Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Leaving the Quiver Behind

For the young adult who emerges from a high demand religious household, there's so much grieving (anger, depression, etc), backtracking and adjusting to do that the reconciliation that parents desire takes longer than they would like. Reconciliation doesn't always happen, either.

 The process takes the survivor of this Patriarchy/Quiverfull mess years to process things after growing up in it, and the parent has to go through their own (very different) grieving as well.  Making sense of the rift takes time and work, and it's often difficult to devote oneself to healing and reuniting with parents while forging ahead with one's own life.  And it basically sucks.  It's well worth doing, but it's painful, and it's work.

This burden adds to the sad realization for those who have left the belief system believed a lie and trusted abusers.  Making things even more complicated are the motives that intended to make everyone's life better but resulted in harm.  In short, the issue boils down to different perspectives, but those differences often turn into a competition of who's right and who's wrong.  This becomes even more complicated if parent or adult child decides to leave while the other stays.

For me, there were elements of this process that I couldn't even embark upon or process until I'd spent much time figuring out who I was and what was true and untrue about the world and where I fit into it.   I had to work through the lies that I was taught and those that I created based on what I experienced.  I had to experience the anger that I buried and was never allowed to express -- then learn how to express it in a healthy way (and am now trying to practice and perfect what I've learn and continue to learn).

I had to come to terms with the regrets that I have -- about not making better choices and the sadness about not having the internal strength or the wellness to make them.  I had to get through the bargaining of wondering what my life would have been and how to stop "shoulding" all over myself.  But that abates with self-acceptance and self-forgiveness.  And I also found that I could not extend those things to others until I'd found a way to first embrace them for myself.  I had to learn to give to myself what my parents didn't have to give me.  When I found forgiveness for myself, it was then that I could extend it to them, even though they didn't know how to receive it.  Then, I had to grieve that loss as well.

Looking Back on 30 Years of Recovery  (from high demand religion/parenting)

I think that my interrupted prelude into this discussion may have been misunderstood by some, but I was speaking to this long term process of healing and commitment to it.  No one should apologize for growing up, but many parents who remain in denial about the harm that their child suffered believe that they should!  The parent may also have left the belief system, but they may not be able to process the far reaching effects that were passed on to their children.  When the now-adult survivors are ready, they need to realize that their parents often see things that way, and that's nearly impossible to wrap your head and your heart around when you're still in that abyss of grief.  That common expectation on the part of a parent is not just or logical,  nor does it mean that I (personally) believe that it is.  It's just a mixed up, messy process that involves a lot of disagreement and pain.  It's merely information that can help a person get a broader perspective.

And you can't rush the process.  No. Matter. How. Bad. You. Want. To. Get. To. The. Endpoint.  That's a message to parents and quiverfull alumni alike.  Some families seem to bounce back better than others, but outward appearances can be deceiving.

I'm on thirty years of dealing with it every day in some way, it is still a sad thing, but it is not disabling like it was for me during those first twenty years. When you're in those early stages of coming to terms with the pain and loss to figure out how to salvage a life from a less than ideal beginning (15 years for me),  you can consider where you want to end up eventually, but that endpoint can feel like a slap in the face at that early point.

I remember when my exit counselor said that my spiritually abusive pastor was actually more trapped than I was in the system, and he was also a victim and a pawn.  The suggestion infuriated me at the time, and I think that I was mad at God for letting Pharisees in general continue to hurt people.  I didn't understand what she really meant and couldn't put it into perspective for a decade.  But what a trigger before I'd developed self-acceptance and a good sense of self-efficacy (satisfaction in and belief in what I can do) and locus of control (focusing on things within my control and drawing my sense of security and peace from within my self as opposed to circumstances)!