This blog will be a bit lengthy, so bear with me.. I have much to tell.
First off, I want all those not already familiar with various psychological harms religion can bring to understand the terms from a psychological standpoint.. Understand these are basic, as this is not my field of study.
- Authoritarianism: Authoritarian personality is a state of mind or attitude characterized by belief in absolute obedience or submission to one’s own authority, as well as the administration of that belief through the oppression of one’s subordinates. It usually applies to individuals who are known or viewed as having an authoritative, strict, or oppressive personality towards subordinates.
- Separatism: The advocacy of a state of cultural, ethnic, tribal, religious, racial, governmental or gender separation from the larger group.
- Fear: vital response to physical and emotional danger.
- Subjugation: to defeat and gain control of (someone or something) by the use of force : to conquer and gain the obedience of (a group of people, a country, etc.)
- Self-loathing: extreme dislike or hatred of oneself, or being angry at or even prejudiced against oneself.
- Cycle of Abuse: Ongoing rotation between destructive and constructive behavior which is typical of many dysfunctional relationships/families. The pattern repeats where both the perpetrator and victim of abuse contribute to the conditions which perpetuate the cycle.
I give you the information in the hopes that you will have the ability to follow me down a path that was set for me 30+ years ago, with me as an unwilling participant. Normally, my blog is a form of therapy for my own self. Today, it is for that, and for that of my son, who is nearly 18, who will need to read and understand my utter contempt for religion on the most basic human level. It is he who will need to see the dark side of this life that led me to make the choices I made for him, even before his own birth. It is he that has the most to lose.
It was a year ago that I finally felt safe enough in my own life to discuss my personal history. My past came with many heavy burdens. All of which I am grateful to have had the opportunity to shed, thanks to a very important and wonderful friend, Chris Watson. If not for him, I’d likely still be carrying the weight of years of abuse without even so much as a hushed whisper.
So that I am not boring you with the sordid details, my interview with Chris may be found here, beginning at 7:00 in.
Today, the blog will be a small bit about my own history.. But mainly just to illustrate the cycle of abuse that had continued up until yesterday, on the shoulders of my own son.
Years ago, when I made the choice to leave my ex-husband, I had zero real-world experience, outside of the purview of authoritarian figures, i.e., my then husband, his father, the male church elders, etc. Women followed strict direction. Period. What I knew about life at the time, was what I had been allowed to know, and not a thing more. Intellect meant freedom to them. Without knowledge, we were at the mercy of the cult, which is right where they demanded we be.
The cult focus was on separating the women from the outside world. With exterior influence, we had the chance to see the levels of abusive hell we were being put through. Even when it was demanded of me to work to support my family, I was escorted. Not only to and from work, but WHILE I worked.
I was taught to believe every single thing about myself was imperfect, flawed at my core, simply for being born female. I was of less worth than the livestock. We were not allowed daughters. They didn’t want to “muddy the lineage” with females.
And yet, with all the will I could manage, I got out, taking my two sons with me.
Here is where I tend to confuse people. It’s difficult for people who have never gone through an abusive cycle to understand, especially when that abuse stems from religious fanaticism.
I got out and got away, and I stayed away. However, as I’ve said, cult “life” was all I knew. Cult members were the only people I knew. In the months after leaving, I found myself constantly being drawn back into the folds of fanaticism, of many different religious varieties until the fight or flight part of my brain kicked in. That old life was hell, but it was the only structure I knew. It was, in the sickest sense of the phrase, my safety blanket, my comfort zone. Not because I missed the life, but because it was the only part of life I had any familiarity with. It was my only source of knowledge, regardless of how very limited it was.
It was during that time that I ended up involved with a man. I stayed involved with him until I began to see those old patterns emerging. Where are you going? Who are you going with? How long will you be gone? I think I’ll just go with you, to keep an eye on you.. And once more, the flight kicked in.
A short time later, I found myself pregnant and terrified. An even shorter time after that, I found the man who had fathered my child, had molested a very young boy.. His own nephew. I did everything in my power to hide myself, my sons, and my unborn child from the entire world. Religious abuses had already taken so much from me.. I was afraid of what it would take from my own children.
I was notified a few months later, that my ex husband had located us. I spent the next month constantly looking over my shoulder, waiting.. Knowing that he’d catch me somewhere.
He did. The day after my son was born. The older boys were left with a very sweet woman when I had gone into labor early. The morning after T was born, they took me in for a tubal ligation. I had been going through chemotherapy when I discovered I was pregnant. I had been warned that my child could have severe medical complications due to that fact. It was a risk I was unwilling to take again. I chose to have no more children.
When the nurses wheeled me back into my room after surgery, my older sons greeted me. I had assumed Betty had brought them to the hospital. Instead of her smiling face, I found my ex husband sitting in my room. He was holding a piece of paper.
For whatever reason, and with perhaps the only decency the man has ever had in his entire life, he had signed his name as T’s father on the birth certificate. Before I could fight with him, he handed it to me and said that I didn’t have any other way to keep my son safe from his biological father. And with that, he walked out.
I could have changed the birth certificate quite easily. Even though I hated to admit to it, my ex husband had a point. I had a newborn son, whose biological father was a pedophile.
I laid in that hospital bed for two more days, just looking at that birth certificate, thinking. The lesser of two evils, for me at that time, was the one who walked out of the room. My only focus was keeping my newborn son out of the hands of a man who would likely see him as a sexual conquest. The thought made me sick. I did what I had to do to keep my son safe.
Fast forward nearly 18 years…..
The son that I have tried so desperately to protect from one form of sub-human, because of my lack of foresight, was subjected to another form of sub-human.
I unwittingly signed a birth certificate that had a control appendix attached to it, though it would take him a few years to start pulling those strings. The man I fought so hard to sever all ties to, now had access again. Simply because he knew where my weakness lied; with my own children.
Yesterday, the delusion ended.
Due to the past several months of downward spiral, including a broken marriage and massive drug use, my ex husband severed his relationship with T. The final straw was my ex screaming “fuck you” to T, as he nearly hit him with his vehicle as he sped off. The years of manipulation seemed to magnify immediately after and ended with T being drug out of bed during a storm, while spending the night at his brother’s place, to go help load “Dad” into a vehicle due to a massive seizure. Now, when I say broken marriage, I mean my ex and his wife have lived together as much as they have lived apart, while tearing T into multiple directions. My ex does have some severe medical issues. However, the seizure he had turned out to be meth withdrawals. So my son was drug out of bed because dear old dad was without drugs.
The next morning, when I was told about the situation, I lost my shit. It wasn’t until T used the word “obligated” in regards to his “dad” that I made the choice to tell him the truth. I had been expecting it to come up for some time, due to the recent happenings, but in nearly every one of my discussions with Ryan about finally telling T the truth, I voiced a very real fear. T’s anger at being lied to or betrayed. That fear remained heavy with me during our talk with T. His initial reaction was tears and it was quickly replaced with relief. His burden was lifted off his shoulders. And it was apparent.
I have watched my sons go through the gamut of emotional, verbal and physical abuse(which was never directed at all the boys – just the one who spoke often about me). I will forever carry a great deal of guilt over this. However, it was pointed out to me today, by two men who happen to love and care for me, that my guilt is a burden that will block the path forward if I don’t figure out how to put it behind me.
Now, I have had to deal with a great many messes due to overbearing religious figures in my life. From my parents, my siblings, my ex husband and his entire family, etc… They care so little for others because god, you know. I have learned that no good thing can come from standing your ground with people who have made themselves part of a religious cycle of abuse. They perpetuate the abuse, the embrace it, all in the name of an all loving, all knowing god. Their belief in the existence of a god has blinded them to the lack of humanity in the world. These are the people that I have had to remove from my life, for either extensive periods of time, or completely.
In my effort to break the religious abuse cycle that I was born into, I have had to both recognize and acknowledge that I, myself, was perpetuating the same.. By doing nothing. Doing nothing will get you nothing in return. Nothing changes, and so the cycle continues.
Recognizing that within myself is what gave me the strength to walk away. Leaving religion was the end of that cycle, for myself. The choices I made for the safety of my children placed me right back in the view of it, and by proxy, placed my sons in a prime position to be drug back into it.
I was chided today, for saying I made mistakes. I had too few choices and too many lesser of two evils presented before me.
My brother pointed out to me this morning that mankind is intelligent enough to make great short term choices, but we often lack the ability to see the choices we make as long term solutions. So perhaps they were not mistakes, but a lack of choices.
My soon to be 18 year old has had a rough go of things. I effectively stripped his entire world from in front of his eyes. I hope some day, very soon, he will understand that I merely took down the curtains, so that he could see.
I am just a human.
Just be good.. The world will follow..
A very special thank you to Ryan, Jason and Chris. Without you guys, I wouldn’t have the strength to do this. ❤
And yes, I know this post is a messy read. You should have been a passenger in my brain while I was writing. This is the better version.