This is a very difficult project to explain. So difficult, in fact, that it has taken almost five years for me to even begin typing these words…
I think the simplest way to explain it is this:
When I was in college, I joined what I can only describe as a religious cult. I was in this group for almost five years, finally managing to physically and emotionally leave and break ties with almost everyone in my community when I was twenty-five. I left a completely broken person. I left behind people I cared about–some that hurt me, others that I hurt significantly.
I have spent the last five years trying to unpack this time in my life, burying myself in graduate work and activism, trying hard to undo what was done. I have spent five years trying to make sense of what happened and why it was a part of my life. Was it my fault? Did I imagine it? Was it really that bad? Was it worse than I remembered? What actually happened?
And then I started talking to others like me who had either left the same group or groups like it and realized that I was not alone in my experience. I was not alone in my trauma, hurt, and anger. We would meet up to talk every once in a while, joking that our stories were so unbelievable, they almost sounded like a movie script or a book…
And that is how I ended up here.
This writing project is my attempt at not undoing, but actively doing. I want to write as an exercise in healing and transparency.
This is a memorish novel project–combining my story with those of loved ones, weaving together our truths into a fictional narrative that is no longer just one story, but hopefully tells our story.
On a technical note: this will not be a fully edited project. There will be errors. There will be flaws. I just want to get it out slowly. My hope is to center it around the young adult/new adult narrative, since that is when/where I lived it.