Wednesday, February 2, 2011


The good news is: my brother managed to send me a few pictures from when I was little (Harris' mom wanted them for a project). The bad news is: they triggered a few memories that I would've rather forgotten.

Picture number one was of me sitting on the porch with my siblings. We're all dressed in our "best" and holding picket signs. My little sister is holding that famous "pro-life" sign showing the aborted fetus. At the time, I thought that that's what an aborted fetus looked like. Later, much much later, I heard that that picture was really an eighteen week fetus that had been miscarried. I know abortion is a touchy subject and the point of this blog isn't pro-life/pro-choice - what I'm really angered about is that at such a young age, my siblings and I were made to be show pieces for the "pro-life travelling show". We would get together with other families in the area and stand on corners holding up our signs. We only knew abortion from the twisted and really black-and-white lectures we were given. On FJ, someone said that she resented people who were like us (like I used to be) because it took the decision to talk about abortion with her children in her own time away from her and she's absolutely right. Not only is she right about her child, but she's right about the children participating in the protest. ATI/QF wants to talk about protecting children from the world and keeping their hearts innocent - and then they go and shove a three year old in front of traffic and shove a sign showing a botched abortion in their hand! For the record - I was told that abortions were the result of ONLY pre-marital, teen sex, OR affairs. Because, as it was explained to me, what women in her God designed relationship would even consider turning down that blessing? I was told that the women who had abortions WOULD get some sort of cancer (breast cancer, I think) or an STD. Still- mainly- we didn't even discuss it as much as we were shoved out there to protest something we couldn't possibly understand at such a young age.

Picture number two is me holding a baby (I think I know which one but it could be one of our guests' babies). I'm smiling - but I'm looking off to the left of camera and I'm holding the baby like it has a smelly diaper or it has a contagious disease. Yep, that was my childhood and my job- the baby holder. :/

Picture number three is my older brother's "graduation" from homeschool. It's probably one of the last pictures my family ever took of me in the house. What makes me choke up isn't the picture - it's the house and the people in it. I miss my siblings so much. I miss certain things about that house. But, the pow-pow stick (labeled "Discipline" with paint) gives me chills. That came along when I was a little older, so I didn't get it as much - but some of my sisters did. And there it is in the picture of my brother's graduation - lurking in the background. WTF?

That's it though. Those are the pictures my brother could get for me - an abortion rally, holding a stinky baby, and at a homeschool graduation with the threat of discipline hanging around. Yes. My life in pictures.

Then, I look around my room here and see the pictures I have tacked around. Harris and I at his parents this Christmas. Me and a hiking pal on top of a peak. Me with a friend swimming in a mountain creek. The boys from my nanny gig and I with paintball paint on us and another of us from a Chuck E Cheese photo booth. These are the pictures I should have from my childhood.


  1. My folks retired in Bryan/College Station, TX, home to THE (according to PP statistics) most protested Planned Parenthood facility in the country. I've driven by there on 100+ degree days in August and have seen young children out picketing with their parents, holding those very signs. And I, too, wound up having a conversation with my then-4-year-old I REALLY didn't want (I would have driven a different way had I realized that these people were only concerned with someone else's "unborn," as opposed to their own "born" who were nearly passing out from heat stroke). I'm sorry as hell you had to go through all that.

    Moving on...

    Yes, you should have had those happy pictures in your childhood, but what matters is that you have them now, and you have all the joy and love that go with them. And you deserve every tiny bit of that love and joy, too. :-)

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  3. My mother, her sister and their mother (my grandma) left their father and fled the abusive household they were in, so my mother has very few pictures from her childhood too.

    In my family, history on my mother's side is a scarce thing. There aren't a lot of pictures, and what pictures there are usually aren't labeled very well (if at all). I am saddened by the loss of history, but my dad is an avid photographer, so at least his generation and my generation have tons of pictures. My generation is among the era of the digital camera, so I hope that when I have children one day, there will be an abundance of photographs too.

    For what it's worth, as jenn said, you have the chance to make new memories and new photographs with Harris and his family. I hope that in the future you can get more photographs from your childhood, but if you can't, at least you have the ones that you do have now.

  4. Family pictures say a lot. I am sorry yours have reminded you of so many unhappy memories. (((HUGS)))

    I am glad your brother was able to get some for you, and that you have his support.

  5. Ruth, please remember that your story isn't over yet. In the years to come, reconciliation is possible. You may get other pictures.

    Childhood is full of decisions made by others. You aren't responsible for those things, so don't let them worry you or depress you. Could it or should it have been different? Of course, but all parents make stupid decisions and all have regrets. I have said for years that the man who says he has no regrets probably lies about other things as well.

    I understand that this may be depressing now, but it is only a small part of the story, a step on the way to freedom and wholeness. You are doing great - just keep going.

  6. Ruth, I'm very pro-life, but I have always agreed with you that the graphic signs are an outrage and do not actually respect that baby (I consider it a baby, I know not all do.) I also disagree with involving children and have had these difficult conversations with my own, who incidentally got extremely upset and I would have much preferred to wait until they were older. Then there was the planned parenthood I'd drive by on my way to do fertility treatments, the pictures always made me so depressed.

  7. May I make a request? Can we please, please not have an abortion debate? I know the temptation is nearly impossible to resist - it's like the topic has gravity - but (a) all the arguments are well-established, and odds are good that everybody has already heard them; and (b) the entire 'debate' seems to be carefully framed to keep the issue unresolvable.

    Obviously, I can't stop anyone who does decide to go there. But it would make my day to see the topic come up, everybody look at it and say, "Eh, we already know what we think," and go on to more productive discussions.

    As, for example, childhood pictures. My parents have quite a lot from my childhood, and I've never been able to convince them to get rid of some of the more egregious ones. Possibly the best "what were they thinking" moment was when we came over for Christmas and found that they had left out some pictures from my younger brother's senior prom.

    His date then is my wife now. Which is not awkward at all - not even the teeniest little bit - when galloping hordes of extended family are about to descend on the house. No, not at all.

  8. Oh, but Michael, those debates just bring out the best in EVERYBODY!!! ;-) No, I agree, and that wasn't the purpose of my original post (and I HOPE it didn't appear that way!!!).

  9. Ruth, As a lurker who rarely posts I just wanted to share a little. I have a lot of pictures from my childhood, but they are hard to look at now when I think about all that has happened to my family. I understand about missing family so much; over a decade ago I cut ties with my mother. It was a good and healthy decision, she was toxic and seriously unhealthy to be around. However, there are days when I still miss my "mommy." A few years ago, for reasons I still don't know or understand, my sister decided to cut ties with me. I miss her too.

    However! There is a lot of hope. I have built my "real" family and learned this: Family are the people who LOVE and CARE about you. They come from all over and they are worth their weight in gold.

    While I miss my early family, the one I have now is even more wonderful. My Mother in Law is more my mother than the one that gave birth to me. My friends have been there for me far more than my sibling, to the point some of them are "aunts" or "uncles" to my children. When you look around at all of those photos, just realize, those are your real family and treasure your time with them.

    I hope that the future will bring you back to your siblings in healthy ways, and I'm glad that you have a brother that cares enough to get you what he did.

    Keep up with your story, there is a lot more to share and your strength is an inspiration.

  10. Is it true that the medical term for "miscarriage" is spontaneous abortion or just abortion??

  11. Hopewell...The actual definition of an abortion is a pregnancy that has ended in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy resulting in the death of the fetus. It can be spontaneous or induced. But that isn't how the majority of the public use the term. People who have spontaneous abortions call them miscarriages.

    Back to what I was going to really do say 1000 words. Ruth, your childhood happened to you. When you were ready, you ran. Your life now is about your choices...not the choices of "elders."

    I'm sure realizing that your siblings are still living under the 'rule' of your parents makes you sick. It would me. Hopefully they will follow in your footsteps as they grow and become old and strong enough to leave.

  12. Ruth:

    As you have the need to give yourself everything you should have had as a child. Amusement parks, museums...trips to toys r us Take lots of pictures and build happier memories..I still play with toys I was denied as a child. And I just turned 48!

  13. Hopewell,
    Yes. However, what sj3339sta said is not completely true. Medically speaking, an abortion is the premature exit of the products of conception. It can happen at any time during a pregnancy, not just the first 12 weeks, though those are the most common. When you get into common speech, a spontaneous abortion that results in the death of the fetus is called a 'miscarriage', but one that happens late in the pregnancy and (usually or potentially)results in the fetus living is a 'premature birth'. In both cases and from the woman's perspective, the pregnancy was aborted. Also, there is a tendency in some literature to use the term 'abortion' to only refer to the expulsion of a living fetus and not to one that has already died in utero.

  14. I kind of take exception to the idea that "what matters is that Ruth has happy pictures now". It SUCKS that Ruth doesn't have those happy pictures from her childhood, and it's completely okay for her to feel that way.

    On the topic of Planned Parenthood: One of the things that led to my realizing a lot of evangelical narratives are full of crap was when I was dating a Catholic, and I googled natural family planning to see what I'd be getting into if I married him. Imagine my surprise when the most thorough and positive information I found was on Planned Parenthood's website! I'd always read that Planned Parenthood was all about abortion, so it blew my mind that they were so positive towards something as often motivated by conservative religiosity as NFP. I've learned since that Planned Parenthood provides gynecological care and birth control to many women who would not otherwise be able to access them, and that that is the bulk of what they do.

  15. I'm a big believer that kids shouldn't be dragged along to protest ANYTHING until they're old enough to make a choice about what matters to them. Of course, kids generally identify themselves politically with their parents until they are teenagers and start to think more critically (about issues and about their parents), so it's not like they'll be making those decisions in a vacuum - but I do think it's just gross to force your children to shill for your own beliefs. I'm not interested in talking about abortion in particular, but I see those protests as a violation of your childhood, Ruth.

  16. I know that in farm animals, the term 'abortion' is used for any premature loss of a pregnancy. The term 'miscarriage' is a misnomer anyway- it implies the mother is somehow to blame (literally "carried it wrong") when that's rarely the case.

  17. Ruth, your comment struck a nerve with me, but for different reasons. After my dad passed, one of my step-sisters flew up here on her broomstick (she doesn't work) and pretty much took everything before the other four siblings (one who had to come in from NC) had a chance to divvy up what we wanted in an equitable fashion, as was stated in my parents' trust.

    Thankfully, my brother was able to get SOME of our childhood pictures, but my step-sister, who had already moved out of the house by the time her mother married my dad, has the majority of my Childhood on Film.

    We don't talk and she has little relationship with her 3 sons, one of which is one of my best buddies in the world. For me to retrieve the pictures, I'd have to ask him to go visit his mother and rummage through her stuff (and being an apparent hoarder, this would be quite a task) and ask him to bring them with him on his next visit here. That's just too much to ask.

    But, with my parents no longer with us to bind the five of us, most of us rarely talk, or even e-mail anymore, although 3 of us live within a 10 mile radius, if that.

    What's odd is that in our case, the parents became religious zealots when I was about 15, so my sisters never had to live with it, and all of the siblings lean pretty far left, except for the hoarder sister. We should have more to talk about, but having never lived together, we've retreated to the "families" we had before our parents married.

    What's really sad is that I have a pic of my dad with the four girls, but one sister, who has hated my brother since he was 8 years old, for no discernible reason, purposely left him out of the picture.

    What I do have are pictures of my adult life and wedding. They represent the better part of my life and to get them from me, you'd have to pry them from my cold, dead hands. :)

    Continue to make and document new memories!

  18. I agree it sucks to have those pictures, they are tangible proof of the life she had. I am glad that at least now you are taking pictures as well as making happier memories

    I tend to agree, we should not politicize our kids, especially about an issue as sensitive as abortion. It's unfortunate you were lied to so much about the issue.

    Planned Parenthood's website is an excellent resource. My sex education that I received in high school was full of half truths and fear tactics to scare students into not having sex until marriage. (and as a side rant I'm pretty sure even couples who wait until marriage might use birth control. There's only so many quiverfllers out there). So I ended using the PP website to figure out about birth control. Also planned parenthood provides inexpensive ob-gyn services. I used them when I was unemployed and uninsured. I was grateful that I didn't have to walk past any picketers when I was going to get services that would help me to prevent a pregnancy.

  19. Thinking about you Ruth. Hope all is well. Happy thoughts that you are healing, school is going well, the job is good & Harrison is great.


  20. Hi Ruth, you haven't updated in a while, so just hoping everything is going well and you are really busy. :-)

    Lauren H.

  21. Hi, Ruth.
    Hope you are well. I miss hearing how you are.

  22. Hi, Ruth! I found a link to your blog on the TWOP boards and found your story so amazing that I spent the entire day reading it in its entirety. I have to say that I think you are a remarkably brave person and that you seem really well adjusted and normal for having grown up in such a mentally, spiritually, and physically abusive background. I'm so glad you had the courage to get out when you did. I don't know that I would have had the strength or courage to do what you did back when I was 17-18 years old.

    You haven't posted lately, and given the amount of drama you've experienced recently, I think I can understand why. I hope some day you can give an update on how you're doing, and I also hope that you're doing well.


  23. Ruth,

    I found your blog through another former-fundy site. I really identify with a lot of what you've posted, especially the struggles/remedial work to succeed at university. Thanks for keeping up this blog. I think what you're doing is really important.

    I still struggle with a lot of things in Christianity, especially the whole "God-as-Father" thing. One author that I've found particularly helpful is Henri Nouwen. A lot of university libraries have a book or two by him, and if not then Amazon or B&N certainly will. Reading his books fills me with peace, and honestly that's not something I can say for most Christian writers.

    Hope you're well.

  24. Just found and read your entire blog (yes, really, lol!) from a link someone posted in a forum in which I participate, in a post where a bunch of women were discussing how much they 'love the Duggars' (which made me want to vomit)--one woman was not a fan, and posted this link among other items. I really enjoyed reading your story, and hope all is well with you and Harris. Hope you will be writing more in the future!

  25. Hi Ruth; I don't comment on your blog very much, but I just wanted to say that I hope everything is going all right with you these days. You've got such an amazing spirit, considering all the crap you've been put though in your past; but I do realize it can get tough (the communication studies major in me is coming out). You just KOKO (keep on keeping on) Ruth!


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