I woke up this morning from a very disturbing dream. It wasn’t anything new just another dream about being back with the Witnesses, usually I remember I’m not one anymore quite quickly and the dream surrounds how I try to figure out how to tell them. This one was different in that I only thought that perhaps I wasn’t one of them anymore, near the end of the dream. It left me drained and oddly sad at the memories of running that desperate treadmill. A hamster wheel and grinder to absolutely nowhere but despair and loneliness.
While unpacking after the move I found my old diaries. I kept a diary for every year of my life from 1998 until 2010. With all seriousness most of it is just catalogue of how much work I did, whether at home or at my job and of course the thousands of hours spent doing ‘theocratic activities’ as well as my gut wrenching loneliness and seething resentment at my circumstances. A great deal of it makes we want to cry for the ‘girl’ I was, even though in ’06 and ’07 I was between the ages of 23 and 24. Those are the two years I decided to read through and revisit the old me.
Even though I recognise how much progress I have made since May 2014 it doesn’t mean all is better, or if it will ever be. We will always have our memories but with time and healing eventually those memories will not elicit the pain they used to. I can tell you right now so much of those two years still make me cry, so – no I have not sufficiently healed from those wounds. Perhaps I never will, those injuries are just covered over with scar tissue and instead of them incapacitating me they will give me strength, as evidence of my survival.
I could hear the ‘two me’s’ speaking on those pages. The cult identity and the real me who tried desperately to still be heard. Usually she sounded like a whiny cow, depressed, beaten down and drowning and I hated her because of her weakness, but the reality was so different, every day I had being trying to destroy the last vestiges of the real me. No matter how hard I tried to suffocate her, to smother her into oblivion she stayed. She was beaten, bruised but each time she stood up after my whipping. I would beat her into a corner, blood spattering the walls with my violence. Screaming at her to shut up, to submit, to accept and each time she got on her knees and then she would stand up to face me and I would lock her up again and leave her in the dark to punish her.
I did that for years, for all the varied abuse I suffered at other people’s hands they were never as bad as I was. It took me a long time to embrace who I really was, bad and good and see the cult identity for what it was – a poor shadow, a vindictive, terrified shadow.
Clearly I let her out of her prison and she never tried to get revenge, she simply was and there was no need to continue the battle. Finally the healing could begin. Though my vile words had caused pain they had not changed me fundamentally, I had only delayed myself. My struggles during those years and even now in different degrees have many names, and they are all true. Depression, anxiety, resentment, pain, loneliness, despair, hopelessness. They do not how ever describe WHO I am, and they never will.
Reading those entries was probably just an exercise in remembering past pain, but it did give me something useful. I wrote as if I could not survive another year, that my end had to be close, whether by a long drop or Armageddon, whichever came first, and no drum roll needed…I’m still here. One line that often kept me in the land of the living was ‘how will I know happiness if I’m not alive to know?’ So I stayed and I’m really glad I did.