Thank you for your prior response; I have given it quite a bit of thought. I found the “house” analogy especially thought provoking and helpful. I must admit the reference to having “whole rooms and floors” of my house off limits, and having no control over what happens there, rings all too true and is quite galling; and I resent the fact that this is true.
However, at least for me, I come back to the reality that there is very little I can do about it. If I dwell on the fact that I have these closed off sections, I just get frustrated and angry. Despite sincere efforts, I have been unable to regain control of those areas. The only thing I have found that works is to just keep them nailed tightly shut- as you labeled it, compartmentalization. That way, most of the time I can just ignore the past, since it cannot be changed anyway.
I now am seeing that I used compartmentalization quite a bit during my 23 years in the Family as a means of blocking off the junk and staying, in my perception anyway, dedicated…. it would seem that compartmentalization can also make possible what was promoted heavily in the Family as “positive thinking.” So I have it down pat, so far as ignoring things that I don’t agree with and can’t change. Perhaps if I didn’t, my 23 years in the Family would have been shorter…
Also, I have realized this is not a good skill to apply to parenting, especially of teenagers. A “head in the sand” approach can have disastrous consequences, and is a long time habit I often fall into and which is NOT a good idea where teens are concerned. So your insights have even spilled over to helping me be aware of where I need to improve as a parent. Thank you.
A few months ago, I went ahead and spoke with the pastor of the church I attend about my Family past. I admire this pastor quite a bit and he was a good listener and supportive and offered to talk about it again if I wish, all of which was positive. However, he had never heard of The Family, and despite his good intentions, is therefore not really able to be very helpful.
Also, I have found the various Web sites and chat boards to not be helpful, for me at least they just seem full of bitterness and ranting.
You mentioned that compartmentalization tends to only be a temporary fix and comes unraveled at times of stress. I believe you, but I guess at this point all I can think about this is “I’ll have to cross that bridge when and if I come to it.”
When I think about all this, I say to myself, “You just had your 50th birthday. Life is too short and you are too old to get into all this psychological help stuff.”
One of the big reasons I do wish I could get a handle on all this is my kids. My oldest daughter and her three children are in the Family, though not the “fulltime” family, FD I think is now called, and I have seen them only once in the last 7 years, but we email frequently (she is in Africa). But I find it very difficult to talk to her openly about the past, and sometimes I feel that if I could, perhaps I could be more of a help to her and her children. The same goes for my other five kids, although thankfully they are all doing very well. Do you know of any good, specific and detailed advice for talking to a loved one who is in the Family, without alienating them?
So anyway, all that to say that, there really is no alternative. While there are times when I strongly desire someone knowledgeable about the Family to talk to, in my situation here in my lovely, but somewhat isolated, rural area, that just isn’t going to happen. So under the circumstances, I’ll just keep on keeping on.
I do thank you for your insights, which were very helpful.