There was a lot of abuse that went on within the cult/ “church”. Vacations were NOT allowed. Weakness was certainly not allowed.. You smiled through the pain. Fake it until you make it was a common phrase. Because that’s what Jesus would do? If one got injured while in the care of the cult/church they weren’t allow to go to a doctor especially if you cried. We were taught to suck it up. As a result there was a lot of damaged done, including me. physically and emotionally. I spent a week with lets call this person ” The Leader” and other youth at a sleep away comference. A week of lectures and preaching. While the leader was not the main leader of the church or “preacher” as he was called, this said person controlled everything that when on. The leader was the puppet master. Anyways, I broke a bone on this trip but was told that I was faking it and being a baby. I cried. I remember it hurt so bad. I don’t think I had every felt pain like that. The Leader only person I’ve ever been afraid in my life was our leader. But I hurt and when one hurts tears are a natural reaction to physical and/or emotional pain. I bit my lip and dried it up per her command in hopes I could see a doctor. I agonized in silent with a forced smile on my face because that is what good girls do. I never got to see a doctor. She said I was fine and to let it go. I don’t pity myself. But I do feel anger writing about this. Maybe not at leader but myself for allowing it. I really should have done something myself. I feel like I should have walked away. Leader has a habit of getting physical for example hitting, grabbing arms, general bullying, etc but I often wish I had run away or called for help. When we went home I was afraid to tell my parents even because even time my mom would fight for me, hell fire would rain down on my head if my mom tried to make right it. Again I wish I had done something and told them. It wouldn’t have helped the situation but at least my bone would have gotten fixed properly. But the Leader would make a public example of me as someone trying to hurt our precious cause. Someone trying to create a rift because the parents and the leaders. She would point me out to other leaders as a trouble maker, rebellious, weak. So I suffered through it until it healed on it own. It did not heal properly and still isn’t. It’s a reminder of what I have overcome. In another instant I spoke up and I was in fact made an example of rebellion. This is how I learned the skill to hide my injuries/sickness. It’s a hard habit to break and has almost gotten me killed. But that is another story.
Boys had it much easier than the girls. But the leaders were very hard on the all children/ teenagers. If you step out of line you went to what we called “the dungeon”. This was merely a room with out windows in the basement. Some kids were whooped for their wrong doings, rebellion, insubordination. The lucky ones were just grilled and lectured until they saw the errors of their ways. I remember one instant a child I was very close to was taken and slapped repeatedly by the leader because she was struggling with understanding her school work.
While recruiting to our “church” was an important part of the “church” outsiders weren’t really welcome in the school. You had to be a member and \have regular attendance 3 times a week in order to attend the school. There was no janitor so kids often had to spend the afternoon cleaning the whole build after school. If it wasnt good enough you stayed until they approved. The leader sat around supervising us usually eating something. If you didn’t do it joyfully to the dungeon you went to have a discussion about your heart. We even had to clean things we weren’t allow to use. We really just cleaned up after ourselves and the staff. While they staff complained about being too under paid and over worked to put up with us. But they did it for the cause. They acted as if they were saints for keeping us from being devoured by the wicked world. I spent a lot of time feeling sad and broken. I spend a lot of time in the dungeon because I didn’t smile through it like I ought.
I did have a small light. When I was a teenager I bought a CD of Elvis music( This was in the early years of 2000s). I adore it. It would have never been approved. Not even if Elvis sang about Jesus. Christian rock was also off limits as well as south gospel. We were only allowed to listen to hymns or classical-like pieces about Jesus. I kept my CDs hidden behind a loose board in my closet. I would pull it out and listen to it on my CD player I had bought. I could only listen to it at home as it wasnt permitted at “church or school” and at home. While my parents were less strict in this area they prefered me to listen to music about God/ Jesus. But they never really checked what I was listening to regardless. Though if they saw it laying around they would most likely toss it in the trash. I memorized every world to the songs on my CD. I used to sit up in a tree in my backyard. Scribbling short stories in a notebook and taking in every word in the music I listened too. When spending my afternoons doing dishes and other manual labor at the “church” I would replay them in my mind. What really go me through everyday was to be in another place. When I got stressed or when I couldn’t take another minute, I would go in the bathroom. Shut my eyes and pretend there was a secret door. It was my escape. Would imagine myself going into the secret room. It was dark aside from a light streaming in through the top. I climb out the top out into a meadow and run and run. I was running away. Elvis music playing in the back ground. I was free. It seems so silly looking back. I never told anyone about this except my husband. I really just longed for away out. I always did. I guess you can say that was my happy place there in my head.
Outside friends were not permitted unless you could convert them. Basically, if you can bring them to church/ or they go to our church, they can be your friend. I had a very close friend who parents no longer allowed her to go to the church services and as a result she was kicked out of the school. I felt like the end of the world. I felt like I would never see her again. We decided to write each other to keep in touch. The leader found out about it and decided she was writing things to pollute my mind (having not even seen our/ read our letters). All our letters and contact to/from my friend had to now go through the leader. The leader controlled everything. After that, I didn’t hear from my friend again until I was an adult. I regret this very much. I wish we had done it more secretly. I had to give up more than one friend this way. None because I wanted too. Some because it was just easier than fighting the battle to keep them. OUR WHOLE LIFE was the “church”. I just wanted to avoid the dungeon visits and get through it so I can get out. By now I didn’t know anything else.
We were allowed to have some fun. Fun to the youth was riding around a in a van all day on weekend trying to convert people to our little “church”. We also spend long periods of time listening to lectures and learning about how to prove we are right on. But there was no healthy debating. If you disagreed you were probably going to hell. And you were most definitely rebellious. rebellious children needed to be broken. It was so much easier to agree with everything then to be broken until you did agree. While they used the “Bible” in their debates most of the rules were not biblical but merely the ideals of the leader. For example: Any thing popular was wicked. Hair dos, fades, even words such as “cool”. Therefore it was sin. My biggest battle was my hair. I prefered wearing it down and this was unacceptable and showed my wicked heart. Clothes weren’t a problem because we all worn uniforms. All the way done to the shoes. They had to be same flat shoes. Because thick-soled shoes were men’s shoes (even if they were famine shoes from the lady’s section) and therefore you were cross dressing. Nail polish was another enjoyment I had that was crushed. Since I spent 7 days a week there aside from summer I wasn’t supposed to wear it. ( I got around this by wearing clear.) On off days we were allow to wear light pink. Other colors such as light purple to bright orange made you a slut. Painting your nail a slutty color was one step away from becoming a pregnant teenager.
Abstinence was a law. Being a lone with a boy was never allowed. We never, ever had an opportunity anyways. Though a little secret between me and this secret blog, I used to dream about being pregnant because I thought it was the only way out. As the leader told the girls. If you get pregnant your throwing away your youth and you when no longer be my responsibility. You’ll move on to the adult group. I made the leader angry because I couldn’t hid the joy this statement gave me from my face. I earned myself a lecture. Mostly about STDs and God’s judgement on me, I think. Those words stuck with me but the lecture did not. I don’t really remember what was said really aside from STDS and God’s judgement…haha. Oh! How lucky I would be! I had too much self-respect to go off with anyone though. I wasn’t much of a boy chaser. I rather be friends with guys than date them all. I was never given the sex talk. Parents usually gave their kids a book to read about it right before the wedding. So I can’t say at this point I would have really known how to get pregnant.
Marriages were arranged. No courting ‘ chosen man’ until after a full year of college. Religious colleges were a required at least a year but if you quit after a year, you had no character. And usually were lectured until your mind was changed, We werent allow to work a job out in the world for risk that we stray. We could find a job once we are at college which left the newly high school grads from poor families in debt.
So that is my back story. The young virgin girl who never kissed a boy. Miserable little bird who wanted dreamed of flying. At this point I’m 17 and all I can think about is my escape. My parents are seeing I am unhappy and with drawn. They are realizing just how deep we are in and how this is affecting me. The laws of the “church” grow tighter every year.
I leave you here if you are still even with me. Are you still with me? My next post will about my new life.
Untik next time, Sage