Throughout this process of writing and observing, I have learned things about myself. The moments when confusion turns to clarity, I am thankful for my writing. I’m thankful for meditation, in that I am allowed to observe without attachment. My writing has served as an aid to the meditation.

One of the first things after leaving the cult was to get back in touch with some family members; many of which we had barely seen for 17 years. After we got reacquainted, they started inviting me to things: lunch, shopping, etc. Every time I got an invite, I would ask to invite other people: Mom, Sister, another cousin. One day, my step-granny pointed this out. She was a little annoyed (or perhaps just very abrupt) when she asked me why I was always inviting other people along for these things. I was taken back a little because being rude had not been my intent. However, I did not have an answer to her question, so I stopped. It still is my first reaction to invite others, because I don’t want anyone left out. During a time of observation, some reasoning became clear.

There were a few events that Dad made sure we did every summer. We always visited Grandma at the beach and we always went on at least one camping trip. I have many fond memories of vacations with the family. Camping trips were relaxing and fun. Brother and I learned how to ride our bikes while camping as kids, and drive a car around the campground as teenagers. Dad would take us hiking, swimming, and boating. Mom and Sister would join too, but not as intense because Sister was so young. As the years went along and we got older, things started getting more in-depth with the cult. They got more involved in our family life. Things would get taken away if we were in a lesson. Things like family trips. Whomever was in the lesson wouldn’t be allowed on the outing. I remember having to stay home from fun outings with the family. The only ones who had to stay home during a vacation was Mom and Sister. I remember for sure two vacations of which they didn’t go with us. When we were apart, this caused some anxiety for me. I liked having the family together and happy. I knew that whomever wasn’t with us wasn’t happy because they were in a lesson, and that would take away some of my happiness. I saw the anguish in Mom when we would leave. She didn’t want to be alone. Sister didn’t really understand yet, but she knew Mom was upset.

I really missed having my Mom around during a particular camping trip during which I had my period. I worked up the courage to tell Dad, and then Dad took me to the store. I was standing in line with Dad and Brother; they were both doing their best to ignore the items on the grocery belt. The checker (perhaps attempting humor) holds up the items and says “Who are THESE for?” in a sing-song voice, looking directly at me. I ran from the store and into the parking lot. Dad and Brother appeared a few minutes later. They never spoke of it; we never spoke of it. I thanked Dad for the items and silently wished my Mom was there. We drove back to the campsite without speaking; probably some music playing but I didn’t hear it. It took us a few hours, but we all got over the experience. I never told Mom that I missed her, and I don’t know if she ever knew about this story. It would have been so much better had she been there.

I realize that the separation was a control tactic on the leaders’ part. I realize that they were afraid of our power. As a family, we are strong.

We have survived.


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