ASH #9: A bet with God

God, a deity, who is supposed to be bigger, badder and better than me, or you. I suppose because I’ve never seen him. Although I have a tome of 73 books that I read at breakfast & dinner that tells me so. Yet (most) of these authors don’t see Him either. I’m hopelessly falling into the David vs. Goliath cliche with this, but I’ve got enough vinegar to not care. Oh, you don’t care for vinegar….some vodka then? Dern not vodka, fine yo-yo, I’ll give you single malt scotch whiskey. So yeah, this quiet social worker with her scotch takes on God. Lemme back up for a minute, I wasn’t always a social worker or a scotch imbiber, those come with time. But a bet with God, the one and only Deity in my life, shot that’s just tomfoolery. Yet, I made it. I was fresh out of life (like that feeling you have when you’re out of tp and you gotta go?). How in tarnation I was standing, breathing or moving…must’ve been God’s Will ‘cuz it sure as heck not mine. Nosiree in 2005, living took too much effort. My mind & craw were jammed full of other thoughts like pills, death, funerals and what color roses would cover a fresh mound of dirt. God would have it that I practically wander into the funeral Mass for someone I once knew, and make a bet – more like a threat:

I’m giving you one last chance. It better be good, because I can’t live like this. If it’s not good, I’m gone. I’ll leave you for good.

Er, what? Some chick blackmailed God. If He wanted/wants me, He’ll have to come and get me. Otherwise I’d crossover to the not-so Catholic side of things. It’s hard to tell who’s winning, but I’ll let Him claim it.

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jumbled

something happened
and I became lost
in the tangle.
I heard you say,
far and away,
to stay focused
and to stay with you.
Eyes peeled as grapes
and breath held to burning,
I couldn’t stay with you
and I became lost.
I was taken over.
Over a decade,
I fall backwards into
a maze of conspiratorial lies
collapsing under the knowledge
of transformation.

Revisiting my Illustrious Religious Past

Saturday a girl friend told me about the Bible Study session that she had been asked to teach: a review of the major world religions, and cults. She wanted my input on the cults, and having spent this entire day reflecting and praying about it, I have decided to not co-teach with her on Tuesday evening.

Why would I pass up a moment to teach something that I know like the back of my hand?

Male chauvinist attitudes, emotional immaturity, a perpetuation of stereotypes among some of the most educated people I know, etc.

(a) The man who is in charge of the Bible study is not keen on women teaching, and when we have spoken up at Bible study, we have been talked over, or what we have said has been disregarded (even if we speak from professional authority). When we were discussing the rape of Dinah in Genesis last year, all the women were silent, as it’s a serious matter that may have happened to someone in the group. Several of the men laughed at it, and only a few men (one of them a very good friend of mine) said that he was furious for the behavior of the other ‘men’ in the group who laugh at rape. I have not been raped, but I have been sexually harassed (at school, at internships, and on dates) [once I felt in danger on a date, and if we had not been in a public place I think he would have attempted it].

(b) Stereotypes are perpetuated despite evidence to the contrary. There have been several statements of “Oh, Protestants are ….” when these people in the study are clearly educated and well-aware of what different denominations teach or how they differ from Catholic teachings. Yet, they remain pig-headed. Other times there have been statements about people in cults, and other easily targeted groups.

For this, I drew a conclusion that I did not want to subject myself to such bigotry when I would be a woman speaking on authority from a psychological background and personal experience; nor would I want t garner further stigma from people who claim to be open minded, but are not. I am aware that by withholding information and experience as I do allows the group to stagnate. But who is allowing who to stagnate? Am I at fault, or is it their facade of openness? I’ll probably write up some information for those interested, along with links and resources. But I can only speak to those truly interested in learning, in gaining new ground, and in change.

I have 3 tests this week, I’ll post it in the coming week.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For a quick read on the cult I left in 2004: here.

Floating

So, someone told me on a support Yahoo! Group that what I have been experiencing for the last few weeks is called “floating.”

The extreme identity confusion caused by membership in a cult can follow an ex-member for years, causing flashbacks in which the person “floats” back to the time of his involvement. In an instant, the cult identity can be triggered by a stimulus, such as an image, sound, or smell, that was instrumental in their manipulation. During my first year ould of the cult (1976), the word “moon” would cause me to thing “Father,” see an image of Sun Myung Moon, and begin to think from within my cult identity.

This dissociative state, which is known as “floating,” can be a significant obstacle for former cult members. Involuntary episodes are most common among people who were exposed to trance-inducing techniques, such as chanting, meditation, and speaking in tongues. Floating is particularly scary for those who lack an understanding of mind control. People who leave a cult without counseling are often confused and terrified by the experience, and begin to feel irrational guilt and fear over having left the group.

So what has been the last few weeks been like for me? Well, I’ve found myself automatically entering to prayer just like I used to with the Local Church, wanting to go back when I know that I don’t want to, thinking about the people I left behind, fearing God – like He might change His mind about me, the depression, the darkness, the pain, and pain for the people still locked into the Local Church.

It hasn’t been a pleasant experience. On Thursday I went to Daily Mass, and I could barely recieve Communion, I thought I was going to drop the chalice. Friday wasn’t much better, with a phone call to a priest-friend, which made me late to class (we’ve a 20 minute break for our 3 hour classes). I return to class, and the professor has just begun our weekly meditation session, which usually lasts for 15 minutes. It’s more than I can take, so I walk out again and spend the 15 minutes the class mediates crying in a bathroom stall. Later on Friday I sent an apologetic email to the professor excusing my poor behavior.

I feel pain for the people still in the Local Church, and even more for the knowledge that anyone who leaves will have similar experiences to mine. Not everyone survives the ex-member process. Some people commit suicide. I could still be in there, or I could be dead either by my own hand or by the deteriorating life-style on which I was subsisting. These people are just like me, and they are on the fringe edge of the cult hierarchy, so they’re just blindly believing that this is truth. They may not know any better.

It’s like being shut in a room at night where there aren’t any lights. The darkness seems thick, but with the dilation of the pupils, one can begin to see furniture and other fixtures. If one sticks around in the room long enough, they can mistake the gray formations for actually being in the light. That’s what cults are about: mistaking the Darkness for Light. if you offer them the stub of a candle, they refuse it.

Hassan, S. A. (2000) Planning and holding an intervention (pp. 322-323). In Releasing the bonds: Empowering people to think for themselves. Somerville: Freedom of Mind Press

Cults

I have to write this. I have to say it. I can’t find too many people on campus these days who know of my experience. Everyone has moved on, and I have too for the most part, but I’ll never fully recover.

Betrayal, lies and deceit — that’s the reality of cults on campus.

When university officials sat with me in their offices and admitted in private and confidentiality that there are cults on campus, but they permit them to add to the religious freedoms of students, that is troubling.

When these same officials write to the student newspaper and say that cults do not exist on campus, that is a very dangerous message.

The omittance of the presence of cults on campus is dangerous because students are made vulnerable, they are not educated about what a cult is, what to do if they or a friend is involved in one.

Perhaps more dangerously it tells me and other former cult members that our experiences in the various cults were for naught. In essence, never existed.

What does that translate to? Very tearful prayer, despair, anger, and I want to beat Satan with my bare hands. If satan were a tangible person before me right now, I’d beat him up, then let God send him to Hell — no, something worse than Hell — if that were possible.