“Loved” but am I?

Blogs may include sensitive or triggering content. Reader discretion is advised.

We definitely feel this post needs trigger warnings with just the reactions in our own system. We talk about complicated parental “love” and the neglect/abuse that can be a consequence, Christian beliefs harmful to others and the self, Christianity as a cult, Catholicism as a cult. 








We recently read a thing in which the author was lamenting that fans often made a pre-teen to teen character in a particular series redeemable only because he was “hot” and that the character was solely responsible for his, admittedly wrong, actions because he was “loved” by his parents. This post got a rather strong reaction from two of our alters (Lili and Saturn), who felt that this poster did not understand many things about this character’s situation, and who felt the similarities to our own.

Our parents, by most measures, loved us when we were children, as did the character’s. They saw that our physical needs were met, we received an education, and most people would have said that we experienced a stable home life. They never physically abused us. Yet, to us, their love was conditional, dependent on how well we followed their teachings and lived up to their expectations. When we failed to, it was harder to get help from them, harder to get them to listen to us, harder to get their attention. So we would put more effort into doing what they wanted us to do. And we would get their attention again, until the next time we failed.

Us and the character were both raised as part of very culty groups that mirrored each other in some ways, though ours was religious and theirs was not. Since our dad and his family were Catholic, we were brought up to be as well. (Lili and I have been realizing how intertwined family and religion are for us. We cannot separate the two completely. This blog post is only one of the connections and it will probably take many more for us to fully grasp all of them. -Saturn) Our priests and teachers gave us a series of beliefs and our parents reinforced them by believing them as well and stating that these beliefs were correct. We were taught that Christians, in general, were better than non-Christians, and Catholics, specifically, were better than everyone because it was the true faith. We were taught that there was nothing wrong with civil laws being formed around Christianity because it was morally superior. We were taught that not judging others meant turning a blind eye to the actions of fellow Catholics, Christians, and those deemed superior, even if their actions were wrong or immoral, but that it was OK to judge those who were deemed lesser or too sinful. We were taught that Christians were always good people in their hearts no matter what their actions. We were taught that being anything besides cis and straight was a sin and unforgivable. We were taught to look down on other women and non-conservatives. (It wasn’t actually until after we left home that we encountered the Christians that thought murder was OK if it was done to those who were lesser or sinful.)

We also had ingrained in us that our purpose was to serve others regardless of any damage to ourselves: mentally, physically, or emotionally. We learned that us, specifically, judging anyone was a sin, putting us in a catch-22 that it was OK to judge those who were really sinful, but it would make us really sinful and able to be judged by God and our fellow Christians. We learned that the pope was infallible in all things because doctrine covered every aspect of life. We learned that priests were to be obeyed because they spoke for God. We learned that we were inherently flawed, and that the only way we could become good was by listening to the authorities in the church community (clergy, teachers, and parents) and doing what they said. We learned that no matter what we did, we weren’t human enough to ever be fully part of the group, but maybe this time we would get it right.

Like the character, we were taught beliefs that were harmful to people around us, and to ourselves. It was because of our parents that we were made members of these cults. Our parents reinforced these beliefs by making their love conditional, even when to others it did not appear that way. We were made, by a desire to earn and retain their love, to follow these beliefs. But without an outside reference, these beliefs would not be seen as harmful or wrong until they were already becoming ingrained. And as children, often getting an outside reference is very difficult. This is why children are easier to indoctrinate than adults, because they have no prior knowledge and are often in a position of powerlessness against the adults around them. Disagreement is punished until the child learns they are helpless. For us, our parents were the supreme authority other than the parish priest. For the character, they were the supreme authority other than his cult leader.

Many kids don’t really encounter the outside world beyond what their parents show them, going to schools and interacting with people of their parents’ choosing, until they are around 18 and leaving home to go to college, start a job, or simply see more of the world. Only after meeting other people who believed different things than we did and who saw the world in a different light than we did, did we start to question if what our parents taught us was right. That is why this character is redeemable, because his parents love for him pushed him to do things the only way he was shown, because he was a child, and because at the end of the series he does seem to be questioning what he was taught. He was not an ass in spite of his parents love, but because of it. And now he, and we, can learn a new way of living, can learn to challenge our former beliefs with new knowledge and experiences.

-Saturn and Lili

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14 days ago

A lot of this is similar to what we grew up with. A lot of us believed a lot of bs, even though I remember feeling uncomfortable and conflicted about a lot of it. I think it becomes even harder to discover your own beliefs for yourself when your parents make you think that you are a bad person, because it’s harder to trust your own judgment.

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