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Getting Through : Dealing

Magic and Madness

from Jules - Saturday, February 22, 2003
accessed 2806 times

Living in a fundamentalist religious movement is a little like being in a Harry Potter book. There are magic words and rituals to learn, evil monsters around every corner, and special access to secret powers that influence everything from the weather to the outcome of sporting events. Most fourth graders understand that the magical world of J. K. Rowling is a figment of her imagination and a made up fantasy. Religious fanatics, on the other hand, actually believe that they are part of an elite group with special access to information and abilities that ordinary people could never comprehend.

Due to the fact that most young children will interpret information they receive from a source they deem authoritative and credible (such as television) to be accurate, there are a number of ethical and legal standards for advertising commercial products to children. Unfortunately, there are no such standards for religious indoctrination, and even if there were, the Family has a long history of viewing the children of their members as disciples of their teachings by default and therefore not entitled to any choices in the matter of beliefs or rationality.

The adults I trusted and loved in the Family told me that if I questioned the principles of the group, (that a one-world government would drive us into caves before I reached adulthood, that Berg and the Family were guided by the ghost of an alcoholic gypsy, that we would one day rule the world with superpowers, that a Jewish conspiracy faked the holocaust and persecuted the Family, that despite our desperate poverty we were so much more fortunate than people born into society, that to want an education or a different lifestyle than my parents was the ultimate betrayal of God and was to risk his fiercest judgments) then I was crazy. These were unquestionable facts and no matter what my common sense told me, I had to believe the Family or these ďdoubtsĒ would make me insane. As a child I wrestled with reconciling the magical world of the Family with what my senses were telling me and the two sides were so diametrically opposed that I did think I was on the brink of losing my sanity. I took this to mean that the Family must have been right, so I repressed my own questions as best I could and for many years I accepted that I could not trust my own reasoning. The Orwellian dogma demanded that war was peace, abuse was love, pain was joy, ignorance was knowledge, selfishness was sacrifice, and on the list went.

When I first left the Family, I left because I could no longer reconcile my own sense of morality with what the Family stated was right. I had tried as hard as I could to make things work within the framework I had always known, and decided I needed to try something different. However I thought that it was mostly just the situations I had been in, and I did not realize how very deep the deception went. I read a copy of Deborahís book a few months after leaving and was stunned by what she said about her father, the person I had known as ďGrandpaĒ. As I began to think it all through and to comprehend that everything I had ever believed and trusted my entire life was a lie, and more than that, was deliberately designed to manipulate me, I felt shaken to the core of my very identity.

The term ďgaslightingĒ means to intentionally change the reality of a victim, and thereby lead them into questioning his or her own sanity. The word comes from the 1944 film Gaslight in which a Victorian husband (Charles Boyer) conspires to convince his wife (Ingrid Bergman) that she is going mad, the goal being to make his planned murder of her appear to be suicide. Mysterious footsteps, "misplaced" objects, and inexplicably dimming gaslights (thus the title) are all part of the plan. The wife trusts her husband and begins to doubt herself and her own senses and starts to believe that she really must be going insane. This is what the Family was to me.

As lame as it sounds, the closest thing I have seen to the shock I had to my system when the light finally came on is the film the Matrix. The paradigm shift for me was that extreme when I realized that nothing I had previously worked so hard for, suffered so much because of and given so much to was real. It was like living on a movie set my entire life, and then one day looking behind the buildings of the street I walked down every day and seeing that they were nothing more than plywood fronts.

After having actually lived through deception that was so absolute and complete, I find it hard to trust anything or anyone now. After gauging my sense on reality on my observations of others and having that turn out to be so very wrong, I am cautious now to a fault about believing what other people say. I leave my lovers at the slightest sign of something being amiss, I worry that Iím being exploited by my supervisors in my workplaces, I keep my friends at arms length, and I try to never tell anyone else anything that I havenít already processed enough so that they could not use it to hurt me. In a word, I tend to be paranoid.

There are still days when I feel completely disorientated and unsure of who I am or what I know. There are less of them than there used to be, but they still come. I am still learning to differentiate between my instincts and common sense, which I trust, and my emotional conditioning, which is what I was taught. I still panic for no apparent reason sometimes, and certain words and actions can still trigger the fear and feeling of vertigo.

The Familyís belief in their uniqueness and special connection to the divine gave me a sense of control over my environment. The magical powers Family members believed they had were a way to combat the powerlessness I felt in the group. Without that, and as my need for superstition dies, without any sort of belief in a divinely directed path for my life, I felt lost. At first I turned from Christianity, which triggered so many unpleasant memories, to a more holistic and mystical type of spirituality. Instead of cracking my Bible, I read Tarot cards. I think it was really the same thing, a desire to have some kind of edge on life, to have the overwhelming responsibility for making my own choices placed on someone or something else. If I was wrong, it was just that I didnít listen hard enough. To think that there might be no right answer at all, or even worse, that it didnít matter, was terrifying.

I canít say Iím completely past all this, because Iím not.

I do feel more like a citizen of society than I used to. I am more confident and less easily swayed by circumstance. I do rationalize more and try to maintain a balance between learning about other points of view and buying into whatever I am told by someone I respect. I am less affected by other peopleís opinions of me, and less cynical about the motives behind other peopleís actions. It is getting better. I think I am becoming more genuine. My sense of reality is less tenuous and more tangible. I feel less of a need for control and more a sense of wonder at the mystery that is life.

Itís impossible to ever really know what is in another persons mind and who can say what is actually normal. I donít know if I will ever get to a place where I feel I am like everyone else and I donít know if thatís even what I want, but despite the bad days, I am moving towards contentment with who I am now.

Reader's comments on this article

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from alacey1981
Monday, June 05, 2006 - 07:29

Time and time again it is exposed the extent of the psychological conditioning techniques used in the family. Fundamental implies foundational, based on Christ the solid rock. These sex fiends do not follow the teachings of Christ. Christ did not engage in sexual encounters with random people. This is contrary to what scripture teaches about sex, there is one rightful place that God created for it: Marriage. We are told to keep the marriage bed holy. That means pure, undefiled. Not with numerous sexual partners.

We are told that fornicators, sexually immoral, liars, thieves, swindlers (part of an extended list 1 Cor 6:9-10) will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Then the good news for those who repent of their sins and trust in Christ Jesus, "you were sanctified (cleansed)," You don't have to live with the guilt any longer for what was done to/by you to your own body. There is at last forgiveness.

Please do not confuse the teachings of Christ with an organization of sexual perverts who claim to be born again Christians. Not once in the Bible do Christ or any of the disciples tell anyone say this prayer, yet that and the pretence of fundamentalism is used to entrap vulnerable people who desire to know God.

Please check out both my myspace page and my blog page. I'd love to talk to you about the real Jesus:

My blog:
[URL removed - spam]

My myspace:
[URL removed - spam]
(reply to this comment)
From Albatross
Monday, June 05, 2006, 11:47

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
WTF??????????????????(reply to this comment
From Fish
Monday, June 05, 2006, 10:35

GAY!!!!! "Current Mood: Melancholy". Again I cry, GAAAAAAY!(reply to this comment
From Fish
Monday, June 05, 2006, 11:36


Dear Fellow Exers,

It has been brought to my attention that "gay" was not the proper term to use in this instance. I humbly beg you to over look this outbreak of southparkishness.

(reply to this comment

From It's true,
Monday, June 05, 2006, 13:13


"Faggy" would be much better.(reply to this comment

From vixen
Monday, June 05, 2006, 08:32


Jesus fucking Christ, you just don't know when to quit, do you???

Leave us the hell alone, please. If we wanted to chat about your Jesus, we'd fucking be in church right now, wouldn't we? Most of us have no interest at all in religion, and those of us who are Christians don't need you to 'open their eyes'.

I will say this politely as I can because I think you may well be a nice enough person (albeit sadly misguided):

If you keep going with this witnessing malarky, many of us are bound to get annoyed. I for one will not take kindly to having my space here invaded by you for much longer. I guarantee you that I can be a fucking nightmare to interact with, and if you persist in bothering me with your nonsense I won't hesitate to say whatever nasty, filthy, sacrilegious thing that comes to mind in an effort to make you understand just how much your unsolicited proselytising bloody well pisses me off.

Why don't you try me and see how much you enjoy one of *my* little chats about your Jesus?!

(reply to this comment

From AndyH
Monday, June 05, 2006, 08:11


Good news! I've actually met the real Jesus. He may not be exactly the one you're thinking of, but we talk all the time, and he actually talks back! Which to me, is a lot more real and meaningful then the tired remarks of another one of his distant obsessed fans. Would you like to meet Jesus too? Here's his profile. Check out his pics too.

I'm bringing them to you my lord! Hallelujah!(reply to this comment

From Jesus Crust
Monday, June 05, 2006, 13:06


Thou hath done well to bring the sheep unto the fold. Behold I am the son of the god of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. Yea I hear thy words and shall supply all thy needs acording to my giches and ..... well... my riches and glory.

(reply to this comment

from cyborcosmic
Monday, March 24, 2003 - 12:42

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

Hi Jules, I just read your article at the right moment in my life.

 I have a really good friend who I trusted all of this with - for the first time in my life! In other words, I trusted her more than anyone else so far. I told her about my upbringing and of course she was shocked because she was raised in the east where they consider a public school to be 'a mental conditioning process'. She knows that I was brainwashed, but I did not realise myself to what extent I was conditioned. I rationalized all the time, and though this has all improved now - I live life in the present and no longer in the past - she still is hurt by my probing, my mistrust, why do I always check peoples intentions? Well this part is clear (but not to people who grew up straight!) I am doubtful about my own sense of reality too, because It was always based on what OTHER people thought or felt, and never what I thought or felt.

So my conditioned behaviour is to act and respond like I did when I was a child (based on what other people want from me.) It happened recently that I began to see it all as one big conscious or unconscious drama, pulling other people into it and then acting as if it were not my fault. I'm learning now at the age of 19 what true responsibility is! It is taking responsibility for ourselves completely! And its not easy at all. Especially if you think about how unfair the world has been, and now it has just gotton a bit tougher.The burden has been on our shoulders for so long and now another. Somedays I can’t take it! She tells me I’m too young to have come this far anyway, and I know she is giving up on me because I can’t trust her. Although I am closer to people now I still can not accept myself –with everything I feel and I think-

Why can’t I believe that I am just as worthy of love as everyone else? Even though, I am no longer preoccupied with thoughts of worthless living, and I am no longer confusing pain with love, and I am no longer experiencing useless thoughts! I broke down all thouse illusions.

But I can’t enjoy all that existence has to offer without trust.

I have to take responsibility for my part.

I still think that I am the only human being who could comprehend this and that it would take a lot to undo all this damage. Jules, I say trust your instincts and don’t ever be afraid.

We are never completely in charge of our lives anyways, but to live on the edge leaving the choices to something else is avoiding the responsibility altogether. This is the bigest mistake I made so far in my life. Because  life is all mystery and when life unveils itself it is so amazing we forget to stay and pay attention to what it is trying to teach us, we forget to take action ourselves. I trusted in nothing so far and I would really like to change this part of my life.

Sometimes its just too easy to mistrust

(reply to this comment)
from Anthony
Thursday, February 27, 2003 - 17:01

Jules: It’s impossible to ever really know what is in another persons mind...

Anthony: Does this mean that one can never truly be honest with another, or is it more of a communication issue? Have a good one.

(reply to this comment)
From Jules
Thursday, February 27, 2003, 22:07

IMO it's more an issue of perspective. Two people can look at the same scene and see different things. How do we know that others see colours or hear music the same way we do?
I recently read Oliver Sacks' "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat". There are some fascinating stories in there on perception and how our minds interpret the world around us. It's a topic that interests me a great deal.(reply to this comment
From Rain Child
Tuesday, June 06, 2006, 03:31

I've read that too! Brilliant book! I'm fascinated with Neurology. (reply to this comment
From Anthony
Sunday, March 02, 2003, 17:21

At the nucleous of the Tower Of Bable Fable,(hey, that rhymes), the point is made that in the absence of clear, purposeful and honest communication(s), societies and other variations of human relationships, such as families, cannot be sustained.

The way to know if we see colors the same way is to agree on a pre-defined usage of words, images and symbolisms, thus, the function of language(s). That being said, if we subscribe to what I call the "perspective theory" of empirical results, we still cannot be certain that the pre-defined usage of words, images and symbolisms mean the same to any two people, and we are stuck at first base with not progress in sight. If this is indeed the way things are, all meaningful communication is doomed upon inception, and we have no need to even bother with it; why, for all I know, after a native English speaker, in full force of her/his mental faculties,reads this post of mine, she/he may say that I have just described how to make blue cheese out of rat embryos and a blender.

As far as truly knowing what's on someone else's mind, it is simply, or complexly, primarily a matter of honesty, internal honesty with one's own self, and secondarily, a choice based on cause and effect. In other words, if you can truly be honest with yourself, you can do the same with others; but it's a decision, and perhaps .5% genetic.

There are many reasons for not letting others truly know what's on your mind. When I alluded to casue and effect I was speaking of past experiences. We may tell ourselves something like "I've always gotten burned when sharing my mind completely with others; therefore I shall refrain from doing so." But, it is still a decision. If on the other hand, individuals cannot be truly honest with themselves, then humans are worse off than I had previously imagined; however, I don't believe this is in fact the case.

There have been times when I can honestly say that I was in a state of complete internal honesty with myself. It was at different times painful, disgusting,pleasurable,nasty, raunchy,relieving and satisfactory. Individuals can taken this "state" and shared it with others, if they choose to, how those on the receiving end choose to interpret it is a essentially up to them, and of great interest to those doing the sharing, but in the end, complete honesty was achieved by at least one of the parties involved. And, if complete honesty is achievable by at least one person, then it is safe to say that is is achievable by multitudes on both sides of the mind sharing process. What do you think?(reply to this comment
from FlamingAssbestos
Wednesday, February 26, 2003 - 17:51

This thread is in The Trailer Park 
from Jules is dumb fatass
Wednesday, February 26, 2003 - 15:50

This thread is in The Trailer Park 
from Alf
Sunday, February 23, 2003 - 11:26

Indeed Jules. What is reality? And how much of our 'reality' is in fact just a figment of our imagination?

Are you 'really' you? Some pretty interesting issues you brought up, I believe we should explore them more fully utilizing powerful reality altering chemical substances.
(reply to this comment)
From Pharmaboy..
Monday, February 24, 2003, 09:44

Alf, I propose we abduct Jules and JoeH(we need a sex toy), and tour the world whilst keeping them both on a strict diet of water and A4 sheets of acid. 1st stop: Bagdad, i've always wanted to be a human shield....

They'll be eternally gratefull to us afterwards.. (reply to this comment
From Monk
Monday, February 24, 2003, 23:26

PB must be wigging - Can't imagine you'd waste a thought like that otherwise. :)(reply to this comment
From Pharmaboy..
Tuesday, February 25, 2003, 01:59

If I'd be tripping, I'd probably be trying to post an intelligent thought & I'd be making an utter mess of it... Strangely, the oddest thoughts come to me whilst perfectly straight sitting at my office desk at work.

Am I going insane?! :) (reply to this comment
From -
Tuesday, February 25, 2003, 22:10

This thread is in The Trailer Park 
From Alf
Tuesday, February 25, 2003, 13:14

In a word, yes.(reply to this comment
from Jogger
Saturday, February 22, 2003 - 19:52

I went out for a walk this morning, as I left it started to sprinkle. I started to jog, it began to pour. I watched as people ran for shelter, I continued to jog. I thought to myself, itís only rain after all, drops of water canít hurt me. I amused myself with the sight of people clutching at raincoats, wrestling with umbrellas, I continued to jog, only more energetically. Nothing could take away from my solitary run, the experience of rain splashing my face, soaking my hair, dripping from my nose and eyes. Others were there, but none would run, they were not made for the outdoors. Is it fear of sickness or death? Is it thought to habit or protocol? A rainy day is as much a day as any other is it not? Why should a jog in the sun be enjoyed better than a jog in the rain? Who made the rule which said that rainy days are sad & dreary & should be spent indoors?

It has started raining again, and there you leave me to enjoy a jog until the sun comes out again.

- After all, itís only rain, it canít hurt me. When I return home Iíll change into dry clothes. I do not choose to remain wet, as I do not wish for everyday to be rainy, but I will enjoy my rainy day.

(reply to this comment)
From MGP
Saturday, February 22, 2003, 20:10

Little amuses the innocent.(reply to this comment
From Jogger
Saturday, February 22, 2003, 21:19

Little amuses the guilty minded(reply to this comment
From MGP
Sunday, February 23, 2003, 13:08

This thread is in The Trailer Park 
from Nan
Saturday, February 22, 2003 - 18:14

Jules, did you ever appear on the news show In the Public Eye with Bryant Gumble?

I remember seeing a tape of it when I was in law school. I identified with that woman. Was that you? The blond?
(reply to this comment)
From Jules
Sunday, February 23, 2003, 11:14

Hi Nan. Yes that was me. (reply to this comment
From Nan
Sunday, February 23, 2003, 15:08

Life is truly a circle. I remember seeing that. I remember feeling so much empathy for that woman. I thought at the time that I would like to find her, to help, to somehow tell her she wasn't alone. How amazing that I would find her without even looking? How amazing that you are her? And now that I know, I don't really know what to say, as clearly, you know you are not alone and do not need any help. But, I'm amazed just the same.

This weekend I was thinking about how I'd gone from going on call-backs with large firms, which flew me in, picked me up in limos, put me up at the Park Plaza Hotel and took me to eat at five star restaurants to applying for medicaid in less than nine months. I knew what it was like to be poor before from my childhood in the COG. Yet, I successfully blocked it out after lots of excess in law school. Then in my third year, I got pregnant and was abandoned by my boyfriend. I was pregnant, no money, no health insurance and no one would hire me, despite having a law degree. I was down and out and had to apply for medicaid to pay for my health care and the birth. That was tough, sitting in the DSS office after all I'd accomplished. The only people who would hire me was the toy store Toys R Us. So, I took the job for $6 an hour until I had my son.

Then just recently, I had the opportunity to help a client of mine. I set up an appointment for her and her family to get public benefits. Then when I was in Toys R Us a couple of weeks later with another lawyer from my firm, I saw my client. She said that Toy R Us was the only place which would give her a job. She was our cashier. Just ten months earlier, I'd been the cashier, now I was the attorney. Life is truly a circle. Those hard times have made me what I am today. I'm glad for them, although they were tough. I am so much more understanding and sympathetic to those who are going through hard times.

I have to say, as well, that I'm not ashamed of them either. I'm not ashamed to say I had public assistance when I was pregnant. I did what I had to do to protect the health of my child. I'm not ashamed anymore of my childhood. I'm not ashamed of the painful, difficult memories. I'm thankful, rather, that I made it through them and am proud to be here today.

I don't know how exactly that relates to having seen you on that news show, except maybe to say, "You've come a long way, Baby!"

(reply to this comment
From Alf
Tuesday, February 25, 2003, 13:16

This thread is in The Trailer Park 
From Jules
Monday, February 24, 2003, 00:54

Nan, thanks for your comments. Wow, itís cool that you saw that show, and I really do appreciate the support. I truly admire you for your own strength and resolve. Although I hate that I had to memorize this in the Family, something I do frequently remind myself of is Rudyard Kiplingís poem If. I think we are above all else survivors.

One of the most frightening things for me, and perhaps something that keeps many of us driven and focused, is that for those of us orphaned by the Family there is no safety net. If life throws me a curve ball or I screw up all on my own, there is nowhere I can turn to for support. I canít land on my parentsí doorstep or have my relatives bail me out of a difficult situation. If I fall, thereís really no bottom. I think knowing this (and having been there before) makes me more conservative and materialistic than I would otherwise be. I am lucky to have wonderful siblings that I am very close to now and we do act as support for each other and try to be each otherís safety net.

One of the main things that has motivated me to not just walk away from my past is this very issue. When I was struggling for survival, the hardest thing was being completely alone. I made a promise to myself that if I somehow lived through it, I would do what I could to try to ensure that no one would ever have to be that alone or isolated ever again. I know this is just a web site, and not very concrete, but itís a start. Just for myself though, the friends I have made here and the connection it has given me to the people I thought I had lost is something I will forever be grateful for. Sometimes my past and memories seem so far removed from the normality of my everyday life that it seems like another world and I feel like an alien masquerading as an ordinary human. Just knowing that there are so many of us out there, facing the same challenges as I am and despite everything overcoming it all gives me courage to keep going and to keep building something of my life now.
(reply to this comment
from Chiyoko
Saturday, February 22, 2003 - 11:20

A moment of silence for that beautifully written piece. All so true.
(reply to this comment)
From MGP
Wednesday, February 26, 2003, 17:46

This thread is in The Trailer Park 
From MGP
Saturday, February 22, 2003, 20:06

This thread is in The Trailer Park 

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