Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Joke Was On Me (Emotional Intimacy)

Consider this a sub-chapter or an addendum to the story.

Many of you have noted and commented on the depth of emotion apparent between me and my ex. This is where the true wounding is for me. It can, and will, happen to others. It's happening to some as I type. It's happened to many of you who read this, even if in slightly different ways. It's why I go at these beliefs with the viciousness of an angry badger. It's why I'm unyielding in tone and lacking in pretense.

You could be laying somewhere in a ditch with mortal wounds to your immortal soul, heart bloodied, mind beaten, soul raped of everything good and pure and meaningful - and this belief system will pass you by as if you don't exist. It doesn't care that it put you there in the first place.

It. Doesn't. Care. 

P/QF and its assorted fundamentalist offshoots are religious parasites. Everyone and everything the belief system sees and encounters is a resource to be consumed. Your heart, your mind, and your soul are meaningless and expendable, and in its primal nature, this belief system has no place for your personhood. It doesn't care if it breaks your heart, breaks your mind, and rapes your soul. Those things demonstrate your rebellion, your willfulness, your selfishness. Those things are invalid. Those things are to be "controlled".

The emotional intimacy shared with my ex was very deep and special to me. Emotional intimacy was my greatest desire in a mate. I wasn't marrying for sex. If I'd just wanted sex, there are any number of places within a few minutes drive of here that I could go and get all of that I wanted, and a ring would never have to be involved. I wasn't marrying so I could have kids. Nothing against having kids, it just wasn't my primary motivation. I wasn't marrying to have a live-in maid who would cook, clean, and do all my laundry. It's like I told my ex - we would do those things together. Being together was what I wanted, whether that meant having sex or dusting the furniture. 

I look at my folks, now married 51 years. They love each other deeply. Whatever they do, they do together. Even if they do different things, they'll bring those different things into the same room just to be together. They shop together, eat together, go to their individual doctor's appointments together - literally into the examination rooms. They don't do this because it's their "place". They don't do it out of any kind of duty or out of any kind of compulsion to fit into some biblical proof-text defined role. They do it because they love each other, are emotionally intimate with each other, and want to be together.

This is what I had with my ex (you'll see more of the depth of it in the next few installments). This is why my wound is so large and why my voice is so loud.

I spoke the other day of my ex's parents as emotional morons. They are. In every literal and figurative way you could imagine. They saw this emotional intimacy (which, outside of my faith, was the most valuable thing in my life) as an "emotional thing". That's the term that was bandied about and which returned to me after they'd destroyed everything. This "emotional thing" was more of who I am than anything on the exterior. More than my career, my bank account, my clothes, my looks and physical presence, my hobbies, such as those things were and are. This "emotional thing" resonated from the parts of my being that will pass through the fire when I stand before my Creator. But to them, it was nothing more than trivial refuse.

They devalued it, and by default, devalued my entire being. They simply don't care about anything or anyone that doesn't line up with their belief system. This ENTIRE situation is the evidence of that claim.

What I experienced, emotionally, with my ex is something that most people are fortunate to experience ONCE in their lives. It can't be reduced and shrink-wrapped into a "tear here", ready-pour package to be doled out to any woman that might come along. They seem/seemed to think it can be, as if I could just flip the switch to "off", forget about my ex, move on to another woman, then flip the switch back "on". They're emotional morons who are notably stupid and lacking in good judgment concerning emotion. Their minds have been given over, entirely, to the lie that is their belief system.

Chances are I'll never again experience anything like what I had with my ex. It isn't about the broken heart failing to mend. The heart can heal. It's come a long way in the last three years. It's the soul and the psyche that may never heal. If my heart ever did begin to experience the same depth of feeling for another woman, my soul and my psyche would struggle to trust her enough to extend and express it. I feel no guilt about this, nor do I feel compelled to fight against it. It's a natural reaction, and I intend to let nature run its course, even if it doesn't finish its course in this lifetime.

I've described my experience with my ex and her family this way...

While I'm away, a thief breaks out a small back window of my home, gets inside, ransacks the place, knocking pictures off the wall, turns the furniture upside down, ripping the stuffing out of the cushions, pulling out all of the desk and dresser drawers and spraying the floor with their content, taking an axe to the drywall, ripping out ceiling tiles to get into the attic, and once he's gathered up everything of physical and material value, he loads it up in the back of his truck and starts to drive away as I return home. Seeing me, he sticks his head out the window and says, "Yeah, this is all of your good stuff here. I'm taking it. You're just gonna have to close this chapter of your life and deal with it. Turn the page, dude. Turn the page. There's a HUGE  mess inside. That's your problem to deal with. Turn the page. What?! Did you just call me a thief?! How dare you?! Where is Jesus in you calling me that?! You're unforgiving and bitter!!!...Oh yeah, umm, I'm very, very, very sorry about that window I busted out in back...God bless you! I wish you well in your future endeavors!And he drives away, with all my stuff in his truck, and with a piece of mistletoe taped to his backside.

Another way to view my experience would be this...

Imagine a mining operation coming into town and setting its eyes upon your mountain. You agree to let them set up camp and start drilling, ready to share in the mutually beneficial profits. Once they've drilled, blown up, and mined every possible facet of your mountain, they load up all they've mined and blow out of town in the middle of the night, using the darkness to cloak their escape, leaving you with nothing more than one big, useless hole in the ground - the landscape tarnished, all of the resources gone - and a note left at the entrance of the mine shaft that reads "Sorry...Thanks for everything...You now need to move on with your life." As if personal mountains of value were a dime a dozen.

This belief system takes all of the genuine things of substance - your emotions, your soul, your personhood - and sacrifices them on the altar of duty, ritual, and mechanism. It takes the beautiful intimacy of sexual intimacy and reduces it to little more than a mechanism to procreate. It tells a man that his true value is defined by his understanding and dispensation of authority, as well as by the submissiveness of his wife and the raped souls of his children. It tells a women that her true value is defined by the condition of her hymen prior to marriage, and the fertility of her reproductive system after marriage, along with her dutiful submissiveness to her husband. Not a single one of those things will pass through the fire. Not a single one of those things would make us more valuable to any God worth serving.

I made myself completely vulnerable to another, shared the parts of myself that make up the whole of my being, the parts for which, in my opinion, I'll give an account to God...and my being was fleeced, raped, belittled, and left wounded as if nothing more than human debris. I may not be worth much, but I'm worth more than the clearance item price tag of "expendable" that was placed on me - as are the rest of you being treated as expendable by this paradigm and the people in it. 

This belief system is truly evil. You can apply whatever unflattering terminology you want to my ex and her family, and what this belief system made them, and it'd probably be fitting. From my own resources, I'll never be able to forgive them. Yes, I'll eventually come to reconcile with the loss ( I do in small increments every day), but even in the miraculous event that this crowd comes to me truly repentant, it'll take supernatural resources for me to forgive them. And that is that.

It would devastate you, too.


  1. Yes, to all of this.

    This is exactly what my parents tried to do to me when my now-husband and I had fallen in love. My father decided he didn't like the church my husband went to and told us to cut things off and to cease contact. That, if we had done things right, there would be no problem with that since our emotions wouldn't be involved.

    I don't understand how people can be so emotionally blind.

  2. There are so many levels of wrong in this system. At the heart of it though, I believe, is a fundamental and in some cases willful misunderstanding of the character of God. Scripture presents to us a passionate God and a rational God. God is at once the most emotional and most rational being in the universe. God made humanity to image him in both these ways. But if you reduce God to pure rationality - to a dispassionate being - for whom love and hatred are merely acts of the will (an ancient heresy) you get as well a reduction of humanity to a set of dispassionate duties. This violation of the emotions of image-bearers begins by tearing the divine nature apart.

    The consequences, as you so honestly describe, are disastrous.

  3. Lewis, I'm almost speechless. Is a person's soul really that valuable? Are emotions really that valuable? Do you really mean that I matter?

    Big lightbulb moment here, but I can't quite put it into words. I knew God loved me individually. But...but...all those little things that make me "me" - God values those? Those are priceless? Why would He care so much? Why would anyone else care so much?

    Is that why there is, even yet, so much pain that I revert to numbness, even though my situation was worlds better than others that I know? Even though I now have freedom? Even though I have a really good life now? I've already healed so much, yet this opened things up to a deeper level than ever before.

    I'm a regular poster, but going to post anonymously as this is raw reaction right now.

    Lewis, thank you for posting in real time. Thank you for being so vulnerable. My heart breaks for you. Thank you for using that pain for good!

  4. Thank you for sharing these things. I know you are often criticized not only for what you write but the "attitude" with which you write it, and to me that only serves to demonstrate the shallow approach your critics take to this problem, and that they have successfully assimilated into unfeeling and unsympathetic robots they want all of us to be.

    Thank you so much for being a voice for honesty. I pray you will find as much peace and healing as is possible in this life.

  5. "no place for your personhood--" it's more than that. It's as though personhood is too dangerous to INFLICT on a person.

    I am struck by the overwhelming comparisons between this group and life/rules in Saudi Arabia and North Korea.

  6. Yes. I have a level of emotional intimacy with my husband that I have never had with any other person. I cannot imagine starting over. So sorry for your loss.

  7. Thank you

    for your commitment to the truth, whether your own or that which applies to all of us.

    Thank you

  8. My dad thought my connection with my now-husband was merely emotional as well, and told him so in the one, one-sided conversation they had. (Fortunately he didn't tell me that...but what he DID tell me was "set a time period for you to grieve, like three weeks, then be done with it".)

    But the ties with my husband were so strong that it was physically painful to not be able to talk to him. I can't imagine having to let that go! I'm so sorry, Lewis!!

    P.S. Emotions weren't really allowed in my house anyway, especially anger.

  9. Lewis, I'm so sorry for your loss. I've been reading your backstory and my heart just breaks for what you've been through. I can't imagine losing my husband and being told "Oh it's okay, just get a new one." I've never known anything like what I have with this man; he is it for me. I don't think I'd ever get over it.

    There is healing, yes. But there are scars, and moreso when the damage is as violent as what was done to you.

  10. I can't understand people who think you can be in a committed relationship with someone and not get emotionally involved.

    Anyway Lew, this just popped up today and if you ever get around to it, I'd LOVE to see you respond to this:

  11. If I may quote Avatar and be so presumptuous, "I see you." You've put in words some things I've wanted to say but didn't know where to start.

    What you identified as "It. Doesn't. Care." is despicable and anti-Christ. That rings home for me. The flipping hypocrites who claim to speak for God yet don't care... tick me off.

    I was fortunate enough to have my best friend with me. But our parents had no care for her or myself. They didn't care at all for my most prized friendship or personal mountains. They didn't care about what I risked in order to gain a "pearl of great prize." They cared nothing for what I'd invested myself in. And even worse, they had the audacity to heap more pain on the one I love.

    For the issues where it was or wasn't about me they had the audacity to not care about another human being who also was hurting and instead hurt her worse. The one I love. No care but definitely true malice towards her.

    If it were only towards me I could grow a thick skin and fight through things. *But they messed with my wife.*

    And for that, there are times I hope they burn in hell. In those times, I don't wish them dead. I wish them a long, slow, bitter, and painful life ending with a full understanding of the horrifying evil they have done and are responsible for.

    That's when I have to deal with some anger, let it out, and deal with it. Otherwise that anger will eat up my life and hurt my wife.

    I need to go to the beach now and cool off. Thanks for writing this post.

  12. semperfid, I know this anger. There is a sister who is one of the dearest people in the world to me. And when her husband was emotionally and physically abusing her, and neglecting his care for the home so that she was starving (literally), and she went to the people who had been our Christian mentors when we were new converts-- and they refused to give her food, and told her the problem was all her fault, and was she willing to bear the consequences of her rebellion against her God-given authority (her husband)-- and she fled her husband and they wrote her off and never spoke to her again. . . .

    It would have been easier to forgive them if they'd done it to me. But since it was her-- I finally manged eventually, after much raging in prayer)to leave it in God's hands to deal with them. But I never want to see or speak to them ever again. I don't think I will change my mind on that. Unless I was absolutely sure of their complete remorse and repentence, I would not give my trust to them again this side of heaven.

    That was long before QF/P as we know it today. But the mindset was the same.

    Lewis, I hear you, and I grieve with you. They trampled your pearls in the dust. God is love, and love involves the whole being, a giving of all of the self. How can anyone claim it's just an act of the will? It's a pouring of the whole self into the soul of another. It's not "just an emotion," but it is an emotion, and much more. What it certainly is not is merely a duty.

    EMBG hit the nail on the head. This is a love-destroying movement, and as such, it is anti-God, for God is love. And it seeks to destroy the image of God in humans.

    Like Jesus said-- it is like a whitewashed tomb, that inside is filled with dead men's bones. And those who believe it become that way themselves. It is the spirit of Pharisaism. And it is ultimately from the powers, principalities, and rulers of darkness in the heavenly realms.

  13. Lewis - Thank you for sharing this, well said. My heart hurts for you.

  14. Lewis- I know. I'm so sorry. :'-(

  15. For those in Christian Patriarchy, "emotional intimacy" is a bad word. What matters for a marriage is not "flighty feelings," but rather correct belief, correct living, correct family background. Feelings are secondary and can come later. When I met my husband, my parents felt it was a problem because I was "getting carried away by my emotions" and "blinded by love." Love is dangerous, you see. I blog about this problem here:

  16. Anyone else remember that train analogy... where emotions were the caboose, and if ever we let emotions be the engine we were definitely heading for... hell or trouble or some-such. The mind was supposed to be first, then the will, then the emotions. Of course this analogy doubled for not letting the will be first either.

    Not only is "emotional intimacy" a bad word... emotions themselves almost are. Showing emotions was not allowed in so many of our homes, with the exception of ATI-worthy ones such as cheerfulness.

    Having emotional attachments was wrong if they were not justified and preceded by authority approval. And so... no approval? Then the emotions meant nothing as they were in the wrong and were also out of line, not being properly in line behind approval, mind, and will. And so ignoring, stomping, wounding and killing these out-of-line emotions was entirely justified and, furthermore, the right thing for the authority to do.

  17. "It isn't about the broken heart failing to mend. The heart can heal. It's come a long way in the last three years. It's the soul and the psyche that may never heal. If my heart ever did begin to experience the same depth of feeling for another woman, my soul and my psyche would struggle to trust her enough to extend and express it."

    This. Every time I read one of your posts I identify so much. My experience in this arena was over a decade ago. I was 18 and very naive, but the love was real and the pain was real. I have since moved on emotionally, intellectually, etc. I am in a long term relationship with someone I love and who loves me. But the scars that I received due to my parents' reliance on the teachings of the "movement" still affect me today. The beautiful aspects of young love were made to be ugly, and the fallout is that I am much more cynical than I would otherwise be. Still today, I have a hard time trusting in the love of another, and believing that I am worthy of love. I still feel a deep sense of loss and anger every time I think about what my parents did and the relationship they destroyed. It IS devastating, and I'm not sure you ever get over it entirely.

  18. The more I read about your and others' experiences with this movement, the more I am reminded of C.S. Lewis's comment on the nature of diabolical evil. The purest evil, he suggests, is the impulse to control another person: to make their will into an appendage of your will, to dictate their thoughts, eventually to consume them. This, in his opinion, is a little picture of what Satan wants to do to all of us.

    I think he was on to something there.

    Jenny Islander

  19. Heather...I read the article you linked, and my quick thoughts are as follows...

    The writer's answer to the question seemed like a lot of words that never directly answered the question at all. The questioner asked for "chapter and verse" substance for the concept, and the answer given was essentially more unsubstantiated concept. I feel that the writer doesn't want to acknowledge the religiously cultural foundation of the SAHD concept - and that's what it is, a religious culture, not a "biblical" precept or command - but wants to talk in religious circles around the issue rather than addressing it head-on. It's pretty obvious that the writer has a slant toward fundamentalist legalistic "authority and covering" concepts, and probably suffers from some religious addictions due to her fundamentalist environment.

    That's not to say that everything in her answer was offbase, but rather the answer in general. Too much literalism in her handling of the bible for me. Too much use of the bible as a rule book. Not enough context.

    Once the young woman in question becomes an adult, there are no legal or social parameters that demand she stay at home and "under authority", nor am I aware of any clear demands in any book of the bible that would require her to stay "under the authority" of her parents.

    Just my quick thoughts, for whatever they're worth.

  20. I wonder if she ever reads these.

  21. Anon...Not to my knowledge.

    Even if she did, I doubt it would impact her in any way. At the last contact I or any of my people had with her, her mind was cooked, she was serving as a mouthpiece for her sociopathic father, she was in complete denial about the history of all of this, and her heart was as cold and hardened like stone as the rest of her family and their counterparts. She had regressed, emotionally, by at least a decade.

    1. I so hope that at least one day she realizes what is going on. I am so sorry that this happened to you. So so hurtful.


  22. Lewis,

    Just stumbled across this blog and had to comment. First, THANK YOU for speaking up about this type of unhealthy family dynamic! I wish I could sit down with you and have an entire discussion about it, but seeing as we don't know each other from Adam, probably won't ever happen. :)

    My husband had a very similar situation with an ex from a patriarchal family. However, the difference was, his ex's family was NOT abusive, crazy, or cult-like in the ways that YOUR ex's family was.

    Yet the similarities are eerie. So, may I please remind everyone on this blog, that patriarchy DOES NOT have to be abusive to be DAMAGING. My hubby's ex and her sisters have been damaged in countless small ways by a patriarchal attitude, even devoid of abuse. It has seeped into their relationships with friends, boyfriends, and ultimately husbands.

    Please remind everyone that patriarchy doesn't have to be crazy, to be wrong.

    1. THIS. IS. SO. RIGHT. My dad is the kind of person who HAS to be in charge, he said "my way or the highway" to my mom so many times, and she always chose "his way." Based on my dad's personality, it was natural for him to read and expound upon scripture to us in a way that emphasized patriarchy and traditional gender roles, so that became a big part of our family beliefs, which I passionately bought into as well. My dad was extremely lenient, loving, and affirming of me -- as his only daughter, I was his special sweetheart -- if anything, the "abuse" was more on the side of excessive freedom and permissiveness granted me as a child that prevented me from developing self-discipline. He always praised, encouraged and appreciated me wholeheartedly -- I absorbed the idea from him that I was a wonderful person with a beautiful heart and mind who could achieve anything I set myself to with determination. So, definitely not the stereotypical picture of the iron-fisted and unfeeling patriarch. But when I got married, my father's ideology (which I had deeply absorbed) completely screwed up my marriage. Convinced that my duty as a woman was to be the maidservant of my husband and submit myself to him and his preferences in everything, this spoiled girl struggled hard to do so; when I had my own desires/needs that insisted on asserting themselves and could not be subjugated to my husband's requests despite my best endeavors, instead of calling a conference with him to tell him openly about the situation and decide together how we would deal with it, I just considered my feelings unacceptable and did my best to hide them (and the behavior connected with them) from my husband, which of course simply ended up undermining his trust in me rather than winning his heart. If I had come to the marriage convinced that I and my feelings and needs were every bit as valuable as my husband's, then I would have had the self-respect to be open and straightforward with my husband and work with him to create a situation equally acceptable to both of us rather than repressing myself in an effort to do it all his way. And ironically, due to my lack of success at self-repression, and extensive secret self-indulgence, I ended up failing to satisfy my husband and indeed creating a situation that was extremely hellish for him, so much so that HE left ME. Due to my father's loving and affirming of me, I had a great opinion of myself; I thought I was very smart, sweet and lovable and I trusted my own mind and opinions highly. However, due to the gender roles my father had enthusiastically preached throughout my teenage years, I was convinced that the submissive maidservant / domestic goddess role was what would win the love of my husband and please God. Thus, I immaturely tried my best to act accordingly... and failed dismally... and now have a broken marriage to suffer from. I'm convinced that if I had not been converted to these concepts, my marriage would have been far more successful.

    2. Of course, if my parents had been less indulgent of me when I was a child, then I would have been more self-disciplined and surely I would have found it easier to accomplish the things my husband needed me to do for him daily around the house, which as it was I found so challenging to force myself to keep up with. (I'm free-spirited, creative, spontaneous, fun-loving and relaxed, whereas I believe my husband has obsessive-compulsive disorder -- my housecleaning failures made him almost tear his hair out!) :( So there's another alternative, I guess -- maybe the "husband as head" system could have worked well for us if I had had the discipline required to ACTUALLY serve my husband well!! But still, the meekness and unwillingness to consider my own feelings as equal in value to my husband's or important enough to speak up about to him that this ideology instilled in me are definitely an unhealthy manifestation. If male headship is to be a healthy system at all, then the wives must be trained to have a different attitude to it than I had!!!

      Thanks for bringing up such an important point, Anonymous -- and Lewis: thank you so much for sharing your hell with us and all the realizations you got from it. I'm with you and everyone else in really, really, REALLY hating what you went through. I am so very, very sorry. :'(

  23. What the Anonymous person said up above...somewhat fits me. There is not a lot of evidence of the stereotypical Patriarchy model in my life. I have SO many freedoms, others have not. And really, things have gotten so much better in the past 6 or so years. But in little things, I do feel controlled. Not brainwashed. But a little cowered at times when making my own choices and decisions, simply because that person might not approve. And trust me, that person was never into following a trend or movement, I guess just simply likes authority and for me, the child to not agree with that, is disrespectful or something....

  24. I had a 'young love' as a missionary kid at boarding school from 14-18...everyone treated it like a joke, called it 'puppy love' etc. We weren't (at that time) P/QF but nevertheless, I did not get the support or context or resources to see me through the breakup due basically to my dad 'running him off'. I think he was threatened by it and just didn't know how to talk to me about his concerns. Fast forward 25 years....married for 22 of those, 7 children....there's still an emotionally crippled (dead?) part of me and I feel it has been so unfair to my husband, whom I love, but in a much different (less free) way. I recognize some of the same themes of putting 'rationality' above 'emotionalism', etc. I still have occasional dreams about those days which are never sexual in nature, but when I wake from them, I feel as though I have been banished from true reality into the shadows again. I really don't think there is ever total healing from that this side of heaven.

  25. I just came upon your blog from a trail of links that started in am article about the Duggars. Now I've read parts one through sixteen, and it read like a book. Really well written. Any chance you'll finish the story? It was insightful as I know a whole group of families like this (I met one daughter in college then was introduced into their world) and I can see so many things about their church and homeschool group in a more educated light now. Part of the reason I'm reading about these things at all is because my husband and I have just started having children and I'm pondering about future education for my daughter and any future siblings as well as family size, etc. Knowing more about this from a different angle has been really good for me to look critically at one method that seemed so great from the outside.

    Back to the reason in commenting though, please finish the story! I know the ending but not how it happens, and thus I'm left in suspense. The musician author has left us with an unfinished cadence. Also maybe you could make this into a kindle format and sell it for a pittance or for free on Amazon. This reads like an excellent novella, and would certainly get a lot more reads if it popped up on as a free non-fiction Christian ebook. Just saying. =) I hope 2013 has been better and better still from the times of this story. -MLW