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It wasn’t until this past year, while speaking to my counselor, that she looked me in the eye and asked of me, “Did you ever think to call 911?”
Something like a tidal wave went through me. I still feel like I am picking up the pieces of that.
“No,” I replied. “It never even dawned on me.”
I still don’t understand the full implications of living in such a mind-controlling cult. I really don’t. It’s…indescribable really and I often feel like a blundering, clumsy writer trying to articulate it to the outside world. The truth is that I had been trained to believe since I was six that all law enforcement was to be feared. The only authority that was to be trusted was that of a God-ordained institution: marriage, family, and sometimes, the church (if that church was legalistic or a home church). Government, social workers, doctors, lawyers, police officers…were all to be feared implicitly and never, ever trusted. I had become so trusting of my caretakers that I had turned into the girl who was ignorant of their abuse: because I had been trained to rely on them for everything.
I stumbled through the next few months after my graduation with a feeling of being a nomad, feeling like I was waiting for a game of chess to end, but somehow the game continued to be sustained by a few pieces. In retrospect, I see how certain events were orchestrated to my benefit, leading me slowly into the path of freedom. Even in June, after I had graduated, I was still weak and sickly from my previous pneumonia and ARDS. I got tired very easily, and frequently felt short of breath. I was also depressed. After all, I was a newly graduated senior and I was without friends. It had been well over four years since Hannah and I had last spoken to one another and probably about a year at that point since we had seen each other. Still, somewhere in my heart there was a longing and an aching for the hope that we could renew our once precious and sisterly friendship.
In truth, I had never had another friend like her. We were more alike than not, even in the way the thought about life. What I didn’t understand, even at nearly eighteen, was that we were both cut from the same cloth: brainwashed, controlled, and manipulated. Because our parents were the best at manipulating and “raising godly daughters as a heritage unto the Lord” it was a very natural thing that we would approach the world in the same way. But at almost eighteen, I didn’t understand that. All I knew was that there was loneliness, an aching, a void, a starving and thirst for human companionship and the sisterhood of true friends.
After I graduated, I received a sizable amount of cash, and combined with money that my grandparents had generously gifted me with over the years, this allowed me to purchase my first car. My dad actually spearheaded the entire purchase of the car. I purchased my first car when I was 18: a 1993 Red Honda Civic, with all the bells and whistles. I loved that car! It was the best thing that had happened to me in nearly seven years. I would drive with the sunroof back, the stereo blaring and loved the feeling of burning rubber. This car held out its metaphorical hand to me, encouraging me to embrace the freedom of my future. And I took it.