After I retired from my Living Room group In 2015 it was as though all I had done was forgotten – as though I no longer existed. Please let me share why I felt that way.

Sometime before I was asked to do a presentation of my manual to new Living Room facilitators. Not feeling up to it, I asked someone I had worked with to represent me. A week or so before this was to happen, she came to me, excited about the inspiring meeting she’d had with a leader. I never learned what happened, but things changed after that.

As she was preparing for the presentation she got quite unfriendly when I asked how things were going. Although I was the author of the manual and had nine years experience as a facilitator, she didn’t want me to have anything to do with it. Together with that and the behavior of the leader working with her, I had an uneasy feeling that respect for me as founder was slipping away.

What’s happening? I thought to myself. I had only given up leadership of the group. Not everything. Not my ties as founder of the broader ministry.

This person had a point of view I was strongly against: “All we need is God; we don’t need people.” I believed this was not in keeping with giving support. One day – having suspicions – I told the leader she worked with that if there were plans to put that in my copyrighted manual, I would not allow it. He got a stunned look on his face and held it for a long time asking, “But it isn’t registered, is it?” He didn’t realize that the rights of written matter always remains with the author.

At that point my fears grew more certain. The results of nine years of hard work was being pulled from under me. Not only was I leaving my group, but I felt as though I was being removed from all that had been most meaningful in my life, not consulted about something I deserved to know.

It seemed as though they no longer thought I existed, as though I never did exist. Their behaviour towards me showed I no longer had worth in their eyes. Ill treatment in words and action, from one person in particular, followed for many months. Eventually I came to forget the person I was and what I had achieved.

Some people don’t understand what constitutes stigma. The above story illustrates it well.

  • being thought unworthy of inclusion in significant matters
  • no longer considered like a real person would be
  • treated as though she no longer exists
  • no longer respected for her accomplishments.
  • dehumanizing the victim through words and actions

Continued over a long period of time the results can be tragic. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same the person I was when I created Living Room.