Monday, October 12, 2009

Halloween Post One: When You Want To Free the House Elves

When I escaped the emotional, mental, and physical slavery of a fundamental cult I spent the first year bouncing from exhilaration of unconstrained freedom to the depths of burning anger against the perpetrator of abuse and those that watched helplessly as she bullied with glee.

Talking with other ex-cult members helped put these wildly varying emotions into perspective. Talking with counselors affirmed that being verbal about the torrent of emotions was healthy and very necessary.

Methodically I rid myself of clothes, music, perfume- anything that defined the world in which I had existed.
This exercise (or exorcise?) proved enjoyable. Shredding the letters which were shoved under the door that read “What have I done? Why did you leave?” (click here and decided how long you would stay) Smashing perfume bottles (she wanted every woman in the church to smell like her) – that bit of fun did have a high price- we couldn’t walk in the back yard for days without getting a whiff of her.

And then I remembered. I had left behind a dear friend who must be as desperate for freedom as I had been.

When several family members had ‘defected’ a few years back (her term for those who refuse her dictatorial rule- and if she caught you communicating with defectors she would chastise you verbally for hours) one tried to reach me by leaving gifts and kind notes on the doorstep. While I didn’t respond by resuming communication, the knowledge that someone cared was a comfort.

“Ah!” I thought, “I will leave a trail of kindness that she will follow out of the madness.”

So I wrote a kind note and left it and a box of snacks on her porch.
This earned no response.
“Ah!” went the brilliant brain, “I have gotten my message of continued good will across.”

A month and a half went by and I left another gift and note. “More kindness crumbs that show the way out.”

And then! The bolt of lightening fell. One day she drove up to my house, jumped out of the car, curtly handed me a letter and left.
Essentially, the letter told me I was going to hell and keep my witchy self to myself.

Did I learn from this episode? Oh, no. I had to try once more- after all, she’s held against her will, right?

Wrong. The last card, which included a list of traits of a manipulator/narcissist, resulted in this old friend, with which I experienced decades of friendship, beating on the door and yelling for someone to come out to speak with her.

It was obvious that she didn’t plan to gush with thanksgiving at having the prison she was in pointed out to her, so the door was not opened.

And so I have come to realize that she is so controlled by a narcissist pastor that she would indeed drink the Kool-Aid if ordered to do so.
This fact troubles me greatly. Will Dade City be witness to another Jonestown? How insane has this abusive pastor become? Will she eventually demand the ultimate sacrifice to prove her follower’s loyalty?

I see in this experience a parallel to the house elves of J.K. Rowling’s creation.
Hermione Granger sees the house elves’ squelched existence, their lack of autonomy, and sets up an organization to free these pitiful slaves of the magical world.
Do the house elves respond eagerly to this movement?

No. They run away from Hermione and her ‘evil’ ideas, preferring to cling to the old ways of enslavement, proudly bearing the bondage of their masters. Simply put: The house elves enjoy their rotten lot.

So, I’ll learn from this house-elf experience. If you crave freedom, as Dobby did (see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for details), you’ll find a way to be free.

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,Harry discovers the Mirror of Erised, a magical mirror that lets the viewer see himself with what he most desires.

Harry, an orphan, sees himself surrounded by family. He returns night after night, to experience the wonderful feeling of being surrounded by family.
One night, Professor Dumbledore is waiting for him by the mirror.
He admonishes:
"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that Harry."
For me, I’ve had my nose pressed against the glass of imaging my friend out of darkness, flourishing in freedom from fear. It has motivated me to pray and think of her often.
But I am seeing events as I want them to be, not as they truly are. She doesn’t want freedom; she may never refuse the abuse.

And I cannot live in dreams and forget to live.

I’ll still pray for her, but with acceptance, not resolve. I’ll think of her occasionally, with regret, not with frustrated determination.
She belongs to the mirror and I to the living.


Lewis said...

Great, great post, Julie. Very poignant.

I can see a lot of my encounters with my ex and her circle in what you've written. My ex chose to be defined by the abuse and protect the abuser...and for all of my praying, hoping, wishing, and prodding for her to wake up, it's a choice that I have to accept she's made - and a choice God allows her to make, even if it conflicts with His intentions.

The Cult Next Door said...

Thanks so much for the comment is so true that we have to accept the choice made by those locked in abuse...As you said in your most recent post it is worse than if they had died to know they are in some tortured existence past your ability to reach them...praying for you my brother...