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Shellon

Expressions of Freedom

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It's with a strange mixture of grief and relief that I can tell any of my story with a sense of freedom and with a hope of expression that makes some sense, maybe for the first time in 11 years.

I don't know my story as especially unique or different from so many others, but I do understand the fear and anxiety at it's telling and I am proud of the validation that I own now to accept what is my responsibility in my life and what has always been but compliance and manipulation.

As a woman, I've been only willing to stand up on but one foot, allowing the other to drag back or behind me in some inability, in fear, in desire to not want to hurt others.

I could teach a class in martyrdom and acceptance of what others shove in my face while putting on the front of strength. With understanding does come freedom, but with that freedom comes understanding that now one has to actually do something. Or, for me at least, the complaince, the acceptance of servitude, the laying down of my heart will be a way of life again.

I am a mother of daughters; Samantha is 27 years old and Kelly is 14. I have raised them to be strong, verbal, scrappy, put their heart and guts down for no one. I have insisted, demanded, even, that they speak their minds and be interesting and intelligent about it. The first time I held each of them alone, just she and I, I told the brand new infants that no one is to stand in their way, no one is to tell them they can't. I have raised strong women to believe that if they allow such abuse of their souls, they'll have to contend with mama.

I am a hypocrite.

I met the man that would be my husband when I was 17 and he 16, one of my brothers was going to twig in my future mother in laws house and my brother would come home chattering about this amazing thing and I needed to go with him and it's wonderful. Perhaps introducing me to his 16 year old friend was to make it more attractive to attend. That failed and it didn't matter anyway since my brother stopped going soon after and I never heard another word about it. For five years when a series of events put the man and I together again; a perfect storm kind of meeting and one month later I had loaded up my infant daughter and moved across the country to be with him; he was to become an amazing father, my husband and the man with whom I'd journey through the maze of a ministry that, while giving us much opportunity and experiences, would literally pit us against measures of pain and loss unlike either of us had dreamed. Worse, we'd lose each other more, until literally in one final afternoon.

My first twig fellowship was not even presented to me honestly; we were invited to dinner at the people's home and immediately following supper, twig began and thus began my walk through manipulation and lies, thus began our lives together as a couple "in the word" in a ministry that thrived on people exactly like us.

It was not the first time I would keep my mouth shut when I knew I should scream. It was not the first time I went along with my man when I knew I should investigate whether or not he'd lost his head, it was not the first time my child suffered at my hands of going along to get along, at my compliance, at allowing everyone else to direct our lives. The pain lay in knowing every single day that it was wrong, that we were very possibly in danger, I could just never figure out what the danger was. I just knew it was real and living in our home.

"Do what you have to do, keep your mouth shut and never ever argue" My understanding was that even if we were standing on the edge of the ocean and a raging wave were about to consume us, I would be the one that would see it first, likely, but I would say nothing about it.

Then it happened, the moment of total and absolute selling out of my soul to an organization that clearly would never have the best interest of me or my family in mind. Maybe the only question that remained was who would pay the bigger price; me and my husband, our marriage, or worse, our children...........

Edited by Shellon
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:B) I just love your story Shellon. And all of us have faced our own version of these issues if we were all in, in TWI. :eusa_clap:

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Thanks, Jeff, I'm excited to tell more of it. Fix your popcorn, prop up your feet and hang on.

And yes, agreed, we all have our story; I love that part even more than considering my own.

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I'm ready to ride.

YEEEHAAAH!

(p.s. I remember how those puffed up TWIts called independent thinkers cowboys....ya know?)

Yippee Ki Yay M___ F___'s (just my little expression of freedom, hehehe)

Edited by JeffSjo

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biglaugh.gif Yeah, I love that one ~!

Your support is ever welcome and appreciated, babe. I have no doubt I would not be at the place of telling any story were it not for that.

Edited by Shellon

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Bob's entire family was involved with The Way International Ministry; all siblings and spouses, mother and step dad; a large and wonderful family. By the time I came into the picture, I think two family members had had the original Advance Class. I was immediately signed for Foundational PFAL, which started in about a month. This class didn't alarm me in any way and in fact neither did the fellowships.

I had been raised with parents involved in several Fraternal Organizations and our family had often attended events for same. I had already attended college classes while yet in high school, I was a finishing school grad and I often took part in service oriented meetings and classes; this wasn't alarming to me in any way. Volunteering wasn't foreign to me, nor was looking for ways to better myself.

I had my oldest daughter already when I entered this relationship and a paternity suit had been underway since the man who would later be titled only her sperm donor had made decisions that didn't involve being a father. Bob suggested I drop litigation and he'd be her father, an idea I happily agreed to upon our move. He would later adopt her.

PFAL started with me eagerly sitting in the front row in the winter of 1982. The living room was a deep forest green color, the chairs were the color of wheat with the feel of cold concrete.

Edited by Shellon
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Somewhere along about Session 4 or 5 my baby got very sick. The kind of sick that a mama knows needs more than a baby tylenol and extra naps. Something was bad wrong and even as a still new mother, I knew it.

I was talked into leaving her with a young sitter of about 12 years old every night of PFAL in favor of learning more about how the adversary was just tricking me, how I needed to just believe God or how she would, certainly, be just fine since I was taking this class. We couldn't get home fast enough as far as I was concerned so I could do what I should have been doing for the three or four hours prior and take care of my baby.

The strife in our home was palpable as I insisted the child needed medical attention and others stayed on their assigned course of making sure I got it through my thick head that God would protect my baby if I but attended "His" class; I would see it if I only stayed committed to what I'd said I would do.

My integrity has most often been the only thing I have and it's always been a huge deal to me to never ever say I'll do something if I can't, never ever say any words I don't completely mean and the assault on this was painful. I had said I'd take this dumb class, I had said I'd see it through until the end (no matter what), I had said I loved God and wanted to know Him better, I had agreed that this foundational class would also be a great foundation to my life with this man.

It would be the first of many times that I would counter in a conversation with "yeah, but" as we argued the points of what was more important to me or what I saw as a massive hemorrhage pulsing in the background about to explode and drown us all.

While no one was looking I took my infant child to a doctor. His words of "what has happened to this child" affirmed what I, of course, had known as he explained that her intestines were shredded and she was maintaining no nourishment, was severely dehydrated and her small body would not sustain whatever was happening to her much longer. Somehow I convinced him that we could not stay overnight in a hospital on an IV, but we could hang out for part of the afternoon. Those were hours of contemplation of 'what have I gotten myself into' coupled with alot of 'I'm sucking at this first time mother thing' ending with 'I have to get out of this'.

There was that pesky keep my word problem.

Once it was revealed that I had stepped outside the cover of the protection of my man and the household who was so fervently and faithfully believing God for the child and my finishing PFAL, there was alot of shi+ splatter that didn't necessarily have anything to do with my daughters intestinal problems.

As with any new couple, especially a young couple, we needed to get to know one another, we needed to be alone once in awhile, we needed to have time to talk about things other than a religious organization or some dude in Ohio. What we got, instead, was alot of lost sleep discussing how I needed to finally understand and why was I already a trouble maker in the household and how it looked bad for him that he couldn't keep me in submission to 'what the word said'. I didn't know at the time that he was getting his azz kicked about me.

We had been together only 3 1/2 months, after only 1 month of long distance relationship via postal system and telephone. It was 1982 and no instant messaging on the computer, I didn't have a phone, so a neighbor ran back and forth when he called. ( I think we still owe that women about a zabillion dollars)

I was 23 years old, he was 22. We were but kids playing a very grown up game, not knowing each other, we were raising a child and trying to figure out how to find our own footing amongst the already laid prints of others.

So they made us responsible for others' lives by making us twig coordinators.

Edited by Shellon
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Great story please keep it coming.

I really enjoy learning where people come from and what they overcame..

copenhagen

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Life settled into some form of normal as we figured out how to live together, learned more about each other, worked on parenting skills and found out we were very good at helping others.

To stay full time involved with Samantha, I took a job in a local Day Care Center so that she could attend the same center while Bob worked in Concrete Construction and we somehow mostly paid the bills.

We called those our "bean and tator days" since mostly paying the bills was more of an oxymoron of sorts. We kept the utility shut off wolves away and we kept diapers and cheerio's in the baby's tummy. There was a time of using the curtains for diapers and showing up at friends or family's homes at supper time. Our first Christmas was someone else's discarded holiday lights taped to the wall in the shape of a tree and we wrapped up things the other already owned. Later that would be known as our most fun Christmas in it's love and simpleness and there was never really a holiday as tender as that one was.

On the outside, on our fellowship face, we were the beautiful couple, the unique couple who found each other when we shouldn't have and were a great example of strangers learning to love each other, while raising a child. A love story that others loved to tell and we had to strive to maintian.

I don't want to make it sound like love didn't live in our home; it did. The difference was that it had to grow too fast without the benefit of time to consider alot of things necessary before making life decisions. And we were spiritually responsible for those that came to sit in our living room three times a week to hear such important things as what God wanted for their lives. Did we even know what God wanted for us?

Being in the position of twig coordinators wasn't hard in the sense of giving to others, listening and hoping to facilitate change and growth for others and perhaps it put us into the position to grow up fast our own selves.

I know we eventually grew into that, but until then we maintained a 'fake it 'til you make it' front that sometimes was even funny. Had you entered our litle apartment for fellowship, you would have been welcomed heartily, loved and cared for and we would have shared some bible stuff with humor and simplicity.

It wasn't that it was fake, it was that we had no business leading any other human into such crucial things as what God wanted for their lives, their families, their health, their marriages, what to do to raise children properly.

On the job training at it's best.

Bob North had his hands full. I got fired for hiring a male stripper for my boss in the church where the day care center was held, I put a dent in his beloved Camero, I fought "leadership" at every turn when I didn't agree with some new instruction or plan, it was the beginning of my finding what TWI called the "bottom of the bottom" when I searched out the homeless, the thrown away, the most pained and painful, bringing them home to hear this amazing Bible we were teaching. This was also the beginning of gynecological health problems that would plague our lives every single day.

I just could not seem to be "trained", I just could not seem to stay in submission and let my man lead, I just could not seem to understand that a wife is supposed to be a helpmate; simple support staff.

Oklahoma was a common law marriage state and I had taken his last name already without the benefit of ceremony. It was one of two major lies we were living for the good of the ministry, for the good of the cover.

Then we sort of got caught.

Edited by Shellon
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Somewhere in this journey, my youngest brother graduated from High School in our home town in Michigan and wanted outa there; we invited him to live with us. I was fully aware by this time, even in 1983, what TWI thought about homosexuality, so we discussed the possibilities of "how much trouble might we really get in, really, if we gave my gay brother a place to crash.

At that time, none, it was a non issue for the most part and the two men in my house came to an agreement that both could live with and I was thrilled to have my brother there; we'd been very close since his birth and I had been missing him terribly.

It was a short lived arrangement when events brought Bob to believe that his future brother in law wasn't keeping his end of the deal and my baby brother moved out, but happily for me, stayed in the area. It was also the beginning of my brother and I, and my entire family of siblings and parents finding creative ways to stay in touch yet beyond the reach of TWI's control. This, too, would be the standard pattern until my husband's death.

My family knew what I was involved with and worried terribly about me, but offered, later "you were a grown woman, what could we do?" and they talked amongst themselves often. I'm sure they were as happy as I to have my brother in the general vicinity to keep an eye out.

I didn't do the required witnessing to my brothers or parents or any extended family; I never wanted them involved and believed the less they knew about what I was doing the better and less for them to discuss. My brother that had gone to Twig several years prior was the only one that had even a shred of information and it was enough for him to tell the rest it was "bad". He and I never discussed it beyond that.

Since our marriage lie had somehow been exposed to the area leadership, we were approached with a family spokesperson and told "you need to get married, don't you think?". We figured what the he!! and I received a proposal of "so you wanna?" to which I replied "sure, I guess we should".

Romantic huh?

Then we moved again, this time from Oklahoma to Arkansas, but the move happened only about 3-4 weeks prior to the wedding date of October 27, 1984. This was a date that was settled on only after changing it countless times to accomodate everyone else. We'd have been just as happy to visit the courhouse for a few minutes.

I was getting too good at packing our junk in a weekend and fast taking a house, any house, just to have a roof over our heads. I didn't understand until about 4 months after that move that it was all taking a serious toll on too many things. First I had to show up for a wedding.

Edited by Shellon
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When I was 14 years old, I tried on my mothers wedding dress for some reason and determined that I wanted to wear that gown for my own wedding. She'd worn it when she married my dad in 1955 and it was a simple and beautiful gown that her mother had designed and made with her.

My grandmother, the seamstress of the gown, traveled with it to our house two weeks prior to the ceremony to do any necessary alterations and to assist me with the wedding plans. I was never so thankful to have her since we had about 20$ with which to pull off a wedding.

Ok, we had a smidge more than that, but not much. We'd made our own invitations, we'd secured a venue that would let us hold ceremony in one end, lose a partition and do some food, drink and dance in other end in exchange for Bob pouring the owners patio slab. We did flowers out of colored kleenex, we decorated very creatively with borrowed things and my grandma purchased a modest and lovely cake for the bride and groom. A sister in law had just gotten married, so my Matron of Honor already had a formal gown to wear, from that wedding. My parents and one brother penciled the date in.

Then somewhere in the process I lost complete control of the proceedings, the vows were TWI vows, the music was from TWI, the seating and guests were only TWI.

I wanted us to write our own vows. Out numbered.

I wanted a soloist to sing a song I'd written for my groom. Over ruled.

I wanted to understand the salt covenant before I made any promises that involved my words being "salted" and death being my only option in it's stead. I didn't get a vote, we'd do them, I didn't have to understand them; it was the TWI way of doing things.

At every turn, our ceremony was taken over, until I finally just said "tell me when and where to show up" and removed myself from the planning. I recall a bachelor party, but have no memory of an event for the women, which likely would have been silly anyway since we'd only just moved there and the only women I knew were from area twigs.

I did shop for, and purchase on my own, our two year old's dress but was in trouble when it wasn't a miniature wedding gown, rather a simple toddlers dress and I was allowed to keep her out of the ceremony as flower girl. I didn't want her in the wedding, I wanted her somewhere in the room, playing and getting into things she shouldn't be getting into; one of us was going to have a party, at least.

The Limb Coordinator, ordained so as to perform weddings, refused to marry us because of our big 'ol lie about already being married, so we hit the yellow pages and found a Methodist minister who happened to have that evening off, if we'd meet with him to answer a few questions, which we did and we answered "worldly" so as to get him to show up and sign the document. We were able to promise to never lie again so that the Area Coordinator would do the salt ceremony.

Til Death Parts Us.......

I sobbed through the entire ceremony and most of the reception.

Edited by Shellon
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We left our wedding and spent our first night as a married couple crashed in a local hotel in front of some Karate movies. Not that I'm averse to the martial arts or watching them on the tv. And we'd been living together for 2 years by this time so it's not like there was a whole lot of discovery or disclosure that needed to be done. Samantha was with my parents, who were leaving the next day to head home.

We didn't have time nor did we need to do anything more than resume our lives, but legally now, which was nice. I had never had any disagreement about marrying the man, that was never the problem. The problem was that marriage vows were serious shi+. VOWS! ya know? I had no business saying such crucial words to anyone, no business promising anything to the man; what if I really didn't mean them, what if he didn't, what if.....

Two weeks later we were given as a gift a weekend in a very nice resort for a more proper honeymoon and while neither of us really felt that necessary, we did like the idea of an entire weekend alone for a change.

However there was some communication breakdown somewhere and a young family member ended up with us for the weekend. We never did get any specific time alone except for an occasional night when our child attended a sleep over; I regret that. Vacations were in August at the Rock of Ages with thousands of other miserable people.

I wanted us to take part in the Word Over The World program and the sooner the better as far as I was concerned. We had to go somewhere and be on our own and understand about taking care of us, nurture our marriage, just have a conversation without consideration for so many other people and I saw the WOW program as the answer.

I was the only one ready to take that step at that point. So, instead, I left on my own.

Edited by Shellon
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I understand, now, that I was but screaming for what I considered normal marriage, what I thought we should be doing, what I thought it meant to be married and parents. I'm afraid presenting the question to Bob will never be an option but I do wish I had said something then like "is this what you really want, is this your idea of a young couple striking out in early marriage and raising a child together, really?"

I didn't.

All I can do is but understand where I was and how I felt and how it all hurt us, put me, at least, on the road of denying reality in favor of playing nice to avoid confrontation. So not my style.

My grandmother used to say, if I got myself in a mess "Shelly (only 1 or 4 who ever got away with THAT name) It's your baby, you have to rock it"

I had every intention of rocking this baby while smiling and looking on the outside like I had it all together, I was a fantastic wife and mother and come hell or high water I was keeping my word, holding fast to my vows and possibly even coming to some understanding in my own heart to the place that I could be happy.

But.....as with most things bad, it surfaced again and again and yet again, of course. I think Bob knew his new bride was unhappy, knew we were in trouble with communication and sharing fully of our hearts and he did try to get to my heart, get to an understanding of how to best help me. I didn't feel like I could say it any other way than what I'd already been doing, I didn't feel like I could possibly get him to believe the reasons for my unhappiness and I certainly could never figure out why he seemed to be so freakin' happy with what was making me so miserable.

Feeling repeatedly like I was not being heard, not being considered, not being valued, not feeling important to this man who had make his very own promises and even beginning to feel a shred of regret at my own, I could only experience betrayal and hurt.

I felt like anything I said in response to his "what is wrong, you've got to tell me" would only be against TWI, a ministry that he so obviously loved and was proud to serve with, as well as my reality that I had not a clue as to how to possibly offend a man's family with whom he certainly had more history and background and I was still the new kid. And a problem child, no less.

I failed to understand why God would give me a voice and then I would be rendered mute.

Edited by Shellon
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I failed to understand why God would give me a voice and then I would be rendered mute.

Yeah, but now we understand it was NOT GOD who was rendering you mute babe.

Let er rip darlin..... :dance:

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You are correct, Jeff, that it was NOT God, no indeed. My struggle was 'then who the he!!' If I was a good wife, a good mama, in-law, daughter, sister, neighbor, then why were the benefits not evident? As we sow, so shall we and etc and yada.

I understand now, of course.

Part of a large struggle in telling this story is that it feels alot selfish and I'm not totally crazy about telling the story of my marriage and life in TWI when the other half of the story is dead and can't give his version, can't say "wait, you left out....."

Hurt and blame isn't my goal.

The other side of the story is that Bob did not cause me harm, I know this. He did love me, he did want to do his best, he was an incredible father, a hard worker. He, like you and me and all of us, did what he knew to do with what he had.

There was no violence in our home, our children never went without meals or warmth or love, there was great laughter. We rose every morning and did what we did and did so "heartily unto the lord" and put head to pillow at night feeling like we'd done our best, had hopefully hurt no one, our daughter could respect our choices and tomorrow would be another to do better where needed.

I do give the man credit for trying, like we all did, like anyone confined to oppresive atmosphere's might. He was a good man.

I hope it communicates that this is my story, not necessarily his.

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You've told me you loved him and he loved you, and just let anybody try to take you to task on that one....just saying....

But I know that loving someone doesn't mean things were always good or that people weren't misled, didn't understand, or didn't make mistakes.

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I carried on, day after day, a stay at home mom, spending my time with our toddler, taking care of our home, preparing for fellowship, seeing to the needs of those in our fellowship if necessary. It wasn't a pained life, it was just a life that didn't fit, just like those new shoes. But for me, personally, no matter how much I tried to break them in, the blisters and sore feet were evident; it was my life. Acceptance was the problem for me.

Not long after we'd married, there was discussion of moving again, not even a year this time, from the last relocation. Something in my heart sank, something in my soul gave way again, I had grown up in the same little town, attended the same school and lived in the same home my entire life before leaving it as an adult; the normal for me was that we give children a home and let them grow up in it, the end.

I left Bob. I put myself and Samantha on a bus and headed back to Oklahoma where my baby brother was and planted my azz, refusing to move. 'Come get me if you want, but you'll waste a trip, I aint leaving, I can't do it another second'.

Stupid move, plus there were those vows I'd recently said out loud in the name of God, making promises about 'in any situation, under any condition' and I'd already bailed?! I was a failure at this keeping my word thing, I'd hurt my husband deeply and while not wanting to move our little girl yet again, I'd uprooted her from her home and father and moved.

I wasn't running from Bob, I was running from the intense involvement in our lives, in our marriage. I wanted to run TO something. Something like quiet and privacy and a place to think.

Being reminded of my strong views on keeping my word, not being willing to say anything I didn't dam* well fully intend to do, he and I agreed that where he was is where I belonged.

I went home, we moved and I tightened the screws a little more on my mouth.

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Two moves and one year later, one evening the conversation of going WOW came up again, this time it was not my own idea and we agreed that we'd go. I was never so thrilled; we'd get away, get out, get on our own. August was 7 months away and I began planning the next morning.

Our assignment was The Valley in Connecticut, consisting of three cities; Ansonia, Derby and Shelton. I was most happy with this placement and our matched family was another young couple with a baby, 9 months old. Our Samantha was 4, this was perfect ~!

We had had much discussion in the previous two years, even with life being tenuious, about having another baby. Something about our being married prompted it more, which seems silly now, since I was not married when Samantha was born; maybe that was part of the point, I'm not sure. I also didn't care. I loved being pregnant, I enjoyed the process of childbirth and I wanted us to have a child. Two years later and still no baby, but "it will happen, we have to just keep trying and be patient".

We were fully aware of the several times I'd been diagnosed infertile and the uterine problems I lived with, but so what, a 4 year old was running around that told us the doctors don't know everything.

We landed in Connecticut in August of 1986 and put together a home with the other couple, the guys worked, my wow sister volunteered alot and I was fully content to be the stay at home mama, taking care of my 4 year old and their toddler; life was as good as it had ever been. I'm not sure we kept our committment in the wow program of witnessing the required hours, we never put a PFAL class together. And being in a larger city, now I had even more access to those folks that really needed healing and some truth and some assist; there were many more bridges in our area, many more projects housing, much more despair; that was my calling, I was sure, in terms of helping and facilitating and teaching.

The smile returned to my face, my heart lifted to a place of content.

I got pregnant.

I believe, still, that getting away from family and the living up to others' expectations not only lifted my heart, but also lifted our marriage to a place of more relaxation and comfort; we were more secure in our figuring out out own stuff, we had to. Thus, this gave us the room to relax about conceiving a child.

There was much excitement for a very short amount of time until the Limb Coordinator of Connecticut got wind of our new little addition and what it would mean to our committment to move God's word over the world, the added stress on our WOW family, our marriage (he had NO idea) and when explanation of my past health issues gynecologically surfaced, concern was 'what if something goes wrong'? What about the due date being right around the same time as the next Rock of Ages when we were to return to Ohio and brag about our amazing year of saving souls and growing so much? Was I willing to sacrifice so much for the other three adults in the home for my selfish desire to be a mama again?

My arguement was, of course 'what if everything goes right'. Wasn't this a ministry where we did some kind of believing in God for health issues, weren't children a gift, wasn't it a joy for a couple to bring forth that fruit? Other couples had their newborns with them when they received a litte royal blue pin and a sash across their body, I promised to be low key about the whole "mess I'd made".

Once again, many others were very involved in our marriage and our choices and our future and meetings happened, WOW coordinators got involved.

I went along with everyone's decision that it was not in the best interest of the WOW program, our family and the high concern for potential problems.

I did not have the baby.

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Would you like to share how that affected you darlin?

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Sometimes, no, honey. Other times I want to figure out a way to explain the agony of that decision even while complying to what others said was best for me and my family, not to mention others' lives that I never felt accountable for and still don't understand why I should in regard to me and my husband having a sweet baby.

Not to even mention that at this point, it would be another 9 years before we would conceive again......

I was as hurt as I'd ever been and as angry. But what really scared me, at that time, was that I was not confused, maybe for the first time in my involvement in TWI. I understood 1000% what they wanted me to do and why and in some sureal twisted manner, clarity was refreshing.

I had no moral issues at that time regarding abortion in terms of 'I'm killing a baby'. That is not to say that I was ok with it either.

And finally there was great concern that I was taking this action and given my reproductive problems there would be something else physically that would happen and I'd mess things up more in that regard and have to live with those consequences.

I wish I'd stuck to my convictions and had that child. What could they do to me? Would it have destroyed my marriage?

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The thing about the possibilities is that considering them too much can only lead to frustration or despair.

I know that this thing had huge ramifications for you and your family darlin. And as you can imagine, I think that many others have made the same choice. I know you are not the only one who was pressed to do the same thing.

I personally know two women who did while under the influence of RRF's guidance.

The one that was my roommate said it was because of all the pressure of the last days and she had mentioned the scripture in the gospels that says, "Woe unto them with child, that give suck in those days....". And her husband, one of Barnard's so called "prophets" seemed to me that his major qualification was that he majored in buttkissing.

so IMO no matter the how and why of it for each of us it seems the people suffer their leaders errors while the top dogs try to escape accountability. I hope that situation does end soon....sigh.

Many, many people can relate to what you are sharing babe.

Have I mentioned that I am proud of you? :eusa_clap: Well, I am.

(a little content added)

Edited by JeffSjo
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The rest of our WOW experience was exciting and exhausting with other health issues among us. A child with Spinal Meningitis, a broken limb (but not as broken as the Limb of Ct. rolleyes.gif ), a fellah that wandered into our lives to attend our fellowships and then the cops showed up right in the middle of manifestations to arrest his sorry self; he'd been setting fires in the area, calling them in and as a volunteer fireman, going to assist in putting them out. Another twig attendee's brother killed his wife, came to twig, then went from our house to the cops to confess.

It seemed like we were forever getting middle of the night phone calls with one crisis or another, but those are the kinds of things I loved and we were very good at dealing with that stuff for some reason; maybe because it was others' crapola and we could ignore our own under the cover of 'we've been so busy!'.

I personally spent alot of time dragging a preschooler and a toddler around looking for the lost then convincing them to come home with me for a meal, some of the guys' clothes, a shower. Gives me a thud in the pit of my gut when I consider whom we either allowed into our home or I brought home like an abandoned puppy.

As the year drew to a close, Bob and I made the decision that because he had such a great job working in Asphalt and I loved the beautiful New England area, we'd stick around another year. We secured housing for just the three of us, enrolled our daughter in Kindergarten and hit the highway for Ohio to be recognized for our brilliance and Christ like actions.

Then three family members moved in with us, a corps couple arrived that had serious control issues (I know, big shock eh?) but bigger than that was I, at least, knew the male part of the two preferred the male of our species. This was also during the end of the worst of the POP stuff going down within TWI and for some reason, I was the contact when former leaders wanted to spread the word on the field.

Unfortunately I listened and heard what they said without the benefit of discussion with my husband for a long time. The information was pretty juicy and since I was hearing it from a few close to the actual action, in it's fascination, it really only served to confuse me further.

I believed them but what was I going to do with the information? Not a damn thing, that's exactly what.

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With my daughter's enterance into the public school system, I found my landing, something I was very good at. I became classroom mom, I attended and assisted with all the class parties, I became familiar with the system as it contributed to my child and the Advocacy fire began to smolder.

I found I could not possibly care less about TWI or fellowship or the problems in the guts of the organization if I tried really hard, and I didn't.

This second year in the beautiful Northeast was frought with family as housemates issues and many meetings given the clusterf*ck that was exploding throughout TWI; I just found that I could alienate myself further and more comfortably since now I had some place I fit. No one could possibly take this away from me, I was valuable there and I got to hang out with the coolest people on the planet, kids.

I now understood that I could relate to God, I could share in fellowship on something I actually believed in, I fell into motherhood like I hadn't in the five years I'd had the title. Happiness and I had become aquainted.

Time to move again......

We returned to Arkansas where Bob quickly and easily secured another job in his beloved Concrete and I found a job as the Manager of the Apartment Complex we lived in. Perfect arrangement for at home work, dive even further into my child's education and feel better about strangers in and out of our home looking for us to teach them something about the Bible.

We had a small problem, however. Our first grader was going to school with Bob's last name simply because no one had asked us to see her birth certificate and we'd not told her about her biology.

This was our second, and perhaps biggest, lie we'd lived. There were no plans to tell her, or anyone, anything.

For first grade in Arkansas, they did want to see her birth certificate.

Uhoh.

We had discussed Bob adopting her a time or two but had done nothing about it and it was such a non-issue for us; he was her father, a piece of paper with something in the 'father' section wasn't going to alter that.

At that time, listing paternity for birth certificate purposes wasn't a legal requirement and that place was blank on hers. So we typed it in and went about our life. The problem was this pesky little problem I have with keeping things up front.

We contacted an Attorney, took the necessary steps of trying to reach her sperm donor to give him one last shot at rising to some occasion as a father, to which he, of course, didn't reply and he didn't secure his own attorney to argue another man to parent and love her as a father in a manner she deserved.

And TWI wasn't involved in this, which I loved! Of course we'd not told anyone about her paternity and it was never a discussion; Bob was her father.

We stood in front of a judge who didn't need to meet or talk to the child and he hit the block with his gavel after ordering Bob to care for and love the child as if she had been his child from conception. A new birth certificate was ordered, the records were ordered sealed and while it would remain a lie to Samantha for another 23 years, we didn't have to live in fear of jumping through any hoops where anyone else might be concerned.

I had regularly kept updated on her sperm donor, where he lived, etc., in the event the child ever needed a kidney or I needed paternal health information but that was the only connection to our world he had. Except for her dad's insistancy that she never ever EVER be told that he had not been her dad since conception; it became, eventually, the only significant thing we disagreed on.

I understood his point that it wasn't an issue, I had no problem being right beside him that he WAS her father, I had no arguement with the man. What I didn't like was the lying part. I was sure someone who didn't love her would tell her something and we needed to just tell her; she'd understand and it could be a total non issue.

She had never known anyone else as her father, she was just 8 months when her dad entered her life, why would she NOT be comfortable, why would he NOT be natural about this. He was her father as much as I was her mama. And I had never before known a happier or better daddy.

When we showed her pictures of her in the delivery room and she said "where's dad?" we said he was taking the pictures. But we'd do that with any pictures of her as an infant. She was very young at that point, but come on, she'd eventually at least ask questions, why not just get it out there.

He asked me to promise to never (ever!) tell her anything different and I promised him, gave my word, made a vow to the man I'd married and was raising a child with that I'd never (ever!) blow our family secret, that I'd continue to carry this lie.

For him, he took it with him when he died.

Edited by Shellon
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I wish to express something very important in this story.

I don't want, in any form, to suggest that my inlaws were anything but wonderful people. They got caught up in an organization like you and me and you and you, or your family member or your child.

There was much love and laughter, there was much fun and activity and I have missed them. I've come to understand that when there is a death, it's not that uncommon for the loss to include further seperation of lives. When that is coupled or compounded by such massive influence of those that are believed to be authority figures or who want to be believed as knowing what is best for others, pain and more loss are inevitable.

It's not been my choice that, since I left TWI in 1998, the seperation(s) took place. I certainly, for my children's sake, would have had it so very different.

In this life, we have to make difficult decisions, we're too often given choices as to whom we give our allegiance, I get that. While they have made theirs choices, I have had no choice but to respect them. And, of course, make my own.

What I do regret is the loss to our children, on top of the loss of their father.

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