Tag Archives: leaving classical conversations

Gaslighting – What is it?

There’s a term that has emerged into my awareness in recent years called “gaslighting.” I have used it lately and had people look at me with questioning eyes, so it seems worth a discussion of the definition!

The definition of gaslighting is: to manipulate someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. “‘Gaslighting’ is used to describe abusive behavior, specifically when an abuser manipulates information in such a way as to make a victim question his or her own sanity. Gaslighting intentionally makes someone doubt their memories or perception of reality.” (PRI)

Gaslighting is a tricky concept, and it absolutely takes advantage of the one who is trying to be a people pleaser. It can be a tool used to silence discussion, to rebuild a shared history into a more favorable final outcome, and to assert superiority of one person over another.

An example of gaslighting from my experience:

CC has never expected folks to travel more than 100 miles to practicums or community visits, etc. I know this because I’ve served in a huge geographical territory and this is a staple of what we talk about to leaders. However, when I pushed back on current leadership about requiring tutors to attend a practicum after the location was moved to 100+ miles away from their home, I was told that rule never existed.

It took me texting folks who have been serving in large territories and asking them, “This is a thing, right? I didn’t make it up?” and much research to discover that the 100 mile expectation is clearly stated in the Family Covenant that each family signs. Triumphant, I said – “This is a thing! I promise, I’m not crazy!” at which point the team leadership told me that the stricture only applied to families, whereas tutors were called to a higher standard. That I was still crazy for not recognizing this.

But… tutors who are independent contractors are held to a lesser standard by law in our state and should not be expected to attend any training whatsoever – they should be contracted because they already possess the skill set needed to fulfill the job!

That’s gaslighting.

I was led to believe that I was making up a common practice and a little insane – or contrary – or causing confusion – so the leadership could put all of the responsibility for all of the conflict onto my own shoulders. But I never initiated the conflict; I only got involved when the appropriate boundaries were overstepped and it threatened the lawful operation of my community… and yet I walked away from the conversations questioning if I was the problem.

That’s gaslighting.

When an organization changes its practices regularly, it lends itself to situations where gaslighting can occur easily. When an organization preaches humility to it’s leadership – which is a good thing – it lends itself to difficulty thinking a differing opinion is allowed to exist. When leaders speak down to you, or tell you that you just don’t understand from the correct perspective – without giving you the tools to see it from “the right perspective” – it sets up an unhealthy, abusive relationship.

Goodness gracious – I sat for years on situations that made me uncomfortable because I refused to say anything just in case it was a preference issue instead of a sin issue! There is so much gray in this world and I don’t want to be a destroyer – I want to build things up!

Repeatedly, almost as a mantra, I have spent this spring saying, “I have common sense. I use good judgement, I am a leader with integrity, I am not overreacting,” because the folks above me were telling me that by speaking up, by going to bat for my tutors and community, I was subversive, unsubmissive, acting like a spoiled child who wasn’t getting their way, and divisive. (And don’t let me get started on what my husband thinks about the manipulative assault he saw taking place on my character and self-perception over this!)

THIS IS GASLIGHTING.

“Gaslighting is an insidious act that makes the victim doubt and mistrust what they think, experience, or feel. In short, it’s a brilliantly brutal way of messing with someone’s mind.” (The Date Mix)

Here are some suggestions to help you if you’ve been gaslighted:

Don’t Waffle.

If you’ve made a decision, stand by it. Yes, you could be wrong – so what are the consequences if you’ve messed up? Can you live with them? Yes? Then stand by your decision. Test your decision with writing a list. Research your decision. Then, even if it’s a gray area, STAND.

Keep a Record.

May I just say that it might be wise to figure out how to record your conflict conversations? (Obviously, don’t break your state law here. But, in all but 11 states, federal law allows for one-party consent, enabling you to record a conversation in person or over the phone, if you are a participant in the conversation.)

Recording your calls allows you to go back later and actually know what was said. It has been a wonderful antidote to “I never said that,” when I can say, “Actually, you did say that – it’s a direct quote from this conversation right here.” Since gaslighting techniques prey on making you believe you’re misunderstanding, actually knowing what was said has a liberating affect on the whole resolution process.

(And yes, I do realize how messed up it is that I’m saying you should record conversations within a Christian organization in order to ensure truthful statements….)

Confide in a Trusted Support System.

You need to have someone who can help you see reason and logic. This is not gossip, this is survival. You don’t necessarily need a dozen people to help you see truth, but you do need one or maybe two folks who can help you walk through these issues. They don’t even have to be a part of the organization! Try a parent, a friend, a spouse, a sibling, or even a therapist. Have someone who is willing to listen to you sort stuff the tangled issues – isolation is a key technique to making sure you stay confused and doubtful of your own convictions.

Disengage.

The time might come for you to give up. I know the fighter in you recoils when you read that! But you can honor the call for unity within the body of Christ without being in constant, daily relationship with another. Sometimes the best choice is to make a clean break and walk.

How do you know when enough is enough? “If your partner genuinely wants to change, then they’ll acknowledge their part, apologize for any wrongdoing, and want to work on the relationship, which will be evident to you… [but] the sad truth is that your abuser may never realize or admit what they were doing – mostly because they don’t think they’re doing anything wrong.” (Brianne Hogan)

Your healthiest choice might very well be to walk away and let them just simmer in their wrongy-wrongness, especially if there is no acknowledgement that they can see anything from your perspective.

Don’t Blame Yourself.

“Logic and reasoning don’t work with a gaslighter. While things might never make sense to you, that doesn’t mean you should shoulder the blame.” (Brianne Hogan) For those who are genuinely wanting to come at conflict from a consensus based approach, who are trying to avoid pridefulness, it can be really hard to not look around and take the blame for things going wrong on your own shoulders.

Yes, there are likely things you could have done better – but that’s the human experience and it’s part of learning! If things go badly for the other party (or if the organization fails), there needs to be reckoning on their part for the role they played through subterfuge, tricky wording, and guilted expectations. Their failure is not your fault for saying, “No, I refuse to be used anymore.” Your stand for logic and reasoning is actually a sign of health, strength, and beauty.

Recognizing gaslighting is hard, but it’s also really hard to acknowledge that you’ve been the victim of the techniques. I’m so sorry if you have experienced this! I know that I’m continuing to work through my own experiences with gaslighting – calling a spade a spade is part of my healing process.

Do you have experiences you realize were ultimately gaslighting techniques? I’d love to hear in the comments, as well as how you’ve found healing!

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2019 | All rights reserved

Eager Anticipation

We can Eagerly Anticipate the way God is about to work through our fear of change.

This summer I was down in the dumps. I had a lot weighing on my mind and then one thing after another happened: our house required major work to be done, our CC community was having difficulty filling all of the Challenge level spots, after months of warning signs my health finally took a nosedive so dramatically I had to get professional help, and, of course, it was crunch time for 4H involvement and the upcoming county fair.

During this time I attended the birthday party of a childhood friend. While there I ran into another friend I rarely see and while we were catching up she related some heavy events from her life. Then said some words that I think will be with me forever:

“Our life had so many burdens on it I knew without a doubt it was impossible for me to manage. So I stopped trying. I started telling God, ‘I eagerly anticipate the way You are about to show Yourself to be Big and Faithful and True and Loving’… and you know what? HE DID.

We are in the midst of a major life change in our homeschool since we have made the decision to separate from Classical Conversations. I know that for some folks this probably sounds very melodramatic to be fretting and crying over whether to participate in a tuition program (I’ve never heard of anyone freaking out like this over leaving AWANA or their gymnastics gym!) but, man, it’s been a BIG deal for us. It’s all we’ve ever known for our homeschool. We’ve loved it tremendously… and now we know that God has moved us away.

I’m going back to things I know to be true from other seasons of life and thought I’d share them with you in case you’re spinning as much as yours truly. For any life altering, directionally changing decision you might be considering:

First, you can EAGERLY ANTICIPATE the way God is about to show up for you.

So many times God works before us in ways we would literally have never imagined. He’s got this. He’s also completely trustworthy! (He is literally the definition of trustworthy, so we should probably pay attention to that.) We know that He has our best interests at heart – not necessarily to help us know how to homeschool next year (I mean, maybe, but who knows?) but to set us up for situations that draw us closer to HIM and give us opportunities to praise Him for His faithfulness and greatness. Dude. That’s a big deal. Homeschooling will fall in line because the big rocks are already present.

Second, you will never change things until the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change.

Change is uncomfortable, painful, and messy. We like our habits; we like our predictability. Yes, a few of us have enthusiasm for change, but the vast majority of us are really comforted by stability and patterns. So what does that mean in a season of turmoil? We won’t change unless we must change. We shouldn’t take our grief over change as a sign that we shouldn’t move… instead we should accept that grief as natural, embrace it as proof we’re humans, and move forward in eager anticipation.

Third, expect the pain of loss of the relationship to take about half as long as the relationship endured.

I used this rule of thumb all the time when I worked with college students who were going through a breakup. When you break up with someone, it’s difficult! Expect that there will be moments of depression and railing against reality and just ickiness for about half as long as your relationship lasted. (For example, if you dated someone for six months, you’re probably on about a three month recovery process before you realize one day you haven’t thought about them or wailed while singing All by Myself.) In my particular situation of grieving right now, I was a part of this homeschool organization for eight years. Probably about four years from now I’ll be able to look back at our involvement and not feel like someone’s poking a bruise. Until then, it’s ok to be sad and wish I had more answers. But… in the fullness of time… it will work itself out.

The Plan

If you, like me, are in a season right now that has been proceeded by uncertainty and dread, stop and pray. Put your copy of the Well Trained Mind Aside and sit quietly with the Lord.

  1. Spend some time reminding yourself of how very much He loves you and how trustworthy He is (I love following along in Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word books for this!).
  2. Petition Him with your concerns and worries because He’s waiting and willing to respond (Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7).
  3. Pull out a piece of paper, date it, and start writing down your stresses and hopes and dreams – dump it all out and then simply say, “I eagerly anticipate seeing the way this is going to work out.” THEN PUT YOUR LIST AWAY FOR AT LEAST A WEEK (more if you can stand it).
  4. When time has passed, bring out your list and spend time in amazement at the way He has worked in your life (The LORD will fight for you, you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14).

In the meantime, know that you’re not alone. God’s got this and His hands are much better than anyone else’s!

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2019 | All rights reserved

You Want The Reasons We have Left CC

Why We're Leaving CC

Last night I came home, talked to my in laws, hung out with my husband and sick kids, and then wrote a fb post about putting my feet up after my last community day of CC. I was deliberately vague but a fb friend was quick to comment, “Last day of the year, or last day ever?”

Caught.

I responded, “Last day ever,” then went through and looked at the four different versions I’ve written trying to articulate why our family is leaving CC. Nothing was right, so here’s what I ended up posting:

Well, the cat is out of the bag… I have tried to figure out what to say and how to say it and nothing seems to fit quite right… so, here goes a very inelegant, “Facebook official” statement.

Our family has made the decision to leave Classical Conversations permanently. Illogical accusations and unlawful expectations from our state leadership are the straw that has broken the camels back, but, to be honest, the business practices and philosophy changes have caused me heartburn for quite awhile. We have been praying that God would be extremely clear if He wanted us to change anything and He’s been so faithful! It’s become quite obvious that He’s ready to move us in a new direction.

After 8 years in regional leadership and publicly promoting the organization across the country, I feel like it’s reasonable to make a public statement about our changes. This has been a heartbreaking decision. It is not one I *ever* anticipated making.

We don’t know exactly what things will look like in the future. What I can say is that the curriculum has worked fabulously for our kids and we are wanting to continue with a Classical Model of Education that will develop critical thinking skills. I’m hoping to blog about this journey on StealingFaith.com

I used to passionately declare we couldn’t homeschool without C.C.! Well, the circumstances of our experience have changed drastically and now I am realizing we can homeschool excellently without C.C.! I have to thank C.C. and its existence for giving me the tools I needed to learn to create and manage a better fit for our family with confidence.

Being able to make this decision, while it has emotionally wrecked me, has given me a crazy amount of freedom. We all know homeschoolers are about as easy to manage as a herd of cats… but I have realized I gave up my individuality and voice in support of someone else’s vision. I’ve been a very profitable player in someone else’s capitalistic scheme. 🤣 Yet Organizations have no memories… so if I have a choice of being a cog in the wheel or a Mama… I’d much rather direct my efforts toward these precious kids that I’m privileged to parent. 💗

#classicalconversations #leavingCC #itsgonnabeok

Whoa, Nelly.

I had no idea what was about to happen. Our family started watching our traditional Friday night family movie night (this week it was Captain America) while my Facebook feed blew up. And that was nothing compared to the multitudes of notes I got in Messenger or the texts I have received on my phone.

First: Thank you. The decision of whether or not to go public with our departure is one my husband I have prayed over for several weeks. Our goal is not to create a furor of gossip, so speaking out publicly is not something we would typically do. However, our family has been highly and publicly involved in Classical Conversations. Both my husband and I have been practicum speakers in multiple states, I’ve been a Director for eight years and was a driving force in establishing CC in our state, as an AR for five years over a three-state territory I worked to establish and support communities in a larger region. I have been the creator and an admin for the Foundations/Essentials Directors Facebook group for the last four years. We have been publicly involved in the organization and that has given us reason to believe that a public statement is reasonable and necessary.

Second: While it might be temporarily satisfying to go into great detail of what gripes we have, the details might not be helpful in the larger picture. Yes, we absolutely think our reasons for leaving this company are legitimate and it would be a nice salve to my pride and help me gain a boost of confidence from seeing comments of vindication from other people who agree. But would that be the best witness of Christianity? Would that be the best way to support homeschooling in this country?

The Bible says in Exodus 14:14, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” We believe we are leaving for reasons that are valid and have been inspired by the Holy Spirit. We also want to walk uprightly and with integrity. God has been so faithful to us to give us certainty that He is moving us away. You can trust Him to display His faithfulness to YOU by giving you disquiet or peace in this decision, because that’s the business of the Holy Spirit.

Jeremiah 23:1-4 states: “‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: ‘You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds,’ declares the LORD.” The consequences from God for poor leadership are significant and a reason anyone should pause before assuming the mantle of leadership in any way. I can actively and passionately pray for the people who have created these issues for us through action (or inaction) because I would NOT want to switch places with them.

I can trust that God’s consequences for poor leadership are worse than any raking over the coals on social media.

Also realize – as folks who have committed to home education, we have a vested interested in doing what we can to make homeschooling trustworthy. I want it to be easier for people to take those first steps down this path. I am committed to people feeling courageous enough able to make this lifestyle choice. (OK, let’s be honest, I also want our kids to have other kids to marry who will be like minded!)

If the largest voice in the country for the cause of homeschooling is thrown under the bus, there will be a negative affect on families. And those families, even though I don’t know them right now, are worth sacrificing my selfish pride and sense of justification to support.

Let’s be realistic – Classical Conversations has provided an excellent product in the form of curriculum and a model for community. This tool has helped literally thousands of people who would never have had the courage to homeschool on their own to take those first steps. That’s something to praise! If you believe that home education is a way to change our society, you should be thrilled whenever any option comes along to make educating this next generation more achievable! If I go crazy and attack CC I’m really only gnawing at my own leg from a larger perspective.

Third: If you’re here because you are uneasy, you’re not alone. I walked into this situation with a nervousness that I would lose relationships from people in leadership across the country. That there would be a mass exodus of Facebook friends who are offended that I would ever say something negative about CC. Dude, that is not the case. My messenger feed has exploded. My phone has been buzzing off from text messages so much the battery died. (It kind of makes me identify with the announcers on PBS of the last Presidential election results; they all assumed one candidate would win and as the results of the silent majority came filtering in, you could see their incredulous and disbelieving reactions!)

I’m shocked by the response because I’ve spent several months thinking I must be going crazy that this situation is even happening. (That’s called gaslighting. I’m learning so many things in this process.) Our experiences recently are so far removed from the organizational values I’ve know and loved I thought I must be mistaken or misunderstanding. But here’s the deal: I’m not crazy. (I never was – I was being manipulated by some masters with a specific agenda.) Assuming my experience is true, then there’s a good chance that if you are struggling with concerns – you aren’t crazy either.

Where does this leave us?

For the average parent and family I think there are really no issues to be concerned about being in the organization. The model, the method, it works. It really does. Our education and community has been invaluable and we have LOVED it in pretty much every way.

For the Director, you should ask questions outside of your team leadership. I was a team leader and I was purposefully never, ever given the tools to be able to answer the questions that needed to be addressed to support people from the business perspective. You’ll have to do your own footwork here because CC will not do it for you.

Run your contract through an attorney and a CPA. Make sure you’re doing the things that will protect you as much as possible from Murphy’s Law because I can assure you that the way CC has written their contracts they are legally not bound to support you in any way. Many have made the mistake of thinking this is a ministry because that’s what it has felt like locally and under previous leadership but make no mistake – CC is NOT a ministry. It is a business and it’s being run as a FOR-PROFIT. This feels like a philosophical change for many people, but there’s no use crying over spilled milk.

If you would check with professionals and do due diligence in starting a branch of Kaplan testing services… do the same stuff before you sign on the dotted line of any contract coming from Classical Conversations. Take the blinders off your eyes and the feel-good, fuzzy feelings off of your heart and get serious because if anything goes wrong it’s on your head and there is almost indubitably no CC-calvary headed your direction to save the day. YOU ARE HOLDING ALL LIABILITY from everything to misclassification of workers to property tax exemptions to medical expenses if Johnny falls off the slide and breaks his arm.

Now… enough of that gloom and doom.

As we’ve walked through this process I have found much comfort in researching the American Revolution. Yep, I’m a weirdo, but I believe history can speak to us and our founders were willing to write down their thoughts for us to see today.

You know, from Britain’s perspective the Americans were unsubmissive, sulky children whose complaints didn’t deserve attention or resolution. But for the Americans – they were actually willing to wrestle with a lack of submission based upon Biblical principles. They were actively considering truth, beauty, and goodness. The American Revolution was the first war that was fought for principle, rather than land ownership.

Because I’m an American, many of those independent ideals are inherent in the way I view the world. Homeschoolers in general are more willing to buck the system because they’re already doing it against the vast majority of families in the country by opting out of the public schools. All of this is a longwinded set up to say, this quote from the Declaration of Independence is one I’ve been chewing on lately:

“Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Application to my own situation?

Classical Conversations is a government of homeschoolers that is voluntary. It’s not required. It should never be an idol, or a whip, or a threat. It’s a tool that is marvelously helpful and effective when those who are governed are given the freedom to practice their independence while choosing to fall into philosophical alignment.

And that’s all I have to say about that for now.

We are actively trying to identify the things we’ve loved and how we plan to continue in the future. If you’d like to follow this progress (as well as be invited into our crazy life), please feel free to subscribe or follow this blog.

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2019 | All rights reserved
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