A Personal Plea, Part 6
CC image courtesy of Flickr, duffyemma92
Edited by Wende Benner, HA Editorial Staff
Editorial note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kit’s blog, Dauntless in Denver. Kit is a homeschool and ATI survivor. It was originally published on November 20, 2016. Not every part of the series explicitly mentions homeschool, but each part ties to her homeschool experience.
In December of 1997, my parents and I started attending a different church, one comprised mostly of ATI families. Those who weren’t in ATI, still were, for the most part, fundamentalist homeschoolers. I think there were two families in the church that sent their children to school. The church was an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church, not officially affiliated with ATI, but that didn’t really matter. The teachings were the same. No rock music, no dating, girls and women wore long skirts, the young people were expected to stay home until marriage and not go to college. I had everything reinforced everywhere: Home, church and with all ATI events. No wonder I got so caught up in it all.
1998 saw many more ATI events, and an increasing self-consciousness over the fact that, while many of the girls at church wore skirts all the time, even while not at church, I didn’t. May came, and with it, came the beginning of swimming season, once again. The first day of swim practice, I told my mom I needed to go to the pool after school for our first practice. Mom looked at me and said I could be on the swim team again if I really wanted, but she wanted me to go upstairs, put on my swimsuit, stand in front of the full length mirror, and think about whether I could feel good about myself in a swimsuit, knowing that a hundred men were looking at me. No, I’m not kidding. Add that to what I’d learned the previous fall at the Counseling Seminar, and my experiences in the 6th grade, and we’re talking major body issues taking root, right here. Of course, I had no issues with my bathing suit. I never had. I grew up on swim team, and I had already gone a couple years in this very developed body. But my mother had mastered the art of manipulation (please note- she wasn’t like this when I was little, and she’s nothing like this now, she has since admitted that this was very wrong and apologized).
Instead of her being the bad guy and telling me no, she manipulated me into making that decision myself, transferring all responsibility for the decision to me.
I couldn’t claim she made me quit, no, she gave me the choice, and I made that decision. And of course, I did choose not to be on the swim team, and it broke my heart.
Some might ask, why I didn’t just assert myself and do it. Why didn’t I just go for it, and let my mom disapprove? Well, a couple reasons: 1. Those of us with Autism, especially kids and teenagers, are highly susceptible to manipulation from anyone we care about. It’s hard for us to name it and say, “Yeah, no, I’m not going to let you manipulate me. I’m doing me.” 2. ATI teaches that when you “rebel” against your parents, which this would have been under ATI’s definition of “rebellion,” you remove yourself from the protections of your authorities, and essentially give Satan and his demonic minions a free pass to do anything they want. Out from under that umbrella, I could get hit by a car while riding my bike to practice, I could hit my head during practice and die, or I could even get raped. And of course, all of those things would be my fault. Mine. No one else’s, because I asserted my own will over my parents’ and did what I wanted to anyway. Not only that, but ATI liked to remind us of I Samuel 15:23, which states that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. Of course, this is taken out of context, but based on ATI’s teachings, if I was going to be on swim team anyway, I may as well go join a coven.
This was one very large part of my struggle, throughout our ATI years. Anything I did, I did because I wanted to, not because I had to, according to my parents.
And yet, I did almost everything because I had to, not because I wanted to.
But my parents took no responsibility for that. Through the years, I died a little inside, every time I came across something like this. It really started to take its toll on me, leading me to a point of sheer desperation. I have probably two more posts left on my ATI years, before I can move on and start actually getting to the whole reason for all these posts in the first place. Thank you for bearing with me, and please continue to bear with me. It is so important to me that those close to me truly understand the depth of my struggle right now, and likely for the next four years.