" and "twisted". ;)

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  55. Wanted to add, I think those that brought up the inconsistency with this and the emphasis on "modesty" are totally correct.

    What Ruth experienced was full, forced exposure of something that most young girls have a natural modesty about when it begins. And though it wasn't specifically about sex, there are some really disturbing sexual undertones in that story, including the public charting and the bra-buying and your father's initial assumption that blood=sex. Yikes.

    Ruth, I'm so sorry you went through all that. Puberty is tumultuous and confusing enough without added craziness from parents on top of it. :(

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  56. " !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "


    Wow. Sick piled on sick piled on sick piled on sick. And then somehow even sicker yet.


    Ruth...be nice to yourself today. Give yourself a treat. Ice cream or fun jewelry or something. I don't know. Just...treat yourself? You need it and you deserve it.

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  57. I can't believe what your dad first thought *sigh*. If it's any consolation, what you have went thru made you a pretty remarkable girl.

    www.mommyoffaith19.blogspot.com

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  58. Like most of the other readers, I am actually physically nauseous at the thought of what you endured.

    I cannot fathom how or why your parents would think this sort of behavior on their part was acceptable. At best, it goes against any teaching about modesty and common kindness, and frankly, JOY. At worst, it is emotionally and psychologically scarring. And to order you to mark your cycles in front of the family?!?! Sick, sick, sick and sad and wrong.

    Hearing this, I'm actually glad I had a father who seemed to avoid the topic of my puberty like the plague. He made reference to it only once: I was 12 and I asked him if was safe for me to take an aspirin. In a low voice he muttered, "Is it . . . for cramps?" From his tone you'd have thought someone died!

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  59. I've seen a few suggestions now that period-related preparation should be a mother/daughter thing. It's possible that everyone's just talking about Ruth's dad and his fellow bastions of patriarchy, in which case I completely understand. In general, though, my opinion is that it's good for parents of both sexes to help their children get ready for puberty, as long as they do it with respect and discretion (not to mention decent information). Does anyone here have stories about fathers who handled the whole thing well, or stories about how you/your partner handled it with your own daughters?

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  60. We let mom and daughter, dad and son each go out on the weekend fun adventure that also included straight talk about sexuality and sexual maturation. Though it's not like I never talk to my son about sex or dad never talks to our daughter. We don't get into the personal anatomical details with opposite gender kids.

    Personally, I would not have wanted a man to talk to me about it! Also I am so enamored of being female (loving it!) I definitely approach it as a huge positive, very powerful to bring life into the world, and a responsiblity to guard and protect. I feel like as a woman it is a sacred trust to pass on that empowerment to my daughter. Like being pregnant, nursing, and multiple org***** (don't want to embarrass Ruth), it's a womanly perogative I don't want to share with men. Selfish maybe, but that's me. :)

    I would not have wanted to talk to my son about night emissions either, for that matter. I have no problem talking to him about sex in generalities, but anatomy? Dad can handle that.

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  61. "Perhaps you can't concieve (lol) of leaving it up to God completely, but I can, and do." Margaret, comments like this, are THE reason why I stopped posting on large family boards even though I am the mom of 7 children ages 26 to age 8. I wanted to have the comraderie, caring, support of other like-minded large family moms at a certain point in my life. When it came down to it, the women in general were nasty women unless one towed their heavy conservative/fundamentalist line.

    Even though you have no idea what someone thinks or believes, you tell a blogger, "maybe you don't believe this or that, but I do." These types of judgments against total strangers is the biggest reason why I generally try to stay away from fundamentalist/QF women. Frankly, they put on a holier-than-thou dog and Pony show. At the end of the day, I don't trust them because you never know when they will turn on you. Seems to be the fundie way (unfortunately, I've learned from experience).

    To add, I can certainly understand charting one's monthly cycle; there is nothing wrong with that. The women I posted with kept a chart simply for the fact of knowing when ovulation would occur so that they would have sex on those days. Now, charting to avoid pregnancy was wrong, but charting to increase the chance of pregnancy was right. Yet, it's all up to God either way...

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  62. All I can say, Ruth, is that I'm so glad you left. And please, never be ashamed of your sexuality, despite how others would like you to view it. I'm praying for you, dear.

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  63. It's not at all surprising that with the first tangible signs of adulthood comes the explicit sexualization of control and dominance. A brief look at history shows that this is a general theme in oppressive environments, and is often a mania in patriarchal communities and groups. Psychological development is at its most critical in this part of your life. The teenage years are the time when most of us figure out who and what we are and are becoming. It is a time of natural doubt, not to mention the questioning and challenging of the limits placed - either necessarily in healthy context or unnecessarily in this case - on us in childhood. If you aren't allowed to renegotiate and define yourself at this time in your life, odds are you never will. You'll repress as impermissible all desires connected with real independence, selfhood and agency. One would become a drone, and because everyone wants to be happy, the active delusion that submission is 'good' for us and leads to 'contentment' becomes strong.

    Some people just can't handle any ambiguity in life. The first stirrings of adulthood are when the easy black and whites of childhood begin to become ever more gray. It's having the strength to consider and deal with uncertainty, to reconcile ourselves to our limits and fragility as humans (rather than creating an elaborate fantasy of strength and absolute control) that allows us to become genuinely free, moral and unique.

    Your father might be interested to know that the same neurotic drive towards order, control, organization and etc. was a deep and abiding part of fascism. Many of the things he forced his children to become enmeshed in are quite similar to the social theory and management techniques of fascism in general.

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  64. The whole idea about "leaving things up to God", like Ruth's dad not letting women shave their legs or wear deodorant, strikes me as bizarre. It always has, though I've been a Christian most of my life.

    I subscribe to the "God gave you a brain so use it" and "if it is to be it is up to me" train of thought. I mean, if you take that idea of leaving things up to God, we wouldn't be able to drive, use the telephone, computers, life-saving medicines and techniques, pretty much any invention of man. Why intervene or invent anything then? Should we go back to being hunter-gatherers living in caves?

    I think our brains are a gift from the Creator and when we use them to create and invent we honor Him. I think recombinant DNA and sexual reproduction were gifts too, and acquiring and using knowledge to harness these gifts to make the world a better place honors God. I don't see it as circumventing the will of God in any way.

    For instance, we know that MD is an inherited disorder on the X chromosome, so women who are carriers can use birth control or sterilization to keep from bringing a child into the world only to die a horrible death. I think that honors God.

    And I think people using their brains to not have children in other bad circumstances honors God too. I didn't want more than two children because I doubt MY ability to parent more than two well-spaced apart children. I do not apologize or feel guilty about that at all. It was using the good brain God gave me to do good.

    I also shave my legs and use deodorant, and God still loves me. He loves me very very much. :)

    By the way, LOL Lolly!

    "Lolly said...

    Tampons are thirsty little albino penises, dontchaknow."

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  65. Re Eve being "cursed" with pain in childbirth: Yet another legacy of bad Bible scholarship, as well as translations that fell victim to the changing meaning of words and/or were shaky to begin with.

    The word is better translated as anguish or sorrow. Adam breaks his back working just to keep himself and his family alive; Eve is in anguish as her babies are born, that is, sorry that they were born--because she can't support them, because she was barely getting by before they were born and this birth is draining her vitality, and so on, the long laundry list familiar to every expectant mother in bad circumstances. The consequences of the Fall to Adam and to Eve are complementary.

    Jenny Islander

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  66. Oh, and add me to the chorus of people who think your father is a sicko, the system he perpetuates is sick, and anybody who chooses to live by it will become spiritually sick.

    Jenny Islander

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  67. I echo the sentiments that god gave me a brain so I could decide how best to live my life. My fertility is not for god to decide, because I decided I didn't want children. God isn't going to pay the rent when every cent you had went to feed the little ankle bitters. Why would you breed indiscriminately to glorify a god who didn't command that?

    The bible is merely a written version of oral history which recounts the tales of a culture of people. God didn't write it, man did. We have to take into consideration the times it was written in and use our brains to decide when to call a doctor versus using a leach. In other words, it's a guide, not the end all be all.

    If you want 13 kids and can support them, great. But from what I'm seeing, support in the fundie world means making sure they live a few years, and doesn't mean giving kids a good, healthy life and an education to be a success in the world.

    I really don't understand why QF families don't bite the bullet and just declare polygamy as a tenant. It would give men even more quivers, helping them get to heaven. They are, in my opinion, just as crazy as the FLDS and just as dangerous. Cults both of them.

    Ruth, sorry you had to go through this. It's such an invasion of your mind and spirit. My mom was away from home when I started, but thank god I had older sisters. I'm sure though, that my father would have handled this with great dignity and embarrassment.

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  68. You are a brave, wonderful woman.

    Although almost everyone's reaction to your father's behavior is some sort of surprise, I am not really surprised. Extremely sad for you...but not surprised. I have nothing except personal experience and the shared knowledge from friends: to me it seems that the more personal "holiness" is measured and expected from a group, the more the people under pressure begin to expect the worst...your father's fear of "sin" was so great, and his preoccupation with his part in preventing"sin" so strong, that he "sinned" against you and hurt you in his unfair/abusive treatment and thoughts toward you. My father is/was generally a gentle man, but always always when his "control" was threatened, and his fear of "sin" in his house aroused, chaos would ensue.

    Please keep writing!

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  69. Ruth, I can't believe what yo have gone thru. It's abs. terrible!! I remember my mom made my first period such a positive experience. She first told me all about it when I was 10. I was 12 when I first got it, & home alone at the time. I called her & she was happy for me, and told me what to do. She said I was no longer a little girl, but a young lady. Later that night, she bought me pads and makeup ( just eye shadow & lip gloss) to celebrate. My father never knew about it. (I'm Catholic, so it certainly wasn't for religious reasons). My mom taught me how to rap up my used pads so my dad wouldn't see them. I wasn't ashamed of my period, but my mom & I both felt it was best to keep it private.
    Now, (I'm 20) I do chart my cycles, but I do it to plan summer vacations & b/c I have PMDD & need to know when I can expect the symptoms. Where you allowed to take advil or something for your cramps & headaches? Why wouldn't your father let you shave? Where you allowed to shave when you were older?

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  70. I've never understood people that get so worked up about their first period, mine was kind of a non-event. My mom explained everything to me when I was about ten, so it was no surprise when I found blood while changing my clothes a few days after my eleventh birthday. I calmly went and told my father, who went outside to get my mother. My mom gave me a hug, asked if I had any questions, showed me wear the pads were and told me to rinse my clothes in cold water so the blood would come out. End of story.
    It may just be because I was so young when I got it for the first time, but I never considered getting my period to be any kind of passage into womanhood. One of my good friends when I was growing up had Turner Syndrome so she will never have a period, I don't think that makes her any less of a woman.
    Also, I think Ruth's dad may be some kind of sexual deviant. No normal, well adjusted man takes such an interest in his daughter's cycle. Added to that I know of no one who would walk into his thirteen year old daughter's room, see blood on the sheets, and assume that she had somehow broken her hymen. That is both sick and uneducated. Although most women will bleed a little bit when they break their hymen it is not nearly as much blood as would be on the sheets from the flow of a period. Added to that not all women have hymens and those who do can break them in many ways besides have sexual intercourse. For a man who is so obsessed with sex he sure doesn't know much about it. Maybe we should all chip in and send Daddy Darth a copy of Our Bodes, Ourselves?

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  71. My Catholic mother had such shame and issues surrounding being a woman. Sex, sexuality, menstruation, etc. was NOT discussed. She forbade us to use tampons but never explained why. Maxi pads were hidden in a paper bag that was stashed behind the towels in the linen closet which wasn't even in the bathroom! Awkward! She had a really bad reaction to me getting my period. She was so angry. Then she told me nothing. I had knowledge of it but like another poster mentioned I didn't know you also bled at night. The next morning I woke up covered in blood and she pitched a fit, called me stupid, etc. I was devastated. I didn't understand the whole thing like how much you would bleed or for how long. I wanted to stay home from school that day just so I could get used to it and to see what to expect. Since my mother was so abusive and unhelpful we were often left to figure things out on or own. She made me go to school. I felt so betrayed. By the summer time I had enough of her shameful attitude and demanded tampons (so I could go swimming) and demanded we keep such items in the bathroom. She was horrified and said, what will your father think? I was like, he lives with 3 women, he'll have to get used to it. She also asked me not tell my grandfather I was using tampons. First of all why and when would that come up in conversation? and why would I care what he would think about MY body?

    So it's not just the fundies that have f'd up views about such things.

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  72. Anonymous--
    "Even though you have no idea what someone thinks or believes, you tell a blogger, "maybe you don't believe this or that, but I do." "

    I'm not sure how you felt I was judging you. I wasn't. I made no judgement about the right or wrong of it. Just affirming that yes it is possible to believe this ("trusting God") and be honest about it and not hypocritical, following several comments that questioned that possibility and one that pointed out the "stupidity" of the whole concept. Perhaps I misread the comment I was responding to in the first place.

    It was not my intention to judge or to be nasty and I'm sorry if my comments caused confusion or came across that way. There are just as many generalities being made about being QF (again, not ATI) that could be construed as nasty or judgemental. I'm trying hard not to construe :D because Ruth's family's sick behavior certainly explains to some extent such stereotypes.

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  73. hi ruth,
    sorry you had to go through all of that! how sad and ridiculous for stuff that is normal and that all young women go through. i was wondering if it's normal in the QF/ATI movement to forbid girls/women from shaving in general, or if it was only in your family?

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  74. oh Ruth this is so awful!



    Though I am with Lolly with the idea that these early puberty moments do not have a requirement of shared anatomy to have a supporting and loving adult presence. In any case, each person's experience is individually different, and an adult can know enough about anatomy and biology regardless and be close enough to a child to be supportive, loving, and respectful.

    There ARE wonderful, loving single parents and divorced parents, where maybe a girl is visiting her dad when her first period comes, or a mother has to explain wet dreams to her sons.

    My memories of my first few periods are foggy because I was rather scared and ashamed, I wonder if it has something to do with the you just grew out of wetting the bed phases some years before, and uncontrollable body functions just were scary to me. I would not have wanted to 'celebrate' anything either. Just simply helping me get stuff to deal with it and telling me how long it might last and what medicine to take if it hurt and how to clean underwear and such was more than enough for me.

    I preferred my one on one time with my parents not connected to what was happening in my pants in any way lol. I found other special dinners with a parent to be plenty celebration and would *not* have wanted to go out for having a period!

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  75. Margaret,

    The problem is that above you equated " believe this" with "trusting God." So therefore, by default, anyone who does not believe whatever this happens to be, would in your opinion, not be trusting God. That is what I consider to be judgmental.

    Jennie

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  76. Jennie,
    I know Maggie from another forum, and I also happen to have met her in person. She is a very sweet, kind, non judgemental person, who happens to not use birth control. I promise you, she would never ever intentionally accuse someone of not trusting God. There are plenty of birth control users on that forum that Maggie is friends with and I've NEVER seen her judge them. I think it's just sometimes hard when you're typing on a blog to always express yourself the way you mean. Basically she was saying that FOR HER part of HER path in trusting God is not to use birth control, but she doesn't think birth control users aren't trusting God. She has really been very supportive of Ruth. I realize if I didn't know her, I might have taken what she said badly too, but knowing her I know she always means well. I hope that is helpful.

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  77. Hi, uh-uh.

    I realized I may have started all this. Margaret, I am sorry I actually was not pointing any fingers at you.

    I wanted to say, that whether you put the date of your period or not on a calendar, I think that women, especially if you already had children I guess, know more or less where they're at. It does not make it worse or better on the fact that you leave it up to god. You can't reach a point of blindness in knowing if there's a possibility or not of conceiving.

    Suffice to go on with your sexual life and any well fertile woman will end up pregnant (sorry for those who do have trouble conceiving).

    I don't think it is particularly hypocritical to put it on a calendar (after all you'd better know when your last period was when you go to the doctor).

    I, personnaly, would never take this decision because of health problems that can arise and because I'd rather spend time that I decide is enough with each new one before thinking of starting the other one.

    She is just taking any baby that comes her way. They call it God will. And that's ok with them. Now everyone has a different faith (or no faith like me) and may dispute if it's truly the work of God or if there's human mingling in it. Well I think it does not lead us anywhere.

    Margaret, I just hope you never put your life at risk ^^.

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  78. *old lurker, new commenter*

    Honest question, sorry this is off-topic. On another post, comments said "Ruth" was not Ruth's real name, and yet her dad in his first post called her Ruth Mary? Her dad is for real, right?

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  79. The odd thing to me about this mindset of 'leaving it up to God' is not only the planning around ovulation to get pregant as much as possible but the additional reliance on medical community to have the baby (babies).

    Take the Duggars for example. Michelle had preeclampsia but continued to get pregnant and have more children despite this huge risk. They were very lucky until they had Josie who required (maybe still requires) LOTS of medical attention.

    If not for the medical staff, hospital availability and advancements in science Josie and possibly Michelle wouldn't be here.

    It's the doctors, nurses, medical staff and scientists that make this 'leave it to God' mentality possible.

    It's odd and a bit hypocritical to me that such families who tend to eschew the modern world as 'questionable' (immoral/evil/corrupt/etc.) quickly ignore those beliefs when they need something, ie, medical care.

    Ruth, maybe you can talk about some of those hypocrisies sometime. I bet there are other examples of how the fundie/ATI families eschew the modern world but then use the resources as they see fit.

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  80. Verity, keep reading the blog as you claim to have done already. Your question has been asked and answered three or four times. If you're a long time lurker, you'd know that.

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  81. - Anon -

    If it's been answered somewhere in the comments, then actually I wouldn't "know that" because I haven't read every comment.

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  82. Verity: apparently, Mary is Ruth's middle name, and a family member used 'Ruth Mary' in order to prove that they knew her without giving identities away (I guess it's a common enough middle name).

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  83. thank you Lolly :)

    Crazy that Ruth's dad accused her of lying to people about her name, when all she did was omit her middle name.

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  84. Hey Ruth

    Support - FWIW I think what you are doing/saying here a) is real and b) has real value. Don't let it get you down. Truth needs to be spoken, and you're doing a good work here.

    Sometimes we all have experiences that seem totally crazy to other people. The fact that they never experienced them, and can't stretch their minds/comprehension to understand them, doesn't mean they are not real. It just means, in Hamlet's words: 'There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in YOUR philosophy.'

    Keep going - you're valued.

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  85. Verity: you're welcome. :) 'Ruth' is a pseudonym, though - the family member/ATI person who posted kept the pseudonym, but added her real middle name to prove they knew her.

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  86. Ruth, I pray your blog continues to be therapy for you, and that you continue to heal and to be able to build a happy life for yourself and those who love you.

    All my best, MJB

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  87. Ruth....ummm....wow is the only word that comes to mind. (((((Ruth))))) there is the hug you should have gotten during that time.

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  88. Things like this make me so thankful that I have a feminist mother. I "bloomed" very young, and I had to start wearing a bra when I was 8. I got my period less than a month after my 10th birthday. I looked much older than I actually was and some older boys noticed (and they always stopped looking as soon as they found out my real age). I simply can't imagine being told to start thinking about my husband when I was just 10 years old! If I were in that lifestyle, would my parents have married me off to an older man when I was just a preteen?

    What really baffles me is why you had to chart your period on the calendar. What was the purpose of that? Was it just to make sure that even though you never get a second by yourself, let alone with a boy, that you don't magically end up pregnant somehow? For most girls it's not regular for a few years anyway. Would your father assume you were impure when it came late? How much do fathers know about this stuff anyway?

    I also don't understand why it's ok to use NFP to intentionally conceive more children, but it's not ok to use NFP to prevent pregnancy. Isn't that hypocritical? If they're leaving it up to God, shouldn't they just do it whenever they feel like and see what happens. If God only wanted the Duggars to have 12 kids, how the hell would they ever know? They're all a bunch of liars and hypocrites. It's all a competition to make as many "blessings" as possible show off how righteous you are to earn God's favor, but without caring at all what God actually wants for them.

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  89. It's a good idea to chart one's period- sudden changes in flow/regularity can often signal other health issues. My feminist Ob/Gyn mother had me chart, and she charted. For us it had nothing to do with thinking I was pregnant!! Also if anyone woman of reproductive age goes to the Dr. one of the first things they ask is "when was the date of you last period". I'm always shocked women women cannot answer this!

    I'm not alarmed that the women in Ruth's family charted their periods, I'm shocked that it was on a PUBLIC calendar and her father was the one telling her to do it!

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  90. Sorry for the typos! iPhones and postings don't go together!

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  91. I feel so badly for you Ruth. I have four daughters. And while it was something my girls weren't happy about. It wasn't a cause for shame. I am assuming that Darth Pater has been muzzled by the "organization" or he would have been all over this like a rabid pitbull.

    You are doing well for yourself. Keep up the good work!

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  92. Ruth, not to be crude, but what on earth was going on w/ this movement? I feel so sorry (I'm not even sure if that's the word) for you! The part that got me the most was when you said that 1. you had to hide your period from the family because nothing had ever been taught to you & that your father actually made you track it and pray from your future spouse at just 13!!! This is an interesting read, but omg, I don't know what to say about that. It's sick to think that a father would be so involved in the 'womanly' matters of his daughters (unless he was a single dad, but even if he were, he could get a woman to explain the ropes) when his daughter has a mother to teach her this kind of stuff! I'm so sorry to hear what you've gone through, but thank God you're able to make you own choices now.

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  93. Ruth,

    I know I've said this before, but your father has very, very serious psycho-sexual issues. He needs help from a professional. Either he was abused or is going to become an abuser some day. Maybe soon. I am becoming more and more frightened for your younger sisters. Please consider contacting the government's family services in their area. He is more and more unhinged and I fear it won't be many years before someone gets sexually abused by him if it hasn't happened already. I know some people reading this will think this advice is nuts. I don't care. This man is showing extremely disturbing signs. Please, please, someone, get help for him. Get help for his family.

    His "sureness" that you had had sex with someone when you had had your period is an enormous red flag of how bent his brain is. I'm not kidding. This is truly sick.

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  94. Hi again. I just wanted to respond to jemand's very, very good point. Normally it would be nice if we all had two parents who loved us but not all of us do. jemand is right, there are lots of us in single parent situations.

    I've been dating a lovely man whose wife left him to raise their 10 year old daughter alone. He was the one there for her when she had her period. He was the one who went shopping for her first pads, her first tampons, her first bra. He was always so gentle and tender with her. He didn't embarrass her, talked openly but gently with her. He ached for her mother to come back into her life so his precious daughter could have a woman doing this for. He tried to get other women to become involved with his little girl so she wouldn't have to feel like she only had a man to turn to. His ex-wife is now back in the picture, so his daughter now has a woman around to go through these things with her. But for many years (including the onset of puberty) his daughter had no one else but him. I'm glad he was there for her and she wasn't left on her own to figure this out.

    Btw, it also helped ME! Gross story about to come, so stop reading if you don't like this kind of thing:
    Within the first few months of dating I was visiting his family's hometown, out on a field in the middle of nowhere watching his nephew's little league when my period unexpectedly showed up. In a big way. I was completely unprepared. On the way back to his mother's house I had to tell him that I needed to stop at a drug store. It was obvious why. (Can someone say, "Embarrassing!"?)

    We walked into the drug store then both sort of stopped. Uh-oh. What were we going to do now? Awkward. I told him he could come with me into the aisle or wait for me at the door. We had both been married before and were parents so it wasn't entirely wierd, though it was, too. I went to the aisle myself but after a few moments he followed. We were in love and all that but still, just a few months in... was this going to be strange? Can I tell you what happened next? Very gently, he started asking me advice on which products I could recommend for his daughter. You could tell he was dying to have someone to ask, but scared of offending me or creeping me out.

    OK, so it's not a romantic story, but it does point out that some dads can do it when they have to, without being overly crepy about it. And yes, jemand, you are right. There are often plenty of reasons why it's the dad, and that's not always a bad thing.

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  95. oh my word! there's a story in, i think judges, that i hate. it's where the dad promises if God helps him win the war, he'll murder whatever comes out of his his house & it's his daughter & that story sux & i can only take it 1 verse at a time cuz it sux & it makes me weep &say 'wow, wtf?!?!?!' and WOW!!!! i read this post, and i have an identical reaction to it!! oh my word, are oh my word!!!! i don't even know what to say!!! what i kept asking as i read it, was 'is this actaully real?? did this really happen??' oh my word; how thefuck did you survive & not commit suicide?!? fuck, i would have!! WOW!!! this gothard cult sux sooooo much harder than i knew!!!! i used to think it was funny! the cabbage patch dolls! hilarious!!! i'd try to help these gothard kids cuz i hated how twisted they turned out.... but i'd laugh at the stuff they tell me cuz i thought it sounded hilarious, wtf, who does that!! thanx for sharing stuff so horrific anyone that names the name of Christ should grieve & weep!!! oh my word.... that is reprehensible!!!!!

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