Story of Recovery: Rachel Weston

Hi my name is Rachel. I live in the Midlands in England. I was brought up in the Bretheren church originally. My dad was (and still is to this day) a pastor of an evangelical church.

The church I knew for the first ten years of my life was very formal. Head coverings were worn by woman and girls and skirts and dresses were "the norm". It was very boring!! I remember hearing a lot about satan, hell and damnation. We were not permitted to buy anything on a sunday. If a couple so much as kissed on the television, it was immediately turned off! and the cinema was prohibited! It was a very strict religious upbringing.

I used to go round telling the other children at infant school they would all go to hell if they didn't accept Christ (but quickly realised it was not the best way of winning friends!!).

When I was about ten my father started his own church. This church was much more lively but had its own set of problems. They talked about the "gifts of the holy spirit" constantly and deliverance.

I was a very troubled child as had encountered a lot of sexual abuse from a young age (this however, was nothing whatsoever to do with my parents). As a result of this my young head was quite "messed" up and my behaviour changed and I became quite disruptive at school. I was moved to a private girls school and my parents began to think my change in personality was due to demons. I was exorcised in the hope this would put an end to my problems. However, it made things far far worse. I was a very angry child. I was angry with God, angry with my father and angry with the world. I began drinking from the age of 12 and realised this was an temporary escape for me. I now have a drink dependancy.

When I was around 18 I made the decision to join YWAM. I think this was partly to be accepted by my parents and partly because it was an excuse to travel (I went to Africa trying to "save the world")
When I got back to the UK I discovered such hypocrisy in the church including church leaders in adultery and sunday school teachers molesting children and I made the decision to abandon my faith as I felt there were better people "outside church". My relationship with my parents was never without its problems but from thereon it took a "turn for the worse". Although I had rejected christianity I often suffered nightmares and thoughts about dying and hell. I felt partly relieved I had left but I still suffered the scars of indoctrination.

Years passed. I met my husband, had my children and then 3 years ago my husband lost his parents suddenly. I was vunerable and my dad wrote me a letter telling me I was "playing russian roulette with my soul".....I now realise this was emotional blackmail but at the time felt saddened by my mother and father-in laws death and was confused. I ended up being "drawn back" into the doctrines of my youth. I went on an Alpha course (I don't know if you have them in the USA - it is a introduction course to the christian faith ). I went with an open mind but ended up in debates with pastors and teachers over the bible. I noticed many discrepancies and there were things that just didn't make sense to me. One lady told me to disregard all my questions and "just accept Jesus". The problem with this that I simply couldn't.....and if I did, I would have been lying to myself!!

In my mind there are two types of people in these churches. They either tend to be born into the church from birth or they have had huge problems in their lives. These can include alcoholism, drug abuse, child abuse etc... Sometimes people are just lonely and because they have no family and friends they are drawn to these churches because they are desperate to "belong". It is quite sickening.

I have no intention to go back to the religion I was brought up in but am plagued by fears of hell, demons and dying. I have two children. They are 11 and 8. I have raised them to be freethinkers. If they choose to follow a religion one day that is their perogative. However, I refuse to indoctrinate them as I have been. It has caused me nothing but grief and heartache. Fortunately Marlene is counselling me via skype and is helping with to finally face my "demons". However, my demons aren't the ones I thought they were (as in spiritual entities connected to satan) but rather emotional scars from being fed this utter rubbish!!!