Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Missing Hero

I just heard about the polygamist cult in Texas. How my heart goes out to those girls and women. I was not born into my cult. I had the good fortune of parents who rescued me when I was ready to leave. I can only imagine what it must be like to be raised in such an environment.

A few years I attended a workshop of SGA's (second generation adults) - people who were born into cults. I was invited because I joined at such an early age - 14. Still, I found myself sorely out of place. While the issues we confronted were similar - child sexual and psychological abuse, my experiences did not happen in the context of a cult. My experiences occurred in my family and neighborhood.

Trauma is trauma and recovery is recovery. But children born into cults face an unique and daunting hurdle. And that is to blossom into a self which is utterly at odds with their family, community, religion and even their own identity. They literally have to remake themselves.

I so respect the courage of that sixteen-year-old girl who went to the authorities to report the abuse in her cult family. She now seems to have disappeared. No one can find her. If it were me, I'd be hiding somewhere, holding on for dear life, afraid that the demons will overtake me. Hopefully, she hasn't done anything drastic.

I know of a sixteen year old who reported her father for psychological and verbal abuse. She reported him after he threw a slipper at her. Her father is now in prison. And she took her own life after going to the authorities. Her love for her father and guilt was that great.

I pray that that brave girl is safe. I pray that her courage extends to herself and her own survival as much as to others. A hero, may she get the help she needs and deserves.


Isaac said...

I just found this blog today and also recently started browsing greasespot cafe which is where I saw your book. Both my parents were involved with twi until 1989; I was born in '90. So while I was not in twi per se, I grew up with the doctrines, practices, and what-not from the way. I sat through many fellowships, went to many seminars and camps with ex-way people. I sometimes wondered as a kid, "why can't I be normal; you know believe in the Trinity and all that other 'wrong stuff'".

What made matters worse was that I struggled with masochism, depression, and suicidal thoughts during my childhood up into my teens and to some extent I still do. Well as you know, these things, according to the Way, are the result of devil spirit possession, so I decided not to talk about these struggles with my parents or people in general. I was already, shy, introverted, and awkward around people, so this only served to close me off from people more.

Though the years I have been called possessed, possibly 'seed of the serpent, maybe an enemy of the cross of Christ, been told that I had one more chance to get my act together and walk with God.

Through Christ's mercy, I gradually found my way out of all this and still am in this process. I spent this last year in Northwestern OH (attending college and now taking a sabbatical year and working for a Methodist community center). I have been around people who have been very loving and have helped me see and accept that I was involved with a cult.

Well, I could keep rambling for a long time here. I guess what I am trying to say is thank you for writing this blog about growing up in a cult. Thank for writing your book; I hope to read it sometime.

Grace and peace,
Isaac Zika

Billy said...

It has to have been a whole different ballgame (pardon my umpiring blood) to grow up as a kid in The Way, as opposed to life for us old farts who, no matter how strong the influence of the Way in our lives (and it WAS strong), have our memories of pre-Way growing up. In my case that went all the way through college and into a job before involvement.

I guess it means that we know about a life outside of the way. Some of us may have to dig back fairly hard to get to it, but we know there is such a thing. I really don't know what it is like to try to find a life outside the way for someone who has never known such a life. It is one thing to have done something, or had something done to you, that is against your nature. It must be totally different to have your "nature" inbred by the Way while growing up. I guess those around you are so important to you.

Your last name I recognize as that of a Way Corps "friend" who was in the 8th corps, as both Kristen and I were, but you may be no relation.

Ike said...

Thank you for your response, Billy.

I have now read some good books on recovering from traumatic events/abusive upbringings/manipulative groups. And recently I began psychotherapy which is helping me deal with a lot of the obsessive thoughts of guilt and anxiety, etc. that have their roots in trauma.

Thank you for your empathetic response.