Frances’s Story

This is one of a thirty part exposé on the Children of the Legion. This group of women, then girls, in the Regnum Christi, share their stories of abuse, neglect and the aftermath of being children in the Regnum Christi. For a complete list of stories to date, view Children of the Legion.

Thank you to one and all who have shared your stories so far. I don’t know many of you at all, and others I lived with for three years and still barely know–but I am truly grateful for this group bringing us closer together. Funny we’ve discovered more about each other over the internet in a month than years of living together.

I was at the PC for 3 years, I left after my junior year. I went to the PC as an escape from my home–my family had just moved, I didn’t have friends, and I was depressed. My options were homeschool or PC, so I got the hell out of Dodge.

It’s been absolutely amazing and eye-opening to me to think back to the insane life that was the PC. Yet, there we were, tucked back in there, us Russian Princesses and Nuns of Naragganset, better than our peers because we had chosen to give our lives to God. Those other mere mortals were living flamboyant and sinfully pleasurable lives; because wasn’t life all about sacrifice and self-denial?

For a group that preached “universal Christian charity” it’s amazing to think how much we judged any and all who weren’t doing exactly as we were. “Oh, she must not be generous with God, she is going HOME”. “Oh did you hear? So and so had fun/danced/got pregnant/etc etc.” Seriously?! Who were we to judge or say what God’s will was for someone else? We were better somehow for giving our lives to God, others who were called to vocations such as marriage were lesser beings, not capable of the love and devotion we chosen souls were capable of. The hubris of those thoughts disgusts me even as I write it.

That feeling of superiority was only escalated in those horrific team balances. I honestly can’t for the life of me think of what could possibly have been said between us docile and charitable PCs, but I’m going to bet that absolutely everything that was said was petty and overly scrupulous. For what? To ruin the shred of self-worth we may have felt that week?

Everything was so calculated so as to look perfect, yet hearing the common themes of depression, eating disorders, and low self esteem rampant at the PC, that very façade takes on an eerily sinister note. I’m sure the majority of our parents thought they were doing us a favor sending us to such a “prestigious institution”, yet what message were they getting? Clearly not an accurate one. The silence amongst ourselves only masked the truth, a show of happiness cleverly hidden under strict norms.

How is it that 80 girls could live so close together, do absolutely everything together for years, and yet know so little about each other? I think we were only allowed to speak a total of about 30 minutes a day, maybe less. The rest of the time we walked about like drones, taking in what we were told we could take in, nothing more, nothing less.

The very essence of what it means to be a human, to have the freedom to choose was taken away and put inside the tightest of boxes: the schedule. Every minute of every day was planned out, to the point that if you got constipated, good luck. Your free time didn’t allow enough time to remedy that problem.

I remember one year after final exams, going outside and yelling FREEEEDOOMMMM (braveheart style) with a couple other PC’s. We earned a intolerably long lecture about the inappropriateness of such behavior. We were teenagers, for Christ’s sake.

Any type of creativity or originality was stifled under the pretext of “God’s will”, an all encompassing mandate I have come to loathe. A God who is a God of love would not want so many of us to be in constant physical and mental pain. I remember going to the doctor at one point, because I couldn’t run on account of intense back pain. He told me he’d never seen a back so bad, especially on someone so young. “Why?” I asked. “Stress”, he replied.

No kidding. The weight of constantly trying to achieve an unattainable level of perfection taxed our bodies to the max. I distinctly remember telling Heidi I was going to leave after the school year ended, and walking out of her office and down the long hallway. It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I had no idea until that moment that something internal could be felt so dramatically, so distinctly.

It took a long time for me to realize after leaving the PC that it is perfectly ok, dare I say normal, to sit back and relax. I don’t think there was ever time to unwind in our schedule. Instead we were frantically going from one thing to another, spinning the hamster wheel faster and faster not even realizing we were going nowhere.

I absolutely shudder when I think of the life I led in high school. I’ve blocked much of it out. All I wanted was a “normal” high school life, with crushes and dances and extracurriculars and freedom. I know I’ve rambled on, but there are a few things I’d like to make clear. One, I’m so grateful to know each one of you, as well or as little as I do. We went through a type of hell together, and lived to tell the tale. Thank you for your friendship and support. And two, freedom has become my life mantra. I’m a firm believer in doing what you want in life, and being HAPPY. Life is too short to live otherwise. I wish you all happiness in your lives.

I had a nightmare the other night that I was back at the PC, and was being shuttled from activity and prayer then more prayer and activity. Then I stopped. And said no, I won’t do it. And just left. It felt almost as freeing as the day I actually did.

49 Weeks
This story is a testimony from the 49 Weeks Blog. You can see this and more stories by visiting 49 Weeks.


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