A NEW PERSPECTIVE: Life After Watchtower
My au pairing adventure came to an end roughly about a month ago. I can honestly say that it has been one of the most life changing experiences of my life.
My personal journey as an au pair happened to coincide with my exit from a high control organisation which many may refer to as a cult. During this time of immense self-discovery, as well as discovery about the world so far removed from the cocoon I’d grown up in, I’ve had moments that have filled me with so much joy and gratitude to be alive, but I’ve also had some internal storms that come with exiting a cult. From my change of worldview, to dealing with being shunned by precious loved ones, I’ve had to work hard to fix the proverbial rug that’s been pulled from under me and stand on my own two feet. I’m sure you can imagine what a balancing act it’s been trying to deal with my own personal struggles while trying to be the perfect au pair.
Having come from an environment that controlled my interaction with outsiders and poisoned my mind against those who didn’t share my beliefs, au pairing gave me the opportunity to live with two host families and dispel these misconceptions I’d previously held. I was fortunate enough to have families who understood my personal struggle, let me talk about it whenever I felt overwhelmed, and encouraged me to focus on how to move forward.
Around the kids I tried my hardest not to let my issues get in the way. In my first host family, the kids were old enough to look after themselves; they didn’t really need my help that much, emotionally and otherwise, so I had plenty of time to fall apart, have a longing for my loved ones who were now shunning me, do research on different cults and then quickly pull myself together before engaging in my duties as an au pair. In my second host family I had 18-month-old active twins who demanded a lot from me. Throughout the tantrums, diaper changes, refereeing (their fights), playground visits, loving hugs and sweet smiles, I gradually found my mind being occupied less by my personal struggles and more by Pippi Longstocking and Sheep the Shaun.
I got to share in some very special celebrations with my host families. On my birthday, my first host family woke me up to the Swedish version of the happy birthday song, served me breakfast in bed and spoiled me with some lovely presents. That was my first birthday in 16 years. We also celebrated Easter and Midsummer together. My second host family introduced me to my first Crayfish party experience. All these celebrations were joyous occasions that brought us together and we all had a wonderful time.
Both my host families encouraged me to go out there and meet new people and engage in different activities. I’ve danced some nights away like no one was watching. I’ve had some lovely chats about every topic under the sun with awesome girlfriends who love me unconditionally in cosy cafés. I’ve gone for solo walks in the woods and stared at nature with eyes full of wonder and appreciation.
Speaking of the woods, I’ve been kissed passionately by a gorgeous Dutch guy who made my heart skip a beat and made me feel incredibly special. To an average person, these are normal activities that some people take for granted, but for me, having been deprived of such pleasures for such a long time, I took everything in with a renewed appreciation for life.
Of course it hasn’t been all moonlight and roses. During this time of self-discovery and meeting new people, I’ve trusted and been hurt. I’ve had some disappointments. But I’ve learned from those experiences and become stronger. I refuse to let negative experiences get me down. Breaking away from mental slavery has given me a new appreciation for life, and being an au pair has helped me on my journey to freedom.
(The original version of this article appeared on the authour’s personal blog)