Parents always need to stay one step ahead, and even though the 2011-12 school year hasn't ended, we're all mulling over the options for next year. With the changes in the Movement, some schools are closing, others combining, and others staying the course. Where will we place our children, we wonder...?
Before anyone considers a boarding school under the watchful eye of Legionaries or 3gf's, kindly consider this testimony of a girl who went to the pre-candidacy in RI. I'll pull just a few segments, beginning when she came home (hoping to return). The bold is my own:
I woke up the next morning a different person. I had left home as bubbly, happy, irrepressible, irresponsible 14-year-old. I came back a much older, sadder, more serious, and shyer 16-year-old. I was coming back to a different family, too -- I now had a younger brother. Everything seemed weird and different -- like it wasn't at all the family I had left, but a new family I was going to have to adjust to...
[If my parents yelled at me or criticised me} I could clearly see that their anger was more about what was going on in their own lives than it was about me. They weren't saying calculated things to "test" me. They were just doing their thing, and sometimes they weren't as gentle as they could have been. It no longer bothered me. I realized that I had had a lot more "harshness" from my formators than I had ever had from my family. Besides, I had changed overnight from the girl who dissolved into tears over everything. I felt like I had no feelings at all. I felt annoyed when people looked for an emotional connection with me, trying to share feelings or hug me. I didn't want to be touched anymore. And my feelings were a shameful thing I didn't want to share...
Pretty soon even I was able to recognize that I was deeply depressed. The only emotion I felt was a deep misery and loneliness. I called up the one former classmate whose number I had. She was very understanding. "When does it get better?" I asked. "I'll let you know," she said. She told me of others who had turned to alcohol or drugs to numb the pain after going home. I was shocked...
The other person [who saved me] was my little brother. It was so different to have someone who needed me. No longer was I "forming myself" just for the sake of forming myself. I had to smile even if I felt sad, not because it was the right thing to do, but because Joseph needed a smile from me. I had to leap up and help, not because I had been assigned to help, but because he needed help right then and couldn't wait. He was generous with smiles, appreciation, and hugs. I didn't feel comfortable hugging anyone but him, but he reintroduced me to the world of touch and it was so comforting.
This is a young woman who came home, only to find that she had been lied to -- she wouldn't be invited back, although she worked hard on the things they told her that would enable her to stay. Imagine the ones who stayed. Read it and see what you can do to make healthy decisions for your children, and bring this information to light for others.
ADDENDUM: I'll add a few more excerpts, below.
This one is about sports (she's not athletic at all):
I tried hard, though. I felt I had to, if I was going to be perfect. There would be no excuses this time. I would run up and down the court the whole game (which lasted an hour). At least, that was my goal. In reality, I was never able to do it. By halfway through the game, I would be lagging and out of breath. And one consecrated woman from Colombia, whom we'll call Juanita, made it her personal crusade to motivate me. Chances are, this was a commandment from above, but I'll never know. Every day, she would take me aside and tell me that I didn't love Jesus because I wasn't really trying. Or that I should get into the game to make my companions happy. Or that I was just trying to get attention by pretending to be sick. One time that I'll never forget, she yelled in frustration, "Why can't you just be like everyone else?"
I felt shattered. If my goal should be like everyone else, that meant everyone else was better than me. I was the very worst person in the whole place.
Here she notes her inner struggle (which they labeled as pride and lack of love for God):
I was rebuked again and again for crying. I was told it was my duty to "keep my face for the others." The other girls deserved to see me happy. They did not want to be brought down and made depressed by my gloomy face. So I tried and tried. I stifled sobs under my pillow at night, hoping someone would notice and come over, and that whoever it was would not be mad at me. I locked myself in the basement bathroom and cried during recess. I would bite and scratch my arms and hands because the physical pain made the emotional pain a little less. The reason I admitted to myself was that I was just trying to keep myself from crying. The reason I didn't admit was that I hoped someone would see the marks and ask if I was okay. I would tell them that I was just trying to stay calm, to put the brave face on that they asked of me, and they would finally realize I was trying my best. They would say, "Wow, Sheila, I had no idea you were trying so hard. You really do love God. We should be easier on you." But that did not happen.
Ready to knock down the front door yet? Thankfully, it's closing and the girls will have a different experience in Michigan. But remember, it's the same 3gf's in charge there.