Exit and Support Network

Struggling to Reclaim My Family

I was born and raised in Worldwide Church of God (1967) so I went through all the really strict years of women not being able to wear makeup and having to only wear pants that had zippers on the side and the back (because zippers that zipped in the front were for men only). And because of that extreme experience, I feel that there many times is a marked difference between what we "old timers" experienced and what some of the kids experienced who came into the WCG in the `80's and beyond. Many of them think I'm complaining when I tell them how bad it was so it's refreshing to find a site like this that validates where we've been and what we went through.

My battle lately has been with reclaiming my family and searching for a church I can worship at that can combine the elements I missed out on growing up (mainly, praising God openly without being only about emotion and not enough teaching). There was a definite time when my father (who was an ordained minister in WCG and is still a minister in a splinter group) while we were growing up, told us, "we will no longer be going over to your uncle's house anymore on the weekends, the church is our family." From that time on, my brother's and my relationship with our cousins, aunt and uncle have never been the same.

After graduating from Ambassador College, I started a process of reconciliation with them. We were so close growing up and it was devastating to my brother and I to just be ripped from their fellowship because my dad thought he wanted to follow his "church" so closely and stay away from "the world." I've since apologized to my cousins for my dad's behavior and vowed to always stay close with them. But I have even fallen down on that. With me being so influenced to be so close to WCG folks at the expense of my family, it's a real struggle to naturally reach out to them. I've been so groomed to reach out to WCG folk I grew up with that it's become a real habit now. I fight really hard to get some balance, but it's a real struggle, because we (who grew up in WCG) had so much in common, such as dealing with the control issues that we all had to face.

I feel like a weirdo sometimes talking about some of these things to people who haven't gone through this and at the same time, I need their help to help me get some balance in my life. I never knew what it was like to receive birthday presents (I had my first birthday cake at age 30). So now when my boyfriend has his birthday party and receives his presents, my natural reaction is "ok, ok, what's the big deal, it's only a birthday, enough already!" But, in reality, that's how the rest of the world viewed birthdays. We were just the weird ones! I always wanted to celebrate Christmas and I finally am now. But I still have adjustments to make with that too, such as the things my friends and boyfriend's family think I should just know about when it comes to Christmas tradition and I don't. I'm playing catch up in my life at age 36 and it feels weird. Thankfully, I surround myself with supportive and understanding people and leave the "riff raff" behind.

My biggest struggle now is praying that my sick father and my brother reconcile before it's too late. My brother has some real issues with my dad, things my dad should have apologized for and made amends for years ago, but he stands by the mindset that "he did the best he could in raising us and he's not to blame for anything." It's amazing how a religious organization with twisted doctrine could come between flesh and blood, but it's scary to see because I'm witnessing it in my own family and in the families of my friends who are going through the same struggle.

By Anna - Child survivor of WCG
November 18, 2003

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