Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bible Thumpers 101

Most of May 2010 passed without major incident, since DH and I did a lot of traveling that month and were not around long enough to be hassled by his self-righteous-woe-begone FOO. To our great surprise, we found out that we were pregnant for a second time, and before leaving on our three week trip we told my parents the exciting news. They were as thrilled the second time around as they were the first and wrapped their happiness around us like a warm blanket. DH and I settled into our lives with a sense of contentment: We had everything we wanted and things were on the up-and-up. We had each other, our DD and a new baby on the way, and a new house to call our own. I look back on the months after our wedding with a great sense of relief and vivacity. We were thriving and continue to thrive. We were happy and our happiness has never disappeared.

No matter what manipulative tactics DH's FOO has pulled.

A few days before leaving on our trip in May, EFIL and L had us over for dinner. We decided not to tell them about our pregnancy at that time, as we were waiting to tell DH's family when we were further into the pregnancy. It would be a cold day in hell before I'd risk letting them into that private world of mine so easily: it was still early enough in the pregnancy that the risk of miscarriage was high and if I had lost the baby, I would not have wanted to be forced to share that pain or sadness with them. DH supported my decision to wait.

The dinner did not include our DD because, as per usual, EFIL and L were merely squeezing us in to their jam-packed agenda and wouldn't entertain early enough to make allowances for an infant's schedule. DD is in bed by seven every night. EFIL and L were hosting dinner at seven thirty. They live forty five minutes away. We enlisted my mom to babysit because I wasn't going to interrupt my daughter's sleeping schedule to behoove DH's Dear-Old-Dad. When I spoke with L about the plans over the phone, she asked if DD would be coming too. I told her that I would love to bring her, but would be unable to as long as they kept such late dinner plans. As per usual, L had a slew of reasons for wanting to have dinner late, so I told her that was fine but DH and I would still be arriving sans daughter.

The only aspect of that occasion I remember is our forgiveness talk, which took place while we were watching the wedding video that EFIL and L shot at our wedding. For once, it was only the four of us in a more intimate setting, rather than the crowd that normally attended EFIL and L's dinner gatherings, and we sat on the couch watching the video. The experience would have been enjoyable, had the parental units decided to shelve their forgiveness rant for another time. To be clear, Dear Reader, neither ever mentioned NMIL, but I am one hundred percent sure she was at the heart of that conversation. Oh, they danced around the point of their lectures like true manipulative experts, never explaining why they felt it was so important to "teach" us about forgiveness. But it was obvious to me who they wanted us to forgive. It was obvious that L thought we were spiteful and behaving with unsportsmanlike conduct in regards to NMIL. It was obvious that they were thumping their invisible bibles in our faces, telling us how unChristian they thought we were. They sat there imposing their "shoulds" on us, most likely hoping we would obey.

I wish that I could remember our discussion, word for word. The fact that I can't is my first indication that there was very serious manipulation going on. I've learned the hard way, through self-inflicted, albeit temporary involvement in manipulative relationships, that when I start forgetting, shit's going down. There is nothing wrong with my memory, after all, and in fact, I seem to have an eye for details. Thus, it is clear to me that my poor recollection of our discussion had nothing to do with a faulty memory, and everything to do with EFIL and L's common forms of communication. I have a very difficult time speaking with L - she rarely allows anyone else to have a say, usually interrupts, and never seems to shut up long enough to actually listen. Her constant changes of subject and word-game manipulations make it very hard to stay on track. I have no idea how the forgiveness crap started, but I have a very good idea where it ended up.

L did most of the talking. She asked us if we have a hard time forgiving people. I believe I said something to the effect of, "No, not if the person I am forgiving deserves it."

She launched into a judgment jive, which may have lacked bible-speak, but smacked of invisible religious references. It was apparent that she didn't agree or understand my feelings that a person should not be "forgiven" unless they've offered a sincere apology in addition to plans to fix their behaviors. I could see her flipping the pages of her mental bible as she told us we should not judge people and we should love everyone. I knew where she was pulling her thoughts on "being nice to other people because you want to be treated the same way, don't you" bullshit. Any time DH and I tried to interject our thoughts or feelings, even when we waited patiently for her rant to be over, she interrupted us. I tried to explain my feelings on judgment - that it is okay to judge people for the sake of protecting yourself from abuse or poor treatment. L then brought up her personal stories of how she doesn't judge people, as a way to indicate that we should do the same. I remember her using the word "doormat" as though she knew what it meant. She said that she wouldn't let people treat her like a doormat, but even if someone did something unkind to her, she would still invite them into her home if a situation called for it. My innards were telling me: This woman is so full of shit it's starting to seep out her mouth.

She and EFIL talked about how L's daughter once dated a guy who killed an ex-girlfriend while driving under the influence. The point of their story was that they had no right to judge their daughter's boyfriend and that they should forgive him for his sin because he was probably miserable for what he had done anyway. I remember saying, "That may very well be true. The guy may be sad for the rest of his life because he killed his ex-girlfriend. But what if he isn't sorry? What if he does it again and it's your daughter he kills next time? What has he done to prove that he has learned and won't drink and drive again? That's not judging someone for the sake of being cruel, that's just practical."

L said, "Well it's not for us to judge him. It's not for anyone to judge him."

I said, "What about the girl's family?"

L said, "They should not judge either. He didn't mean to kill her."

"I disagree," I replied. "That girl is dead. Because of him. Whether he meant to or not, she's still gone. I don't believe her family has to forgive him."

I knew what L meant by forgiveness, and it wasn't the kind of forgiveness I believe in. Next, Team-NMIL brought up EFIL's brothers and explained how, even though EFIL didn't get along with them, they would still be invited to family gatherings every year so that they would be the jerks when they didn't show up. She wanted to show us that she was the "bigger" person. The underlying message in all her talk of forgiveness and judgment was that we should forgive DH's NM. Having never mentioned NMIL, she didn't tell us what, precisely, it was she wanted us to forgive. So DH and I were left with the distinct feeling that this is what EFIL and L were really saying: You should forgive NMIL for anything bad she has ever done. She LOVES you oh so much, and that should be enough for you to forgive her. NMIL is DH's mother, don't you understand? And being his mother should be enough of a reason for you to give up your pointless crusade for respect, acceptance, and honor. Forgiveness means allowing people to treat you badly and never standing up for yourself. Forgiveness means giving up and letting go of your rights so that things can go back to normal...back to the way they were before. Perhaps that is not what EFIL and L were saying, but that is what DH and I heard. And that is not a version of forgiveness that we choose to subscribe to.

15 comments:

  1. So basically, you're only entitled to THEIR opinions?

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  2. Yep, Mulder, that seemed to be the general idea of their rant.

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  3. I can sooo relate to your experience. I recommend you check out the blog site "Narcissists Suck" by Anna Valerious. She's an amazing writer!! Almost 2 yrs ago, after I went No Contact with both of my N parents, I found her site. Reading her words kept me sane. She has several fabulous posts on the topic of forgiveness. Oh, and she has two posts on dealing with your N parents as your children's GPs...some of the best info I've read on that extremely important topic!! Many of her posts have 50+ comments...some have over 100! The comments often described exactly what I was going through with my family.

    Another site "Luke 17:3 Ministries", by Sister Renee Pittelli, is another goldmine of well written and well thought out information.

    Both sites I recommended come from the Christian perspective, but with a twist...none of the head games and twisting of the meaning of forgiveness, no beating you over the head with "honor thy father and mother..." and many other topics...both women have dug deep in their religious beliefs and questioned the heck out of what they had been falsely told by so-called Christian family members and friends. Please check these sites out, if you haven't already. Non-Christians can benefit as much as Christians from reading their information. Most of it is extremely practical...none of it pushes religion on anyone.

    Hope this helps you. Congratulations on your second pregnancy:D My son's 25 and my DH's DDs are a little older. We love being parents and they don't seem to mind having us in their lives either:D

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  4. Hey Jasmine - thank you for the recommendations. I will certainly check out the websites you have mentioned. I think I have seen "Narcissists Suck," but it's been a while. (I think I found it very early on in my search for info about N parents and never ended up going back to it.)

    I think it's interesting that you referred to both of the blog writer's parents as "so called Christians" because that phrase really speaks to the truth I feel about anyone who tries to manipulate others under the guise of religion. My EFIL and his wife have attempted to do this to us many times, perhaps never mentioning "God" or the Bible, but I always know that they are quoting some scripture to themselves when they have "advice" to give us. And here's the thing - we've never asked for their unwarranted "help" so it ends up feeling forced and intrusive. They need to just back off.

    Thanks for the heads up!

    Hugs,

    Jonsi

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  5. PS. I just checked out Luke 17:3 Ministries and found some really fantastic links and articles there. Thanks again for the heads up!

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  6. Mulderfan wrote: So basically, you're only entitled to THEIR opinions?

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  7. Jonsi replied to Mulderfan: Yep, Mulder, that seemed to be the general idea of their rant.

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  8. Uggggh-city. The enablers are always preaching forgiveness.

    What, so she can turn around and keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting forgiveness?

    bullshit.
    upsi

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  9. This entry strikes close to home for me, too.
    Few things tick me off more, than someone attempting to force-feed me their religious beliefs. Especially when they don't practice what they preach.

    I'm chuckling over Mulderfan's first comment--"only entitled to 'their' opinion....

    Good way of summing it up---it's right up there with, "when I want your opinion, I'll give it to you..."

    For another great article that debunks the traditionally held views on forgiveness--I'd like to recommend checking out Melissa Karnak's writings on her "Mindful Construct" blog. She's got another one about invalidation, entitled, "75 Nice Things People Say To Shut Up Your Feelings". Very insightful stuff, there.........

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    1. Thanks Freestyle - I've never head of Melissa's blog before but I would love to check it out. I'm a big believer that "nice" is actually a toxic mindset. There always ends of being an unhealthy price people have to pay for being "nice," or for accepting someone else's "niceness."

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  10. Melissa rocks---not all of her stuff is about dealing with dysfunction, but the stuff that IS.....wow.

    I don't even agree with *all* of her writings, when she gets into some of the deeper philosophical stuff--but I appreciate that she's NOT a member of the "no-negative-emotions-allowed-squad". She's very validating in that aspect.

    My take on "niceness" is that it's not the same as "goodness". I'm finally starting to see that a lot of what appears to "niceness" is manipulation.

    I'll provide a link, if you'd like---but I expect she'd come up in a search engine, using her name, and the blog name.

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  11. You can provide a link if you'd like. :o)

    I prefer "kindness" to "niceness," myself. When I think of people being "nice" I think of sugar-coating and superficial acts. Kindness, on the other hand, has more of a warmth to it; I think it's more genuine.

    "A lot of what appears to "niceness" is manipulation." Exactly!

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  12. Amen---on "kindness"--

    Here's a link to the forgiveness article--

    http://mindfulconstruct.com/2009/09/09/dont-play-the-forgivenss-game/

    After reading it again, just now--Her method won't always work with dealing with N's. Being emotionally honest with an N, can be risky. You may be handing over the road map to all of your tender spots.

    (which I'm fairly certain you don't need to be informed of, after reading some of your blog---but for the benefit of others...)

    What I like is that her emphasis is on the hurt feelings being acknowledged---as well as the understanding that a relationship of equals simply can't happen , until that validation happens.

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    1. Thanks Freestyle, I'll check it out.

      You're right, it can be incredibly risky being emotionally honest with a N. I think the key to it is realizing you're dealing with a Narc in the first place, laying down an INITIAL session of emotional honesty, and then getting out of town when you see that they aren't going to respect it. The length of time you're in a relationship with them is kind of proportional to how much emotional truth you can give them once you realize who they are (in my opinion).

      And, ahh: A relationship of equals. Never happens as long as your in a relationship with a Narc. All the more reason to read articles like the one you've suggested, what a great way to help people decipher when they're being "niced" to death.

      Thanks Freestyle.

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  13. "Niced" to death---well said.

    You're quite welcome--I love to share the nuggets I come across. I believe that the more awareness increases, the more armed we are ---eventually the cycles of abuse, and dysfunction will no longer be epidemic in the world. Maybe in a few more generations,it will be nothing more than a bad memory...

    Well, I can hope, anyways..... :0)

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