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By Teal ~

I welcome anybody's comments (or even comfort that the friend I describe below isn't completely toast) who has had the soul-crushing experience I have--maybe your own struggles can help me understand this. I'm a mature adult, former teacher, and was never really a Christian (unless you count boring Sundays-only 1960's Methodism as Christianity). I am part Native American, and I believe in all the paths--except the ones that say they have the Only Path and condemn women, gay people, intellectuals, artists, etc. etc.

By college, I was firmly left-wing, feminist, anti-racism, and deeply involved in the human liberation politics of my day. I went on to become a college teacher, and was finally thrust out of that vast morass of ego-driven anti-education. (The boy profs didn't like really smart girl profs, and I was one.)

But life went on, I moved away from that, and found solace in the desert--I have rewarding work and still get behind all the liberation movements of our day, especially now working to defeat the hateful anti-gay and misogynist sentiments I see everyday on the streets and in the right-wing political media. And I was pretty at peace with that OK life until three years ago, when I reconnected with my best friend from high school, at a reunion.

Her parents while we were growing up were certifiable fanatics, and pounded hellfire and brimstone into their many children, especially my friend, who was the first-born. Besides, her mother had a reason to force her compliance: she needed her for free labor. So, gradually, over the years, my friend was, I guess, brainwashed. In spite of the crazy behavior I saw at her Pentecostal church, my friend was the sweetest, gentlest, most loving person I've ever known--she and I were close-close, intimate friends--I've never been closer to anyone.

Then along came the Someday-Gonna-Be-a-Rich-Guy-for-Jesus man, she married him, they moved away, and I was forgotten for decades. He was a loonie Xian (Of course! She was raised with the idea that her sole meaning in life was not to develop herself and her own talents, but to serve a male--who would become her god-spokesperson.)--now tells her everything she can and cannot do--knows where she is every minute. He won't let her pursue her art, because he requires that she only act in "god's service," doing only the things he tells her to do.

She'd seem completely OK and "with" me for awhile, then she'd sound like someone I didn't even know--almost like a robot--it was eerie--even her voice changed back and forth.Trouble is, my friend reached out to me with all four feet when we re-met--we were so close again--like no time had passed. Once at reunion, she said seeing me was her only motivation in coming. The husband was also there, watching like a hawk. After reunion, I continued encouraging my friend to be all she can be, and sent her praising and supportive things to help her do so. She seemed to begin to blossom.

But here's the odd part--when we talked in person at reunion, and later, when we both went back home, on the phone, she would kind of click in and out--she'd seem completely OK and "with" me for awhile, then she'd sound like someone I didn't even know--almost like a robot--it was eerie--even her voice changed back and forth.

After weeks of her pulling back, and then moving back in close to me--finally, it came--she wrote an email to tell me she didn't want any other communication with me. And that was that. From the emotion and intensity of that reunion to goodbye in on fell swoop. To have her be so incredibly cruel to me and abandon me in that cold way has challenged my faith in people.

So--what do I do? I'm anguished that someone so special, so brilliant, and so deserving, is so brainwashed that she seemingly doesn't even have a self anymore. The battered women's center tells me I can do nothing if my friend doesn't herself want out--so hard to accept!

To compound everything, they're rich and powerful--politically and otherwise--high social status--so, if she's as materialistic as many Fundies are, she will find that part of her life very attractive. Of course, she never worked--at a job.

The only comfort I find was in her brief cryptic words at reunion, for the five minutes we had together alone--she said: "I once realized that I'd gone from being in my father's totally controlling household directly into my husband's totally controlling household--and I REBELLED." So what in hell happened?

Please, you've all broken free of that mental cancer, or are in the process. Give me some hope here. Or just tell me: Am I a g-damned fool for caring? I would especially like to hear from Moderator Lilith, whose generation I am. (I would be grateful to exchange emails with you.)