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I might as well have been a robot

By Alexis ~

Hi everyone, I am a lurker here. If you are familiar with the Jesus Camp video, that was how my childhood was, except possibly even more extreme. The tears and 'jesus-is-my-boyfriend' type songs and the testimonies and the rapture and the evil harry potter and the hellfire for all non-believers. I was unlucky enough not to be born into the regular, normal world (we called that the "non-believers" and "the world"). Instead I was born into religious extremism. Although nobody got physically hurt, we've all been hurt psychologically. I continue to feel like a robot but at least I am much more free than I used to's taken many years to start allowing myself to think and do something I never got to do growing up....which is to form opinions and make decisions. Kids raised like myself have their rights stripped away, their minds controlled by somebody else (the parents whose thoughts are controlled by the religious leaders). We didn't get any chance to learn to relate to the world in a normal way. In my childhood world, for example, the lion king was an evil movie because among other things it said that the kings of the past look down on us from the stars. Well, the Bible does not say that, so therefore the whole movie is evil. In my world, sex was not discussed at all, and I did not know that it existed, even as a middle school aged child I did not know that sex existed and it would have been considered evil to see a naked person or talk about normal body things like periods and whatnot. They gave us a book for each kid and in the book you may write what you want to be when you grow up. I was told I would not grow up because the rapture would occur and probably before that I'd die of persecution. So I wrote that I'd like to die for Jesus. Another child found that and mocked me.

I wanted so much to be like other kids and that was not possible. I could not figure out how to talk to them and how to behave around them so I was shunned and bullied. I remember dreading recess time. I had only a couple friends that put up with me but sometimes they pulled away, embarrassed by me, and I had to walk around alone. I remember one sad day in the school gym filled with kids, and I walked in circles around the gym with kids all about, and no one willing to even say hi to me. I was fascinated with cheer-leading, I would have loved that so much, and I watched the girls at recess practicing, and it broke my heart, but that was out of the question to even think about. The words they spoke, the clothes they wore, their flirtatiousness, and dances, was "evil", "satanic", "boy-crazy". I was- and still am- fascinated with clothing. But I didn't get to wear "modern" clothes, I just wore clothes that were very cheap, basic, no fashion, and had to keep re-wearing the same clothes. My family wasn't rich by any means but they could have afforded better clothes for us kids. It just wasn't on the radar for my parents. They were too obsessed with the church. They always wanted to be at every church activity and my siblings and I had no choice about going along.

I don't blame my parents for what happened. What happened is that they were sucked into this religious fundamentalism and I actually feel sorry for them because I think the reason they got so deeply sucked in by it is that they were desperately looking for acceptance somewhere. And they found it in this sort of religion, so long as they followed all the detailed and crazy rules, they could have some friends. So I consider my parents as victims as well. They just didn't know any better. My parents were both coming from abusive homes and they honestly thought this religion would save us from hellfire and everything else. Ironically I come from a childhood where everything imaginable was "satanic." The true satanic force is this excessive religious extremism. It is literally like a cloud comes over your mind and controls you and blinds you to everything else. It is, ironically, like a supernatural force how powerful it is, only it's power is evil not good.

I was no different to a robot. Just a robot. And to force a child to become a robot is just stripping away everything from them. You take their dignity and their freedom and they don't have anything left. I can never make a full recovery. As a teenager I did suffer from a very severe nervous breakdown and that lasted a couple of years. Yes, years. The nervous breakdown happened because I was scared that I'd be sent to hell. I had what is called "delusions" and I suffer from severe anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts. I have had many bizarre psychological sicknesses which I don't know how to explain. For example, one time becoming very scared of the check-out man at the grocery store and having a nervous attack. Another time becoming scared of a simple kids video for no clear reason, another time becoming scared of certain houses we drove past. Like an overwhelming anxiety, a need to get away from it even though you don't understand why. I still act much younger than other people my age because I didn't get exposed to things early on like they did.

So- what am I today? Well, I've accepted that I can't make a full recovery. I've learned to love clothes and regular music and books and people (who cares what religion) and not feel guilty about that. I've stopped "evangelizing". An evangelist girl came to my house and literally I broke down in tears in front of her. I've learned more and more to think and analyze things. I still believe in some sort of god, although I do not know what kind of god it is. I still fear it, I still feel like it's puppet. It's hard to explain. If you know the movie "Donnie Darko," that's the sort of "god" I believe in now. One that controls people through circumstances and fate. One that can be loving but can also be evil. I regret that I was ever born to have to deal with this life. I try to dream of a better life for myself, one where I would like to pursue my love of fashion design and art....I feel like I deserve that. That's another thing, for the first time in my life I feel like I deserve some little bit of happiness just for me.