Did I just say a CULT?! 'What the Fuck Cathy! Where do you get this shit?' Yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before. Save me your speeches.
First let me start by saying, I didn't know it was a cult. Before you say anything, you wouldn't have known either. If you think you would have known I challenge that. The church had grown internationally and had thousands upon thousands of members. It was a bonafide church with the main exception being if you left the church you were shunned.
As I had become more ingratiated into the church I had begun to distance myself from those I used to spend time with. I had become convinced that I needed to spend my time-saving souls. That meant that I could no longer stand by while Jolie (my unmarried friend) gave her body away.
I loved her and the thought of her burning in Hell for eternity didn't sit well with me. I suppressed these feelings because the lessons were clear. She was unwed and therefore, she was living in sin. It didn't matter that they deeply loved each other. I knew this to be true. I saw it on his face when he looked at her and I saw it in her eyes when she looked at him.
Their love would be timeless. It was beautiful and it would never die. I couldn't stand by her side anymore. Tom was gone and it was time for me to embrace my new future with the church. I would become what they wanted me to become. It didn't matter that a part of me felt dirtied by it.
Dating outside of the church was not permitted and you needed to be granted permission from the church elders to date within the church. Your 'union' needed to be blessed so it was important that you both were of the same social standing within the church. How did I know all of these fine intricacies of the church?
I knew because I was a leader and the person I wanted to date was also a leader. I was 18 at the time. We thought that our request for a union would be permitted. What we hadn't counted on was my value as an enticement for young men. I was the lure for men being recruited into the church.
'Say what!' I DID tell you that I was often used for my body. Should this surprise you?
Alright, let me go back a little. I was 15 years old when I joined the church. The person that brought me in made me feel like I could break free from old patterns and that God loved me. Someone loving me and not just for the way I looked sounded really nice.
It turns out I was unhappy.
I hadn't realized I was unhappy until she told me. I get it. I can almost see the smirk on your face as you shake your head.
Don't judge me. I am not a victim. Perhaps a bit naïve but not a victim.
I wanted to believe her and so I did. You make those kinds of choices every day of your life. You make decisions to believe in something and it doesn't matter if what you believe is wrong or right. It is your choice to believe and so you do. Plain and simple. Enough said. I believed her. Moving on.
I joined the church and began to soak in their teachings. I was learning so much about myself and the world around me. It was amazing. I felt happiness deep within my soul in the beginning. I was so happy that it didn't bother me when they would ask me to 'show around' potential male recruits.
I would show them around and they would follow me like little puppy dogs. It hadn't occurred to me who I was in this role or what I was brought there to do. I thought simply that I was savings souls. I converted quite a few males into the church and quickly became a youth leader. I didn't just convert males though.
Females that were lonely flocked to me when I offered my friendship. I hadn't realized that I was manipulating them. In my mind, I was truly just being their friend.
"I'm a good person" I rationalized.
I'm not a mean girl anymore. Yet...I'd ask them to tithe 10% of their earnings suggesting that was a small price to pay for eternal freedom in heaven. I'd them to turn their backs on their family and friends who would openly reject the church...again, it was a small price to pay. If they wanted to be saved and enter into the gates of heaven...they would gladly pay this price.
I offered my friendship in exchange for their unwavering commitment to the church. Who wouldn't want to be somewhere where they belonged? To be accepted for the sinner that you are and to be forgiven. It brought me comfort to know that there was hope for someone like me. To believe that my creator loved me made everything else seem trivial.
If you left the church you were shunned and there was some whom I'd shunned as well. The look of sadness and pain in their eyes as I looked past them as though they did not exist broke me a little each time. I kept reminding myself I'm not mean, I'm nice. I'm a good person. They chose to leave the church, they knew the consequences. This is the Lord's will not mine. It is easy to justify cruelty to others. I hadn't realized how easy until it was me being cruel.
A short time into the church I had even converted my mother who had been desperately seeking to find a way to mend the wounds of the past. I believe that a part of her always regretted the way that she had treated me. She was the product of her own upbringing. Her struggles I would never understand and one day, I would learn to accept her for her flaws.
She wanted me to see her as a mother. I called her mother, but I never saw her that way. She was always the child that needed to be saved; to be saved from the drug addict neighbor that would seduce her into using.
She needed to be saved from my abusive father who took his frustrations out on her face. She needed protection from the world that closed its doors to her. That left her unable to get a job because she never finished high school and she had no skills.
I wanted to believe that I had forgiven her. I needed to believe that I could forget the way she tore me down to build up herself. To believe that her finding her faith would bring us closer. I was desperate to believe that I wasn't so petty as to hold onto the pain of her words throughout the years.
The words that sliced into the very essence of my being. The words that would leave me shattered and broken. The words that would leave me...empty. If I could find a way to turn my stone heart into something real...perhaps, I could erase the memory of her hatred.
Surely, I could find a way to break my soul free from these invisible chains that bound me to the nothingness. To feel something again. I would do anything to feel something again. Saving her meant saving myself. So save her I shall. Redemption would be mine.
Author's Note: This part I wasn't sure about. I felt almost like I should give you more but I didn't want it to be too long. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for reading. Updatd: 2 February 2019
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