Several months ago in Between a Rock and a Heart Place, I responded to some comments that had been left over at Quivering Daughters. The comments were in response to my story and the situation in many relationships between us "civilians" and daughters of patriarchy. Here's a snippet of the comments...
The father creates a negative atmosphere of confusion for the daughter, who wants to obey and fears disobeying, but also has the conflicting desire for the relationship. Then the father points out how confused she is, how indecisive she is, how immature she is, how depressed she is, how she is not stable enough emotionally, etc....all are true descriptions of the daughter; he connects this to her being in a relationship outside of the father's authority, but the truth is that he has created this constant state of devastation, to further control her actions. He withholds love and is joined by the wife in a painful process of rejection until the daughter comes "back under."
What you see there is manipulation, cruelty, and both spiritual and emotional abuses. What was (and perhaps still is) being done to this young woman is evil and abusive.
If you've read here or at other blogs with similar subject matter, you've probably heard the term "Bounded Choice". I want to shine the light on BC for just a bit and step out into the mindset around it. I see it as one of the most effective, and most cruel, tools in the belt of leaders within cultic dynamics. First of all, Hillary at Quivering Daughters has an excellent piece on BC HERE, and Cindy at Under Much Grace has an excellent article HERE. I won't be plowing much in the way of new ground, as they've both covered it very, very well. What I hope to do here is keep it in the forefront of thinking and discussion concerning P/QF issues. It's a biggie.
This issue is a very personal one for me. All of my ex's family and circle will tell you that she made her own choice concerning me, and did so unimpeded and without manipulation. Even worse, SHE would/will tell you the same thing. She genuinely believes it. It's laughable on every level, but she believes it. She made a bounded choice. It was her own freely made bounded choice...and that's the beauty in the bounded choice for a cult leader. Example...
If someone kicks you out of an airplane at 10,000 feet, and you're lucky enough to be wearing a parachute, you have two options: pull the rip cord or become a greasy spot on the ground. Now, make no mistake, the decision to pull the cord and open the chute is all yours, free and clear...Do you see where this is going? The guy who kicked you out of the plane made your choice for you when he kicked you out of the plane and left you with only one viable option, BUT, he can distance himself from you choosing to open the chute because, technically, he wasn't there when you made this "choice".
When you add to this dynamic a victim (in P/QF families, a daughter) who hasn't been raised to be discerning, but rather to be reliant, who hasn't been raised to think critically, but rather to accept blindly, who hasn't been raised with a sense of personal autonomy and individuality, but rather as part of a collective, who hasn't been given the full spectrum of information, but rather only controlled information that fits the group ideology, well, this is a person who has been trained since birth to never even see the manipulation coming, and in many cases, to be thankful for it, seeing it as God's intervention.
The typical daughter of patriarchy, in the situation my ex was in, is faced with the following choice...
A) I can pursue my future with the man I love, and be shunned, estranged, considered sinful, selfish, and rebellious - essentially being rendered an orphan, cut-off from everyone and everything I've ever known.
B) I can ignore my evil heart and remain in God's will by submitting to my father, because God won't do anything in my life without giving my father peace about it first.
Would you call that a "free" choice? Young women from the P/QF cult are given these same options just for pursuing their own path, whether a romance is involved or not. Choosing "B" results in a hearty round of emotional pampering, love bombing, babying, false peace, and the like, which creates the illusion for the woman that "B" was God's will.
Remember, she's been raised to be naive and unstable. She been trained to view anything she says critical of her family as betrayal and sinful - because again, parents in the P/QF dynamic are infallible, serving as God's chosen, ordained, appointed, and utmost vassals to their children, incapable of mistakes as long as they follow the formulas - or at least this is the image presented by the movement's ideas. So, with this sense of betrayal hanging in the heart and mind, when seeking counsel, a daughter of patriarchy (still at home) will leave out key elements of information, leaving her counselors incapable of giving sound advice. For instance, consider the following two statements/questions from the same person seeking advice on the same issue...
1) Should I go and take a shower?
2) There's a rattlesnake in the shower. Should I go and take a shower?
The advice given in response to the second statement/question would look considerably different, don't you think? A person still under the weight of guilt, fearing betrayal, and operating within boundaries of choice manipulated and determined by someone else will lean toward statement #1.
On a couple of occasions, my ex went to people outside of the P/QF dynamic to seek counsel about our relationship. The first time, she left out the P/QF beliefs of her father, she left out the behaviors and threats of her father, and presented the situation only as "tension" between her fiancee and father - all because she felt guilty in discussing her family. The counsel she received was "your fiancee and father need to resolve this tension before you marry". She finally realized that she couldn't get genuine, sound counsel unless she presented the entire field of information, good, bad, and ugly. The second person she sought counsel from, a pastor local to her area, upon hearing ALL of the information, told her "Your father is out of line. He doesn't own you or have authority over you. If you love this man, go and marry him." While our relationship benefitted from this counsel for a time, it was very traumatic for her to have to communicate the truth about her father and family and their bizarre beliefs. She had crossed established, cultic boundaries that would bring retribution from her family. She had left the native land of their beliefs, and they hadn't issued her a passport. Even worse, according to everything she had ever been taught, she was practically shaking her fist in defiance of God Himself, what with neglecting His ordained order!!!
There were so many unhealthy boundaries within her mind...all courtesy of patriarchy.
Many of the things the daughters of patriarchy do from day to day, things that make up the "godly" lifestyle, are done out of duty and obligation. P/QF types will tell you that performing these behaviors and tasks are labors and expressions of love. They're actually a series of manipulated, bounded choices, usually performed of out fear of the consequences of failing to do what someone else has determined for them is their duty and obligation.
Now...You tell me how someone can disagree with a P/QF family and exit this type of dynamic - and do so cleanly and uneventfully, without everything in their life being turned upside down. And then...Tell me it's not a cult.