New Age Neglect: Rabbit’s Story

CC image courtesy of Flickr, andrew and hobbes.

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Rabbit” is a pseudonym.

I don’t… I don’t know if I’m ready to really talk about all of what happened to me. But I feel like maybe I should say something about my experience with homeschool because it had zero to do with Christianity and I feel alone, and maybe the reason I can’t find any other secular neglect homeschooling stories is because I need to write one. So this is, in brief, my story. Maybe I will write more someday, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be okay talking about it in a language anyone but me and my husband understand.

Now, in 2016, I have discovered the following things about myself, things that I feel should be known, in order to give context to this account: I am an intersex woman with PCOS. I have EDS, a collagen mutation that causes chronic pain. I have been homeless and because of those experiences became a communist. I am a bisexual pagan witch. I am severely disordered, impacted by schizophrenia, autism, and two personality disorders (borderline and dependent) as well as extensive PTSD and anorexia, both of these latter from my childhood abuse and neglect, and the further abuse and neglect they set me up to face.

My mother neglected and emotionally abused me, as did literally every other member of my extended and immediate family, including my younger sister, who was also homeschooled for a time.

When I graduated from a very good and positive Montessori school at the age of eleven (5th grade) my mother put me in yet another private school for 6th grade and then, in the summer after, quit her job and pulled me and my sister out of school. She got a license to homeschool us (or… whatever that is, the registration that keeps the truancy officers showing up).

She bought all the sparkly accessories for homeschooling, made a few desultory efforts, and then got bored (she always got bored) and just started… ignoring our education.

She said, she always told people, that ‘oh, she’s so smart, she reads all the time. I can just leave her alone and she learns by herself!’

When I said I wanted to go to high school, she said ‘ok but you have to be in charge of that’ and then did absolutely nothing, forcing me to ask my friend, another 13yo girl, about how to enroll in her school. We were thirteen!! I had to go through this other friend of mine, on the phone, not even given the internet or anything, and print out the applications on my grandmother’s computer during Christmas.

She continued her sterling record of doing absolutely nothing, not even feeding me adequately or taking me to see a competent doctor when I was very clearly having severe medical problems (other than my orthodontia, because heaven forbid her child have crooked teeth), through the one and a half years I managed to limp along with zero parental help or support in a public (well, charter/magnet) school–the first time I’d ever been to public school.

And then, when I failed out of that school, she acted like I didn’t exist.

Again, she reasoned that she didn’t have to pay attention to me, because I could read and ‘read all the time’. She seemed to dutifully ignore the fact that what I was reading was fiction.

Anyway, later on, when I started talking about homeschooling with other people, I got very confused when they assumed I was Christian, and fundamentalist at that. I simply had never been around that kind of homeschooler–I’d only briefly been around any other homeschoolers, but the ones I’d met were all New Age. Scientologists, Pagans, etc. And all abusive in the same way, similar way to what I’ve read about from Christian survivors, but with that New Age ‘rebel’ twist that makes it hard to… well, rebel against it visibly (how are you supposed to rebel against an atheist or pagan? Go Christian??).

I still feel alone. Whenever I hear about survivors, or meet them (I live with two others–my husband and our roommate), they’re from horrific Christian cults. I feel like the only one that was from a secular or New Age philosophy or cult.

I guess this isn’t a full story so much as a call to others.

Where are my fellow secular survivors, where are they? Please speak up, please let me know I’m not alone. I’m here. You’re not alone.

I found out all of my conditions and illnesses in my adult life–most of them in the past year–and am learning more about how to live with them. My husband and I have been together for 9 years this April. I have been in recovery from anorexia for nine years. I am no longer homeless. I am able to buy items that ease the pain and lack of mobility from my EDS. I have some support cats. I am at a point where I can laugh derisively at my mother and my relatives and their abuse and neglect of me. I am recovering. There is hope.

You–and me–we’re not alone.

I love you. You can do it. We can do it together.

15 comments

  • Reblogged this on My Blog and commented:
    I’ll admit that I’ve not heard of any New Age homeschoolers, which is why I’m sharing this.

  • Rabbit, I am autistic and I can assure you that autism is not a mental illness. Sure it has not only its ups, but downs that really suck and can even scare people; nevertheless, I would not trade my autism for anything because without it, I wouldn’t be me. Nevertheless, many New Age people like your parents blame autism on vaccines and call it a modern phenomenon, even going so far as to bash Sesame Street for including an autistic character because they feel it “normalizes” a condition that they believe is unnatural. I know that you are not ready to accept autism, and you may not be, but if ever you feel that you are tired of being unhappy with that part of yourself, Googling neurodiversity and the Autism Acceptance Movement might help. Also, the Ask an Autistic video series gives great explanations of autism.
    Nevertheless, if you feel like you cannot do any of those things or don’t want to because you have your own problems, I understand if you don’t want to look into that.

    • Mind you, the reason I put up a comment like this is because autistics are often not accepted by society and people are really only beginning to consider accepting them; if autistics were a privileged group the way Christians are, I never would have put up such a comment. In a way, this comment is not just directed at you but rather anyone who thinks autism is a mental illness.
      A lot of the worst abuse of autistics occurs within New Age circles (chelation, MMS, etc), but there is no denying that what your parents did is really bad too. Seriously, neglecting you?!

  • Not heard of any ‘New Age’ homeschoolers, but there’s several atheist homeschoolers I’m aware of seeing.

  • Mmmmmmmmmmm. Thank you for saying this. Your story is important.

  • Thank you for writing this. My parents were privately religious, but sometimes I have a lot of trouble explaining what was wrong because we weren’t “fundamentalist” homeschoolers. In fact, my parents often scoffed at the homeschooled girls with their long denim skirts. It came down to narcissistic personality disorder and a lot of guilting/manipulation. It makes it hard to explain to other survivors sometimes. I’m glad you have your husband for support.

  • I’m in England. All of the home ed families I’ve ever known here have been New Age or Neo Pagan.

  • Admin Note: Some of the comments on this post have been deleted. Homeschoolers Anonymous supports survivors and their stories. Telling survivors that they should address their abusers problems is victim blaming.

    For more on our comment policy, please see: https://homeschoolersanonymous.org/forum/

  • So proud of you *hugs* I often have trouble explaining my experiences, too, because while my mother was “Christian,” she wasn’t fundamentalist Christian after I was about thirteen. And on top of that we did every kind of school available. Like literally every kind. Not very helpful ^^’ Anyhow, really proud of you for sharing your story ^_^

  • I was not homeschooled, but I was groomed and sexuallly abused by a pagan spiritual leader from ages 14-22. Our experiences were not the same, but you are not alone.

  • In reading Rabbit’s story, it reminded me of the New Age alternative Schools of the 60’s and 70’s where being a flake was considered a virtue, and proclaimed as a form of freedom. Eventually, it was a money saver to home school. When I was in Northern California i saw much of what she describes here. And because of the abuse and neglect going on, “the adults” moved around with the kids in tow, from tiny town to small city. I was struck by how ruthless and self-serving these people were. Probably the only way one had tor rebel was to get out and disappear, since many of these groups are very dangerous.

    • Oh wow, I attended one of those for a year and a half, in 4th and 5th grades. It was sort of fun, and I got do try a lot of neat things, but it was also … sort of scary, I guess. It was like no one really cared about you: where you were, what you did, whether you’d had anything to eat that say, etc.

  • I did know one other family growing up that was like yours. My family used to call them the “hippy” family and they held new age beliefs. IDK what ever happen to them as we lost contact years ago. I myself do understand a little of what you are going through (maybe not the new age part). My mother also stopped educating me during my homeschooling. I’m still not sure why exactly or what was running through her mind. I ended up with such sever educational neglect it has taken me years to catch up.

  • I am a school psychologist and worked with a 15-year old boy who was home schooled (neglected really) and then when his grandmother intervened and enrolled him in a drop-out recovery alternative high school where I worked, he was very far behind both academically and socially. He was extremely bright, very kind and very unhealthy because although his family neglected his education they fed his lonely body so much food he weigher over 300 pounds.

  • I love you too, whoever you are. Bless you.

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