Flashback took me back to the first time I set foot in the open space that would soon be my playground, battlefield and testing grounds–Phoenix, Arizona. I lived, piled up with my siblings (all of us finally freed from the cult) in a 2 bedroom apartment. We took classes and made straight A’s because we were so hungry for all the world had to offer! We had the same friends, went to the same parties and on road trips together to Indian Reservations with our advisers. We were a band of kids from Mexico, speaking English with a strange accent, and behaving a little too unruly sometimes.
In these moments of adventure I could not completely ignore the undercurrent of dread and terrorizing fear. It was then that one of my deepest internal rupture happened. My reality had changed too fast and I did not know how to cope! How could I know? I was only 20 years old and never had life experience outside the cult, or the small ranch in rural Texas. So many questions were emerging? Was I “betraying God”? Was I going to go to hell? Was everything I grew up believing wrong? I prayed secretly every day for God to show me an answer. None came. Then one day I said, “Look, if you don’t tell me what to do then I’m just going to do whatever I want to do”.
No explanation for the loss of so many family members, so many deaths and so much grief. So many days of hunger and poverty, on the streets in Mexico. Confused, empty-handed, sad, missing my mom. So many years of hiding from anybody that might discover us, the truth about us, and who we were.
Why did we live through all this just so one day someone would come, roll up the curtain, and say “Just kidding, it’s over!”. The inability to talk about what happened made us all put on a giant facade. Yet I prayed secretly, and in the stalls of the bathrooms I cried.
No answer. No guidance. No explanation. The world was just moving on.
Now we were in college, walking around like little heroes from another land. But this wasn’t what I wanted. Personally, I needed an answer. I couldn’t believe that people expected me to just sit back and eat the new logic, as if I were an obedient dog!
No one noticed me and my need for an explanation. No one understood my grief or confusion, and no one could free me from, or prepare me for, the spiral that was rapidly taking me down.
I continued to pray in the bathroom stalls, and One Sweet Day played on the radio over and over again. With it I was comforted a tiny bit, just enough to come up with my own decision: I made the choice to walk away from all that I believed in (which was rapidly killing me) and just “do what I want”. This was like committing the worst crime possible in the religion I grew up in, but it was over, and I knew what I wanted was the right thing to do. I just knew it, and I couldn’t explain why.
In doing exactly what I wanted, I gave no explanation anyone and answered to nobody. This choice would cost me dearly in future years, for my family was not so easily convinced, and they had many ways in which they could almost coerce me to do “the right thing”.
I love my family to death, and now everyone is happy and doing well, but I must say that the biggest battle I have ever fought in my life, was that in owning myself. And it was all worth it, and One Sweet Day was my song through it all.