Monday, May 16, 2011

The Joke Was On Me (Part Fourteen)

Any number of irrational, illogical, and sociopathic things had been said during this "meeting". I'd been once again called a coward, a brainwasher, et cetera - and now a "loser" and other assorted patriarchal pleasantries. For everytime my ex would attempt to state her belief in our independence, they'd counter it with "Look at what Lewis is doing to you!!! He's brainwashing you!!! You've changed!!! You've been brainwashed!!!", and round and round it all went, with her being rebellious and sinful and me being Lucifer incarnate, brainwasher of the brainwashed.

It took me a couple of hours to soothe her and counter, or at least dilute, the poison they'd introduced into her mind. She felt sooooo guilty, and she'd done nothing wrong. Really, all I could do that night was assure her of that fact - that she, we, had done nothing wrong, had nothing to be ashamed of, and had no reason to second guess anything or be defensive about anything. She needed to shed this notion of the family unit practically being a deity, but on this night, she first needed to shed her unnecessary guilt. I stayed on the phone with her until almost 5AM, and after our I love yous and goodbyes, I practically collapsed in my bunk and knew nothing until early the next afternoon.

We were still a couple of hours out from the office when I woke up, and almost immediately I called her. She'd slept little, and more lunacy had transpired. When I called, they'd just finished their morning family devotional/indoctrination session/group business meeting, and afterward they set into her again with the accusations, guilt-trips, et cetera. When she mentioned something about her grandpa to them, her dad blurted out, "Your grandpa is a coward!" (Keep that in mind for a few paragraphs below) This was his own father he was talking about. In essence, anything that happened in her life needed to go through HIM first, and anyone who didn't see things that way and circumvented him was a "coward". Had I lived near them, I'd have HAD to circumvent the dude just to survive, cause otherwise I'd have ended up putting pop-knots on his noggin, and I've never physically harmed a soul in my life. Cowardice had nothing to do with most people maneuvering around him. He was just a jackass, and as I came to eventually find out, few people, outside of their cultic circle, could stand the man. He really wasn't particularly likeable, even when you could interact with him outside of a religious scenario (which his addiction made difficult). Just a weird man.

She asked me how to handle things if they kept confronting her. I was honest with her that I wanted her out of that house, but if she refused to leave, then she needed to have her father clarify, once and for all, exactly why he believed he had authority over her. No one could ever make that clear to me, so I wanted to see if it could be made clear to her. The closest thing I got to an answer to that when I asked him (during one of the blowups of the previous fall) was, "There are traces of it throughout scripture." When he'd told me this, I said, "Ok then - point to one. Just to one. I'd like to see it." His response to that was, "I'm not gonna argue scripture with you, Lewis." The sad thing is, she and her sisters had been utterly dominated by the belief of patriarchal authority for their entire lives, and not a single one of them could even begin to point out so much as a shred of scripture it was based on. So, if anyone wants to argue with me that her family wasn't in and of itself a cult, save your breath for something feasible.

Later that day, she confronted them and asked her father, "What is your belief about having authority over me based on?" He gave her the old "traces of it throughout scripture" spiel (which I'd warned her to not accept), and she told him that wasn't good enough, that he needed to make a definitive case to her. He hemmed and hawed around, said something about obeying your parents, stuttered around a bit more, said something about the "curse of Eve". She showed some backbone and told him that there was nothing definitive about anything he was saying, and that he'd need a lot more. He finally stated, "It's all very vague...Derwood needs to explain it to you." "Derwood" is the husband of "Ethel". He's also a patriarchal jackass of herculean proportions. One of the few people on this earth equally as shull of patriarchal fit as my former future father-in-law. This was all just a big "jokers on my left, jokers on my right" situation for me. She was used to being around such dysfunctional thinkers and religious addicts. I wasn't.

Somehow, her parents had gotten wind of the ceremony potentially being moved up to August. I've no idea where they heard this, as the ONLY discussion she and I had about it (after her grandfather introduced the August idea into the equation) was me telling her that, given the situation, we needed to consider the date somewhat fluid, and we'd deal with it as we needed to, leaving it alone for the time being. After they'd sufficiently beaten her to a pulp emotionally in one of their confrontations on this day, covering her with guilt, she called me as I was driving the 90 minutes from the office to my house and hit me with, "Lew, I really think we need to honor my parents request to leave our date at October 25th." Oh my goodness. We hadn't changed the freakin' date! So I asked her, "When did we change the date? When did that happen?" She couldn't answer that question, obviously, because we'd changed nothing. I told her, "They've made you feel guilty about something that hasn't even happened - and you're asking me to reward their behavior?! Not a chance. No. No. No! We may very well keep the original date, but I can promise you that it WON'T be because of any request they make. I'm not gonna reward this crap from them. They both need to grow up and act like decent people..." - and I cut it off there. I was boiling angry, boiling, was pretty animated, and I didn't want to end up making things worse for her when she was already in the flames of their insanity.

About 7PM that evening, I received a call from the Bandaid. Like I've said before, he was a good guy - maybe a little young and naive to not see the emotional lack of health in the lightning speed at which my ex's sister "recovered" from loving another man and jumped into (was nudged, by her father, into) a relationship with him, but, I figured he was sharp enough that eventually he'd see where things were askew without me saying a word about it. I didn't want to see either him or her get hurt, but it was their business. We spent a minute or two making small talk (we hadn't communicated since the cruise a couple of months back), and then he got to the reason for his call.  He said he had some decisions he needed to make concerning his and the sister's relationship, and wanted to know what made me so confident that I was right about not needing to be in "submission" to the patriarse. I told him that for me, it wasn't about being right, but rather about doing right - and as far as needing to be in submission to the patriarse, I told him that until someone could prove to me, biblically or otherwise, that I was supposed to be in submission to him, asking me to defend my position was asking me to disprove something unproven and unprovable in the first place. I'm no scholar or theologian, but I do know the scriptures, and I know, and knew, that the patriarse was twisting them to the extreme to control his family and craft it in HIS image. We talked about this stuff for a few minutes, maybe half an hour, and I ended it by telling him that we have to follow our own convictions on non-essentials (particularly those which the bible is completely silent about), and I'd respect whatever path he and the sister chose. It was their choice to make. Not mine.

Yet again, someone proved to have loose and irresponsible lips *cough SALLY cough*, and the patriarse got word that the Bandaid had called me. Shortly after getting off the phone with me, the Bandaid made a call to the sister, and when his name popped up on the caller ID, the patriarse grabbed the phone before she could and unloaded on him, BIG TIME, accusing him of trying to tear apart his family, leading his daughter into rebellion, et cetera. Of course, I was patriarchal public enemy #1 in this scenario. The Bandaid unloaded right back, and good for him. It got pretty ugly. This was all taking place on the house phone line. After he and I had talked, I'd called my ex on their office phone line (she'd asked me to call her there that night). All of this between the patriarse and the Bandaid was going down with both of us unaware until the sister picked up the office extension and interrupted our conversation with, "Hey, guys, dad and ***** just had it out in a MAJOR way on the phone, so I just wanted to tell you that we now know a little more what you guys have put up with, and I guess you're gonna have company as the black sheep." I just told her I was sorry. I didn't know what else to say. She said they were probably gonna leave the patriarse out of their deal from now on. I told her that they were probably making a wise decision, and I'd respect whatever course of action they chose. At this point, I was so angry at their father that I was just beyond words about all of it. Any of you who've ever been so frustrated and angry about a situation that you couldn't put it into words, not because of fear of losing control, but because there just are no words, may be able to relate.

I was exhausted, physically and emotionally, worried about her, worried about "us", and just about ready to take John Belushi's advice from "Animal House" and start drinking heavy. Everything written above had taken place in the course of about an 18 hour window...and things would only get worse, MUCH worse, in the days that followed.

She and I didn't talk so much about the heavy things the rest of that night, but instead, said a lot of "I love yous" and focused on her trip here in less than a week, what we would do for our engagement party, and such. I don't think I could've handled much more dysfunction and stupidity (and it was all so freakin' STOOPID) that night, and I can take a lot, so I knew she needed to breathe.

The next day just went to a whole other level of CRAZY.

{CLA}He showed up to their morning devotional/indoctrination session/group business meeting with back-up - he'd asked Derwood to write up an email to his family giving his take on the situation, since he'd known all the girls since birth and they knew him to be such a "godly" man, hoping Derwood could produce the appropriate level of manipulation, guilt, and damnation to bring them all back in line. He read it aloud to the whole family. Derwood was obviously pretty drunk on the bible when he wrote it. She recited to me later from what she could remember of it. It said stuff about "the bible says to have your house in order - and that means rebellious children have to come into submission to their parents and live under their father's authority for God to bless them" and some other patriarchal bullshit. THESE WERE ALL GROWN WOMEN. ADULTS. Then, the patriarse declared that "If either of you go ahead with your plans as they are now, I refuse to have anything to do with it, I won't support your plans in any way, especially financially, and you'll be totally on your own." If I'd have been there, I'd have said, "Please tell me that's a promise!" I mean, materially, financially, they had nothing. They'd never had anything, and according to my ex, her parents weren't very good with what little money they did have at any given time. I'd loooooong been prepared to foot the majority - even the entirety - of the bill for our wedding. I wasn't gonna give her father the excuse of finances to hold us back (and I'd been clear about this with her back when we'd chosen the original date), so we were gonna have the ceremony when we chose regardless of who paid for it. He could pay me back over time if he wanted to. As flippantly as I speak about this, though, it did hurt me, tremendously, for her. No girl wants to hear something like that from her father, even if he isn't much of a father, as was the case with hers.

But, it would get even worse...Seeing the girls unmoved, he started telling various family members, "It would be easier to just end it all." This scared her terribly, and even though I knew he was basically shull of fit, I advised her to make sure the handgun was out of the house somewhere that he couldn't find it, and I was adamant that she stay somewhere else that night (she chose to spend the night at her sister's small apartment). Even though I knew this was largely a manipulative tactic, I can't begin to express the fear that, from here on, was ALWAYS in the back of my mind that I'd get a phone call telling me that he'd killed the rest of the family and then himself. I tossed and turned over that fear many nights. 

Ultimately, he locked himself away in his bedroom later that morning, where he remained for three days, before emerging on Friday morning with a three page manifesto of all the ways his daughters had failed him as a father and failed their family ministry. Nothing about him. They were the ones with the problems. It was disgusting and sickening. And even better, later that day, her father gave her a loooong letter about me. It said things like...

Your mother and I have had doubts about Lewis all along.

Is that right? What about that video I have? You know the one - "You're perfect Lewis! God couldn't have answered our prayers any more perfectly in a man for ****!" Yeah, that one. It was what, maybe 3 weeks old by now? Lying snake.

It's evident to us why Lewis is 38 and has never been married.

Yeah, cause something like that never happens to patriarchal types, being that patriarchal types are so normal and all. and what we should measure normal by (SA). Personally, I know plenty of guys like that - and they all chose the same career path I did. Maybe that has something to do with  it. Just maybe.

We were appalled at the lack of respect he shows to his own parents, even calling them by their first names.

OMG. Remember, this is the dude who, earlier that week, called his OWN father a coward. And what he's referring to is a freakin' little game my ENTIRE family plays that goes back to something my brother said in 1969. Idiot.

As she read it to me, I'm telling you, I was coming unglued. Each line was more and more poisonous, with the BS getting deeper with each syllable. ALL of it pulled directly out of his anal cavity. One lie after another, all of which attacked my character, many of which were much more hurtful, both to me and those who love me, than the few lines I've represented here. 

But lucky me! She'd spent the morning talking to Ethel and grandpa about it before talking to me, and thanks to Ethel and grandpa's brilliant moral compasses, when I started in on and condemned what was genuinely EVIL - this letter wasn't a flesh/spirit thing, it was an evil jackass thing, put it in whichever camp you want, but just call it what it is - my ex told me, "But Lew, do you have any right to judge this after the email you sent dad on Thanksgiving?".....!!!!!!"What the....?!"!!!!!!... Dear Lord help me. Wasn't this the same woman who'd long ago told me that every single word I wrote to her father on Thanksgiving was true and needed to be said?!!! When I reminded her of this, she was taken aback, snapped out of whatever mojo Ethel and grandpa had put on her, and said, "You're right. There's no comparison and I apologize." Whatever ANYONE thought of the Thanksgiving email I'd sent her father, there's no comparison, on any level, to this tripe her dad had written about me. I don't deal in dishonesty. That alone ends any comparison.

While we were on the phone, another call came into their office line, and it was a call she needed to take, so I grudgingly hung up, and...

I'd barely had 5 minutes to catch my breath before grandpa called me and told me, "Lewis, my son delivered a letter about you to **** this morning. I think this is something you're gonna have to address with him." I told him, "I've no intention of addressing anything to do with it. I've already addressed it with ****. I've no business with you're son concerning it." He was stunned. He comes from a long line of letter writers, where two men in disagreement try to out-Apostle Paul each other by writing verbose "epistles" back and forth. I've seen some of it. It's a human tragedy and cheesefest. He responded, "Oh, but I don't think you have a choice but to address it." I told him, "Oh, but I do...Do you make it a habit of acknowledging and addressing every piece of dogcrap on the sidewalk when you take a walk, or do you just make sure you don't step in it? What your son wrote was a pile of crap, and you need to acknowledge it as such or we're wasting our time here. If the lies in his letter were even halfway believable, even halfway, then you might have a point, but use your head here." I'd literally never seen social, relational, emotional, and moral ignorance on this level - and that's saying something, having been in the music business for two decades now. The worst label I could get him to apply to what his son had done was "flesh". Dear Lord. This was intentional evil, intentional dishonesty, deception, and diversion, carried out with the intention of destruction, done with the intention of taking something good and innocent and pure, and making it intentionally ugly and painful. There's no gray area about it. None. Pure EVIL.

I finally got off the phone with grandpa, and called my family (first my folks, then my brother) to tell them about this, at this point just needing desperately to vent. They were all faaaar beyond irate about it, and even requested that I ask my ex to bring it with her when she came. They wanted to read it. They weren't upset with her, mind you, but with her father and mother. They had EVERY right to be. Toward her, they felt pity that she had such a jackhole for a father and a mother who just stood back and "dutifully" allowed him to be a jackhole - even joining him in the jackholing.

I just wanted to get her here SOOOO bad. So bad. We were less than 72 hours away from it at this point, and I was sweating bullets that one of these lunatics would screw it all up.

The call that had come in to their office phone was from a family acquaintance from their area who attended a church her family had once attended (before her father had issues with the leadership there and left). My ex did the right thing in opening up to this lady about what was going on - she later confessed that she almost had to, because the flow of tears overpowered her once she answered this lady's call. This was a healthy choice for my ex, as this lady wasn't a patriocentric and was totally unattached to the situation - but knew the family, and for once, my ex was completely honest with an outsider about the whole deal.

My ex gave her the outline of the whole situation, described the previous couple of weeks to her in good detail, and told her about the letter. She asked this lady if she could just read the letter to her, and the lady agreed. Upon completing it (and it was a novel), she asked the lady what she thought of it. The lady hit her with some hard truth - the letter was full of manipulation, guilt, coercion, all made even worse by the fact that her father was making up all the stuff in it, and that her father was WAY out of line. She also confessed to my ex that she and her husband had seen things about her family that they found troubling all along, and advised her, "If you feel that God wants you to go and marry this man, who is any man, even your father, to tell you otherwise? Go and marry him." While the observations about her family hurt her, she knew they were true, having mentioned all these things to me herself from almost the beginning, and overall, this call from this lady was just the salve my ex's immediate wounds needed.

Also that day, another sister overheard a phone call between the patriarse and Derwood, and the patriarse told Derwood, "I'm gonna destroy their relationship however I have to do it." Those were the exact words. What a loving, "godly" father!

We spent the rest of the day trying to focus on good things, although both of us were stressed out the wazoo. I'd been out on the road since Wednesday, and when I returned home on Monday morning, she'd be there. My brother and his family were coming in from Nashville on Saturday morning so they could finally meet her and be there for our party, and the two of us were finding whatever comfort we could - trying to look past the immediate madness - in the happiness we knew the very, very near future would bring us. I had made it a point to tell all of my family (as well as those invited to the engagement party) and all of my bandmates, "When she gets here, leave California in California. If she brings it up and wants to talk about it, that's fine, but otherwise, I want her to just be happy and see what normal actually looks like. Don't bring up any of this stuff with her family." 

On Saturday night, I made one request of her - for the sake of a larger point to be made. I asked her to bring along the letter her father had written about me as my family - mom, dad, brother, and sister-in-law - wanted to read it. I assured her they weren't angry with her, nor would they be. She asked, "They won't judge me for it?" I told her, "I promise you they won't judge you for it." They wouldn't have. She agreed to bring it and allow them to read it. I asked her this knowing fully well that my family would never get to read this letter. Like I say, this was about making a larger point which I'll get into in the next installment or the one thereafter. Unfortunately, I never got a hard copy of this letter, nor did the members of my family who ultimately requested it, nor my professional associates who ultimately requested it. All the snakes in her world saw to it that all known copies saw their demise, and that NO ONE in my world would get to scrutinize it. Remember, these people had ONE goal, and stated as much several times - to destroy our relationship by any means necessary. Such "godly" people, that crowd.

She would board the plane early Sunday afternoon Pacific time, fly to Atlanta, have a short layover there of about 90 minutes, then make the short hop to Charlotte, where my folks and sister-in-law would pick her up around midnight. We were playing in the Maryland panhandle that Sunday night and would have about a 6 to 6 1/2 hour run back to the office, and then I'd have a 90 minute drive home (although I'm sure I carved quite a bit off of my personal best commute time that morning). I anticipated getting home by 7AM. She called me from Atlanta, and we'd just finished playing, so I was able to talk to her for most of her layover there. She was happy. She sounded more like the woman I'd last seen than I'd heard in a while. And...this made me happy. I'd found that the more connected the two of us became, it was impossible for me to be happy unless I knew she was. 

Later, after my family had picked her up and as they made the slightly over an hour long trek home from the airport, she called me from the new phone I'd bought for her and asked them to give her. It was a VERY happy conversation. She was relieved to see my parents, and getting along famously with my sister-in-law. She was breathing.

We pulled into the office at just after 5AM that Monday morning, and you've never seen a musician get his crap together, pull it off a bus, and throw it in the back of an SUV like I did that morning. I hadn't slept all night, and by 3AM, with everyone else long settled in their bunkrooms, I'd already rounded up all my stuff, my bags, and my bedclothes into a big ball in the front lounge of the bus so I could make an extra-quick departure. One of my bandmates got up sometime after this to go to the bathroom, and had walked up front to see where we were, saw my pile of stuff, looked over at me and started laughing, then just turned around and headed back down the hall. They knew I was ready to get home.

As I was leaving the office, I called home and my dad answered. He told me she was sleeping, having been pretty well knackered the night before. I told him to let her sleep, and I'd wake her when I got there (she'd asked me to). I also cautioned him that anyone caught in the path between me and her might be prone to get injured, cause I may come flying through the door.

As I rounded the last curve and topped the ridge, my little yellow house came into view, and her Prague Spring was about to begin.


  1. I'm on the edge of my seat here.

  2. There's a very good reason why that letter will never see light of day outside her family, and has probably been destroyed. The lies in it are very likely actionable, and the patriarse knows it. He would want to avoid litigation as it would be a public admission of his ungodly and un-Christlike actions. (Though he would likely bring up the "Christians don't take other Christians to court" baloney to counter it.)

    I so wish you had a happy ending, Lewis. I am so very sad for both of you.

    Word verification: repent

  3. This is like watching a train can't quit reading, can't turn away and you just *know* how it ends.


    Having lived this one, let me say--

    I know it doesn't help when people say you dodged a bullet or it wouldn't have worked anyway or you're better off. No-- you *aren't* better off because your heart is broken. Dadgum hurts like crazy fire.

    So I'm gonna throw you some sympathetic virtual hugs, grab the popcorn and settle in for part 15 :)

  4. Connie, train wreck....., exactly. And I used to be just as naive and gullible as that young woman in regards to spiritual leadership, because I was taught to have no confidence in myself, just as she was. I just get this icky feeling down to my bones while reading this because this is sooooooooooo familiar. I wish it had a happy ending. I hope someday there will be.

  5. "One of the few people on this earth equally as shull of patriarchal fit as my former future father-in-law."

    Um...not by a long shot. There are plenty. I could introduce you to some if you'd like.

  6. "But, it would get even worse..." Dammit!!!! How could it possibly??....!!

  7. Train wreck is a good way to put it!

    It said stuff about "the bible says to have your house in order - and that means rebellious children have to come into submission to their parents and live under their father's authority for God to bless them" and some other patriarchal bullshit.

    My dad said the very same thing! (Except the part about God blessing them...he doesn't believe in blessings.)

  8. Frankly, you would REALLY have to twist the Bible to conclude that God doesn't give blessings. Wonder which version he was reading.

  9. I've been following for a while, and thinking and thinking and something hit me with this post that hadn't earlier. The one thing you didn't notice at the time (not that I would have either) is that your Ex wasn't doing any thinking for herself. You wanted her to think for herself, but she was simply listening to the strongest voice. You were one of many voices doing her thinking for her.
    I have watched other women from families like these enter into marriages that confused and hurt their families, and frequently these women choose someone to do their thinking for them. The parents were hurt when they choose their fiance's and the fiances' were hurt when they choose the parents. But rarely did the women actually think for themselves, unless that free thinking began prior to the Guy's interest. Hopefully they end up in a marraige where the husband encourages their growth. But if he doesn't, they just end up following a different master with different views. Funny thing is that their parents usually end up confused as to how easily "they just follow instead of think for themselves."
    Please don't belittle the hurt that the families feel. After dealing with a seriously depressed member within my family one thing is very clear. All the members were hurt. Some of us were pinning blame in the wrong place, but we couldn't heal until we admitted that it hurt. If your apendix needs removing, you can't get anywhere near a resolution of that pain unless you and a doctor admit that the pain exists and begin the process of finding the source.
    PS I don't come from a patriarchal family, and the depression was related to dietary intolerances and compounded by sin. Though one of the struggles that we had to go through was some friends blaming it on our lack of involvement with that movement. It was still painful and we still had a lot to forgive in each other

  10. Lewicifer (hee, hee, sorry, I couldn't resist! I hope you're able to laugh a little now!):

    As I was reading this I kept thinking, "This is the turning point. She has seen clearly how wrong her father is. This is her chance to make a choice to escape. But she has to get out NOW or never-- if only she had eloped with Lewis during this visit and never looked back!"

    Only I know she didn't, and I'm so very sorry. *hugs*

  11. I wasn't clear enough above. In the process of dealing with my families issues it became clear that sin begets sin. All of us were guilty in escalating the situation. My depressed family member was particularly guilty of thinking they were being sinned against when they weren't and thinking behavior that was sin was their god given right. It took a long time to sort that out. But that member was still hurt by our sin. It just wasn't the sins that were claimed. You have to get to the point of calling a spade a spade or no one ever heals. BUT sin hurts everyone involved.

  12. Maybe Anon, but many times, sin is not sin. Its just sin according to certain people. You alluded to diet. I hope you are not saying that a certain diet or some variation of gluttony is the sin being referenced here. Many times, cultic groups tend to label many things as sin. But, their definition of sin has nothing to do with anything other than a bunch of stupid little rules, propping up there form of "religion" to keep other people in line. Sin then morphs into simple guilt - nothing more, nothing less. Too many lives are needlessly in fear of scaring the dragon god these idiots have devised.

    Live free baby!

  13. Anon...I wouldn't think for her. There's no question that my opinions influenced her, but on really big matters, I forced her to think for herself. I wasn't blind to her lack of independent thought and critical thinking skills.

    As far as the hurt her family felt - in OUR situation, they were the cause of it, and that gets no sympathy from me. This wasn't a disagreement between equally valid viewpoints. This was one man (with help from a few others)trying to impose his rule over the lives of others, intentionally inflicting pain and chaos to achieve a sociopathic goal. There's no gray area about that being evil. I don't claim to be perfect, but this wasn't and isn't a case of sin all around on the part of everyone.

  14. No, the depression was being caused by a food intolerance which was destroying that persons ablity to absorb nutrients, which in turn caused a "chemical imbalance" in the brain. When the offending food was removed from the diet, the chemical imbalance along with the depression and anger vanished, but we didn't discover that until well after the healing had begun. The anger directed at the rest of us prior to this discovery was frequently responded to in a sinful manner. Depending on the person it was either an equally self-serving anger, or in placating actions. BOTH reactions were sin, and both reactions had negative consequences. It took a long time for all involved (and counseling) to learn the right responses. And we did have to get to the point where we could call it sin and recognize that through God's grace it is and was forgiven and forgive each other.

    In the case Lewis is describing, the father was going to accuse her of sin whenever she didn't placate him in the manner he insisted. She was wrong to placate him. It was something that he had cultivated in her, but she was still wrong. I am not denying it would have been very hard for her to see that and do that. My sibling did pretty much the same thing, and honestly had gotten it into his head that if we didn't jump at his command we were wrong, it just wasn't rooted in this ideology. We were wrong to placate my sibling and exacerbated the situation every time we did. Even though a variety of factors outside of our control had cultivated that response, we were still wrong. Only when we admitted that we were wrong, did we start to move towards a resolution, and we found a resolution prior to the discovery of the intolerance. The intolerance discovery (years later) simply made my siblings battle with his moods easier.

    Note, something that is frequently ignored by fundimentalists is that the Bible has several examples of women who disobeyed the men in their lives and were set up as positive examples because of it and examples of women who failed to stand up to men and were rebuked and or lost their lives because of it. We women are responsible for our actions and reactions to the situations we find ourselves in. Its not always easy to see through the fog when you are in the situation. She was wronged by her father, and he did everything in his power to keep it that way, and was willing to go to extremes. One of the really hard things in these situations is to see that the wronged party can be wrong when they placate. You seem to understand that when it comes to your interactions with the father, but not her interactions with her father. The father's sins were significantly greater, and she was being manipulated, and receiveing bad guidance.
    I understand that it would have been unimaginably difficult for her to do what was right, it took years for me to get to the point that I could respond in my situation appropriately, to my manipulator (sibling). And alot of it was based in fear. But I was wrong. The apology that my sibling got wasn't what he wanted: "I am really horrible to you." it was what he needed: "I love you, but I'm not going to give in when you are wrong."

  15. Kristen...It's weird - she'd seen the wrongs of her father all along. I think the big hurdle for her was accepting that her father would be such an indecent man, and failing to use history as a barometer, she constantly gave him the benefit of a doubt that his "intentions" were good.

    Her dad just isn't a man of much personal character, has some mental health issues (even Derwood once referred to him as bi-polar), and when you add the religiousness into the equation...yuck.

  16. I disagree Anon. Placating is not sin. Say you were about to be murdered by someone: To placate that person would be a very reasonable response. To label placation as sin is to tie your hands for making serious common sense decisions when the need arises.

    I have a bro-in-law with the same issues. But, placating him is the best route, whenever I have to deal with him. In truth, the less I have to deal with him, the better. Its a matter of personal choice. It is most definitely NOT sin.

    Relationships are messy and cannot be wrapped up in a fundie bow, or even a counseling or psychological one. Anybody who portrays they have all the answers to all situations in life needs to rent my extended family for a year. All their stupid, moronic theories will go right out the window.

    It won't be long before they start calling what you call sin, "reasonable life choices".

    Frankly, I choose sanity and peace for me, my wife, and kids, well above any crazy ideologies about special dealings with people who make victims out of themselves. I have no sympathy for those types.

  17. Incongruous, I think that when Anonymous says "placating," she really means "enabling." Placating can be an appropriate response, based on the circumstances. But enabling is something that needs to be seen for what it is and addressed, and enablers need to learn to resist enabling family members in their dysfunction.

    I still wouldn't call enabling "sin," because I think such a label tends to add even more guilt to people who are probably already being guilt-manipulated. But to say, "Letting/helping this person get away with their behavior isn't helping anyone, least of all them, and I need to stop it," is a healthy thing to do.

  18. Kristen, thank you, that is a better word for what I was getting at.

    Allow me explain why I use the word sin. In my experience, too often Christians avoid using that word in the process unintentionally protect and cover behavior that is explicitly wrong. This happens in all camps no matter how fundimental, conservative, or liberal we are. We are scared to confront, when we should and we spend a whole lot of time accusing when we shouldn't. A lie, with the intention of destroying someones reputation is sin, period. Someone making excuses doesn't change that. Her father wrote lies in a letter with the intention of destroying Lewis's reputation within their circle. Lewis's Ex was struggling with calling that sin, but it was. Her response to that situation would most likely have been different if she was willing to call a spade a spade. Yes, sometimes things are frequently called sin that are not, that is simply the nature of the beast.

    The other thing is that when you are a christian, recognizing that "I'm not perfect and I still sin" can be the most freeing experience. Calling my enabling of my sibling a sin, made it that much easier to do the right thing when I was in a crisis moment, and rely on my savior in those moments of weakness. There actually isn't any guilt attached to those situations any more for me, it was forgiven, but I couldn't be forgiven, and neither could my sibling until we admitted our wrongs. He couldn't be free until he admitted he was wrong. I couldn't be free of my fear until I admitted that I was wrong to fear him instead of trusting God.

  19. Ok. I agree for the most part. The disagreement being that there is a point where one just needs to walk away and move on. I reached that point with my own mother just a month or so ago. Doing anything different would have been the enabling, itself.

    Also, if I choose to walk away from an individual who has no intention of bettering themselves and they end up doing harm to themselves or others, no fault lands on me. The act of walking away is not sin. The act of what they were doing may have been sin, but it is not up to me to be the catalyst for change or else...

    I can engage them, but do not have to. My take on situations like these is, if others are being harmed, get involved, if others are not being harmed, don't worry about it.

  20. If she had walked away from her father she would have done exactly the opposite of enabling or placating him, and in a sense she would have declared her disagreement with him. It would have been a very active response.

  21. I with you now, Anon. Where her dad was concerned, I always called it "feeding the monster".

    It's hard to overcome a lifetime of mental/psychological conditioning, though. My ex is evidence.

    When one of my friends eventually tried to broker communication with my ex and her circle after the break-up, the best advice I could give him was to take everything he'd ever considered the logical, rational, and reasonable way to deal with and communicate with people, and throw it completely away. The cultic dynamic is one big pile of human debris.

  22. Aw, Lewis, I hate the pain I know is coming in this story. :( And just reading this made me so boiling mad...I can't imagine actually going through it (even though I did on a much smaller scale).

  23. More! More! More! And a big THANKS to that honest lady!

  24. Lewis,
    I just wish there was still some way for you to get that poor girl out of there. I was one such girl once, and my gleaming hope of getting out of my miserable situation was a young man who truly loved me, despite my father. When everything ended and we broke up, every hope disappeared. I was facing a lifetime of turmoil and no idea how to get myself out. I was depressed, I spiraled. However, that young man persevered and came back for me. He showed me that I had the strength to get out. And when I did, he was there with me to show me that I had the strength to build a new life. Honestly, it took those dark months when there was no hope at all to show me that it was that very reason I had to try again. I had to find hope. And when he came back, I was willing to do anything.

    I don't know the details of your situation. I don't know part 15. But I just wish with all my heart that you....or someone....can help her get out.

    Oh God, set her free.

    A reader

  25. I'm sorry to say that she married another man last year. While the environment won't be as bad (at least I hope it won't) as with her father, I know who the guy is, and she'll still be in some level of fundamentalism for life now.

    I'm extremely thankful that you got out, though.

  26. Hi Lewis,

    Been following your blog for a bit. Have read some of your old stuff as well. Finally decided to respond! I may digress a bit, as I am remembering past blog posts you wrote!

    I did find it interesting that the patriarse (I'm still laughing at that name) insulted your age. My husband, a new pastor, was 38 when he married me (I was 33 and neither of us had been married before) and he is a wonderfully mature Christian man that I feel lucky to have met. I'm sure that if you ever do fall in love with someone else she will be one lucky lady! And I'm speaking as a girl who knows just how hard it is to find a good Christian man!

    How I've been exposed to the P/QF movement ... I have heard the phrase "giving your heart away" and even read a bit of one of Josh Harris's books. The little bit I remember seemed innocuous, but didn't really change the convictions I had decided on in regards to dating. Until recently I'd always thought of myself as a "courter" and not a "dater," but given that courting seems to involve parents making the marriage decisions for their grown children (??? really !!!) I certainly did not court as I am a grown woman and can make my own decisions! (I also think my mom would have found that odd!) I've been in love with past boyfriends, and I do not believe that I "gave my heart away" (as the P/QF's say) because being in love helped me learn how to love, and matured me immensely. Despite the pain of breakups, I wouldn't change a thing.

    (Other P/QF experiences ... I was taken to a Bill Gothard Basic Youth Conflicts conference as a young teen. All I remember was being made to feel irrationally guilty, and I felt I had to symbolically give all my possessions to God for some reason. I never wanted to go back. I'm not surprised that he has built up his own cult.)

    Anyway, keep up the good work here. I'm at the edge of my seat to find out more of this story, even though I know the sad, sad outcome.

    Side note: My husband's last sermon referenced the "commandments of men" verse from Matthew!


  27. Lewis, this has been fascinating to read because I am just now discovering these fundamentalist sects/cults. I found your blog via FJ and it's been very interesting culturally, socially and psychologically.

    But it's also been horrible to read. My heart bleeds for you and for Xxxx, who was indoctrinated into this sick way of life as a child. I know how it ends, more or less, but I keep hoping that the next installment will tell of her being able to stand against the spiritual and emotional abuse she suffered.

    Thanks for telling your story. I think you are an excellent writer and a brave man to boot for laying yourself so bare.

  28. Tho I was never involved in the P/QD movement, the dynanmic of control & manipulation are identical to a couple of churches I used to attend. [One right after the other -- guess that proves I'm a slow learner!] "I feel terrible for you, Lewis" doesn't even begin to sum it up.

  29. JS...One thing I've yet to touch on significantly in the course of the story is what the age difference thing was all about to her father - nothing more than an excuse to nose his way in to places he didn't belong.

    Two years ago, the sister I refer to as "Sally" married a man just shy of 15 years her senior. And the youngest daughter, last I knew, at age 18 had begun a relationship with a man in his early 30s - who just happens to be the brother of the guy my ex eventually married.

    Any "concerns" the patriarse had about my age were BS.

  30. Oh, I know that, Lewis. I have no doubt the "concerns" were baseless excuses.

    People like him have to do that. They can't attack a true flaw, so they make up one. I'm sure there has been many a patriarse who decided that he didn't like the man pursing his daughter (probably because the man, like any reasonable person, did not take kindly to patriarsal interference), but the man is still a good and decent man that any normal parent would be happy was dating their daughter ... so the patriarse says that the man is not rich enough, not young enough, even not "Godly" enough (i.e. not malleable enough to follow the patriarse's wishes as gospel), etc. And, if he finds a man more malleable to marry his daughter, you can bet the supposed excuse will go out the window if it applies to the new suitor, as that was not what he was against in the first place. He was really against someone he couldn't control.


  31. Lewis, I only just found your blog today, and I have read all of the "Joke's on Me" entries. I just want to tell you how very sorry I am that you were hurt so deeply. I can understand what both you and your young lady went through because I married into a "patriarse" family and my now-ex is still, TEN YEARS after I left, trying to do the whole emotional manipulation/spiritual abuse thing to me. He goes around telling people that we are still married in God's eyes and all kinds of mess like that. He still wears his wedding ring. (I sold all of mine.)

    Anyway, just wanted you to know that I'm praying for you and that I appreciate what you are doing to address the EVIL, twisted, manipulative mess that patriarchalism, QF, and uber-fundies are inflicting on their kids and communities.

  32. Are there any more installments coming?

  33. I have a bit of a different take on the age difference thing. I think you being older was MORE threatening to your ex's father from the get go because of WHO it made you.

    There is often a huge difference between a 38 year old man and a 23 year old man. Forgive me for the generalizations I am about to make but they serve to make my point.

    The 38 year old man…has a lot of confidence, knows who he is and what he believes. Knows what is acceptable to him and what is not. Has clear goals about the future. Is established in his career and is solid and secure financially. Is assertive and has clear boundaries. Is not swayed by others opinions or accusations. Has solid relationships with his own family and friends. Stands firmly on what is right. Has a firm grasp on his own self control. He knows where he is going and exactly what he is doing. And he has something more than confidence, he is self assured therefore has no need for masks as he is himself. The word to sum him up is maturity.

    The 23 year old man…is really the opposite. He is still getting settled in his career. Probably has little behind him financially. Is still trying to solidify his relationships with his family and friends. His friendships are fragile and transient. He is still not completely sure of who he is. He is still testing what he believes. Is easily swayed, especially by peer pressure. Gives little thought to his actions and the consequences that follow. His ability to control himself is still shaky. His goals for the future are still being formed. Is not really sure of what he wants or what he believes. He is still working out what is right. Still quite passive instead of assertive, lets others make his choices for him. He is not self assured, instead he is still trying out masks in an attempt to find the one that’s the ‘coolest’. The word to sum him up is immaturity.

    Right from the start I think you frightened your ex’s father to death. Not due to the age difference but due to who you are and part of that was because you were older. A young guy in his early to mid 20’s, her father knew he could probably control but you, he knew he couldn’t. You were so obviously not pliable or controllable the way a guy your ex’s age probably would have been.

    Plus, you were obviously financially secure and he knew you had the financial capacity to pluck daughter out of his grasp if you decided that was the way to go. Her father, on the other hand was broke and would have no capacity to snatch her back.

    You must have been his worst nightmare…in so many ways.

    I know music is your thing but I can’t close without mentioning what an amazing writer I find you to be. I am a writer so people who ‘have it’, jump out at me. You may have noticed how many people have commented on how your story has them ‘glued’ for the next bit. That’s not just because the story is interesting, the way you are writing it also is what has us all mesmerized.

    You are a talented writer. Don’t stop writing.

    And, I know writing this must be difficult at times. Take breaks if you need to but please, please, please finish it!

    Your story is vital from the perspective of people affected by patriarchy from the outside.