Monday, 4 April 2011

Americas most hated family and me

It strikes me as a very strange coincidence that I wrote the post yesterday about growing up in the cult church which I have never really talked about much and then today my husband asked me if we could watch this documentary together: Louis Theroux: America's most hated family in crisis.

Watch it here:

It is about a small Church group in USA with very controversial beliefs and methods of preaching. Even if you have never been through something like this it is worth watching just for the peek into another kind of life.

I felt deeply disturbed and sick to my stomach watching the documentary. I was shocked because it was very like the church I came out of. It brought back so many memories and feelings that I had tucked away nicely somewhere else. My head hurt by the end of the programme, I think from trying to hold in all the emotional pain and heartache that was resurfacing and trying to burst out (I don't like to sound over dramatic but this is how it felt). My church didn't actively go out to preach hate and offend but in preaching what it did believe, usually managed to offend everyone anyway (no one likes to be told they're going to Hell).

Having beliefs that were so offensive to 99.9% of the rest of the world and being required for the saving of my own and other's souls, to go out and preach them on the streets and to everyone I knew, I was more than familiar with how it felt to be ridiculed, laughed at, shouted at, rejected, hated and despised. I could see myself in the young boys holding the signs: hating every moment but not even admitting it to themselves; telling themselves they were being persecuted for doing the work of Christ. Telling themselves this was their mission whilst praying that they wouldn't be noticed.

I could see myself in the mindsets of the young girls... growing up in a group with such controversial beliefs and the obvious effort they were putting in to convincing themselves and Louis that they believed it truly. I don't doubt that many of them do truly believe that they are doing the right thing and that there is no other way. But I doubt that they have much personal freedom in their own minds to test their own ideas in a truly unbiased way. The risk of them realising that it is a cult was huge: they lose any family and friends they ever had... any culture and the whole framework of their lives. I know how that feels.

And that's what happened in my cult. It tore my family apart. In deciding to leave because of the wrong I saw, I lost every friend I ever had; not only lost but had to bear them 'lovingly' telling me that I was poisoned by Satan and that God would visit wrath on me for abandoning the church... I would burn in Hell.. etc. And then being deleted from the lives of every member. Deleted from their minds for their own safety. So that they wouldn't be poisoned by me.

I could see myself in the families of those who had left when questioned about if they missed their daughter or had any sadness about cutting her out of their lives. I recognised their apparent lack of emotion at having wiped a child from their lives because they chose to leave the church. I understood that the only way they could bear what they had done to their child was to delete any emotions about that loss from their consciousness. They felt they had to do it to be right with God. They felt it was love. I understand because I did the same with people who left the cult before I did. I was sad for them that they had 'given in to the lure of the flesh' but I believed that God wanted me to wipe them from my life and I told myself that God had taken the pain from me so I didn't have to feel the loss. I guess that is a way of dissociating. I don't think humans are designed to deal with hurting others in that way so will find another way of feeling about it.

Watching the part where the girl was crying for the loss of the people she loved after leaving the cult brought back a lot of pain. I feel I have never really dealt with the pain and loss and like her, I still worry that I am going to Hell. It's hard to come out of a lifetime in an environment like that and just take on moderate views. I find I don't know what to believe anymore. I felt her pain.

Watching this documentary has been painful but I am starting to understand where my T was coming from when she wanted me to talk to her about my church way back when I first started therapy with her.

At the time I told her I didn't want to talk about it and she had said that I wouldn't be able to progress if I didn't and that there was no point coming if I didn't want to talk about difficult things. This had made me feel angry and pressurized. I'd asked her if she was telling me not to come back and she said she wasn't saying that but that she felt these were important things to look at.

I didn't think it was something I could bear to tolerate the thoughts about at the time. She didn't ask me about my church anymore and I have always been happy not to even think about it but I have secretly always known that I haven't dealt with this stuff and that it has affected me in a huge way. I guess in a way I've always wanted to blame all my problems such as dissociative identity disorder on the other things that happened to me as a child. Although SA (I can't write it but hopefully you know what I mean) is by no means a 'normal' thing or an easy thing to deal with, in a way I felt if my DID could just be because of that, it would be simpler. In reality I think they are both factors that lead me to develop the condition.

Maybe the fact that I have been able to now write two posts about my church suggests that I might be ready to start talking with T about this.

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