Disclaimer - Enter my world at your peril: what you discover may become psychologically disturbing.
Imagine being uprooted maliciously from modern culture and transplanted into the medieval ages. Women are viewed as sex objects, for the titillating fantasies of the male dominator. Brainwashed to bearing children as their redeeming quality, females exemplify lust, the physical depravity of humankind. Cloaking themselves in layers of fabric to disguise curves of sensuality, cult seamstresses labor to design hideous attire for their daughters’ protection. Scathing sermons are the norm for the impressionable youths. Ranting about the dangers of the opposite sex, gods (referred to as Leaders) proclaim damnation upon those fringe dwellers exhibiting sexuality through hand-holding. Jolt yourself back to the present. Could you believe that such a modern subculture thrives with tens of thousands of followers?
When asked to describe my past, overwhelming emotions sap my body of positive energy. Guilt attempts suppression of incriminating evidence against the religious proponents, my former gods. Flashbacks assault my subconscious in vicious nightmares after dredging up this damage. Fascinating escapee tales are stunted by the reigning Powers. Not the first to be eliminated by my Cult, I proceed to expose them at my own risk. The Devil Daughter has replaced my surname in their records. If you have never experienced the inner workings of a cult, prepare yourself to enter the mind of its prey through my tale.
Fate was determined even before my conception. The System birthed my parents, the celebrity couple. Greatness colored their destiny a rosy hue, as doors to propagating the Religion opened of their own accord. Dad’s dazzling personality evidenced itself by his rising popularity, which hinted at his becoming the Promised Protégé. Mother’s cosmetically enhanced face and coiffed hair mismatched her overtly modest clothing, like a mortifying cross between Vogue fashion and the Victorian era. Little did their loyalists realize the dark secrets behind these seemingly sinless faces. Psychosomatic symptoms assaulted my parents’ mental stability. Terror plagued their marriage. Blasphemous sexual acts peppered moments disguised as private prayer. All masked beneath the name of the God.
I had no choice. None of us can choose family before it chooses us. Born into the Cult, I had no knowledge of the outside world, except for the warped dogma fed to me like prisoners forced to eat whatever vermin the guards discarded. Like viewing the universe through a funhouse mirror, I perceived Unbelievers to be little more than prey to the demons. Horror tales about those who left the Faith were told as bedtime stories. Our kind neighbor with the black cats was deemed the Witch, dispersing poisoned candy every Halloween in hopes of satisfying her bloodlust. Passages from the Book were forced upon my memory with attached sick connotations. Their mantras flowed from my lips when unfiltered thoughts escaped my subconscious. Devils inhabited not only the recesses of the human mind, but also the physical walls of our house. Purging them became routine habit every six months. My susceptible juvenile mind absorbed these teachings and practices as normal. I knew nothing else.
The Cult provided everything one needed throughout one’s life. Jobs within the Organization were plentiful for those faithful who adhered to the miniscule Laws. Marriageable partners were approved or denied by the Leaders. Before winking at the cute boy across the room, that glance had better be pre-approved by the Committee. Networking amongst the members was highly encouraged, so followers would not require worldly assistance. Education in the System spanned nursery age to post-college programs, indoctrinating the youngsters. Though one was allowed to purchase housing from outside sources, slumlord owners in the Cult posted available rat holes on every bulletin board. To the visiting spectator, this Organization appeared to be a highly successful mainstream denomination of sorts, until they sucked into the System strategically. This culminated in the Cult’s growth, multiplying like wildflowers strewn along highway exit ramps.
Why did I stay for two decades? I did not believe I could survive in the heathen world. Satan planted booby traps along life’s journey, and the Leaders were meant to protect us. Like an umbrella shielding its bearer from a storm, my gods had only my best interest in mind. My fiance was poised to become one of the next Promised Proteges, which meant I was entitled to a glossy future. We were being meticulously groomed through plentiful private sessions by The Leader. A stellar example of the System, my face was plastered across promotional materials, and I became their successful proselytizer. The thought of leaving only appeared in my starkly human moments. Not often.
What caused my departure? My relentless questioning. Approaching The Leader with unanswerable queries, his confidence in my future plummeted. All that I asked was a logical explanation behind the stringent rules and procedures. In essence, I was questioning the Law. As punishment, he called me into the Office for a series of one-on-one demeaning lectures. I was decried as the Eve of our religion, a rebellious woman who exemplified mental instability. I was the Great Whore attempting to sway the Faithful with my innocent questions. Not permitted a retort to these accusations, I silently stewed within my mind. Bitterness against the Man did not taint my thoughts. A moment of revelation struck my heart. This Man was not the all-powerful One proclaimed to be. He yelled at me with a tortured soul, powerless to change his own Belief system due to inherent fear of the consequences. He was not a god, just as human as any Unbeliever. I left. Leaving behind my lover, my family, my life, my future, my past…I left it all.
The journey of recovery from that segment of life is a book-length adventure in itself. Here I stand today, a young woman freed from the bondage of the past. Have I been through an earthly hell? Most would answer affirmatively if they were privy to all the details. What happened to my former friends? There are two from the past, whom I can still call Friend. What happened to my fiancé? He married one of my best friends, of course. Typical romantic tragedy. Do I still experience traumatic moments related to my past belief system? More than I would like to admit. Have I fully recovered? That is an unfair question. The Cult never truly vacates the alcoves of the victim’s mind. My past life often feels like a fictional character’s drama, one in which I have only participated in my imagination. I pinch myself and remember I lived that nightmare. I survived to share my story, a Cultic Devil Daughter of the First Baptist Church of Hammond.