When I was a teenager and suffering so much from having bronchial asthma, my parents talked to our minister and he decided the best thing to do for me was to put me on a special diet: no whole wheat, no milk, etc. I could have rye bread and grape juice was okay. I drank that for a whole week once. For a school project one time we students were to make out what we ate for a week. I was sick that week, so about all I had on my sheet when I went back to school and turned the paper in was grape juice.
At one point in our life, we got pretty hard up and a neighbor had some cornmeal for his cows, and gave us some. Mom made cereal out of it, but I could not have milk on mine. It wasn’t bad enough that we had to be so different from everyone at school, but also everyone at home and those at services too. In those days whiskey or wine or beer was always “good for what ailed you.” I can remember spending hours lying down in the car, or sitting up part of that time, while the rest of the family was inside the building attending a holy day service. I was too sick to attend and they couldn’t leave me back at the motel. I did get to see all the big, colored balloons, though.
When I was quite young, my parents started pointing out how different I was in comparison to everyone else in the family (I have one crooked toe). I used to sit around with them and try to straighten it out. That is dumb. They should have kept quiet about it, or not made such a big deal out of it. They refer to me as “the enigma of the family.” I guess I’m a real enigma now since I’ve left the WCG.
Another incident that I will probably never forget–even though I can forgive my mother for–is the time all four of us kids were just playing in the trailer house and having good kid fun. She decided to clean the house and we all needed to get out of her way. So we started to get our coats on and go outside and play there. But not me! She got mad at me for getting my coat on. I was supposed to stay in the house by myself. I in turn got mad, too. So she took me and put me into my brother’s and my tiny little bedroom. No toys; I just had to stay there for a long time.
After awhile one learns how different they are. I wasn’t allowed to have friends over or go to friends’ houses to eat or spend the night. My sisters could. My brother even got to go on a whole week school outing once. When I did go see a friend and the parent there talked me into staying for lunch, who should show up, but my sister. And come to think of it, even today I sense my mother using my sisters to spy on me and try to sheriff me. That is what parents in the cult are trained to be–sheriffs.
They had to keep me away from other people and circumstances for the most part in order to protect themselves. Since doctors were outlawed, there was one cult family in another city where I could go and stay sometimes. To this day that girl’s parents–her dad anyway–makes me feel real unwanted. They were always in a much higher money bracket than our family was and I think there was some kind of tension there between my dad and her dad. At her house, they gave you big glasses of wine at night. She had asthma, too.
I didn’t participate much even in WCG activities (we didn’t go to very many of them anyway while we lived in Nevada), but after Phil and I got married and we had moved into town, we still didn’t go. I have never been a very active person. We used to hike some and Phil and I enjoyed that, but growing up, if we went on a family hike and I got tired, too bad. I had to finish the walk the same as everyone else. I wonder if they enjoyed watching me suffer. Mom even brags now as to how much pain she can handle and what a baby my dad was when he was ill. We were like sadomasochists.
Sometimes one has to focus on this stuff to help other people realize that the so-called “good old days” were nothing but a lot of pain and suffering. I’m sure there is a lot of sickness in these groups and those who suffer just keep quiet thinking they are suffering for Christ. Not so! You are suffering for the leaders, so that they can hide from the abuses they are perpetrating on you. Those who are sick and suffering need to know that it is good to speak out! Expose the abusers! A lot of totally unnecessary suffering is going on inside. The leaders benefit, because they get your money, not the doctors. And in some cases even natural remedies are unaffordable. In the end, you lose, unless you recognize Herbert Armstrong’s lies and get out of there and start taking care of yourself and your family.
I hope someone else will see that they are only suffering for the image of the leader and not for Christ. There is way too much emphasis on the way our bodies looked in that cult. Jesus died for more than a body. He wants us to have life with Him and our life consists not in the things we possess, as in our kidneys, etc. I don’t believe Jesus is consumed in His thinking about how we look physically. But in the cult, there is a whole lot of that kind of thinking going on.
By Mona – Child survivor of WCG
Note from ESN:Many exiters still suffer health problems today, due to WCG’s former doctrine regarding doctors. (Read: How Did WCG Instruct Ministers to Deal With Health and Medical Problems? to see how they tried to avoid prosecution in case someone died.)