Sunday, November 20, 2016

Free Love and Guilt

I wonder if I had not been so wrapped up in the guilt I carried for being the supposed cause of all our relationship woes, I may have just seen the light of the cult's delusion earlier. And I wasn't the only one dealing with relationship issues, although mine may have been different from most.

Maybe there was something to all these internal issues taking time, and emotional and mental bandwidth.

The arbitrary and frequent splitting up of couples by leadership ("for the Lord's work"), as well as the doctrine of the Law of Love, no doubt, wreaked havoc in any and all relationships in the group. The indiscriminate "sharing" (cult euphemism for having sex) among members "as long as it was done in love," and the shaming of the jealous, made for much introspection, insecurity, and misery. Those who were jealous were "old bottles," "selfish," or "not yielding to God's will," etc., and in need of prayer, extra "word time," and deliverance. In extreme cases, exorcism.

Accordingly, we had a group of people who were so busy fighting personal battles with "sin and self," that no one had the energy or initiative to lift their heads above the clouds and look around and question.

Who can say what would have been? The techniques the cult used to keep its members were (and still are) many and powerful. But surely the distraction of the Law of Love, along with the myriad absurd requirements placed on the shoulders of cult members, was a strong force in keeping us unquestioning and in the fold.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Broken Pieces - Broken Lives

In the last month, I came in contact with a variety of ex-members. In spite of differences in age, race, and situations, we all share the commonality of trying to make a life out of the broken pieces that were left after leaving the cult. After years of being exploited and abused, we are now each doing our best to make our way in the world with little help, experience, or foundation. The following people are far from anomalies.

"A," whose parents joined the group when she was a child, is engaged in a daily fight with depression, constant financial struggles, and hopelessness. Anger flares against her parents, then turns inward. She puts on a brave face each day for her children, but on the inside there is black sadness. Putting one foot in front of the other is how she makes it through each day.

"B," born in the cult, has been pulling together his broken pieces and has struggled to teach himself the language that should have been his mother tongue, then he ambitiously took on a third language. Fighting feelings of insecurity, he's overcome and been successful in supporting himself in a job that uses his tri-lingual abilities. Quite impressive, considering he lives in a rigid, unforgiving country, and has never spent a day inside a school building.

"C," another who had the misfortune to be born in the cult, struggles with finances and a psychologically abusive spouse. She is stuck; her child held hostage to her marriage.

There are more, many sick with stress over the future; all coping the best they can.

Finally, "D" who joined at age 18 and had five children in the cult. Divorced, living alone in a foreign country, she has been struggling to reinvent and educate herself so she can get a secure job - and all this in her 50's. 

Her desire is to erase the past and only live in the present, otherwise guilt and sadness overwhelm her and pull her in a downward spiral of shame. She feels her children blame her for her bad decisions, and she blames herself for having brought those children into the world while in the cult. There are no happy thoughts of her children, no cheerful memories - all are colored by guilt - she only yearns to forget. A great divide of pain and bitterness lies between her and her children. 

This is deeply saddening. What a legacy of our years spent "serving the Lord." A travesty.

I am thankful that my children can laugh about the absurdity of their past. Needless to say, I sincerely wish it had been different.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Abuse seen as "a labor of love" - a new take on the Milgram experiments

I wrote about the Milgram experiments in reference to why people engaged in Flirty Fishing in the COG here.  

This speaker talks about revisiting those experiments and coming to a slightly different conclusion - one that is even more terrifying - people harm others when they believe they are doing it for love. Shades of the Manson Family killings.