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.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Susan's Story

"if memory serves" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:
Despite life’s busyness, I repeatedly come out to my office to read some more of the blog, uncomfortable at spending so much time doing so, but realizing on a deeper level its healing potential. It when I catch up to the current postings that I most strongly feel all of you out there in the world thinking about and contributing to this amazing thing and send my heartfelt thanks to all contributors, silent or vocal. Much of the time, the memories feel like they are from a long time ago, happening to someone else. Today, I am startled by how immediate the feelings are, you who are writing today words that evoke feelings today felt now by me.

Whalerider [blogger], at the end of your post 417, I cried deeply and to those who know me, know I am usually more reserved and cry rarely. An internalized phrase from my occasional therapist ”follow the feelings” helped overcome my immediate impulse to just move along to something else. Most days, I’ve felt so detached, like I can relate, but it isn’t really MY story. Today, I felt like “that girl”.

I loved James G. my first boyfriend in the fof, mid-70’s. We lived in a teepee up the hill with a red couch and carpets. James was a poet, a sweet gentle man who went head to head with Robert. I remember my confusion when I realized I was competing with my teacher for the affection of my boyfriend. Confusion, sadness, anger, uncomprehending shock. James left the group and I regret that I cannot access more clearly what happened. There is so much shame mixed in with the excitement of having found a “school of evolution”. I’m sure I did not talk about the shameful parts and just moved on with the “evolution” parts.

Being a female “second class citizen”, I settled for “second-best” closeness to rb [Robert Burton], by getting involved with Thomas E. There was a big triangular struggle going on there, too, but again, the shame shrouding the situation did not allow us to talk openly about it and I remember just being very confused. Thomas and I fought often about it and eventually moved farther and farther apart. I remember calling him from the pay phone in the Lodge while he was traveling with rb to tell him I was pregnant and him telling me to just take care of it. I knew it wasn’t wanted, by him, by me, by Robert, so was shortly thereafter driven to Yuba City by Fran for an abortion. I know I’m leaving out the next chapter, but one step at a time.

I had permission to play the piano in the Goethe Academy [Robert's residence] during lunch when no one was there. It was one of the happiest hours of my days. When Robert would come smilingly back after lunch in the company of those from his entourage, his face would fall upon seeing me, and although it is not exactly the reptilian conversion Cyclops [blogger] referred to in his powerful post above, that look of revulsion, disappointment, annoyance was one that I and many other women were on the receiving end on many occasions.

One other memory from my days of a woman in the company of men around the Blake Cottage/Goethe Academy was sadly watching while RB walked around and around the outside perimeter of the lawn trying to convince one of his wonderful young men that he and his lovely girlfriend/or wife, can’t remember the timing, must not have a child, and that in fact they must have an abortion. I had an opportunity to see this sad childless couple years later (when I was “out” and they still “in” thus we didn’t converse) and my heart has always gone out to them.

My tears are for you, Whalerider, Cyclops, THAT GIRL, Joseph G., Richard M, Elena [bloggers], and many others who lost faith in themselves, were deceived, coerced, had abortions, gave their children away, shared their husbands with another, for all the suffering you experienced. They are for me, for the teenager I once was, for the world I’m leaving to my children. May tears of joy fall once again on us all.

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