(I assume there are at least a few people here from the Christian homeschooling subculture, no?)
I have to admit that the idea of sharing my "testimony" makes me quite uncomfortable, but this is where I'm coming from, if you will:
I was homeschooled for eleven years, beginning in the second grade. My parents have no teaching qualifications--the highest level of education my mother received was high school--but that's usually not a problem, as there are no standard homeschooling regulations from state to state; in my home state, anything goes, as long as you turn in your projected curricula each year. My siblings and I were educated from a variety of Christian textbooks, many published by groups with an agenda even more conservative than that of my parents (i.e. the quiverfull movement, &c). I learned that Harry Potter caused witchcraft, that AIDS was god's punishment for disgusting gay sex (...although I never received any sex ed), that creationism was an indisputable fact, that math was unimportant, and that the progressive tax system was immoral. Once we picketed an abortion clinic and called it a field trip. I was fortunate in that, while we used a Christian language arts program, the books I was exposed to (many of them directly for school) were invaluable in planting the seeds of sedition, or whatever. I read Upton Sinclair, Lois Lowry, Victor Hugo, Harper Lee...and filed ideas away for later.
Homeschooling also provided an effective way for my parents to "shelter" us from undesirable elements. I remember talking pretty big smack about those faceless people who dared question whether we were being "well-socialized," but it's not like I was exposed to kids outside of church. The few encounters I had outside that setting (i.e. 4-H) hardly count; the differences between us stood like an insurmountable wall preventing any kind of meaningful interaction, let alone friendship. Homeschooling, or the kind of homeschooling we practiced, also left me unprepared to live on my own and tend to my own needs, and I have to think that was somehow a goal in my parents' minds. The desire to leave, even as an adult, to pursue education or a career apart from The Family's home and "protection" is superfluous to the point of rebellion in their minds, and most of my siblings seem to accept this.
When I was 18, I entered my first romantic relationship; the guy was a "friend"--sort of--from youth group, and for the next ten months he abused me verbally, emotionally, and occasionally physically. Microaggressions began piling up, and by the time I became aware of what was actually happening, I was suicidal and avoiding him at every possible opportunity. When I ended the relationship, I became the Bad Guy in my church, my family, and their circle of acquaintances. Youth leaders counseled me to forgive and forget and attempted to patch the relationship up; my mother blamed me for destroying her friendship with my ex's mother; I was forced to publish a retraction online, apologizing for defaming his character.
It was around this time that I began to examine my beliefs, or rather, the beliefs into which I had been indoctrinated. My struggle to retain a sense of self in a relationship with a patriarchal abuser led to an interest in feminism and feeble, self-effacing attempts to stand up for myself (and half the world) against complementarian doctrine. At youth conferences, I was exposed for the first time to emergent theology, and to teachers who sent me in that direction, regardless of intent. My first visit to Nicaragua (I have subsequently returned three times so far) filled in a lot of blanks for me and began my ongoing process of educating myself about politics and history, especially with regard to colonialism and other intersecting forms of oppression. That event, that span of a week, and the following weeks and months which I used to mull over many ideas, allowed me to collect my own beliefs together and to reasonably cement them into a multi-faceted worldview that differed considerably from the one I inherited--eventually culminating in a convergence of atheism and leftist politics.
I am twenty-four now, and though I've "come out" to my friends, I have yet to do so with my family; for the last several years, I tried to lay low and cause as little disruption as possible (in part for fear of being kicked out). My parents and siblings not only attend church regularly, but are core participants, playing in the worship band and especially volunteering in AWANA. I attended regularly myself until I finally left for college last fall--a decision that was much vilified and resulted in a good deal of manipulative guilt-tripping. (When they pulled the "Where did we go wrong?" card and I thanked them for the ability to think for myself that I picked up while homeschooling, my mother replied through sobs that they'd "never taught me to think for myself," because Proverbs 3:5-6.) They've been very "suspicious" of me for quite a while, always taking care to police the ideas I expressed, the information I took in, and the company I kept, but seem to not be quite sure how far my politics are from theirs. They are unaware that I no longer believe, or that I am queer (on more than one count) and living with my partner. They don't even know I have a partner, because for once I have the ability to control or limit the information they have access to about me. I would like to be honest with them, but right now I'm simply too terrified of losing my family, even though they're not like a family to me, and despite the fact that if they actually knew me, they would despise everything about me.
Over the years I have struggled with depression, anxiety, low emotional intelligence, learned helplessness, and interpersonal issues, including the inability to set or maintain boundaries and difficulty communicating. I still face these issues, and it seems as though they are directly related to the religious atmosphere in which I grew up. So this is where I am now: trying to face down my "demons," in order to learn and to heal, and trying to pony up enough to show my family a little backbone instead of instantly assuming the role of doormat whenever I'm around them.