When I first left the Community of Jesus in 2010, I wanted to be alone. I really just wanted to be alone and didn’t want anyone telling me what to do, not just religiously, but even in a secular sense. I knew I had to find a place to live, and I did. I knew I had to find a job, and I did. I did go to Boston Housing Authority, but they didn’t help me. I actually just rented a room on my own through Craig’s List, and I did stay with some friends one month between moves, but I did the housing bit on my own, completely on my own. (It isn’t that BHA didn’t want to help me. There were no openings.)
And with the job thing, I did the search on my own. A Senior program got me the internship, and then I was hired, but I made the effort to look, on my own. I wasn’t given housing, and I wasn’t given a job. I went out and got it. But as far as, like, going to church, asking people for help, getting counsel, I just wanted to be alone. I intuitively knew that I just needed some alone time. I didn’t want to jump into a group, even a support group. I didn’t look for help right away. I just needed to have my mind back to myself with no one telling me what to think.
I mean, I wasn’t silent. I did talk a bit, I did share my story with two good friends, but I was very uncomfortable going to their church. I would cry with grief and loneliness when I was there, and I wasn’t longing to go back, either. I wanted to please them, and it was very emotional ‘cause it just highlighted for me just how alone I was. But I wanted to be alone, I needed time to heal. I had been emotionally, psychologically beaten, and I needed to just crawl into my own little space and lick my wounds and heal.
When I finally decided to talk with a therapist, after I had been out a year, it was because I couldn’t get the Community out of my head. Every day I was thinking about them and the thoughts were intruding upon my daily life and I was beginning to get bugged by it. I didn’t want to be thinking about them all the time. I knew I needed to talk it out with somebody. So I went through a process and finally settled on someone who sounded very mature and professional on the phone and I went for a session. I was nervous, but in talking with him I realized he was mature, stable, steady, open and accepting.
So I started going once a week and I started talking, and it was really, really hard at first. I talked about everything. I talked about the Community, and then I talked about my childhood, and then I went back and talked more about the Community. It was so upsetting to talk about it. I was tense and shaking and I’d walk away and be upset. It wasn’t because I didn’t feel safe talking to him, it was just the talking, the saying things, adjusting my mind to reality.
You can kind of push the memories all down and think it’s not so bad, just like when you were living it, but when you actually tell the story to somebody, it makes it so real. You’re not just enduring it anymore; you’re not just shutting your mind off to numb yourself. You’re actually— to put it into words and to tell someone what you experienced and what you felt and what happened makes it very, very real and made me look at it in reality for what it truly was. There’s no excusing it or explaining it away, or saying, this is actually a good thing. No, this isn’t a good thing. It isn’t good to have to dream up places where I’m wrong every day, all the time. That’s crazy. It isn’t good to be told and to accept and to batter myself that all my motives are bad. They’re not all bad. It’s a terrible way to live, and to talk about it helps me to realize how bad it was.
And then there’s the whole pain of why did I stick with it. And then the dawning realization, and acceptance, that I didn’t do it, it was done to me. And then the process of wrapping my brain around that. We think we are so indestructible and not vulnerable, to find out I have been vulnerable and taken advantage of is an adjustment in itself. So he’s been really good in helping me to understand that I’m not stupid. There’s nothing wrong with me. I was brainwashed and that can happen.
It was really scary at first. I really, really, — I had to take my courage in hand and make myself go. I knew I had to, but it was so, so scary because in the Community, telling people everything that I’m thinking and feeling was a very negative experience. It was used against me, it was held over my head, and it was re-visited. I was told how bad I was because of how I felt, and telling my therapist was just so upsetting. But it became, like, OK, no matter how I feel, it’s OK. The things that I had been told were so horrible, in the Community, he’s like, “Of course you feel that way. Everybody does. It’s ok to hate, or be angry. It’s just what you decide to do with it. Everybody has those feelings.” In the Community I couldn’t even be annoyed at somebody. If I had a flash of annoyance cross my face, they told me how I hated them, and how terrible a sinner I was for hating. No emotion was small. If you disliked something, you hated it. If you didn’t want to do it, you were rebellious. There was no room for degrees. It was all extreme.
I’ve come a long way, baby, and have drained a lot of the poison out with the help of my therapist, my current support group and all the knowledge I have gained there, from my friends and from God.
Forward into the future, a bright and promising place.