On Saturday 4/25 Khalsa Council asked 3HO second generation-ers to come forward to the council and tell them about our experiences. They held a zoom meeting that went on for about 9 hours, no breaks. I sat in for about a third of it.
Bearing witness–to even a short segment–has put me in Fight or Flight mode once again. No sleep. Disassociation. And so much anger I can barely think.
What I say to Khalsa Council is this:
It is because of your choices that we experienced neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and spiritual abuse, coercion, manipulation and control over almost every aspect of our daily lives. For us, to re-tell it is to re-live it. All of it.
You have put us here. You have set this up. You need to know that people are risking their safety and mental health by speaking to you and coming forward. We don’t want to be doing this. What we want is to be safe in our homes tending to the immediate needs of our families and all the things Covid-19 demands of us. We want to be taking time for our own self care.
Simply put, the manner, and format of this – investigation in perpetuity – comes across as a slapdash effort at best. It us – the SGA’s – who are aware of the risks and drawbacks in participating with this unstructured and unsupported format. We are acutely aware that – even after each and every one of us spills our guts to you – that it may still mean nothing.
So be reminded of this: It is because of our generosity of spirit and our moral courage that we share our stories with you in spite of the rushed, condensed, highly charged and unstable manner in which it is being conducted.
It is us that are doing you the favor, not the other way around. We know the pain. And yet we push on. Respect that.
Let me make this this clear: the following scenarios that pertain to our abuse are the only ones available to each and every one of you:
The first one is this: You knew of the abuse. And you chose to do nothing. You did not protect your child.
The second one is: You knew of the abuse. You tried to voice your concerns to your yogiji, and he shut you down, told you to stuff it. And then, you chose to stuff it. And then, you chose to do nothing. You did not protect your child.
The third one is: You had no knowledge of the abuse. Your child was six thousand miles away from home and you failed to look into what their life was like there. So you, the parent, chose willful ignorance. You chose to do nothing. You did not protect your child.
The last one is this: You participated in the abuse. You actively abused a child or you passively enabled or encouraged the abuse of a child. You are an abuser. And the fears and willful ignorance of members of this institution enabled your crimes which you committed and for which you still have not answered to the law.
Here we are today, forty years after some of the oldest of the second generation were being swapped around, shipped off to boarding school, ordered to marry strangers, and god-knows what else. That’s forty years and still counting.
I have been telling my survival story and listening to my cohorts’ stories for at least twenty-five years. I’m literally feeling like a broken record. This pain and traumatic stress has been fermenting, settling, getting stirred up, fermenting again, settling, getting stirred up… on repeat, over and over. Every time this happens, it is re-traumatizing to our bodies and it ruptures our carefully rebuilt sense of self, the work that we had to do all on our own.
So no. It is not restorative to do this. It is not cathartic. It is not palliative.
It is torturous.
I’m beginning to wonder if that is that the intention, Khalsa Council. To torture us? To keep us in a state of suspended trauma and grief? To prevent us from living our own beautiful and secular lives? To keep us tethered to this group and to the pain that every successive horror show inflicts? To make us do your work for you?
And is it the intention to meet our gut-wrenching stories with love-bombing and unintelligible spiritual bypassing? Intentional or not: This. Is. Not. Helpful. This kind of communication is nothing more than covert manipulation, invalidation and dismissal. It hurts us. And you know what? It hurts you too. It prevents you from being real and authentic. It keeps you at a perpetual arm’s-length from reaching a place of truth and accountability. So, just… stop it. And stop it now.
We are not interested in your sentimental love notes–your thoughts and prayers. Be reminded that this is an institution that has betrayed us – first by placing us as small children in harm’s way, second by denying and dismissing our stories of harm, third by failing to stand on its own feet and have an adult conversation with us.
What we are interested in is to be able to speak and be heard. We are interested in accountability. We are interested in having our therapy bills paid-for by you. We are interested in living our lives free from your drama, your manipulation and your deafening silence. We are interested in reform.
I know what real reform would look like. But I am not here to rebuild an institution that has corrupted itself and insulated itself for fifty years. That’s your job.
“Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later that debt is paid”.
–Valery Alekseyevich Legasov (Chernobyl)