Friday, August 22, 2014

How I Grew Up In A Cult


I posted this nearly 2 years ago, when I had a much smaller audience, and it's something I'd like to share with you again.  A lot of my readers don't know my background, and I feel it's important.  So I'm going to tell y'all about how I grew up in a cult.

Yeah, almost, actually.    Photo courtesy of mtholyoke.edu


Yeah.  I was raised in a cultish, fundamental Baptist church.  You guys didn't know that about ol' raunchy Jill, didya?

A childhood picture.  Just kidding.  But only kinda.


That's real.  They told us to make a silly face for the picture, but that dress was completely my decision.



The story would probably have to start with my Grandpa.  He was raised very old-fashioned and religious and taught my mother that way as well, so after my mom went through her rebellious phase and then got knocked up (me!) and decided to turn it around and be all grown up and responsible, she thought logically being a "good Christian" was part of that.  So she started trying to find a church.

When I was very young we went to one of those cookie-cutter Calvary churches--not awesome, but harmless enough.  Kids who grew up going to those still managed to be normal.  But they were "too wishy-washy," so we started going to a big Baptist church in Beaverton where I joined Awana and sang in the choir and I was the star in the Christmas play.

By which I mean I was the star.  Not Mary, not Joseph.  Just a stupid star.

My mom met some people there who introduced her to what ended up being the single greatest influence of my childhood.  By which I mean they took my poor little personality, crushed it like a fragile little blueberry, and replaced it with creepy hymns and mind-purification rituals.

^Tweet This!^

I could go into excruciating and horrifying detail, folks, but I don't need to pass on the trauma.  Let me just give you a few of the basics:


-You were born a piece of shit because all humans are pieces of shit.  Pretty much anything that comes from your own mind, heart or soul is sinful and you need to constantly ignore who you are to become more like Jesus.  And not like the cool-dude Jesus who went around helping people, like the up-in-the-sky-now Jesus who is pure and dull.    

Cool Jesus?



 
Nope. But still White Jesus.


-You can be in a "carnal" mindset, which means that your thoughts are sinful or something, and you have to go through a series of steps in your mind to reframe it so God will want to be close with you again.  This can happen if you think about sex (sexual immorality).  Or if you consider taking the big half of the cookie you're splitting (selfishness).  Or if you think something is unfair and consider speaking up (strife).  Or any of another million bajillion miniature little "temptations" that can happen to you throughout the day.  Now tell a child with crippling obsessive compulsive disorder all of that.  Yeah, I just never stopped obsessing.

-All sexuality outside of marriage, including masturbating, thinking about sex, and being attracted to people--totally sinful.  Dressing in any way that makes you look attractive is sinful, and is "stumbling" your Christian brothers (and yes, you're right, that thinking IS one step away from "she was asking for it, wearing that outfit."  Good job!!)  Within a marriage, vanilla missionary sex is okay.  Kinda.

Boring sex is holy sex!


-Divorce is only okay if someone is cheating on you.  Abuse is not a good enough excuse.  If you divorce your husband and he hasn't cheated on you with a human woman, you are a witch and should be cast out of the church.


He beat you and fucked a dude?  And a goat?  How dare you divorce him!


-Women are not allowed to speak before the congregation--know why?  Because Eve was easily deceived by the devil, as all women are, and therefore are too weak to lead.  (Seriously, that's in the bible.)


-Abortion, homosexuality, certain forms of contraception (or all of them, depending who you ask), adultery, not abstaining from all appearance of evil, denying your spouse sex, astrology, tattoos, witchcraft, taking god's name in vain (even saying "Oh my God!"), boasting, lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, not spanking a disobedient child, disobeying your parents, dishonoring your parents, doubting God--all of these things and more are horrible sins that will make God not want to be close with you until you confess and ask forgiveness.



I didn't get out until I was 19.  Then I had to start pretty much 100% fresh with my entire personality and belief system.  The Jill you know today is a person who was developed almost entirely in the last  5 years--and so, SO much more to go.  I still struggle sometimes with the obscure idea of right and wrong, panicking at every turn that I'm doing the "wrong" thing.  And I still struggle to speak up for myself, and I'm still afraid sometimes to say anything against an authority.  But you know what?  I'm getting better and happier all the time.





Crudely drawn genitalia helps with the pain.





I'm telling you all this because I know there are others out there.  I'm telling you all this because I know there are people with similar stories who are struggling.  I'm telling you all this because when I believed it all, I shook my head sadly at the people who had left, but the second I started to doubt anything those people became shining examples in my mind of people who could do it.  People who could leave.  It was so validating.

Let me, and my fucking insane story, validate you--whether you're someone like me who has left an oppressive religion, or someone who's still trying to decide (or amuse you, if you are fortunate enough to not come from such a fucked up place).  You are not crazy, and you are not sinful for doubting.

I don't believe in God anymore, myself.  But if there is a God out there, I don't believe that he or she would want mindless followers.  I believe if someone created you, they would want you to be YOU. 

^Tweet This!^

Think about it--if you created a work of art, like a painting, would you then tell that painting to change itself now to be more like you?  No!  You'd want it to be beautiful as it was, just the way you made it to be.  That's my theory.



Hey Jill, I made you a superhero, so now it's time to be different.  Just kidding.  You keep on keepin' on, girlfriend.


And for the record, since you mostly only get shitty pictures of me, I'm hot now.


And so are my friends.  BAM!  For the record, these girls have loved me through every stage of insanity.  Love you guys!


And since that picture was taken 2 years ago, here is a more recent photo of me being yet more free-spirited and awesome:

See the blue hair and the healthy skin?  I think I can officially say I'm past the cultish bullshit.


17 comments:

  1. Omg, you totally forgot that when guys have impure thoughts, it's all the woman's fault for dressing that way. And the horrible self-esteem issues that they throw on women.

    I grew up in a southern Baptist private school. While I gained a fantastic education, my self-esteem suffered for a while after.

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    1. Totally true!! We went through the same thing. Thank you for sharing!!!

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  2. oh my god...ok going to hell now! Seriously tho, well done you keep on rocking! It looks like god is a shepherd and he wants sheeple...sshheeeeeeppppllee....

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    1. Hahaha yes exactly! Sheeple! That's an awesome way to put it!

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  3. I have been thinking about this for the last couple of days since I readt it. Great work, and a very nice matter-of-fact way to put it. I have been thinking some of these things for over 5 years, and reading this atually helped me focus my thoughts and clarify to me what I could make of them and what they mean. Thanks for the articulation :-) Keep on rockin'! <3

    Alison Moore

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    1. I'm SO glad to hear that Alison!!! I've noticed we've gone through a lot of these kinds of changes at the same time. Glad I could be of help!

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  4. I think that you have turned out AMAZING :) Glad you got out and now I get to read your cheeky little blog over here ;)

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  5. Aw shucks! You're a-makin' me blush!

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  6. "I believe if someone created you, they would want you to be YOU. Think about it--if you created a work of art, like a painting, would you then tell that painting to change itself now to be more like you? No! You'd want it to be beautiful as it was, just the way you made it to be. That's my theory."



    I like this part a lot. And it fits well with the artist in me!

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  7. This is awesome. Not the horrific bullshit that was enforced on you as a child, but that you have come out the other side and are now able to not only talk about it so openly, but actually help other people that have been through similar experiences. Go you!

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  8. Wow, go you honestly.
    Cults seems so weird, as an outsider, I was brought up without any church influence so to read this you seem like a hero in my eyes. A well fit hero!

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  9. Thank you Martin! I especially like the "go you!" part!

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  10. Thank you! I thought that was quite sharp of me, I'm glad you did too. ;)

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  11. I'm glad to hear you were brought up without church influence. I think that's awesome! Kids should be taught how to think for themselves, not how to think like their parents' religion!

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  12. "But if there is a God out there, I don't believe that he or she would want mindless followers. I believe if someone created you, they would want you to be YOU"

    Yep, this!! I look at churches like the one you went to, and I have to shake my head. They've completely missed the point of being a Christian, the Bible and what God and Jesus have asked of us. If God wanted mindless followers, we would have all been made exactly the same, and the opportunity to choose would never have been granted to us.

    For the most part, I'm a fairly conservative Christian. According to your church, I'd be insanely liberal. During my final year of college, I contemplated pursuing an additional post-secondary program at a Christian University. I had big dreams of pursuing that education in the States, so I decided to do some research. I found one down south somewhere (I believe it was in Pensecola), that sounded amazing, until I read through their student expectations.

    Just a few of their rules were: Women could not have short hair (I had a pixie cut at the time), No tattoos (Which I had, and after sending an email to admissions was told I would have to confess in front of the entire school that I had been an extreme sinner -- my tattoo, btw was WWJD with the cross). Women must wear below the knee skirts at all times and were not allowed to pursue friendships with men, no contemporary-Christian music or any form of music allowed to be listened to (both on and off campus) by students -- only old gospel allowed.

    I had written them about their rules and according to them, a woman with short hair who doesn't wear skirts is an adulteress, regardless of whether or not they'd ever had sex.

    It was the first time I had actually encountered such an attitude (excluding of course the Amish, and one other church) and I was completely bewildered by it.

    One of the things I truly believe is that God gave us free will, the ability to choose and the ability to think for ourselves so that we could question things, and figure out the truth on our own. I don't believe as a Christian that God would want mindless followers, I believe that he would want people following Him because that's what they want.

    Anyways... I could go on about this topic forever, but I'm not going to hijack your blog.

    I am sorry you had to go through a church situation like that, but I am very glad you were able to find yourself and your own identity outside of it :)

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  13. That sounds like it was maybe Bob Jones, in Greenville, SC. Maybe?

    I went to George Fox in Oregon, and it wasn't that bad, but it was still way too many rules for me. My best friend at the time went to Bob Jones, and it was too much even for her!

    For the record, I appreciate what I've seen of your particular take on Christianity. I really respect you--it's obvious to me that you think for yourself and you have a truly loving and understanding view of the world. :)

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  14. It could have been - that sounds familiar.

    And thank you, that means a lot to hear that. :)

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