My home does not have the spirit

JPTA0207 Nov. 2013

Just venting...thanks for letting me rant...

I've been out of the church for 18 years. But my parents and 6 siblings are all very TBM [Mormon]. We keep each other at arms length- we are polite but distant with one another. My TBM sister is young (10 years younger than me), married and with 2 kids she cannot handle or afford.

She's lived a sheltered life under my parent's roof and in the moridor until she married. Saying she is naive is a ridiculous understatement.

At any rate- she and her husband were recently in a tough spot and my husband and I let their family move in with us while they got up on their feet. We paid for all food and living expenses and even gave them a loan to get up and running. The living together was not going well... particularly after they invited home teachers and visiting teachers over to our home and I told them in polite but no uncertain terms that I did not want church "officials" in my house. It's my home, I think I should be able to set that rule.

Things came to a head when I was accidentally copied on on email trail between this sister and my youngest brother (a recently returned missionary) about how hard her life is at my house. She wants her independence (I get that- go get a job!) but mostly because the spirit is not in my home and she so misses the spirit in her home and praying at dinner (another thing we did not do- my house, my food, again, I think my choice). This missing spirit is making her feel sad and miserable.

Now, keep in mind, I talked to her before she moved in. I specifically said- you do know we live a different life from you guys? We drink coffee and beer and wine, we do not go to church, we don't even believe in god. We swim and play on Sundays. Occasionally I swear. I layed it all out and asked her to be sure she was comfortable with that before she moved in with us. She said she understand and she was fine with that.

Sooooo... the email accidentally went to all siblings, a couple aunts and uncles and both parents. I was pissed. Really pissed. I mean, we bent over backwards taking them in and I felt completely disrespected. My house, my food, my money was good enough for them but apparently my house is so horrible without her imaginary friend and she is just so miserable.

I replied to everyone with my very angry response (I was out of town when the email went out). I didn't say a lot, just a snarky: "Well, I'm sorry that your imaginary friend does not live in our house. If this bothers you, maybe you should think about living some where else." This embarrassed her. She sort of apologized but really only under that condition that I apologize to her. She wanted me to acknowledge that I shouldn't have responded to everyone when her email was an accident. I said I would not apologize and I felt it was best for them to start making plans to move out and pay us back for the loaned money. Didn't have to happen immediately but she needed to have a plan. My parents tried to smooth things over. Their take was that it was not intended to go out to everyone, it was a mistake. My response to them was that it shows a level of arrogance and disrespect from someone that feels comfortable taking a lot from me. I feel disrespected...and for completely asinine reasons- my home doesn't have the spirit.

At any rate, they have since moved out and paid us back. Although- they did not clean up after moving out nor did they ever say thank you for the help. At this point, the relationship is pretty rocky. We rarely talk. And now it is the holidays and I do not want to invite them to our annual holiday parties. Which they would hate anyway- what with the alcohol and happiness, maybe some inappropriate jokes...definitely no imaginary friends, just real, live good friends. They'd hate it.

Thanks for allowing the vent.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
ugh. It doesn't mean anything for the feeling of homes if you do TBM things. My TBM family does it all, scriptures, prayer but has horrific fights.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
Sounds to me you handled it all perfectly. It _is_ your house. You make the rules.

And you had every right to respond to the email as you did.

As for the missing "Spirit," it's a perfect example of self-induced confirmation bias. She wanted a warm feeling. She told herself she wouldn't feel it. She was right.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
"Which they would hate anyway- what with the alcohol and happiness".... :)

Puzzling how an email between her and her brother would also include all the family along with aunts and uncles.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
I think it would be best to limit contact with them for a while. Fifty to seventy five years should be just about long enough.

There is no reason to help people who don't appreciate the help and feel offended that they have to live by your rules while living in your house.

Forget about them.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
Yeah... that is suuuper ungrateful of her to have said that behind your back to everyone in an email while still living with you. Not cool.
Re: My home does not have the spirit
Considering that they would not have adjusted anything in their home should the roles have been reversed (I'm so coffee or wine would have been forbidden lest it chase the Spirit away) why does she think you should have catered to her? Oh, right. Because she's right and you're wrong. She probably thought that moving in would be a blessing for you and you'd come to feel the spirit from her and come back to the church...
Re: My home does not have the spirit
The email went to so many family members because the end was an update from my youngest brother about his return from his mission and the date and time of some church event they were all invited too...but someone forgot to delete the previous trail of emails with my brother and sister talking between themselves- and the forwarded the whole trail to everyone.

I know it was an accident. My issue was not that the email went out to everyone. My issue was that she was so ungrateful and disrespectful about all of the support we were providing to them that she would go on and on about how miserable she is with the lack of the spirit in our house. We live in a very nice neighborhood, in a very cool city, in a 600k house- they had their own room, living space and bathroom. I'm a great cook, they ate quite well. I was constantly taking their kids to museums and parks with my own kids- paying for their expenses and we loaned them 5k.

I didn't do this for a pat on the back or for anyone to tell me how wonderful I am. I was honestly trying to reach out to a family member in need. I do not have a close relationship with my family and I thought it could be a bridge to try and open the door to a real relationship. I just wanted to help.

But what I got was a self-righteous, disrespectful and ungrateful attack on my house and my life. I learned my lesson. And as I told my parents when they tried to smooth things over: You all make me feel like it does not matter what I do with my life or how happy I am, none of it will ever be good enough if I'm not mormon. And I think that's a hurtful way to be judged by your family. I don't need your respect or your love. I have a family and friends that love and respect me and I don't need you. So believe what you want, I can't change it. But I won't allow it to darken my life.

And then I had a big glass of wine. :)

Re: My home does not have the spirit
This is similar to the "bleed the beast" philosophy in the FLDS. And LDS can't see it.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
I'm sorry. Total rudeness. I'm sure the spirit was with her while she was emailing her complaints to her brother. :)

The good part is they moved out and paid you back...something to be thankful for during Thanksgiving time.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
Shouldn't she be able to exude the spirit all by her ownself, no matter where she is?

Re: My home does not have the spirit
True. Mayber HER spirit isn't strong enough?
Charlotte Darwin
So ungrateful
Nothing like biting the hand that feeds you. I had to read this post to my husband and we both found it very hard to believe you had to deal with that. So insensitive! And how cowardly of her. If she really felt that way, she should have said so to you and left of her own accord. That way, no hard feelings and she could admit to herself that she could not actually handle the boundaries you laid out for her beforehand.

She probably agreed to your "demands" in the first place hoping she could influence you back to church. Do you think she had the support of the other Mormons in the family to try this sneaky tactic? When it backfired, she claimed it was an accident. And expects you to apologize for what? Calling her out like you did? Give me a break! So, with her pulling sh*t like that is it any wonder people leave the religion for good? This is their example of what they call "love."

You would do well to have a cooling off period from her. Cut her off completely? I don't know. I'd be tempted. I just can't fathom how someone could take such complete and loving charity and just throw it back in your face. I guess since you aren't Mormon you don't have the same feelings as normal people do and therefore can be dumped on at will, no fault of theirs.

Re: So ungrateful
Reminds me of the time that gossipy judgmental MIL came to visit. She goes out to her rental car to call on her cell to report back to a-hole FIL. She can't just call him from our living room like normal people. Oh I forgot...she's talking behind our back, so she needs to call from the rental car in the driveway with the windows up.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
Quote: I didn't say a lot, just a snarky: "Well, I'm sorry that your imaginary friend does not live in our house."

That is too funny, I may have to use that line once in a is a perfect comeback.

Finally Free!
Re: My home does not have the spirit
Unfortunately, We've been in similar situations, helping out people we thought were friends, members of the church, only to find out that they were talking about us behind our backs. They, like your sister, found out that we didn't appreciate having our hospitality repaid with condescension and backstabbing. Here we were trying to help, with what we thought were clear rules and guidelines, thinking we were all on the same page... Apparently, not so much.

I say, take the high road. Don't let it be said that you are the problem by not inviting them, assuming you would normally invite them and the rest of your family (if you wouldn't, i.e. it's not a "family" party, then don't). If they don't want to come let it be on them.

BTW, I agree that you have nothing to apologize for. Whether or not her e-mail was an accident, you were responding to the content, not the fact that she sent it to so many people. Who cares who it was sent to! It was the fact that she was looking down on your kindness and talking about it behind your back. If anything it would have been worse if hadn't found out about it because it really would have been behind your back. If she really was having a problem with the "spirit" in your home, she should have talked directly to YOU and maybe you could have worked something out, instead she was talking to everyone else about you... I'm pretty sure I would have responded just like you did.

If you do apologize, you're saying that you think it would have been perfectly OK for her to continue talking about you behind your back. At least you were upfront and in the open with her, unlike what she was doing.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
Where was the gaggle of TBM relatives when she needed help?

You took her and family in, cared for them, treated her childen like your own and loaned them money to get them on their feet. You deserve more than a pat on the back from your family for "honestly reaching out to a family member in need" when they didn't. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness..." She missed it, you got it right.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
It's all about little miss I Want. I want independence. I want to to do what I want to do. I want exaltation but I want to force my ideas on you. No wonder she's unhappy.

Where's the love? If she wants to be happy, she should be about doing for others. Like you.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
Normally, I wouldn't invite family members as we live in a different state from everyone else. But, when my sister moved in with us, she also moved to our state. So, to complicate things further, she is now our only relative in our state. She now lives about 30 minutes away. So the dilemma is- don't invite and know that my mother will be oh so heart broken at how I left her out in the holidays when we are the only family in our state. She is clearly my mother's favorite daughter. Or, do what I want to do and not invite them. The snub isn't so much about being angry as it is about not wanting to ruin the party with their grumpy ungratefulness. Party preservation or mom preservation?
Re: My home does not have the spirit
Because I am not so close to my family, I did not know the full story when we offered help. Apparently they had already asked other siblings for help and those siblings were tired of helping them when they didn't seem to be willing to do their part to get up on their going to work on time, not having babies when you don't have a job, that sort of stuff. They were also asking my dad for money while asking us for help.

But regardless, in my mom's mind- she is the daughter that has had such a hard time and she just needs a good break and she is so wonderful and awesome and yadda yadda yadda.

So as far as my siblings are concerned, I don't think they would care if I involved her at the holidays (at least most of them) but my parents are sort of blind to her bullsh*t.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
I hate how "the spirit isn't there" is the go-to Mormon code for "I don't feel comfortable right now," because it also injects as much holier-than-thou, we're-so-much-better-than-you-are as a Mormon can muster. Mormons can muster a LOT of holier-than-thou and we're-so-much-better.

I've had several run-ins with this BS line of thinking, both as TBM and as exmo, but nothing even close to the experience in the OP. I'd probably just walk away from this person, middle finger extended.

On the other hand, I'm really glad that my siblings never did so to me before I left tscc, and I probably did a lot of things that would have given them cause. Now my five brothers and two sisters are like the Atheist Justice League, combining our superpowers to repel the attempts of our still TBM parents to try and turn one of us back to the faith we have happily abandoned.

Seriously, my younger brother (the first and most vocal about leaving the church) came with me to "tank" the last time I visited my dad (using mmo terms, since we're geeks). I was scared that my dad would ask for a blessing, which I couldn't do while leaving my integrity intact, and I didn't want to drop the "A" bomb right before surgery (I think my dad knows, but I haven't officially told him). I'm very glad that my siblings understand the position I'm in, and are willing to help me buffer the family backlash.

Surrender Dorothy
Re: My home does not have the spirit
Mormonism does not give points for genuine kindness. Help a not-a-Mormon family who doesn't have enough food? Did you pay your tithing? You should have given that money to the church so *they* could help the needy. The building of the church's one true luxury shopping mall was a blessing for the needy.

Does it not occur to your sister that Mormon Heavenly Father is raining down blessings on your heathen household? You have enough money to support yourselves and, it sounds like, live a comfortable lifestyle with enough left over to support your little sister, yet the heavens seem closed for Her Royal Righteousness.

Your sister is sad and miserable because her life is a mess (with depression as a possible contributing factor). She could move into the Celestial Room of a temple and still miss the spirit because that horrible person next to her laughed too loudly and ruined it for her.

As much as Mormons trumpet free agency, many of them don't have a clue about personal responsibility. They can't be "good" (slutty girls in immodest clothes make them have bad thoughts) or "feel good" (The Spirit is missing) unless everyone around them behaves just so. Dance, puppet-people, dance. I'm not happy yet, and it's YOUR fault.

Your parents think the problem is her cc:ing everybody rather than her trash-talking you? *facepalm* Talk about stunted thinking.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
Exactly right! They completely missed the point. They actually said, to me that it was an honest mistake and she feels so bad and I should forgive her. When I said that it wasn't the email to everyone that angers's the complete disrespect when she is doing nothing but taking from me. My mom said, "I don't know why you care what other people think." I said.. "I don't care what other people think, but when someone thinks negatively about me and my life, I certainly wouldn't let that person leech off. I'd just walk away from that person." She seemed to sort of understand but said, "It just breaks my heart." And so- this is why I'm not close to my family.
She must not have brought the spirit with, since it lives in her head. 

Re: My home does not have the spirit
I think you handled it perfectly. There's no way that you owe anyone an apology.

She wasn't just talking about you behind your back to one person. She'd copied everyone in the family. So of course you were entitled to defend yourself to everyone copied on that e-mail.

I'd be making it clear that they'd better not ever try asking for help again, if they're going to receive it with such a bad spirit, speaking of not having the spirit around.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
I don't blame you one bit for blowing your top. I've done the same thing in similar circumstances, and being "Help Central" as the matriarch of a large family, it has hurt me terribly to have someone I sacrificed for, someone I gave money to, took in when homeless and eventually even let them have the apartment...

You are hurt, honey, and its manifesting as anger-- JUSTIFIABLE anger, of course, but the path to health starts with recognizing it as hurt.

When you are hurt, you want to hurt back. It's only natural. Here's where you want to take the reins on your emotions, stop justifying the anger, and start working towards balance for yourself going forward.

For starters, your sister is right. You do not have the spirit in your home, you have something better- tolerance and freedom. Your sister was uncomfortable with that paradigm because she is a USDA certified Grade A brainwashed cult member who is used to a highly controlled life. She is used to walking lock-step with family and friends who think like she does. She is not used to having non-members around who do not pray or tithe to insure their success AND YET -- they are the ones demonstrating the "fruits of the spirit."

You can no doubt tell I am moving you to pause and put yourself in her shoes. When you couple the above with her being ten years younger than you, well, you have a mounting fear situation which we have seen time and time again.

An older sibling has great influence over younger siblings. To make sure that living with you does not influence her to question her allegiance to the church, the TBM's make sure she knows that you are

*cut off from priesthood authority and power,
*under the control of Satan
*forfeiting all the promises of God
*care nothing about the family because you don't care that you won't be with them in the CK
*sinning in ways that may not be visible even when living with you
*do not love anyone but yourself because you are breaking (grandma/mother/father/everyone's hearts)
*hard hearted
*without light

Now this young woman gets this from every TBM corner to "protect" her from your influence. How can she reassure her concerned family once she has said a nice thing or two about you and your incredible generosity?

She has to badmouth you.

And this situation is not an isolated case. When you calmly remember that a temple recommend interview includes the question "Do you associate (or sympathize) with any apostates?" you know that there is tremendous pressure being applied to her to revile you in some way to alleviate their concerns and make sure that they know she is still solidly in the TBM camp.

And also to reassure her bishop, because there are no email secrets.

The ridiculous machinations of Mormons only become clear to those of us who leave when we have some recovery and some distance. When it is people you love, it is easy to take it personally and not understand the societal pressures involved.

Another aspect of this (and I can say this because I don't know you)... is the possibility that your anger is fueled by disappointment. You expressed an expectation that your kindness and hospitality might be rewarded with greater acceptance of your choice in the matter of religion. There is absolutely no factual basis for this assumption.

In fact, there is plenty of evidence that in the short run, the nicer/better/happier you are the more vile your TBM relatives will treat you because you are now A BIG FAT THREAT to the whole family. You are that hole in the dam which can bring the sea in to ruin everything - endangering the church's tight hold on your family, a church which they love more than their own children.

Fear seizes them - How can they keep their teenagers from wanting to be like you? Successful, free, kind, moral, generous.

What they don't realize is that the more they revile you, the worse it makes them look- especially to the teens in the family. As they continue to see you at family functions, they are asking themselves how come the fam is so harsh on you. One fine day, they ask you, "Hey, Auntie, how come you left the church?"

So this is my advice to you: forgive your younger sister and continue on being wonderful and generous--which you certainly are. They moved out, they paid (or are paying) back, it's over. Definitely do not shun her back (might as well stay Mormon if you want to be a hater), she's a young pathetic victim of a cult, for Pete's sake, and you love her.

Tell her the truth and you will introduce her to a world of no forced apologies on either side. This is you NOT being passive aggressive (the Mormon way) but instead adopting a philosophy of speaking your truth with love.

Here is how your truth might sound:

"Honey, I want this whole conflict with you to be over. I love you and felt hurt that you did not feel comfortable in our home. You were right- we don't have the spirit. What we do have is love for you as a person and a willingness to help you out during this rough patch in your life. We hoped that would be enough to make you feel comfortable. I'm sorry I flipped out-- I hoped we would be closer through this experience and unfortunately, it has not turned out that way."

Then just wait and see what she says. She might say, "I love you sis and hated that we were fighting." Or she might say, "I can never be without the priesthood under my roof again" or some such cult phrase.

Whatever she says, give her a pass. You are an awakened person, privileged to own your own life and to stand in the sunshine of freedom with integrity.

Someday she will remember your kindness and want what you have.



Re: My home does not have the spirit
Someday she will remember your kindness and want what you have.

I want to see some odds on this.

I'll guess 100-1.

She sounds like a little snipe who would chalk up the apology as a win for the spirit, whatever that is, thus validating her actions.

Other than that Ana that was a great post.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
You could invite her but have the party on Sunday, problem solved.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
You already know how they feel about your home, so don't invite them for the holidays.

They are adults and can start their own family traditions.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
I would forgive. That is the greater lesson.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
It is one of life's little ironies that the recipient of your charitable endeavors might not only be ungrateful, but may have a disdainful and arrogant attitude about your offerings as well. It can be hard to maintain mental equilibrium in the face of such a betrayal.

One way to respond might go as follows -- "I realize that you are disappointed that everything is not as you would ideally have it. Nevertheless, this is what I am able and willing to provide for you. If it doesn't meet your standards, you will need to find another way to provide for yourself."

In other words, set boundaries, and let go of the result.

Ultimately, life is a great teacher. Be boorish to people enough and they will finally lose the desire to help you.

Re: My home does not have the spirit
Definitely agree with this one. Make it easier and more fun for YOUR family: take a Christmas vacation to Sedona, Tucson, Albuquerque,rent a vacation house for a few days ( is my
Favorite). This averts the Mom plan, for you are Out of Town and making a NEW tradition for Your family, while Sister is now in a position to have to do her OWN thing.
Re: My home does not have the spirit
So you accidentally emailed all of our relatives your sad story about how horrible it is living with us?

Well oops! I accidentally posted the story of what you did to a forum for hundreds of thousands of exmormons and they all think you're an ungrateful b*tch.

"Recovery from Mormonism -"