What I'm writing here is from a combination of my own painful experience with my promised bride - and her family - and the experiences of numerous daughters of this movement. I'm not writing from whim, or from personal preference, but rather from the heart of the aforementioned experiences and with a heart for you.
Many times since I've started this blog I've been contacted by young women in positions similar to the position my ex was in (not to mention by some young men in the position I was in), asking "What should I do?" It isn't my place to make that decision for you, but in this post I'm going to give the only advice I know to give, and give the reasoning behind that advice.
My advice: If at all possible, and as soon as possible, LEAVE.
There's no real alternative. There's no "talking things out" with P/QF parents. There's no possibility of "making them understand." For there to be an alternative, for there to be a compromise, for there to be any "understanding" of and tolerance of your independence and autonomy, your parents will have to forsake a system of belief that they've sold the entirety of their souls to. The jar you've been raised in, either shaped by or consisting of the parental authority lorded over you, must shatter. As I wrote recently...
when you plant a seed in a jar, you sentence the plant that will result to a best case scenario of growing into the shape of the jar - but NEVER exceeding it. No matter how much the sprigs and shoots want to spread out and reach toward the sun that shines on them and gives them life, the jar forms a barrier that prevents it. More often than not, in the P/QF paradigm, the parents, particularly the father, play the role of the jar. Sadly, I think the reason that young women leaving the P/QF lifestyle encounter so much grief, resistance, and totally unnecessary and abusive drama is a simple one: For them to ever live in freedom, the jar has to be shattered. Few P/QF parents volunteer for as much. Exit is NEVER simple. NEVER easy. The jar has to shatter.
And keep in mind, to LEAVE means more than a change in physical location. Moving out of the patriarchal home isn't the full extent of LEAVING. Not even close. You have to make a commitment to LEAVE the teachings, wiping everything clear down to a foundation of Christ and rebuilding. Until you can do this, you haven't LEFT. For every good thing your parents taught you, there are equal amounts of apostate, poisonous, destructive beliefs that need to be cleansed from your heart and system. This will be a process, not an immediate thing, and you need to be patient with yourself while wholly committed to seeking truth in your life. It won't be easy. Nothing about it will be easy.
LEAVING will likely mean losing meaningful relationship with your parents and likely with siblings who still buy in to the beliefs, or with siblings still too young to have a choice. LEAVING will likely mean losing relationship with the majority of your extended family and friends who've been significant parts of your life. Generally, there's a reason that the core group of your family's friends were your family's friends - the sociopathy that the belief system breeds. LEAVING these people, and not having them in your life, is, for at least a season, the spiritually and emotionally healthiest thing that can happen for you...and I'm soooo sorry for that.
Like my ex, most of you want to see your family as "good people", and you'll need to come to grips with the fact that, apart from their religion, they probably ARE "good people", but because of their religion, the truth is, they behave as something significantly less than good. Consider that they'll make an equal or greater crisis out of you leaving patriarchal authority than they would out of you leaving the Christian faith. This kind of willingness to divide and destroy (and they WILL destroy you, emotionally, if possible, to bring you back under their "authority") over utterly non-essential to the faith issues is one of the manifestations of sociopathy commonplace in this movement. You're gonna need to acknowledge this before you can truly begin to heal.
A "crisis" such as your "rebellion" will cause parents, particularly fathers, to become narcississtic at best and sociopathic at worst - and the worst is usually what you'll see. From the Profile of a Sociopath...
Manipulative and Conning
They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.
Grandiose Sense of Self
Feels entitled to certain things as "their right."
Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.
Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.
When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.
Callousness/Lack of Empathy
Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others' feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.
Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature
Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others.
Not concerned about wrecking others' lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.
Other sociopathic traits, many of which apply to P/QF parents...
- Contemptuous of those who seek to understand them
- Does not perceive that anything is wrong with them
- Only rarely in difficulty with the law, but seeks out situations where their tyrannical behavior will be tolerated, condoned, or admired
- Conventional appearance
- Goal of enslavement of their victim(s)
- Exercises despotic control over every aspect of the victim's life
- Has an emotional need to justify their crimes and therefore needs their victim's affirmation (respect, gratitude and love)
- Ultimate goal is the creation of a willing victim
- Incapable of real human attachment to another
- Unable to feel remorse or guilt
- Extreme narcissism and grandiose
- May state readily that their goal is to rule the world
Other than in a couple of very isolated instances where P/QF parents slighty loosened their stranglehold over their families over time (usually after significant, often irreparable, damage had been done), from my experience, and that of others, I'll tell you the following...
- Barring a miracle from God, your parents aren't going to change their beliefs, or their behaviors toward any perceived "rebellion". It would be too traumatic for them to admit what they've done to their family. They most likely aren't going to volunteer to be shattered (as the JAR you're planted in needs to be).
- They will lie and feel no remorse.
- They will bear false witness against you to all of those in your life.
- They will bear false witness against those in your life of whom they don't approve.
- They will treat their lies as truth, and live in such a way as if those lies are true.
- They will deny most, if not all, of the hurtful things said to you and abusive actions toward you.
- They will mock and belittle you in personal communication, perhaps even laughing in your face about whatever you share with them.
- They will attempt to diminish your personhood, autonomy, heart, and mind - all in effort to bring you "back under".
- Every single thing done toward you will have a purpose or ulterior motive, with a goal of keeping you emotionally off-balance and malleable.
- They will attempt to undermine your personal life - perhaps even your professional life (whatever it may be).
- In many cases, they will attempt to undermine the personal and professional lives of those who they feel are feeding your "rebellion".
- They will attempt to use the bible against you as a weapon.
- They will have no fondness, sympathy, or empathy for your feelings, your desires, or for your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
- They will ONLY encourage you to go places, do things, or talk to people (who they know will guilt and manipulate you) that will bring you "back under" their authority.
- If you refuse their "authority", you'll be considered, and treated as, expendable - as will anyone else in your life who they feel stands in the way of their designs for you.
I'm so sorry to tell you these things.
Many of you have seen manifestations of these things within your families in reaction to nothing more than everyday life and stresses. Many others among you have experienced these things, and more, in your own journey out of the movement. Others may be saying, "But my family is NOTHING like that." Just question - critically, meticulously, and very openly - your family's belief system and parental authority over you, a grown woman, and I'm sorry to say that I can practically guarantee that you'll see manifestations of all I've written here. It WILL happen. The movement and beliefs demand it. And all of it over totally non-essential matters to salvation.
Please do the math - beliefs that require and demand sociopathy to be defended, and only in the most meaningless, non-essential aspects of the faith - and see if this is something you genuinely want to be continually poured into your life.
To LEAVE doesn't mean to cease to love or to honor. There's no greater way for an adult to honor his or her parents than to seek and follow Christ, and Christ alone, with a whole heart.
You'll have to LEAVE. In every way.
I'm so sorry.