Tag Archives: trauma

The horror of extremist beliefs

Last week hundreds of couples toting (I believe unarmed) AR-15 rifles attended a “Blessing” – a ceremony sanctifying marriages – in Newfoundland, PA.

This ceremony was conducted by an offshoot of the Unification Church – the Sanctuary Church – that is led by one of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s children, Hyung Jin Moon.

The AR-15s are said by Moon to represent the “rods of iron” referred to in the Book of Revelation.

Needless to say, I watched this unfold in horror. As it was mentioned in an online group I belong to for people who were born and/or raised in the Church. As local friends (I live in PA) sent me local news stories, of how nearby schools were going to be left empty that day. As friends in foreign countries sent me the link, with huge question marks.

Those who have read the prepublication version of my memoir comment that I don’t portray the Church as horrific. I will be the first to say that painful things happened to and around me because of Church teachings, and because of how Church leaders – and members – decided to live based on Church teachings and to interpret and enforce Church teachings. I do remember vaguely knowing that Rev. Moon owned, amongst other things, a factory in Korea that produced guns, or ammunition, or something like that. (It was clearly vague in my mind at the time.) But he was the Messiah, so anything he did was obviously God’s will and therefore beyond good. It was heavenly and divine.

In many ways, joining the Church was – which may be difficult to grasp – a relief and a sanctuary for me based on much of what had already happened to and around me. As completely messed up – and absolutely a cult – as it was. And is.

But I look at it now. I hear these stories. I know that – in my humble opinion and from my experience – Rev. Moon’s children (at least many of them) are understandably way, way, way, way, way screwed up. But I read the news, and my heart breaks, and terror fills me.

I have said many times before. I will say many times again. There is nothing more intoxicating than knowing you have the “Truth.” This “Truth” is what causes people to bring “rods of iron” into a church for a “blessing.” Just weeks after a similar assault weapon killed way too many people (any people would be way too many people) in Parkland, FL. This “Truth” is what could – I repeat could – cause these church members – or any believers in fundamentalist, extremist religions and/or philosophies – to use their weapons for “God’s will” or for “right.”

Any “Truth” that causes us to know that we are more true, or more right, or more divine or deserving…or more anything…is dangerous.

Extremely dangerous.

Which is why I write my blog. Which is why I wrote my memoir. Which is why I speak about this whenever and however I can. Which is why I want to help anyone who has left, and anyone who wants to leave, extremist situations. (And even those who don’t yet want to leave.)

In many ways my childhood in the Church was horrific. And in many ways, I guess it wasn’t. Or at least not only horrific. But any church – or any one – who suggests that shooting someone else may be God’s will? That to me is horrific. And that to me is not God.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

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I have within me all that I need. And all that I have, I need.

If you’re like me, you might have an ongoing tune in your head – about how you’re missing something crucial (and you don’t even know what it is) and how much of what you have is unnecessary or even unacceptable.

What a harsh way to walk through life!

How much more soothing is this comforting truth that someone shared with me a while back. “I have within me all that I need. And all that I have, I need.”

This comforting truth reminds me not to freak out that I won’t know what I need to know or have the strength to handle whatever may come my way. This comforting truth reminds me to accept – and even love – all that I have (and all that I am), instead of lambasting it (or me) or degrading it (or me) or discounting it (or me).

This comforting truth comforts me and brings me ease and a bit of peace. It allows me to allow calmness to fill and surround me.

I offer it to you – and that in and of itself is enough today.

I have within me all that I need. And all that I have, I need.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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I would never be with an alcoholic

That’s what I said to myself, all those years ago when I (practically) crawled into my first Al-Anon meeting.

“I would never be with an alcoholic.”

I was engaged to a man who drank. Whose drinking bothered me. Whose personality changed (in a not nice way) when he drank.

My life was most certainly, as they say, unmanageable.

I had lost strength in half of my body. “A viral infection of the nervous system” the doctors called it, after they gave me an MRI and ruled out a stroke. I was only twenty-four and quite young for a stroke, but I had lost strength in half of my body.

A cousin suggested I go to Al-Anon, and I went. But all that was running through my head as I entered the church and found my way upstairs to the meeting room was, “Tell me if he’s an alcoholic. There’s no way I would ever be with an alcoholic.”

I would come to learn that alcoholism is a self-diagnosed disease, and it was my fiancé’s place to label himself an alcoholic…or not. I would also come to learn that there was every reason I would be with an alcoholic.

My grandfather had been in AA for the last four years of his life. My father and grandmother liked to comment that he was nicer then “because he finally found friends.” My father drank and drugged nearly every day – at least as far as I was aware of – and yes, his personality changed when he did. (He often became nicer.) Oh, and did I mention I was raised in a cult and that, in many ways, I raised myself.

In short, there were numerous reasons why I would be with an alcoholic and very few reasons why I wouldn’t.

I remember the shock as this dawned on me, slowly over the weeks of attending meetings. I remember my first Adult Children of Alcoholics meeting – that I attended by mistake. As they read their laundry list of characteristics of Adult Children, my jaw dropped and my brain buzzed with recognition. Nearly every, if not every, characteristic they listed was something I felt. Didn’t everyone feel these things? We are frightened by anger and any personal criticism; we judge ourselves harshly and have low self-esteem; we get guilt feelings if we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others. Didn’t everyone feel these things? They were so true inside my mind and heart, I didn’t even know they were there. They were so true to the core of my very being, I thought they were simply a part of being human. Not a part of being human when you haven’t had the chance to grow in an atmosphere of love and nurturing – a part of being human overall.

I remember the love and acceptance I found in those rooms, and the people who understood me in ways I’d never felt understood before. I remember the countless individuals who offered me hugs and their phone number. I remember listening to people say, “getting involved with an alcoholic is the best thing that ever happened to me,” and I remember thinking how insane they must be to say that.

Getting engaged to an alcoholic and getting knocked to my knees was the best thing that ever happened to me – well one of the best, because now there’s my husband, my kids, and my book about to be published – because it was my first step to realizing I needed help and my first step to finding help and healing.

“I would never be with an alcoholic” I used to think. “Aw honey,” I think now, “you would and you did. And thank god you did.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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