Exit and Support Network

Can't Even Describe What I Went Through

I've tried writing this many times now. It's very difficult. I just discovered this web site a couple months ago, and I can only read parts of it at a time. I haven't even let my wife read it yet.

I'm currently a musician and a born-again Christian. I was raised in the Worldwide Church of God. I'm having huge difficulties remaining a Christian, probably because of the mind-warp my soul endured like so many thousands and thousands of others, under the leadership of Herbert Armstrong.

My wife and fellow Christians do not understand me and my struggles. They do not understand what we all went through in WCG. My dad started attending services when I was 5, and up until the time I was 15, I was force-fed every lie the WCG held to be true. I started questioning about that time. I can't even describe what I went through emotionally, spiritually, and physically--like horrible monsters and demons invading your dreams every night. I cried so much that I began to hate. I hated God, Christians, lies, my dad. Most of all I hated myself. I decided that drugs, liquor, sex, music, poetry, random acts of destruction, self-injury, and extreme atheism--anything that could numb that terror I felt was better. I am 28, and I still almost instinctually go to those things. I wish I was a better Christian. I wish I could understand grace. I wish I could really know Jesus like all those other Christians I attend church with.

The nature and personality of "God" that Herbert Armstrong instilled in me and my family is still stuck in us. My brother is an alcoholic; my dad lives in denial every day. He still holds onto this weird respect for HWA, and has never even talked about why he stopped attending the "church." I think he's frightened as well as ashamed, like the rest of us. My mother got fired from her nursing job she's had for 30 years because she was stealing psychiatric drugs to "medicate" her depression.

I'm scared. Scared because I have two children and another on the way. I'm scared because I think they can see through me, that they can see that I really don't understand anything I try to teach them about Jesus. They see me in front of my church twice a week playing in the praise band, and half the time I'm wondering if I should even be up there. Children sense these things. They can sense that, even now, after being a Christian for three years, their dad is still full of self-doubt in his spiritual walk.

I became a Christian after 10 years of self-loathing and bitterness. I decided my problems were not too big for Jesus. I felt healed and new when I was baptized. I was desperate to wash the guilt away. Ever since I was 5 years old, I felt like every problem my family or I had was because I was a sinner. Guilt leads to fear, which obviously leads to hate. By the time I was 25, I was desperate to wash away that guilt. I told my friend (a missionary) that I believed in Jesus and that I wanted to be baptized. But as I think back on my baptism, even then I had serious doubts about the whole Christianity thing--its hard to believe in anything once you've been deceived and have seen the terrible results of a lie.

I feel ashamed of my so-called spirituality that I try to instill in my children. I can't even talk to my wife about it. I hope someone reading this can understand.

I think the ESN web site is a good thing. I wish I would have known about it sooner.

By Rory - Child survivor of WCG
May 27, 2005

NOTE: If any child survivor is struggling with any kind of destructive behavior; i. e., suicidal behavior or self-injury, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) has been found to be helpful. This kind of therapy helps survivors to use tools to control moods that can go out of control very rapidly.

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Back to Stories and Testimonies From Child Survivors