Born in, what difference does it make?
I was thinking about this one a lot over the last few weeks. What difference does it make whether you were born into a cult or were brought in as a teen or adult? I believe there are unique issues with both, and a brought in has much less chance fully comprehending the effect on a born in than the other way around.
Born in, from the time you can breathe the routine is embedded in your mind. You pray at every meal, and you stop whatever you are doing when you hear a prayer, just for starters. Three days per week you go to a building filled with people and you sit still for up to 2 hours at a time. Of course you don’t know to do this at first, because you’re a kid. So when you can’t sit still enough you get your little trip outside for a spanking, and then drug back in past everyone else, in tears. And of course every Saturday, the only cartoons you will see are on the TV’s in the houses you are lucky enough to get invited in to in the winter.
When other kids are busy having their first Christmas, Birthday, or Halloween, you are learning that the birds will be pecking the eyes out of all of your “worldly” family members. You learn that people’s heads were cut off for birthdays, and that is what the cake represents. You also learn to raise your hand, and to give answers that are provided, no ones you really believe in. From the first time you say Jehovah and look around proudly at everyone smiling at you, you’re hooked. You know that acceptance comes from giving the right answer, the answer everyone expects.
As you enter school, you are reminded to turn the other cheek if you are picked on, and you are also reminded you WILL BE picked on because you follow Jehovah’s will. You are taught you will be singled out, and of course you will. From the first time you cannot stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance, you are marked. Everyone knows you are different. Then comes Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, you always have to make a stand for what you are taught is right, or things will be much worse at home than they ever could be at school. The meetings become a haven, as you are surrounded by people who tell you they are proud of you because you are doing the right things, are giving the right answers, and you are not being independent.
As you get into high school and other kids are having friends over, dating, learning diversity, again you find yourself outcast. You dress differently; you have no friends at school, likely because you have taken every opportunity to offer a witness. Or maybe you have figured out the gift…how to live a double life. Now you know how to lie, not only to others, but also to yourself. You can be two different people, but respect neither. On one hand you are at the meetings, in a suit and tie or dress, whistling your “s”es when you comment because you are so self-assured. The people there tell you how great you are doing, and push you on to baptism, because you are old enough to make a stand now at 15, 16, 17, etc. On the other hand you even take a change of clothes with you so you can fit in at school, keeping an eye out for the other Witness kids. Or maybe you have learned to be a really good Witness and keep an eye on the others. Either way you respect yourself less by the day, living a hundred lies.
You learn to answer questions without really answering them. You learn how to set yourself up for future deception by planting seeds ahead, telling parents perhaps of plans for service with friends out of town then you’re really doing something else. Either way, you’re becoming a better liar.
Then, after a life stripped of the love we all deserve, we pursue what we have been missing. We find someone who appears to love us, and marry them after knowing their name less than a year. Then the cycle starts all over, we do what we are supposed to do and act happy, or maybe even fool ourselves into being happy for a while. And one day, those of us who are intelligent enough to somewhere in the back of our minds know something is wrong lash out. We wake up and realize everything is a lie. We aren’t happy, are not content, and something is terribly wrong. We try to find happiness, and eventually try to feel something, anything at all. After a life of feeling no true love, no true warmth of family, we try to get back whatever it was that gave us the little moments of bliss we had. We try so many things, drugs, sex, therapy, and we can’t find it. We can’t get happy…until. Until we open up our mind and accept what we are. We are people that were abused. Taking away the love of a family, taking away the simple things of home, celebration, and appreciation for the life we have is abuse. Teaching people to have a hope of something that is a total fabrication and lie, even to the point of not speaking to their own family is the worst kind of abuse. They take away the one thing everyone is entitled to, the truth.
So where does that leave us? It depends on what we choose to do. We can choose to keep this as the focus of our lives, focus on how we were done wrong and what was taken, or we can stop it. Not stop it by picketing or sending letters or putting fliers on cars, but stop it by choosing to live. We can choose to seize the dreams we have always had but been afraid to act upon because we though they were forbidden. We can do anything we want. We can take what was done to us, and know we will not let it continue to our children, our friends, and our lives. Because of what they took, we can appreciate the good in life so much more than most people. We can have our first birthday party, Christmas, Halloween. We can invite those we know who were stripped of family just like we were. We can live well, live happy, and celebrate the life we found that we never knew was lost.
Those of us who would say we have no family would do well to look around at our friends, our children, and the incredible souls we encounter each and every day. We have a family, and it is one of our choosing…sometimes we just need a reminder.
No one can appreciate life like someone who was never allowed to have one. Don’t waste the chance we have been given, make your life glorious.