I should preface my comments by pointing out that I have no aversion to being disfellowshipped. I fully expect that to happen. All of my immediate family and a great deal of my extended family have moved on with me and we all enjoy a full and satisfying life. That means what I'm about to say won't apply to everyone that reads this and not everyone will benefit from it.
My standard response in the past when someone texted me and said "The memorial is this week, we'd love to see you." or "We wish you were at the convention with us" has been, "Thank you for your concern, if you'd ever like to understand why I won't be there, please feel free to give me a call." Of course no one has called.
Last week, the one person remaining in the cult that I care about texted me twice. We are still very close and when she texted me she was staying in my home to attend the convention. The first text said "We miss you at the convention." I replied with something very similar to what I posted above. The second text, which I'm paraphrasing said "I see your son reads a lot and has religious books, would you mind if I talk to him about the bible?" Of course this one was different and I had a hard time controlling my temper. I took a few days to cool off, talked with my kids about it, called her back and said basically, "Feel free, but don't expect my kids to back off asking you difficult questions about your choices. I've never gone down that path with you, but if you engage my children, I won't insist that they're meek." Then I followed up by telling her that her daughter had talked to me about Jeptha's daughter over the course of the week, would she mind if I read Judges chapter 11 to her daughter, from her bible, in her presence. The conversation got very heated at that point and we politely got off the phone with each other.
That's when it hit me, they're bullies. By her saying "We wish you were here," she's sharing her beliefs and value system. What would have happened if I had replied back, "I wish you weren't." Or better yet, what if I just texted that to her without it being a reply. She gets to share her values, but when I share mine back, I'm being disrespectful. I feel just as strongly about my beliefs and values as she does. Why should this be a one way street. The answer to my own question is, they have always had the ability to control the dialogue because they have the threat of disfellowshipping. This person DOES NOT want me to get disfellowshipped. It would put her in a very bad place. I've been respectful of her choice for years, and she's been respectful of mine. I'm sure she doesn't view what she said as disrespectful, just that she loves me. This is the first time I've had clarity that my beliefs are exactly the same. I love her. She's in a dangerous place. I'm willing to not talk about it, or I'm willing to talk about it. The only thing that's off the table is being talked TO about it. She undoubtedly doesn't believe that's what she did, but I believe I can help her see that, even if she won't admit it to me.
I would appreciate any additional clarity that any of you can add to help me shape my thoughts.