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Oh My God

Oh My God

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Oh My God

Lunghezza:
259 pagine
4 ore
Pubblicato:
May 31, 2017
ISBN:
9781786121394
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Kara is five years old when a strange message convinces her father he has been chosen by God as a prophet and the rest of his family as disciples. Overjoyed and with extended family in tow, he shares his news with fellow Jehovah's Witnesses. But instead of the anticipated rapture, his announcement is met with suspicion, hostility, and prompt excommunication from the Fellowship.
Disappointed, yet undeterred, the family set about forming their own private church and a new, ‘make it up as we go along' religion is born.
In this deeply moving and by turns darkly comic memoir, Kara explains in her own young voice the fear and confusion of the years that followed, the devastating loss of her identity, and her ever-growing resolve to escape the madness and find her place in society.

Pubblicato:
May 31, 2017
ISBN:
9781786121394
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

The story K. J. Lane tells of a childhood spent living inside a cult is a true one. There is a tendency to assume that all cults and extreme groups are characterized by criminal practices, molestations, suicide pacts and other sensational behaviours; that these groups are rare in our society and unlikely to have any real impact on our own ordinary, day-to-day lives. The truth is that cult activity is far more widespread than most of us would care to believe. It is estimated that there are more than 2500 operating cults in America, and more than 500 in the UK alone. This book brings to focus how a religious cult can operate within our society virtually unnoticed. To the casual observer, Kara's family appears much like any other, yet behind closed doors a madness has taken hold. Since society still perceives cult activity as uncommon, there is very little help available to cult survivors and their families, meaning many are left floundering from their experience and never fully recover from their ordeal. Kara's story offers much needed insight into the manipulation, mind control and stripping of individuality so common within the cult environment, and brings home the devastating psychological consequences to those involved.

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Oh My God - K. J. Lane

For my beautiful girls

K. J. Lane

Oh My God

Copyright © K. J. Lane (2017)

The right of K. J. Lane to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with section 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers.

Any person who commits any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.

A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.

ISBN 978-1-78612-137-0 (Paperback)

ISBN 978-1-78612-138-7 (Hardback)

ISBN 978-1-78612-139-4 (eBook)

www.austinmacauley.com

First Published (2017)

Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd.

25 Canada Square

Canary Wharf

London

E14 5LQ

Chapter 1

It’s seven o’clock on Tuesday evening and Mum is possessed by demons again. I always know when it has happened because she starts complaining about ‘Terrible Indigestion and Dad starts saying things like Your mum has got terrible wind and Her Irritable Bowel is playing her up or Your mum has got her Stomach Troubles again." But all this really means, as far as I can tell, is that she’s going to do lots and lots of burps. I can hear in my dad’s voice that he feels sorry for my mum when she has her Stomach Troubles because he doesn’t want her to feel unwell, and I can and hear how worried he is too when he talks about her illness to me. He is worried because she must have done something really bad for God to let the devil get into her all the time, something very bad indeed. So it really is a very serious matter.

This evening, I know what is about to happen and I try to get myself ready and build a wall around myself. It’s not a real wall, no-one can see it, but what I do is I imagine an invisible wall all around myself and then the things that go on around me feel a little bit like a dream and not quite as real as they really are. It doesn’t always work but I’m getting better at doing it as I get older.

Buurrp. It’s quite a loud burp and it makes me think I would be embarrassed if I did that in a room full of people. So I feel very awkward and uncomfortable in myself and I try to take my mind off it and think of other things instead.

Tonight, I think to myself at least Mum isn’t farting, that would be a much worse thing to do, but then I change my mind and think that farting might be a better thing for her to be doing because at least if she couldn’t stop farting she might be allowed to leave the room. She might even be asked to leave. People are usually more embarrassed by farts than they are by burps, and disgusted too, especially if they smell. Our dog does the worst farts in the world and they are so bad that even she gets up and walks out sometimes.

But tonight is Bible Study Night, so I know Mum won’t be allowed to leave the room; none of us are allowed to leave no matter what. I’m only six so I find it funny to play Who Can Do the Biggest Burp with my brothers, but what is happening to Mum isn’t a game and so nothing about it is funny. Sometimes when we are at the dinner table Dad does a great big noisy burp with his mouth open and says Pardon me! or even, That’s better! and he laughs and looks at Mum, grinning and waiting to be told off. Mum doesn’t find it amusing and she says so and Dad makes a naughty boy face at her as though he thinks he’s the same age as me and my brothers, and he laughs even louder; sometimes he laughs so much it frightens me because it looks as though he might not ever be able to stop himself.

All of us laugh along with him, well, all of us except for Mum, who says it’s rude to burp at the table, and she gives him the same stern look us children get when she is Not Happy with us, as though she is Dad’s mum too as well as ours. I always laugh because I know it makes my dad happy and he would be angry if I didn’t join in, but secretly I agree with Mum about table manners. If I have a mouth full of food and someone does a burp it makes me feel sick, and then I can hardly swallow the food, and if the burper is sitting too close so I feel the warm air of it on my skin or - even worse - smell it, then I feel as though I might not be able to keep my food down at all. So I don’t like being forced to sit and watch when Mum is having one of her burping attacks.

This evening she is sitting on one of the wooden dining room chairs. We always bring the dining room chairs into the lounge for Bible Study so that there are enough places for everyone to sit. I am beside Mum, squashed at the end of the sofa with Auntie May and my two brothers, Marcus and Aidan. Marcus is older than me, he’s seven, and Aidan is younger, he’s only just turned four. Everyone else in the room is sitting on a wooden chair or an armchair, and all the grown-ups have a red Bible on their laps or beside their feet.

Buurrp. The noise comes from Mum’s throat and she breathes it out of her nose because she is keeping her mouth shut to be polite. To begin with, the burps are great big long ones, like the sort Dad thinks are funny at the dinner table, and they seem to come from deep inside Mum’s stomach, but soon they speed up and begin in her chest instead and repeat themselves over and over again, one after another after another after another until they’re fast and there is a rhythm, like you get with drums, so you could tap your foot in time with them if you wanted. As each burp pushes itself up and out through Mum’s nose, her neck and chin move forwards and upwards and outwards too. It makes her look strange because it looks like her head and neck are doing a dance while the rest of her body just sits in the chair. It makes me think of chickens.

I want to run away from Mum when she does this; I feel a sickness and a sort of shame, which is for her but I feel it in myself as well, and I want to look away but I can’t seem to do it. I know I’m only young still but I’ve met lots of people and I’ve never seen anyone else get unwell with burps; other people just do one or two and then it’s all over, but this happens to my mum all the time. I don’t understand what’s happening to her and I don’t think it can be normal. Why can’t she stop? It’s very unladylike. Sometimes I even wonder if she’s doing it on purpose, but everyone else says it’s just the nasty devil doing it to her, and they’re all grown- ups so I suppose they must know. But it doesn’t feel like the right answer to me.

The room is now filled with the sound of loud praying as well as Mum’s burps, and the sounds are all mixed in together like this; Dear Lord, please cast the devil out from Julia…

Burp… Burp… Burp.

Save her from sin and show her your divine will Oh Lord…

Burp… Burp… Burp…

Forgive Julia, Father, and have mercy on her soul…

Burp…

And it goes on and on and on, and it feels as though it has been happening for hours, but I can see by the clock on the mantelpiece that it’s only really been happening for about ten minutes, and thank goodness, the worst of the burping has stopped now. This is a massive relief to me, but I’m still tense and on my guard because I know what’s coming next; the shakes and the tremors. It’s nearly always the same; one horrible attack by the devil ends, only to be followed by another one; a different attack, but just as bad.

So I’m not waiting long before Mum starts shivering and shaking from her head to her feet. She is still sitting in her chair with her back very straight and her eyes looking down at her lap, but her whole body is shaking and it makes the wooden chair wobble. Even her teeth are chattering; if she was out of doors people would think she was freezing to death and wrap her up in tinfoil. I saw that happen to someone once on television. It’s called hypothermia. The praying has stopped now and Auntie May has opened her Bible and she’s reading one of the pages silently to herself. Everyone else is quiet too and they all watch her, waiting for her to speak. After a few seconds, she sits up straighter and clears her throat.

I’ve got two scriptures, she says. Matthew fourteen verse thirty-one - ‘You of little faith… Why do you doubt?’ And One Corinthians two verse five - ‘So that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom but on Gods power.’

So now there is a lot of talking and murmuring as Group Discussion begins. Everyone has something to say except for me, Marcus, Aidan, and Mum; we all just sit quietly while the others talk about Mum and her demons and God. Something everyone seems to agree on is that the Lord our God is extremely angry with Mum, and he is punishing her by allowing the devil to enter into her body and have a Field Day with her. This is what the devil will do to all of us if we give him half a chance – he will have a Field Day with us. But if we serve God just as Jesus did, and live our lives in His holy image, then God will keep the devil away from us and protect us from him. It is only when we fail to serve Him and instead live lives of Sin that God punishes us and allows the devil and all his demons to get inside us. And everyone is saying the reason God is very angry with Mum this evening is because she Lacks Faith. This is a terrible sin.

They all talk for a while about Mum lacking faith, and then they decide that because God is too angry to answer our prayers this evening, the only other thing left to try for Mum’s suffering is the Laying on of Hands. Sometimes this is the only way to get the demons out, and it’s happening more and more often in our house lately. Dad, who is the leader of our group, has asked Uncle Eric to join him in cleansing Mum of her evil sins. They both get up from their seats and walk across the room to Mum, who is still shaking in her chair but it’s not as fierce as it was before; at least she doesn’t look as though she’s freezing to death anymore. She stands up on trembly legs and her chair is moved into the middle of the room so that there will be enough space around her for Dad and Uncle Eric to stand, and then she sits back down again. She has a strange look on her face and I’m not sure what it means but it makes me feel as though I don’t like her very much. It’s like she’s making a show of being brave and giving up both at the same time.

Dad puts his hands on Mum’s head and Uncle Eric puts his hands on her shoulders, and both of them look very cross and stern with their lips pressed tightly into lines and their straight backs and pushed out chests, and it looks as though they are going to tell my mum off, but then Dad stares straight ahead at nothing and his eyes look strange and his nostrils get bigger and he speaks.

Satan! His voice booms around the room making me jump. I command you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord to leave now! Be gone from this woman immediately.

I am frightened by Dad’s voice; it’s the voice of someone who can never be wrong and never be disobeyed because he is the most important and the most powerful man in the whole world. So it’s like God himself is in the room, disguised as Dad.

Next, it’s Uncle Eric’s turn.

I am commanding you Satan to leave Julia! Get out from your place within her body and be gone, Satan, be gone; your presence is not wanted here.

Just like my dad, Uncle Eric’s voice is loud, but it’s sort of squeaky sounding and desperate, as though he has just hurt himself, or he’s dying for the toilet. So his voice isn’t scary like Dad’s is because it just annoys people.

Together, they carry on with their cleansing of Mum until they are worn out from it and they believe the devil has left, and now Mum is only shaking a little bit, and so they go back to their own seats, and although Bible Study isn’t finished yet, Dad says it’s time for us children to go upstairs to bed. We’re already in our pyjamas because we had a bath straight after dinner, so Mum says to say goodnight to everyone and then she will come upstairs with us to help us brush our teeth and tuck us in to bed.

And so I get up and work my way around the group, starting with Grandma. She is Dad’s mum, and she’s very kind, she smiles a lot and she takes us out to the park when Mum needs a break, which is quite often, and she always brings apples and packets of mints for us to share. I think she is about fifty; that’s quite old, and she wears skirts with blouses and matching coloured beads around her neck. Her hair is supposed to be white but she uses a ‘blue rinse’ and so it’s a pale greyish blue. I don’t like her hair but I do like her.

Next I have to say goodnight to Granddad. Unlike Grandma he isn’t very kind and he doesn’t smile very much either. He hardly ever talks to me or my brothers and I’ve heard the others say he doesn’t like children. It’s probably a good job he doesn’t speak to us very much because I find it hard to understand him when he talks; he mumbles and has a broad Devonshire accent so all I can hear when he talks is Mm mumble mumble, owaarr oowah aarr. And then I don’t know what the answer is because I couldn’t hear him properly in the first place. Everyone on Dad’s side of the family has a Devonshire accent, but Granddad’s is much worse than everyone else’s. Mum is the only one in the family without the accent because she isn’t from Devon, she’s from London. She’s always telling me and my brothers to ‘speak properly’ like she does.

Auntie Alice’s turn is next; she’s Dad’s sister. She says ‘um humh’ when she talks. It’s very annoying. Auntie Alice doesn’t like me and I don’t like her. We’ve never told each other about this but we both know it. I don’t know why she doesn’t like me, but the reason I don’t like her is because she is mean and because she doesn’t like me, which is unfair of her because I’m only six. Auntie Alice is only a little bit older than Dad but she dresses the same as Grandma, and I’ve heard Mum and Auntie May say she’s ‘frumpy.’ I give her a kiss goodnight and she says goodnight back to me and it sounds like this; ‘Goodnight then, um-hum-humn.’

Next in line is Uncle Eric; he’s married to Auntie Alice. I don’t like him and I especially don’t like having to give him a kiss because he looks a bit like a ferret; -that’s the only animal I don’t like, and because he smells. I find it hard not to make a face because the smell is so strong; it reminds me of when Mum is boiling cabbage and it makes me think maybe he doesn’t wash himself or his clothes very often because the smell is on his shirt and on his skin, but Auntie Alice does all the laundry at their house and she never smells, so I don’t know what’s causing it. I might like him a bit better if he put on aftershave like Dad does, and I wonder why he doesn’t bother. It would help a lot. At least then I wouldn’t have to hold my breath to give him a kiss. I wish I had a peg for my nose. 

The last two people to say goodnight to are Uncle Thomas and Auntie May. They are not related to us but I have to call them Auntie and Uncle because it’s impolite for children to call adults by their Christian names. Uncle Thomas and Auntie May are much more fashionable than all the other adults. They look like people you usually only see on television. I don’t really get a good feeling from Uncle Thomas, but Auntie May is very nice and friendly to me, and she makes me laugh so I like her a lot. Other people say she is ‘flamboyant’, and I think she’s very glamorous and that I want to be like her when I’m older, but maybe a bit slimmer, and with smaller bosoms, because people stare at huge bosoms and I wouldn’t like that.

After saying goodnight to everyone, I go upstairs with Mum and my brothers, and once we’ve all brushed our teeth Mum tucks us all into our beds. Marcus and Aidan share the big bedroom at the back of the house. Dad hasn’t got around to decorating it for them yet and the walls are covered with flowery wallpaper with big, dark green leaves all over it. When no-one is looking, Marcus and Aidan pick their noses and wipe their bogeys on the leaves. I sometimes hear them whispering and laughing about it when they’re supposed to be asleep. I sneaked into their room once and did it too. You can hardly see the bogeys because they are nearly the same colour as the leaves. So far Mum and Dad haven’t noticed they are there. When Dad has painted the room, we won’t be able to do that anymore.

My room is very small and is at the front of the house. Dad has decorated mine already and I’ve got pretty wallpaper with little pink rosebuds on all the walls and pink blankets and sheets on my bed to match, so it’s a proper little girl’s bedroom and I like to keep it tidy so it always looks nice. I snuggle down under the covers and say goodnight to Mum, and then to Dad, who always comes upstairs to give us a kiss too.

I like the feel of the sheets on my skin, so I pull a handful away from the blankets and rub them between my thumb and my finger and then against my cheek. And I close my eyes and suck my thumb, but even though I’m tired I can’t fall asleep. I always find it difficult to go to sleep, especially on Bible Study nights and on school nights, so that’s most of the time really because Bible Studies are on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and I’ve got to go to school every day except for Saturdays and Sundays and Holidays.

I can hear them all still talking downstairs, and I wonder what they are all talking about now, but I’m glad I don’t have to listen and be part of it anymore.

I hate Bible Study.

Sometimes I wish we were still Jehovah’s Witnesses – the meetings we had to go to were very boring but at least they weren’t scary. I wish I could go to sleep and not think about all the things that are happening now, but a part of me wants to stay awake so that the time will pass more slowly, because when I wake up I will have to go to school, and thinking about that makes my whole body feel heavy and sick with dread. I would like to find some comfort but I don’t want to go back downstairs again while Bible Study is still going on because that makes me feel sick and heavy with dread too. My heart is beating too fast and my thoughts won’t stop and I feel panic and fear and I try to go to sleep and I can’t.

So I lie awake for a long time and then, at last, I hear everyone leave, calling out Bye now! God Bless! and See you on Thursday – God willing eh? God willing, ha-ha-ha! (That’s Uncle Eric), and when they are gone I wait for a couple of minutes and then I tip-toe down the stairs and back into the lounge. It’s just Mum and Dad now, sitting on the armchairs. The television is on and the dining room chairs have been put back where they belong and everything is neat and tidy and normal again.

They turn their heads towards me as I tip-toe in.

What’s wrong? says Mum. She looks worn out; like she has Had Enough for One Day and her patience has worn thin. I’m beginning to know what that feels like myself.

I can’t sleep. I say.

Dad looks at me with a kind expression.

Nasty dreams? he asks.

I nod even though I haven’t been asleep to have any dreams yet.

It’s just the nasty devil you know. He smiles at me, sorry for me.

I nod again and smile back. It’s very important to always smile back.

I don’t feel very well. This is true; I don’t. Hopefully, if they believe me I won’t have to go to school tomorrow.

Dad catches Mum’s eye and nods to her before speaking again.

Nice drop of brandy? he says.

I like brandy. I have it with hot water and sugar sometimes to help me sleep, and it makes me feel warm inside. Other times, I ask Dad to play music for me, because that helps me sleep too, and sometimes Mum gives me one of her Valium tablets. She takes lots of them because of all her shaking. I think they work the best for making me calm, but brandy is my favourite thing for bedtime.

And so Mum nods at Dad and gets up from her seat, and she goes into the kitchen to get me some brandy. She always does what he tells her to do.

Chapter 2

I know my life is very different to the lives of other people. I know this because I go to school and I play with the other children who live in our street, and I watch the way they behave and I listen to the things they say to each other; and I can tell

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