Sunday, November 22, 2015

Regrets--From the pen of an ATI Survivor

Many of my closest friends today are fellow survivors of Bill Gothard's ATI homeschooling cult. Many of us are the strong ones, the ones who keep fighting to recover what was stolen from us. When we get together, conversation flows easily because of our shared experience. So much does not need to be explained! 

We may appear to be thriving in many ways, but no matter how long we have been "out", our victories are marbled with deep pain and anger at the myriad life-altering lies we were sold.

Another survivor of ATI recently penned these poignant lines, addressed to the disgraced cult leader who manipulated first our parents, and then us. I share them here with the writer's permission:


They're not my own,
These nagging pricks of conscience
That insinuate waste, loss, and misuse
Of dreams, talents, time, resources, relationships,
And my very self.
Not my regrets,
They're yours.
Because I was innocently eager to follow the right,
And you were seasoned and shrewd.
And you saw,
As I could not,
My potential, my passion, my energy,
My limitless capacity for loyalty.
And you took them.
All of them.
For your own purpose and under false pretense.
How was I to sense the emptiness in your promises?
How was I to discern insincerity in your earnestness?
How was I to detect the ruse in your disciplines?
How could I see the end of your beginnings?
How could I know to run
When I'd barely begun to walk?
My youth I spent chasing your dreams.
My strength I spent fighting your battles.
My gifts I spent supporting your endeavors.
My loyalty I spent defending your reputation.
My time I spent separated from all the people
You failed to value.
And I regret
That your designs on my youth
Kept me from
Chasing the dreams in my own heart,
Fighting battles for the vulnerable,
Providing for the needy,
Defending the defenseless,
And investing in relationships with people
Whose experiences lend balance to my own.
All these burdens of regret
Are yours to bear.
And yet you deny them,
Heap them back upon me with added blame,
Walk away in your illusion of innocence,
And leave me to sift through them,
And bear the full weight of them.


1 comment:

  1. Too many times poetry is done with pompous snootiness or with too much detail to the craft and not enough to the subject. This poem, however, is the perfect balance and allows the emotion to take center stage, as it should.