1993, 03/25. The Issue Is: I Am Not A Slave, vs. “Yes You Are.”
Thursday March 25
It’s great not to have to wake up to the sound of shouting for a change! Sometimes I just want to wake up and have some unstructured time. It feels good to sit here on the edge of my bunk, just thinking. Thinking in the sense of resting, but also a process of preparing and sorting things out.
In the mornings, there are no restorative exercises. No preparation for the day. Just an anxious hustle from the beginning, an unthinking rush. (And the group behavior seems numbing, like mesmeric control over my mind. Orienting myself to that the first thing in the day, making sure I appear to have or show that proper group conformity. Or is it the effort, not so much the outward conforming as much as the effort to make sure I do nothing out of the ordinary or different? I am always guarding myself. In a way, this is natural; I could do it in my sleep, but on the other hand, it requires effort, and my mind and thoughts must be concentrated on it. So this activity eats up my strength, leaving precious little for anything else.)
In other words, it’s a brain-drain, a sink into which I pour down my energy and waste and squander it away on nothing – or nothing useful, since one can say he is doing something with it. (And something I even justify to myself: I need to do this for survival, in order to escape detection, in order to get along in this place with a minimum of hassle. It’s justifiable, but count the cost! Since I do have to pay something for it. At least, I think I do.) Well, intrinsically I know it’s wrong, it’s unreal. I put on a phony front, which though I justify it as a means of survival, I hate it at the same time. Maybe I have not learned anything better. I certainly think there is a need for some sort of line of defense. But maybe I have not studied or learned anything better, but instead, I have adapted to a method of burrowing. I’m not saying that there isn’t a problem there. But, have I ever studied the enemy’s arguments, to see and understand the fallacies contained therein? Instead of burrowing, there might be loopholes or leverage points that I can use. Maybe if I just understood it better! I do use a lot of loopholes as it is, though these are generally passive. I take them where I find them. I use them to be alone, to not to have to answer questions, etc., but this is not something that I can go forward with. (For example, I am alone behind closed doors at this moment. It is 9:30 a.m. Since I understand our system, I can get things like this, but, as I said, this is a passive leave taking, and though I know how to do it, this is not as I wish it could be. And this is only what I can take by default.)
Solicited with Robert S. and Charles in the Park Slope area, starting by going down Flatbush Avenue to Grand Army Plaza, which yielded one carpet cleaning job (The Cycle Shop for $150) plus the promise of a few more. Robert was talkative with me, though he is stonewalling almost everyone else.
[I would relax with certain new brothers and they liked hanging out with me, whereas other older brothers pushed, shoved and abused them with the party line, that is, so-called Christian training and Stewart Traill teachings, and they became defensive and therefore labeled as troublemakers.]
I told him Robert could go with me today (he is assigned to me, I am his guardian) and just come along since I heard he “didn’t want to do any work for this fellowship.”
[Robert proclaimed to everyone that he didn’t want to do any work for the church. I told him that’s okay, just come with me as we hand out flyers and you don’t have to do anything but hang out with us.]
But he seemed willing after he got into it. Sure, he is gaming; two facing it, being “okay” with me, while being different with the others. Maybe he has me bought out. I never take a stand with him. Today I had no desire to do so. Sometimes I feel I can understand these disaffected ones, who seem to be disaffected with the fellowship – since I am that way myself.
Sometimes I feel I can understand where they’re coming from. I can get behind them and understand what is going on inside their heads and I also don’t get insulted or indignant when they say something bad about the fellowship (though maybe I should). I can’t correct people who are saying the same thing I think. But I also think I can understand people in ways that others either can’t or are not willing to. Maybe I see or take the other angle. Hey, be different! Everyone else always does it the same way, by the book and without imagination! Why be just like everybody else anyway!
When I was with Robert today, I didn’t have the strength or desire to do any correcting or “getting to the bottom of it” with him – in part, because if I spend any time with him, a lot of that will come out anyway, because he is going to start talking about it. [Without me having to ask him about it.]
Although, walking around Woodruff with a stick in his hand was not exactly right behavior. [Robert had been walking around in the Woodruff Avenue house with a 2 by 4, just daring anyone to start with him.]
Earlier today, Sheila asked me if I was available for a wood floor job at 190th and Broadway (with a stop at 161st and Broadway to pick up the key from the owner). I gave my reasons why I prefer not to work in those areas, because they are dangerous neighborhoods.
When she said, “Well, what should I do then?” I said I would be glad to take somebody else’s place on another of the wood floor jobs for tomorrow and they could go there. It ended there. I guess she didn’t know what to do with that. But later, over the phone, Skylar asked me why I didn’t want to work up there, to which I gave my reasons again. (But I realized I shouldn’t go on and on about it, because the more I talk, the more I undermine my own position. By elaborating, I send out more hooks by which I could be caught or get woven into it more. Besides, I realized that Skylar addressed the question in the past tense. “Why didn’t you want to?” I had the sense it was over and done anyway; maybe the schedule was already adjusted. He was just asking to know why. But, you never know, I might get a surprise tomorrow anyway. But, I got the feeling I had done something wrong. Maybe they are surprised that somebody would turn down some work. It was probably considered to be a hassle (on my part).
(I even began to calculate that I would get a message from Brother Stewart; that such a recalcitrant attitude would go into the daily messages and would then get commented upon. Possibly something like what I did couldn’t be tolerated. (What if everybody did it, etc.? It is a big thing to turn anything down, or to say no, or to put any parameters upon or around oneself. It is so unusual for anyone to do that here.) Well, I don’t intend to go on and on about this. We will see if anything ensues.
While soliciting near Grand Army Plaza, we (I) of course, naturally, went into Prospect Park to take a walk. It felt so good to be walking those rambling hills there in the big field. It’s good to be in that park. I started to think about how I used to run in there [in a time in the church when Stewart was exerting less control over our lives and time and I had some freedom to do that] and wondered if I will ever have an opportunity to return to that again.
We sat down on a bench looking at the lake. Robert began to read the Bible, including Deuteronomy 28. I figured that this was hearing the worse thing – right when I was trying to enjoy myself the most, cutting me down. [This was a very condemning passage in the Bible, all about what is going to happen to you if you do not serve God.] This is also the location where I had my “lakeside revelation”- the idea that nobody can really ruin my life.
[A couple of years before this, when Stewart began to really abuse us, I was walking in the park and I sat down on this bench and looked at the lake. I saw how it reflected the sky and I thought about how no human being can do anything to affect or to ruin my life and this seemed like a major remedy for what was bothering my about my “abuser.”]
I had started to write openly in this journal [not using the shorthand I invented to hide my notes from detection]. I notice when I do that, that I start to justify my conclusions. In other words, when I think that somebody might read this if it is written plainly, I am self conscious so I begin to “prove” and to tailor my writings according to the idea that somebody might read it. I couldn’t be honest with myself and write without being hindered until I began to write in code again. So, this is the way I’m going to do it from now on.
I have found myself a comfortable niche these recent days, though “comfortable” is a relative term. I have managed to avoid everything, keeping aloof from all kinds of things. Whether it’s errands at the office, meetings at night or my group. The truth is I like to do this. I am not so sure that doing all these things I am supposed to be doing is going to make any difference in my life – in this life or the next life.
I wonder if all these things are necessary. Though, if one were to say so openly, I am sure it would deserve a good show of rebuke. What if nobody did anything? What would happen then? But, I see so many useless cycles. All the pseudo activity in the office. I try to slip in and out. All the pseudo socializing that goes on there. What is the value of it all? Though maybe ones know something I don’t, such as, after making themselves available and getting to know one another for such a long time, even superficially, this would certainly pave the road for marriage, should it ever become available. [Should Stewart ever announce that marriage is possible in the church.]
Maybe I’m missing out somehow; maybe my “superior” way of keeping myself aloof from that which I deem useless is really detrimental and not a positive attribute. I’m starting to have doubts about my ways of keeping myself out of trouble or out of situations in which I feel pain. It’s a reaction, but maybe there are more positive ways of dealing with all of this. These are things that I perceive to be problems. It’s not like I think they don’t exist. I’m aware of them all the time. I’m very conscious of what bothers me and I think about it all the time. (For example: there is no marriage, but no reduction in desire to make it bearable. Like seeing Becky all the time in the office and my reactions. But of course, there are many other things: how I perceive that I’m jailed, controlled, and all the matters concerning Stewart; the isolation of our church; no money, no travel – no just about anything. The ways we are woven into, coerced into accepting Stewart’s teachings. I have talked and thought about it a million times.)
The latest developments. (I am being a little sarcastic, but really, I don’t think it’s a joke at all.) I’m still scheduled to do the job I tried to get out of. Maybe it would have been good to have called to find out about tomorrow’s schedule a little earlier in the day. As it is now, I still don’t plan to do the job. My thoughts run to imagining getting some real workovers and that it will definitely lead to a confrontation with Stewart. In other words, face to face at the next meeting, with the usual audience, who must act as if they are objective, but all the while they know they must be a rubber stamp to give approval to whatever Stewart says. But, I guess they can’t tell themselves that.
I had heard that Kevin was in the office was saying that he is going to make me do it anyway.
Basically, the issue is: I am not a slave vs. “Yes you are.” I suppose also, I need to test my fears, if these are the things that keep me in check and that I live according to. Maybe I ought to see if it’s real. Their line of argumentation will be whether my refusal to go on this job is a good example to the new brothers and to everyone else. Whatever it is, it will be totally inane and totally confrontational.
Well, I’ll try not to go on and on, but, I know this is serious. I’ll try not to live by my calculations. I also figure that sooner or later, something will, or must, happen anyway. It’s just a matter of when, where, and how – and about what. How long will I go on living this way?
I wish there was an ounce of kindness in this church. Though probably it would be right or necessary to say that there must be at least a few ounces of it in the sisters’ fellowship.
Well, I feel pretty upset about this matter, though this would be considered to be crying. Pete tells me that 190th and Broadway is where we did some work last year. In that case, it wouldn’t be too bad of an area. Maybe I can call this Garcia guy and get him to drop by with the keys. Maybe I’ll even pray that the job will cancel.
Really, I don’t like this. I also see myself faltering and not (so) willing to take the chance on the results of refusal to do the job. Maybe I’m just being more rational, as I should have before, though I don’t think it was wrong to say what I did. Maybe it’s just the gun that I perceive that the church will put to my head if I refuse to comply. This also leads me to thinking more about taking constructive action to leave the church, that maybe I shouldn’t drop my plans to leave. Or, if that is a little too far, maybe I should say, not drop my plans to search as I have been doing. I seem to have gotten somewhere in my understanding of how things work around here – though possibly the “somewhere” is just a blind alley.
As I lay down to sleep, I put on a tape I made in which I was telling what amounted to my testimony. Actually, it was very comforting to listen to, especially in reference to the recent (above) things that are happening.
You can read the next section of the journals here: Perfectionism.