I feel like there is something missing when I write about the cult, so maybe if I write about it more I’ll figure out what it is.
I first wrote about the cult here. Besides other things, I mentioned my brief affair with the cult leader in 1997, and how my ex-husband remains loyal to him, even to this day. The leader gets a pass on not only the affair with me, but with at least three other women. All the cult members know about the affairs. My ex is not the only husband to choose the leader over his own wife–another man did this as well.
I wonder how that works in their minds. The cult leader is so special that he gets to do whatever he wants… but your own wife, the mother of your children whom you claim to love unconditionally, remains unforgiven and an outcast. Plus now my ex is using a lot of alcohol, far more than he did while married. He is also involved with a woman whom my eldest daughter can’t stand and who is addicted to prescription pain meds. She has moved in and out, and is now maybe moving back in.
All this is done in the name of “real Christianity.”
That’s how the cult styles itself. It’s not “religion,” which they claim is a horrible, man-made thing. But it’s true spirituality, true Christianity.
What a farce.
Lots of misogyny there, a real hatred of women.
What is my own role in all this? Yes, I participated in a group that was extremely harmful to not only myself but others. Yes, I justified it through a strange brew of fear and pride. Yes, I regret ever being there. Yes, I see that my truly wonderful and beautiful children (and now grandchild) would not exist except for my involvement there. So that’s an unsolvable dichotomy. Making me choose between them is like holding a gun to my head. And I have no doubt that the cult leader has used that dichotomy as a way to justify his actions.
Maybe this is what is missing: I still love those people. I spent 22 years of my life there. There were some genuinely fun and even good times we had together, times we laughed, lots of funny inside jokes that developed over the years, the joy of our childbearing years and watching the children grow, many shared and delicious meals. We tried to create a tribe as a sort of shelter from this crazy world.
But it was built on sand, on the false notion that this leader was special, and that the normal rules of human engagement didn’t apply to us. I doubt any of us would have been friends outside of the cult. The arranged marriages would not have taken place either, since the partners would not have naturally picked one another. We thought we didn’t need our extended families, because they weren’t “spiritual” enough to understand what we were about. We often treated each other harshly, rudely, divisively, abusively… there was always a lot of gossip and backstabbing… all done in the name of telling the truth and being honest. But even that was a lie. We did those things to cover our own asses.
Towards the end of my time there, I wondered if I suffered from Stockholm Syndrome. Seems logical, right? But how is that diagnosed? If it’s true for me, is it true for others? Is it true of my ex-husband who is still there?