It was dark when I got up this morning. As I left the bedroom and headed down the steps, I remembered: "It's a rule. schuckardt said you cannot go down the steps without turning on the light." I turned on the light. I didn't turn it on because HE said I had to, but I turned it on so I could SEE! And, then I got to thinking about all his rules. SO. MANY. RULES. Why? If you look into cults and how its members are manipulated, BINGO! It is only common sense to turn the light on when you go down steps in the dark. But, by making it a rule, he controlled one more little aspect of our lives. Sometimes, I am quite rebellious, even now, and I just hold onto the hand rail and go down without turning on a light! I'll show him!
On another occasion, I was making garlic toast to go with dinner. Since it was quite the task of getting dinner ready for so many nuns, I forgot about the garlic toast that was under the broiler. It was only the matter of a minute or so, but it burned. Again, the Reverend Mother came through just at that time and told me how wasteful I was being, and that I would eat nothing but that burnt toast till it was all gone. That took me a few days. On top of being punished like this, there was always the humiliation that went along with it. Everyone could see that all I had to eat was burnt toast. You didn't talk about it. You just did it. You deserved it. I don't really remember feeling sorry for myself, because on any given day, it would be some other poor nun who "transgressed" and felt the wrath of the Reverend Mother.
There were others who were, shall I say, less compliant than I. I won't mention any names. I know they read my blog, and I absolutely love them. I wonder why I was so full of fear, and they weren't. It wasn't until years down the road that I learned how some of them would sneak off into the garage, where all the goodies were stored, and have themselves a party. I applaud them now. What balls they had! I was so terrified of doing one wrong thing and thus suffering for eternity in Hell. You guys know who you are, and I just love your spirit. If you are so inclined, share a few of your stories. I would love it.
Someone asked me yesterday if I was still finding it helpful to write this blog. I said yes. Some of the memories stir up feelings of intense anger at the way we were treated. Others make me smile at the friendships that were formed back then that have never been broken after all these years. I am saddened to think of the cruelty some of my friends and fellow nuns endured by being subjected to humiliation and ridicule by their superiors. And, when I am done, I am proud of how far I have come, and the woman that I am today.
It seems surreal that in a short while, Bernie and I will fly back east, join my sister and her husband, and board a cruise ship for a 12 day cruise out of Baltimore. Back in the day, I would never live to see this phase of my life. I was sure of it. Not a doubt about it. And, so, yeah, I get a little emotional at what a wonderful life I have had in spite of the experiences of life in a very crazy cult.