Monday, August 11, 2008

RFM Discussion

Subject: Miserable over telling the in-laws...
Date: Aug 06 01:02
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My husband told his parents that we were having problems with the church. I guess he made it sound mostly like HE was having most of the problems, which isn't true, but he wanted to spare me the blame. He explained things briefly (leaving out hurtful details) and they tried to pull him back, asking him questions and crying and telling him that they were so hurt and that they must have failed as parents. Eventually he told them that he had to leave. He got up and went to the door, telling his dad that he loved him. No response.

Over a week passed, and we were invited to come over to their house for sunday dinner. We wanted things to get back to as close to normal as possible, so we went over. It was a little nerve-wracking to be there, but my husband's sisters were also there (we haven't told them anything about us yet) so there was a buffer and the topic of the church never came up. we stayed only a short time, to be safe, and went home.

The next day, my husband received an email from his mom. You probably know the kind I mean: she had had time to think about the situation, and decided to create a carefully worded reaction to her son's confession. It was very, very hurtful. Basically she unsheathed one of the most often-used weapons in Mormonism: Guilt. "How could you do this to your wife? You are denying her blessings." "You won't get to see your siblings get married." "You won't be able to bless your own children." "I used to smile when I thought of you. Now it makes me sad." And so get the idea. She also mentioned that she noticed that during that Sunday dinner, my husband hadn't been wearing his garments (how could she even tell?! Garment radar?). She then asked that we bring our garments to them so they could dispose of them properly. Are you serious? What right does she have to pry into the business of our underwear, and then offer to give them the proper disposal? I was honestly offended.

My husband wrote her a very well-worded, intelligent response. She wrote back to that, turning my husband's words so that he would sound like the bad-guy. When he said that he was "doing what I think is right," she responded by ending her email with "I am doing what I KNOW is right." I guess she's trying to one-up my husband with the "TRUTH."

We had hoped that we could get along with his family, but my mother-in-law just keeps lashing out through email, begging her son to reconsider and throwing guilt-laden messages at him. I don't know what to do. Right now we are both so miserable every time we think about it. We were so happy before we let his parents know. We felt good about our choice to step away from the church. I almost start to wonder...was it worth it?

I know it is...but how long can we go on feeling this terrible? Will the wounds ever heal? Will we feel accepted in his family again? I guess I'm looking for words of comfort, because this just sucks so much.

Was it this bad for you guys?

Subject: Re: Miserable over telling the in-laws...
Date: Aug 06 01:16
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You did the right thing. Don't regret your choice.

Subject: I got a letter like that from my mom . . .
Date: Aug 06 01:43
Author:Grubby Gert
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It sucks.

I feel for you guys - this is the hard part.

I had to take a break from my parents for almost two years. Now we are making small steps towards eachother and things are much better. I'm so glad I stood up for myself back then because the relationship we have now has healthy boundaries.

I had a therapist that I was working with that helped me during the first part of this. Not that I think you guys need that kind of help but it was really good to have her perspective on things when they were at their worst - it helped me to see the guilt games my mom was trying to play with me.

Anyway, boundaries are good ;)

Subject: Re: I got a letter like that from my mom . . .
Date: Aug 06 01:50
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Yeah...after my mother in law told my husband that seeing him made her sad now, he suggested that it might be best if we didn't come to see them for a while. She shot back by saying that doing that would only drive a deeper wedge between us. What does this woman really want, anyway?

I have thought about seeing a therapist...maybe a couple's therapist, so my husband and I can talk openly with someone about what we're going through. Too expensive now, though.

You are right, though...maybe creating some boundaries would be the best thing.

Subject: what does she want?
Date: Aug 06 02:02
Author:Grubby Gert
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She wants to control you. I don't mean to imply that she's a bad person - I'm sure that in her head her behavior makes perfect sense. After all, she KNOWS what's best for you, right?

But, (as you're finding out) it's exhausting to talk to someone like that because anything you say gets turned against you. Hopefully you guys won't need to take it as far as I did and she'll calm down soon.

I'd give her as much space as possible and see where that gets you.

Subject: Yes, this kind of behavior really depresses me.
Date: Aug 06 02:29

See my thread, "TBM's believe that resignees are evil...."

We know the ultimate goal of this TBM behavior is to coerce us back into the church. In my darkest hours, I think to myself, "It must work, because the TBM's keep on doing it."

You wrote: "I almost start to wonder...was it worth it?" This sounds like you might throw in the towel. Stay strong!

I do sympathize with you. That underwear thing is outrageous and disgusting. This can be very upsetting, but you must get over it. Frankly, she is NOT the most important person in your life. Likewise, the LDS cult is not important at all to 98.5% of the world. MIL needs to get other interests. Is she too old to get a job and do something productive?

In reading your post, I'm impressed by your husband's taking the lead with his mother. Good for him. My husband did not step up. I was the one who constantly had to defend us against his mother's attacks. She got very nasty, and blamed me for everything. At the time, I was the organist and Den Mother, and I still believed in the cult--and my husband was the one who was inactive. Yet, I was the one forced to deal with her.

You seem solid and safe from that happening, though. You are handling it very well. The question is, how long can you continue? In my experience, the wounds never healed, because my MIL never stopped. Even after we were divorced, my MIL spread gossip around the ward about me, after I moved away. I was still an active Mormon, and I straightened everything out. Her son had cheated on me, but she blamed me.

Your MIL is a control-freak, like one poster suggested, like my MIL was. (Mine was also obsessive-compulsive.) In that case, she will attack you again, with every temple wedding, every sleeveless dress you wear, every child you have who must be blessed, baptized, made a deacon, forced to go on a mission, married in the temple, etc, etc, etc.

For now, you could stop answering her e-mails. I bought caller ID and an answering machine, back then. Your idea to take a break sounds like a good one. Go out and have some fun with your husband, instead. One Sunday a month is considered a lot, as far as normal family visits go.

It will never end--unless you follow your own idea of setting firm boundaries right now. You'll need to keep reinforcing those boundaries, and above all you and your husband will need to stand together.

Subject: Sorry, Forestpal, I usually agree with you ....
Date: Aug 06 05:17
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..but noy this time. Please don't let them think they are more popular/important than they are. By your calculations the LDS church would have a membership of approx. 65.684M that cared.

(based on world population of 66.684 billion)

Last I heard the LDS claimrd camembership of 15M and the posters on the RfM board estimated an active membership of 4M.
That would mean that by the LDS churhes. own figures 99.88% of the population don't care. By board members calcs 99.94% don't care.

finally,(bet you're glad) if you believe that actions speak louder than words, and therefore only count those with temple recommends as being the ones who really care whether garments are worn or not that would mean that 99.99% of the worlds population doesn't care about the wearing of garments etc. etc. etc.

Subject: Apologies for typos, in a hurry and lost login details....
Date: Aug 06 05:19
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.. so can't correct errors.

Subject: More humble apolgies ...
Date: Aug 06 05:27

.. ... If membership was 1.5% of the worlds population there would be 100.026M members of the LDS church.

Like that's ever going to happen

Subject: 99.99% of the world's population don't believe in Mormon temple rituals!
Date: Aug 06 12:42

That doesn't even include all the human souls who have ever lived through eons of time.

I'm going to celebrate that tonight, with cold sangria, on the patio, listening to the crickets and looking at the stars. Some of those stars are galaxies. I have a new perspective.

99.99% do NOT believe my children and I are forever bound as property in a polygamous temple marriage to a nasty skid-marked brute who tried to kill me!

Anyone would say that 99.99% is an excellent consensus, right? Maybe the most agreement there has ever been on any topic, in the history of Man.

And, Fallingaway is made to feel guilty, because she can not participate in an extremely rare aberration of the weirdest kind. That makes no sense.

Subject: I absolutely agree, with you
Date: Aug 06 06:49
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Setting firm boundaries is what it is all about!

And, yes, "one Sunday a month" is...probably...even too often, for a lot of couples, to have that kind of intrusion, ino their lives.

It all depends on the couple.

But, the co-dependent neediness HAS to be actively discouraged!
(They--those parents--can have their self-pity parties, if they want to: all by themselves!)

Subject: I think your husband should start communicating 'faith-disrupting' facts to his parents.
Date: Aug 06 03:49
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Your in-laws are reacting to the 'bad' news because of how they've been 'programmed' by Mormonism. My view is that your husband needs to start confronting that 'programming'. He should start by telling his mother (in an e-mail would probably be best) that what the LDS Church has taught about Joseph Smith and early church history is far from the truth.

"For example, Mom, if you look at the genealogy info. for Joseph Smith on the church's family history website, you will see that he married Mormon women who were already married, several single women, and teenage girls as young as 14. Did the LDS Church ever disclose to you or Dad that Joseph Smith had these types of plural wives? It never did to me and millions of other Latter-day Saints and potential converts."

Your mother-in-law won't be able to condemn the info. source as 'anti-Mormon' because it's the LDS Church.

The same thing applies with JS using a 'seer' stone in his hat to 'translate' the BoM. Your husband should say to his mother: "Here's another example, Mom. Did the LDS Church teach you, Dad, myself and millions of other Latter-Day Saints that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by putting a rock in his hat and pulling it tightly around his face? You probably think I'm making this up, because Joseph Smith's close associate, David Whitmer, wrote about this bizarre translation technique and you can read what Whitmer wrote in the July 1993 Ensign, in an article entitled "A Treasured Testament" by Apostle Russell Nelson. The article is on the church's website, by the way."

"Why does the LDS Church not depict Joseph Smith with his head buried in his hat in church materials, Mom? Why do LDS missionaries and teachers not teach investigators, children, teenagers and adults about this bizarre method of 'translation' used by 'the Prophet of the Restoration?"

"Are you aware, Mom, that Joseph Smith tried to join a Methodist congregation in 1828 despite his claim later in his life that he was told by God in the 'First Vision' not to unite himself with any sect?"

"Why hasn't the LDS Church, Mom, disclosed to members and potential converts that Joseph Smith created conflicting versions of his First Vision experience, something that church historians have acknowledged?"

"Did you know, Mom, that Brigham Young was divorced from at least seven of his plural wives and separated from four others?"

"These are just some of the many historical facts, Mom, that the LDS Church does not tell Latter-day Saints or people investigating Mormonism, and many of these facts come from Mormon sources. I think that's wrong and I decided that I can't be a part of a religious organization that misleads people."

These are examples of some of the things I'd say to my mother (and father) if I was in your husband's situation.

Neither you nor him can control what your in-laws think and feel whether the both of you are 'fully active' in the Mormon Church or 'apostates.' Try not to link your inner peace to their emotional reactions. If they're not willing to be mature adults and look at the facts, well, the problem is theirs. None of us can force other people to stop being naïve, take off their 'belief-blinders' and grow up/mature.

Subject: Re: I think your husband should start communicating 'faith-disrupting' facts to his parents.
Date: Aug 06 11:40
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My mother-in-law claims that she has heard it all before. She acts so high and mighty because, despite knowing degrading facts about the church, she has kept her faith strong and stuck with it. Hell, it probably even strengthened her testimony for all I know! She's like a wolf that won't let go of what she KNOWS is true. She won't swallow her pride and just let us be what we are. It's frustrating.

I'd love to shoot facts at her and have it get to her, but it won't. She has every right to believe what she wants, but she needs to leave US alone.

Subject: Re: I think your husband should start communicating 'faith-disrupting' facts to his parents.
Date: Aug 06 11:51
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To give a little more detail:

Yes, we live in Utah.

I wasn't going to delve too deeply into the particulars of the situation for sake of keeping things simple, but there is a little more to the story. One of my in-law's other sons has given up on the church, too...about a year ago he and his wife announced this to his parents.

I get the idea that the parents' treatment of us, though similar to what this other brother went through, is worse because they feel that they must fight harder. They lost one son--they aren't about to lose another. After all, if they did, they would have failed even more as parents.

While I know much of the blame , in the parent's eyes, goes to me, I'm sure they think the the other brother is also responsible for leading my husband "down the wrong path." This isn't true. he's an adult and makes his own decisions.

Still, I feel like we've irreparably damaged this family by doing what we did.

Subject: What's damaging the relationship with your in-laws is their Mormonism-induced religious ego...
Date: Aug 06 13:40
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...yet they don't see/understand this fact. Until they do, your relationship with them is going to be strained, IMO. Mormonism has 'programmed' them as parents to believe that having 'faithful' children is 'good' (and thus it reinforces their self-esteem) while having 'inactive' or ex-Mormon children is 'bad' (and thus their self-esteem suffers).

The key for them is to wake up to the fact that a person's participation in Mormonism (or non-participation, in the case of you and your husband, for example) has nothing to do with the individual's innate worth. You and your husband are no less deserving of being treated with basic civility by your in-laws (in the least) than anyone else.

Concerning your feeling that you've irreparably damaged the family, that too is the result of Mormon 'programming' (ref. If the LDS Church had been honest in the first place (who would have joined?!), then people wouldn't feel that their trust had been abused and a great deal of emotional pain and psychological suffering would not have occurred.

You and your husband cannot force your in-laws to wake up and become aware of how Mormonism has 'programmed' them. They have to want to gain that understanding themselves. There is no need to feel badly for having left cultic Mormonism and the effect that your departure has had on your in-laws. The situation has given them an excellent opportunity to wake up and mature.

Regarding the strong mental avoidance of your MIL to facts that clearly show that Joseph Smith was a liar, manipulator and adulterer and early church history was far more bizarre, 'dark' and cultic than the LDS Church acknowledges or teaches, understand that she has done so to psychologically reinforce her 'fortress' of Mormon beliefs because if she allows a 'wall' to be breeched by the truth/facts, the entire 'fortress' will collapse and she is terrified of that happening.

To avoid suffering (e.g., experiencing a huge loss of self-esteem, feeling deep regret for having wasted so many years of her life for a church that was not only not true, but was based on a fraud from the beginning) she goes deeper and deeper into her Mormonism-induced psychological dysfunction.

We teach people how to treat us. You and your husband don't have to tolerate the dysfunctional behavior of any one, including your in-laws. A knock-down-drag-out confrontation may be required. It happened between me and my mother in December. Her behavior, including toward her 'eternal companion' (my step-father) had become increasingly volatile and intolerable.

One situation in particular triggered 'righteous anger' in me and I blasted her with 'both barrels', using facts about her immature, irrational and disrespectful behavior. I told her that she had a lot of growing up to do. Her behavior in the past eight months has been considerably better.

Again, we teach people how to treat us.

Best wishes!

Subject: May I ask something -- some detail?
Date: Aug 06 05:57
Author:curiouser & curiouser
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You sound like you live in the Morridor (Mormon Corridor). I hope that I am wrong; but, I see the most co-dependency in that part of the USA.

And, of course, we all know that that is where "the church" settled, after their removal from Nauvoo.

My suggestion would be to slowly wean yourselves off of his parents: like weaning oneself off the baby bottle.

Think of yourselves as fully *self-actuating*. You don't "need" them in your lives. It is "nice" to have relatives, in your life, if they are going to be supportive of you; but, you are basicly your own persons: you don't need them...that is just so much "neediness".

Isn't that what co-dependency is really all about, anyway? The "neediness"?

For the life of me, I just don't "get" the Mormon idea of Heaven: where [fully adult] children are just not going to be with you, if they "stray". Cough, cough.
What a weird religion, after all!

Like any adult children would WANT to be in the same "mansions, on High"...with their parents?!?

When do Mormons ever cut the umbilical cord, I wonder?

My prescription, to you: protect and fortify and establish your *own* little kingdom: the *kingdom* of your own family. If anything "threatens your peace to destroy" [haa haa], do what you two have to do, in order to limit the negative forces from further disrupting your lives. (After all, it is only *then* that "[you'll] have hope shining brightly before [you]..."

Let those immature parents just plain "cry in their [near-] beer!"

P.S: There is "humor" in the idea of "near-beer"; for, Mormons don't drink beer.
(So, let them have their pity party. That is what it really is: a self-pitying party.)

What neurosis!

Subject: Let's place blame where it's due.
Date: Aug 06 07:22
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She fell for a like and taught it to her children. Your husband and you had the courage to see through it. None of this is your fault. The fault is in the organization and your MIL's reaction to it.

She can't face facts as yet. Sadly, she may never be able to deal with this. I think it's time to stop being quite so nice because she's using your kindness against you.

You need to let her know that you can't continue to spend as much time around her if she can't tone it down. You can do this up front by telling her or you can do it with body language, innuendo, and by obviously cutting visits short.

In any case she's acting like a spoiled brat and giving in doesn't cure bratiness.

Subject: Mormonism builds superficial families......................
Date: Aug 06 12:00
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their value system is based exclusively on and around the church. Your decisions have forced them out of their box which is not where they do well. It will take time for them to readjust their value system to include you, which they will do because you are family and so you will eventually work your way back into the good column, mostly because you are so closely attached to them that in order to maintain a positive self image they must adjust their standards.

Date: Aug 06 12:29
Author:anon for this
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DH needs to remind his mom that SHE is the key to his salvation. Remind her that she has been promised if she goes regularly to the temple she can save her own children! Now isn't that speshul?

Then let her know in no uncertain terms that if she wants to see her grandchildren and have a relationship with them she had better accept you boundaries.

My inlaws don't speak to us or our children. They live on the same street in the same ward! Haven't since we left but they like to drop off Xmas gifts of church books every year, coming when they know DH will not be home.

Lovely LDS family. Can't wait to spend eternity with them.

Subject: Re: Miserable over telling the in-laws...
Date: Aug 06 22:52
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Thank you for all the help and encouragement. This still really sucks, but I am hoping that things will get better with time...and maybe a little distance for the time being.

Subject: Re: Miserable over telling the in-laws... - PLEASE do your best to understand that they chose their
Date: Aug 06 23:16

behavior. You didn't do anything to them. It's a lie to think or believe you did.
His parents could have been civil and decent. There is no need to feel guilty or feel bad for their behavior. You didn't do a thing to them. Nothing.

It's my view that the best thing at this point is to tell them they are required to live their own 11th Article of Faith and that is what you will expect from them. Then stop all contact for awhile

11th Article of Faith:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

Generally, Mormons will adjust. After the crying and gnashing of teeth, they will settle down and hopefully, act like adults again.

They will realize that if they want a relationship with their loved ones, they will, at a minimum, have to behave themselves like civil human beings.

My view is that it is best to stop the emails. It just feeds their need to mouth off. Give them nothing to respond to. The more you write, the more they will keep digging the hole deeper for themselves.

I have relatives that are very angry Mormons. They are so hateful they will verbally assault anyone that gets in their way. They live and feed on hostility and make up stories and tell lies about their own loved ones.
This is an extreme case of toxic people that make others (including their own parents) sick!
Contact of any sort is impossible.

Everyone else has been a decent human being!

Back off, give them some time to adjust.

Then give yourself a pat on the back for making your own decisions and choices.'
Now....find something that makes you laugh!
They are really being very silly and foolish. Poor things.

You can stop feeling bad now! Go have FUN!

Subject: Your MIL is behaving like a controlling person . . . .
Date: Aug 06 23:28
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And it's typical behavior for an emotional abuser/controller to get REALLY nasty when they start to lose the control they once had.

Sure they are nice if everything goes exactly the way they want it, but if you step out of line, the gloves come right off.

Leaving the church is just revealing what was there all along: too much parental control, in this case through guilt and manipulation.

My suggestion is to get some books on control and abuse, perhaps even something to do with toxic parents, and learn how to address the inappropriate behavior and set proper boundaries. I've found some good books by Patricia Evans that were helpful to me.

Trying to convince them of the validity of your objections to the church is unlikely to succeed. They are too brainwashed. And even if you convinced them, there would probably STILL be the issue of parental interference to deal with.

Best of luck.

Subject: I feel for you
Date: Aug 07 00:17
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My DH and I quit going to church last summer. It's been a wonderful year of new freedoms and experiences. We have been able to spend much more quality time with our children and each other. I have especially enjoyed my garment free wardrobe.

DH's TBM mother lives several time zones away, and we haven't seen her in the last year. We have avoided telling her about our evil apostate ways for the very reasons you are writing about. However, we can't keep her in the dark much longer. I just had a baby a month ago and that question we have been dreading for nine months finally crept into my last phone call with MIL.... "When are you having the baby blessed?"

My DH finally has decided to get it over with and write his mother a letter and tell her we are no longer going to church. He plans to tell her we won't have our baby blessed and our children won't be baptized. I did emphasize to DH that he needs to make it clear to his mother that I am in full agreement.

I know that it will be difficult for her. However, it is very important to understand that we are not responsible for her happiness or misery. We are only responsible for our own state of mind.

My mother does live in the same town as us. She also had a difficult time at first. Although she is still sad over our decision and has a lot of needless guilt, we have been able to maintain a good relationship. My mother is a very important part of my life and I refused to let Mormonism drive a permanent wedge between us. Luckily my mother didn't send us such despicable messages like your MIL.

Hopefully with time, your MIL will not be so hateful. She will probably never accept your decision, but maybe she will learn to keep her snide comments to herself. If she doesn't know how to play nice, you may need to keep your distance for a while.

Stay strong. You made the right decision.

1 comment:

Cindy said...

Great points. Here's a video very related to what you're talking about...