The breaking point

Yesterday my parents coerced my younger sister into not getting on a plane to come visit me for the weekend. I bought the ticket so we could have some fun bonding time, which we so rarely get with her busy university schedule.

As soon as my parents heard about it they became irrationally obsessed with stopping the trip. There is a church activity this weekend, they say, and your sister has to be at it. Clearly the event will stand or fall on whether or not she is there to slice the green jell-o. My sister had made arrangements with the organisers to have someone else manage the jell-o and punch in her stead. My sister may still live at home, but she is an adult. She made arrangements with the other adults to whom she was obligated, and all parties were satisfied. Why are my parents, who are not members of the singles ward, micromanaging an event in which they have no part?

The night before the flight, I received an angry call from both of my parents, blaming me for ruining the church party and their dinner plans because “they had to deal with this.”

My mum said it was important for my sister to attend because she “needed to be taught a lesson about being so selfish.” I fail to see the selfishness in periodically missing a church event to spend time with a family member. My mum seems to define “selfish” as “a person who does not do exactly what I tell them to do.” That definition seems terribly . . . selfish.

She said my sister could come another time. I asked her when. “Later,” I was told.

That’s when I hit the breaking point. I am sick to the teeth of this abuse.

“It seems like every time I ask to have either [redacted] or [redacted] for a visit, you come up with some reason why they can’t.”

I didn’t say it in an angry or sad tone. I stated it as fact. Because it’s true. My parents are manipulative and bullying and will only allow me to interact with my siblings in an environment they are allowed to control. I don’t know what they believe I am going to do to my sisters. In their twisted view of the world where anything outside the Church they worship is a threat, they probably believe that not only will I force feed them the sinful custard that is apostasy, but I’ll also take them to shoot up heroin while being gang-banged a tattoo parlour. They can’t conceive of a visit in which we talk about school, pop culture, and life in general whilst having nice meals and going shopping.

Mum laid into the usual guilt trip, how this was affecting her health, and how sick she was to be surrounded by selfish people, but for the first time it all just plinked off of me like broken arrows failing to penetrate armour. Her rubbish didn’t make it far enough to stab me the way it usually does.

She concluded with “do what you want” and hung up on me.

They went on to bully my sister so much that she did not even call me to let me know that she didn’t get on the plane. I heard from her later in the day, and we worked out some coping mechanisms for the near future. My parents have refused to fund any portion of her education because she didn’t want to go to BYU. Evil rebel. She will move away soon, and I plan to help her financially as much as I can.

This was the breaking point. I need to have no contact with them for a while, if only so that I can send a very clear message that their childish threats, guilt trips, and outright lies no longer have any power over me. I am not a bad person, and I am not to blame when they become upset because I refuse to conform to their unreasonable demands.

Built to Deceive?

CV Harquail writes a very popular management blog, and yesterday she turned her attention to organisations that are Built to Deceive. I follow her because her writing applies so well to so many things. Religion, business, personal relationships can all be authentic or inauthentic. She spells out that an organisation is built to deceive when it:

  • Has employees who are willing to accept a lie as the premise of their organization’s identity
  • Has employees who accept that their work for the company will hurt some customers
  • Has employees who don’t believe that customers should be treated with respect
  • Has employees that cannot be completely proud of their work
  • Has employees that are willing to act unethically in order to sell their product

Let’s do some word switching so that this applies to religious groups:

  • Has members who are willing to accept a lie as the premise of their church’s identity
  • Has leaders who accept that their work for the church will hurt some members
  • Has leaders who don’t believe that members should be treated with respect
  • Has leaders that cannot be completely proud of their work
  • Has leaders that are willing to act unethically in order to gain converts

If you’re a religious person and your feathers got ruffled by reading that, now may be the time for some introspection as to how you can better combat elements of deception and manipulation that creep into your congregation.