(responding to the Epilogue of her book Quivering Daughters)
Thank God for you. Your ability to translate the depth of my (your) pain into words is a thing of terrible beauty. I would probably not have identified myself as a casualty of spiritual abuse without your words. And, therefore, never begun the healing of these old and deep wounds in my soul.
My family of origin lived on the liberal edge of fundamentalist Christianity in the 70's and 80's. My father was a pastor/music director/various positions of authority in a variety of Baptist, Church of God, and Plymouth Brethren assemblies and always somehow "in ministry". Our family's own practices were rarely so extreme as what I've been reading on your blog and the blogs of other survivors of radically right Christianity but the ideas, and ideals on which those ideas are based, were a large part of our theology. Your description of the spiritually abusive family fit my childhood to a T. I can now admit that the quality of abuse in my family is in no way less because the quantity of abuse was less than some.
I left organized religion at the death of my mother from cancer (at 49) nearly twenty years ago, thinking that I was leaving behind all the self-righteous hypocrisy and with it the pain and self-hatred engendered by church and family. I came to see however that hypocrites and Pharisees exist in every social group. Legalism is alive and well in the Simple Living Movement, Waldorf Education, neo hippie Back-to-the-Landers, and alternative medicine circles.
What I didn't notice until more recently was that the depression, anxiety, and perfectionism that plague my adult life resulted from the same deep self-loathing I thought I had left in the church. Having recognized it finally, a couple years ago, I didn't know how to change it. I had no capacity to extend myself the grace and forgiveness I have long extended my family (all of whom remain in church). I knew intuitively that my soul held long unhealed scars, festering abscesses that needed lancing, but I have kept my pain so deeply buried that I didn't know where to find it anymore.
My body and mind have paid the price of my denial and I developed hypoadrenia that left me unable to function or even to think in complete sentences for the better part of two years. Fortunately, I am over a year into recovery from that and am at least a contributing member of my family again. Part of the recovery process, however, is to search out the beliefs, behaviors, and situations that caused me to abuse my very Being to the extent that my body and mind were nearly lost. I knew I needed to reach those soul scars. If only I knew what they were!
A couple weeks ago, I was net-surfing about my daughters’ fascination with the Duggars and started finding references to Quiverfull and associated ideas. And I became addicted to reading about extreme Christians and those who've left the extremism. I started to get an inkling that maybe this was It ... the source of my festering. But even your Quivering Daughters blog with its evocative writing, while extremely helpful in identifying and describing spiritual abuse such as my childhood, simply couldn't pierce through my intellect to the emotional pain.
Today I read your new blog [edit: this blog is no longer public] and the post about mothering the child you were. For the first time, I cried. Only a little, not nearly enough. But I know it's a start. The rawness, the achingly fragile quality of the strength that kept you alive touched me in a different place than your other writing. The very personal pain that you strive to keep separate from your other blog (and probably rightly so) was the key that unlocked my own pain.
Thank you for being able to put that staggeringly choking clawing gripping reality on display for me. As I ache for the Luna in you, I am finally able to ache for the soul-hungry, whimpering, terrified, furious child in me.
Many blessings to you.