I can't believe it's been an entire year since being out of the Jehovah's Witnesses cult. Wow, it feels so good! It took a lot physically but mostly spiritually and emotionally to get out.
Last year I (sort of) celebrated Easter for the first time in well over a decade. I was terrified to celebrate it. It had been rammed into my head for years that holidays were evil and celebrating them could be punishable by death from God. Maybe not immediately but definitely in Armageddon...which they believed could be coming any day...which is basically the same as being killed by God immediately. At the very least, you'd be kicked out of the religion, shunned and denied contact from everyone you've ever known, including parents, siblings, grandparents, best friends (if they were also part of the cult), losing your community, support system and way of life in an instant.
I sat in a church, last year, with a friend, trying to be chipper and excited but truthfully, my heart was pounding in my throat from fear. I had been taught that churches were evil, that the people who attended them were evil and if I ever had anything to do with any of it, I'd be considered evil too. Yes, I was quickly waking up from the brainwashing but much of it still had a grip on me. I stood in that church pew, listening to people sing hymns, that were well known in just about every Christian denomination, but I did not know single word because the cult had had their own songs that nobody else knew. Plus, this was the first holiday I had been a part of in any capacity since converting to my former religion. Celebrating this first holiday and leaving the religion, I wasn't sure if God was still going to love me or if I'd be killed along with all of these other church-goers around me. Because of all the fear that day, it didn't feel like much of a celebration and I didn't do much to celebrate it except to attend a church service.
This year, I'm an entire year out of the cult and free from all of the brainwashing so I consider this year to be my first real Easter. There is no more fear and only ALL of the joy and excitement. The best part is, I get to be with my family again.
Along with all of the other holidays I've celebrated since freeing myself, I went all out. I decorated my room with flowers, vintage Easter postcards, eggs and nests. In the living room, I pulled out bins of my mom's Easter decorations and placed things on shelves and the mantle.
I'm all about using things from nature so when it came to dying Easter eggs, I found the neatest recipe using red cabbage to turn eggs to shades of dusty blue. To add a little pizzazz, I added speckles of gold paint.
In the days prior to Easter, my brother and I spent some time making cards and little decorations. I helped him make cards with dinosaurs wearing bunny ears. Why dinosaurs for Easter, you may ask? Because dinosaurs lay eggs too!
One of the things I was most excited about was picking out an Easter basket. I wanted it to be simple and could be used year round and could be used for collecting flowers. I found this absolutely perfect basket at Michael's which I quickly decorated with ribbon and flowers.
For this year's Easter, I had wanted to dress up and go out for brunch with my family but the Corona Virus kept that from happening. Instead, as a consolation prize, I hosted Easter brunch in our dining room. It included cupcakes wrapped in filigree butterfly paper and topped with Easter candy and pastel frosting, that I had made the night before. We also had sausages (made by my brother, Sean), quiche (made by Mom) and fruit cocktail. For the base of the tablescape, I chose an ivory tablecloth with an ivory lace tablecloth on top. The plates and glasses are from mom's cupboard but the gold flatware I had found at an antique shop some months ago. Of course I had tea cups from my collection along with a garden teapot. To commemorate our first Easter in our new South Carolina home, we had peach tea from the Charleston Tea Plantation. The lace napkins I topped with the blue eggs I had made some days prior - some of which I put in a little nest at the side of the table. For having to have Easter brunch at home, it turned out quite lovely!
After brunch, we sat and read my favorite Easter story - The Story Of The Easter Bunny. I had grown up loving that book. I even had a rabbit that I had named after the Easter bunny in the story - Early. The illustrations have always captivated me with their whimsical nod to Beatrix Potter. Things like this, I had been expected to throw away once I entered the cult but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Instead, I gave many of these types of things to my mom (that way, they wouldn't be viewed as mine) for safe keeping. I'm glad I did. Now I get to enjoy them again as I did in childhood.
I joked with my mom earlier saying how crazy it is that my decorating talents were so wasted for 13 years because of that awful religion. I'm so grateful that I get to celebrate these holidays now - every single year they come around. I love decorating and making things special for the people in my life. I can't wait to continue doing this for decades to come!
Next up: My first real birthday! I'm turning 35 in May!