I was sixteen years old when I realized that others were thinking for me. I was part of a youth group that accepted all religions; they accepted me, and I finally felt like I belonged. Having little to no path paved concretely by my parents, I was free to find my own belief system. Although I searched through many Christian religions, I found my home in Wicca.
When I found this youth group, I was desperate for the friendship and understanding that it seemed to offer. To the rest of the world everything appeared normal, but we were led to believe that no one outside of our small group would understand us. As we became more secluded, I noticed how my actions and thoughts changed with this group. I was taught to be paranoid, to be ready to defend my beliefs, and to kill before any member of the group could be killed. I traded myself for the sense of belonging that this group gave me.
When I was ordered to kill my boyfriend because he was coming too close to understanding just what our group was, I called it for what it was: a cult. I tried to tell the four other members, all of which were younger than me, how wrong our actions and thoughts were. Although we didn’t kill anyone we were all taught to and prepared to. The beliefs and ideas of this cult did not match that of my religion or myself.
I told the other members that I was leaving and in response the leader held a sword to my neck and told me that if I told anyone about him or the cult that he would kill me. I didn’t speak of it for three to four years. I sought professional guidance and through time realized that I had to work through this to get myself back, and then I had to muster the courage to warn others of this trap.
Looking back and understanding how my actions led to allowing someone to control me left me with mistrust for everyone around me. This taught me to listen to my instincts and question everything. The hatred that I still harbor for the leader of this youth group will burn in my heart until I depart this life, but the lesson that I learned must be used to educate others long after. I believe by sharing my darkest time and most difficult obstacle that another would avoid following the same path that I did.
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