I was born into this world doctrine free. My father was an agnostic lover of physics, and while my mother was raised Pentecostal Christian, she neither practiced the religion nor incorporated religion into our home. However, when my father started working on military projects which kept him away from home for sometimes weeks, my mother became open prey for a cult recruiter who so infused herself into my mother’s life that at three years old, I was forced into the extremist Christianity written about in my memoir, “Cult Child”.
As a child and into adulthood there was a constant war going on inside of me. This conflicted feeling existed naturally in me, both while living in the cult and transitioning into mainstream society as a teenager. My instinct was telling me that this Christian belief system was not authentic, but fear of a place called Hell held me inside of the belief system well into my early twenties.
While attending college in the early 90’s, I read “The Witching Hour” by Anne Rice. This book ignited something in me. There were traits in Ms. Rice’s characters which felt familiar to me; traits such as hypersensitivity and the ability to feel what others were feeling; seeing into people, and there were memories of my childhood which surfaced after reading the book. Because the cult sequestered me so far away from society, my hunger for knowledge delved me deeper into supernatural subjects.
I wavered for a while, still gripped at times by the fear of not believing in God and being sent to live with the demons in hell. I also found that I turned to Christianity when things didn’t go right in my life hoping that if I just believed more, things would change for me. When that did not happen, I explored deeper into paganism, pulling out pieces of my European historical roots. It was during this time I felt I was starting to put my fragmented existence back together.
Paganism led me to Santeria, a short study of Voodoo, Satanism and Shamanism. I curiously peeked into Mormonism and what the Muslims believed. I explored mainly for knowledge, thirsting to know all of the different paths which existed; paths I never was allowed to discover on my own. I delved into my Cherokee history and my connection to nature and the planet. I stuck my toes into Yogi and Osho, checked out the Buddha and jumped on the awakening and oneness trains. Yet, something interesting was happening to me.
I was definitely awakening. I was waking up to myself. Thirty years after being taken into a cult and losing all of my identity through an indoctrination which restricted my critical thinking, I regained my mind, deprogrammed myself and realized that I actually did not need a belief system which involved group think. In fact, to be who I am, I did not need a belief system at all.
So who am I? I am a non-believer who doesn’t worship anything or anyone. I journeyed deeply into disbelief, and what I found there was my free and clear mind. What I found inside of disbelieving was a knowing that empathy is inside of my DNA, not my belief system. For me, there is no reason to wonder where I came from or where I am going, but instead to be present inside of what I am doing right now, being mindful to the needs of others and defining my own boundaries of self love. In this space is a peace that no belief system has ever brought me.