My Journey into Disbelief

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.

How I Was Trauma Bonded With God

I was introduced to a man named God when I was just a little girl. He was a massive figure emerging from the clouds, often with furrowed, gray eyebrows, pointing a finger at the sinners below him. He was a magician who created a planet with a wave of his hand. He had a dramatic story, with a top soldier who abandoned him and took part of his army. But he protected the ones who were loyal to him.

and if I was a good girl, God would love and protect me too. If I could become clean of the sin through which I was born, God would love me forever and ever. Yet, if I could not become pure in his eyes, God would set his rage on me, dooming me to burn and scream in pits of fire.

So began my journey into being the victim of a learned love/hate relationship with my apparent spiritual father and the only man to whom I should ever be the most loyal. One day, though, I would begin to reason in my mind.

“How are there pictures of someone whom no human has ever seen?”

“Why is it, no matter how well I behave, I am still molested and beat?”

“Why won’t God fill me with the Holy Spirit so I can understand his tongues language?”

“What have I done wrong that God is not protecting or loving me?”

“Why is God so mad at me?”

God made me walk on eggshells, wishing I could hide beneath a blanket or a tree so he couldn’t see me, but he allegedly spies constantly and has eyes so big he can see everything at all times. There was no hiding for me. Humans watched me, and so did God.

I yearned for God’s love. I longed to fit in with the rest of the cult children. Yet, there I was, feeling as if I always stood on the edge, looking in on a fervor I could never quite achieve. So then…

I must be bad like the adults say I am.
I can’t identify the badness.
It’s my fault I’m scared.
It’s my fault I don’t say no to Brother Ray.
It’s my fault because I take the cookies.
It’s my fault I talk loud.

It’s my fault. It’s my fault. It’s my fault. Those words will stay, long after I grow up and escape God.

But I’m only eight, and right now God owns my mind. God started owning my mind when I was three.

I will strive for God’s love, beg for His forgiveness for whatever I may have done wrong, even if I don’t know what it is. I will accept his hatred of me. I will teeter on this wire, traumatically, mentally fragmented, long after his illusionary existence shatters into a million pieces.

I have escaped a plethora of narcissists in my lifetime, but of all the trauma bonding that was injected into my journey here, God’s ripped me apart the most. God’s ego left caverns of echoing scars, repeating threats in my head, leaving me to battle his aftermath even after I came to know that the idea of good behavior buying a golden ticket to a fantastic resurrection show was a hoax.

I would forsake him proudly, but the words of his messages, spoken through the mouths of vile humans, would remain the silver balls traveling the ping pong game that my brain was molded into.

I have a little coping skill I use. Whenever I begin to doubt myself or speak negatively to my own existence, I tell God to shut his imaginary mouth. His ghost doesn’t get to manipulate me anymore. And he does. He shuts the fuck up, because the echo of his programming is under my fingertips now.

Control. Alt. Delete.

A Letter To the Defense

In this assignment, let’s write a letter to our defendant/s. There may be one. There may be many. The Defendants are the people who should stand trial for hurting us as children. Write this letter in the voice of you as a child, saying what you want to say to them now.”  The Artist’s Way

Dear Abusers in Sam Fife’s Move of God Cult:

I wish you cared about how much you hurt me. Sometimes I sit in contemplation trying to bring out understanding of how you people can be so wicked, sadistic and cold.

Why don’t you think you did anything wrong? Do you know you were wrong and you’re too scared to admit the truth? Why? You don’t want to be judged? But you deserve to be judged.

What do you think your God’s final ruling will be when you stand in front of him? I am confused sometimes when you say “what is done to the least of us you do to God.” Why do you beat God? Why do you molest him? Why do you tell him that he is nothing but sin? Why do you say he is worthless? Why do you withhold his meals to make him comply? Do you think God will love you for what you do to him?

Maybe I’m not the least among you just because I’m a kid. What does the least among you mean to you?

I never trust you to keep me safe because I am never safe. My heart beats really hard when I’m scared of getting in trouble. Sometimes I think I’m floating halfway in the air and halfway in my body.

Mom, sometimes I look at you, and I think you are pretty. But sometimes you feel scary. I wish I could tell you that I only see demons in mean people. It’s in their eyes. Do you know that’s where evil can never hide, Mama? That’s why evil people wear sunglasses a lot, unless they have eye problems, maybe.

Do days feel this long to all the people in the world? They feel like forever to me. Mom, and how come we never get to talk to our Dad? Why do you hate him so much? Does he really not want us like you say? And please don’t marry Leis off to that man from India. He smells weird and then I’ll be all alone and you will make ME do all the cleaning in the cabin.

Mom, Brother Ray did a lot of dirty things to my body when we were living in the Tabernacle. And I am more than a sinner now. I can never tell you because then you will hate me for being a whore of Babylon. I didn’t know that little kids could be whores, but maybe I am what everyone says girls are.

I want to tell you all, how long this will follow me. It will tear apart my teenage years, leaving me void of an identity. It will send me to jail. It will make me choose boyfriends who abuse me. It will take all of my trust. I will trust the wrong people so many times I will stop trusting anyone at all. I will have months of not leaving the house. I will fail my children. I will have night terrors. I will have flashbacks of your torture. I will meet others like me, and I will despise your existence more. I will attack my own body with food and cigarettes.

I will dig my way out of your rubble. And I will find the real me. I will cease continuing your abuse by abusing myself.  You will stop owning me.  And then I will find you. I will spend lifetimes following you, haunting you, and I will tell all of your secrets. I will destroy your core and rip open your lies. I will survive.

I think you hate me because you can’t break me.

I have more to say, and I will keep writing you letters. And you will listen. Maybe we should tie you all to chairs, beating the truth out of you like you tried to beat fake demons out of us kids. Isn’t that what the Bible says? An eye for an eye?

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and other publications.  She is a also a poet and hostess of the podcast Survivor Voices Show.