Introduction

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Here’s the short of it:

From birth to age 18, I was raised in my mother’s Pentecostal church, as the goddaughter of the Pastor. I’m spoon-fed “the rapture is coming!” and “everything is demonic!” paranoia for the entirety of my childhood. The slightest hint of a doubt about Pentecostalism earns you a public-shaming session in front of the church. All the while, the church exploits my talent for singing as a means of accruing donations.

I decide to be an atheist at 16. Still had to go to church until I turned 18. Mom’s house, Mom’s rules.

At age 16, my best friend Selene* introduces me to her cousin, Arachne*. One day, Arachne orchestrates an intense spiritual experience that makes me believe she’s endowed with special powers. She makes me keep her powers a secret, and assumes her rightful place as my new God. The year that follows is a nonstop succession of mind games, interrogations, gaslighting, power trips, and a steady string of more supernatural events to keep me mesmerized and pacified. By the end of it, I believe she is watching me at all times, monitoring my thoughts, and capable of killing me with a single thought if I anger her too much.

Finally, shortly before my 18th birthday, she fucks my head for five hours over a slight disagreement and vanishes from my life. Selene darkly jokes that now my head must be pregnant. My mind,  pregnant with God’s baby. Little baby Beast.

I spend year 18 floating. No more Arachne. No more church. Unsure of why I feel so lost, and so confused, and so nothing.

I am 19 when I first learn the definition of “cult.” It describes me, my relationship with Arachne, my childhood, everything, perfectly. I don’t want to believe it. But the more I read, the truth becomes more and more difficult to deny.

Everything I’d been certain was true, suddenly wasn’t. Who I’d thought I was, suddenly didn’t exist.
I am 19 and my reality just collapsed.
I am 19 and I don’t know what to do.

I am 19, when I meet Roman.
He’s a cult survivor too. His mom systematically starved him, infiltrating him with the belief that hunger was a demonic desire. To eat was to sin.
I help him with his eating disorder recovery. He helps me with my cult recovery. We are each other’s safe haven.

For the first time in my life, I know what it means to have a friend who doesn’t belittle or dominate you. A friend who would do anything to see you shine and grow. This is what it must feel like to find your soulmate. Everything is going to be okay.

But I am 21 and Roman is 28 when he can’t cope with living anymore. I am the last person he speaks to. I get to tell him that I love him one last time. Then he goes to the Amtrak station and jumps in front of a train.

The cult ate him alive, from the inside out.


I am 22 now, and I am a cultist. A grieving, struggling, ever-evolving cultist.

I may call myself an “ex-cultist,” but that’s not entirely true. Cultism will always be a part of me. Like a recovering alcoholic who must be careful around alcohol, or an abused girl damned to find abusive men attractive for the rest of her life, I must be mindful not to fall into dangerous groups and relationships.

Most people know me now as Alicen Grey, the writer. And while that persona is an important part of my life, that’s not all there is to me. Thus, I’ve decided to start this more personal blog, to talk about my experiences in cults, navigating the challenges of cult recovery, and why cult-awareness needs to be taken more seriously by society at large. There’s so little information out there about what we, as cult survivors, endure on a regular basis. So I want to challenge this collective silence surrounding cultism.

Thank you for taking the time to hear me.
It’s time to give birth to this Beast.

Alicen

(P.S. Before you start reading my blog posts, please check out “How to read his blog” and “Disclaimers.”)

*identifying details have been changed
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6 thoughts on “Introduction

  1. My friend got involved with the Nithyananda cult and became a different person before leaving to live in his Adheenam in India. Nithyananda and his devotees have thousands of videos on youtube and use social media to attract young gullible seekers with money looking for spiritual knowledge & superpowers. Last time I talked to her she said she was given “sacred herbs” to ingest that caused her to see Kaliash (some spiritual realm where Shiva and other beings are said lives). Different articles online talk about numerous scandals of Nithyananda, her guru. I came across your blog seeking ways to help her but I realize it’s most likely a lost cause. :/

    Liked by 1 person

  2. i was in a young people’s substance abuse program in the late 90’s that has been accused of being a cult. i certainly had to recover from being there. it’s still a something i think about every day because i still know people i met there. here’s the 1st part of a 2 part story that was done about it: https://youtu.be/nrEsFPusxvk

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My encounter with the Pentecostal Church, in Coney Island. At the age of 20, I met my first girlfriend who was 26, my first sexual encounter, and very suddenly, within a couple of months, I thought she was to be the love of my life. She invited me to a Sunday mid-day Mass at their little storefront church, and it was nice, there was singing, praying, and I thought, “it’s not much different from the Catholic Mass” which I had been raised with, ironically directly across the street! After the Mass, my mother-in-law-to-be asked me and my GF to come up to the front and speak to the pastor. The pastor promptly invited us all to come later that night (10pm) for a “blessing”, which I thought would be a very nice idea. So, it started with me and my GF in the middle of a circle, about 15 family members and other church members gently chanting “Ay, Dios…, Ay, Jesus…” and other Spanish-language prayers I did not understand. It began to escalate, at which point I looked at my GF to give her a wry smile, but her eyes were closed, and I could see she was taking this very seriously. After about 5 more minutes of INTENSE escalation, to the point where everyone was SCREAMING their prayers, my GF suddenly screams and falls on the floor, and begins screaming and writhing in what looked to me like an epileptic seizure! I stooped down to try and hold her, thinking she was actually sick, and everyone else held me back. I called her name, but was told “leave her alone, it’s the Spirit coming in to her and blessing her”. I walked out of the church, which people pointing, spitting, yelling “Look, El Diablo!, the Devil is afraid of the Spirit!” I politely waited outside until the proceeding ended. About half an hour later, people began coming out, shooting me some evil looks, including my GF’s mom. When my GF came out, she walked over to me and asked me if I was OK. “Are you fucking kidding me?? Am I OK? I wasn’t the one having a seizure on the damned floor!” She said she was OK and that the Spirit had come over her. About a week or two later, we broke up, and for that I have the Pentecostal Church (maybe even God) to thank, for opening my eyes to this wickedness!

    Liked by 2 people

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