I left the Unification Church so long ago that leaving it almost seems like a dream. In fact, until I went to see various Church centers and estates a few years ago, it had all felt as if hadn’t happened, even though I knew that it had. It had felt like a huge hole in my life, my past, and my psyche. I had left everything and everyone I knew and loved, and did my best, at the time, to wipe it away.
Actually leaving? It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I remember clinging to the mantra my friend gave me, “Maybe it’s right, but it’s just not right for me.” I remember nearly climbing over the sides of the bridge at Cornell, to throw myself into the gorge. If I think about it, I can still feel the sense of my mind and heart closing in on themselves and exploding at the same time.
But I don’t think about it. I don’t dwell on it.
Which was why it was weird when I had dreams – multiple nights of dreams – about leaving the Church. About saying goodbye, which was something I didn’t do. About making the choice to walk away.
I don’t remember actively making a choice. I remember finding ways to let myself slip further and further from the Church and my beliefs. I remember diving into my life at Cornell to sweep me up in other things. I remember punishing myself with anorexia, although I didn’t realize I was punishing myself at the time. I remember hiding my past life in the Church from my new friends, and my life with my new friends from anyone in the Church.
The dreams were weird, and gut wrenching. I don’t know why I had them, except maybe because I’ve recently become a founding Board member of a fledging not-for-profit, Support to Leave, which will help people do just that – leave situations like I was in in the Church.
The dreams were weird and gut wrenching, and I woke those mornings in a sweat and a mild state of confusion (although the sweat could be my flannel sheets and age ☺). It made me realize how amazing it was that I was able to leave, and how amazing the human spirit is, in its capability to muddle through and survive. In its ability – my ability – to reach for life and freedom, rather than stay constrained.
There is a part of me that wants to look back, that wants to remember. There is a part of me that wants to feel what it felt like and own it – fully and completely. I was so out of touch then. I had to be.
It is amazing that I got out.
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