I brought up reverse gaslighting yesterday for a specific reason. It is because of how few adults are talking about their experiences growing up with divorced (or never married) parents.
Based on my own experience, I can say that our culture reverse gaslighted me. The lie that everything was OK was deeply embedded in me, to such an extent that I repeated it for decades. However, I should have seen that the circumstances of my life were strong evidence that everything was not OK inside me. But nobody helped me put the pieces together until a few years ago, when I got to know the gal who became my Catholic mentor. Like pieces of a very complex puzzle, she was able to help me put everything together through a thoroughly Catholic lens. Remember how I mentioned before about the importance of making proper distinctions? She helped me do that.
The cult leader claims to be teaching an esoteric system that helps people have a “right relationship” with themselves, with others and with the world around them (paraphrased from his website), but that is a lie. Everything done there is supposed to be about psychological healing, but there were many issues surrounding my parents divorce and subsequent actions that were never addressed. I buried everything I felt because there was no avenue to express it, no language, no concepts, no affirmation of that reality. As just one example, rarely the cult leader would mention of how I never had a family–he mentioned it enough that I knew that this is what he thought. But he also severely denigrated my mother, publicly and often. He hated her, and I am not entirely clear why but I have an opinion that I may share here at another time. His denigration of her fed into my unresolved anger. He was crafty enough to see my lack of family and understand how vulnerable it made me, but he never helped ME to see it–I was in denial about that loss the entire time. Plus he didn’t affirm my mother or my father. He didn’t help me to honor them as the Bible tells us to do. In fact, he actively encouraged me to shun them, especially my mother. He did not acknowledge the legitimacy of my first family, that triad, that community of three persons who formed one family, the impetus of my being. His “esoteric help” did not help me at all. It was his way of keeping me embedded there as part of his narcissistic supply. The same could be said for my ex-husband, whose parents divorced when he was 16.
The ironic thing is that now I am a Catholic and because of the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church, I finally have a “right relationship” with my ex-husband, but he does not have a “right relationship” with me. In regards to his relationship to me, the cult has not helped him to forgive, to work through his rage, to stop his defamation, or to stop his sexual sin and alcohol usage… and he calls himself a true Christian. I recently learned about the restorationist movement. I did not even know that was a thing, but evidently it’s pretty common for groups to consider themselves as returning to first century Christianity. Well, that certainly describes the cult. But the fruit of the cult is bad, and that is one way to know that it is not based on Christ. He is still as stuck in those emotions and behaviors as he was years ago, if not more so. As it says in Galations 5:19-23:
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
I am not certain I should be saying these things about him. But I am becoming indignant at his stubborn refusal to humble himself, to give me any leeway whatsoever, and his persistent determination to denigrate me to my own children. It is evil, and I am becoming less willing to remain silent about it. He is training my girls to accept that a man should treat a woman that way, and he is training my son to treat women that way.
Lord, please help me understand how to deal with this man according to your will. I must avoid and repent from any desire for revenge, because you alone are the judge. If I could cut him out of my life for good, I would, because he is advocating and practicing evil. But I cannot, since he is the father of my children and a grandfather of my grandchild. I know that he was created in your image and likeness, and in that sense he is good, but I am infuriated that my children still have to be subjected to his evil beliefs and behaviors. Lord, please do something. Please help him repent, help him return to his first love, help him to see how far away he is from your grace, give him the courage to face his fears, bring one of your servants into his life to tell him the truth and help him hear it. Please help me love him as you do. I hate having to use my kids’ dad as an example of evil behavior. It makes me very sad. Amen.
Edit: here is today’s Collect from the Latin mass I attended this evening:
Da, quaesumus, Domine, populo tuo diabolica vitare contagia: et te solum Deum pura mente sectari. Per Dominum.
Grant, O Lord, unto Thy people, grace to avoid all contact with the devil, and with pure minds to follow Thee, the only God. Through our Lord.