My Deconversion Plan
I didn’t go to university, so I didn’t have the luxury of leaving my city, and for a time I continued to live with my parents. This did not last long. I knew I wanted to leave, and I knew that at the very least I wanted to get away from the abuse. So I set a plan in motion. It was simple but it worked:
- Get a 2nd job so I could afford to move out
- Move out of the house into my own small apartment
- Pull away from Adventist activities more and more
- Call my parents one day and tell them I had left the church
- Wing the rest
So I moved out of home, under the veil of much suspicion. I had had plans to then drift away and tell my parents the bad news within a few months. Well… it didn’t work out that way.
I had managed to secure an apartment quite far away from my church – brilliant, I thought. Turns out, not so. My mother used this as an excuse to wrap her hands around my neck even tighter; they would come and pick me up from my house and take me to church every week! I accepted their ride and kicked myself later. I knew it would look suspicious if I turned it down; why would I turn it down, when it was hard for me to get there on my own? I was then reliant on them to get home, and before we left church mother would always invite me to lunch. And I had no real way of turning this down. I had made plans with no one else (and if I lied about it, they could easily check) and, as my mother would slyly say, “it is not like you have anything else to do”. Out of fear I accepted their invitation.
I then had to ask them to take me home as I relied on them for my ride. If I asked too soon, my mother and father would be offended that I would choose to sit by myself than sit with them, doing nothing, and so they would suspect I was breaking the Sabbath, leading to all sorts of horrific situations. This is exactly why I insist that before leaving the church, you should be financially independent and you should have your own transport.
While I still had to keep the Saturday portion of the Sabbath, I comforted myself with the thought that I had Friday nights. Except, the reality was I did not have Friday nights. I would try to go out, but I knew I had to be back by 10, because either one of my siblings or my mother would call my landline (which she had insisted I had) to “talk” at about 9-9:30pm. If I didn’t pick up the phone, they would text me immediately and ask why I was not picking up my phone. They would then call my mobile phone, and ask why I was not answering my phone. If I picked up, they would then say to take it to the landline, which was their trick for seeing if I was at home, and actually able to pick it up.
If I was on my way home, and my mobile would ring, I would literally run as fast as I could home so that I could be there, ready to pass their landline test. This was just one of the many examples of ways they would keep me in-check. It left me terrified, stressed, paranoid and I struggled to sleep. The noose was tightening, and my neck was about to snap.
The final straw
I let this go on for 6 months before I ended it. The end came very fast, and it was very sudden. I had barely escaped the landline test the previous night, and I went to bed feeling very sick. When I awoke the next day, I felt like I had never felt before. I felt absolute, utter fear, of going to church. It wasn’t just that I didn’t want to go to church; I never, ever wanted to step foot in there again. I started to shake and sweat at the thought of going. So I stumbled and quickly called my father and let him know that I would be visiting a different church that day, and I strongly insisted that I would walk there. I hung up, and I knew that day would be different.
I hoped on the bus, and went into town. I spent the day wandering around aimlessly. As lunchtime hit, I text my father and told him I had packed a picnic lunch and had taken my EGW study bible to a park where I was going to read it for the rest of the afternoon. I quickly got a call from him; he doubled checked on my plans and he told me that he thought it would be better to come home, but if this is what I wanted then to enjoy my day.
And so I continued to wander aimlessly, until an hour later I got another call. Half an hour later, another call. Then an hour after that, another call, this time from my mother. At this point I was sick of it and decided to not answer it. And so I left it ring. And so she rang again. And again. She then texted me, asking me why I was ignoring her (notice she assumed I was ignoring her, rather than just assuming I turned it off?). She texted me several times, saying things such as “where are you” “what are you doing?” “why won’t you answer my calls?”. She then reverted back to calling my phone. I finally picked up, and I got bombarded with a lot of questions. She wanted to know exactly where I was. I reassured her and got her off the phone as quickly as I could. My heart felt like jelly.
I bussed over to my most trusted friend. She opened the door, surprised to see me on a Saturday. I came in and collapsed on her bed. I cried and I cried. She tried to come over and give me a hug, but I was physically shaking and unable to talk. After some time, I finally squeaked out the story of my day, and told her I was terrified.
She held me for a long time.
She told me that if it had gotten to this point, that I couldn’t put it off any longer; I had to leave. I briefly tried to fight it, but to her surprise I conceded. That was it, it was over, I had to leave the church, and I had to leave before the next Sabbath because I didn’t ever want to go back inside that church ever again. So we sat down, and created a plan.