Book Review: Inner Course by Rebecca Joy

innercourse

 

I was a bit hesitant on this book because of the nature of the stated cult that the author grew up in, but I went on another one of my tangents in my reading, this one being a “spiritual/meditation” type one, so I jumped right into this book.

There are no graphic descriptions of sexual abuse, and it really didn’t trigger me.

That being said, I did have to look up “The Family” after the first chapter they were mentioned just because I couldn’t believe that something this vile was still allowed to exist.  I’m all for religious freedom, but “religions” like these really give atheists ammunition for the banning of all religions.  As much curiosity as I had about their way of life, I am truly grateful that Ms. Joy didn’t focus her memoir on her life in the cult.  I feel serious rage on her behalf.

Here is the synopsis:

Rebecca Joy, a sensitive, emotional female was raised from birth in the sex cult called, “The Family” (aka The Children of God), leaving after 25 years. Now, hopeless and longing for love she searches for acceptance in this scary, new world––but to her “love stinks.” She never understood love, as in the cult her flesh was the only thing to offer in life, as she was a sex object to men. In her search for love outside the cult she experiences intense pain. She realizes she can no longer live life this way. The decision was made to either swallow a daily pill to subdue her roller coaster emotional ride, or open to the unknown to find who she really was and why she suffered. With desperation and a curious mind, she delves into the world of hypnosis, finding clues from hidden, ancient mysteries on how to heal her heart and mind. Her story is one of inspiration to all people who have experienced hopelessness, rejection, and failure in life only to rise again.

This book has the distinction of being the MOST HIGHLIGHTED by me, ever.  No fewer than 23 passages were highlighted.  And I’m usually not one that marks up a book, even if it is electronically.

The focus of this memoir is Ms. Joy’s all encompassing appears to be a quest for love.  Her struggles with relationships after she leaves “The Family” at age 25.  Like other survivors of sex abuse, regardless of their origin, she has difficulty with self-worth, boundaries, and expectations.  Time and time again in this work she captures these issues with a few phrases:

If I had boundaries, they were blurry.  A man that I did not know wanted to stay at my house.  One one hand, I was thrilled with the idea of love, romance, and excitement, but on the other palm, I felt uncomfortable with a stranger in my nest.

I am afraid to offend the offender.  What if he leaves me because I don’t give him what he wants?

My self-esteem was non-existent, deeply believing:  I am nothing, I am worthless, no one could truly love me, my body is all I am good for.  My needs were intense; my heart crushed.  I was vulnerable and heavily guarded.

The parts regarding the cult absolutely ripped my heart out.  With regards to religion, I have no allegiance.  I’m more “spiritual”.  I guess I’m starting on my journey much like Ms. Joy in this book.  But I never really grew up in a church.  I went to Catholic school, but my parents weren’t particularly strict about it.  I have always been free to make my own determination.  So these passages that feature her young teenage years in “The Family” hit me really hard.  I have no frame for it, and it was very emotional for me:

“I wonder what live would be if I were not born in The Family”, I questioned–but now ashamed of questioning my question. “I know–I know, I shouldn’t think this way!  The Lord is going to be angry with me.  I’m supposed to be a missionary and tell the world about Jesus”, as I try to change my thoughts, “But how much I wish I could have a like like other girls in the US, away from all this boring life–work, witness, make money, childcare, housekeeping and whatever the adults tell us to do and how to be.”

I remember the many years in The Family, men would approach me for sex.  David Berg taught his followers that women’s job were to please men.  Women were to take care of men’s needs.  It was well ingrained into the doctrine.  I followed as I was instructed, believing that if I were to do what we were told, that we would be happy, loved and fulfilled, but it didn’t work out that way.  I became confused and hurt.  I would cry when a man would use me and leave me, wishing that maybe one day I would be loved.  I longed for closeness and depth.  They would prey on my weakness.

As much as the passages of the doctrine of the cult haunted me, and Googling the actual cult itself, Ms. Joy’s personal growth and steps to finding her inner peace soothed me.  I have always had an interest in  hypnosis, and I infrequently meditate myself, but have never formally looked into it.  That may change.

The ending is perfect.  I think I would have felt cheated if it ended any other way.

Again, with most memoirs I read, and one of my favorite memoir writers can attest to this, I wanted to know more.  Mainly about her son and if she was able to keep him out of The Family, as I am assuming that he father was a member.  More of a mother type curiosity than anything else.

I still can’t believe that these types of cults are allowed to operate, but my husband pointed out, its “religious freedom”.  Which brings me to my final quote from this amazing book:

A religion is an organization in which the individual goes outside of oneself to find meaning.  Spirituality and/or mysticism encourage individuals to go within themselves to find meaning.  Religion requires structured, organized beliefs for people to follow along.  Spirituality and/or mysticism can break that belief system in order to find a greater freedom.

I love books that make me think.  This book did more than that.

Very well written, even with the back and forth between her journey into spirituality and her time in the cult.  Very deep and emotional.  Overall and excellent read.  Highly recommended.

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