My name is Starfury, and I’m the oldest of nine. I don’t remember when exactly we made the switch to Quiverfull, but I was probably around the age of 6. We used to have a website up… I remember there was a family picture of us by a lighthouse. By the age of 8 I was very firmly entrenched in the role of “Mommy Two.” At the age of 10 I was regularly sleeping with the babies so Mom could get sleep at night. This was the start of a very tumultuous relationship with my parents, especially my mother. In the past 11 years, there has only been one visit to my family where my mom and I haven’t yelled at each other, and that was a month ago, when I was there for 3 days.
I remember being afraid my parents would divorce (that awful, evil d-word that meant absolute failure) everytime they’d argue. I remember cringing when they’d punish the other kids, I remember myself and my brothers and sister begging them to stop spanking, both for ourselves and each other. I remember the absolute blinding fear we had when DHS came. I remember trying to be strong because *somebody* had to hold the family together, and Mom was hardly downstairs as it was. I remember leaving the house in the middle of the night so we wouldn’t be found. I remember at 12 I felt led to write a Proverbs 31 study guide. I remember I promised not to give my heart away until I was 18, and I remember reading countless books on courtship.
I remember converting to Orthodoxy when I was 14. I remember how it didn’t really change much of my family’s fundamentalist beliefs. I remember falling in love at 17, and the endless debate I would have in myself because I wasn’t 18 yet, but I was selfish and liked how I felt. I didn’t want to wait another year. I remember going off to college, and arguing in favour of my parents letting me major in philosophy. I remember switching to politics. I remember coming home and my parents out of the blue placing a moratorium on my relationship because another family felt I was going too far. I remember making the decision to move to another state just so I could move away from my parents and be more on my own. I remember defying them and talking with Sinclair (now husband, taking the name from Babylon 5, just like my pseudonym) anyway. I remember getting engaged and waiting a whole week to tell them. I remember their threats to not come to my wedding, and the fact that they didn’t pay for it. I remember my mother telling me she hated me on my wedding day. I remember my parents later telling me that they paid for all of my wedding (not true, although they did end up contributing some).
I remember moving out with my husband and the sudden realization of all that I had gone through dawning on me (though not entirely consciously at first). I remember struggling with emotions and having switches flip in my head, going from sane to insane in less than a second. My tears, my threats, my pounding fists… the desperate fear of being alone, and the inability to trust that anyone would stay with me… the “I hate you, don’t leave me” mentality. I remember the first time I gave into my self-harm desires, and scratched my arm up until it was red and welted with a stick outside in a park at midnight, as I cried my heart out (I was 21). I remember the first time I saw the word “love” staring back at me in black sharpie, and the sudden desire to scribble it out because it could never be true.
I still doubt, because I’m human. I have only begun to heal. I’m twenty one, but I’ve already been a mom to 8 kids, including one set of twins, I’ve already been married and am now getting divorced, I’ve already been abused emotionally and mentally. I am exhausted, even though a little voice yells at me every time I think about resting. I’ve had the strength to say no when I mean it, to come out about my sexuality, and to leave a faith that held me so long in bondage (that is a personal thing… it can be great for someone else, it’s just not for me).
I may be broken, but at least I have me. And that’s the best part… each of you has yourself, no matter what you’ve been through.