the honest truth

Due to some recent life-changing personal events, I have been inspired to share the truth about myself.  It has been my experience that sharing my feelings only leads to hurting my feelings, which, added up over time, equals a very wounded and distrustful heart.  I am now finally ready to begin moving beyond my secret life of fear.  I want to share what has gone on this last year that has been so crucial to the survival – or more like birth – of my happiness.

Thirteen months ago, my husband and I began seeing a marriage counselor.  Our two-year marriage had been standing on its last leg for several months, and we knew we needed help.  She is a Christian counselor, which I was very hesitant about for reasons that become apparent as I talk about my experience with Christianity.  However, she seemed to take the news well that I wasn’t sure I believed that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life,” so we continued to meet with her.

It didn’t take long before it became apparent that I had a LOT of issues to work out personally (who knew?), so I began seeing her individually in addition to our joint sessions.  And that is when I began to cry.  A lot.  I’ve been crying for 12 months (and I’m still not done), mourning years of hurt that I never knew how to acknowledge.

My most recent breakthrough is in regards to a year of my life that I have not readily shared with new friends.  I sought out this year for spiritual growth and training.  I left with hurt to last me a lifetime.  For the whole of 2003, I was part of a cult called Teen Mania’s Honor Academy (HA).  I recently scribbled into words some of what went on while at the HA and the effect that year has had on me.  I was asked to submit my story to a recovery site for HA alumni:

Part 1

Part 2

This Recovering Alumni blog has been a phenomenal resource for healing.  The community that has surrounded this blog has provided affirmation for my experience, that I’m not the only survivor who sees the detriment of this organization we were involved in.  Seven years I held in my story, thinking I was alone.  The fear instilled in HA interns has paralyzed many from speaking out.  Finding this haven to speak out has been powerfully restorative.  In finding my voice, writing out my story and publishing it for others to hear, I let go of so much pain and confusion.  I shook off the hold that Teen Mania’s leaders had on my life and stepped out in freedom I haven’t felt in years.  The change has been so tangible, so stark, I find myself still in shock of the lightness I feel having this weight lifted.  Even my worry of what others think of me has broken away, like that tendency has long been connected to my HA year, and now I have the confidence and excitement to truly be myself.

7 thoughts on “the honest truth

  1. It must have taken a lot of courage to share these thoughts with all of us. I am proud of you for being brave enough to sort through these experiences. And I am inspired by your spiritual journey towards a more honest understanding of God.
    I didn’t go through anything nearly as crazy, but definitely identify with many of the teachings ” I can be the best Christian ever” and how misguided and selfish they are.
    I spent a good many years being frozen by the fear that I wouldn’t live up to that expectation that I would be the best Christian girl, or a “minister” or whatever else I thought people wanted me to be.

    Anyway, I appreciate your honesty.

  2. It’s been an exciting month (and year, for that matter) to be with you as you discover this freedom – to see the weight of spiritual and emotional abuse be lifted from your back – and to see you smile with a sense of Eleutheria. Posting this here, where friends and family can read, might have taken more strength than posting it on RA’s blog. I’m so happy to be walking with you as you journey through this process.

  3. Lauren, thank you so much for being so brave to share this story!

    I’m so sorry for what you went through. And I’m angry that they treated you and many others this way.

    You’re very courageous to open up and share, and I’m proud of you!

  4. I agree with Ang…I didn’t go through near that craziness…but have grappled with what my beliefs are.

    I’m happy to call you friend…I admire your openness and willingness to share with others. Your posts on the other blog are certainly helping others.

  5. what an unfortunate self-prophesying name: teen mania.

    as i’ve gotten distance and perspective on church and christianity, the one thing in your story that struck me most and seems to be the one thing hammered on the most is that the fault resides in you as the person. doesn’t matter if you’ve tried once or a thousand times, the problem is with you as a person and not with the system. you just have to keep trying until you’re perfect.

    which is crazy.

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