The Ghosts from Mama’s Club

I am currently writing a sequel, The Ghosts from Mama’s Club. The book is an autobiography of my life after Bethel, and it prompts the question, “So what are these ghosts?” In my story, they are dysfunctional behavior patterns, residue from the time spent in a highly controlled religious group. These ghosts can be toxic and debilitating roadblocks to a full, happy life after leaving the Club, if they’re not identified and exorcized. They are:

  1. Prodigious amounts of misinformation acquired wittingly/unwittingly.
  2. Constant guilt due to thinking one is not pleasing God. This occurs when old religious fears are not properly cremated.
  3. The loss of cognitive thinking skills, an inability to think for oneself.
  4. An insatiable need to have other people or groups do one’s thinking.
  5. The inability to articulate well-thought-out religious/philosophical beliefs.
  6. A potentially unhealthy attraction to high-control fundamentalist groups promising God’s truth & the correct interpretation of the Bible.
  7. The inability to tolerate the insecurity of anything outside the sphere of physical science and a person’s conscious experiences.
  8. A need to control other people. (When you’re abused, you can abuse)
  9. A lack of self-control related to sex, alcohol or drugs.
  10. The inability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time.
  11. Black and white thinking, as answers were always found in the WT.
  12. Difficulty understanding that the only things a person can control are one’s beliefs about events, people, circumstances, etc.
  13. Difficulty assimilating into mainstream society due to JW phobias.
  14. Stuck on constantly blaming the organization for robbing the best years of one’s life and unable to acknowledge one’s duplicity.
  15. Obsessive time and energy spent on projects intended to topple the organization. (Expose them, yes. Toppling them isn’t going to happen as JWs fill a market niche for people in need of heavy-duty structure.)
  16. A propensity to underline in ink key points in magazines and books.
  17. Suffering persistent shunning by JW family and friends. (For many people, this is the most brutal ghost, and can be severely debilitating.)

I believe the most invasive of the ghosts is misinformation. Shedding “things a person knows that ain’t so” is a very challenging task. It requires cremating old religious fears. It may take years. But it can be done. If I were to leave the organization today, my recovery plan would include reading the following six books, in this order, and here’s why:

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A Modern-Day Princess in Sheep’s Clothing

A True Story of a
Once-in-a-Lifetime Adventure in Reno, Nevada

By Richard E. Kelly (Erika’s Papa)

It had been an exciting three days for Ruth Waalkes at the American Sheep Industry’s annual convention in Reno, Nevada—a pleasant break from the day-to-day routine of cooking and cleaning. It was a special place for someone with a lifetime passion for sewing. For Ruth, a professional seamstress and one of the top sewing instructors in west Michigan, this was a golden opportunity to meet sewing peers and see up close state-of-the-art practices in how woolen clothes were being designed and sewn.

But that wasn’t why Ruth was attending the convention. What had drawn her here was an event that would be staged on Saturday, an event that a seamstress grandmother could only dream about. Her granddaughter, Erika Kelly Waalkes, was a contestant in the National Finals for Make It With Wool contest in the Junior Division. She would be competing with thirty other contestants, ages thirteen through sixteen, all first-place winners from their home states. They were here to model dresses, skirt-jacket ensembles or coats they designed and sewed, and awards would be presented at the end of the show.

The contestants had been sequestered for two full days away from family and friends while they attended workshops, shared stories with peers, and were introduced to the latest in sewing machine technology and pattern software. They had also met with custom sewing designers, sewing experts and fashion merchandisers—the six judges—who would inspect and critique the clothes they modeled on Saturday.
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