jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Inspired by a BBC blog post and the #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou hashtag, here are some signs you may be in an abusive religion, based on personal experience.

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The same things apply to abusive families, friends, coworkers, and organizations.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

if I can't tell free stories for people.

I'm going to talk about why I think that is, because it's not because anyone here on Dreamwidth has been a jerk. It appears to be more tied into the kinds of "abusive religion / family" things that we're used to writing about. It just took a visit to a "Mormon Meme Translator," which explains the hidden meanings behind the things we grew up with, to help us see why we are having such trouble with this.

Content note: Brief, nongraphic mention of how we were so depressed as a Mormon that we almost killed ourself, which is not how we're feeling right now, and spoilers for the plot of Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

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TL;DR

Just read Wundergeek's comic about depression and anxiety. :P And how they make you sabotage yourself.

So, what does this mean for you?

Honestly, I don't think you (meaning anyone reading this) have to do anything. We have to not be so hard on ourself, to be more realistic about what we can do, and to be accepting when bad things happen or we can't do what was expected.

We're pretty sure our readers and players are. We just need to learn it as well, because this perfectionism is a bigger problem than our triggers and lack of spoons are. The latter we can work around or wait to subside, while the former makes us feel like we shouldn't try to begin with.

Having said that, some more hugs and encouragement would be nice. >_> We're sorry we're being so hard on ourself.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Yesterday, I got stranded a long way from home with no way back.

Content note: A longish story about the hidden costs of being poor, the inhumaneness of "personal responsibility" teachings, and how [personal profile] jewelfox learned to be mean to herself from her abusive family of origin. Contains swearing, transphobia, and poverty-shaming.

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I'm not writing this because I bear a strong grudge that I haven't let go of (although that may be part of it). I'm writing this because this is stuff that has really affected me, and has changed how I see myself whether I want it to or not.

My family of choice, my real loved ones, don't see what I did as unreasonable, and don't want me to see myself as "irresponsible" and a "burden." I don't want to see myself that way, either. So I have to deconstruct why I feel that way, so that I can maybe move past it.

I hope that this helps someone else, who needs to do the same thing. I hope you can learn to value yourself as a person.





* Willful ignorance is the defining trait of religious and political conservatism, as near as I can tell. It is also the defining trait of evil alignment, IMO.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

We've talked about them a lot in our previous posts, but those are kind of scattered through our journal and some of them were written in various states of incoherent rage. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; anger is a sign that your boundaries are being violated, and is as natural and necessary as physical pain is. Expressing it should be a warning to other people to back off, or to help so your pain goes away.

Unfortunately, it also made us hard to understand sometimes, especially when each post usually addressed one particular thing and assumed prior knowledge of what we'd been writing about. So here's the condensed version of why our "family of origin" and "family of choice" are two separate things, and why it would not be healthy or possible for us to change that.

Content note: We don't go into too many details about their physical and emotional abuse, but the ones we do mention might trigger some people. We also talk about their homophobic, transphobic, and sexist religion some, and the things that they've done because of it.

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We currently have no contact with our parents of origin, and don't have online contact information for our siblings even if we wanted to talk to them. We don't want to have contact with any of them until they demonstrate self-awareness, and apologize and try to make amends for their behaviour, instead of just sweeping it under the rug and pretending like nothing has happened. Because as long as they think that it's normal and okay to hurt other people the way that they do, but harmful and deviant just for me to exist, they are dangerous.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

In the human social circles we've been inside, there is enormous stigma against saying that you've been hurt, especially by someone who's part of the circle.

The assumption is that you've brought it on yourself. You chose to take offence. You chose to be victimized, or your choices left you susceptible to it. You now choose to play the victim, and it has to be a role that you play because no real victims exist. Not here, not in our circle, not as a result of our kind.

The second-fastest way to lose friends is to point out who they victimize.

The fastest way to lose friends is to require them to take responsibility for having hurt you. Especially if you're too hurt by them to do it in a polite way, because politeness is the social grease that's smeared over violence to mask it.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

A bit of a run-on sentence, from http://stormsandpower.blogspot.com/2014/12/mormons-ex-and-still.html. The pertinent part is bolded:

For me this work raises other questions especially at this time when so many people seem troubled by the facts of Mormonism’s past and the politics of its present as to whether that ex- of ex-Mormon means you can no longer define them as part of the experience of the Mormons as a people.

I think that for a lot of people, that's true. Being "Mormon" doesn't necessarily mean being a member in good standing of the modern, correlated Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, no matter what its leaders say. It's more of a cultural identity, like being Jewish, and there are people who cherish and embrace that identity even as they question Mormonism's basic doctrines or historical foundations.

Personally, though, I see myself as less of a participant in the Mormon identity, and more of a victim of Mormon culture and institutional Mormon religion.

Politically incorrect, adj.: "True, but we pretend it isn't"

It's politically incorrect to use the v-word in today's society, where everyone is an ubermensch and can breathe lightning and decide whether or not something hurts them. But you can't really have a conversation about things like "victimization" and "victim-blaming" without there being victims.

The word has come to mean "morally deficient person who dwells on past grievances and blames others for her own flaws," when it really just means "person who's been wronged." And while I'm okay with some people I'd otherwise call abuse victims choosing to identify as "survivors" of abuse instead, I also think that term places abuse in the realm of natural disasters and acts of god. Things that just happen on their own, that you can't prevent and can only learn how to deal with.

It may seem that way to abuse victims / survivors, since abusers choose people who can't fight back as their targets. But in my experience, the reason abusers blame victims -- and telling them they can't call themselves victims is a form of victim-blaming -- is to keep them in an abusive situation, both mentally and physically. If they're the ones causing the abuse, there's no need to try to escape or seek redress; they just need to make themselves worthy of not being abused anymore.

And that's what Mormonism does

To a lot of people outside the institutional Mormon church, with its political activism, and to a lot of people inside it. Who don't fit into Mormon culture, but don't have a meaningful choice about what culture to participate in.

I wanted to call myself Mormon, but kept being reminded that I made a very poor one.

I was "unworthy" of their sacred ordinances and coming-of-age rituals, because I was honest in Bishops' interviews. I was constantly reminded of how different I was from the hand-shaking, back-slapping, neurotypical Mormons around me, and when my mother of origin saw me cringing from physical contact she chastised me for it.

I don't know how many youth dances and "young single adult" activities I spent pacing in driveways, parking lots, and darkened hallways, either listening to my MP3 player or watching the shadows get longer.

I don't know how many lessons and talks I sat through where people told me that the technology which enabled me to live a halfway fulfilling life, connect with people who valued me for who I was, and have experiences I never could otherwise, was an irrelevant worldly distraction.

And when I finally left the Mormon church, and started telling people about the abuse I received at the hands of my Mormon family, all the Mormons I talked to about it had two reactions: They felt very sorry for me, and they distanced themselves and their culture from the abuse, with canned statements like "not all Mormons are like that" and "our church teaches against that." Even though my parents of origin were, and as far as I know still are, "worthy" members who were never chastised or held accountable by the church for their actions, and who used its teachings to justify (and its power structures to enable) hurting me.

Meanwhile, my interactions with church members and leadership were major factors in my becoming suicidally depressed.

So if a non-mormon leaves the Mormon church

... can she still be called an ex-mormon? I don't know.

I know I've always been fascinated with Mormonism, but it's become more of a morbid fascination since I left. Their culture, doctrine, and practices basically embody abuse and rape culture and kyriarchy, and any time I need an object lesson for "what not to do" I can use them.

I also know Mormon culture has influenced me. My method of prayer is still very close to theirs, even if the object of worship is different, and their teachings on sexuality are the reason that I'm such a prude. :P Not because I'm okay with slut-shaming, rape victim blaming, and having adult men ask kids of all genders about their sex practices one-on-one behind closed doors, but because the shame I internalized from those teachings is something I may never be rid of.

If there's anything (arguably) positive I got out of Mormonism, it's being unafraid to be different in public. Nowadays, the institutional church's PR machine is spending millions of dollars to make Mormons appear normal, or at least bring them up to Mitt Romney levels of normalcy. But I was raised with the thought that I was supposed to be part of "a peculiar people," with beliefs very different from everyone else's, and I should be unafraid to share those different beliefs.

I like to think I've learned some about boundaries since then. But as you can see from the sidebar, I'm still okay with being different, and with explaining my differences to others. It helps that the only way we know how to describe ourself truthfully is to use different words, and pronouns, than others use.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Content note: Sexism, descriptions of physical and emotional abuse, some brief strong language towards the end, and descriptions of interpersonal conflict within a family.

There's a good story somewhere in Ender's Game. A child gets taken away to a magical school In Space, and is forced to survive when both teachers and students are literally trying to kill him. In the end, he faces a moral dilemma, and how he responds after everything that he's been through defines who he is as a character.

It resonates with me, because it basically describes a Mormon upbringing.

On the one hand, you're mass produced and depersonalized, especially if you come from one of those Utah families with nine kids. On the other hand, you're told repeatedly that you are a Chosen One, part of a chosen generation of Mormon kids, and your actions and faithfulness will help bring about the second coming of Christ. (Mormons are averse to calling him "Jesus" for some reason.)

Ender spends his whole childhood training to be a soldier. Mormon kids spend their whole childhoods training to be either a mom or a missionary. I can't overstate how much these two roles are glorified, or how much the bike-riding, nametag-wearing missionaries are held up as role models to Mormon kids who are assigned the male gender. And all the while, your belief that you're one of the few people that God approves of -- and that everyone else needs to be like you -- is creating this wedge between you and the people around you, which you are encouraged to see as "they hate me because of my righteousness."

Seriously, this is the major theme in the first couple parts of the Book of Mormon. The POV character is a Mary Sue, whose brothers hate him and repeatedly try to kill him because he's so awesome and always does what God wants him to.

The problem with Ender's Game is not that Ender goes through all this. It's that Orson Scott Card did, and is apparently blind to it.

Read more... )

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

(Content note: Transphobia, detailed account of interpersonal conflict.)

I went to speak with my therapist the other day, and the first thing on the agenda was how I was treated by one of the receptionists on my last visit to my psychiatrist's office.

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I kind of have to fight my Mormon upbringing to write accounts of being treated badly. I feel like, what she said and the way she said it were right; I just need to be patient and accept that I'm not a full person, and it's okay to do things to me that they would never be okay with if it were anyone else. Abuses of power and trust are supposed to stay hidden and never see light, because abusers are more valuable than the people they hurt and it's important to not hurt their feelings.

The fact that I was raised this way, by people I now know were terrible, is part of the reason I write about this. Also because I want to keep my friends and loved ones posted, and I want to remember what happened and explain it to myself, so that I don't slip back into feeling like I deserve it all and it's all my fault.

About us

~ Fox | Gem | Rei ~

We tell stories, paint minis, collect identity words, and share them all with our readers. If something we write helps you, let us know.

~ She / her ~

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