Disfellowshipped. Shunned. Cut off. Leaving her religion meant leaving her mom, dad and younger sister. This is what would soon happen if she didn’t convince them to leave the cult along with her by order of the religious leaders.
Sweat dripped down her back as well as pooling under her armpits.
How in the hell was she going to convince her parents of anything when she was sweating so incessantly? This she wondered as she dabbed her forehead with a napkin.
At twenty three years old, Ginevra thought she had it all figured out. Now she was collecting the scraps of her life and sanity off of the ground.
“I know I sound crazy,” she said, meeting her hazel eyes in the mirror. “But there’s proof…” A gurgled sigh of frustration came from her next.
Speeches were never her thing. Why couldn’t she simply write a letter? The thought had crossed her mind. Quite frankly the anticipation of watching them read it, their faces twisting in mortification, motivated her to drop the pen.
Ginevra cleared her throat and stood a little taller. She could do this. She had been groomed and trained her whole life for public speaking. Now she needed to speak her truth to the parents whose dreams she was about to crush.
“I have been suffering from immense pain and depression.” This statement summed up how she had felt up until a few days ago with weeks worth of unwashed hair, dark circles under her eyes and the rumpled clothes.
The conviction she’d felt in her heart fired the next words with such passion, her smile grew as she said them. “And I know you’re unhappy too. You know what though? We don’t have to live this way, we can be free. Free from constantly questioning our sanity.”
Memories of laying in bed unable to move because of paralyzing sadness crossed her mind. Now she was full of hope for a real life and true happiness.
“We can show true love to everyone we meet instead of attempting to coerce them into joining our religion.”
Her mother would be crying at this point, her father would teeter between stunned silence and boiling anger.
“There’s more to life than going door to door and trying to study the Bible with others…”
She shook her head. No, this wasn’t the time to mention the Bible.
Reaching forward, she scratched out the bullet point referring to that line of thought.
What she needed was to appeal to their hearts, not their senses, unfortunately. The same method the religion had used to sucker them in however long ago with such false propagandas.
Cracking her neck, she took her stance again, and released a heavy breath.
“Mom, dad, I think the organization has lost Jehovah’s favor. We are currently devoting every waking moment to a corrupt organization.”
This is what she would lean into next. Not the fact that one of the leaders had a $15,000 Rolex watch. Not how another leader had been caught purchasing $800 worth of whiskey on a Sunday morning in New Jersey. All while the volunteers at the complexes took legally binding Vows of Poverty, each making $150 a month in a world where minimum wage was raised to $15 an hour.
Should she mention the baffling and shocking amount of child abuse lawsuits the organization was facing?
There were so many issues to address. This was her one shot before they would potentially cut her off.
Clearing her throat once more, she continued. “What I discovered was a video explaining the Bite method. This stands for Behavior, Information, thought and emotional control. What I would like to do is share that same video explaining how certain… organizations use this method to exploit and rob its members.”
The method the organization used to suppress their doubts every waking moment. She was tired of quieting the voice in her mind. The one that wished to explore, love and create with freedom. Now she wanted to clean up and jump into every opportunity she could.
She could live without fear. Fear of the end of the world, not being good enough spiritually, someone snitching on her or pulling her aside for some ridiculous matter.
Ginevra could take her time reading or sipping tea in front of her big city window and know that she was free to do what she wished with the day.
No longer would she need to spend her time devoted to two hour meetings during the week, family worship another week evening, personal Bible study, Saturday morning field service and Sunday morning worship. No more skirts only on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Now she could learn the language of her late grandmother, Italian. And not just to try and convert someone to her now ex faith. Perhaps a trip to Italy was due, she thought with a wry smile.
The world was her oyster. “The world” led by Satan who was out to get every human and pull them from the one and only religion approved by God.
Damn, she couldn’t believe the thoughts they had implanted in her brain. She had truly believed all of this nonsense too.
She had never celebrated a holiday in her life, because they were pagan. She’d change songs from the radio because she didn’t want the “spirit of the world” to influence her away from the organization. How many times she pulled up the music from her religion and rolled her eyes at the naivety.
They had controlled every aspect of her life. Sure, some in the faith were kind hearted people. But doubts kept niggling at her as she tried to worship. No amount of praying, no amount of studying, no amount of brotherly association combated the things she was thinking and feeling.
Why was the Bible so weird? Why would a god of love give her a Bible student, but allow children in other places to starve or be abused? Why did the meetings cause her stress and anxiety? Why did all of the people appear weighed down and unhappy?
“Don’t you want to do something fun with your lives? Pursue a dream and chase the stars?” This line was more for her rather than something her parents would wish to hear. “Be daring and bold and have real, true fun!”
In a quick motion she pulled her hair down from the bun. Maybe she’d dye her hair purple. How fun would that be? She thought to herself. She didn’t dislike her dark hair, but why not try something different, simply for the fun of it?
Her heart hammered in her chest at the thought of dying her hair purple and having the elders pull her into the back room to tell her how inappropriate and stumbling purple hair was. How God would want us all to be modest.
Relief washed away the fear as she reminded herself how she would never, never deal with those controlling dipsticks again.
They couldn’t tell her who to have sex with, or when. Who she could love. She was free to love whoever she connected with and was attracted to.
No longer would they pull her aside and tell her she wasn’t enough. How she always seemed to go against God’s direction and those giving it and not humble enough.
“I know you’re going to say how I’m breaking your heart and I’m sorry you feel that way. However,
I’m the happiest I’ve felt in twenty three years and no one is going to stop me. I’m going to write a letter to the elders and tell them to disassociate me. I will be shunned but I want you to know that I will always love you and you can always reach out to me when you change your mind.”
Despite the tears streaming down her cheeks and the dryness of her throat, Ginerva couldn’t think of anything better than knowing she had a second chance at life. A life she now couldn’t wait to live. This was the best blessing she had ever received.