Monday, November 23, 2015

Looking for Wings

A reader writes:
Hello. I've really appreciated this blog. Not sure where to post, but I wanted to reach out. I could use some support. I have reached out to a couple others I know personally that have left. I'm in the "preparation phase" of leaving the IALC. Love the people, don't love the exclusivity. Greeting "believers" and then not greeting others in a room has never felt good to me. 
I grew up in this church, so the roots go deep. In fact, it's so much a part of me I've considered not leaving just because leaving seems like so much work and turmoil. But having just gone through a lot of other personal turmoil (and surviving and thriving), it seems silly to carry on with this. It has gotten to the point for me where I am feeling bitter about having to drive there, or wake up on a Sunday and get ready. Going through the motions for something I don't feel a part of. 
I appreciate the community, and I know I will miss the social aspect. The other major hurdle will be telling my family. My parents and siblings are very hardcore. I anticipate some major emotional outbursts, guilt trips, and the like. Basically, I'm scared. Any tips are welcome. I worry that I'll be like an animal that has been raised in a zoo, and is set free into the wild and just stands there, not knowing how to live free. :( 
– LookingForWings 
LFW, thanks for visiting. Many of us here can relate. You are wise to reach out, and wise to know that leaving is a process. Readers here will have plenty of advice. Mine is to practice listening to your instincts and then, honoring them. They count. You count.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Religion I Never Knew

A religion I never knew, but felt is a personal essay by Victoria Stoppiello about growing up in large Finnish family that she learns, on a trip to Finland. An excerpt:
I’d heard stories about the prohibitions that were part of my great-grandparents’ way of life: No smoking, drinking, dancing, card playing, whistling, wearing jewelry or make-up, or cutting your hair. (Those last prohibitions obviously directed at the females in the family.) Looking in the mirror was also prohibited. I knew all those behaviors were outlawed, but it never occurred to me that birth control was, too.

Before traveling to Finland I had some apprehension that all Finns would be like my mom’s emotionally cold family. On arriving at my grandparents’ home, a visitor might get a handshake, nothing more — certainly a contrast with my Italian-American in-laws. But in Finland, my Finnish cousins were quick to embrace my husband and me when we arrived at their homes. They were relaxed, lively and warm, so I was wrong about Finns being cold fish when it comes to greetings. I also assumed that my great-grandparents’ rigidity was typical of Finnish Lutheranism, but I was wrong about that, too. 
Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Were You Raised into a High-Control Religious Group?

While there are good arguments for why Laestadianism does not meet the definition of "cult," few could disagree that even at is most liberal, it is high-control. That's pretty much the point, for better and for worse.

Thanks to a reader for sharing this link to an International Cultic Studies Association program that addresses the needs of second generation adults, i.e., those born or raised into high control religious groups.
Second-Generation Adults (SGAs) do not have a “precult identity” to which they can return. Raised in fringe subcultures, they frequently have educational and other skill deficits that interfere with adjustment to mainstream culture. Having grown up in high-demand, high-control groups, SGAs struggle with issues of dependency, self-esteem, and social conflict. They often have to deal with the trauma of physical and/or sexual abuse. SGAs have difficulty getting help because they tend to lack finances and be wary of other people, including helpers.
Two articles describe the program: Lessons Learned from SGAs About Resiliency and Recovery and My Perspective of Rosanne Henry and Leona Furnari’s Presentation to the Annual SGA Workshop.  The next workshop is in Chester, Connecticut next spring: April 15-17, 2016.

I fast-forwarded through much of the video, but even so, I heard a lot of parallels to my own experience.

This statement is pretty much the reason for this site:
"Former members are the most helpful piece for a lot of people recovering (from high-control gruops) . . . it's really the way to understand your own experience and to find out you are not the only one."

Readers, I hope you are finding the support you need, and helping others as you're able. Do you think things are easier now for those who leave Laestadianism, given all the resources available?