As a child I was groomed to be co-dependent by the church organization I was raised in. My mother and grandmother were also raised in. It was our family lineage. A multi-generational participation in a distortion that is a blue print for the narcissist and co dependent relationships that are rampant in our society.
In our church/congregation girls wore dresses. The prettier and more frilly the more attention we received. And our mothers were also expected to ensure that their daughters were well groomed and adorable. There was much positive attention from the men for our proper attire, perfect hair dos and over all cuteness. And to some degree that reflected on the mothers. Who also were forbidden to wear pants in church. Well behaved and well dressed, we were models of obedience.
If we were too loud or too rambunctious we were properly spanked. Even infants were spanked from time to time. By the age of six, the year my father died creating an indelible age marker for my life – I had been spanked with a leather belt, a switch off a tree, a wooden spoon and a hand – many many times.
In church we sat alongside our parents for hours on end looking at the same reading material they were. Studying the same biblical texts and listening to the same speakers. There was no Sunday School for children in our religion. Like the Amish and many other religions, children learn alongside their parents. And a common theme was that wives should be obedient to their husbands and children to their parents and husbands were the head of the household and wives should “please” their husbands and be subservient.
Behind the scenes there were rumors of punishment. In fact there was a room at the back of the church that always had the shades drawn – it was a meeting room. And no one wanted to be called into that room. Anything could happen behind those walls and no one would ever know or try to walk in. It was a feared place avoided at all costs. Things that happened within the walls of the back room were never spoken of. Individuals from time to time were “disfellowshipped” publicly – the most frightening and horrific punishment imaginabale. A jury of men called elders would hear complaints and require over the course of many meetings (usually in the back room) great detail as to the wrong. A wife having an affaire would result in an inquisition of elders questioning the woman in great detail regarding all the juicy and steamy tid bits of the romance until it was determined that the congregation should be protected from her rottenness. An announcement would be made to the congregation warning the congregation to shun this person, not speak to them – as if they were dead, until further notice. After about a year of showing up weekly to attend church and not being spoken to by anyone and writing letters begging forgiveness and groveling to the elders – the “rotten” individual might prove their worth to be re-accepted into the fold. Another announcement would be made and suddenly they were alive again and welcomed back to the speaking and spoken-to world. But the tarnished reputation of being once disfellowshipped was never forgotten.
Growing up we weren’t allowed to participate much in outside of church activities. No team sports or school dances. Nothing extra curricular outside school. We didn’t celebrate holidays or birthdays so we had little in common with friends outside church anyway. We played with kids in our insular community. Our parents were trained to see co-workers as preaching opportunities thereby assuring they also had no work friends. Co-workers tended to be polite at work and never engage socially. For fear they would be preached at. Through this systemic isolation and 100% reliance on the church community – Disfelowshipping meant knowing no one. Since there were no outside relationships, it was the most disconnected a person could feel. And it was feared. We learned very young that love was conditional.
In our religion men knew what was best. Men knew how to “take care of” their wife’s needs. In the bedroom and out. Men were also groomed. Even young boys were groomed. One time I secretly learned an elder brought a 14 year old boy to his wife to pleasure her. The all powerful elder told him he was “lucky” and also shamed him into silence with the fear of disconnection from friends and family. The sexual narcissist grooms in this way. He knows what a woman wants and needs, more than he respects she might know herself. This young man was taught in that one encounter that love and sexuality are disconnected. That manipulation and energy vampiring are acceptable ways to satisfy physical desire even at the cost of stealing another’s sovereignty. Shame on her for playing into either her own fantasy that victimized a child or one that was placed on her by her controlling sexually narcissistic husband. Disgusting.
As a small girl I remember having my safety and security tied to the adult men in the congregation. To my father and to other elders after he passed. I remember being fully cognizant of how to have small talk with adults. I was keenly aware of what was expected of me as a child and I also made mental notes of who was treating me with respect and who wasn’t. Making eye contact and shaking hands was a life skill we were trained in from a young age. These things all seem good and well but now I am realizing there was an under belly. Unlike other children who would play together I frequently chatted up the elderly or twirled my dress for the adults to praise my prettiness. I was a very conscious child. Conscious that my soul and the souls of the elderly were only to overlap for a short time on this earth. I knew I needed to spend time with those who were leaving soon. As the young would be with me my lifetime. I had the unusual habbit of sitting under a table at parties and listening to the adult conversations. I was studying them. Their social cues and ways. I was keeping apprised of what was evolving in the adult social circles. Instinctively I was observing my culture. I was learning to be careful. I was becoming a controlled and controlling empath – hearing all the conversations and assimilating all the feelings in order to have an advantage. In order to feel safe.
What I wasn’t conscious of was that most of the men in our congregation were narcissists. Broken people. Told they were special from a young age. That they would live forever while the others around perished. Told they were special in direct contrast to their lived experience of ostracism and control by the values and rules of a strict religious upbringing. And I learned how to speak narcissist at a very young age. How to make them feel comfortable. How to address them in a way that built up their ego. And honored their small talk stories of how great and smart they were. Having walked into this life from my last one where I was a prostitute who entertained politicians – it is no wonder I quickly picked up this skill. And to some degree this life was a reinforcing pattern for my personality to be co-dependent on men for financial security again. As in many past lifetimes. But this time I also had women in my lineage who were bitter groomers themselves. Believing that men should be pleased. Who competed with me as a child for the attention of the adult men in their life. My grandmother especially was more like maleficient the evil fairy than any grandmotherly character you might hold dear in your heart. Jealous of the attention I would receive as a child – she cast a spell of death upon me like a dagger. That wound of co-dependence and back pain has been with me an entire lifetime. Only now I see it more clearly than ever. I feel it releasing from my body and cellular memory for all the generations of women in my lineage now and before me with great discomfort. My maternal grand mother, a woman who is rumored to have been having an affaire with her husband’s brother within the confines of this church community. She groomed her own daughters, continuing a legacy of access for sexual predators – to abuse at will within the secret walls of this church community. My maternal grandmother died a disfellowshipped reject – turned in by her own co-dependent and sexually deviant daughter for smoking cigarettes. She could never quit long enough to repent and be re-alivened to the speaking world.
Are all churches this bad? Probably not. But there is a big piece that is secretly, maybe unconsciously – a relic from a paradigm where men dominated women. And women were in competition with each other and even with the women of their matriarchal lineage for the affection of men. A distorted reality where the ones holding the real power were beholden to the ones usurping it. And no one felt safe or secure. Where everyone was complicit in a twisted version of reality that called what was true wrong and what was wrong truth. Where love and god are outside ourselves and not within. Where teaching from a pulpit and a manipulation of our logical egoic thinking replaces the knowing in our heart that we can’t quite put words to. That a brainwashing story assigns words to, and that we feel pressured to accept even though it doesn’t feel right. Many in the church go about life never knowing consciously of the child abuse and grooming that is happening. They only get the cultural immersion of brainwashing in a field of consciousness where all these goings on are going on. Behind walls and in secret to some degree. Intuitively knowing and yet consciously in denial. Perpetrators themselves of a religious culture that reinforces a distorted blueprint from another paradigm.
How do we destroy this blue print? We stop grooming our children to deal with narcissists. We call out narcissism and co-dependence when we see it. Even if we’re seeing it in our own family. We value children for who they are in their heart. Not how they look or how well behaved, how they perform or how polite they are. Nothing wrong with any of those things but we must recognize that they may not be authentic to the child. And if their value is tied to in-authenticity, we’re creating disconnected people who will go out and try to find wholeness by fixing broken marriage partners, people pleasing and living from their logical mind without checking in with their heart. If our children don’t feel they can stand up for themselves and still be accepted. If they can’t speak their truth without fear of rejection – then we’ve disempowered them. As adults of the old paradigm we must take back our power. Reclaim our sovereignty. Stop allowing others to take advantage of us and stop working for everyone else’s happiness. When we begin to live from our heart space, we reclaim sovereignty and create new blue prints based on unconditional love. Not control and manipulation and inauthentic forms of value. Not fear of disconnection for appearing wrong in our presentation. Or wrong in our choices or wrong in the things or habits we choose to adopt for our own joy. Who we are is not an outward appearance. It’s an inward feeling of unconditional love and connection that can never be disfellowshipped by a controlling distortion of society that has no heart.
When I read the Jaycee Dugard story of abduction and abuse it was not surprising to me that the woman who enabled and assisted with the kidnapping to satisfy her husband’s deviant sexual drive was also of this religion. Herself groomed to please her man with complete disregard for any intuitive moral compass. Obediently groomed and brainwashed to be disconnected from her heart.