There were some things that my mother did that I appreciated. She put on nice birthday parties for me. She would give our guests the royal treatment so people would think that she was not so bad. She conspired with a few of my friends to throw a birthday and going away party for me. It wasn’t elaborate or anything but we had a great time. After Labor Day, I was off. We made a road trip out of it and my brother came along. We had never been more west than where we lived near OKC so seeing mountains and desert was really cool. The thing about my mother to not forget is that anytime she does something nice for someone, she holds it over their heads for an eternity. It was very obvious that she loved me. I had no doubt about that. The unfortunate thing, though, is that if I stepped out of line with her at all she would remind me of all that she had done for me. Like making this trip. We didn’t raise enough money to pay for my entire tuition but it was enough to pay for half which was fine. I could always send out letters for more donations later. The church also agreed to fund me $150 every month to help with groceries and personal expenses. I told the pastor NOT to give the money directly to my mother, but rather deposit directly into my account. Dave had taken her off of my account because she kept taking the money and set it up so the church could make deposits. The pastor didn’t quite understand why I made such a request. Turned out, I rarely ever got the money. I’d get maybe $50 here and $20 there but it certainly wasn’t $150/ month. We were housed in an apartment that was not walking distance to the church. All of our schooling and work was at church. I could bring snacks but normally I couldn’t afford snacks on $50/month for the 4 of us. Now, the other 3 roommates did have their own money so they would pitch in but usually whatever they bought was specifically theirs and not to be touched. I was able to swing buying enough for breakfast and dinner and a ton of Ramen. I pretty much survived off of grapefruit (it grows a plenty in Phoenix) and Ramen. I missed lunch many times. I ended up having blood sugar issues and by the time I left the program I had lost a bunch of weight and my hair was falling out. I realize now that this group is a cult. They prey on young, naive and gullible teenagers without much direction. What we did for the most part was free labor for the church. The church was a mega church. It was huge with big water fountains in the front and a massive sanctuary. I was so brainwashed by them though, that I really believed that what I was doing was bringing me closer to God and I was becoming disciplined in my Christian walk. The truth was that I was being abused, neglected and taken advantage of.
I sent out almost 200 letters to raise funds for the second half of the program. I sent them to everyone that I knew. I was desperate. There was no way I wanted to go back home. I also liked it there. I didn’t realize that I was brainwashed until much later. I really liked what I did and I worked hard. I really wanted to be accepted back for the leadership training. I had heard so many stories of God coming through for people who didn’t have the money. Things like random donors and such. I was praying hard and hoping for the best. Out of 200 letters I raised $100. I needed $3500. Yeah. It sucked. They ended up letting me stay anyway. I guess the main guy felt that I wasn’t finished and needed to be there. I was also beginning to open up about my abuse. Once again I was given the whole forgiveness spiel. The monkey was still on my back. “Give it to the Lord,” they’d say so I did. At least I thought I did. There was the whole notion that “God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle,” and “it isn’t that he didn’t stop it but that he allowed it to make you a stronger person!” Well, I certainly wasn’t a strong person. I was a scared, scarred, and broken little girl. I just wanted someone to rescue me. When I was little, I would have dreams of being kidnapped because being kidnapped might have been better than what I had. As a teenager, I contemplated suicide because I thought I would never get away from the madness that was my family.
This ministry program was really whack, though. I was having sexual issues stemming from my abuse and instead of lending me some support and help I was subjected to torturous preaching. These people would preach about not masturbating and controlling your thoughts. That’s not so easy for someone who was force-fed pornography for 10 years. This stuff was ingrained in my brain. It felt like I had a reel or porn going through my mind 24/7. It was always like that. I wanted it to stop. I wanted to not think of sex for 5 minutes but I couldn’t. Whenever I would try to talk to someone about it, I was just told to pray about it. Well folks, prayer didn’t work. Those thoughts never went away and I was tortured with them day and night. Now I’m being told that Jesus isn’t in my heart because I am “unclean” and might not be really saved. This was depressing. I knew it was pointless talking to anyone about it because nobody cared to listen. I wasn’t lucky enough to get into the “cool kids club” so nobody in leadership even gave a crap about me. I was hoping to get some healing while I was there but that didn’t happen. The end of the year came and I did not get accepted back. I collapsed in tears. This meant that I had to move back home. I really wanted to stay in Arizona. I loved it there. The only thing that was said to me was “You just aren’t a leader.”
I made friends there that I thought would last a lifetime. I really wanted to spend some time with them the night of graduation since I was leaving the next day. My mother got upset because she had driven all the way there and wanted to spend time with me. I didn’t get to say goodbye to really anyone. Not a big deal now. Nobody ever returned my phone calls or emails. Some friends.