By Vennie Kocsis
To untangle the web of my current occasional States of Being has required a process of retracing the steps into my past through the portal of my present behaviors and emotions.
Growing up in an end-times cult, I was taught two main death concepts.
1. God was going to end the planet by destruction, and all humans would die.
2. The Communists would begin that process through a brutal American invasion, which would include the genocide of all Christians.
Therefore, from my beginning developing years, my mind was conditioned for a death event which could come at any time.
Although eventually an acceptance set in as I was put through survival training to live off of the remote Alaskan mountainsides in Delta Junction, existing within this mindset created a layer of doom inside of my childhood emotional state.
Life was not only lived in fear of my own death and the world ending, but of the adults around me. I feared the death of the handful of people I had come to love. I feared the punishment of the brutal adults who were always overseeing us like vultures. I had to watch every word I spoke. I walked on eggshells of fear; afraid to say or do the wrong thing.
I held the secrets of my sexual abusers. There was no safe place for me. There was no one I could talk to; no safe teacher, as they were all abusive, no school counselor, since we were schooled inside the cult, no police or 911 to call, no access to telephones, no ability to write un-monitored letters to my Grandmother or Father, whose addresses I was not allowed to have anyways. Not even friends could ever fully be trusted. I was indeed enslaved in body, mind and spirit.
The programming of mistrust ran so deep, the fear of death and saying or doing the wrong thing, always simmered within my mind. It weaved into my normal state of awareness. Simply put, it became a part of my operating wheel.
This doom morphed into a state of being which embedded itself into my body’s scientific chemical system, understanding that emotions derive from cells and brain chemistry, and became a permanent part of my operational system.
Ordinary day to day activities randomly awakened the sense of doom and fear. Going into public, it simmered in my stomach. It became the possibility of everything bad that could happen. It emerged in unexpected moments like grocery store visits where my eyes watched every stranger who passed me, untrusting and suspecting. Or when driving, where I was intensely aware of my surroundings, watching vehicles and noting who was inside of them. It held me often in isolation, not wanting to venture far from home.
It contributed to the choice of two abusive adult relationships, as I confused being controlled with being protected, believing the second time that I could even help an abusive person, although I could not help myself.
It assisted in taking away my ability to have a reality based thinking, or build self-protecting boundaries, a life skill I was never taught. It led me away from my own intuition and eventually replaced it, until the act of living was filled with a thin layer of expected doom, even if it was undefined by any specific event.
As I became older and experienced more abuse, the hyper-vigilance and fear became my fuel. My mind was constantly on the run and in defense mode. I behaved as hunted prey, always on the lookout of my surroundings. I trusted no one. Yet, naively trusted everyone. My trust abilities were reversed, convoluted and tangled.
However, there had to come a moment where I was living my life, not from a sense of doom, gloom and fear, but through an empowering awareness, wisdom and critical perspectives.
While I still have certain thought patterns that I am working through, when survivors of abuse explain an adult life of feeling impending doom emotion, I hold a true understanding. I feel with them and understand why. Especially those victimized by religious abuse.
To carry the layers of who we are as abuse survivors is like carrying a book which must be read, should someone care to know us. Within the pages, cracks created by a multitude of breaks, are clearly revealed.
I require understanding. I want to feel safe around the people I am with. Not just safe emotionally, but physically as well. It is at the top of my requirement list to be a part of my life; loyalty and safety. It only takes once for that to be broken for me, and I either say goodbye or change my interactions.
To love us survivors is to know us. To reassure us. To look out for us. To help us know without a doubt you will never hurt us. Until we can feel that completely, patience is required to help us trust you. When you show interest in giving us that support, in return, you will receive a deep love.
Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show and her live Sunday broadcast Off the Cuff. She is an advocate, poet and artist.