My mom's surgery went fine on Friday. She had some freak-out in recovery, complaining of severe pain, getting more pain meds, then vomiting, rinse, repeat, that left her there much longer than she should have been (we closed down the place at 5:30). I think she needed a Xanax more than pain meds, but they didn't have any Xanax. Finally, they poured her into the car, and I poured her into the bed. No more gallbladder, and she's been fine since, although she's stayed the weekend because she can't drive yet since she's still been taking the pain meds. Been kinda exhausting with Husband working, having both kids and Mom to take care of, but Cora mostly entertained Grandma today, so that was good. I think she'll be able to go home tomorrow and either back to work Tuesday or Wednesday.
Of course, she couldn't possibly have surgery without The Cult sticking their damn noses in it. Some cult member I've never heard of before shows up while she was in pre-op, and sticks around, even butting in on my meeting with the doctor after the surgery is over. What. The. Fuck. Of course, I know exactly why. Because I'm a sinful "worldly" person, I can't be counted on to make sure those sinful "worldly" doctors don't give her a blood transfusion just for shits and giggles. (It's a minimally-invasive surgery with very little blood loss, people, so fuck off. However, they do have a point, because I have zero respect for someone's religious beliefs when it means dying an easily preventable death.) Once she was in recovery, the cultist scooted off. At the point it would actually be helpful to have someone else there to help out, they're nowhere to be found. When you don't want them there, because all they want is to be all up in your business, well, there they are.
So, I spent the weekend reading a memoir I purchased awhile back by Kyria Abrahams (after my last run-in with The Cult, leaving my best friend homeless, my mom with a sudden budget shortfall, and us with a roommate for 5 months). I had started it, then put it down to read some crime noir and then The Hunger Games trilogy (awesome, by the way... I've gone total fangirl for the series, but that's another post entirely). This weekend, after Friday's cult encounter, I picked it back up and finished it today.
Up until the point the author drops out of school and gets married at 17, I could have written this book. And even then, there are still major similarities in our life stories to the point that I now realize that even when I thought I wasn't taking the same path out as everyone else, essentially, I was taking the same path out as everyone else. A bit eye-opening for me. Honestly, I've often thought that maybe my perception about my upbringing was simply skewed. That I remembered things so much worse than they were, or that I just had parents who were harder on me than other parents who didn't take the rules so seriously. But reading the book, realizing that someone else's story could be so disturbingly similar to what I experienced... it's chilling. And it brought back a lot of memories I've tried hard to suppress. Little details that seemed so innocuous at the time, but in retrospect, are simply horrible.
My story differs from the author's because my "rebellion," was education. And although that was a difficult path (thanks to many missteps along the way) I finally got there. (Not a whole helluva lot of good that did me in today's job market, but what can you do.) I didn't have to marry to get out of the house, I was booted out. Worse things happened in my family, serving as the catalyst for my escape from the cult. But I went through very similar things. Used alcohol, people, etc., to escape, and at times became extremely self-destructive. Cheated in order to extract myself from a bad relationship, because it was the only way I knew how to escape. I realize now it's because that's all I knew. I was trying to overcome the guilt and the harmful programming. Trying to figure out how to become "normal." Only later realizing there's no such thing, and we've all got shit to deal with.
My husband would say it doesn't do any good to dwell on the past. It's true. I fought my way out of it and I won. I married a man I love, and like, and respect, and who is my equal, and reciprocates all those things. We have a nice home, and we have a lot more than most people do. We have two precocious, sassy daughters. I hold three advanced degrees and I'm licensed to practice law. I'm an active member of the local and state bars. I'm a registered and active Democrat and feminist. I'm a not-so-orthodox Catholic who's pro-gay, pro-choice, and, thanks to a combination of boredom and email reading in the hospital waiting room, now serves on the Vacation Bible School committee (sigh). I have awesome friends, some great family members, and great support, both personally and professionally. My life is good.
I recite this list of who I am, what I've accomplished, and what I have, whenever I feel the walls closing in on me. Whenever I feel bitter about what I didn't have or what I could've had. Ungrateful. Resentful. Broken. When I see the damn cult propaganda left around the clinic (which I gather up and throw in the trash bin), and the anger swells up in my throat. When I felt my chest tighten and found it hard to breathe while canvassing for Obama in 2008, because it was too reminiscent of "field service" while in the cult. When my best friend was booted from my mother's home by the "elders" (a/k/a closet perverts who need to get dick-punched) for being male, for being gay, for being "worldly," and because they're more concerned with "what the neighbors will think" than with the needs of its members. When the last memory I have of my grandmother is her muttering about the "end times." When I cried when she died, not because of the loss, but because there was no loss for me to even feel and all I felt was numb. And soon it passes. Life isn't perfect. (My career especially.) And it may not be completely in my power to change that, but I can make many changes, and I need to.
At the same time, however, for my daughters' sake, I do need to unravel the past. I need to understand myself better, because the programming runs deep, and I need to know how much of that affects my present. Ignoring it doesn't just make it go away. For instance, I realized after reading the book, that it is mostly survivor's guilt why I've been representing a childhood friend in her post-divorce litigation, pro bono. (Although part of it is simply familial loyalties... our families had been close friends for three generations. They were kind enough to bring over food this weekend, the only ones to offer help from The Cult.) I escaped. And I feel compelled to do something positive with that. I don't want to write a memoir; obviously, I wouldn't have much of anything to add to the existing literature. Ms. Abrahams's memoir was very well-written, rather entertaining, and sadly quite real. She doesn't appear to sugar-coat her mistakes, or make herself out to be the victim, or make excuses for her behavior. She's simply a product of her environment, as am I. Which makes reading the book all the more unnerving for me.