6 minutes ago, Kayleigh83 said:
I agree - I think at this point she needs cult deprogramming, not just a hard shake or good therapy. She is in deep, deep denial and cognitive dissonance. Her entire sense of self is wrapped up in her beliefs in this cult that she has been raised in since birth. And yes, other people including some of her own siblings have gotten out. Good for them! Everyone is different, processes things differently, handles things differently. I have family members who have been sent into complete tailspins of deep depression due to life events that have not done the same to me. It doesn’t mean I’m better than them, it’s just that we’re wired differently and have different experiences in our lives. If I wouldn’t tell someone who is clinically depressed to just cheer up or do some yoga to feel better, I certainly wouldn’t take that approach to someone who has been mentally, emotionally and spiritually abused their entire life either.
What’s really sad is that the tragedy of Anna’s extremely successful and entrenched cult programming makes it so hard for her to see the real damage and pain she’s exposing herself and her children to. That she doesn’t realize it doesn’t need to be this way, even when the truth and offers of help are screaming and jumping up and down in front of her face. I don’t need to choose whether to empathize with Anna OR her children. They’re all victims, and even though she is an adult who is responsible for her children’s lives, she’s still a victim of cult programming that has given her a narrow and fucked up set of options and put blinders on her to all others. Nobody wins here, we don’t need to pick a bad guy, beyond the entire fucked up system she exists inside of.
What I truly hope for is some glimmer of realization from her, that she needs to get out and find a new world. And that her wealthy sister can then pay for the best cult deprogramming that money can buy, and therapy for all of her kids.
Recognizing the reality of Anna’s situation and the uphill climb it is for her to wake up and get out doesn’t preclude being sad and angry that it hasn’t been an easier road to this for her, for her children’s sake. It’s not “OK” that Anna has made the choices that she has, the outcomes have not been good to say the least. But it’s “understandable” for lack of a better word given her background, and I think needs to be taken into account when discussing why she has or has not made different and better choices up til now. If you don’t agree and feel no empathy for Anna at all and feel she should be in complete, mentally healthy control of her choices the moment she reached some point in her life, as though reaching adulthood or having children washes away a lifetime of abuse and brainwashing (if only) then that’s your prerogative. But I don’t agree. The consequences of her actions are what they are though, and maybe one day she’ll start to come to terms with them and start making it right. That’s my hope for her and her kids.
Having grown up in Europe, having had a decent (public school) education, and having been exposed to maybe just 20% of the cultish programming that Anna must have had, I must say my heart really really goes out to her.
When the (cultish fundie) world as I had known it started to crumble and cognitive dissonance got stronger and stronger and just couldn*t be ignored any longer, I was young (early 20s), single and without any kids. I had an education and I knew I could use it to support myself. And still I was scared sh*tless, it felt like jumping out of an airplane without any parachute and I was really convinced that I would end up smashed and splattered on the ground.
When you grow up in those closed belief systems, there simply isn't any exit, not even an emergency exit. Getting out is inconceivable. It is the unthinkable. And in order to try and get out you must be sooooo desperate, having simply no other option left, that you're left thinking "might as well give it a try..."
For me, it nearly killed me, there were countless instants when I thought about jumping off some bridge, because I was so desperate, alone and didn't realize that there were any alternatives worth living. And the circumstances I found myself in were cozy compared to what Anna finds herself in right now, having 7 children, no education that is worth mentioning and having been far more thoroughly brainwashed than I had been at the time.
Whoever thinks that you just get up and leave 'the system' - let me tell you it's not that simple and that easy. It's not driven by logic. It's as if the world as you have known it has stopped and falls apart. And your whole sense of self (if you had any to begin with, because as a helpmeet you don't have any desires and wishes of your own) falls apart as well. It is frightening, and you simply don't know whether you will come through and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
At the same time you don't dare to seek help. Those outside the system? You don't trust them (yet). And those in the system? They will tell you that it's all your own fault. It is an incredible lonely place to find yourself in and I'm pretty sure that Anna's non-reactions in court are some sort of dissociation, because she is so focused on holding it all together, somehow, even though she knows deep inside that she won't succeed in doing so.
My guess is: She will need time - a lot of time - to distance herself from Josh. And to start finding her own sense of self, that is not dependent on being someone's helpmeet and joyfully available wife, but that is built on her own identity. It won't happen suddenly and over night, it will take time and lots of professional help, because getting in touch with yourself is scary as hell when you've grown up being told that you mustn't have desires of you own. But be an empty vessel for Jesus and his love. When I started connecting with myself and my innermost being it gave me serious panic attacks for years (because I learnt from early on that this would result in my damnation and destruction) - it was like some sort of emotional autoimmuneresponse.
So I cannot blame Anna for trying to hold it together somehow, as well as she knows to. I too would love to see her leaving the cult, and building her own life. But I also know that this comes at a huge cost and that it's a tightrope walk, while trying to provide stability for her 7 children who will most likely grow up with their father being in prison for years to come. She simply cannot afford to fall apart right now, and stepping out of the cult overnight would most likely result in some sort of emotional explosion and blow up.
It's such a mess and there simply is no easy way out.