Exit and Support Network

I Was Abandoned by My Family

I'm the eldest daughter of a family that was in the Worldwide Church of God in Canada for decades. My mother joined in 1969 when I was 13 years old. I attended for a few months at my mother's insistence, along with my four brothers and sisters. I sensed deeply that it was wrong for me and one day I told my mother that I would not attend anymore. In my naïvety, I had no idea what that stand would cost me.

What I want to describe is the emotional anguish of someone who was abandoned by their family simply because I could not in my deepest soul believe what they believed. Intrinsically, I knew the WCG was wrong for me. What I didn't realize was that my family would cast me out because I did not believe. For 15 years my family would have nothing to do with me because their "family" was the "church." I was ostracized, unwelcome, and had none of the "normal" family contact. My mother told no one that she had an eldest daughter. I was never mentioned to anyone as a sister, and when I came to visit my parents at their home, they were embarrassed to receive me and couldn't wait for me to leave. I felt like a pariah.

Even as a 13-year old, my mother was telling me to move out of the house because I didn't belong to them. I had nowhere to go and I said that I would not leave until I graduated from High School. Somehow I survived the darkness of those five years. Looking back now I see I was probably clinically depressed. I spoke to no one, I had no concern for my appearance; there was nothing in my life except for blackness and despair. My parents had minimal contact with me and acted as if I did not exist. I suffered from nightmares and uncontrollable fits of weeping. All I could think about was the day I could leave home and reclaim my life. In June 1979, a few days before my 18th birthday, I left home for good with my entire savings of $400 and never looked back.

I always worked to maintain connection with my brothers and sisters, but the communication was one way for years. It wasn't until one of my brothers and his wife left the WCG in 1986 that we slowly began to reconnect. The rest of my siblings left at various stages shortly thereafter and little by little we have been building the relationships that we lost out on. My mother is in some offshoot today; my parents no longer speak to me.

I am angry at the Worldwide Church of God for taking my family away from me and angry at the 15 lost years that were stolen from me. I know that the anger is pointless and nothing will bring that time back but it all seems so useless, so unnecessary and so needlessly hurtful.

I hope that there are other people out there who can relate to this.

By Amelia - Child survivor of WCG
May 25, 2011

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