Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Most Mortifying Moment: Welcome to Growing Up in the World Wide Church of God

I am not certain, but I'm pretty sure the word "mortification" derives from the Latin word for death. Mort. In fact, I just looked it up and it appears to have much to do with it. Dead tissue, dead body, dead in my shoes in a room full of people. Mortified, being so horrified that you want to die or you feel like you have died. Let me tell you about my most mortifying moment. Grab some popcorn and enjoy the newest installment of...


That's right friends, its time for another installment of Tales from the Cult. The wacky church Sister HB and I grew up in, and, in part, made us the wonderfully weird women we are today. Yes, I was trying for alliteration there.

My most mortifying moment, and I use the word mortifying and not embarrassing, because mere embarrassment pales in comparison. Embarrassing is throwing up in my hands at Grad School orientation, this...this is more psyche shaping.

I was a mere 17 years old when this happened. I thought I was a pretty smart 17 year old. Smarter than most. I prided myself on my ability to appreciate the writings of Ayn Rand and was mostly a deliberate outcast at school. I didn't hold much with conformity or peer pressure. And really, I still think I probably was the smartest I ever was at 17, except for my choice in boyfriends...but I digress.

During this time I was dating my psycho ex boyfriend (from here on out he'll be known as M). He was my first real boyfriend and I liked him well enough, . Actually, I mostly was dating him because the person I was "in-love" with (I'll call B) didn't return my affection and when I felt rejected I had the tendency to seek comfort from boys. Just kissing comfort, mind you. I think a lot of females do that though.

Through much prodding, M convinced me to date him. He pulled the "God wants us to date" thing and asked me "why not". And I did care for him as a good friend, he was cute enough and B didn't have romantic feelings for me...so why not indeed. I'd known him my whole life, we'd grown up together in the cult and he was smart, kind and very religious. So I consented. I made that decision while on a trip to Chicago... Chicago isn't a great place for me to make big decisions apparently. But that is another story.

He and I started dating, which was hard since he lived about 20 minutes from me and didn't have a car or go to my school. But we saw each other every weekend and talked on the phone during the week. It was a good enough relationship, I guess... at this point I still didn't know about his little problem...the fact he was a psycho. Unfortunately, you don't get to learn about his psycho-ness today. This story isn't really about him, its about my church and the nasty mean spirited minister (Mr.S) that lorded over led us at this time.

And I'm not letting angry memories cloud my opinion of him. I remember how badly I wanted to go to our church camp, but I had to have a letter from my minister to go. He declined to write me a letter, stating I was too young, even though he let a girl a year younger than I go. It all seemed very deliberate. For some reason my family was always scapegoated, but I think that served as a buffer for me.

But back to my story. As many adolescent relationships do, ours eventually came to the topic of ESS EE EX. M and I had been messing around here and there, but at this point we hadn't really talked about it. But as his birthday approached we discussed the possibility of taking that step. Disgusting, isn't it? What a ridicules birthday present. And here is where the mortification comes in to play.

I had talked to B about the possibility of the deed happening and he was against it but he didn't say much to me on the topic. Later I decided I didn't want to do the deed, didn't feel ready and somehow, at the time, planning to do it seemed very unromantic.

However, shortly after my conversation with B, while I was sitting in church probably doodling or writing non-sense poems, Mr.S announced there was going to be a special YOU meeting for all youth and parents. YOU stood for Youth Opportunity United and was the World Wide Church of God's Youth Group.

We all gathered into the large classroom where we usually met for YOU meetings and waiting expectantly to find out why this strange meeting was being called. If I had only known...I would have saved Mr. S some trouble and just shot myself in the back of the head.

Mr. S went to the front and began talking, I barely paying attention. Then I hear "There have been rumors flying around about Sassy and M planning on having sex. They are not true and I want them to stop ."

WHA-WHA-WHAT!! Can you say mouth dropping open, people staring, M's parents standing RIGHT BESIDE ME horror?! I wanted to die. All I could think about was how could this happen?

I walked around like a zombie, I remember vaguely saying to M's mother how shocked I was about this, and she saying something about Mr. S talking to them earlier about it. He had bothered to tell M's parents but had never said anything to me and mine. Just figured he could throw me under the bus IN. FRONT. OF. EVERYONE. and let my mom scrape me up off the road.

Afterwards I accused B of telling people. He denied it, he was angry at me for suggesting it, I didn't believe him. I was hurt. I don't remember if it was him or someone else who finally told me what happened.

I learned that M. had confided in his friend J who told his crush, Bébé Pleurante (a name my friend and I gave her). Bébé told EVERYONE AND THEIR COUSIN, which is how we find our heroine, Sassy, standing shocked and angry in a room full of accusing stares.

I don't remember anything else that day. My mother tells me that she and I both left crying, that a family friend followed us home to see if we were ok. But I blocked it all out, I remember nothing other than that initial moment of becoming the mortified zombie. I survived. I don't remember how I showed my face the next week, I probably dealt with my hurt like I always did back then. Getting very angry.

To this day I get all sorts of yucky feelings when I recall this incident. Let it go already, right? but the thing I hold on to most was that I accused B, I didn't believe him, and after that our friendship was never the same. I still feel badly about that and I wish I could tell him sorry. Again.

And M, well... like I said, he's another story.

Oddly, as traumatizing as this was, this didn't hurt me spiritually, just emotionally. It wasn't until I had my college run ins with main stream Christians, that I fell into a 10 year long spiritual darkness. I've been working on that post for awhile now. But my cult, for the most part, didn't harm me spiritually.

See, I knew what they were. I knew Mr. S was stern and mean, I knew that Bebe and her gang were two faced brats, I knew that many of their parents were hypocrites. I knew them for what they were and that knowledge protected me from disillusionment. Except for M... I did not know him for what he was. I think he had everyone fooled.

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16 comments:

Jen said...

Crikey! That's horrible! I can't believe a "man of God" would put an impressionable teenager in such an awful position. I'm so sorry you had to go through that experience.

Sister Honey Bunch said...

This is not nearly as bad, but when I was 13 the minister kicked me out of YOU for staying home from church and sending a note to a friend saying I was going to watch American Bandstand while I was home. Which I didn't do. Just said I would. Boom. Kicked. Out.

Valarie said...

Oh my goodness, you poor poor thing. :0 See that face thats my "I am shocked that somebody who is supposed to be a leader did such a thing to you."

As we say down here, Bless you heart!

Rachel Lucas said...

Oh Jesus. Oh good Jesus.

I had a very similar experience, though not as public, when I was 17. Long story and not worth repeating because YOU KNOW HOW IT WAS.

I do have another, pretty funny actually, story about the time I got kicked out of YOU. I think I am going to write about it on my blog; it doesn't have a lot to do with WCG specifically.

I hesitate to ever write anything publicly about WCG for one reason and one reason only: it would make my parents feel really bad. Hard to explain but they really did mean well. It was the church people who screwed everything up and made it all so unpleasant. I have so much rage for those people, oh the rants I could write. They deserve it, too. Condescending assholes.

Oh and hey ladies - I got another email from someone who just found my site and was reading my archives and came across the Christmas post about not having Christmas. She asked if I'd grown up in the WCG like she did. I got goosebumps. I tend to forget that for every kid that grew up in that organization, there's now an adult "survivor".

Now I'm going to go read your entire Tales From the Cult archives.

kspin said...

Yeah, it's a bad sign when you are betrayed by your church leaders. Unfortunately it happens too much, I have seen it many times. I am so sorry about that.

I was imagining myself in your shoes at that meeting, and I would have PEED MY PANTS! Yikes! You are a toughy Sassy! :)

Ashlee said...

Sassy, I feel completely horrible FOR you. I don't know that I would have made it through that one alive. Seriuosly.

I think mortifying was the perfect word.

Sister Big said...

Seriously, who in their right mind, and especially another parent, would deliberately cause such emotional harm to a young girl (and boy)? Makes you think about what's going on right now with the group in Texas? Not sure I like their approach to rescuing all those children, but part of me thinks it might be the right thing to do before they get older and much deeper into that cult.

Sister Sassy said...

Thanks for all the sympathy girls. The event was pretty yucky...ugh...
Rachel, I know you feel our pain.

Yes, one would have thought there would have been a better way to deal with the situation.

womaninawindow said...

Looking forward to the psycho update some day. It's always good to know I wasn't alone in my youth dabbling with the insane! Sorry about your minister being VERY BAD at his job. Minister in the dictionary I don't think mentions ridicule...

Hairline Fracture said...

That is one of the most awful things I can imagine happening--and by a "minister!" One of the signs of a cult, to me, is the spiritual and emotional abuse.

I'm looking forward to hearing you explain how the cult didn't harm you spiritually and why you had ten years of spiritual darkness.

Sandy C. said...

Whoa! This post belongs on the Wiki page for "Mortified"....seriously, I would have wanted to die too. So sorry that happened to you.

High Hopes said...

Wow Sassy, I can't believe that someone claiming to be a 'man of God' could and would hurt a young 17 year old like this. If he had concerns or heard rumours he should have come to you directly.

Seems this moron had a power complex and wanted to show his power over children.

Sister Sassy said...

Thanks for stopping by, woman in the window :) I do plan to share some crazy boyfriend stories through the blog.

Hairline- I will blog both those things, I've already started working on how I wasn't harmed. I may post that on Friday.

Sandy, it sucked. Maybe someone can put my face on the Wiki page with a link here.

High Hopes- Exactly! Power was key.

Jane the Sane said...

Yikes Sassy. At least (I guess) he didn't announce they were true and call you to repentance or something. Jeepers. Sorry this happened to you.

Maria T. said...

You're a regular story teller! (I mean for real) This was great! Although must've been painful for you.

Well, I'm back to slutty again too (not saying you were slutty!) but not gloomy. Happily slutty! ;-)

Melissa Clouthier said...

Hey you!

You know I have a story that could top it. Or maybe you don't. Your bravery is astonishing. I haven't posted about the cult. Like Rachel, I don't want to hurt my mom or some of the people still brainwashed who I care for.

When I read stuff like this, my blood pressure rises and I feel like beating someone up.

Interestingly, I had the exact same view as you. My disillusionment wasn't in God, it wasn't even in people. I just decided to not ever attend a church like that. And I haven't.

In some respects, I still feel like I'm in a spiritual wilderness. Still seeking.

Your bravery and openness are inspiring. Truly. You have no idea how much I value your realness.