One big question I have is how much my dad was consciously aware he was manipulating people, and how much it was a kind of almost instinctual process.
It might seem odd to think that complex manipulation of dozens of people wouldn’t be conscious, but all through the time I was growing up I had this
feeling somehow. It is not rational, and yet it is strong.
There was something wolfish, wolf-like, and predatory about my dad, the way he moved, the vibes he gave off and just as a wolf hunts by instinct
rather than rational thought, something was driving my dad onward that was buried deep inside him, it wasn’t necessarily like he planned all this
stuff step-by-step as some moustache-twirling villain in a movie. The truth was more complex than that, although its subtle. My dad’s manipulation
seemed casual, almost absent-minded or off-the-cuff at times. I’m not sure I’m conveying exactly what it was like, but when I read about
“natural” sociopaths I get a chill up my spine. Born human predators, psychic and social dominators. Do they do these things without thought or
plan on some level? I can’t help but think so.
As the slippery slope continued, I’m sure my dad was living partly in denial about what he was doing. He repeatedly writes in his diary how he has
to get money for the good of everyone, not himself; how all the others are too helpless to cope and it is up to him to provide for them, etc. He had a
fear of losing money, which fueled his obsession with it. And yet his total control and manipulation cannot be explained totally by a concern for the
community and by fear. Heck, maybe it can’t really be explained at all this way. It’s debatable. At any rate, alongside whatever fear and sense of
stewardship he had was something uglier and more manipulative, and it came more and more to the fore as time went on. This was not a static situation,
it got worse as time went on.
This might be a good point to talk about my own childhood. Up until now I have given a birds-eye view based mostly on my dad’s diaries and writings,
plus my conversations with older people. But what was it like day-to-day growing up? A lot of you have conveyed well-wishes and concerns for my own
safety growing up, and I thank you for your thoughtfulness. Child abuse, sexual abuse, was rampant in some other cults at the time, but I don’t
think, to my knowledge, any of the children were sexually abused. We were hit and locked in closets if we misbehaved, and our every move was
obsessively controlled, but this was no worse than what happens in many secular families. I suppose our minds were warped in lots of ways as kids just
from growing up there, but I don’t want to give the impression it was hell for me as a kid. I was treated especially well because I was a child of
the leader, and there was something very nice about growing up with so many women around, it was like I had lots of aunts and mothers! There were
plenty of childhood wonders, lazy days splashing in the creek nearby or playing with bugs, lots of fun reading quietly. We didn’t have any access to
the outside world, and as time went on we were taught to hate and fear it. This was warping and damaging in numerous ways, I’m quite sure.
But personally, overall, I feel like I did not suffer as much as others. I think those who suffered the most were the adults, and especially the women
who were gradually forced into behavior that was distasteful to them. Although my dad did not teach that sex was sinful, he knew how to use people’s
internal shame and guilt against them. Getting the victim to torture themselves was his specialty.
Some of the observant among you might have noticed I stopped using the term “commune” and started calling it a “compound” in the last post.
This is because the change in words reflects the change in what the community was all about. Next I’ll talk a bit more about this change, about the
increasing separation from the outside, the sense of paranoia, and other changes as the 1980s unfolded.
edit on 3-1-2012 by Never Despise because: (no reason given)