Monday, November 22, 2010

Hold the Presses!

I was talking with my son the other day about this process of posting Chapter One of my book on line and how it would be affecting his other family, my ex's. My intention here is not to stir up any hornet's nests and create bad feelings. I wanted to write my story to help other people not feel so alone in similar situations. I always think, if I had had a book like this when I was leaving The Way, how much simpler my journey would have been.

Manipulation, abuse, divorce, custody, mental illness. These are all very hard subjects. But many of us, I'd say all, who have had brushes with TWI are not unfamiliar with them. My goal in writing this book is not to hurt but to shed light on a dark and painful subject….which happens to be my life. There are others involved who were a part of that pain and I have included them in the story. It was unavoidable.

But it is important to note that these were things that took place over twenty years ago and much has healed in that time. It may fall apart again with the advent of this book but that's a risk I have decided to take. Besides, the book may never see the light of a publisher's day so this all may be a moot point anyway. But for the purposes of this posting, which is not an easy one, I just want to include the disclaimer that THINGS HAVE CHANGED!

Our kids are grown and thriving and my ex-husband and I have a workable relationship. I am no longer afraid of him and he is no longer abusive towards me. He has changed considerably, as have I. The follies we endure when we are younger, fortunately don't have to follow us into our older years. We have BOTH learned.

Victor Frankl was a Jewish German psychiatrist who survived a concentration camp in WWII. He wrote of his experiences in a book called MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING. He said that "What is to give light, must endure the burning."

I guess part of enduring the burning of putting my story "out there" is to know that a few people may not like it. And for those that read it, or see themselves in its pages, they too must endure the discomfort. But the fire burns the dross away as the truth sets us free. Another wise guy whom we all know said that one. I'm choosing to believe it and carry on.

Happy Thanksgiving…


Chris Cushingham, Sr. said...

"The man who writes about himself and his times is the only man who writes about all people and all time," a mere mortal once observed. George Bernard Shaw. Unfortunately, the human experience is painfully common. Recovery and spiritual understanding less common. But greatly to be desired.

Carol V. Hall said...

Alcoholism is also a very hard subject, that stirs up the forbidden hornets nest. That is the main theme of my memoir. While I'm writing, I constantly have this feeling like I'm doing something wrong, telling too much, or betraying the family trust. But, on I go.

Billy said...

In the years that elapsed between the time I was willing to accept that such abuse that Kristen suffered in The Way COULD have taken place, and the time I became convinced that it DID...after reading her account...I was on a search to become convinced one way or the other. Putting myself in a presumed victim's place, I could imagine that it would be very hard to give personal testimony of such abuse. I know I couldn't really know HOW hard without going through the same trauma, but I could imagine that telling of such abuse in detail would require the teller to relive, in an almost real sense, the same horrors over. Yet, I could not accept that these things happened merely on the basis of people talking about what happened to other people. My reluctance to be convinced either way got me in trouble from different sides. I got upset with some who seemed to accept that VP Wierwille did sexually abuse many, but laid part or all of the blame on the victim. Others didn't see why I didn't automatically accept what they said about what happened to telling me that I didn't deserve personal testimony because I wouldn't accept it if I had it.

Kristen's testimony finally convinced me, but going through some of the same things at the same time in the Way and the corps didn't hurt. Any of us who were in, and know what life in the Way was like, should not have any tendency to assume that people she tells about in her account from twenty to almost forty years ago and are still around, are the same today. And this would be true even if we knew these other people then, which in most cases we didn't.

But, of course, the more public Kristen's life becomes, the more people there will be who read or hear her story, many never being in the Way, and the more people there will be who have less understanding of how huge a spread there is between Way life, ex-Way life, and non-Way I can see the dilemma she tells of in this post. And I can see how she would really want her writing career to go beyond telling of the abuse she went through. I am thinking it has been a very important step, but only a first step.

As for Kristen's disclaimer, it is easy at least for those of us who have been posting here to understand.

Oneperson said...

Great post Kristen.

I've heard/read many a memoir/life story writer struggle with these same type issues you bring up in this entry. I know I have, and all I do is blog. That is, I'm not planning a book.

I have also found that in writing memoir I don't necessarily relive the trauma or time I am writing about. For me, it is almost like I am looking from the outside in, and yet I'm also on the inside at the same time. Odd that. But then, maybe not.

I wrote elsewhere regarding my own self-conversations about how to voice my story:

Gremlin: "What about people that were involved in the situations and read your stuff? What if it hurts them, brings up bad memories or emotions? Do you really want to cause that pain?"

My answer: This is one of the hardest for me; it really is. I don't want to cause pain. But am I the one causing it? Or is it that our society doesn't honor the grieving process, but rather wants to 'be strong' and go on with life as normal? Is it from stigma and labels that humans use against one another causing fear of various kinds, mainly of rejection, disapproval, not belonging? All the while, in the background, is buried pain and hurt that hasn't been dealt with.

Keep shining,

Billy said...

Carol, I'm glad that you and Kristen have been able to write about your lives in The Way; I've learned from both of you.

I have spent years overcoming the ingrown notion that because my Way life was not so bad, it couldn't have been that bad for anyone else. Strangely enough, I think this factor is also true of Kristen to some degree, if I may quote the beginning of her September "Predator's Prey" post:

"V.P. Wierwille was a predator. I never fully realized the impact of this until the other day when I received an e-mail from a former member of The Way whose friend had obviously been a victim of 'The Doctor's' sexual abuse."

The description of a ruined life follows. BUT what strikes me is that even Kristen, with all that happened to her, "never fully realized the impact" of this predator until she heard of the account of this particular victim, who had not been able to recover and THRIVE as she, Kristen. thankfully has.

I should no doubt remind myself that not everyone abused by V.P. Wierwille or by others in The Way has had their lives ruined or destroyed. Our reaction to our Way time, or to writing or telling about it, is going to be different for each of us...because of our different experiences in the Way, our different recovery environments, and simply because we are each different individuals.

However, I want to never forget that not only have at least a few lives been ruined (isn't one too many?), but that there are others, such as Kristen, whose lives COULD have been suffered such a fate, or worse.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, having left the way over 5 years it has really taken me this long to reflect on it. I lived well away from head quarters, and didn't see most of what you describe. However, it is odd how the more you get involved the more they change. It's like they own you more, direct you more, exc. Very subtle. Almost like being massaged into a certain way of thinking. My spouse had sexual advances toward her when she was a teen by a 40 plus year old man. Outside of that I never saw or heard of anything of that nature. That member was mark and avoid for a while but was later reinstated to full member of the way again after he had "cleaned up his act." I think some of why certain people have a hard time believing you is that a lot of this stuff was at head quarters. The mental manipulation happened everywhere, but the sexual stuff didn't happen everywhere. Which of course doesn't mean it wasn't happening in many locations outside head quarters. To this day I have friends in this ministry who are very dedicated to it. I know leaders who are very good to to the people in their regions. This doesn't change the fact that the ministry it self is poison. They do an excellent job of hiding it though. However, they couldn't stop you from exposing them. Thank you so much for that. I didn't stick around and I didn't receive any abuse. However, I know it happened now. Thank you for giving those who need a hand up your words. God bless you.