The Worst of the Worst

[I’m posting this because I think it’s okay to be this vulnerable. I guess I think it’s fine to expose yourself. . . because that shows you and who ever is listening how far you’ve come. Reading this, It doesn’t seem like me, not really even a very sad, scared, pessimistic version of me, but that’s okay. That’s where I had to go, to get to where I am now. When crisis happens, we don’t deal with all at once. We deal with as much as we can at that time. And then months or years later, we deal with a little more. Not so long ago, this is where I was at. It was a process. . . and that’s okay.]


My Little Secret. . .

Three years ago yesterday, I ran away. Usually, I consider giving up or giving in a bad thing. I am a fighter. I think that with my will, I can make anything work. However, this particular time, it wasn’t a bad thing, at all. It was quite possibly the best decision of my whole life. Why? Well, that’s hard to explain. I am always confused about how to explain the two years of my life between ministry training school and actual college. Sometimes I say I worked, sometimes I say I lived on the beach, sometimes. . . I tell the truth. Sometimes I will try to get comfortable enough with someone to say that I was in a really controlling, really frightening situation in which I could not be myself, live my life, call home too often, talk to a myriad of people from my school or hometown, date boys, drink alcohol, hang out with people who dated or drank, visit another church, be close to people that did not commit to volunteering/dedicating their lives to my church, talk about my life to anyone who wasn’t at a higher ranking then me in the little system of the church, etc.

I could try to list the dynamics of the organization further, but I don’t think that’s the point. The point is, I was in a cult. Two years of my life are unexplainable, barely recognizable, painful, and pointless. I never know what to say or who to tell.The thing is, I know it was partly my fault. Things got crazier and crazier and I stayed. Crazy starts to seem normal when you’ve been cut off from society for long enough. And when the 200 people around you think the crazy is holy and the rest of humanity is just “in-sin” or has “an un-renewed mind” and is basically just a group of unworthy outsiders, you want to stay in the group, because the group is all you have. I’ve been studying cults for a long time. And each time I read something new, I hope that the group I was in doesn’t fit the criteria. I hope this one time that it doesn’t add up and that I wasn’t really in a cult. Each time it does. Every time. The way the leader acted, the way the followers acted in response to the leader, the insane boundaries, the isolation… It always fits. And then each time, I look at myself, and say, “Okay, there it is Amanda. You really were in a cult.” But that never makes it better. Explaining it doesn’t make it better. Understanding it doesn’t make it better. Nothing makes it better.I feel so helpless when I look back. I can’t go back and help the people I knew there. I can’t go back and help the me that is stuck there. I can’t redeem the time. I spend a lot of time worrying about people who are still there. I worry about them a lot, but I can’t do anything. I can’t go light the church on fire. I can’t shake them and say, “You’re good enough on your own. You don’t need this. This does not impress God. You don’t have to fit his mold. You don’t have to be cookie-cutter. Live a life you love. Follow your own damn dreams. Follow your heart. That’s where God is.” But I can’t do that either. If I say too much when I do get that sporadic call from someone who is thinking of leaving. . . I could push them away. I know how badly I fought everyone on the outside, who wanted to help get me out. . . It’s a lot to handle.

I get over-whelmed a lot.

I have gone to counseling twice now and brought up everything in the world besides… well this. And this… is probably the one thing that needs to be talked about in counseling. Talking about your ex-boyfriend and dealing with your time management issues are great, but I have to stop letting this hidden secret, be a hidden secret. I have to know what to do with it, day to day. I have to get help. So that’s where I am at on this journey. I left three years ago yesterday. I drove down A1A Beach Boulevard with everything I owned in my car, in the middle of the night, afraid of everything, but knowing that if I could just make it out, I would go to school, I would live my life, and I would make a difference in the world. Now, I am living my life, going to school and making a difference in the world, yet the pain hasn’t stopped. I guess I’m ready for what’s next: dealing with this. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.