There are so many ways to tell the story of any life but it’s easier to focus on one area. Your early life always impacts your later life, whether you want to think so or not. Some lives are comparatively easy, while others are more complex.
I am a 45 year old woman who was brought up in a cult like atmosphere for 32 years of her life.
My parents began and ran the whole thing. Any and every type of abuse you can imagine went on. There was mental, sexual, emotional and physical abuse that took place.
The “big” lie (for me, anyway) was that all my medical problems had been “healed” because God asked my father if he loved me. That did not actually fit in the grand scheme of things because I couldn’t do what other children could do. I found it so impossible to do the physical activities the other children did without questioning. I can remember falling and hurting myself trying to compete on some level and although it was not remarked upon, I couldn’t really understand why I was definitely not like all the other children when I should be.
Making Sense of Two Versions of my “Life”
I think one of the facts of me growing up was me trying to reconcile the two different versions of my life. The way I was being treated and the public perception of our family life was just so irreconcilable. And I didn’t have anybody to really share about the abuse that was going on. I was meant to project the perfect family image in public, but I wasn’t totally sure what it was so didn’t always get it right.
I would stay with “friends” within the community overnight or they would come round to spend the night with me. Often when I was staying with friends, their parents would end up buying me necessities or clothes. I had no idea why or what caused them to do so. Sometimes this caused an angry eruption when I returned home, other times not.
Just again something else that made no sense.
My mental, physical and emotional health was up and down all the time. There were times I was unaware of how much the abuse was impacting me. Other times I devised ways of keeping myself safe from the suicidal thought that would intrude. Again, a demonstration of the inconsistencies that I grew up with during my childhood.
People would ask me questions and if I answered them, I would often get in trouble when I arrived home. Again, just something more to add to the unknown box in my mind. One day it would all make sense and I would understand everything.
This was the hope that I lived for.
Occasionally I would feel that I was doing something good, but I was always waiting for the blow to come and something to go wrong. It didn’t matter what it was, where it was, or when it was going to happen. I knew I had to smile whether I was happy or not and I had to make people believe I was too.
But if you want the honest truth, I hated my life.
I thought there was no point in trying because nobody cared anyway. There was no way to express the different emotions that raged through my being. And I never felt wanted.
I think because I was so confused, I lived my life trying to stuff feelings down and wait for the day when everything would be clear to me. The privileged life I was told that I lived, I could not reconcile to what the reality actually was. In fact, I never really got to understand what went on until well into my new life.
When I went to university, I decided to attend one where nobody else that I knew was. I couldn’t stand the feeling of being “looked after” by people in our community. All they seemed to do was tell others what had been said and twist things to land me in trouble. I thought if I went to university and got a degree like my siblings, maybe things would be better for me.
They persuaded me to work in the centre of the community so that I could do what my parents wanted and ended up doing a job for 10 years in a company I didn’t like. I wanted to get out of it but felt obligated to remain. When I finally said I had had enough, I used the year of facial reconstruction surgeries that I had needed as my reason for requesting redundancy.
Starting on My Own, Away from the Abuse
There were many circumstances that led me to drive 400 miles away from England to Scotland and these are just a few of them. I worked for not much money for the community, thinking I was giving back in some way by doing it. However, it left me in financial difficulties that I had no idea how to resolve. Thank God for an organisation like CAP (Christians Against Poverty) that helped me to sort out my financial affairs.
After I moved to Scotland I changed my name officially. Nobody from my past knew where I lived. And that was the way I wanted it. My past and my present do not mix. Now that I can understand that past and how it impacted me, I can move on in my future.
Starting My New Life with Kevin
I got married nearly 10 years ago now to my husband Kevin (who I met after I arrived in Scotland). We both have genetic conditions and I have a number of different chronic conditions that have put me in the place I am today. I am an electric wheelchair user – sometimes just outside but if I am having a bad day, I do need to use it inside.
Through the years my husband has known me, he has supported me in every venture or desire I have had. He knows that I have been attempting to work out exactly who I am and what I am here for in the world away from the abuse. There has been a lot of money spent but he has never told me to hold back or not to do what I want to.
In my new life, I have a wonderfully blessed future to look forward to.
I have discovered who I am and what I am going to be doing. Now there is no confusion or inconsistencies in life. I have my friends and a small but loving family. Such a contrast between my past and present but my story is going to have a wonderful future.