Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Why?

The similarity of mental process that I demonstrated both in my cult subservience and in my marriage lead me to believe that the psychology is one and the same. 

One important characteristic of cults, in order for them to continue and thrive, is isolationism - if not physical isolation (like Jonestown), then social isolation (like TFI, where we were taught that "you are in the world, but not of the world," and to "keep yourself unspotted from the world," as the Bible admonishes). Separation from outsiders, a "them and us" mentality, is a crucial part of the doctrine.  

This same condition applied to my nuclear family life. After leaving communal life, we remained in a country that, shall I say, is not particularly open to foreigners, nor is the language easy to pick up. We were looked on as "outsiders" by the community around us, which seemed to suit our mentality just fine, having been immersed in the isolation of cult life for all of my husband's and my adult lives. Isolation and "being separate" were second nature to us.

In this atmosphere of isolation, my loyalty to my family was strong, as had been my cult loyalty which fortunately, by this time, was beginning to wane. (This period coincided with the publication of remarkably bizarre new doctrines which the "Prophetess" had "received from the Lord," as I wrote about previously. See Finally.)

Both cults and abusive relationships rely on belief in delusions. The TFI has so many delusions that it has filled volumes, highlighted by the collective wish-fulfillment of being God's children with the promise of heaven. As for my marriage, my delusion was also a form of wish-fulfillment - believing that my husband was the good, loving husband and father of my internal narrative. As is the nature of beliefs, I wanted to believe them, and in so doing unwittingly suppressed the reality testing function of my brain.

Moreover, both cult-life and my married-life played on my human need for acceptance and belonging. I have a desire to be useful and needed, which is not uncommon among the human race and can be most particularly strong among mothers. Both situations played to that need as well.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Turning a Blind Eye

The coping technique I applied to my marriage was much the same as what I used with family problems, cult membership, and sometimes even my health: ignore the bad and it will go away. "Give no place to the devil," as Ephesians 4:27 admonishes, which I seemed to interpret as "brush any problems under the rug and move on to other things."

When my husband beat my son in anger or treated the other children harshly, I rationalized that he couldn't have meant to do that harm. Surely he was sorry. ("I wouldn't act like that, and if I had, I would certainly be sorry," assuming that he would think like I would.) If he was sorry, no one ever heard about it.

Although I did try, I could never talk to him about such things, as he would react with anger or simply leave the room. Years later he told me that because I seemed to "protect" my children and "side with them against him," he felt obligated to retaliate by treating them more harshly. 

Coincidentally (or not), this echoed the same sentiment pounded into me repeatedly by leadership in TFI, namely, that I "favored" my children. I needed to give them to others to discipline and care for, and of course, I spent my days caring for other people's children. If one of my own children happened to be in the group of children I was responsible for, I needed to be careful to treat them the same as, or even more pleasing in the eyes of cult leadership, more harshly than, the others. The one hour of nightly "Family Time" was more than enough for fulfilling the mothering needs of my children, so it was said.

Had I been able to wake up out of my delusions and shake off some of my strongly clung-to mental biases, I would have seen early on that our situation was intolerable not only for me, but even more so, my children.