Jump to content

Another Guilt Trip From Family


R. S. Martin
 Share

Recommended Posts

Here's a letter I got from one of my "little" sisters--bring me the vomit bucket...QUICK!

 

Dear [my real name],

 

Greetings of love in our dear Redeemer's Name. I would like ot take this opportunity to make a silent visit your way, to let you know you are not forgotten.

 

We are having beautiful weather this past week. Surely the outdoor work should be nearing completion. The panels which we put up to close the porch for the winter have been up for a while. After the first snowflurries we went at it one nice day. Last year we had waited rather long and then put them up during a storm. Not the most pleasant job.

 

Your last family circle-letter has raised numerous questions in my mind. The way I understand you no longer believe the Bible as we were taught. What brought the change? You mention "The Pagan Christ" as a good book to read. Who wrote this book? What became of him in later years? No doubt there are other writings that you esteem highly. What reputation did these people have? Did they die honourable deaths?

 

Recently R__________ made mention of how N____ M________ (that built our house) were swung by the chapel movement. How thankful we can be that Dad and D_______ F________ remained steadfast in their faith. I fall short of the faith which I desire to have but I want no other. The choice is ours and we will have our reward accordingly. I trust you believe in the heereafter--I have ofter marvelled how wonderously God kept His will revealed to those who sought Him. I shudder to think of going out to search for something better to believe. What could it be? Who could I trust further than our forefathers who were willing to die for their faith.

 

Recently a minister said "The scriptures have all the asnwer." I believe it. I might not be able to find them, poor ignorant me. But I believe all we need to know is in the Bible.

 

You wonder why I wonder about the end of the authors? I read recently how twenty-five successful business men had met for a conference. They were poor men when they died...penniless, in jail, suicide, etc.

 

This morning I stayed with Mother while the rest were in church. She does a lot of resting. She read a bit between 11 and 11:30....[chitchat]

 

May we all meet in heaven where troubles come no more.

 

With love,

E__________

 

A few explanations. Reference to forefathers means the Anabaptists, whose descendents we are. They were persecuted, burned at the stake, drowned, etc. by the state churches. For some reason, Christians fail to see that people willingly die for other reasons than religion.

 

That first paragraph making out to be loving me so much she does not want me to feel "forgotten" is so much crap. She and another of our sisters own a house and live together. The only time I ever hear from them is when they feel convicted to tell me how bad I am.

 

Then she inserts some chit-chat about their life to make it look like a casual friendly letter.

 

"were swung by the chapel movement" means this man and his wife left the Old Order Mennonites in favour of a more worldly church, theologically and materially. It was a once saved always saved church and they could have a car, radio, dress like the world, etc.

 

"I shudder to think of going out to search for something better to believe." This is direct reference to my going off to school. Apparently she believes I "went in search for something better to believe."

 

That whole paragraph is intended to evoke guilt in me what with all the examples of faithful vs unfaithful people.

 

The next paragraph about what the minister said about the scriptures containing everything we need to know...you know the intention of that. Because I am in school it probably has an added meaning as opposed to if I were working.

 

The story about those 25 business men.......I'm sure most of you have heard similar legends. Since being on this forum I've become aware that some Christians have no scrupples about lying. I am sure my sister does not know that because lying is such a serious crime in her church to merit church discipline. What is so very obvious to me is that she is just swallowing everything she is being spoon-fed. UGH!

 

This particular little sister tends to forget how much younger she is than me. She has over the years made sure I know just how stupid I am. Talk about arrogance, self-righteousness, the whole bit!

 

That last line nearly makes me gag--meet her in heaven!?!? as if I wanted to!

 

I'm playing some of Dan Barker's music for inspiration as I write up this horrible letter. UGH! I had no idea until I was writing this out how much extremely negative feelings I have for this kind of treatment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a condescending peice of trash this letter is. It's so airy fairy and pukingly pious...no wonder you're pissed! It's not even addressed to me and I'm pissed for you!

 

It's also pathetically sad this is all she has to talk about with you. She sounds really insecure. What a bizarre question, asking about the author's death. WTF?

 

Will be interested to see what your response is. I think I would have to end up rewritting a letter back 20 times before I got all the bile out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kurari, THANK YOU! Twenty re-writes...I'm on my way there. She should have to pay me by the hour for the time I have already spent trying to deal with it. I'd make it at least sixty bucks an hour if I could set the fee. I could probably pay next month's rent with it.

 

I have no idea how I will respond.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kurari, THANK YOU! Twenty re-writes...I'm on my way there. She should have to pay me by the hour for the time I have already spent trying to deal with it. I'd make it at least sixty bucks an hour if I could set the fee. I could probably pay next month's rent with it.

 

I have no idea how I will respond.

 

 

I'd say if you really wanted to piss her off, ignore all the pious blather and just respond to the family chit chat as normal. Ignore the question about how the author died...seriously, WTF is that?

 

Dear Sis, glad to hear you are doing well, I went out to dinner with the hubby the other night and had a great time (insert any other relevent chit chat here). Talk to you later, love, RubySera.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kurari, THANK YOU! Twenty re-writes...I'm on my way there. She should have to pay me by the hour for the time I have already spent trying to deal with it. I'd make it at least sixty bucks an hour if I could set the fee. I could probably pay next month's rent with it.

 

I have no idea how I will respond.

 

 

I'd say if you really wanted to piss her off, ignore all the pious blather and just respond to the family chit chat as normal. Ignore the question about how the author died...seriously, WTF is that?

 

I guess she believes a person's death indicates how much peace they had with god. See the story she tells about those business men who died pitiful deaths. I seem to remember that kind of teaching. Funny thing is, he's still alive so far as I know. Name is Tom Harpur. He says in his book that he has more peace now that he has figured out that Jesus is a myth. He's still a Christian.

 

Dear Sis, glad to hear you are doing well, I went out to dinner with the hubby the other night and had a great time (insert any other relevent chit chat here). Talk to you later, love, RubySera.

 

You feel like a sister--a good one. I'll give it some thought.

 

Here is what I wrote up before I posted:

 

Sis,

 

I got your letter. There wasn't much in my beliefs to change. When I say "I believe," I mean that it makes sense in my mind. The plan of salvation never made sense to me from the first time I heard our mother tell us that Jesus died so we could go to heaven. I searched long and hard and lived as though I believed because there really wasn't much choice if I wanted anyone to like me. I just got to the point where I'm no longer willing to lie. That's all that really changed.

 

Ruby

 

PS Don't try to make me change my mind because you can't.

 

************

Dan Barker is singing: You just can't win [with original sin]. How fitting! There is no way to win with this kind of family. Their life revolves around the idea of original sin. That is why I am telling her in such definite terms not to try and change my mind. I have seriously considered sending her one of Dan Barker's songs but it would not make the least bit of difference. She sent me a whole batch of poems--pious, saintly submission stuff. I didn't read them. The message was obvious. Anything I can say about having being at peace she will only discount it as self-deception. I am impressed so often with how many rules the xistians need to keep them moral. If nobody gives more thought to life than she apparently has (note, she just goes by what the preachers say) it logically follows that perhaps the rules have some merit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe I'll wait for her to ask if I ever got the letter. When and if that happens I can say, "Yes I got it and I read it. There wasn't much in it to respond to. I'm an unbeliever and if you don't like that then I guess you've got a problem."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey, Ruby Sera. All I can say is, this letter is an extreme piece of crap. I feel for you in having to deal with family members who pull this shit.

 

BTW why are you in seminary?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One great way to answer a letter with a lot of questions is just to list the answers, without refering to the questions. Something like this:

 

Dear ______:

It was so nice to get your letter. In response to your questions: Harpur. Retired. Great. Yes......

Since I'm sure she doesn't remember exactly what she wrote, she'll have no idea what you're talking about!

 

And, on:

Did they die honourable deaths?

Say what?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey, Ruby Sera. All I can say is, this letter is an extreme piece of crap. I feel for you in having to deal with family members who pull this shit.

 

BTW why are you in seminary?

 

Thank you! These kinds of responses help me put things into perspective. This "extreme crap" is the way our family functions. She's just more outspoken than most of the others. I've been treated this way all my life and when I complain for not liking it I am condemned. Hearing others call it extreme crap and the like is just really good for me. I'm sure she felt driven by responsibility. You know, the Bible holds family and church members responsible for not warning deviants that they are on the road to hell. Not all families take these directives so seriously but our family does.

 

Why am I in seminary. Very good question. It was about the bottom of my list of choices but I was in a position where I was practically out of choices. I felt a need for an MA in something and I qualified for this so I took it. I am not sorry because it helps me explore and understand WHY christians believe and act as they do.

 

I was very marginal Christian most of my time there but I did more or less identify as a christian and just deconverted days before the fall semester started this year. I am almost through my degree so I plan to finish it. Besides, I have a very good prof for my thesis director and I want to get to the bottom of this fundamentalist thing.

 

He is supervising me to study it. Guess my topic--I am reading three major fundamentalist figures, including Jerry Falwell, to see how fundy relationship to the Bible changed or stayed the same over more than a century.

 

Human motivation is the bottom line question in my life. I don't have the brains for psychology and I am finding that theology provides one way of getting at the heart of human motivation in religious people. My approach is probably more correctly religious studies.

 

I am studying it from an outsider perspective, of one who is intimately familiar with being an insider. Possibly not too many of this type studying theology but I know there are nonChristians in biblical studies. I don't know about theology. I have not come across any so far so I guess people who study theology must identify as christian.

 

Paul Tillich is a favourite of mine because he integrates humanism with Christian theology. (I liked him when I came across him a year ago when I was still experimenting with various Christian ideas. I encountered a fundy biblical scholar--a very arrogant precocious young woman, who insisted that Tillich was not a christian. I guess she's the type of xian who disowns certain categories of christians. I think if a person calls himself christian he is christian. And Tillich certainly thought of himself as christian.

 

I confess that I'm stuck with a prof for the NT course who is such a rabid christian that there are considerable rubs. Not pleasant. But I am determined not to let a mere prof stand between me and my degree. Just a few more months to go. The intellectual discipline is something I can take with me no matter where I go next. And I keep telling myself that unpleasant rubs prepare me for the work world. Not much chances of getting work where there are no Christians in this part of the country. This are was settled by Mennonites, Lutherans, and other conservative Christians. These days there are many fundamentalist religious people from a large variety of world religions in this town as international students. Conservative religion is part and parcel of the population so it might stand me in good stead to be competent in theological debates when and if they come up.

 

There are also Pagans and Wicca and probably just about every religion under the sun in this town. Population is about 300 thousand so we're talking about a fair batch of people, though not a major urban centre like NY or LA or Toronto. That's probably more than you wanted to know. Oh well...I do enjoy studying culture and religion. Maybe having a family who is so wacco helps drive my interests, who knows how it all comes together.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What worried me most about this letter is how pathetically submissive she is! All this, I'm not good enough to understand the bible stuff?? She reminds me of the sort of women who keep telling themselves how much their husband really loves them and how it was really their fault that he broke their jaw.

Don't get yourself down, Know thine enemy. Study religion and learn what you can. Don't let an upbringing that produced a dud like you sister destroy your self-worth. You passed!!! You got through the brainwashing session with your mind intact and they can't stand that. Be proud of the strong, independent person you have become and don't let the bastards bring you down!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What worried me most about this letter is how pathetically submissive she is! All this, I'm not good enough to understand the bible stuff?? She reminds me of the sort of women who keep telling themselves how much their husband really loves them and how it was really their fault that he broke their jaw.

Don't get yourself down, Know thine enemy. Study religion and learn what you can. Don't let an upbringing that produced a dud like you sister destroy your self-worth. You passed!!! You got through the brainwashing session with your mind intact and they can't stand that. Be proud of the strong, independent person you have become and don't let the bastards bring you down!

 

Yeah, and that is why I feel some responsibility on how I respond. She takes this stuff life and death serious. It might send her over the edge depending you I respond, though I really don't know. What comes across to me as utterly pathetic is her absolute lack of independent thinking. The minister said something so she believes it. No investigation. No comparing it with reality as she experiences it. No seeking to understand how it relates to reality. Just blind acceptance. I fail to understand how people can live like that. My mind has never been able to accept anything on authority.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My mind has never been able to accept anything on authority.

 

Mine either.

 

I'd like to echo what everyone has said about your sister's letter being self-righteous, condescending, and arrogant. When I read it, I too felt angry as if I had received the letter. You're living your own life light years ahead of her and the rest of your family and she has the gall to send you a nasty little passive aggressive note like this?

 

I've always had a rational brain and never believed all the authoritarian, hierarchical god stuff. There was the brief time in college which I talked about in my ex-testimony, but that was much more intellectual than spiritual and had nothing to do with emotion... I'm a pretty emotionless guy all in all, though I anger easily when I feel I'm being degraded, marginalized, or attacked by self proclaimed christians.

 

I see your sister's letter as a not-so-clever manipulation to guilt and shame you and a slightly more subtle attempt to put down all the great things and breakthroughs you've made in your life away from the narrow-scoped community and culture in which you grew up. I honestly have no idea how I would respond. But I'll say again you are absolutely right in wanting to vomit after reading the letter and there is no reason you have to take this "extreme crap" anymore, especially when it's delivered to your mailbox by someone who isn't even really in your life.

 

I personally find the whole letter insulting and petty and a rude little invasion on your life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I talked with my sister just now. We talked for well over an hour. She finally hung up on me. She says I talk all in a jumble. She wanted to hang up for a long time. She wanted to agree to disagree. She refuses to see herself and me as being equal. In desperation I finally told her that I shared her letter with others and that it was seen as trash. She asked, "Was that the exChristians who said that?"

 

I knew what was coming next but I won't lie. I was unable to see my way around a straight answer so I said, "I don't know if any of them are Christians but I don't think so." She replied, "Well yes I would expect them to call it that." Before I could respond she wished me a good day and hung up.

 

She apologized for all the letters she wrote to me over the years in which she told me I was stupid. But she refused to direct attention to the immediate present. She told me she is concerned about me. I told her THAT is disrespectful. There was a silence and suddenly she used an impersonal cheerful voice and wished me a good day and hung up. I'm sure that cheerfull voice and good wishes counts in her book as love.

 

Earlier she admonished me that it was not okay for me to mention things in the family circle letter that I knew nobody else believed. I took advantage of that to point out that Christians are always doing this to others. She refused to see it and tried to dodge the question. I tried to get her to focus on the immediate moment, on our relationship as sisters, right now in this telephone conversation. She would not do it beyond telling me she is concerned about me.

 

The word "concerned" is a loaded word. In some circles people say, "I'll be praying for you." I pointed this out to her. She refused to look at it. She just wanted out of the situation. I feel a person who treats me like that is telling me I am not part of the family. I tried getting her to address that very issue. I tried repeatedly to focus on that particular issue. She refused.

 

She would say things like, "Oh we love you. We want you in the circle letter." But in the moment all she wanted was out of the situation. She did not want to talk to me. She just wanted everything to be good by apologizing.

 

I'm sure this is all one confused jumble, too. There was only one call.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey RubySera, I feel that I've been eavesdropping on some pretty personal stuff here. None of this is really any of my business. I just wanted to ask you some things which I really will not expect an answer to.

 

Do you want to be reconciled with your family? And if so, what will that entail?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

The word "concerned" is a loaded word. In some circles people say, "I'll be praying for you." I pointed this out to her. She refused to look at it. She just wanted out of the situation. I feel a person who treats me like that is telling me I am not part of the family. I tried getting her to address that very issue. I tried repeatedly to focus on that particular issue. She refused.

 

This is something that I have long taken issue with. ''I'll pray for you" when they know you don't believe, or are questioning your belief is so condensending, and yet they get insulted when you clue them into that fact. "We'll I'm sorry, but that is how I feel" is another one I hear. :Hmm:

 

Trying to come across as the benevolent just makes it worse. I honestly don't know if they're doing it intentionally, but their refusal to see it from my/our perspective leads me right away to assume they need to get that jab in all the while feeling eminent. I usually end up pondering that, and then rationalizing that it must be me that is over-reacting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear it, Ruby. I'm not sure that mentioning you showed the letter to us was very wise, but I think you showed some good clarity about the situation overall. It sounds like your sister really does care about you, she's just incapable to seeing outside of her own sphere on things. I think she's got some elitism going on and can't admit she screwed up at the moment, but by the sounds of it she does want you around. My brother's an athiest like I am, but he's made it clear he doesn't consider me worth even putting in the family circle letter. He deliberately takes my name off.

 

Legion Regalis brought up a good point. Is this something you want to keep exposing yourself to?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been reading this thread but didn't feel up to responding. I met with my prof about academic stuff and had him read the letter, too. He knew stuff I didn't. He knew that this thing about dying peacefully or not goes back to the Middle Ages. Dying peacefully apparently means the person goes to heaven. Having a difficult death means the opposite--that a person was afraid to die because they knew they were going to hell.

 

My prof is Lutheran so he knows all the Lutheran legends. He said when Martin Luther was dying there were a whole batch of witnesses present to prove that he died peacefully. They even made a death mask to provide tangible proof. I never knew what death masks were but he told me it's a bowl of some sort (made for that purpose) with soft clay inside. When the person is dead, this is pressed on the face to get a permanent impression of the face immediately after death to prove what the person's facial expression was at death. I understand there was a big controversy over whether Luther died peacefully or not. It's just plain gross if you ask me.

 

And yes, D Laurier, I know Harpur is still alive. I told her that. I also told her that he says in his book that he has more peace since he learned these things about Jesus. Like an animal looking for a weak spot in the fence she nosed around that for a bit but I could not give her information about him that I don't have.

 

Another topic she kept returning to over and over and over, in spite of my unchanging answer that I don't know, was how the world came into existence if I don't believe in God. I asked why it is so important to know how the world came into existence. She never really answered that one. Well, yes, she things she did. Creation proves that God exists. I told her that is circular thinking. God made the world and the world proves that God exists. Rather than responding to that, she said it would be best if we ended the conversation.

 

At one point she argued that since we don't know how the world came into existence, the most logical and easiest explanation is that God created it. I told her that scientists know how it happened. I am too illiterate in the hard sciences to give a convincing and nuanced answer. I understand that science is still working on the finer details, but these details are on a level far more tiny than she or I can even imagine. I feel evolution is so well proven that it can be taken as fact for all practical purposes. That is why I told her that humans know how it all started.

 

Now for the more difficult questions: Do I want to be reconciled with my family and if so, what would that entail?

 

I've never thought of it in those terms. I have often wished they would have excommunicated me so would I know for sure where I'm at. They are too "loving" to do that sort of thing. It's such a totally distorted version of love. It seems in my family there is nothing straightforward about feelings. There are certain "correct ways" to think and feel for any given situation. If you don't measure up to the correct feelings then you're deficient of faith, morality, or what have you.

 

About the things I said in the family circle letter that she didn't like. Apparently it wasn't just her who took offense. I was shocked to hear that people took such serious offense. I tried finding out what was so wrong about it. I would not have been surprised if there were an ultimatum where I get told either I don't talk about this kind of stuff or I leave the circle letter. But no! things aren't so simple with them. The "LOVE" me SO MUCH! They definitely want me in the circle letter!

 

I was not the person who raised the discussion on religion. Several people were discussing religious topics. My baby brother practically wrote a sermon. Short, concise, leaving no room for doubt as to what is right and what is wrong and where people go who don't measure up. He's moving from the OOM pietist tradition into hard-core fundyism. It really shook me up, as it did one or two others in the family.

 

My little sister informed me that because I am in the minority I have no right to talk about my beliefs that differ from theirs. She made a huge point of the fact that I stated things as though they definitely were true, as opposed to suggestions. You want to know why I did that? We're allowed to write only one sheet. And there is only so much a person can put on one sheet. I used far more than my normal economy with words. On one side of my sheet I copied a story I found on the internet about a hymn they know and love. I figured they'd love that. That used up more than one side of my sheet. The stuff they took offense at was perhaps one or two sentences. No more than one paragraph.

 

Not a word do I hear about the pious stuff I shared. But oh so terrible am I to share my beliefs. I think the reasons she gave for offense were so utterly lame. For some reason people must have felt their own beliefs threatened by the things I said. I explained to her that I just wanted a discussion.

 

She told me, "That has been put to an end now." I wanted to know what she means--whether my sheet has been taken out. She said, "You will see when you get the letter again." But no, my sheet was not taken out. Talk about two-faced behaviour! If what I wrote is so offensive and dangerous, exactly why was it not eliminated on the spot? Or returned to me with an explanation? Why was it allowed to pass on and contaminate all the others? I did not ask these questions. They did not occur to me until later. I was so taken aback that anyone took offense on that level just because I posited a few unusual ideas.

 

They're all adults. If they are anywhere near as convinced about their beliefs as I am about mine, there is nothing--come hell or high water--that can shake them. My prof observed that she apparently is not the type of person who thinks a lot. I told him she fits into the community very well and he believed that. He was probably amazed that I had such ignorant dolts for siblings.

 

In my telephone conversation, I told my sister that I had talked with Dad about my letter and he seemed to think it was okay. She responded to that in a tone that indicated that Dad's word is no longer law. She didn't say it but I got the feeling she sees him as just an old geezer whose word does not count all that much anymore. But she was very firm and authoritative in a way that tells me some measure has been taken to stop me from writing that kind of thing in the future.

 

I think what they want is an empty shell. My name. Some newsy stuff about where I get my food now that I no longer have a garden. They want it as a token that I am still part of the family. So far, I normally took some insignificant detail of my life and wrote it out in story form to fill up my page, mainly just so they could get a picture of my life, since it is very different from theirs. Most of them have not even seen where I live, which is just fine with me. I don't want them in here contaminating my comfy cubby hole where I find safety from a cruel cold world.

 

Do I want to be reconciled with them? Of course I do! But it would entail that they start treating me as a human being for a change. They have never, as a family, treated me like a human being with a right to my own life and way of being. This goes all the way back to childhood. But like I say, there is no definite response from them--there's all these professions of love and actions of hate. If it's not hate, then why does it hurt so much?

 

Kurari, you said it seems like she really does care about me. I can see and understand their side of the story so well. It is equally easy for me to tell it with sympathy for their side as for my side. That is what makes it so complicated and so difficult. The only thing I know for sure is that their "love" hurts something terrible. About two years ago I told my parents I don't want to talk with them anymore. Well, there's ways to make me feel guilty for that, too. My siblings apparently consoled mom and dad that what I was doing was not Christlike.

 

Evantually, I re-established contact. I feel I am taking a silent stand more than telling them. That seems to go over somewhat better because their attention is not overtly drawn to it. Even so, this little sister of mine praised me for having made a brief call to mom and dad this fall. For heaven's sake! That is ELITISM in caps. If my value is measured on that level then I want nothing to do with them. Yet I don't know how to make that happen.

 

I do want to know who is dead and alive. I would so love to see my neices and nephews and watch them grow up. I'd love to feel close to my sisters, to belong and enjoy being with them, to eat munchies and be part of the family sing-alongs. But they don't want ME--just an empty shell of who I am. And that is emotional suicide. If my neices and nephews are being raised as I was raised, they are being taught that I am bad and not to take an example from me.

 

So there you've got the whole convoluted complicated MESS!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh my...

 

I wish I knew what to say, but it seems that they just want to hear something along the lines like your sister said to you:

 

"We are having beautiful weather this past week. Surely the outdoor work should be nearing completion. The panels which we put up to close the porch for the winter have been up for a while. After the first snowflurries we went at it one nice day. Last year we had waited rather long and then put them up during a storm. Not the most pleasant job."

 

This is nothing but superficial niceties of her life. This is completely emotionless. She treats you like she would a complete stranger. I find that terribly sad. If this was my sister, I would say something like, Hey sis, what's up? The weather has been great and we're almost done with the work that we had to get done outside. You remember that last year we waited too late to put the panels up outside and froze our butts off during a snowstorm putting them up...not this year. We learned our lesson.

 

And her choice of words is right out of some Amish (or something) movie of the proper words to use. Yuck! How impersonal!

 

What is a circle letter?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

And her choice of words is right out of some Amish (or something) movie of the proper words to use. Yuck! How impersonal!

 

Wow! You're sharp. In case you don't know, this is people similar to the Amish living real life. They are horse and buggy Mennonites.

 

What is a circle letter?

 

Everyone in the circle (in this case our family) writes a letter, sends it on to the next person on the list. When it has completed the circle, it returns to the first person, who takes out his or her old letter and adds a new one. It's a way to stay in contact. I think perhaps present-day methods of keeping in touch is via blogs. But these people don't have computers.

 

I think I've come up with a plan of action. Maybe I'll write about it another day. I'm tired tonight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RubySera,

Next time your sister asks how the world came to exist, , , , , , , , ,

Tell her it was gravity and centrifical force, that caused the world to form from the debris left over from the formation of the sun.

And point out that the other planets also formed from the same debris.

 

And now you DO know how the world came into existance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RubySera,

Next time your sister asks how the world came to exist, , , , , , , , ,

Tell her it was gravity and centrifical force, that caused the world to form from the debris left over from the formation of the sun.

And point out that the other planets also formed from the same debris.

 

And now you DO know how the world came into existance.

 

Thank you! That is simple enough that perhaps I can remember it.

 

I've got some good news. First get the horrid stuff out of the way and clear the air. I have finally figured out what was going on. I have no verification from them but it's the only thing that makes sense.

 

By accident I mentioned my deconversion to one of my sisters. Seems that bit of gossip spread swiftly through the family. One day I got a strange kind of phone call from one of my other sisters. There are eight of us sisters. People started discussing religion in the circle letter. I joined the discussion. Now I am getting heck for talking about my beliefs.

 

You know what? I am pretty sure that phone call was a means to find out my spiritual condition and beliefs. She never asked so I didn't talk about it but I did make opening to discuss it and she just brushed it aside. I also think the discussions about religion in the circle letter were a direct attempt to reconvert me. When I shared my beliefs instead of groveling in guilt they took offense.

 

I think the offense was that in their mind I was trying to convert them to my beliefs. Ironically, with my clear conscience, that idea never occurred to me. I just figured we stumbled on a topic that interests all of us. There are very few topics like that. I have been seriously confused by their push-pull love-hate interactions with me and finally it dawned on me that they were using passive aggressive means to control me. But it did not work as they had counted on it working because my conscience is clear and I am at peace with myself.

 

This morning I mailed a letter to this sister I have been talking with this week. I am requesting two things of her:

 

1. Inform the right people that I do not want to see the circle letter ever again. I am telling her that if she wants to see the circle letter again she will make sure the message gets through.

2. Make sure my last letter (the one they all took offense at) is returned to me. I tell her if she has any integrity she will do this.

 

This strategy gets at various things.

 

1. She cannot keep it a secret what she did to me.

2. It's a pretty clear message to the family as a whole that Ruby is not going to be pushed around any longer.

3. Ruby is no longer a member of the family.

 

I am also asking for verification that things happened the way I am putting them together. I don't count on getting those questions answered. It does prove to them that I was innocent and not trying to convert anyone. Whether they accept it or not is not something I can guarentee. I am not expecting anything from any of them. I will be unable to trust any gesture of friendship from any of them, with the exception of the one I lived with for fifteen years. I am not altogether sure where she stands on all this by now. But I will be wary. So it feels like a resolution and closure. Time to move on.

 

Now for the GOOD NEWS! I have to leave shortly so this will be very short. I met a woman in the grocery store after I mailed that letter. I did not recognize her but she recognized me. We have known each other since we were children. She and her husband left the OOM around the time I did. We hugged like long-lost sisters. That warm-hearted hug filled up a huge hole in my heart. Now I have to go.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

And her choice of words is right out of some Amish (or something) movie of the proper words to use. Yuck! How impersonal!

 

Wow! You're sharp. In case you don't know, this is people similar to the Amish living real life. They are horse and buggy Mennonites.

Wow...I had no idea. Really? She could still be a little more personal I would think. She is your sister after all. :HappyCry:

 

What is a circle letter?

 

Everyone in the circle (in this case our family) writes a letter, sends it on to the next person on the list. When it has completed the circle, it returns to the first person, who takes out his or her old letter and adds a new one. It's a way to stay in contact. I think perhaps present-day methods of keeping in touch is via blogs. But these people don't have computers.

 

I think I've come up with a plan of action. Maybe I'll write about it another day. I'm tired tonight.

That is a pretty neat way to stay in contact. It's probably kinda fun too.

 

I hope all goes well Ruby.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

And her choice of words is right out of some Amish (or something) movie of the proper words to use. Yuck! How impersonal!

 

Wow! You're sharp. In case you don't know, this is people similar to the Amish living real life. They are horse and buggy Mennonites.

Wow...I had no idea. Really? :HappyCry:

 

 

Yes, it is very much a horse and buggy culture. I sold my horse in 2002 when I moved to the city. Pert of me misses that aspect of life. The last time I drove a horse and buggy was the first Sunday in September 2002. I moved to the city a few days later.

 

You know what--I think that is one of the few things in which I was able to measure up to community norms. Most of my sisters and I were really good with horses. I loved the feeling of independence of the open air ride through the countryside on the shoulder of highways and on backroads. I also drove in the city. Because of the large horse and buggy population cities and towns and some individual businesses in this area provide accommodations for horse and buggy parking. It's usually off to the side of the parking lot for motor vehicles.

 

These days I travel by city bus.

 

She could still be a little more personal I would think. She is your sister after all.

 

Thanks for this. Maybe this is what is missing in my family's relationships with me. They say an abused person is liable to defend the abuser. That is exactly what I feel--that I need to defend this kind of behaviour and explain that our culture is not demonstrative. But I know that some families in this community do write letters to each other like you suggested and they interact with each other like that, too.

 

Part of me longed for that kind of relationship, but too many bright red flags shot up all around me when I so much as anticipated it. I will have to think about this some more but my family has never ever been an emotionally safe place for me.

 

What is a circle letter?

 

Everyone in the circle (in this case our family) writes a letter, sends it on to the next person on the list. When it has completed the circle, it returns to the first person, who takes out his or her old letter and adds a new one. It's a way to stay in contact. I think perhaps present-day methods of keeping in touch is via blogs. But these people don't have computers.

 

I think I've come up with a plan of action. Maybe I'll write about it another day. I'm tired tonight.

That is a pretty neat way to stay in contact.

 

Very many people in this culture use the circle letter to stay in touch. They are used for any kind of interest group. Some circle letters I've been part of were:

  • Schoolmates
  • Family
  • Cousins
  • Gardening

They don't have internet access. These days many people with internet access post blogs or use email mailing lists for an interest group or extended family to stay in touch.

 

It's probably kinda fun too.

 

Many people seem to enjoy circle letters. Some continue for a lifetime. For example, I knew a lady in her sixties who was still in a circle letter with school comrades. I find them mostly too shallow for my preference. Perhaps it is as you noted--superficial. I don't think I've ever stuck to a circle letter more than ten years if that long. Part of me wants to remain in contact but I long for real connections and they don't happen.

 

I'm beginning to see that what my family did was gang up on me and they used the circle letter as the medium through which to do it. There must have been many phone calls and conversations behind my back as they organized. And organize they did. This was out and out battle. Take that from a supposedly pacifist people. I feel very deeply betrayed.

 

I hope all goes well Ruby.

 

Thank you so much for this, Light. I am beginning to establish a new social base for myself. It's time to write off the family and live my own life. Today I shared with a prof what has happened and he invited me to come see him sometimes if I want to talk. That made me realize the benefit of telling a few people I like and trust; possibly others will respond likewise if they know I am in need of a social base.

 

I have been very reclusive the past several years. I was scared of people. I didn't trust anyone because every time I get into a close relationship things inevitably happen that I get seriously hurt. But things have been happening in my one class that forced me to trust classmates and I am finding that I can navigate close relationships safely.

 

I know of one or two people I want to tell and maybe we could get together sometime. I've been in this city for four years, and I've been studying here for nine years. I know quite a few people. I'm beginning to feel excitement as I think about the potential surrogate family I might develop. There is one single woman in particular whom I know would be happy for a chance to talk. This seems to be a two-way relationship. By far the majority of my relationships throughout life have been one-way.

 

Thank you everybody who responded on this thread for being here for me in my darkest hour. I identify so much with Jesus and how he was treated by his family and faith community. Today we had a "guest speaker" for class. Just another prof at the school. I've taken three courses with him and he's the person who invited me to visit him in his office. His topic was the historical Jesus. At the end he asked why Jesus died, why he was executed.

 

The room was totally silent for a bit. I think most students never saw him before and simply did not know how to respond. He's quite a character. Finally I ventured, "Because he told the truth."

 

He said I was right. He said compassionate people are sainted (e.g. Mother Theresa) but activators for justice like Jesus are crushed. I asked if truth and justice are the same and he said they are. Somehow, I was able to see that this is why my family crucified me--they could not withstand my unsullied approach to truth.

 

I think they will be surprised at my reaction and at the stand I am taking. My mother has been playing cat and mouse with me now for fifty years, and my siblings played it all their lives. Maybe I've been the mouse for long enough. Maybe it's okay if I walk away from the game and live the rest of my life for me and the people who love me.

 

The experts on how families work say if the "mouse" is removed from the family another person is victimized. I don't know who it will be but I know there are other serious conflicts happening. And the sister who this thread is about is a major part of it. She and a brother are polarized, I understand. There is money involved and it sounds terribly nasty. I get the impression he's holding the stick over her. I think the thing should be broken up by the authority of the community but I won't get involved. Nor do they want my interference.

 

Thanks again, everybody. This thread has been very therapeutic for me. I've felt safe and supported as I work through lifelong issues. Getting all of your responses helped in a major way to give me an outside perspective A huge hug and loads of love to all of you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.