Sometimes, the truths of my past surprise people, and they are not sure if I am actually making a joke. Most of the time, I am not.
This is a truth of my past:
I grew up in a cult….an official, certifiable cult.
It was a world of power-hungry leaders, brainwashed followers, physical and mental abuse, exclusivity, secrecy, and rituals.
Questions and doubts were unacceptable and called your loyalty into question. It was the only world I knew.
Men dominated. Women submitted. Children obeyed. We were taught that our lifestyle was the only true way to honor God.
I left the cult, but it took many, many years before the cult mentality left me. Happily, there are very few times that I still carry that baggage.
Hubby and I have worked hard to create a different world for ourselves and the Hobbits. We encourage the Hobbits to be open-minded, genuine, accepting, tolerant, and loving. We surround ourselves with people who are also kind, genuine, and loving.
It has been nearly impossible to maintain an adult relationship with my family. Now, we find it difficult to balance a relationship between family and the Hobbits.
In some ways, it is fortunate that they do not particularly enjoy our company any more than we enjoy theirs. We have developed a comfortable relationship of avoidance.
I recently heard a podcast about a teenager’s struggle to be accepted as gay in her small hometown. The host sympathized, and then made a statement about growing up as an outsider.
He said that many gay adults struggled to fit into the simple-minded world of their childhood years. Even as they vainly tried to be accepted, they had no idea that the very estrangement they despised would one day save them.
I didn’t hear the rest of his comments, because my mind had already wandered back to my own childhood.
You see, I spent every single day of my life trying to “fit in.” I wanted so badly to belong in my world.
The cult of my youth seemed idyllic, peaceful, tranquil, and right. Of course, bad things happened, but they were always the result of God’s judgment or his longing to bring us closer to his love.
Bad people existed, but their days were numbered. It was only a matter of time until the Creator brought them to judgment.
Good people did bad things, but that was because their righteous ways were a target for the devil.
I wanted so badly to belong to that inner circle. I did not belong.
I wore my hair the way I was told. I wore the clothes the cult deemed acceptable. I voiced only the opinions held by the leaders, and I buried my doubts deep in the sea of God’s mercy.
I followed all the rules…..except when I couldn’t…..but, even then, I accepted punishment as a reminder to serve my Maker.
I believed. I tried so hard to believe.
I failed. I was rejected by my parents, my leaders, and their God.
I tried harder. Still, I failed.
I gave up and made a new life for myself. I wore the clothes I wanted to. I cut my hair. I had my first drink of alcohol, and I gave myself to a boy.
I felt so very guilty…..and dirty. But I couldn’t deny that there were also fleeting moments of peace and joy.
It has taken years to leave my guilt behind. Years of self-discovery and insight. Years of trial and error. Years of anger, therapy, and medications. Years of honesty. Oceans of tears and unbearable pain.
Now, there is peace. There is a god who accepts me. There is a home filled with love and acceptance. There are friends who stand closer to me than my family.
In all the years that I was trying to belong, I had no idea that the real gift was in not finding a way to belong.
The shunning and rejection that I experienced forced me to walk a new path. To find a new place to “belong.” I found a new way of life grounded in self-acceptance and unconditional love.
If I had found a way to be accepted by my cult, I would still be with them.
I may have never found the courage to discover a new way of life.
Being rejected by a world of small-minded assholes forced me out. Out of a way of life that never felt right….that always felt too harsh….that was never really meant to be mine.
There were heroes in my past that helped me to escape. Heroes who taught me to love and to be loved. They saved me….they planted seeds that eventually helped me save myself.
My heart was ripped into pieces when I was rejected by those who claimed to love me. They did not fight for me. They let me go.
I did not know they were giving me a gift.
They rejected me, and I did not become one of them. I no longer have to live in a world of judgment.
I am free. I am at peace. I am satisfied.