Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Susan's story

"if memory serves" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 25, 2007:
People have been so brave and generous with their posts that I’m inspired to try to put myself a little bit more out there. Often, I just feel that if you wait long enough, it all gets said, but that is feeling a wee bit passive now at this most unusual juncture of Fellowship of Friends meets blog.

I was very young, lonely and quite sad about the condition of the world in the early 70’s when I was introduced to the fof by a much older man who introduced me to the workbooks. The intellectual stimulation of, what was to me, a whole new way of looking at things really pushed the right buttons. I was introduced to things I knew very little about but again, the receptors were there: fine art, good food, the craft of labor, classical music and a comforting connection to the past. I was comfortable in the large family-like atmosphere, complete with a cold, distant father-figure. Initially, I experienced an emotional setback when it became obvious he was competing with me for the nice boy I met, and then, soon thereafter, when I was told that no female would become conscious in the group. I was dejected and angry for a long time, wanting to succeed in this new milieu, but being “held back” by my conscience (that earlier in my life had saved me from another organized religion). I remember the day I had a strong talk with myself and “decided” that I wasn’t going to evolve if my old parts kept getting in my way. Placing Jiminy Cricket on hold (the willing suspension of disbelief) while I checked out this new and seductive potential seemed my only alternative to leaving and going back to, to what?

After that, things sailed along much more smoothly and, I would have to say, those years were very happy for many parts of me, with less frequent disturbances from my moribund conscience. I’m not proud of many of my actions during that time: my need to be important, the subliminal expression of my negative emotions that had no natural outlet, my selfishness and cruelty. I’d longed for, and bought at the expense of conscience, a feeling of certainty of being on the right path, a “signs and wonders verification” that there was a god (or many gods) that were in control even if I wasn’t, and the feeling (however imaginary) that I was safe. Leaving ten years later was a painful choice between my love for my husband and the “security” of the group. I was like an angry child who was forced to awaken too soon from peaceful slumber and while appreciative, eventually, of having my life back, was in the same pickle as before. Then the work to grow up began.

I wouldn’t say to anyone who is still in the Fellowship of Friends that things will be easier out than in. They might be, then again, they might be much more difficult in some ways. Different for different people. What I’m trying to do now is just love my family and friends, ask hard questions, face my fears, choose uncomfortable truths over convenient lies, do no harm, do more good (and not get too depressed about all the stuff that’s way, way outside my control.)

It’s apparent to me that I still have some processing to do since I keep putting off other things I need and want to take care of, to read this blog. Thanks to the Sheik for maintaining this vehicle for communication that seems to be serving so many different purposes for different people.

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