Feeling emotions that don’t really seem to fit right now.

Shouldn’t I be elated? After all, just last week I reconciled with my son after 12 years of cutting him out of my life because he didn’t join Sound Doctrine with me.

You would think my heart would be happy and filled with joy, but the last few days have been strangely sad.

As I struggle to understand what is happening inside me I think back to my time in ministry back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I spent years teaching veteran wives and other victims of abuse about the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder…and now I’m seeing the telltale signs in my own life.

Doing some research on the internet I found an article for people coming out of Mormonism and was amazed at the similarities with where I find myself.

Understanding Trauma

This step involves recognizing abuse and the long-term effects.  Mormons seem to have a wide range of emotional, spiritual, physical, and sexual abuse.  Some lived in highly dysfunctional abusive families, and the Church reinforced and doctrines provided justification.  For others, their families were relatively functional, and the doctrines were slightly more flexible and open.  Then there are those of us somewhere in between.  Abuses caused by extended relatives, clergy, also cannot be ignored.

In any case, Mormon doctrine is designed to be taken seriously, and some of it is quite mind-twisting.  Whatever level of trauma experienced, this is the phase of reconciliation to it.

Thought Reform

Martin insists that for a proper recovery, the ex-cultist must have a good understanding of how they were manipulated.  This is the purpose of this website.  The thought reform causes alienation from the authentic self, so understanding how it was done will help one find their own lost soul.

The Church had the answers to everything, walled us off from the rest of the world, made the doctrine more important than our self, “broadly define[d] sin and narrowly define[d] human nature”, loaded our language to trap us in the “doctrine over self” paradigm, demanded purity, inflicted shame because we could not ever be truly pure, and this increased our dependency… Our only alternative, as repeated time and time again, was certain destruction.

At the end of stage one, Martin summarizes that the joy and rage (and other emotions) must be allowed to run their courses.

I guess I have to embrace the emotions that are coming and not be so surprised, but, as they say, allow them to run their courses.

Being a Type A personality who likes to solve problems and get things done, this is a hard place for me to be, but needful.

Psalm 46:10
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

14 thoughts on “Struggling

  1. Athena, this makes me think of something I read the other day about how emotions are neither “good” or “bad”….they just are. Also, they provide important clues for things that need to be addressed and healed.

    It’s all part of the journey and God knows, it is not fun. But peace and healing are on the other side. 🙂

    You are a brave woman and I’m cheering for you.

    • Thanks friend. You are right about that…and I have tended to either spiritualize away my emotions or flat out deny them and stuff them away. They really are important clues, so I am learning to pay attention to them.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Athena. What comes to mind is that our re-entry into a life of self-determination (as opposed to the abusive leader and/or malignant ministry determining things for us) is not only about freeing our will from slavery to them, but freeing all other aspects of our humanity which they had dictated for us. And that includes our emotions and feeling what we feel, our imagination and redeveloping a hopeful horizon, our spirit and reconnecting with who God is and what He’s doing, our mind and thinking our own thoughts.

    So, if it seems our emotions seem “out of control,” that’s actually a good thing … I am no longer within their control, and – thankfully, finally – God’s amplifying my system to dissolve the lies and lime out of the pipes of my soul.

    Meanwhile, you might find some enlightening and invigorating points about emotions in a vintage book by Harold Ivan Smith: *Tear-Catchers: Developing the Gift of Compassion.* Part of the journey back to health and stability may include compassion for ourselves – cutting ourselves some slack after we’ve been brainwashed to ratchet ourselves up to meet the standards of the leaders who controlled us. Also, he addresses the different chemical composition in tears, a study which I found absolutely fascinating.

    Be blessed today, Athena, and thanks again for sharing! And know that others are with you on this journey …

    • Thanks Brad…good stuff. You articulate it well. I just ordered the book. Look forward to reading it and his take on tears…lots of them flowing lately.

  3. The thing that has been hard for me in dealing with my similar experience was that when I revealed all the stuff that was going on, good people just stood there like deer in the headlights. It was clear that someone ought to do something but no one who held a ministry position was willing to stick their neck out. This led to a lot of feelings of abandonment by pastors and ministry leaders. Only when they saw the fall-out of their inaction did they bother to acknowledge that I had been right… and, in fact, only 1 pastor has actually verbalized this to me – though many more have been shocked by what happened. Not sure if this is relevant to you but my upset was from feelings of powerlessness and abandonment.

    • Yes, I would have to agree with that. There have been many that have stood by and been afraid to say anything because they are afraid of getting sued.

  4. I’m sure that God said “Be still and know that I am God” especially for us Type A High D personalities. 🙂

    At the beginning of this year, for my quiet times, I decided to include the daily readings of a couple of wonderful old books that belonged to my grandma. Interestingly, today’s readings from both books seem applicable to where you’re at right now. And though I absolutely believe that it’s important to acknowledge emotions and work through them, I am also encouraged by God’s reminders that He’s right in the middle of them with us – walking us through to the other side.

    Here’s a portion of what I read from “Streams in the Desert” this morning. I’ll send the other reading in a separate post.

    “…God can make us stronger than our circumstances. He can bend them all to our good. In God’s strength we can make them all pay tribute to our souls. We can even take hold of a black disappointment, break it open, and extract some jewel of grace. When God gives us wills like iron, we can drive through difficulties as the iron share cuts through the toughest soil…
    “Christ is building His kingdom with earth’s broken things. Men want only the strong, the successful, the victorious, the unbroken, in building their kingdoms; but God is the God of the unsuccessful, of those who have failed. Heaven is filling with earth’s broken lives, and there is no bruised reed that Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty. He can take the life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it into a harp whose music shall be all praise. He can lift earth’s saddest failure up to heaven’s glory.
    “Follow Me, and I will make you”…
    Make you speak My words with power,
    Make you channels of My mercy,
    Make you helpful every hour.
    “Follow me, and I will make you”…
    Make you what you cannot be —
    Make you loving, trustful, godly,
    Make you even like to me.”

    And here’s the verse that went with this reading – “Fear not, thou worm Jacob…I will make thee a threshing instrument with teeth.” (Isa. 41:14, 15) . I love Isaiah.

    Bless you, my friend.

    • Wow Ann…I can completely relate…I think I’m in the phase where He is taking hold of the black disappointment and breaking it open…the jewel of grace is yet to come! Big hug to you, my dear, dear friend.

  5. Hi again, Athena. Here’s my second reading from this morning. It seems to be such an appropriate follow-up to my previous post. It’s from another old book “Springs in the Valley.”

    “…Suddenly in mid-heaven, without a second’s warning, is staged by God the most stupendous sight upon which human eyes have ever gazed — the out-flashing, dazzling, awful splendor of the personal coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in His glory.
    “The earth beholds and thrills with the first ecstatic moment of her deliverance from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
    “The angels behold and cry, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.’
    “The kings and princes of the world behold and cry to the rocks and hills to fall upon them and hide them from His presence.
    “The Anti-Christ beholds and falls palsied and helpless before the breath of His mouth and the glory of His coming.
    “The nations of the earth behold and wail because of Him.

    When I read that, I couldn’t help but think that what God is doing in each of our lives here and now (no matter where we are in our journey), it’s a taste of the bigger “BEHOLD!” As we go through each step of our walk with Him – the joys, the tears, the struggles, and the victories – He is looking at us and saying, “Behold. See. Look! Behold, my child whom I have redeemed. Behold, my child whom I am molding and making into my likeness. Behold, my child whom I love.”

    Imagine…what the bigger BEHOLD will be like.

  6. You are so much like an Italian New Yorker: tough type A with a soft heart.

  7. Athena,
    It’s all part of the journey to your calling. Sadness and grief comes with it. You are a strong woman with faithful friends you can count on. They can help you hold your arms up when you are weary. Blessings, my friend.

  8. Hi, I just found your blog and I’m no expert or anything, but my first thought is that if you had just reconciled with your son after 12 years of denying yourself a relationship with him, it seems normal to be sad. There is a lot of lost time to grieve for. Yes, I’m sure you are happy for the future but you cannot deny that time was lost and feel sorrow for it. It seems to me that if you were purely elated with no sorrow or looking back, it would be a sign of a lack of conscience or a lack of awareness or something?

    • Amen Lisa. There is a lot of lost time to grieve over, and I will probably be on this emotional roller coaster for some time now. Thank you for encouraging me that this is normal!

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