Night sweats

So they are back. Or they were back last night. Let’s not make this a regular thing please.

I’m more and more convinced that work is keeping the anxiety at bay. I had a huge deadline at work to get a few reports done, so I spent all last week and most of the weekend totally lost in the intricacies and complexities of community issues. I loved it, grappling with and arranging the information into coherent conclusions, in neatly colour coded tables with carefully cropped illustrations. Loved it. Focused, sharp, on a roll.

Finished at 5pm yesterday. Felt a bit weak and headachy, of course, so I curled up on the sofa with my love for a lazy evening. Having kissed him goodbye for his night shift, I settled in for an early night, but realised I was feeling a bit wierd, some sort of uneasy. So I double checked the doors and appliances, switched off everything I could, and put some nighttime music on to get to sleep. Which was fine. Until 1am, when I was suddenly wide awake with a cough, which triggered the requisite instant spiral into anxiety.

Really? I thought. Is this Coronaphobia again? From one cough? The surge of heat was the same, the sweating burn all down my back.

Seriously? What do you need, body? I haven’t got time for this, I need to be up at 6. Why so flipping hot all of a sudden? You want one layer less? How’s that? Duvet off, weighted blanket on, what combination do you need please?

I drank some water, cooled down a bit, rearranged my pillows, put the nice delicate sleep music back on and instructed my errant limbic system to let me sleep now please. But by then my stomach had joined in.

Ooh, we’re doing anxiety?

No we’re not, we’re doing sleep!

Well I think you’ll find…

Fine! To the bathroom then. Impressively quick response there, guts.

I know right?! (My guts were pleased with their result.) By which time I was shivering again.

I turned the fairly lights on – if I’m going to be up all night I’ll have pretty lights thank you – and managed to arrange just the right configuration of duvet, hot water bottle and pyjama sleeves to reach a manageable temperature, and did a search for the soporific sound of Mr Kabat Zin on YouTube.

I got back to sleep eventually, allowed myself a lie in till 7, but what a surprise, I was trembly, weak and wobbly all day. Made it to midday, checked my reports were on the website – all seven of them – and asked for the rest of the day off.

And now I sit here and look at my anxiety. What exactly are you trying to achieve please? I’ve stopped taking you seriously because I know your tricks now. You only show up at night, when I’m on my own. You attach yourself to a cough, which is a sneaky way of making me think you’re here for something else, and you never, ever show up when I’m at work. Even during the crippling debilitation of my worst ever full week of wretching panic attacks, my body calmed itself enough for the few hours I was at work, before resuming in the form of violent shakes of breathless terror as soon as it got dark.

It’s like a child smearing jam all over the table while I’m right there in the kitchen. No don’t do that, I say, exasperated. And the child just grins and keeps doing it. No, you need to stop it, now! The kid shakes her head, giggling, knowing she can get away with it because Daddy’s not here.

I know what you do, anxiety. You wait till I’m on my own, till I’m not doing anything important – you wouldn’t dare interrupt my actual job – and you flood my body with those pesky messages of fear when you know I’ll have to listen to them. Well I’m telling you now, little girl. You can stop it right now and clean up this mess because I don’t have time for this tonight.

Here we are at bedtime again. I’m ready with the music, fairy lights, a range of blanket options and my cosy hot water bottle. I’m ready to look her in the eyes and say, not tonight love. I have not got time for your games tonight. I’ll take you for a walk tomorrow before work, so if you want that very precious bit of outdoors time, you need to let me sleep now.

Alright?

Thank you.

7.20am. I slept so well. But woke up now with that familiar full body exhaustion. I remember this, once I stave off anxiety there’s three days of feeling utterly wiped out. This is how I wasted so much of last year. Several days filling the darkness with TV until the fear went away, then a few more days of either knocked out fast asleep, or struggling to find the energy just to sit up. It will pass.

But what I came here to say was that I had a dream just now. I have a recurring dream of screaming at church members. Usually for nothing, usually they don’t pay attention, usually I immediately regret it. This morning’s dream was similar: I was at a church event, and our martial arts teacher was training us for a special project which I discovered was to euthenase his wife. She was fine with it and it was all out of love, he explained. But I was furious. I screamed at him and the class the truth, adding, ‘How dare you teach these 12 year olds these little karate chops to get them to do something that they will regret for the rest of their lives?! What the actual F***!’ The teacher stood there apologetically, and the kids nodded and wandered off.

This is different from the usual dream because they listened to me. I was coherent and correct, and I stopped the bad thing from happening.

In the next scene I was part of a ballet production similar to Swan Lake, in which I was one of a cluster of black swans that gather in a circle, and as the music – ‘It must have been love’ – reached its key changing chorus, we all lay down, fanned out, to reveal the emergence of the glorious, beautiful black swan. She was standing on a table (it was an amateur production) in her exquisite plumage of black and deep teal, an emblem of immense power and triumph. I was grinning with the utter bliss of being part of this spectacular moment, looking up at my fellow swan shimmering in her aura of beauty and elegance, surrounded by the love and support of her circle of Swan sisters.

So what’s that about?

I’d like to think it’s some breakthrough in my subconscious battle with my fears, complete with some closure about the church, combined with bits of TV from last night, but either way, I need to get up now if I want to try to go for a walk before work.

Some Post-Cult Resources

So something about Covid, Lockdown and the fact that we’re all a few years out, has resulted in a recent collection of resources. I consume them avidly, and am always adding to my collection.

For me, and anyone who’s interested, this is what we have so far. Send me more if you have them to miriamzaccarelli@gmail.com

Podcasts

FALLING OUT – a podcast by Elgen Strait – A podcast about leaving the Moonies and other cults, as told by the kids who grew up within them.

GROWING UP MOONIE – a podcast by Hideo Higashibaba – In Growing Up Moonie Hideo asks people he grew up with what their childhoods were like and shares his struggles to make sense of his weird sheltered youth and the person he grew up to be.

THE GENUINELY INTERESTED PODCAST – Roy Bent Zvi- An interview with Teddy Hose an award-winning animator and filmmaker, designer, and storyteller of multiple mediums and I had the pleasure of speaking to him for an hour Teddy was on Vox’s Explained, A&E Cults and Extreme Beliefs and other programs where he discusses the life he lived being born into the Moonies cult.

GENERATION CULT: Episodes with Teddy Hose and Lisa Kohn including Moonies But Don’t Call them Moonies

Meet the Moonies – Andrew and Akina Cox

Videos

BLESSED CHILD – The Documentary – More than a decade after leaving Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, filmmaker Cara Jones attempts to finally break free from the religious movement that dominated her childhood in an attempt to unpack the legacy of the decisions her parents made while challenging assumptions – hers and ours – about clts and family.

FAITH Y3N – Youtube channel – Faith Yen is an ex-cult member from The Moonies Cult. Learn about mind control, brainwashing, quantum healing, mental health care and more right here. Faith Yen is extremely serious and doesn’t ever tell jokes because laughter is the Devil’s ringtone. Giggles are not of God.

TEDDY HOSE.COM –  Teddy has been featured in ViceUPROXX, and notably A&E’s Cults and Extreme Belief and Vox’s Explained on Netflix for his research on cults, after growing up in one. His insight into this issue informed his writing as a contributor for The Huffington Posta comic for The Nib, while also contributing writing to The Bold Italic and McSweeney’s.

THE HALFIE PROJECT – Youtube video where we discuss the possibility that the Unification Church has had an impact on how many mixed people, primarily mixed Korean, there are around the world today.

BEYOND BELIEF: BBC – Ernie Rea and guests discuss how the Unification Church is coming to terms with the death of its founder the Rev Sun Myung Moon. 2013

Blogs

REBUILDING MYSELF FOR MYSELF – Instagram Account – A journey about rebuilding my life after growing up in a cult saturated with narcissists.

Leaving the Unification Church – Reddit

Articles

From growing up in religious movement ‘The Moonies’ to starring in ‘The Watch’, Marama Corlett on her remarkable journey – Glamour Magazine, 2021

I grew up in a cult — and there is nothing more intoxicating than knowing you have the ‘Truth’ – Lisa Kohn, Insider, 2018

Dark side of the Moon: How megalomaniac Moonie leader built a billion-dollar business empire through sinister cult – Daily Mirror article 2012

I was a Moonie Cult Leader – Steven Hassan, 2012

Followers begin to see the Dark Side of the Moon – The Irish Times, 1997

Books

TO THE MOON AND BACK: A Childhood Under the Influence – a book by Lisa Kohn

IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOONS: My Life in Rev Sun Myung Moon’s Family – A book by Nansook Hong

HEARTBREAK AND RAGE: Ten Years Under Sun Myung Moon – K Gordon Neufeld

HOLY CANDY – Why I joined a Cult and Married a Stranger – A book by Yolande Brener about joining and leaving the church

WHY I LEFT THE MOONIES – A book by Beth Axton

THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOONIES: A book by Erika Heftmann

Day 19: Nature

How lucky that we’re in Wiltshire, where bits of gorgeous green countryside are never more than a ten minute walk away.

I hadn’t realised, until I spent a year in a second floor flat, just how much I require the outdoors. I’m sure all of us do, but maybe, for those of us that live in the countryside, it’s just a part of our lives enough that we don’t realise how essential it is until it’s gone. Until we’re told to work from home and stay indoors and ration our outdoors time. I don’t know if the lack of a garden last year contributed to the anxiety, but the panic attacks did start three months into my gardenlessness.

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The New Year starts on the 10th doesn’t it?

I’ve long ago stopped pretending that I could make any new changes to my life on January 1st. Even in a Lockdown, new years day happens in a strange time of disorientation, alcohol and chocolate.

Then the first Monday could count as a new start but the first week back at work is a bit messy and muddled and you’re still putting away Christmas.

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Day 18: Mindfulness and meditation

This title has been sitting as a draft article here for three weeks now! I felt like I couldn’t write about it until I had some magical meditational breakthrough to write about, until I realised that’s not happening any time soon. What has happened is a sudden explosion of community related tasks in the run up to Christmas so that my job has completely – happily – engulfed my time and I have found myself running about the town on various missions of festive frivolity that I have had no time for anxiety, and much less time to explore ways to overcome it.

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Day something or other: Dance!!

Oh my days. I did not realise that I have not danced for more than a year! We just had a staff zoom meeting, which was really positive. Because my love is fast asleep after his night shift, I have taken my meeting as quietly as possible in the living room, with headphones on. After the meeting, since it was so happy and productive, I found I was smiling. To keep that positive feeling while tackling the many tasks discussed, I thought I’d put a happy tune on to accompany my work.

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Day 15: Laughter

My research is proving to be more and more fun! In my alphabetical adventure this one is next. I don’t need to list my sources of hilarity this week, as there are a million entries for ‘comedy’ on youtube that you can access at anytime, which I recommend doing because as we all know, laughing makes you feel better. After an hour or so of any of my heroes of hilarity like Sarah Millican, Eddie Izzard, or James Acaster, I can actually feel the difference in my relaxed muscles, improved breathing and general lightness about my shoulders.

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