|Subject:||The Courage to Set Boundaries|
|Date:||Aug 18, 2006|
|I confess. I am a lurker. It is part of my healing.
Thank you all for your courage and for what you have taught me. [at exmormon.org]
I am trying to learn from all of you, finally, to set boundaries, and when I have learned, I may not need this forum anymore. In fact, I may not need to read, or hear, or learn anything about Mormonism again as long as I live. But just this once…I am going to write instead of read.
If only God had given me gills instead of wings, maybe I would have been able to swim, but he didn’t. I was drowning, suffocating, trying to swim in the Mormon stream.
During one very bad year I had a job in the stake genealogy library above the room the high priests met in on Sunday. I would make excuses that I needed to catch up on work in the library to skip Relief Society so I could sit hidden at the bottom of the stairs and listen to the high priests’ lessons. I may have laughed under my breath at some of the absurd silliness I heard, but at least it wasn’t the quiet, polite, male-written mush I had to listen to in RS.
I tried so hard to explain to my husband why I was hurt by the church, but he simply couldn’t understand. From his view, the world looked so different. He could only see that standard Mormon view of women as “on a pedestal.” He may have been stuck in the Mormon box, but I only had a tiny, tiny space “on a pedestal” in that box. So many of his experiences with the church had been different.
• He had a coming-of-age experience. He received the priesthood. This was a step that said “You are now a man.” There was no matching ceremony for me. Was I less important to God?
• When he went into an interview either as a young man or later as a married man, he sat in front of someone of his own gender to be interviewed. I sat in front of someone of the opposite sex, a vulnerable young woman, forced to divulge details about my fragile, emerging, wet-butterfly-wings sexuality to a frightening, powerful, sometimes too-interested older man.
• In my husband’s world, he had never had to consider eternity as less than half a person (one man = many wives). Even as a small child, I could easily compute the meaning of that equation. Either it meant imbalance in male and female energies, or it meant that my femaleness was less important than a single man’s maleness.
• Could my husband understand the kind of abuse that patriarchy can inflict on the innocent? Could anyone understand those horrible intimate caresses of my breasts by my High Priest father that I could never reveal to anyone for fear that someone would think I somehow was allowing the touches? No, instead I had to blank my mind…block the thoughts out. Forget the truth.
• Can anyone who didn’t experience it understand the violation I felt in the temple during the washing and anointing when my naked body was touched under the shield. No one had warned me.
• Don’t think. Don’t talk. Don’t rock the boat. Rock babies.
So there I was, unraveling, one tattered thread after another. And I began to realize that I had never been allowed to have boundaries. The purpose of boundaries is to protect and defend ourselves. We have a God-given right to do this. It is a key to being a healthy self-empowered person. I didn’t have them.
People without boundaries have difficulty saying no. They take care of others before their own needs. They rely on others in spiritual matters. It’s hard for them to make decisions. They believe other people’s opinions are more important than their own. They feel anxious and afraid. They feel shame.
Mormons are abused by a system that promises to love us and take us home to God. Instead, that system steals our personal power from us. It makes us unable to define ourselves in a healthy way.
The power we are all are seeking comes from within. It comes from learning to set boundaries. That is something that the church has stolen from all of us. Until we, the survivors of the Mormon Church, all learn to develop our own personal identity, to trust our own opinions, to rely on our own ability to speak to God without a middleman, we will not be healthy. When we learn those lessons…we may not need this forum.
|Subject:||This is one of the most powerful pieces I've read here or anywhere.|
|Date:||Aug 18 07:14|
|It needs to be archived to be shared until we all
absorb its power and no longer need this forum.
In a few words you've captured what recovery means to me. Thank you.
|Subject:||Re: The Courage to Set Boundaries|
|Date:||Aug 18 09:16|
|You put in words the very things that I have tried to understand about boundaries. Thank you for that compelling message.|
|Subject:||Re: The Courage to Set Boundaries|
|Date:||Aug 18 10:51|
|That was an excellent post.
I noticed, in both of the "I don't understand men" threads, which ironically, turned into "What women want and how to get into their pants" threads, twice a man said that women cannot make decisions for themselves and so men must do it because that's what we want them to do.
I managed to resist the urge to flame those posters into oblivion, forgiving the sweeping generalizations and being lumped into the same category as "all" women. If you are the guy who posted those comments, you should know that your phrasing was patently offensive to those of us who have recovered a bit.
But you have brought up the very reason these men think that way: because people raised without boundaries have difficulty making decisions. Next time the men patronize and belittle women for being indecisive, remind them that they contributed to the breaking down of boundaries which is what caused that behavior in the first place.
Anyway, thanks Crystal Song. Excellent insight.
|Subject:||Re: The Courage to Set Boundaries|
|Date:||Aug 18 11:05|
|Note how in the temple film the Morg very cleverly
shows Satan asking "By what authority" - the implication being
that questioning authority is somehow satanic.
The fact of the matter is that "authority" should ALWAYS be questioned.
Expecting people to submit to someone's outlandish claims to authority over them is insane and un-American.
This country would still be a colony if the Founding Fathers had not questioned Britain's authority.
|Date:||Aug 18 14:13|
|This is a very important aspect of healing, especially for women who are exiting. I enjoyed reading it, and saw a little of myself in what you had to say.|
|Subject:||Thank you Crystal|
|Date:||Aug 18 17:36|
|This was good to read. You might not need us, but we
need you to post here!
I do believe that I (we? especially the BIC women), were raised from birth to have the mindset of a servant. This sense of predestined subservience is--for me anyway--INCREDIBLY hard to unlearn.
I was molested too by my father (and others), so I totally understand what you mean by being afraid that if it is discovered it will be seen as all our fault because we "allowed" it to happen.
First they make sure we have no power, then they blame us for not exercising (nonexistent) power in order to keep the molestation from occurring. The men/boys have no sense of accountability...ever...all the blame is tossed onto the girls head, regardless of the circumstances. We see this blaming of the female happening all around us...and yet people wonder why we don't come fore ward sooner.
Later in life it takes a lot of explaining to the sympathetic men in our lives before they can really understand what that helpless "damned if you do, damned if you don't" feeling is like.
I've never been able to get the concept through to an LDS guy. Most of them are too blinded by the knee jerk instinct to defend the man's side of the story. They always ask, "But what was YOUR responsibility in the situation? Why didn't you stop it, complain, tell your bishop, avoid him, etc..."
They don't get it when I insist that my "responsibility" (back then as I understood it) was to unquestioningly do whatever I was told by my "righteous priesthood leaders". The LDS man I am telling my experiences to always retorts with "But a righteous man would never DO such a thing!" in a tone that accuses "well, you should have known better"...!! They bring up the term "unrighteous dominion" a lot.
Well...I didn't know better. I never knew about "unrighteous dominion". No one ever explained to me when I was a 4, 8, 10, 13 year old girl that I had any right to make that kind of (any kind of) judgment against respected elders in the church. Fathers, grandfathers, uncles, etc are not just family members, they are often respected elders in the church whom everyone in the community LOVES. No child is strong enough stand up against that kind of opposition. I had NO concept of the kind of personal power that would allow me to resist or "rebel" against men like that, against men I believed could speak directly to God on behalf of our whole family.
Who was I compared to them? Nothing! I was taught that my father owned me, that is why they "give away" the bride at a wedding, it is an exchange of ownership from father to husband. My silence was assured, especially since they used scare tactics like accusing me of breaking the commandment to "honor thy father" if I even did so much as have an unpleasant look on my face in response to the "attention" they bestowed on me.
I was often told that God would be angry if I didn't gladly do everything my father wanted. I was told I should be grateful to have "special time" alone with my father, since personal one on one attention was so rare in a large family. Also there was guilt tripping like "I am teaching you how to learn how to be a good wife"...and "Don't cry, I'm not hurting you, you need to learn these things, your husband will thank me later." Then, even sicker, being praised later on with comments like, "I'm glad you'll never be (frigid, shy, repressed) like your mother. Your husband is going to be a lucky man."
And most embarrassing of all is that I never even knew anything that had happened to me was unusual or wrong until I was 21 years old and my HUSBAND finally asked me to explain the troubling nature of my father's way of interacting with me and his other daughters. Troubling? In what way? That's how clueless I was...
See, I'd always secretly disliked my father, but felt like I was evil for not loving him enough. I faked "love" for him for appearances sake, but generally avoided his physical proximity whenever possible because deep down, he frightened me and repulsed me.
My husband was the first person to ever express cautious concern about the nature of my relationship with my father. It was a relief that someone else "saw it" besides just me. I had no idea until then that I was actually a lifelong victim of horrible manipulation and mistreatment. That's how bad the "powerless" brainwashing was with me. I had no clue it wasn't "normal" for daughters to engage in sexual activities with their fathers.
Call me an idiot if you like. I know it is hard to imagine being in a place like that where helplessness is assumed and accepted as normal. But that was my sheltered life in a mainstream LDS family. My sisters who have left the church have similar stories...but the TBM ones and our mother deny the facts and refuse to speak to us about it.
It is hard for most people who have never been there to place themselves in such a place of zero power, zero rights, zero safety. Just do as you are told, and keep absolutely quiet. That was my life as an LDS girl. I am still trying to purge myself of this "zero boundaries" mentality 20+ years later.
I wish people would talk about this more.
|Date:||Aug 18 18:39|
|that was brilliant. Welcome to the board and thank
you for sharing your thoughts. It will help others to take an objective
look at what, exactly the cult of moronity has
done to them. That's the reason why each of us is here, to share our thoughts and ideas with each other in support of our recovery. You've already named the problem, now you're on your way to healing from it. Much luck to you in your
|Date:||Aug 18 19:02|
|Ummm...my heart has a bit of an ache in it right
I knew no abuse while growing up, but my adult life has been filled with it second hand, and now that I am looking at the church I can see so clearly its role - its primary role - in fostering this abuse.
I look back at the fun some of us had with all of the bad boy/bad girl threads from the last few days and I wonder...I know that most of it was tongue in cheek, and they were fun then...but don't seem quite so to me now. They were a lab for the study of how patriarchy and unquestioning obedience foster lack of self-respect/esteem in people.
Perhaps the ugliest legacy the church has left to date is the contribution to unhealthy, dysfunctional relating between men and women...between men and men, women and women...among people in general.
It's pretty shameful really, but the boasting of the elevating influence of the church and its true gospel on all mankind, especially women, will continue I'm sure. Never mind abundant real life evidence to the contrary.
I wish with all my heart for all of us to know better how to relate and love...and live, and for broken hearts to heal.
|Date:||Aug 18 19:52|
|Great post actually putting in black and white some
things I've been thinking for months.
We were all conditioned to break down personal boundaries. I've found that as a man I have many of the same issues that you talked about. Granted, I never dealt with the issues specific to females but I can certainly understand the impact they had on you.
Remember as a TBM when you were oh-so-righteous and you heard in the news about someone protesting an invasion of their privacy (or crossing a boundary) - perhaps it was a search of someone's home without a warrant, or high school students being patted down for drugs? Didn't you used to think, "Well, if they're innocent, they should have nothing to hide. I don't see the problem"?
I see it SO differently now because back then I literally had no personal boundaries. When I left the church I didn't even know how to behave or create appropriate personal boundaries.
When you are told what underwear to wear and when to wear it; when you are counseled to consult the bishop on such things as finances and birth control or even intimate behaviors; when you hand over 10% of your income with zero disclosure of what it's being spent on; when you allow yourself to be told what to wear (white shirts for men, only one earring or 2 piece bathing suits for women, cover the garments, etc); when your diet is regulated; when you are told what day to spend time with your children and how to spend that time; when you are told what friends to make (HT & VT) and when to visit them; when one out of every 7 days is literally handed over to the church; when you are assigned volunteer work; Can you see how it permeated every nook and cranny of our lives. And it's the seemingly small boundaries we allowed to fall that are so much part of the control over our minds and actions.
Now, on the outside, I understand why the early colonists protested the illegal searches of their homes by the British government. I understand now why people don't fill in all the optional demographic information on a form. I understand why many people are protesting the recent invasion of privacy under the Patriot Act.
I understand why people are offended by the missionary program of the church.
I posted on this before, but my ex-wife actually went to a lawyer to demand that I provide her with personal information on my partner so she can do a background check. I almost did it! The little TBM inside me almost went along without questioning it. Fortunately, the apostate in me screamed "BOUNDARIES, FOR GOD'S SAKE!" I refused, and the law is on my side...go figure! There are reasons the law guards our personal boundaries. No, I had nothing to hide, but I'm learning not only appropriate boundaries but that boundaries are appropriate.
TBM's will never get it or understand. How could they when they're all listening to Holland tell them what they can and can't say while humping their spouse!
|Subject:||Crystal Song....girl, we need you here.....|
|Date:||Aug 18 19:59|
|Thank you for putting into words what happens to
women raised mormon. I applaud you and your courage to seek out answers.
Stick around girlfriend, you are one of us now.
Thanks to anon who also put painful words down. Boundaries, exploring who you are and always listen to your gut...IT NEVER LIES TO YOU. Easier said than done.
To the men posters. Read this thread, drink it in. We love men. We are not toys nor objects. We like to play, experiment, learn and live.
If the bad girl threads made some uncomfortable...it was just those old tapes in your head...some of us women really had no opportunity learn equality.
Any who struggle with being gay, bi, and live in secret- please know. You are perfectly perfect, just as you are. Do not let anyone tell you different.
Let us all laugh, love and heal together. Recovery is happening, and Crystal so brilliantly expressed these thoughts.
|Subject:||Thank you all...|
|Date:||Aug 18 23:56|
|...for the community of love you have shared. You
have given me a voice...accepted and validated.
Anon, thank you for sharing your agonizing story. As you said “subservience is incredibly hard to unlearn.” Dominion is also incredibly hard to unlearn. So, Butch Cassidy, thank you for your insights about how some previous posts may have been “a lab for the study of how patriarchy and unquestioning obedience foster lack of self-respect/esteem in people.” It’s comforting that a man who was once part of the system can awaken.
Fubeca, thanks for reminding me that men also have boundary issues because of their experiences in the church.
The problems our once-beloved church causes aren’t an easy ball of string to unroll. When I try to unroll it to create a new tapestry, the string gets knotted, the darn cat plays with it, and sometimes the ball just rolls away. But thanks to all of you, today I have woven several rows.
|Subject:||Re: The Courage to Set Boundaries|
|Date:||Aug 19 18:56|
|I had an former bishop after he left the church tell
me that during courts the women get pumped for way more details about
their sexual "sin" then the men. They had to confess
When I was getting a temple recommend renewed the counselor in the Stake Presidency asked me if I was sexually compatible with my husband. I was mortified but since he was the leader I couldn't stand up for myself. Since then I have thought of plenty of answers. The one I gave at the time was "We are compatible in all ways." But what was his point. I can't think of any reason except prurient interest. I WISH I had said "No" and then waited to see what he would say. It was a temple recommend interview not a therapy session. Or I could have said "Why do you ask?" or even better "Are YOU sexually compatible with YOUR wife?" It was just weird. Or I could have said "What do you mean?" or "I don't know, how can I tell?" But it was probably better just to get out of there, and later out of the church entirely.
|Subject:||Re: The Courage to Set Boundaries|
|Date:||Aug 19 19:02|
|Very well said and you don't miss it once you're
out. At least I didn't.
However, trying to get the well intended pests to stop annoying you and to respect your boundaries once you've left can be tricky for some.
Thank you for posting and sharing.
Recovery from Mormonism - The Mormon Church