To my former youth pastors

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cflage

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To my former youth pastors
« on: August 28, 2020, 05:23:45 PM »
I loathe the idea of writing anything to you. I have been content to pretend you no longer exist for a long time. And that's why I feel like I need to face you now.

You are predators. You are con artists.

You knowingly, willfully infiltrated a protected mentoring space with the intent of recruiting people for your cult. And that's what it was, a cult. You duped that church's leadership into letting you recruit for your extremist group for years.

You ensnared several of us with promises of belonging and easy approval from authority figures. We were children coming from broken homes. Some of us had been traumatized for years. We needed stable care, basic human affection, and people worthy of trusting, and you deliberately separated us out from the rest of the group so you could initiate us in secret. The rest of our youth group could tell something was off. The church leadership could tell something was off. You did it in secret, so even both of you knew something was off. Yet you followed through anyway.

I wonder if I can explain how deeply this betrayal affects me to this day.

I joined and worked as hard as I could because of how hungry I was to win your approval. I alienated my peers. I alienated my teachers. I alienated everyone who was an outsider. I lied to terminally sick people about how I would heal them, and pedaled hate to people who were just trying to get by and mind their own business. I knew it was wrong when I acted out what your group taught me. Outrageously, even your cult members knew my participation was wrong, because they held me at arm's length every time we met, their guilty consciences flickering alive briefly.

It took years to break free, years I can't get back. Relationships lost I can't get back. I had to miraculously meet people who loved me and didn't care what I believed to even have a chance at feeling safe again. Yet even now, decades later, I am utterly terrified of seeing anyone associated with your group.

Can you even imagine trying to avoid 500 specific people and everyone they gossip with in a small town? Never being sure if someone who you wronged will pop back up and have something to say to you? On top of that, can you even imagine trying to avoid 500 more people who remember the awful things you did to them? It's too much.

It feels like all I can do is vanish because hidden wrath is awaiting me if I don't lay low. I am now hyperaware of the conditions I have to navigate just to say a friendly hello to someone. I keep re-experiencing the horrible things I did if I drive past a steeple or see a marquis out front. I can't reach out to the people I alienated anymore because I worry about how I burned bridges with them and should have done it differently.

Other people don't have to deal with this. I am jealous every day of what they have. And you two decided this was a better way to be for me.

It isn't.

I reject it.

I reject you.

And in time I will turn what you've done to me on its head so that I can just live and breathe, have friends, make a life, make mistakes, be forgiven, and help others do the same.

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C.

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Re: To my former youth pastors
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2020, 08:00:31 PM »
That is a powerful letter.  Thank you for sharing it.  It sounds like your are making important steps towards healing on your journey.

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woodsgnome

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Re: To my former youth pastors
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2020, 11:48:12 PM »
Well said, cflage. Those who hide behind their 'holiness' are the worst -- too big a part of my own terrors about life stem from having experienced those sorts of people for nigh on 20 years.

I hope you are finding greater peace now. Healing might be slow, but I hope writing this is a good start to turning away from abuses for which there is no excuse.