I’ve been writing out my personal story lately, and am working on installment six.
Last night, despite her usual reticence, my wife and I were discussing the manipulation and spiritual abuse we endured early in our Christian life, detailed in installment 5. In particular we were discussing why I was so compliant with J and the other leaders, why I was so willing to defer my autonomy to them. Even within my biography, that I haven’t the patience to go backwards in right now, I focus on my powerful belief in God/Jesus and my fear of not being obedient to him, and so on.
But while we were chatting, my wife said, “You know, maybe it was also another manifestation of your daddy issues, growing up as you did without a father. Maybe you looked at them as substitutes for the missing male figure in your life.”
I told you she was the smart one.
I think I’ve mentioned it before, but for readers unaware, my father, who was a really fucked up human being (not all by choice – he was terribly abused by several adults as a child), left us when I was 6. I didn’t see him again until I was 14, almost 15, and in that time heard from him only a few times – you could count them on one hand.
I really try to be introspective. I try to be honest with myself, faults and qualities alike. I try to understand why I do things, why I react in certain ways, why I do what I do and say what I say. And I thought I understood myself to a reasonable extent.
And I’ve spent a lot of time working through my Daddy Issues, and my parent issues, having a wonderful mom who will actually talk with me about the impact of her life issues on her sons.
But I confess I never once considered how that may have energized my ready capitulation of my free will to these men. But it makes perfect sense, and is worth exploring.
Furthermore, I’m starting to think that dynamic might have come into play not only in relation to the male leaders I looked to, but also in my relation to the god I believed in. Did I need to believe so badly, and did I need to stay “in his will” so badly, because I was afraid that even this supposedly infinitely loving Abba Father would reject me once again, to a fate much worse than simple loneliness and childhood abandonment?
In hindsight, there were times as a Christian when I was bothered by the fact that I sometimes treated god as an out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of god. Like my dad. And I worried he would know and, of course, somehow reject me. I spent a lot of energy rereading verses that promised eternal security, perhaps because that was a guarantee that I finally would not and could not be rejected or abandoned.
I think there’s a lot of insight in T’s thought, and I think it speaks to the larger idea that the gods people believe in usually, very coincidentally I’m sure, think much like the believers do. Imagine that.
My dad has been gone for years now, and for better or worse I still find his fingerprints all over the place. Thankfully I have such a lovely woman in my life who helps me find them and helps me polish them off the surfaces on which they don’t belong, and preserve them in the places where they do.