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Getting Through : Dealing

Cruelties

from Jules - Thursday, October 31, 2002
accessed 1919 times

Now maybe there's a God above
but all I ever learned from love
is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.
And it's no complaint you hear tonight
and it's not some pilgrim who's seen the light--
it's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah
--Leonard Cohen

In the Family, I remember the other children as people I could instantly relate to, no matter where I went in the world. They were interesting, intelligent and sensitive. In our isolated communities, the pickings were slim for friends, and as we matured sexually, also for lovers. It was rare however to find a home where there was open contention among the second generation. We seemed to bond almost instantaneously. But despite the company of peers every waking minute and despite the people surrounding me everywhere, I remember always feeling alone. I learned to be mindful of what I said and whom I said it to. Even with people I trusted the most, I was careful to word confidences in a way that could not be used against me if it were to be repeated.

Since leaving the Family I have not had much contact with my peers who were also raised in the group, until this web site. The process of reconnecting with my friends and my past has been intense and both healing and painful. The relationship with my peers in the Family was always complex and I have been doing a lot of thinking about the dynamics I remember and sometimes still surface. Itís hard for me to really trust anyone, and for some reason especially people I grew up, and Iíve been trying to understand this.

Many of us were separated from our parents at a young age, and we were all taught that our identity was the group, not our individual families. We were herded like cattle much of the time, and as long as we werenít loud, disruptive or caught breaking any rules, no one really cared or noticed what we did. In the absence of any parental guidance and care, our friends became our family and our peer dynamics our identity.

There was never enough of anything to go around, whether clothing, food, rest, or even love or attention, and as children we were put in the terrible position of having to compete for these basic needs. Surviving as a child in the Family was a delicate and volatile balance. If you werenít noticed there was no hope of ever moving from the menial and gruelling work of cleaning, fund raising and child-care, but it also kept you relatively safe from being singled out for humiliation and punishment. If you were noticed, you had a chance for other things, and possibly even to have some of the love and care we all desperately needed, but it also meant you could fall from grace at a momentís notice. One wrong word or look and you could be stripped of any privileges and mercilessly brutalized until you broke and gave utter submission.

I donít remember ever knowing unconditional love or acceptance. It was always a contest to see who was the most valuable. ďRewards to the DeservingĒ. If we werenít the sort of children we should be then we could be punished severely and isolated or even permanently sent away from the only home we had ever known. If you had a thing you could do, a role you could play, then you could feel somewhat secure in your place. Considering myself unmusical, unartistic, unintelligent, unspiritual and unattractive, this was always an issue for me, until I read the quote from a Family publication: ďThere is always a place for a man of talents, even if his only talent is knowing how to workĒ. I could work hard, and so that became my thing. I tried to do everything I was asked to as well as I could and do it all without complaint or question.

The competition we all were under was brutal, and even if you figured out how to do what was required in your situation, that could all change at a moments notice. The rules changed constantly, and because the more recognition you were able to get, the more other children were passed over, a single mistake could cost you all the security you had achieved. Although relationships seemed close and supportive, just under the surface it very rarely ever was. We were all pitted against each other. Anybody could turn at any time and I slowly and painfully learned never to trust anyone.

In our Lord of the Flies styled tribe, some people took the path of oppressors over being oppressed. In England, the most brutal of the overseers in the Victor programs were teenagers themselves. The environment allowed for sadism to develop and thrive, and itís true that it wasnít limited to FGAs. I know a number of young girls that were raped and molested by older boys. Itís still difficult for me to talk about, but I was raped in the Family by teen boys that I had been put in charge of when I was an older teenager myself. I have experienced a great deal of brutality personally, but this is by far the most difficult to understand and deal with, because I donít know who is responsible. I believe we must take responsibility for our own actions and lives as adults, but these boys had been through horrific abuse themselves and I was supposed to be responsible for them.

I hope that one day I will be able to learn to trust and be able to maintain a healthy relationship. The legacy of the Family in the life of itsí children is ugly and shameful and it makes me angry that I still carry that shame. Despite my best efforts I was never able to fit in within the Family and I always felt as though there was something wrong with me. In the real world my unconventional upbringing makes me feel as though I am different than my friends and itís hard not to feel that same isolation on the inside.

One of the things that has affected me the most of anything that has been written on this site was Xhrisl's article about his brother Josh: http://www.movingon.org/article.asp?sID=8&Cat=34&ID=778

I can't read it without crying. The last line is the hardest to read: "because sometimes the demons win". I know sometimes they do, but I just can't accept that. I refuse to accept that.

The reality is that we as peers were not kind to each other all the time. We sometimes didn't support or stand by each other, and some of the hurt that was done was done by us to each other. The reality also is that the demons we all face are real, and no one understands what we struggle with but each other. For better or for worse, we share this legacy. Perhaps it's true that we can't escape the past, or our upbringing, but the cruelest irony of all would be to have to fight the demons we share alone.

Reader's comments on this article

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from Holon
Sunday, November 03, 2002 - 22:41

(Agree/Disagree?)
Often as a child I felt very alone,even living in a house full of people and had friends I got to live with on occasion.But I too, always had an instant bond with other children in the family.I cant think of one person that was my peer that I just, didn't like.But I always carried my own private pain and I probably always will.

After being out of the family for so long now,I have met so many different people and I don't always like or get along with my peers.Even the SGA's I have met,some I would never become friends, with but despite that, we still have this strong connection because of where we come from.It's just something that cant be denied.

You have no control of your past,Just your future.And the past is something we all share.The unity felt in that, is very powerful and special.

Julia,I feel your pain and I can relate to what you wrote.You are such a strong spirit,I wish I was more like you.I cherish our friendship so very much.I wish I had an ounce of the strength you possess.Perhaps one day it will rub off on me.You have such a soft sweet sadness and caring look in your beautiful green eyes yet such a strong voice, and I admire you more than I can say.You will always have a special place in my heart Julia,And you are never alone.
(reply to this comment)
from Anthony
Sunday, November 03, 2002 - 18:54

(Agree/Disagree?)
So Jules, what are you suggesting?
(reply to this comment)
from Jerseygirl
Thursday, October 31, 2002 - 08:43

(Agree/Disagree?)
We all seem to yoyo between feelings or reactions to our shared past of anger repression, denial, sadness, reflection,ect. Could this be possibly like the grieving process? It seems everytime I think I am getting over things they slap me down all over again. Lately repression and indiference have been my modus operandi as I feel there is no alternative to my particular problems. I think if I was in an angry state of mind I would be all to happy to sympathize and let things affect me more. The things you say here are definately things I can relate to but at the same time I feel like "when, for fucks sake, will it end?" Is there ever going to be a time when all this shit will melt away and we will begin to feel some sense of normalcy? At times I read the stuff people post here and it almost seems to me like we are all still those kids trying to prove ourselves and measure up to whatever is supposedly the norm or acceptable.Then when you chat with people or write you start to find out that loneliness and depression are the norm, and vices are the acceptable(PTL for that!)It's like my bro said to me the other day ,not only are we out here dealing with a harsh reality but most of us are trying to cope with a subpar reality. Life is tough, I find that the more I try and get over my issues, they are ingrained in what I am essentially, and I am my own worst enemy. Anyways, I'm sure there is nobody else feeling this way cause everyone here is so succesful and well balanced emotionally!;-)
(reply to this comment)
From Jules
Sunday, November 03, 2002, 17:47

(Agree/Disagree?)
Jerz, thanks for your comment. I can relate to what you said. I go through ups and downs, and seem to be in a down right now. I do believe that the only way to not turn out like our parents is to face reality, and at least be honest with ourselves. Not doing this is what messed up their lives (and our lives too) so badly. I frustrate myself a lot a times by being incredibly self-destructive. I have spent a lot of time thinking about issues because I see in myself that the more I understand the why behind my behaviour the more chance I have of breaking the cycles.
It's so true though that it's hard to even admit to ourselves how not okay things are sometimes. Dealing all the time gets exhausting too, and sometimes a nice long denial vacation is definitely needed. (reply to this comment
From ophelia
Friday, November 01, 2002, 11:14

(
Agree/Disagree?)
I agree. Sometimes when I read posts here I feel very grateful not to have been in the particular situation that the person writing was in. There are many horror stories that are far beyond (what I thought were) harsh realities from my past. AT the same time I feel that there is a fine line between 'moving on', healing and recovering on the one hand and dwelling on those bad experiences on the other. Like you, I often feel that just when I feel I am coming to terms with issues from my past, still more instances of abuse come up. Often they are things that I never considered abuse, but news reports, accounts from other people, some exers and some just acquaintances, bring to light things about the Family that, beyond just being odd, are in reality cruel, abusive and certainly wrong.
Recently I’ve tried as much as possible not to think about that part of my life, as that is the only way I can get through the day without thoughts of suicide. I can’t speak for everyone, but I, for one, am certainly not well adjusted.


(reply to this comment
From EyesWideShut
Sunday, November 03, 2002, 17:49

(Agree/Disagree?)
Jules, this was a truly outstanding post. Thank you for taking the time. Miss you.(reply to this comment

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