Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Joke Was On Me (Part Thirteen)

With all these unhealthy voices in her ear, each with their own bassackward means of measuring right and wrong, there was little "restful" about the small break from her family. I can remember the Friday night vividly. We were playing at a civic center in Texas, and pretty much every second that I wasn't occupied with my work or on stage, I was sitting on a sidewalk bench on the street that ran behind the building going through hell with her. QDs who've escaped from this movement can testify to the emphasis put on "things of the spirit vs. things of the flesh". My ex had obviously been thoroughly versed in this stuff, too, and on this night, she'd keep referring to the things her father was doing as "flesh", spiritualizing it, when I preferred the term "wrong", or, even "evil", or, if you're gonna spiritualize it, call it what it is: sin. I'm not sure who to attribute this to, specifically, because this could've come from either grandpa or Ethel, as both were in her ear, with both being religious addicts and hyper-fundamentalists. I had to give her plenty of slack in the rope of the conversation, too, because not being there, not being able to read her body language, and still not knowing exactly where the origins of this spiritual craziness were, I couldn't be sure where her breaking point was. She was already under a TON of pressure.

We went through much of the same the next day, and it's such a stressful, fuzzy blur that I can't even remember where we were playing. Most of my talking with her that day was done while in my bunkroom on the bus. She did tell me that she had spoken to her parents earlier that day, and they requested a "meeting" with her the next night after their return home. She wanted to know what I thought they'd have to say to her, and I remember telling her, "Nothing good. They're gonna trash me and beat the crap out of you emotionally. They're gonna try to manipulate you. If you go through with this, you need to make this meeting YOURS." I just assumed, incorrectly, that she'd know what I meant. I saw it as an opportunity to set some inarguable boundaries. She didn't understand, though, and on that night, I didn't push her on it.

In hindsight, I can see now what an ENORMOUS step it would be for her, who'd always been told what to do and when to do it (and complied), who'd never been allowed to act upon a truly meaningful independent thought (such was discouraged as "rebellion"), who'd been taught not to honor her parents but to worship (let's just call it what it is) them, to actually tell them how it was gonna be.

The P/QF belief system tells you that if a man and his wife have sex and a baby is produced, this, in and of itself, deserves respect. It doesn't take into account the decency of the man and woman involved, whether love is involved or if it's just the physical mechanisms of their body parts responding to physical lust, whether the man is qualified to be a true father beyond his ability to produce sperm that are good swimmers, whether the woman just went through the motions to satisfy the demands of her husband like a good submissive wife should. It takes more than the exchange of bodily fluids and what it produces to earn respect as a parent. It takes more than DNA to be a qualified "Daddy" or "Mama" worthy of your child's respect. 

From relatively healthy families, such as my own, it's easy to see this. I don't respect my parents because they had sex way back when and here I am. I respect them because they've earned my respect. Their lives have earned my respect. The way they raised me earned my respect. The way they've lived their faith earned my respect. The commitment to dealing fairly and justly with people, the commitment to doing what was right even if costly to them, earned my respect. I've never had to question if the many sacrifices they made for me were done out of obligation to a religious system, were done to promote their own authority over my life, or were done because they loved me and wanted to equip me to live my own life as lead by the Holy Spirit. And even with this immeasurable respect I have for them, if they began to act in the wrong, damaging me or others along the way, I'd call them on the carpet on it in a second - and there'd be nothing "dishonoring" about it. In fact, they'd tell you that they'd HOPE for as much from me. Right is right and wrong is wrong. I appreciate that my upbringing gave me some leeway to learn some of those parameters for myself rather than giving me a predetermined indoctrination into all things right and wrong, and I appreciate the emphasis my parents placed on my behavior once I'd determined right and wrong - to stand for, even fight for if necessary, that which is right regardless of what it might cost me. 

I can't tell you how much the hand-wringing in my ex's world over what was right and what was wrong (and how to act in response to it) kept me constantly confused. I'd never seen anything like it. To be such "black and white" people, when you got to something that really mattered, everything was gray - because the genuine black and white to them, once you stripped away all of the facades and windowdressing, ALL revolved around authority and submission to it.

I couldn't fathom how standing up to her parents behavior and calling it what it was - wrong - could be considered "dishonoring". I may part ways with some of you here, but I don't believe the passages in scripture that tell us to honor our father and mother are to be applied universally. They need to be equally as rightly divided, and rightly applied, as anything else in scripture. I think those scriptures were written on the basis that the parents noted in them were God-honoring parents, who most certainly DO merit whatever honor their children can bestow upon their lives. Those scriptures were never meant to leave offspring bound to worship parents, especially pitiful excuses for parents (which, unfortunately, many children have), or to simply honor DNA - particularly since we aren't under the old covenant where lineage was a big deal. {Of course, I realize that patriocentrics live as if they ARE still under the old covenant}

Respect that isn't earned isn't respect at all. It's phony and hypocritical. It benefits only the person it's given to in the short term (only in a superficial way) and benefits no one at all in the long term. It's bondage.

On Sunday, we were playing at a fairly large church in a small town somewhere in Missouri, and I'd barely slept the night before or eaten that day. I can remember standing out in the parking lot that afternoon after our soundcheck and zeroing in on the upcoming "meeting" her parents had requested with her - but she also hit me with something I didn't expect; the Bandaid (you'll remember him from parts 5 and 6) wanted to know if it was ok for him to call me sometime. He and her sister had just become engaged (yep, less than 3 months after she'd been so in love with the "wrong" man, having "given her heart away", that it required an out-of-state re-indoctrination session prayer vigil of several weeks for her to get over it, here she was, having said "Yes!" to another man...SOOOO emotionally healthy, this crowd [SA]). He was more than welcome to call me, and given the events of the last couple of weeks, I had a pretty good idea what he wanted to talk about. I don't think he was all that keen on the patriarse's over-involvement in things, either.

As far as her meeting with her parents, she asked me how I thought she should handle it. I was honest with her and told her I'd reduce whatever I needed to communicate with them down to about three sentences, tops, walk in, deliver that short and direct message, then, I'd get up and walk out. Set firm boundaries, give them a couple of days to sink in, and once they had, now knowing her to be serious and committed, THEN she might listen to whatever they have to say. She was worried that this would be "disrespectful" and asked, "But shouldn't I hear them out?" I told her, "Bad idea. They WANT to suck you in to a long, drawn-out discussion where they can push all the buttons they've spent your whole life creating. They'll manipulate you. Don't give them the opportunity." She asked, "Do you really think my parents would do something like that? You don't think anything good can come from this meeting?" I answered with a short and sweet, "No." She began to cry and tell me, pleadingly, "They're good people, Lew! They really are!" I didn't know what to say except to tell her how much I loved her and how much I wished she were with me. At that time, to tell her the truth would've been to tell her, "If they were good people, you wouldn't be having this meeting with them tonight. If they were good people, we'd be free to love each other without all this interference." I could've preached her a VERY long-winded sermon on all the things they did that "good people" wouldn't do. She couldn't have handled that. Not that day. So, all I could do was soothe her as much as possible by telling her how much I loved her and how proud I was that she wore my ring on her finger.

After a little while, she began to think about her statement to be given to them later that evening. She had a couple of things she wanted to say, and mixed in a couple of things I felt she should say, and came away with something she was fairly comfortable with. Summed up, it was something like, "We want you to be involved in our relationship and marriage, but the involvement has to be on OUR terms, because our relationship is about the two of us and God's leading, not about either of our families. It isn't your responsibility, nor your right, to dictate our relationship and craft in it the image of your choosing." Her family was expected home around 7-8PM west coast time, and the meeting was to happen at 9PM. I was two hours ahead of her, but I'd told her to call me as soon as it was over to let me know how everything was, which meant I'd be expecting her to call shortly after 11PM central. 

We were finished and loaded back on the bus by shortly after 10PM, ready for a 16 hour run back home. About 10:30ish, the bus pulled into a truckstop or a Waffle House or something or other, and most of the rest of the band peeled off to grab a bite to eat. I stayed in my bunk, being EATEN, myself, by stress, waiting for her call. 11:30 came and went - and my heart sank. 12AM. 1AM. Still no call. Finally, just before 2:30, my phone rang. She'd done everything I'd advised her not to do, had found herself drawn into a 3 hour plus session of manipulation, Lew-bashing, guilt-tripping, finger wagging, finger pointing, rebellion painting festival of religious sociopathy and total emotional dysfunction. If it had been captured on video, her parents could market it as "How to SUCK at being decent people!"

I was already exhausted beyond words, desperately needing sleep, when her call came in. Imagine how much better (SA) I felt when this is the conversation I answer the phone to be a part of...

Her: Well, it's over with.
Me: Are you ok?
Her: I just, umm, I, umm, think we need to listen to them. What if they're right? What if they're right? What if we're out of God's will?

As disheartening as the idiots in her life intentionally made much of our relationship, there's a handful of instances where the hurt, confusion, frustration, anger, and dysfunction got the better of me. I call them the "walk-away" points. The instances and moments in the relationship where, if my love for her hadn't been fixed and firm, relentless and immovable, and if I hadn't passionately owned the commitment I'd made to her, I'd have walked away and not so much as waved goodbye. This was one of those moments.


  1. GAH!!!! This makes me remember the conversation my parents wanted to have with us the week before we were to get married. Bringing back up with them from two different churches, one of them the elder that indoctrinated them in the first place. I can totally understand where you both were at that place.

  2. I am glad you didn't walk away from her though. Maybe someday she will remember how much you loved her. :'(

  3. I remember how agonizing that was for me...hating what my parents did, but still wondering if they were right and if I was in fact "sinning" by leaving. It was horrible. I left when I finally realized I didn't care if they were wrong or right. lol

  4. ARGH. I remember all too well the numerous "meetings" that I had with my parents...most of them unplanned; either I would go to them pleading and come away disheartened and crushed or they would walk into my room unannounced and start accusing and shaming and manipulating. I HATED it.

  5. And I would always come away doubting myself and thinking I was so wrong and sinful for questioning what they said. Awful, awful...

  6. Annie...That's my hope, but the woman I last spoke to over two years ago didn't have enough heart left to care. Cold-hearted, callous, devoid of thought, and mechanical.

    I HATE what these snakes did to her, and only God can fix her, cause the last version of her I spoke to was something more than broken. Unrecognizable.

  7. :hug:

    ...people like that don't deserve to be parents. They use their very parentage (which you pointed out is insignificant in itself) to manipulate and destroy their own precious child.

  8. My sweetheart and I are going through the exact same situation right now.

    Her parents are so completely manipulative and un-Christ-like that their actions literally DROVE ME into disbelief for a time, and then they proceeded to call me a 'manipulative atheist' who tried to steal their daughter. In other words, they're blaming me for the fact that they're so abrasive, obnoxious, controlling, co-dependent, and sociopathic that I wanted didn't want to assocate with "Christians" anymore.

    It's only been recently that I've been able to put my trust back in God (with valuable counsel from Lewis and others like him) -- but now her folks are pulling the exact same BS again by manipulating my sweetheart to drive me away from her!

    How very loving and forgiving of them!

    God, please hear me. Either soften the hearts of her parents or give me the means to remove her from the tyranny she under which she lives.

  9. I think I understand why Jesus called the pharisees a brood of vipers. That kind of manipulation makes rattlesnakes look tame. I feel so bad for the children trapped inside that manipulation, under a burden of guilt that they were never meant to bear. It was for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free! Freedom fromk guilt, shame, and condemnation!

  10. So great to hear from you again, Mr. Green Eyes. Lewis, my heart is ripping out right now. Doh!

  11. Mr. Green Eyes, I prayed your prayer along with you.

    With regards to "honor your father and mother," as far as I can see from a Hebrew lexicon,the word "honor" simply means "to treat as having weight or importance." Nothing in that word implies having to obey them, worship them, or follow their counsel-- merely that their counsel should be listened to seriously. After listening to it seriously, if it's clear their counsel is bad or comes from evil motives, then it would be giving that counsel the proper "weight" to turn away from it and do what's right.

    Patriarchalists like to have words mean what they decide they should mean. As I recall, that's what Humpty Dumpty did in Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. It was nonsensical in Carroll's book, and it's nonsensical now.

  12. I should add that at this point in the story, Lewis, you and your fiancee had already listened seriously to her parents long ago and decided their counsel was bad. Nothing about "honoring" implies that she had to keep on thrashing it out with them over and over and over and over again.

  13. I'm a new reader...all I can say is, I'm so sorry. I'll be praying for you and for that girl. I hope she makes it out. I've literally had a knot in my stomach while reading each entry, and I feel as though I need to shower...

  14. I couldn't fathom how standing up to her parents behavior and calling it what it was - wrong - could be considered "dishonoring".

    You honor your parents by acting honorably, even if it means disagreeing when you know your parents are wrong. If your parents encourage you to drink yourself senseless as a teen, is it honoring them to do so? Or is it more honorable to respectfully decline and prove your moral fiber? Honor is simply doing what you know is right and honest in EVERY circumstance, and I do hope you find a mate who is able and willing to do so. She should be the one person you don't have to worry about - she'll have your back. I'm not going to say, "She's out there, just you wait!" But (imo) life is so much easier with someone on your team.

  15. But (imo) life is so much easier with someone on your team.

    It is.

    Probably the most damage her parents caused in ALL of this, to both of us, and especially to her, was that instead of treating her as a adult, stepping back, and allowing her to love me and be devoted to me (which was her natural inclination) without a blanket of guilt, condemnation and emotional manipulation (through threats of rejection) thrown on her, they preferred to use her heart and mind as an instrument in a match of tug o war - and felt justified in doing so. Sociopathic.

    To be frank, as parents, they were/are crap.