I was adopted by my grandmother when I was 2, she was a very fundamentalist Christian & extremely conservative. She "homeschooled" me, in the loosest sense of the word, and kept me isolated from the outside world to "prevent me from being corrupted".

There was no TV or internet. I was allowed to listen to the radio, but only to listen to certain things like Christian shows like D. James Kennedy and Focus on the Family. Only non-fiction books were allowed except for some classic literature. Most "schoolwork" involved intensive Bible study, reading of conservative literature and such. Anything that was considered "for entertainment only" she viewed as a waste of time and was not allowed.

I never had any friends growing up, social contact was limited to whatever I got closely accompanying her to the grocery store and whatnot. I was not allowed to leave the house without her. What family I do have was demonized and driven away, and I was pretty much brainwashed to extremely dislike my other family members and not want to see them.

I essentially had no idea of my situation until about 2005, at the age of 18. One of my half-sisters, under the guise of essentially "its just a fancy typewriter", my grandmother being completely clueless about computers aside from "the Internet is evil" allowed me to have it, and I was secretly able to get dial up internet through Juno (they used to send CDs in the mail). Thus began my realization that my situation was completely abnormal, and discovering the outside world through the Internet.

In late 2007, I got a job, in November of 2008 I moved out.

Its hard to explain how being 18/19 and still not realizing I could do whatever I wanted to. Some kind of crazy Stockholm syndrome I guess. I literally cried telling my grandmother that I was moving out, because she was so disapointed in me, and I felt physically unable to disappoint her in any way.

I went through a lot of depressed periods, not knowing how to cope. Went from not being able to look the checkout clerk at the grocery store in the eye without having a panic attack due to social anxiety, to normal enough that most of my friends have no idea of my background, just think Im little weird haha.

Last year my Gma was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia, among other things. Explains alot.

Uh....theres alot else I could say, but thats what this AMA is for. I've messaged the mods with proof. Apologies if the OP could be better. I'm just chilling in my apt, reading Reddit and whatnot, so have at it, and I'll try to answer questions as best I can!

edit: Im a guy, some people were getting confused. I am also 24, turning 25 this year.

Comments: 1069 • Responses: 58  • Date: 

PysgodWibblyWobbly243 karma

*what was the hardest part of adjusting to the outside world?

*if its not too personal, could you explain how you came to be adopted by your grandma?

*did you remain in contact with your grandma at all post-moving out?

CylonDevice657 karma

what was the hardest part of adjusting to the outside world? Probably the social aspect. At first social contact was extremely hard, looking people in the eye while talking to them was nearly impossible, and when faced with foreign social situations I would have panic attacks and just shut down.

I didn't make many friends at first either. I realize now I must have been very obnoxious and annoying, having no familiarity with how to behave in social situations.

if its not too personal, could you explain how you came to be adopted by your grandma?

My mom was addicted to hard drugs and living on the street alot. Lost custody of me. As a side note, she kinda ran away from home as a teenager to escape my grandmother, and fell into the wrong crowd so to speak.

did you remain in contact with your grandma at all post-moving out?

Hardly at all for the first couple years, I would just get angry being around her. Now, I see her off and on, shes not doing too well health wise. A bit of dementia, heart problems, and needing help taking care of stuff. Shes also on medication now.

steramystilen112 karma

From the sounds of it, I don't blame your mother for running away. Do you know what happened to her/is your half-sister from your mother or father's side?

CylonDevice202 karma

I finally met her a year or so ago, shes been clean for a good while, and is doing pretty well despite lasting health and mental problems from years of hard drug abuse. We have good relationship, altho I dont feel a parental bond with her. My half-sisters are from my moms side.

lets_discuss_ur_butt162 karma

She do anything to your butt?

CylonDevice246 karma

haha, I see what you did there ;)

But, serious answer, I got spanked alot.

lightbreaksthrough130 karma

and I felt physically unable to disappoint her in any way.

The hardest part, as I'm sure you figured out, is just leaving. I was in a similar situation once upon a time. I'm glad you're out.

How are you doing now?

CylonDevice189 karma

I feel like I am a Normal Person these days. Its really the past 1 1/2 year that I feel I've really come into my own and started developing into my own person.

Some things linger, I'm still mildly socially awkward, but not outstandingly so. I have some difficulty with relationships. Im pretty normal I think, usually when I get to know a friend for a while and I mention my childhood, they say they would never have guessed.

lightbreaksthrough57 karma

How are you with religion now?

CylonDevice251 karma

Agnostic I suppose. I don't believe in God, but I don't really care enough to be an Atheist.

Senioramigo114 karma

There is a term for that. Apatheism

CylonDevice436 karma

This kinda sums up my philosophy, lol http://i.imgur.com/uMzwj.jpg

redDITringofdeath90 karma

How did you/have you developed sexually?

CylonDevice204 karma

Initially I felt I did not really have a sexual identity I guess, never having received any sex education, or being around other people to develop an attraction in that way.

Shortly after moving out, I met a guy, I was considering myself bisexual at the time. Not having any real friends, and I jumped at the opportunity to have someone to feel close to. Ended up turning into over a year and half of manipulation, and draining of my few finances as he took advantage of my insecurities. He basically replaced my mental dependence on my grandmother.

Long story short, he was psycho, we broke up, I'm straight as fuck (we barely had sex). Have had a few short term relationships (with GIRLS lol) since. Still kinda awkward when it comes to initiating relationships however.

redDITringofdeath75 karma

Did you ever discover fapping? How did that go?

CylonDevice347 karma

Yeah, I don't remember how old I was however haha. I do remember it was to nude paintings in an art book that somehow my grandmother passed over. Goyas the Nude Maja to be specific. My first wank was a classy one, haha ;)

SetsOnTheBeach146 karma

Fun fact about that painting, actually. In the time this was made painters weren't allowed to show pubic hair or they'd be killed (it was considered pornography), so that's why this lady has no pubes! Cheating the system.

CylonDevice129 karma

Ahead of his time! Haha

silver_ghost82 karma

When you first got access to the internet, what websites were the most eye-opening? Which were your favorite?

CylonDevice119 karma

I cant remember alot of the websites I used to visit. I spent a fuckload of time on IRC though. And some website that had freeware DOS games and demo downloads.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/ was the website that really got me into studying comparitive religion and developing my own beliefs or lack thereof.

poptart2nd39 karma

developing my own beliefs or lack thereof.

so you're atheist now? that seems pretty impressive given your incredibly religious upbringing.

edit: this sounds condescending. it's not meant to be.

CylonDevice108 karma

Pretty much. Its just that once I realized everything I was raised on was a crock, I had to start over, and I just discovered everything for myself, analyzing it and deciding what made the most rational sense.

Hawkbat63 karma

did she use any specific curriculum?

how drastic was your worldview change upon moving out?

how were you able to go online without her noticing? (IE clogging up phone line)

CylonDevice111 karma

No, no regular curriculum.

Quite a bit, it took me a long time....basically viewed it as starting from a blank slate kinda. None of the worldview I grew up with has stuck with me.

Waiting for her to go to sleep, or just pretending to not know why the phone was making weird noises. She had no way of knowing what the dial up sounds meant.

zojo1828 karma


MonkeyNacho60 karma

Are you currently in therapy? Have you tried reaching out to others who've had the same situation?

CylonDevice98 karma

No, it might have helped during my transition period however. I don't know how much therapy would help at this point, I think I've gotten over most of it now by simply viewing it as "over and done with dont let it affect you going forward". I've also studied some psychology, since I have a fascination with what makes people do crazy/weird things, and I'd say I've been able to usually look at myself, see what I need to change. If that makes sense.

Haven't run into anyone who was in the same situation, and haven't really felt the need to reach out like that I guess.

MonkeyNacho50 karma

Thanks for sharing your story. I'm really happy to hear you've put it past you. That's very inspiring.

CylonDevice78 karma

Thanks! Honestly at this point, it all seems like a distant memory. And then I stumble across old diary entries, or whatnot, and see the dates, and am like Holy Shit that was just a few years ago, I don't even know that person anymore.

MonkeyNacho33 karma

I've heard stories about people who come out of families like the one you described, and cults, too, and they just seem hollow- wounded shells of former people. It's heartbreaking.

I bet a lot of people just aren't as strong and as focused as you were. Amazing!

CylonDevice64 karma

For a long time I felt like a cardboard cutout of a person, and kinda created a personality for myself by the way I dressed and the music I listened to. Lately though I've really started feeling like I have my own distinct personality.

jlevine2260 karma

Could you elaborate more on your education beyond intense bible study? Did you learn any math/science/history/language/etc...?

CylonDevice102 karma

Basic math....I am terrible at math and was unable to learn Algebra or anything above by myself. Some science, all creationist based, history was all from a Christian perspective (America founded on Christian principles, etc).

tiddercat28 karma

Doesn't the state have requirements for home school curriculum and testing? Your gram couldn't just fake it could she?

SpaceyLaa55 karma

When you finally moved out from living with your grandmother how did you spend your first night living alone? Also, what was the job you managed to get?

CylonDevice130 karma

I had roommates so it wasnt alone. My first job was at a hardware store, where I promptly got fired a month or so in due to my inability to function socially. Started working at a coffee shop after that, I have no idea how I was able to get that job, but being forced to interact with people every day for 8 hours fast tracked my socialization abilities.

jcakes4254 karma

Do you have any contact with your family, and to what extent, including the sister that gave you the computer?

CylonDevice66 karma

Yes, I am really close to my two step-sisters, and have met my other family members and we all get along pretty well.


Lose your virginity yet?

If not, dont get too excited. The first time is usually a huge letdown.

CylonDevice81 karma


[deleted]50 karma

Have you gotten a GED? What future education/career plans do you have?

CylonDevice109 karma

I have my GED. I went to community college for a couple semesters immediately after moving out, failed miserably. I am planning on going back this year, I think I in a position to be able to succeed now. And I feel a desperate need to go to school so I can have a career and what not, I'm 24 and no direction and thats kinda depressing. I don't wanna work fuckin retail hell for the rest of my life, haha.

airitout47 karma

Isn't there some sort of homeschool advisory board, or something? How did she get away with not teaching you anything? I'm pretty sure where I live parents that choose to homeschool have to prove to someone, somewhere, that their children are getting the equivalent of a K-12 education.

Thanks for the IAmA.

CylonDevice83 karma

No idea, I know I wasnt allowed to tell random people I was homeschooled, she always stressed that "i would get taken away" if people knew. I know at some point she signed up for some Homeschooling "front". Some kind of certified school or something that would register your kids name so it looked legit.

MarsupialBob47 karma

Do you still sometimes run across things that 'everybody' knows but are new to you?

Are there still things that, even though you're now aware of them, are unsettling or jarring? In social interaction, work, education, whatever.

Did you have any marketable skills when you moved out? Have you gone back to school or otherwise gotten training?

CylonDevice63 karma

Nothing off the top of my head. Some of my friends have accused me of being pretentious or know it all, simply because I am obsessed with obtaining random knowledge and reading Wikipedia, and always have random facts/input to drop into a conversation.

Hmm...Probably the fact that sexuality isnt really a big deal.

No. I have not gone to school yet, but I plan too. http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/oyfcf/i_was_homeschooled_and_kept_socially_isolated_by/c3l2eom

[deleted]45 karma

Just so people know, homeschooling isn't ALWAYS that bad. :P

CylonDevice95 karma

Oh I know. But its used alot to shelter kids from the outside world in order to indoctrinate them into a certain belief system. It seems homeschooling as a healthy alternative to regular schooling has become more prevalent though :)

eg9045 karma

Are you male or female?

CylonDevice46 karma


aktsukikeeper45 karma

How did you catch back on 18 years of social isolation? There must be a ton of social norms to catch back on. Any examples where you did something that shouldn't be done but you didn't know?

CylonDevice81 karma

I would latch on to people and be super annoying and not leave them alone. I was very forward and had no sense of tact and would just say whatever came to mind.

mangarooboo32 karma

I take it from the past tense you used that you don't do this anymore. How long did it go on?

CylonDevice48 karma

Not sure...a year or two? And yeah I dont do that anymore. Much more socially well adjusted these days.

TzC41 karma

When did you discover THE GAME?

CylonDevice91 karma

fuck i lost

Klemintina39 karma

Did your grandmother ever teach you to be racist or prejudice in other ways? If yes, do you still feel that?

CylonDevice67 karma

Stuff like Dont stare at black people, they might shoot you, or You cant trust mexicans to make your food cuz theyre a dirty people. Stuff like that. And being extremely anti-illegal immigrant...like supporting a armed border fence and English Only shit.

Hunterkiller0036 karma

What was your first experience with Reddit, or how did you learn about this after all those years. Do you appreciate the anonymous nature of the internet seeing with what you've been through?

CylonDevice48 karma

Haha, I love the internet. I used to spend so much damn time online....The things I've seen 0.0 haha

The_LuftWalrus34 karma

Have you discovered video games? If so, do you like them? What's your favorite game?

CylonDevice83 karma

I love video games. Don't play them much recently, just way too busy, turned into more of a casual gamer. I played a lot of Black Ops after it came out, but still havent picked up MW3. And recently a lot of MvC3 with my roommate.

Some of my favorite games of all time would be HL2, Fallout, Shadow of the Colossus, Unreal Tournament/Quake, GTA, C&C, Deus Ex. Ive played a lot of COD, but i wouldn't put it on a favorites list. My favorite game Ive played recently would be Bayonetta and Uncharted. Havent played alot of new games though.

emptyshark31 karma

Based on your username, I assume you discovered Battlestar Galactica?

CylonDevice49 karma

Fucking love that show. First two seasons were pure magic. Didn't really dig the plot arc as the show concluded, but still loved it because in the end the show was really about the characters, and the character development was awesome.

[deleted]30 karma

Other than being isolated from the outside world, was there any abuse?

CylonDevice50 karma

Not any abuse. Punishment for things would usually be spanking, sleeping on the floor in the laundry room for several days, or writing 50 page essays about what I did wrong.

Scumbag_Steve_Bot79 karma

...sleeping on the floor in the laundry room for several days

I think that would be considered abuse.

You also said your Grandmother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. So looking back at it, how obvious were the signs, and did other people notice her strange behavior? And who all knew you were being socially isolated by her? Did anybody ever call Child Protection?

CylonDevice46 karma

It wasnt really abuse when compared to the toll the mental manipulation I went through. In my opinion.

Scumbag_Steve_Bot48 karma

Then those two things together would definitely be called abuse, at least by most people.

Edited my OP and added in a few questions right before you responded.

CylonDevice38 karma

I guess. Considering It didnt effect me so much in the end, I have a hard time calling it abuse in my case when u read about kids being physically beaten, molested and shit by their parents.

I don't know how many people knew, I know she had very few friends, and pretty much alienated herself from all of her relatives for the most part.

My sisters were concerned for me, but were not often allowed to see me, and as I got older, hardly at all. When they did see me, I was not in the frame of mind or understanding to say anything negative or realize the way I was being raised wasnt normal.

CP was never called, there was never any reason. Only thing that happened was When I was 8~10 she smacked me in the parking lot of a store and cops showed up to the house that night. I was given a whole song and dance to make sure they werent suspicious.

masturbatingrightnow27 karma

Any highschool crushes?

CylonDevice250 karma

my hand

mj117624 karma

Do you support yourself entirely with your current job, or do you have another source of income/savings? Also, is your relationship with your grandmother good enough at this point that she'll leave you anything? I don't mean to be so callous, but from a legal standpoint, she's sort of liable for your financial wellbeing in some ways...if the majority of her money/belongings go to anyone but you when she passes, I'd consider that a pretty massive injustice lol. Either way, it sounds like you competently absorbed a lifetime of social education in a matter of a few years, so Bravo.

CylonDevice41 karma

I work two jobs, and am able to support myself albeit paycheck to paycheck.

I highly doubt I will get anything from my grandmother. The inheritance was always something that was held over my head like a carrot. If I obeyed her forever and was the perfect person in her eyes I would get it. She has no legal shit set up either, and her mental health is deteriorating so its anyones guess.

mj117626 karma

you need a lawyer, dog. Sounds like something someone might jump on Pro Bono, too.

CylonDevice33 karma

I dont really care personally. Distanced myself enough and that distance and the relative calm in the family right now is worth whatever I might end up losing inheritance wise.

blackheath24 karma

From a mother's perspective, I wish i could just hug you and make all the bad stuff go away. My heart goes out to you. Finding a good therapist can be tricky, but finding a good one can be very helpful. You don't sound like you're filled with anger. How do you manage that?

CylonDevice50 karma

I dunno....I'm just not I guess. For me...Its in the past and theres no sense getting hung up on the past and letting it affect you.

The only time Im kinda bitter is when I think about how I could have gone to and graduated high school, and be in college now, and hopefully on a path to a successful career like a lot of the people my own age I know.

But whatever, Im not the only person who wasnt able to go to college straight away, and when I do I will be more dedicated and put more value into it than some people.

superchet21 karma

What are your favorite things to do now? What one thing do you wish your grandmother had exposed you to?

Thanks for sharing.

CylonDevice33 karma

Listening to music, watching movies/tv shows, and browsing random shit online. I also snowboard/ski, rock climb, and love going to concerts, especially electronic music shows.

I don't know if there is just one thing...I was kept from experiencing so much.

superchet18 karma

What kind of music? Apparently, you start to develop your own musical taste when you're 14 or so.

CylonDevice68 karma

Only music my grandmother had was Frank Sinatra and classical music. After I got internet access, some of the first music I listened to was Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Johnny Cash, Depeche Mode, and AC/DC.

My current musical tastes... I like a lot of electronic music, everything from trip hop to synthpop, electro house, trance and dubstep. Personal feeling music like later Cash, Leonard Cohen, Elliot Smith and Nick Cave. Death/doom metal, dbeat, Electric Wizard, Amon Amarth, leftover crack, Bathory. Folksy indie stuff like She & Him, Magnetic Zeros, Arcade Fire.

tregan214921 karma

in general, anything that was extremely out of the ordinary? ecxessive (sp?) spanking, strange OCD-type rules, or paranoid delusions?

CylonDevice39 karma

Biggest things would be seeing physical manisfestions of God/Jesus, having God talk to her in dreams, and seeing ghosts/spirits. And the ability to see peoples "auras" or the "evil" inside people. She was also very against hospitals and doctors, claiming they would "tell her she was crazy and commit her".

Sure enough, when me and my sister finally got her to go to the hospital about a year ago, for the first time in decades, where she eventually got diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, she tried to escape from the hospital twice.

tregan214910 karma

she sounds quite schizophrenic, i don't mean that in a bad way. i don't know if you have researched schizophrenia at all, but what other sorts of symptoms did you notice from her? did she hear voices? or actually see hallucinations? if so what were they like?

CylonDevice18 karma

She would always tell me stories..some of the more memorable ones:

-During a visit to Israel, walking on the beach and seeing Jesus plain as day, who then dissipated into thin air

-Being in an elevator, having the elevator stop, her body being paralyzed and having God talk to her.

-Multiple dreams where God talked to her

-Out of body experiences

-Claiming to see foreshadowings of the future...one time she saw somebody come up to her and have a whole conversation about some event that just happened, and then an hour later the same person come up to her and the same events transfold and the previous encounter was non existent

-Seeing the ghost of a dead relative

-being cured of "inoperable cancer" by psychic healing

--As a kid, having God shine a light down from the sky to guide her home when she got lost miles from home

-As a kid she reportedly would talk about experiences she had in past lives

I could go on

AyoevilDoer20 karma

What was your reaction the first time being exposed to spongebob?

CylonDevice32 karma

I'm familiar with the show due to its prevalence in pop culture, but I've never actually watched it.

polkadottree19 karma

What was the first thing you did after leaving?

CylonDevice60 karma

Upon actually moving out? Bought a 42" plasma and a ps3.

polkadottree12 karma

Sweet. Did your grandmother support you financially at first?

CylonDevice23 karma

Nope. Moved out with $1000 saved up, credit card, and a backpack of clothes and misc essentials.

volt_ron10 karma

How'd you get the money?

CylonDevice8 karma

Had worked for a couple months by that time, saved it up.

itswillyfosho19 karma

Did you know of the existence of drugs and alcohol?

Did you experiment with them after you left? If so, what was your first experience like?

CylonDevice137 karma

Yes, but I was raised with the belief that all drugs were evil and what not.

I have experimented with drugs. I smoke weed fairly regularly. My first time smoking weed was very memorable, melting into the couch and losing track of time, and then riding my bike home while my brain kept forgetting my arms and legs existed.

[deleted]17 karma

When you say your grandma home schooled you how much did you actually learn?

Were you at an extreme disadvantage (knowledge-wise) compared to your peers when you left?

Have you or do you plan to sought/seek any additional schooling since you left?

Thanks for the AMA, best topic I have seen in a while.

CylonDevice25 karma

Not too much really :/ I definitly was at a knowledge disadvantage upon moving out. I've always been really handy, as I did a lot of plumbing/electrical/handywork around my grandmothers house.

I answered the rest here http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/oyfcf/i_was_homeschooled_and_kept_socially_isolated_by/c3l2kxr

[deleted]17 karma

Do you resent her for doing that to you?

CylonDevice58 karma

Little bit. Yes Im at a disadvantage and have had to go to a lot of shit. But what good is being eternally bitter going to do?

derfsquad14 karma

Since it's clear your grandmother was trying to instill her own beliefs and views of the world into you, what views and beliefs stick with you today?

CylonDevice39 karma

None. I can't think of one view or belief she raised me with that stuck with me.

chelac10 karma

What are your honest opinions of people who are non-Christians? Do you feel nervous around them? Related - do you still go to church?

Thanks for sharing your story, also :)

CylonDevice37 karma

I am non-Christian myself. I have no religious beliefs. I don't go to church and I didn't go to church when growing up. My grandmother didnt feel any church adequately represented her beliefs.

I have been to church a couple times with my best friend who is Catholic. I enjoy learning about religion, and studied comparative religion on my own quite a bit. As long as your personal beliefs dont affect others and you dont force them on people, Im generally ok with you being religious :)

evewassetup7 karma

Where were you raised?

CylonDevice21 karma

Oddly enough in a suburban area. Although around age 18 my grandmother bought 100 acres in bumfuck Oregon and was preparing to move us there so I wouldnt have to be exposed to the outside world even as an adult. She never ended up moving there though.

circusnachos7 karma

You mention your half sisters in the intro. Where did your other siblings end up? Bio dads?

CylonDevice13 karma

Same mother, different dads.

Diastema6 karma

I saw you say that you were on IRC a lot. Did you make online friends? Who did you first tell online about your living situation (if you did), and how did they react?

CylonDevice12 karma

You know, since at first I didn't realize my situation was that abnormal, I didnt think to mention it. I would say things that would make people do a double take, and slowly I started thinking "maybe my grandmother is the crazy one".

[deleted]6 karma


CylonDevice11 karma

Answered the first part here: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/oyfcf/i_was_homeschooled_and_kept_socially_isolated_by/c3l1n9k

I'm pretty comfortable with social situations now :) Tend to be the quiet one sometimes, but a couple beers makes me alot more outgoing :)

danyellow12874 karma

What was a typical day with your grandmother like? And how did you guys handle holidays/birthdays?

CylonDevice6 karma

Wake up, listen to the morning Bible study radio show (some guy named J. Vernon McGee), couple hours to study whatever, then working in the yard or helping renovate the house for the rest of the day, or whatever errands needed running.

I have pictures of me from when I was 10-12 years old helping pour cement, put on roofing, etc. And when I was a bit older I helped do electrical and plumbing on the house.

When I was older she would make me help organize, sort and file her massive stacks of junk mail also.