Warning: Religious trauma, child abuse
I usually keep to myself. I guess I’m afraid of opening up to others. Partly paranoia, partly trust anxiety. Either way, I tend to be pretty reclusive, even among my closest friends. Whenever I think about why that may be, I think back to how I was when I was younger. More energetic, eager to make new friends, happy to go out of my way to socialize. I was always going out with friends.
It’s easy to just say “Oh, I started developing schizophrenia in my teens,” but there’s more to the story than that. Maybe I’d have developed psychological problems sooner or later either way, there’s no way to know for sure, but I can say for sure that it’s not that simple.
I guess I’ll start by addressing the elephant in the room: I’m a cult survivor. I won’t say which organization specifically, as they’re still around and actively cruise social networks looking for dissidents. But I believe (and my therapists agree) that my experiences growing up there contributed immensely to my current state.
I was singled out by bullies pretty early on. I don’t know why. But of course any time I tried to bring it up with adults, I was told to just put up with it. Or, more commonly, that “he wouldn’t do anything like that, he’s the leader’s son!” or something similar. Victim blaming was also pretty common. My father sometimes told me that it only seemed like I was bullied a lot because that’s what I expect to happen, and that if I looked for the good in the bullies, they’d treat me better.
What started as name-calling and teasing eventually escalated to cracked ribs and being tied up in a basement. And of course I was still sent off to meetings because boys will be boys of course.
Not that the other kids were the only perpetrators. One of the leaders locked me out in sub zero temps with wet clothes one time.
All of this is just setting the stage.
As you might imagine, I resented going to meetings. And there were so many of them. Sometimes 2-3 a week. Even more into my teens. My father especially tried to coerce me into going to as many as possible, even to the detriment of my school work, no matter how much I complained. I started to complain about seeing and hearing things, but was always told it was my imagination. I complained about being scared of meetings. It never mattered. He even got me to attend one or two “rituals.” Don’t get me started on those.
Eventually, time came for an interview with the leader. It was a routine thing to ensure everyone was ‘worthy.’ I’d had enough at this point. I just told them I wanted nothing more to do with any of this. When Dad asked why, I blamed anxiety for an easy answer.
Dad had an appointment for a therapist for me within a few days. He had never paid attention to my psychological problems before then.
We tried a few different doctors. I don’t remember all of the details. But one thing I can’t get out of my head is when, on our way home from one such appointment, my dad told me, “I hope you get better soon so you can go back to meetings.”
I felt broken. He was more interested in having me at meetings than trying to actually help me.
At some point during all of this, I just simply stopped trusting people. I stopped trying to make new friends. Because most of the time, when I did, I got hurt. People would pretend to be a friend, only to abuse or abandon me later. I became cynical. Apathetic. Numb.
It’s not to say I was completely without friends. And things got a bit better into high school. (Not going to meetings anymore helped, I think)
But by the time I graduated, I discovered I just couldn’t deal with people. I was so afraid of confrontation, I had a panic attack the first time I tried to get a job. I tried several times to get a job. Eventually, my doctor wrote a letter to help get me on SSI.
Since then, my relationship with my parents has improved. They’ve mellowed out. Though I’m still not too sure how to interact with my dad. I don’t think he remembers how he treated me back then, and I feel like it’d be cruel to bring it up now.
Things are better now. But it’s not like I’m all back together again. I still feel broken. I still don’t know how to really express my emotions, or how to approach people. When people are nice, I have to talk myself into trusting them. I still don’t talk much in group situations because I’m used to just being along for the ride and being ignored if I try to participate. I’ve had cases where someone says or does something super nice for me, and I just shut down. Like I’m missing the part of me that knows what that’s like, and so I just… crash.
I want to interact more with people, but I get so afraid of annoying everyone, so I usually back out before I even get started.
I’m so frustrated with myself. I want to be how I was before, but it’s like I’m not only broken, but like I’ve lost pieces somewhere along the way. Like I’ve found some glue to put myself back together with, but I’m not all here anymore.
That’s why I’m so happy that you all have supported me this much. Even though I feel like I’m a broken shell of a person, people still watch my streams! I’ve even gotten to do collabs with other streamers! I’ve gone from not even going to the party to sitting at the wall, and I’ve met some wonderful people who decided to stop by and see what I was all about. And I’ve even come forward to tug on a couple of sleeves. And that’s some serious progress for me.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. You didn’t have to, but the fact that you did means a lot to me. I look forward to continuing the channel and spending more time with you all.