Saturday, June 11, 2011

One Year

Time Flies.

A year ago today I started this blog. It's been an interesting, educational, humbling, frustrating, rewarding, sometimes painful, yet healing twelve months. I've forged some wonderful friendships and associations, both online and person to person, and come to respect a particular group of women (survivors of patriarchy) immensely. Words would do that respect no justice. Let me just say that "they're my heroes" isn't hyperbole.

In the spring of last year, right after my ex's wedding ceremony, my real grieving process began. I'd been so busy fighting in my situation that it took her wedding ceremony for me to even be able to begin to grieve. To that point, I'd looked into only the cultic aspects of the situation with my ex's family, mind control, thought reform, et cetera. I hadn't really studied the P/QF aspects of it. Heck, I'd still never even heard of Vision Forum. I came across Cindy Kunsman's blog, Under Much Grace, randomly, and was blown away by the depth of the P/QF problem, opening my eyes to just how big of a monster I'd actually been fighting. It seemed that everything I read there made me say to myself, "Yes!!!!!!!!! I've SEEN that! I SAW that happen!" It was a very vulnerable and emotional time for me, and to finally come across information that was helping me connect so many dots was a big deal in my process. After reading there for a couple of days, I sent Cindy an email outlining all that I'd dealt with and where things were at that point. Cindy responded with an email that I'll appreciate forever, having taken some time to type up a very detailed, and compassionate, response, further helping me attach names and meanings to the psychological aspects of the situation with my ex. Included in her email was an encouragement - "don't waste your pain" - that was a big part of my motivation to begin CoM, and continues to motivate every piece I write. Cindy has become a valued friend.

Soon thereafter, I found a link at Cindy's blog which took me to Hillary McFarland's blog, Quivering Daughters. I began to immerse myself into, and absorb, all of her articles there, and soon I began to join in the discussions in the comment threads. A couple of my comments raised the temperature levels of some, for a couple of reasons. I think a big part of it was the mere fact that I'm a man, coupled with the fact that I'm a man who was injured by the P/QF paradigm while being an outsider. My perspective was a very different one that seemed to rile up the patriarchal types chomping at the bit to attack the purpose and message of Hillary's writing. Hillary and I exchanged a few emails, and she encouraged me to use my male/outsider perspective to start a blog of my own. Once I began CoM, Hillary went the extra mile to let QD's audience know about it, and she's also become a valued friend.

To Cindy and Hillary - Love to you both. You're awesome, incredible, gifted, and brave women. I'm more than honored to have crossed paths with both of you. Thank you both for your prayers, encouragement, and valuable insight.

Once I began writing, so many things that had been brewing in my heart now had a canvas on which to be painted. You may question the value of the art, and that's fair enough, but it would be foolish to question whether it's genuine. It always is. Every piece of mine that I've published here is written in realtime. I don't really  have "drafts" for the blog. I research pieces, yes, but once I've collected all the data, and my thoughts and feelings on an issue have been established, I sit down, start typing, and hit "publish" when I'm done. I want my writing to be raw, emotional, and passionate - because the issues usually are - and I want my message to be conveyed the same way it would be if you were sitting across the room and we were talking face to face, even if I can't deliver the syrupy southern accent you'd hear in person through a keyboard.

I began the blog with no expectations. In many ways, I was writing for me as much as I was for anyone else. I really had no idea if it would resonate with any sizable group of people. I added stat counters to be able to track hostile anonymous comments and was amazed that so many people were reading. Within a couple of weeks from now, over 200,000 pages on the blog will have been visited, and no one is more surprised by that than I am. Those of you who've become regulars here, I'm honored and humbled by your support, encouragement, and contributions. You guys rock.

I can see changes in me in what I'm writing now as compared to a year ago - and frankly, I LOVE it. I'm a continual work in progress, and I welcome the changes that continual self-examination produce. My basic desire to point to Christ (even if you don't like how I do it) hasn't changed, and won't change, but the past year has opened my eyes to so many new areas where people need help, and I always want to be malleable to the Holy Spirit to be able to help those I can help and LIVE my simple faith meaningfully, whether through what I write or through undertakings this blog has brought about. I've received more heartbreaking emails and heard more heartwrenching stories in the last year than I ever anticipated, and to those of you who've opened your hearts and lives to me in sharing your stories - you're never far from my heart and mind.

God-willing, the next twelve months will be as meaningful as the last twelve have been (even if it's only been meaningful for me thus far), and I hope you'll continually be challenged to think and examine. I promise I'll put in the effort - raw, emotionally, passionately, and with no pretense.

Love to you all.


  1. Hillary was such an encouragement to me as well. Her post on daughters being little mothers was the first crack in my shell of a life. Congratulations on 12 months!

  2. I can't believe you've only been at this for a year! It seems like you would have been doing it much longer.

    Both Hillary and Cindy are great people, Hillary has personally gone the extra mile just to encourage me when days were dark. She has a true gift for it.

  3. Happy Anniversary, Lewis! I'm so glad you're using your (horrid) experience to reach out to others. It takes a big, brave heart to do it.

    May God give you strength, joy, and clarity as you forge ahead!

  4. Whew!

    I thought you were making the, "I've been blogging on this for a year now and have accomplished the healing in my heart I need to accomplish and therefore I need to move on to other things" blog post.

    Boy am I relieved.

    I remember when I first stumbled onto this place, I can't even remember how.

    All I knew was how glad I was to see you and how valuable your voice was too this debate and how much value your voice raises the voices of the others who had already been laboring in this field.

    It was because of the very fact that you were male that your voice was needed. (the outsider part is important to but not what I want to focus on here.)

    Guys like you and I.C. (Joe, right?) blow a gaping hole into the side of the "Women/girls are just rebellious and easily deceived and want to fight against the biblical role that God has made for them" B.S. that regularly spews out of P/QF.

    They still don't want to hear it, they still work overtime to try to discredit your voice, but you guys make it so much harder.

    You also make it easier for the women/girls. You validate their own voices and you help them in this healing process to not blame all men for this. Just blaming men and saying all men are this or that is just as damaging as saying all women are rebellious and easily deceived.

    I'm sure what you have been doing has been helping in many other ways that others will mention later that I'm not thinking of right now.

    Guess I need to close with this. I'm SO glad you aren't done writing about this. I'm SO glad you want to continue your work to set the captive daughters and sons free from the oppressive bondage of Patriarchy. I'm SO glad you are gearing up for another year.

    Keep on shining the light of truth on this ugliness of this false doctrine.
    So many more need to see a light in the darkness.

  5. Wow. Has it really been a year?

    Thanks so much for writing, Lewis! I might not word things the same way, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate your perspective. :-) You've helped me sort through some difficult stuff.

  6. Awesome Lewis! You are big asset!

  7. Thanks for staying up late to write this, Lewis. You're writing has meant a whole heck of a lot to me.

    I happened across it by another friend, HisRuthie, posting one of your 2010 posts on Facebook. I read it and finally discovered that there WERE really people that could articulate what was so wrong about P/QF and the CAD (Chauvinistic Authority Doctrine).

    I had read Don Venoit's book, "A Matter of Basic Principles," outlining Billy Boy G's crap, as well as giving a glimpse of what was so wrong with the ideas of P/QF/CAD.

    Your blog then led me to begin to read other blogs you referenced and I started to gain friendships that I never knew existed. In short, your writing has accelerated the long healing process for me. Not to mention, my whole religious paradigm has been altered. I am unrecognizable from what I was six months ago, thanks to you and those you have mentioned.

    My bride thanks you, and one day, my kids will.

    Love you too.

  8. Lewis,
    I am a woman and outsider who has been hurt by patriarchy, which also gives me a different perspective. Eight years ago, I was a 46 year old widow whose husband had recently died of pancreatic cancer. After a lifetime of being Catholic, I had decided to convert to Protestantism and was looking for a new church.

    A friend from high school recommended a home church that seemed quite conventional and friendly. I had never heard of Vision Forum and was totally unfamiliar with its strange ideas which are remarkably similar to the Catholic dogma I grew up with. Littie did I know that all of the members of this home church were Vision Forum disciples. I also did not know that the family who founded the home church has strong business ties to Vision Forum.

    I was still mourning the loss of my husband and I was very shy in social situations. I had no inkling of their repressive doctrines towards women or that to them I was the personification of the evil feminist. I was a chemist for a state agency and I was taking classes to prepare for enrollment in a master's degree program in the physical sciences. I was also used to speaking freely with men because I worked in a male-dominated field.

    I was intensely confused because my mere presence seemed to be creating great consternation among them. The head elder said that I "needed to be patient while the men figured out what to do with me". Another man suggested that I needed to remarry right away, even though it had only been 6 months since my husband had died. And yet another man refused to sit next to me. Even though I left in disgust after only 3 months, the harsh treatment I experienced created emotional scars that are only now beginning to heal.

    Thank you very much for your blog which has helped me sort through my emotional pain and intense confusion. I am very sorry for what you went through and I hope you also continue to recover from your very traumatic experiences.

  9. Lew, this blog has been an invaluable resource to both me and my husband. I had only the briefest of exposure to P/QF before you, and it was through you and a very dear friend of mine (an escapee from this bondage) that I discovered the horrors of this mindset.

    I also realized that, in part, my parents had inadvertently touched upon some of these dangerous curriculums and ideals, although they did so innocently and without understanding, and were never truly of the P/QF mindset. What power and freedom has come through this blog and the baring of your soul, through Hillary's blog, and through the real-life stories of those once in slavery.

    I have been able to share these truths with many friends of mine, most of which had never even heard of this concept, let alone knew what it was when they looked at it dead in the face.

    Please don't stop writing. Don't stop healing. Don't stop restoring.

  10. Lewis, thank YOU. I am humbled and honored by this, and the comments, in ways most will never know. I appreciate your kindness and can only say in return, thank you for your faithfulness. To God be the glory.

  11. Lewis,

    Though my own cult-survival experience is over 20 years old now, I am still finding meaning in interacting with others who have been hurt by religious abuse-- and your blog is deeply moving and one I resonate with. The main thing I want to communicate from the 20-years-later perspective is that healing continues and God is gracious through every step. None of these groups' practices are anything like what Jesus' ministry looked like, and His life is still my inspiration to try to help others see the difference.

    There is joy in the journey, especially when we can help others on their way.

  12. You're the only person I know in the blog world that's not afraid to speak your mind, regardless of the countless oppositions that come your way. Thank you for being real. Thank you for being a brave man. You don't know me, but I consider you a friend.

  13. Lewis, I'll second everything you said about Cindy and Hillary. I'm thankful for their courage and compassion, and for yours too. You're making a difference in a lot of lives. Thank you.

  14. Lewis, you have been and always will be a breath of fresh air in this very lonely and grueling place of healing. Blow by blow I have been picked apart for the things I write about on my blog by those from my past life that linger over me to discredit and at the same time I come here for the kind of encouragement and enlightenment I never received in thirty years of attending IFB churches. Thank you for being brave enough to write from the heart despite the pain. Please press on because you are helping so many of us. Here's to many more years of writing. Congrats.

  15. Congratulations on writing for a full year.You've given us a lot to think about as a few of us our navigating down some very rocky roads.Blessings.

  16. Lewis, a friend of mine posted some of your story on facebook, and I have been checking on your blog almost every day looking for the next article from you. It has been a true blessing to me, since I have come out of the whole patriarchy world, I completely sympathize and agree with you. I know from (sad) experience just how awful this sort of life is. Keep up the awesome work!

  17. how much courage does it take to bare one's soul to the world? especially after part of the world has already tried so very hard to destroy your soul?

    i grant that i'm pretty new around here, and that i look for blogs like these to help other people, not myself - but that doesn't mean you haven't touched ME, too! the day i can't grieve for someone else is several days AFTER i've been cremated.

    if i can help *you*, specifically [as i've offered to help others] please know that i will do all that i can to do so. you are one of the bravest people i've run across. you are as much a hero as the ladies you mention, and deserve the same accolades. [although i doubt you want them at all right now :( ]

  18. Pain. You know, it doesn't really go away. It's been exactly four years since I first defied my parents. Four years. It still hurts. It's been almost four years since I defied them in the ultimate way, by marrying against their wishes. My father refused to walk me down the aisle, my siblings weren't allowed to be in my ceremony, and my family almost didn't come at all. I've watched my eleven siblings figure out how to understand what happened to me, some siding with me, some with my parents, and the younger ones simply confused by the whole situation. I'm the oldest, and the youngest was only two when I married.

    The worst part of it is that it all happened FOR NO REASON. My parents are wonderful people, but this horrible ideology has taken hold of them and ruined our relationship. P/QF has taken my life and mangled it, leaving a sibling here, a memory there, and pieces of my heart bruised and bleeding.

    I have my own life now, yes, but the pain will always be there. I can't just pick up the phone and call my mom, eager to hear her voice or ask her advice, like any normal twenty-something young mom can. How is my poor baby girl to understand what happened as she grows older, why mommy and grandma and grandpa don't get along? I just want to make it all go away, but I can't.

    Why? Why does this have to happen? Four years after my world fell apart overnight, the tears still fall, and the pain is still there.

    Yes Lewis, you were hurt by P/QF. You lost your beloved fiance. But then, you still had your life, your family, your friends. For me and other girls like me, it was my entire life, from birth to adulthood, and everything I had ever known, suddenly fallen to pieces. And it will always be with me, as long as I live.

  19. Thank you for sharing this Lewis. And happy blog-birthday. :)

  20. @Rachel: I understand your experience...I really do and I'm so very sorry.

    @Lewis: Thank you for using your pain to help others; you've helped me more than you know.

  21. One year! Wow!

    I remember the first time I saw your profile picture...I thought you were nineteen! You were so thin...

    I was so glad when you posted your latest profile looked scrappy and ready to take on the world.

    Thank you so much for fighting for these lost girls.

    Thank you too for your guest post on "The Cult Next Door"...It has been one of the most popular!

    You used your pain to build a bridge for others.

    So proud to call you a brother.

  22. You know what? I think sometimes it helps just to have someone standing out there saying "No, this is wrong. As in, really, truly wrong." It helps with the feelings of guilt and the little nagging concern that, experiences be damned, I might be wrong and THEY might be right.

    When a girl leaves all Christian Patriarchy, she has several things to deal with within herself:

    First, she's always trusted her father, and he has always been so sure of himself, so confident, so trustworthy. Could he seriously be that wrong? Maybe he's not wrong, maybe the problem is with her.

    Second, she wonders if she's the only one out there. All the other girls were fine, they stayed, how could all those other people be wrong, and she the only one who realized its all bullshit? Maybe they're not wrong, maybe the problem is with her.

    Because let's face it, Vision Forum and their ilk succeed because they're persuasive. DAMN persuasive. They leave the girl who leaves filled with questions, doubts, and guilt even though deep down she knows she's right - or at least really hopes she is. But if she's really right, why is no on condemning it? Is she the only one who realized something was wrong?

    And THAT is why, Lewis, people like you are so important. You remind girls like me that we didn't just make it all up in our heads, that we aren't out of our minds, and that we can rejoice in being free from tyranny without bothering with the doubts and guilt. Because, damn it, we deserve better than that!

    Maybe I need to start my own blog, I keep writing such lengthy responses here, haha.

  23. Congratulations, Lewis, on a year in the blog world. Keep up the good fight for the freedom of Christ!

  24. Thanks for providing a valuable place to help people process their troubling experiences with patriarchy and courtship.

  25. Lewis, you're awesome. And has it only been one year? Seems like I've known you forever. :) What you're doing here is wonderful and I can't begin to thank you.