My precious girl, I want to tell you a story about a young Amish woman I met when I worked in mental health years ago. Let me preface the telling of this story with the fact that this is not an Amish-bashing story. This young lady spoke lovingly and nostalgically about her life growing up Amish. In the Amish community there comes a time when young teenagers are allowed to experiment with the outside world. It’s called Rumspringa. She told me it begins around the age of 14 to 16 and ends when a youth chooses to either get baptized within the Amish church, or instead leave the community. She left the community.
This young lady’s sad story has remained in my heart for many years and just recently I can’t seem to get her out of mind. She was well aware that her choice would result in being shunned by her family and friends in the Amish community. At the time, when she was a teenager, she believed it was worth the trade for the joy of freedom. How the world changes when we become adults and get to view our childish decisions from older and wiser eyes.
At the age of 28 she was living alone, by choice. She couldn’t go back to her Amish family and she never did find a way to fit into the world outside of it, either. It was destroying her sanity. She was a person without a tribe; a fringe dweller, an observer. The misery of the past 10 years or so had created a sorrowful portrait on her young face. My heart was broken for her each time we talked. I’ve never forgotten how much she longed to be a part of something, anything that would help soothe the pain of not fully belonging anywhere.
It may be hard to do, my girl, but at least unlike her, you can always leave that desolate place and come home. If and when you want to.
I miss you. So much.