I want to write something of significance and import but the thoughts that have arisen recently that made me laugh or feel something else have deserted me. So, what’s my trauma?
Could you classify being brought up within a cultish organisation a trauma, or is that not sufficiently affecting? At the time I didn’t see it as a cult or even notice very much how my life was different to everyone else’s, probably because everybody’s life differs from others in many respects. But as I grew older and it became more noticeable how weird my life was when compared to most other people’s of my acquaintance, it began to feel more confining and unpleasant.
Apart from the meetings which I was made to attend from the age of six, where we listened to lectures on philosophy in the context of eastern mysticism, there were the weekends spent at various country houses. Actually, I slept through most of the lectures, resting my head on the person sitting next to me, waking only for the mid-session break when sandwiches and tea were available.
The weekends at country houses were tortuous. We were accommodated in dormitory style places in groups of eight or so, and woken before dawn to perform PE in the half dark, followed by breakfast and then meditation. On most days we were made to work in the grounds alongside the adults of the organisation, this was interspersed with calligraphy classes where we learned to write Sanskrit characters, for reasons that are still mysterious to me.
The teachings of the organisation derived from books such as the Bhagavad Gita, there was much talk about a Hindu model of the world and how the ancient teachings were valid in our lives. If this seems sketchy then remember that I was a child at the time.
The group were experimenting with bringing children into the teaching and I’m not sure if it was considered a success. My parents had both climbed to dizzy heights within the set-up, being lecturers and assistant lecturers, this made them part of the inner circle and privy to the person of the leader. All cults have a leader, don’t they? I have heard that this leader person had a coterie of women from the organisation that took care of him. He was quite old even then so I don’t think it was a sexual thing, but who knows, it could well have been. I’m not sure what qualified him for his position, or what makes any cult leader the person for the job, it seems like a pretty easy task though, a job for life.
I used to attend the meetings once a week, they were held at various houses in central London, Knightsbridge, Kensington, Notting Hill, Bayswater. Large, impressive houses which were rented by the organisation, and on the alternate weekends when I wasn’t away I attended a Sunday school in a huge house in Hampstead.
Why am I doing this, running over the same old ground and finding the same old fears? Well, at times I feel as though I’m possessed by entities that are not me. In certain situations I react to stimuli that are not present and it occurs to me that there are two, probably more but let’s go with the two obvious ones, possible reasons for this. First, I’m possessed by something that makes me behave in a way that makes me feel guilty and sick to my stomach, or I’m just running through an old programme that isn’t relevant to the current situation. Let me give you the most common example of this: when I’m organising my kids to go somewhere, and I’ve arranged it so there’s plenty of time, and the consequences of being late are extremely minor, I’ll start to get a feeling of panic growing inside me. Then, before I’m even aware of what’s happening, I’m angry, and shouting at them. This happens very often, not invariably but nearly. My conscious mind can see it isn’t appropriate to the situation or necessary, I am aware that it makes everyone nervous and upsets them, but it seems impossible to stop. Sometimes I’m observing from outside and feeling completely separate from what’s happening, other times I’m absorbed in it and unaware.
This thing used to happen to me at the Sunday school organised by the group. If I arrived late I would be made to stand at the front of the class, with all the other kids watching, and hold out my hand. The person would then ask me why I was late. At this time I was seven or eight years old, maybe nine, I forget, but I was not in control of the vehicle that brought me, nor was I a responsible adult with self determination. My point, it wasn’t really my fault I was late. When I said something about leaving home late, he’d say that’s just an excuse, what’s the reason, and hit my hand with the PE shoe he had for the purpose. This went on for a while, I never found the right answer. It was humiliating, painful, and really scary. My parents were, presumably, aware of this treatment and were ok with it, it should have been them standing there, after all, it was all their fucking fault.
I wonder if this is why I’m so scared of being late. Writing this makes me feel sick, it’s fifty years on now, I’ve looked at this so many times over the years and it’s still there. I’m still punishing those around me for my parents delivering me late into the care of those brutal cunts. That’s some trauma, something that evokes such feeling after so much time. Probably permanent damage, I think. Small wonder I’m a bit angry at injustice and abuse of power.