What is your relationship with your parents and siblings like today? What is your relationship with those you grew up with who remained in the movement like?
I have completely closed the door on all communication with my mother. No calls, no emails, no letters, no visits, nothing. The mind games she played became too much for my children and, most of all, my wife, that we mutually decided to close the door on that area of our life.
My siblings and I were very close growing up. We still are in many respects but maintain respectful boundaries around our plethora of differing beliefs.
Old friends that are still in the movement have rejected me completely, loved me unconditionally, or accepted me cordially. It runs the full spectrum of humanity.
Things are the best they’ve ever been between me and my dad and my siblings. We enjoy spending time together and can talk about our opinions and experiences without offending each other. However, there is some tension in my relationship with my mom, who is the only fundamentalist left in our family. On several occasions, she has let me know that she believes me to be a selfish and bitter person who doesn’t have a relationship with God; as a result, it’s hard for me to have a relationship with her because she doesn’t like who I am.
My parents and I have reached a sort of equilibrium. There are certain things we just don’t talk about. I do have relationships with my siblings who still live at home (those under eighteen), but again, there are certain things that I just leave unsaid, especially since they’re still children and under my parents’ authority. Sometimes when I visit home I see some of the people I grew up with, but again, we simply ignore certain subjects. It’s always slightly tense, like there’s an elephant in the room.
But I didn’t reach this equilibrium with my parents until after I married. When I married, even without their permission or blessing and against their wishes, I moved in their conception from being a rebellious daughter who wouldn’t obey her authority, her father, to being a wife under the authority of her husband. This weirdly allowed things to calm down a bit.
Oh, and my relationships with my adult siblings are actually fairly good. Some of them have experienced struggles similar to mine, and even those who haven’t generally respect my right to live my own life. And my relationships with a few of them have actually grown and blossomed through the whole process of sorting things out.
I don’t have contact with anybody in the movement outside my family. Contact with my family is very rare and not initiated by them.
My siblings and I are much closer as a result of this process. We are finally getting along with each other in ways we never could when duty and performance defined our family dynamics. It’s really great to have this season of change and exploration together.
My CP/QF friends either don’t know that I’ve changed (I’m living in a different state now, and I was the only one of our group to go out of state for college) and think that I’m living the happy newlywed CP life, or keep me at a distance, asking me questions about my beliefs or opinions if they are curious about anything.
I am very close with several of my adult siblings. For younger siblings I feel like more of an Aunt figure that they see occasionally. I know that my parents love me and wish I still believed, but our relationship is somewhat strained. I think perhaps my Dad has a hard time relating to someone he is not allowed to lead? And my Mom is unhappy that I do not run my choices by them to get their perspective before I make decisions. I talk with my Mom periodically and try to relate as much as we can, but it hard to confide in her or have a very close relationship.
As I said before, I don’t really talk to my parents at all. They never call me and they never visit. I don’t really go out of my way to call them either though. I feel safer having them at a distance. I don’t feel threatened or questioned or judged, so long as I keep them at arm’s length. I miss my little brothers and sisters very much, even though I see them at least once a month. As for people still in the movement, I generally don’t see them anymore. Sometimes I get angry facebook comments from them, but that’s about it. My best friend of many years actually told me she no longer wanted me in her life because my beliefs had changed so much from hers.
Leaving meant cutting off contact with all friends from my church. I’m now back in touch with a few of them, but our relationships are a little awkward.
I talk to my mom a few times a week, and I’d describe our relationship as positive and friendly, if still somewhat enmeshed in the sense that we tend to feel responsible for each other emotionally. She has seemed much less fazed by my defection from CP/QF than my father, which strengthens my suspicion that “their” beliefs have been largely his, with her playing along to be supportive and keep the peace. I see my siblings every week or two. We aren’t as close as we used to be, but there is little tension. With my dad, things have been a bit more distant and strained at times. I feel he is disappointed that he wasn’t able to hand on his “vision” to me more fully, and that I never did become that Proverbs 31 woman of his dreams. On the other hand, he still cares about me and wants to be on good terms. I’ve had some indications already that with time he is letting go of his disappointments and accepting things as they are. I hope this trend will continue and that he will have great relationships with his grandchildren.