In the excerpt, released Monday by People, Jill recounts a mediated meeting she and her husband, Derick Dillard, had with her parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, after tensions around their estrangement from her ultra-conservative family had reached a breaking point.
Jill recalls sitting down with her parents after having sent them a letter about her and Derick’s feelings. She also references an encounter that Jim Bob had as they entered the building for the meeting, where a young woman approached him to compliment him and ask for a video together.
“You think I’m some kind of horrible person just because I wear pants and have a nose ring, and yet you see that girl outside and praise her,” Jill recalls telling her father at the time. “That’s why I’m crying, Daddy. I’m evolving and changing, just like that girl out there, but you can’t see it. You treat me like I’m a prodigal who’s turned her back on you. You treat me worse than you treat my pedophile brother.”
The family also confirmed in 2015 that Josh inappropriately touched four of his sisters and one babysitter when he was a teenager. Jill and sister Jessa were two of the victims. A documentary on the family and their life under the teachings of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, called Shiny Happy People, was released earlier this year and explores how the conservative, sheltered lifestyle of the IBLP can create a “breeding ground” for predatory behavior.
“Having a voice about what you think, and how you feel, and being able to voice and say no about things, was stifled and not encouraged in the IBLP setting, in my family,” Jill shared in the series.
Read the full excerpt from Counting the Cost below:
“I’m sorry it took so long for this meeting to happen,” I said. My voice was shaking a little, and I could feel the breath stutter in my lungs. “There have been some very hurtful things that have happened, and so we wanted to sort it all out. To have a good discussion together. We love y’all and I know we all hope to be able to restore family relationships very soon.””
In the time I’d spoken, Pops’ body language had shifted. He wasn’t smiling from the video and the girl outside anymore. Instead, he was sitting very still, lips tight, eyes locked in a scowl that had been sculpted out of rock. “That letter you guys sent us.”
He stopped, like he was lost and didn’t know where to go. He looked at Mom. She looked at me.
There was no scowl on her face, no folded arms. Just a look of pain. The pain of a mama torn by her baby.
“It was the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever read.”
Her voice was soft, but her words hit me harder than anything she’d ever said to me.
I knew she was right, that she was speaking the truth. I didn’t know exactly how I’d messed up, but I knew that I had. I’d hurt her and Pops, and that was never my intention.
I heard Derick try to explain that we never meant for the letter to be taken that way. I looked at Pops. He was still scowling.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “We love y’all and could’ve used more care. We wrote the letter together and had hoped it would help explain our feelings, but I know we kept adding to it and then we were tired and just figured we had better go ahead send it along…”
My voice trailed off as I tried to find the right words. But Pops wasn’t listening to me. He had his own list of things he wanted to talk about.
“You sent me a text message, Jill. You said I was verbally abusing you. I was so offended by that, too. You know in your heart that’s not right. Are you going to apologize for that?”
I was nervous now. I remembered the message, remembered sending it in the hope that it might wake Pops up to how bad I felt things had gotten, to maybe make him give us a little space and let things calm down. I’d written about not wanting to be verbally abused, which was exactly how I’d felt at the time. I’d felt it in El Salvador as well. I wasn’t sure that I could apologize for that. I glanced at Derick as I remained speechless.
Pops must have sensed what I was thinking, because he suddenly stood up. “You’re not going to apologize? Really?”
His voice was loud, and there was an edge to it that I’d rarely heard. The moderator looked pale and was stuck on mute. Derick tensed, and I could feel him getting ready to step in. I squeezed his hand, hoping he’d get the message.
Hold back.Please be quiet. Do not let this get any worse than it already is.
We were facing each other from opposite couches, open space between us. Pops took a step toward me, closing the gap.
It wasn’t a gesture of reconciliation.
It was an act of aggression.
He towered over me, his whole body fueled with anger. My face flushed red. My eyes filled with tears.
Then there was a long, awful silence that I wanted to fill but just couldn’t yet.
Derick’s hand was shaking in mine, and I squeezed as hard as I ever had, desperate for him to hold his tongue.
“You know why you’re crying, don’t you? Your conscience is talking to you. That’s why.”
Pops’ voice was so loud in my ears. His words were like blows. I instinctively tried to protect myself and block him out. I curled up on my seat, trying to find safety in some kind of fetal position.
“You’re guilty!” Pops was yelling, stabbing a finger at me, standing right over me.
Mom started crying.
Derick tried to speak, but I pulled him back.
“You want to know why I’m crying?” My voice was cracked, my eyes burning. “It’s that you think I’m some kind of horrible person just because I wear pants and have a nose ring, and yet you see that girl outside and praise her. That’s why I’m crying, Daddy. I’m evolving and changing, just like that girl out there, but you can’t see it. You treat me like I’m a prodigal who’s turned her back on you. You treat me worse than you treat my pedophile brother.”
Counting the Cost will be released on Sept. 12.