Sunday, March 20, 2011

Serious Business - What Patriarchy Can Do

I was going through some photos this evening, was kinda frightening. Things in my world have been so turbulent and highspeed over the past three years that, although having lived it, although being aware of how physically sick and depleted I became, and although obviously having seen the photos before, I haven't really stopped to ponder it in its entirety.

Do you want to see why this is all such serious business to me? Do you want to see what loving a daughter of patriarchy, and fighting for her freedom like a rabid grizzly, did to me? Lets take a journey...

This was taken just a couple of months before my engagement. For a frame of reference, the guy on my right is 6'7 280, and the guy on my left 6'5 330. I was rockin' along at a solid, very healthy 6'0 215-220...

About a year later, and about a month/2 months after my ex had disappeared, the effects were already evident and I was down about 30 pounds or so from the previous photo...

A few months later, December 2008, there's this, and it's disturbing...
And this, equally as disturbing...

Thanks a bunch, "biblical" patriarchy.

I hadn't even bottomed out yet in those photos. That would come about 6 weeks later, when I was essentially bedridden, painful lesions breaking out on my body, issues with my heart, having lost about 1/3 of my body weight and my doctor fearing my organs would be damaged from malnutrition if I didn't begin to keep food down. I hadn't been able to eat properly in months (as well as sleeping sporadically). After months of everything that goes down coming back up, the stronger memory is that of what comes back up, and food loses its luster. My family and friends don't like to think about this period. One described me as looking like a refugee who was strung out on crack. I don't have photos of "rock bottom", nor would I want to see them. To understand some of the ancillary stresses of the preceeding months, you can read this post. It was during this period that the "godly" patriarchals I was dealing with had police calling me and sent police to my home, on the other side of the continent from them, just to make sure I was no threat to go and take her away from them. Paranoid fools, and judge me for feeling this way if you want, but I don't begin to consider them my brothers and sisters in Christ. I pity them as the sanctimonious, reckless, destructive, and selfish fools they are. I hope they'll wake up at some point in their lives.

Patriarchal types may be reading this saying, "but OUR family wouldn't do such things!" I promise you - I PROMISE YOU - you would, and you'd do so with callous disregard for anything but the selfish preservation of the patriarchal fiefdoms you reign over. When and if the wind ever blows on your structure, you remember my words. You've tied all of your being into your patriarchal belief. Just wait until the wind blows on you a bit, and you'll see exactly what you're made of. You won't care who lives or dies, who thrives and who languishes, who hurts and who heals, as long as you get what you want. These beliefs make people do selfishly evil things - because they require you to sell your entire soul to them.

Thankfully, this is me now, at a healthier weight (rockin' it around 230 - wouldn't even mind shedding a few pounds)...
Still ugly, still ornery, still scrapping, and still kicking.

I guess I had it coming in dealing with fundamentalist fools. Maybe I'm the bigger fool. But, when you love someone, and you know what's right, you'll pay any price. It didn't work out the way it should have, but I'd do it all again if there were any hope at all of getting her out of that spiritual, mental, intellectual, and emotional poison. I'd take on an entire army of wolverines.

I loved her, and would've given my life for her. They loved her, and would've given MY life for her.

Edited here to add the following backstory for clarity purposes...

For those who don't know the backstory, and who may be saying "It's dumb for someone to let this happen to themselves over a girl"...That's more than a bit of oversimplification.

Regular readers have read where I've written in the past, "The dynamic is much more like the woman I loved suddenly died (yet still walks the earth - unreachable) than simply a relationship ending and a man and woman parting ways." She was, and then she wasn't, yet she still was - somewhere.

On the day she was to fly here (for our soon upcoming ceremony), her last words to me were "Love you. See you soon." Two hours later, her grandfather called me and said, "She's not coming, and doing so on MY strong advice." He proceeded to say several extremely hurtful, intrusive, meddlesome, and ignorant things, telling me the various ways I was responsible for the situation. It was a good old fashioned Christian "eff U" coming from a good old fashioned Christian a-hole. He made it clear that if I made the venture across the continent to get her, "You'll be met with unfriendly faces if you do it!" Unless they'd hired some serious muscle, I wasn't worried about facing the whole lot of those fools. The reason I didn't go was that I knew it'd be pointless. They'd have her hidden somewhere. And, sure enough, a week later, I was able to locate her (and I won't disclose how). She was in another state, holed up with another group of patriarchal imbiblers and religious fools, being reindoctrinated but convinced, by them, that she was "waiting to hear from God about the situation." It would've been pointless to go there to get her, and for several reasons. First of all, the legal ramifications. Second, they would've had over a week of working intensive thought reform on her by the time I could get there, and I would've discovered a confused woman who may or may not have been receptive to me. Don't forget, I heard the voicemails these people had left for her on the day she didn't come here, so I know exactly the depths of their fruitcakiness.

The reality is, I knew, from the moment of her snake of a grandfather's phone call, that I'd likely never see her again. Once I found out where she was in hiding, I was almost certain of it. And, I was right. I haven't seen her. I've only had extremely limited contact with her via telephone, and that only with a "monitor" on the line with her, usually her idiot father, telling her which questions she could answer and which she couldn't, cutting the conversation off if he felt I was "reaching" her in any way. She was a shell of the strong, vibrant woman she'd been becoming with me, now spouting all of the buzzwords and giving me blatantly obviously scripted and rehearsed answers. This is a woman in her mid 20s that we're talking about.

Despite the lack of any real hope of getting her out, I fought. I fought with everything I had. You don't come by the information I came by in the months that followed by sitting around and pining. I squeezed every possible resource and pursued every possible avenue. I called in every possible favor. Over the six months or so that followed her disappearance, I expended most of whatever professional capital I had within the music industry begging movers and shakers to not punish her and her sisters (and their potential future in music) over her father's bizarre behaviors.  He had begun writing letters to influential people in the business while she and I were together trying to undermine me, as well as starting and promoting bizarre rumors about me in the circles I ran in, and continued to do so as long as he thought my pursuit of her freedom was continuing. Make no mistake, they thought he was a total kook...but it still made for professional troubles for me (gospel music business people don't have a lot of salt or backbone)...and they still wrote off her whole family. Maybe deservedly so, but a shame nonetheless.

And then, the bottom...and so much more which I may or may not write about in the future.

Like I said earlier in this post, some of the other issues I was dealing with at this time can be found here

Maybe this is a morbid way to look at it, but it all would've been so much easier for me if she had actually died, been lowered into the earth, and sprinkled with dirt. There would've been closure, and my goodbye, painful and lonely as it would've been, would've been significant for my healing and my future. As it is now, she essentially died, but still walks the earth as an unrecognizable soul, carrying the answers to questions I'm not allowed to ask, carrying the closure that my healing needs - with it locked away in the vault of an unstable, sociopathic father who uses it to torment an already defeated enemy. I sit here alone, trying to figure out how to grieve a dead, yet still living, promised and beloved bride - a bride who is now married to a man she doesn't love.

If you want to see this as an overreaction to an all things equal, boy meets girl/boy and girl break up situation, that'd be pretty stupid of you, but it's a free country. 


  1. I can totally relate to this, Lewis.

    At 19, I tried to leave home and was locked in my room. I became reckless and suicidal, nearly starving myself because I just didn't feel there was anything left to live for.

    Even after I met my husband and we "ran for the hills" to get married, I was still underweight and still sick because of the hell my parents put us through.

    Patriarchy is pure evil.

  2. OUCH! But thank you. I grew up with a bunch of these people and am still "friends" with a bunch of them. I married outside of the circles and have left the choking church they controlled. Since I haven't had any slap down conversations about theology with them, I haven't witnessed a lot of the stuff toward me that you have seen. Though, when I was in it, I saw it all the time so I know it exists. I do see "friends" drop off of Facebook when I make a comment about one of their sacred cows. And I see the destruction on their daughters and sons. I attempt to "help" the kids at every opportunity. One day, they might get the message that I am not "one of them" and schtick me where the sun don't shine. Werdly enough, at that point, I might actually feel the most freedom I've even felt in my life. Maybe I should hurry it along.

  3. Locked in your room, eh? My mother (a single mom because my abused dad left us 7 kids for greener pastures and fought like hell in the courts to get us, to no avail) told me and my six siblings (I was 19) that she could kill us at a moment's notice and that god (yes...small 'g') would wrap his wrath around himself and good would come of it. She then required all of us to agree to that while sitting in a circle in the living room. I was the only one who refused to acknowledge the stupid absurdity of it all. So, I was stuck in a food pantry for three days. Three days it took me to drum up the courage (at 19!!!!!!) to call my dad to come get the flip out of there. The sick thing was the the phone was right at my elbow. I know what the mind control can be like.

  4. I'm not sure how to say this without sounding patriarchal. I realize there is more to life than marriage, but I still hope that my daughter marries and has children some day. And when that day comes, I want it to be with a man who loves her as much as you loved your fiance. So many parents in the "real" world, hope this for their children. I wonder if they can even see that you would grow to love her more than they did. I figure, if all goes well, I will leave this world before my daughter does and to have someone there to love and care for her even more than I have done, would be a blessing from heaven. I'm so sorry for your pain...and for hers.

  5. Wow, Lewis!! Those pictures make me hurt for you!! ((((hugs))))

    You've got really pretty blue eyes btw. :)

  6. May God richly bless you brother, I am glad you made it!! That last paragraph tells me so much about you, you said you would do it all again, that is love. So happy to know that this experience did not rob you of your ability to love others and more importantly to love God. Thank you so much for sharing this very personal story.

  7. Not to dismiss your pain nor the authenticity from which you write, I see this statement

    "But, when you love someone, and you know what's right, you'll pay any price."

    as exactly the same thing being said on the other side of this story. Her family loved her, were absolutely dead-sure they were right/holy/moral, and were obviously willing to pay any price--even to committing crimes and sacrificing lives. Both of you from within your own perspectives were working from the same starting point, including that you both rejected the other's point of view as spiritually legitimate. To really make a statement to Patrios, there has to be a way to argue from within their own paradigm or they will simply dismiss you.

    My own position is that any paradigm that disallows for the free agency of the individual--all individuals, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, sexual preference, or income--is morally repugnant. So I'm pretty firmly on your side in this story and not trying to excuse the Patrios of wrongdoing in their very theology.

  8. I don't disagree with that at all, Sandra, but I feel the tragedy of the paradigm is in my final statement...

    I loved her, and would've given my life for her. They loved her, and would've given MY life for her.

    I could even replace "MY" in the final sentence with "her". I whole-heartedly believe that.

    This paradigm creates a dysfunctional and disturbed "love" that values the paradigm itself as much as (or more than) it values the children/adult children within its confines. It becomes a love that seeks its own, and the humanity involved becomes a means to an end.

    My former future father in-law freely admitted to others that his only beef with me was that I wouldn't submit to him, and because of this, he was willing to make everyone involved suffer to any level necessary until I either submitted or he could get rid of me.

  9. Ornery, probably. (grin) Scrapping and kicking, certainly. But ugly? I don't think so-- neither physically nor spiritually, Lewis.

    I'm so moved by your pictures. What was it Jesus said about a tree that's good bearing good fruit. Your suffering was certainly bad fruit produced by a very bad doctrine-tree.

  10. Wow, Lewis, I'm so glad you're doing well now. :)

    I can relate. I was so skinny from stress when I finally got married that it took me 2 years to relax, gain some weight, and be able to conceive my first child. I see that story over and over again in the lives of the spiritually abused and those who love them. It's really sad. :(

  11. Just...thank you.

    I just finished reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time. Your story reminds me of the heroes that I met in Middle Earth.

  12. I have no words.
    Only, I'm so sorry.

  13. Sharon.

    I know what you are talking about.

    I know that this kind of love that Lewis describes exists in the heart of some men. It is an heroic love that makes me remember that there is still good in the world, and even in the church.

    Then there is a false love that is all about the letter of the law and the selfishness of men's hearts that is paraded around as true love. And this false love is diplayed as the kind of love God has for us. There is far too much of this false love in the body of Christ. And because there is so much of it, new atheism is on the rise. (and people wonder why???)

    Patriarchy is a devastating force individually and on the grand scale.
    May the fall of patriarchy come quickly and may true, heroic, Christ-like love make a revolutionary come back.


  14. "...the tragedy of the paradigm is in my final statement...

    I loved her, and would've given my life for her. They loved her, and would've given MY life for her.

    I could even replace "MY" in the final sentence with "her". I whole-heartedly believe that."

    And that is why I think you hold the higher moral ground--Patrios deny free agency to everyone except the patriarch (who, even then, is sometimes ruled by a manipulative, passive aggressive wife, or a bullying preacher).

  15. I'm sorry. (I wish I could also say I'm sorry to man I am sure I hurt very much as a 21 year old daughter of patriarchy who felt she had no choice.) My father would say that he would rather that we were seriously injuried or killed rather than do something "wrong" or "immoral" (He was the one who got to choose what is wrong or immoral.) Ugh, just wish I had had the guts to leave much earlier.

  16. I am married to a man who has a lot of patriarchy/authoritarianism floating around in his paradigm. I wish I were married to a 'Lewis'. I have what I have, though, and have to take it from there. Lots of sorrow, lots of pain, lots of aloneness within a marriage. Lots of personal growth. Lots of hard work.

    Lewis, I am glad you are on the upswing. What a massively challenging ride you have been on!

    (Another Anonymous.)

  17. Whoever said that a broken heart can't kill ya...was lying. This is something you just don't get over in just a couple of days or months. Sometimes it may take years. I regret having to say that, but it's true.

    Lewis, I'm so happy you are doing much better. Please know we are praying for you and understand.

  18. You are much more attractive than you give yourself credit for. :-D

    And I agree with this post, the effects patriarchy mindsets has on people, both those inside and having left it are devastating.

  19. It's good to know there is life on the other side of the patriarch's pit.
    Your comment- " My former future father in-law freely admitted to others that his only beef with me was that I wouldn't submit to him, and because of this, he was willing to make everyone involved suffer to any level necessary until I either submitted or he could get rid of me." Very insightful. Patriarchy truly develops dishonesty in relationships. If you played the "submission" game with this man,(and stroked his ego a bit)it's possible he might have accepted you. In the end though, it's much easier to live with ourselves when we approach things honestly (and much more Christ-like.)

  20. Lewis, I am so heart breaks for you. I know the pain...
    The whole thing with has Blake profoundly affected me physically...especially the two times that I was literally forced to break up with him.
    I am still trying to return to my normal self physically.
    Broken hearts can kill you physically...and my spirit was broken as well.

  21. The person I was in love with was taken away from me for different reasons, but for certain dysfunctionalities all the same. I'm no stranger to the sunken face, yellow eyeballs, skinny frame, & crunchy-dead hair. It's a disturbing experience to feel like you're watching yourself die.

  22. Glad you are on the way back to health.
    "Fifedom" is the perfect word: Each family is a self-contained, self-supporting feudal kingdom ruled over by the Lord of the Manner. Family/Home business, homeschooling, home birth, home church, home elder care. In and of themselves these don't have to be evil--in fact some are even good. It's the IDOL that is built that is evil: Daddy the Godhead and Family as the Icon of the God. I feel for the young people, who did not choose any of this, who cannot even have a say in their own future without running away from sisters and brothers, maybe even Mom that they love.

  23. I've tacked on a pretty big addition to the end of this post to maybe answer the questions of some.

  24. Maybe this is a morbid way to look at it, but it all would've been so much easier for me if she had actually died, been lowered into the earth, and sprinkled with dirt.

    I know how that feels... ((((hugs))))

  25. It's not stupid. I understand.
    The first time my parents demanded that I break up with Blake, I felt somewhat the same way... It was like he was dead to me yet living at the same time. I wasn't even supposed to be friends with him anymore...nothing. Every phone conversation, text message, just stopped. The silence was torture.

  26. I know about it too.

    Not with neo patriarchy but with an estranged sister married to a sociopath.

    I haven't spoken to her since I was pregnant with my youngest who will be turning 14 next month.

    She's alive and working in and upscale solon in the same town my parents live an hour away from where I live.

    How do you mourn that?
    Espcecially when they cut off ties to the family once already and came back. The second time they didn't come back. It has taken years to finally realize, no they really aren't coming back.
    My sister really is dead to me even though she is very much alive.

  27. Oh, Mara! That is heartbreaking to hear!!! I hope and pray that she comes back some day. Meanwhile, I know what it is to have a family member cut off ties (and with no clear reason given)...we just have to find a way to go on, don't we? Painful.

  28. So heartbreaking, Lewis. I feel so deeply for you. Mara, too.

  29. This story breaks my heart. Lewis, anyone who can't understand your heartache about this simply does not have a heart.

  30. One little nugget that I didn't include in the article...

    Her grandfather, the man who personally saw to it that she didn't get on the plane that morning, and the man who called me to tell me she wasn't coming (having caved in to the pressure from his patriarse buddies), had said the following to me less than 72 hours before this all went down...

    "Lewis, I promise to do all within my power to have her on that plane. I'm not going to interfere anymore."

    He and I had no interaction between this promise and his breaking of this promise. That, in and of itself, should tell you the caliber of people I was dealing with, and the caliber of people who were engineering her life.

  31. Lewis-

    I can relate to this... It's only by a miracle that I ran and got on the plane myself. As I got into the air it couldn't get off the ground and far away fast enough. Darcy's story was key for me knowing what would happen if I didn't. DH and I talk a lot about what would have happened had I made different choices and gone back. I imagine DH in similar shoes and I'm not sure what would have happened to him.

    You are strong and resilient, and don't let anyone take that from you.