I was born and raised in the UPC organization. Because of this fact I was not raised as a "free thinker" and never really had any thoughts or doubts of my own.
I did meet a wonderful Catholic man when I was 21, who was very logical and ended up asking a whole slew of questions that I had never thought of before and gave me an "outsiders" view of my church, which finally led to me questioning things and eventually leaving the church when I was 23.
My first haircut was at age 23, I owned my first TV at 22, and I wore my first pair of jeans at 22.
We fell in love and planned on getting married, but came up against many, many long discussions and guilt trips from my mom for being "unequally yoked together" since he was not of like faith.
He visited the church with me on several occasions in hopes that it would at least ease her mind a little that he was checking things out. He ended up helping me stand up to her guilt trips and we were married in June of 1997 and are currently expecting triplets.
The minute the minister said "I now pronounce you husband and wife" my mother's whole attitude changed and now she loves him to death and can't say enough nice things about him and how he has always treated me, because she doesn't believe in divorce so now it's legal and we need to stay together (although she has been married 4 times and only one of them was "'til death").
I was extremely naive and, at 23, had the emotional maturity of maybe a 17 year old because I had been so sheltered from the world. My husband has been very patient with me over the past 9 years and has allowed me room to "grow up" and develop independent ideas of my own. He helped me get into college and get a decent education and has always encouraged me in everything I endeavor to do.
I never suffered any of the physical abuse or slander that I have read about in your pages and I do believe there are a few ministers in the organization that are actually good, upstanding men of God, but they are few and far between.
I had just finally realized, with the help of my husband, that I was missing life. I never knew what was going on in the world (good or bad) and in choosing a career found myself somewhere I didn't want to be because I "wasn't allowed" to do what I really wanted to do, which involved the television and motion picture industry. I never learned how to swim, dance, or play sports and have noticed that as a whole the organization probably makes up a lot of the nation's obese population because all they do is go to church and sit on a bench 4-5 times a week and then go out to eat.
My sister had a bigger struggle in that she is gay and tried to hide it or get "the demon cast out" since she was 13. She always felt like she didn't belong and always had to hide her true self.
After I left the church, the people I thought were my friends stopped calling or returning my calls and I haven't see most of them in about 10 years or so.