Grace asked - Do you ever want to return to your parents? Many women who have escaped abusive religious groups often do.
I think it's too late now. Returning to my parents in the role of a dependent, subservient, submissive child couldn't happen. I've changed too much and I don't believe what they believe any longer. I'd like to think that they understand that my return to that lifestyle would be impossible for me. Would I love to return to my parents home and have a relationship? Yes. Yes, I would like that very much and I pray for it to happen. There are definitely things I miss about my family. Though there was much that was bad about my life, there were good things and I miss those things. I miss watching my sisters grow and I miss being present for the big family functions. We're all growing up and, with the exception of Blessing and I, all had very close relationships. Walking out of the room my sisters and I shared was the most difficult walk of my life and to say I have zero regret or guilt over leaving them would be a lie, also.
CT asked - In your opinion (or from stories you've heard) do you think other QF families would have been willing to arrange a different marriage? Or do you believe it's normal for the children to be told they just haven't been praying right if something feels wrong to them?
I don't quite understand the first part of your question. I think you're asking if, for example, in my situation, if most QF families would have said, "Ok. You don't like Adam, let's move on to Bob!"? Like everything, I can't really answer that for every other QF family because they're all different. In ATI, there's a certain stigma attached to girls who turn down "suitable" arrangements - especially after the "courtship" has gone on so long as mine did. There's the thought that the girl can't be tamed, so to speak, if she doesn't obey her parents or follow God's, alleged, plan for her. The men/boys in ATI tend to get more leeway in choice and attraction. I saw this in play with my brothers and the lessons they were given (or shared with me later). For example, boys are told to keep their heart and eyes open for God's direction, just as girls are, but they're allowed to voice their attractions more openly than girls are. If a boy sees a girl he finds attractive, he can approach her or her family and pursue her or talk to his parents about her. If a girl sees a young man she's attracted to, she's really not supposed to indulge any thoughts of dating him or pursuing him because, as it goes, if God means for her to be with that boy, it will be revealed through prayer, her parents, or him pursuing her. Does that make sense?
It's pretty common, if not normal, for children to be told that they're not approaching a situation with a pure heart or a right spirit if they differ with their parents. But I'm not sure that's a soley QF/ATI problem. Most parents influence their children or try to get them to see things from their point of view and through the glasses of their family's values. The difference between a "common" family and an ATI family is the recourse. I would imagine that, in a "commmon" family, the child has the resources and the ability to do what they will with their lives without the fear of losing EVERYTHING to go against their parents. In alot of the families I knew (but not ALL), the cost of going against your parents was total and complete isolation and lack of support. You're not prepared to be an independent entity, to a large extent.
I hate to get on a soapbox but I fear that's where this is headed. My family encouraged females to be totally dependent on someone else. All of us kids were homeschooled and isolated within a strict community of like minded people and there's a lot of group-think pressure to conform. There's also a great deal of pressure to rat out others under the veil of "being your brother's keeper". There's just so much going against an ATI kid who wants to get out. Most kids just conform to avoid the scary prospect of doing anything else.