Susan Cagle was catapulted into fame after being discovered singing in the subway. In the next few years she would go on to release two albums, sing at the Video Music Awards, take part in an interview on the Oprah Winfrey show and even appear in an independent film. But what was happening inside her head and heart? Join us as we hear her story, her heart aches and heart breaks, laughter along the way and what's in store for her next.
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Were you in the children of God when Ricky passed away or , I had just been signed to Columbia records and we were working on my album and that's when that happened. And then my manager who knew, cause at that time I didn't talk to anybody about it.
I was still like really processing it, but he knew cause we were dating as well. And so Something happened where it's like all of a sudden, the label somehow knew that I used to be in the family as well. And so then my manager came up to me. He was like, , they just found out and they think this could be a really good, almost like a marketing thing. And I was mortified because I was still processing it. I had never really spoken to anyone about it. I had never been to therapy. I was literally like, I didn't know where I stood with anything. And so then I had to go on Oprah and all that stuff and like all the way, I don't really regret it.
I do regret it because I feel like I wasn't really ready yet to talk about anything. And so I feel like it was not as it wasn't what I wanted to be at all. I didn't know what I was talking about. I'm still trying to, protect people and be on the down low, and just try to keep things hush, .
I had left in 2001. So that was like at that four year five-year mark where I was like, starting to question. Yeah.
And that was probably the first time too, that you got faced. With the way. General society. Who's going to look at it like, you're a monkey in a cage, it's not let me connect with you on a personal level. Let me understand your story.
It's oh my God. Tell me the juicy bits so that I can like, yeah it's a yucky feelings. I can imagine that. Yeah. I can imagine that for you really horrible. And I went to your training, like you're trying to media train me how to talk about my life. Like I hadn't, I didn't have the distance to look at it that way.
So they're like, yeah, I'm really glad you asked that. Ask that question, Bob, I'm in media training, training to do that. And it's so inappropriate. It's crazy. It was really scary for me. Oh my goodness. That's so were you born and to the call? Yeah. My dad is a little black Zack as he's known.
Cause he was doing some music stuff or whatever with them in the seventies, he joined in the seventies. And so I was born in 1980 and I guess with my parents were full-fledged in it. They were duo that was my parents' deal.
They were like, okay. Yeah, we're buskers. And so we bus. For the Lord,
but yeah, I was born in Aruba, my mom's from there. I'll give you a little bit of a history. So my dad was born in South Carolina. And so he dropped out, during his first semester of college that his adopted mom had scraped together the money for send him to college.
He was on the campus school bus, rolls up all the hippies, pour out saying, we love you brother. And as a short black man in the south of the U S he was starved for love. He was starved for affection as part of a marginalized group. And he saw them as these sort of like alien Anish superheroes.
And so he just grabbed his stuff from his dorm, jumped on and, dropped out on my mom's end. She's from the Caribbean. And so they had some missionaries there and they witnessed her, got her in, she ended up leaving. And then during the searchers era was when they sent some searchers to love her back in which they did.
And when the searchers found her. She was a single mom or pregnant, with my older brother. Cause my parents had met in the Caribbean in Jamaica somewhere and my dad asked my mom to marry him and she said, no. Then she bounced left. The family searchers came, joined again, met my dad again, said yes had me.
So I'm the second for my mom and the first born for my dad. But we were living in, or my parents were witnessing to my mom's dad at the time in Aruba. But they were living in a van that my dad converted into a camper that didn't have wheels. So it was just perched in like a garage or like a auto shop.
, that was my home where I was born in. Wow. Oh, wow. Interesting. Yeah. Yeah. And then it was every two years. Another little sibling was born in a different place. Yeah. Sounds about right. That's a very similar story. How do you two know each other? We met in Thailand when we were teenagers in the cult.
I had just gotten to Thailand from the jumbo in the Philippines and I was being sent to Chiang Mai to go to their little team training thing that they had going on with 10 teens or something And so I went up there and I met whisper and one day everybody went to the park and there was a huge lake and everybody went to go walk or hike or something.
And for some reason , did you have a twisted ankle or something? I think I did. Or maybe it was cramped something like that period cramps or something. We didn't want to go walk. And so we were like, can we just sit here? And they're like, fine. So we just started talking and we just.
Never stopped. We'd actually been, we'd been together. We'd been hanging out already, but what that wasn't like the first time we know each other, but , you never had time to sit and talk with somebody like you never did. You scheduled down to your, like your poops, so it was like the first time we had this like substantial time to sit and talk to me. You're like, what the heck? Yeah, we just talk to my other half. Yeah, it was right then and there, we just I don't know, fell in love. And then when we went to the training center in Bangkok, cause they put us all on a train and sent us down there.
Her and I sat up all night long talking the whole entire night on the train.
Yeah. And then the second we got down to the main teen training. They, but yeah, instantly. Oh, you guys like each other? Okay. Two separate rooms. Don't talk, don't sit next to each other. Nothing, no contact. But somehow we stayed in contact. I don't even know how we stayed in contact.
It's crazy actually, because I went to Russia and she went to Jamaica and somehow we stayed in contact throughout the years we always wanted to do something together. We just didn't know what. And then when whisper came up with the bright idea of doing a podcast, I was all in.
She used to write each other letters. I remember doing that. Yeah. Oh, yes. I still have a whole bunch of them actually. A whole bunch of letters that she wrote me. Yeah. Yeah. That's so sweet. , we didn't introduce the episode. That's normal for us.
Yeah. Yeah. It comes like five minutes in we're like, oh, Hey, hang on. Hang on. Welcome. Yep. For those joining us for the first time I'm whisper and my cohost and BFF Jamaima and today we're super, super excited about our guest. Does Susan Cagle? Am I, did I say that right? Yeah. You sent it perfectly.
Thank you so much for having me, our super excited., the first time I heard of you I didn't know that you were an ex member. Anything somebody forwarded or I saw it a clip, like a video clip of you singing in the subway and your voice was , I was like, who is this?
Later on that I found out who your next member. I was like, what? That is
beautiful voice. Wow.
When did you leave? I left officially in 2001. Okay. That's a lot of us left right around that time, I think. Wow. Just after the whole Y2K thing and all of that. Yeah. I actually got ex-communicated for smoking pot and I was going to rejoin, but then I met Ricky and James, Ken.
Oh yeah. Yeah. He stayed with me when he left , his mom's house, he came straight to my apartment because I was living near Seattle. Yeah. Because I had known James Penn had been a supporter of our work in Russia. After Thailand I went to Russia and we started a project there called Love's bridge.
And we fed homeless kids and got them back in school and all this kind of stuff. The project is still going today. Actually it's run , by Russian nationals. And yeah, I know it's super exciting because that's Hey, we actually did do some charity work. Okay. Everything that we said we did, but we were actually just postering and like trying to survive.
Yeah, exactly. But we actually did something in Russia. We set up the whole thing, got the whole thing going from nothing. And James Penn was one of our supporters because he was working with the family care foundation. In California. And they had heard about what we were doing, so he got involved.
And so he ended up sending us like 20 bucks a month or something, but, that's how we lived. Got a hundred people sending us 20 bucks a month. We're going to make it right. So then when I got back to the states, I met him and he had already left. I don't know if you ever read his like little dissertation or whatever called no regrets.
I think it's, I have no regrets or no regrets, but it was all about why he left. And some of the things that were going on behind the scenes, that of course he was privy to, that none of us knew about. And when I started hearing all of this stuff, I was just completely floored the thing that pissed me off the most was that mama Maria had a thousand dollars a week budget for her food.
I was like, are you fucking kidding me? I'm a starving single mom on the mission field having a baby. And , we're on like food rations of half a cup of milk and one piece of cheese a day. And you have a thousand dollars a week for yourself. That was that, that, I don't know why, but that one particular thing, just I was like wait stop the presses here.
Hang on. Yeah, because all of them are.
I remember reading something after I left on one of those sites, maybe it was from James Penn that talked about how they had just piles of cash laying around so much. They did that. They didn't really know what to do with it. I don't know where I read that from yeah, it's serving because I remember, living in buses or living in vans is like real, the real practitioners of this and just not having money, but like dad's sending our tie in on, on the dot, like clockwork. Yeah. that's a difficult way to grow.
And then to hear that's how they were living was just like, yeah, this is completely telling me to do something and you're doing something completely different. And then he also told me that David Berg dad was an alcoholic and died of alcoholism. Which of course, none of us also knew because we weren't even barely allowed to drink.
One cup of wine a week. You can have a beer a week, but you got to pour out two sips. Cause that's two more ounces than you're supposed to have really weird. Like the four ounces of wine. And yeah. So when the charter came out, my family was, we were, what is the word I'm trying to remember? But we were not like in the inner sanctum at that time, we were like TSS.
Yeah. Used it for the side. And it like fell on its like FSM. I thought like fellow, fellow members Emmers yeah. And then there was DMARS or I can't remember what yeah. Yeah. But we have, you still have to send in the tides, you still got the mole letters and you still had to read the charter, but you basically didn't have certain things, like we didn't have enough adult members.
Cause it was just my family for so long. And , I don't think there's anything else, but I think that was like the one reason why we weren't like full members or whatever at that time and we weren't allowed to drink or anything anyway. Cause my dad he was just in love with them so much.
And that's one reason why we traveled around a lot because no family home was good enough for him because they didn't follow everything to the TV. But yeah, we heard a lot to drink anyway. My parents didn't drink, so we never did any of that. Did you live overseas in during your time in the, we lived growing up in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico the islands as well as Mexico up and down the east coast.
But a lot of our time was spent in Europe. It was like Italy, Greece, France, England and all that. So I never lived in any of the other homes that like the Thailand homes or Japan or any of those places. The one where everybody was for bonkers, extra bonkers. Yeah. I can only imagine it wasn't fun.
I never was. I think each area had their own thing that I know there was some crazy stuff that went on in Europe too, that wasn't, like some people really suffered in that area too. So everybody had their own little corner of the world with their own special Little's suffering gifts.
Yeah. What was the circumstances around you leaving? How old were you when you left? As 21, but, okay. I was going to say about 20, 21. Yeah. I was 21 and we were living in New Jersey. I think for maybe three or four years, I'm not sure if we left and went to my Amie and then came back during that interim, but I wanted to leave.
When we lived in England, I left my parents and I joined the bus team there and there was like a teen camp. And and I was part of the bus team, still singing, to make money. But within that structure and I was 12 and 13 at that time, and then came back and joined my parents again, and that's when I realized that I basically lived in a cult within a cult because all the stuff that I was like allowed to do on the bus team was pretty crazy.
And I think London in general was very, I think, a little freer than a lot of the other countries and homes. And in other countries, they're were a little more lacks on things. They were still strict, but it's there weren't any physical punishments or anything like that.
When I went back to my parents and saw how they were living and stuff, Africa, then I started having these sort of arguments with my dad, same arguments that my brother had when he was 21 when he left. But at this time I was like 13 and 14 and we were traveling through Europe busking.
And so I would start these arguments and I would get beat up just questioning things, and. It was very lonely for me because it was my family, mom, dad, and nine kids at the time. And just reading the word and living in hotels and roaming from place to place. And then, staying at the occasional family home here and there.
When we went back to the states I was around 17 at that time. And that's when I really made the decision to dedicate my life to Jesus. Because prior to that, it was a very rough between me and my parents.
But just before that happened we were living in this house and I was very serious about leaving in my head. I was like, I don't want to live like this anymore. I want to , have an education and I want to go to school. But at the same time, all my brothers and sisters were there, so I didn't really want to abandon them.
And so then something happened where I was thinking all these thoughts. And then I think I talked back to my dad and he swung like a two by four. He was renovating the side of that building of our apartment inside one of the rooms. And so he swung it on me and broke my finger. And I wasn't allowed to go to the hospital or anything like that.
It was just a situation where it was like, okay, put some ice on it, it'll be fine. I didn't realize this until many years later when I thought about it, but I was like, okay, that was around the time that I decided to dedicate myself to the family. So I must've been like sitting there in the dark with like my, with my finger throbbing and just like crying to myself.
I didn't know anyone, or the only person that I knew that was outside of the family where my grandparents who lived in South Carolina and, I wasn't that close to them. Cause I didn't get to see them all that much growing up. I didn't know anybody else. There was one person that I knew who lived with us.
My parents witnessed to this person when we were singing. And she joined our family and she was traveling with us and she was from the states, but she was visiting Europe at the time that she joined. And so I had her number but I hadn't spoken to her in years. And I knew that she had gone back to the states because she eventually left.
And so I called her and then she was just Hey, like I was like, Hey, and then I hung up and After that point, something inside of me was like, I've got to dedicate my life to the Lord and do this for real and stop trying to get out. And so that happened.
And then in 2001, I was so desperate for change because, the mole letters or whatever they tell you, don't get a job, stay outside of the system. And so that's, my parents were doing, but we were living in poverty level and I was like, we're all smart. Let's, can we please?
And so more arguments again during that time. But they weren't really arguments. There were meat like going off into the corner and trying to strategize and come up with plans on how we could make money and. Become more established. And I would present these to my parents and they would be like, oh, laughing at me like, oh Susan, the Lord's coming back real soon.
No, nothing matters. None of this matters. And I was so desperate for change. Like I wanted friends, I wanted to know what it was like to be kissed,, to have a relationship of my own because my parents had each other, and then when reading all these mole letters about it's a sex cult, pretty much, it's I'm here with looking around and I would just go in the bathroom and just cry.
That was my only release, my only pleasure in life. And so I finally convinced my parents to let me go singing in the subway with just the older guys. So it wasn't like mom, dad, all the kids. I was like, Hey, you guys can stay here.
You can work on your newsletter. You can do all the backend business stuff and all go on the attack team, me and three of us older kids. And we put together some new songs that current said, okay, we put together some songs. We went out for singing in the subway. And I was like, we're just like a little sigh of relief.
And I was at our 2021 at that time. And that was the first time that I was ever allowed to do something on my own, you know? Um, and so we were still doing the same thing, cause that's all we knew, but that's what my parents allowed me to do. It was during one of these performances in the subway.
It was actually at Bryant park, 42nd street in Manhattan, underneath the subway underneath Rockefeller center that this guy. Was in the audience. And he was like whatever flirting. And so he came up and talked to me afterwards. And so we just started talking and he was a web designer.
And I was like, really? I was asking him about it. I was like, oh, how are you doing? He was like, Hey, here's my number. And so that, then I started to sneak and call this person. I started to sneak around and find ways to call from a payphone or from hear from them. And so then I would tell him where we were going to be performing next.
Then he would come, with his camera or whatever. And he would just hang out we started talking and hanging out and my parents weren't there so this was totally doable. And then we fell in love , but then eventually my parents found out.
Cause I think one of the kids told them that I was talking to the sky. And so then my dad he was like, oh hell no, this is not going to happen. You're not doing this anymore, I leave you guys alone for one minute. And this happens. So he was like, we gotta go back to the whole family singing together again.
And she was like, you can't talk to this person. He's a systemize, he's freaking. And so I, I was trying to do the right thing and I was like, mom, dad, I feel like. He's a good guy, maybe we can witness to him. I'm sure he could find the Lord later, but they were like, no.
So I met up with him and I was like, listen, I gotta tell you something I'm part of this group. We have very strict beliefs and we're not allowed to really fraternize with anybody outside of the group. And he was like, I don't really care about any of that. And I was like, I don't understand.
I'm trying to tell you that I cannot see you anymore. We were like at a McDonald's in the subway, underground McDonald's it's like in the subway somewhere. And he was like, I don't care. And I was like, I can't see you anymore. And so basically what ended up happening from that conversation was that he said that he was going to rent a hotel room in the same hotel that we were living in so that we could spend time together so that we could spend the night together.
So we did, and that was like the second time that I had ever had intimate relations with anyone, and then the next day my dad, I guess he found out, but needless to say we were getting ready to go singing, packing up all the equipment and everything like that.
And I was just talking to my dad and I was like, dad, I really love him. Dad, I really want to be with him dah. And we were just having this argument while we were packing up all of our gear. And I don't remember what I said, but I must have said something. when I talked to my dad about this later, he said that what was happening was that I was talking and talking to, I just wouldn't stop talking, but he basically swung an acoustic guitar at me, which broke on me and splintered.
And I guess I raised my hand up to protect myself. And so there was like a huge gash, there was blood everywhere. And and I was just, I just, I remember him just attacking me and like basically just beating me up. And and I remember something so profound. It changed my life in that moment, because I had been beaten previously, but this time something happened where I knew that I was not going to back down.
Even if I was killed, I was prepared to die. It was like, this calm acceptance came over me. And I was like, he's going to kill me. And I don't care. I don't fucking care because I don't want to live like this anymore. afterwards I was like, I'm sorry, I'm going to keep seeing him.
And then dad was like, okay, listen, here's the deal. If this guy is so great, as you say, and he's so nice and he's a Christian and at least he believes in Jesus and all these things. Why don't you , ask him to give you the money for us all to go to Europe, because , we were trying to raise money to go to Germany at the time because one of our brothers was there.
And so we were going to go to him and he said, ask them for the money. And I was like, okay, I'm sure he'll give it a really nice guy. You'll kill it, give us some money. And so I asked him for the money and he said, yes. And so he gave my parents the money for all of us to fly to Germany, my gosh, which we did. And this is like probably maybe a week after that, the hotel incident, when we like spent the night together he gave us the money and we all packed up and flew to Germany. And I had gotten a UTI. I thought I was like pregnant or something and miscarriage, I don't know, but I had pains in my stomach and my parents were like, this is what happens.
And it eventually got so bad that we were in Germany. And I was like, I gotta go to the doctor. I gotta go. And so I went to the doctor and then they're like, oh, it's just a UTI, whatever. But it really got me thinking. And I was like, I want to go back. I want to go back. I want to go back and see him.
And all my brothers sisters were really sad. They were crying and they were like, Susan, please don't go. And I had a conversation with my mom and this was in Germany. We were all there. I had a conversation with her and they were happy. They basically got me to FF the sky.
Cause thinking about it later, I was like, what the fuck? Like I. And they expect it to be like, okay, yeah, he was a fish. He was a good guy and give us the money. Now we move on with our life and that's it. I pulled my moms aside one day and I was like, mom, mom do you ha do you want your kids to ever find love, have their own lives, be their own people.
And she said, what better place could there be in the world? And here's serving the Lord with your family. And that's when I knew, that's what I knew that we had all been lied to because in my mind, like we're growing up in this as a kid, I'm thinking that, we're all trying to do what's best for everyone, right?
Like we're all trying to get to this place where we can live comfortably and the sort of utopia, right? There's always like the idea that they dangle in front of your miserable life, right there. You're hustling from birth. You're slamming away. You're being exploited, having to go make money to support your family and the home
but I've always thought that it's going to be better. One day, it's going to be better one day. But then when I had that conversation with her, I realized they were happy. They joined this. This is the life that they want it exactly as it is. They didn't want it to be any better. They were using us to be witnesses for God's love.
Which is what they said to the whole world. Everybody else gets a taste of God's love, but us, right? We're just supposed to be the messengers. And I was like, wow, they will never want things to be any different. And I've just been lied to for 21 years of my life.
And so I flew back the guy, he sent me money for a ticket back and I flew back and he was only 21. Like he was 21 year old kid . And he had just gotten his first job or something like that. And he had I dunno, maybe $5,000, $10,000 in savings or something that he had saved up over the course of like his whole life.
And when I flew back, I lived with him and his mom and his sister and his brother and their little tiny little New York apartment, and I had such wacko beliefs as well because nine 11 happened literally like a few weeks after I moved back, it was so bizarre. it was just mom, dad, and everyone being like, we told you , they were trying to use it to promote the fact that this is what happens or something like that.
But yeah, I was terrified, . He ended up getting us a little basement apartment in sunset park, Brooklyn, and I lived with her with him. And the first day, in the apartment by myself, I would just look around and I would just be like, where am I?
What do I do? I would become very because I was just thinking about my brothers and sisters, still having to go sing in the subway and still getting beaten and still having to read the Moe letters. And it was hard for me to really acclimate to my new life because I was just shell shocked, I think, yeah. And I didn't really know what to do. And all I knew was singing in the subway. And so after some time passed, I still had that indoctrination of that education is bad. I still believed that it was like a plot. It was the system I was trying fighting against. I was like, no, I'm not going to go to school.
No. Okay. I'm just going to go sing in the subway and yeah, that's what I knew how to do. So that's what I did. Is that how you got discovered? Yeah. How did you bust into the music world type of thing? Cause lots of people try to do that. Yeah. I was actually approached by so many people for this opportunity or that one and I just didn't do it because it was the system and I was still so brainwashed, and so , what ended up happening was I get a call from my parents or my siblings or something like that . And at the time I was like, okay, let me see if I can do this music thing. And I was in negotiations with a small record label in New York, but I was also living in the basement of the studio with my boyfriend.
Cause we were homeless. This is after I left my, my first after I left that guy and I was doing music or whatever. So I was living there and then I get this call from my siblings and they're like, Hey we're stranded in Morocco with no money. What they did was they bought this old postal van and my dad built it out like a camper.
And their plan was to drive to Senegal, to west Africa, from Germany. And they got stuck in Morocco with no money. And so I went singing in the subway to raise money so that they could fly to England. And I think I borrowed some money or something like that. I'm managed to scrape together the money and I sent it to them.
They went to England and then at some point they ended up in New York. I don't remember how that happened or whatever, but they ended up with me living in the basement of the studio, all of them and the kids that were with my parents said, Hey, we've made a decision. We no longer want to be in your band.
We want to be in Susan's.
I was like, you know what I, oh man, my hoopers during that time was fucking crazy, but I was desperate. I was like, I could probably do a better job than you guys. So yeah, sure. You guys can come with me, we'll go off and we'll do music together and we'll take care of each other and we'll make that happen.
And the youngest three siblings stayed with my parents and then the middle three and . There was another older sister that went with my parents as well. So I had some, and then my parents had some, and we just kept singing in the subway. And we ended up getting a little apartment a three-bedroom apartment, but that was such a crazy situation because during that time,, I was getting serious about being in the industry.
And so I was talking to managers and this and that and really making it work. Cause I was like, Hey, we gotta make some money here. We were talking to various managers, we were doing photo shoots. We were starting to package our band. Yeah. And and so we had this three bedroom apartment, and then a friend of mine or this person that I knew called me up one day and she was like, Susan, I'm homeless, I have no money.
Can I please stay with you for a couple of days? And so I was like, okay, it's a full house right now, cause it was me and my boyfriend, my brother and his girlfriend, and three siblings, three of the other smaller ones. So she moved in and around that time, my parents called as well and said, Susan, we're desperate.
We have nowhere to stay. Can we just stay with you guys? I saw myself, I curse myself for this, but I said, yes. So now we've got. My parents living there, this woman will meet Lineen who ended up staying so long that I couldn't kick her out because of like renter laws I had to call the police please came.
And they were like, I'm sorry, we can't kick her out. Cause she's been here already for a month or two, or it was some girls some wrong. And so then she was like, I'm not leaving. I'm sorry. I was like, okay, this is wacko. Cause of my parents were living there too. We were all cranberry.
So I bounced from the apartment with my boyfriend and we moved into the small little room up the street and I started going downhill. Oh, we had a manager and we were shopping around to different labels cause he was shopping us around to different label.
So then Columbia records came down to the subway to see us various labels came down to the subway to see us. That was like our showcase, but, we were still performing, trying to do the industry thing as well as battling mom and dad. And all the wackiness that went down with that, having them there at the house and then just meet me, not being strong enough to like juggle everything and strong enough to lay down the law when my parents are there.
, I was 25 at that time. But yeah, that's how that started. Yes. I was discovered in the subway. And yeah, it happened from there. And then I have another question. Cause then you said that when you we're going to come out with your album and everything, and then they found out you were grown up in the children of God that, you got all this media coverage, Oprah and all that kind of stuff.
And you said that at that time, you hadn't really processed everything. Cause if the thing was still really new, I think it took a lot of us, a lot of years , still now , we're starting to process some of it, at what point did you really start to process, cause like for me, I didn't even realize I was abused until years afterwards.
And so at what point were you like all my God, I was abused. Like all crap. I think a lot of us had that moments at some point were real like holy shit, right? Yeah. Yeah. I want to say it was 2005. It was that year. Just before getting signed when. My parents were back and all my brothers and sisters were back.
And I think probably like a little time before that I had stopped reading them letters. But I think really what started, it was a spiritual shift and right before my brothers and sisters and everybody came back, I was studying Gnosticism, which is it's like mysticism, like Christianity, but the mystical version.
And that really helped me because I remember I was still reading like mountain men and all the, all of those things, I was trying to talk about them and promote them to my boyfriend. And he was like, Susan, there's this person that I want you to meet. And it was his mentor, his guru.
He introduced me to him and he started telling me stories about how Christ, like forest it's equal to Krishna or Buddha. And there are other tales and that happened prior to. The biblical Abrahamic teachings that echo, or that mirror the same story, the same idea.
And when that happened, it blew my mind. And it really started me to think differently okay, hold on a second here. Maybe heavenly city is not in the moon. Maybe there's some dots on here because I was desperate. You guys, I remember there was a moment where I was like, I can't, I don't want to sing in the subway anymore, but I was like fighting these two worlds.
I was trying to reconcile these two worlds. And so I was like, I don't want to sing the stuff I saw. I tried getting jobs. I was like temp jobs, restaurant jobs. And I was trying to make money, but I didn't know what to do. Cause I didn't want to go to school. And I was like really resisting. And so then I remember my lowest point.
I was canning, I went and I tried canning for five to 10 minutes and I was disgusted with myself. And I was like, there's gotta be more to life than this. A stoplight I put the chat and I put like a freaking thing on it. And I was like, please help. And I was begging from car to car at a light and.
It's what I knew how to do. And at the moment I was like, what am I doing? I'm lying to these people because growing up, we used to can and poster sitting, can you please give us someone I had to help our missionary work? But our missionary work was us eating
to some degree, the lot and a lot of a degree. Yeah. We'd take pictures of stuff that had happened like years ago, like Another home did right. , yeah. We went two years ago and gave water in the flood and I have pictures right here. See, this is all the stuff that we do.
Yeah. And then you can combine all those into your little newsletter or whatever. Yeah. So I was still in that same mind frame. And I remember this one time I had gone to a bar and I had drunk like so many shots of vodka and I was drunk and I was throwing up. And that morning, I was like, please if there's a God, one of those moments show me the truth.
And then I met this guy who really started opening my eyes to other things. And then I started going off on my own reading, a lot, reading, a lot of philosophies and religions and everything. And I was like, wait a second. There's a bigger picture. There's a bigger story here. We were only given a droplet of this pool of story.
They cherry pick these things and they use them out of context. And then they paint this whole elaborate world with it, which is built upon a sort of a hoax. And so that was really when I was like, okay, this is crazy. And then it was like, okay, maybe I should go to therapy. And so around the time, I'm not sure if it was a little bit before or after mom and dad and all the kids were there, but I started really trying to research stuff and then mom and dad, all and all the kids were there.
And then I was like I want to start going to therapy. And I started going to therapy and I went to, this specialized in speaking with former cult members. Oh, wow. Yeah. Yeah. And that was interesting because I was still so in denial, , but then once I started talking about it and hearing myself talk about this stuff, but like with such shame, like I wasn't able to just be like, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
She had to really start pulling things out of me. And then I would say things and I would feel so ashamed and weird way. Almost as if I had done these things, and then once I started talking about it, I was like, wait a second. This was done to me.
I am a real human being that shouldn't be treated with this, exploitation. And th then I became very distraught and very angry. And I remember being in the shower, crying why did this happen to me? , how could you do this to your children?
Not just for me, but for all the family, kids Ricky. That triggered me to have these spells of sobbing and crying, because I did not like the way that he was portrayed as well. It was just really heartbreaking for me. And I don't know the full story.
You guys can definitely fill that in. And I'm just like dying to know more about all of that, because like I've never met him, but he was Davido
that I was raised to hold in such high regard. Every single thing that I did. Was compared to this person, in my head, I had to hear about this guy from sunup to sundown. It was so troubling. And I think that when I saw that it triggered me to go and start to do some research and start to read to go on the blogs and read.
And then I saw all the posts and it was , so enlightening and I'm so grateful that there were people that spoke up because otherwise it wouldn't have known, yeah. We've met a lot of different ex members from our cult in doing this and no matter what area of the world they were, in what level they were in or out of, whatever, like the rings of the inner circle, no matter where they were, everyone seems to have a very similar experience of holy shit.
I have not only been lied to my whole life. I've been abused my whole life. . It hits you really hard when you realize what has been done to you. , like you were saying to my mother. For somebody that, that hasn't happened too.
It's really hard to understand that veil falling of wait, all of that was abuse that wasn't supposed to happen. And just getting hit with that. It's a lot to shift through. I think. We laugh at some of the things that we say about this, our situation, just because we're like, yes, exactly.
That's exactly the same thing I went through. That's exactly the same mind shift I had to deal with. , it's so much to process and all I can say is that's amazing that you found the strength, not only to make the decisions that you did under the mindset you were in, but, also to be able to reach out and go for help and support in therapy, which is probably one of the most important steps that I think any, anyone that's gone through, the sort of level of trauma, that we've seen needs to do.
. I'm in awe. I'm mad respect for you and all that you've done already. And your journey so much respect to you too, as well. I think that you're, you are doing God's work
ah, it's an honor for us. Really? It is. And A lot of people have told us, it's opened up a lot of conversations with my family and all of this, and it's opened up a lot of conversations with my family too. And it's been a very healing journey.
It's also gives me a kind of sense of community because I realized that there's a lot of other people that feel very similarly to the way that I feel, we all tend to feel so alone in our battles and in our difficulties. And we're just like, nobody understands and thought it up.
A lot of people do understand actually, and to me it's makes the load a little lighter to know that, someone else can empathize and sympathize and understand where you've been, where we've been. I think that's a lot of the reason why, like we ought to hang together, because the rest of the world.
Just doesn't really get it the best way that I described it when I left is it's like growing up on an alien planet. Okay. It's from imagine yourself in the Truman show, right? Like pretty much that's what our life was. It was a bubble of fakeness and everybody fake and us being exploited for their benefit.
That was basically the bottom line of it. And when you come to that realization, it is it's huge. And it is like your entire world just completely shattering. Another way that I describe it is imagine the tapestry. So your whole life being woven is like tapestry being woven. And then now we have to go back and try and undo, take out some of these things, but you can't just take out one little thread because that one thread is going to pull a whole bunch of other threads with it.
And then you have to adjust all those other threads. It's not like we can just be like, oh yeah, this happened, blah, blah, blah. Now I'm fine. That thread moving is going to move a lot of other threads. You look at the tapestry from the back and you're like, Ooh, hot mess. Patty, look at in front of the front.
And you're like, oh, damn, that looks good. to me, it's like, We have to learn to view ourselves from. The other side view ourselves from the way that other people see us and not the way that we see ourselves. Cause I'm constantly just oh my God, I'm so weak. I'm such a mess. My life is all just blah, I can't get anything together.
And then everybody else is oh you're so wonderful. And I'm just like, ah, that's what I'm like. Okay. Turn the tapestry around. Look at the other side. Wow. It's so funny that you mentioned the tapestry because that is such a strong symbol in my world, in my head. And like I was thinking yesterday about how , all of us, we are like this weird and interesting tapestry because of all of the reweaving undoing and reweaving that we've had to do to reconcile these two worlds.
And so now it's this like super unique, interesting tapestry, but I think for me right now in my life, it's so important for me to connect and I have not done that enough. And so just hearing you say that is so beautiful because it's so important. And I think that. Part of the ploy of the adults and of the powers that be growing up was to separate us.
Like you, you mentioned in the beginning, they would always, once people started bonding, they would pull it apart. They would separate us. It's weird because for all the talk of communal living, and living together, there was still that okay manipulative actor.
Yeah. Yeah. And for me, I have felt like I have been running away for so long. That's just energy of trying to make it survive, not just monetarily, but energetically my, like my soul, I've been running, and not really thinking about like collaboration because I didn't have the bandwidth to do and so yeah. All the processing that I've done has led me to this place where I realize that is the most important thing that we have and , it can change our lives so much. So yeah. I'm really grateful to be able to connect with you today. Yeah. I assume. And you're totally right. We can find strength in each other.
We can help each other. I really want to talk about what you mentioned before about trauma, right like how it takes time for you to process it. And the way that I see it is that when these traumatic things happen to you, or when these sort of like things happen to you, that you have not processed, it's just this egg, that sits inside of you. It's an egg and it's poisoning you on the inside. It's just poisoning you on the inside. And that egg has to hatch sooner or later, but the more that you put it off, the more it's just like poisoning and poisoning you, there are some people that have gone to their graves, not having processed this stuff.
And the texture, the time that you're ready to process it is so individual, right? Everybody takes different amounts of time to be able to sit with the stuff. But when it does hatch, when you are able to sit with your trauma and process it grows and it hatches into this beautiful thing inside of you that nourishes you and can nourish other people as well.
But it takes you really having to go through the pain of allowing it to hatch, and be birthed inside of you. And there are so many people that I know that. I have gone through these sorts of things and they don't go to therapy and they don't have the wherewithal to process it.
And I totally understand that. , I think it just takes a lot of bravery and facing the truth. Yeah. I think a lot of people and this is me too. What's scary about it is you have to be ready to go through it. You have to deal with the fear that I've being able to face, how much you are fucked up.
So to speak. We're not fucked up any more than anyone else's, but there's that real fear. That's why a lot of times people don't want to look at it because they're like, what if I find out that I'm just like this, somebody is going to pull out a chair out from you and what you've been holding on to, it's going to just collapse it.
And that's the fear, that's the fear that you have of going into starting to work on those things. You're exactly right. You can't start that process until you're ready.
It's being honest with ourselves as one of the hardest things to do. I think we lied. We lied to ourselves more than we lie to anybody else. Yeah. It's so true. When you get out, it, it takes a really long time to be okay with your own thoughts and to trust yourself and to trust that your own thoughts are valid. I'm, working on that now, even in my life, it's just ongoing. So important. There's a Facebook group that we're in for cults, not an ex children of God group, but a teacher wrote in and said there's this kid that, I'm pretty sure you read that one.
There's this kid that I'm pretty sure is in some cult. And what can I do as a teacher. And what you said just now, I think would be one of the most important messages that anybody can give to someone else that's stuck in a cultish, or some sort of dogmatic thinking spiral of those doubts, those questions, that stuff that comes into your head, listen to those because those are real and exactly what you said valid.
It's one of the most important messages that, you can tell anyone that's stuck in that had spiral space of don't listen to your intuition. Yeah. Deep stuff.
It's true. We should always listen to our inner voice. Yeah. What's really interesting as well is. This feeling of contentment with yourself, or like this feeling like, Hey, my decisions, I like my decisions and I'm okay with them. I had to learn how to do that. I didn't know how to do that.
We were all programmed to do the opposite of that. Yep, exactly. That's why I was always doing things I was like, why am I getting to these situations? And it's because the decisions that I was making were the opposite of what I actually wanted in my life, was I'm trained to steer away from what I wanted to steer away from my feelings and my thoughts and my desires.
And so having to read your out that and go towards them was one of the most scariest things that I've ever done in my life. Yes. It's very true. And another thing on that line that we talked about is knowing your values. Because when you know your values, then you can live in line with them.
And then the decisions that you make you're comfortable with because you know your values. So many people don't establish their actual values. Like what is really important to me in life? Is it honesty? Is it knowledge? Is it cleanliness? Is it financial stability, whatever it is it's really important to see what are you values?
Cause a lot of times when we're not happy, it's because we're not living in line with our values. But it's because we don't know what they are. The decisions that you make, if they're aligned with your values, you're going to be happy with them.
So it reminds me of this story. I love telling stories. So there was a guy that lived in England and he had always wanted to get a house on the Irish countryside. He wanted to fish all day and just have some sheep and live that simple country life for 20 years, he had that dream and he never did it.
So he decided to go out and get a coach and talk to them about it and figure out why he had never achieved his dream. So the person said to him, okay, what is your dream? So he told him the dream and he goes, okay. Is it ecological Is it good for you? Yeah, of course. It's good for me. I would be completely happy.
I'd be fishing all day. Okay. Okay. Is it good for your family? Oh my family. Oh no, I don't think they'd like it. My wife would be mad. She'd be moved away from all her friends. My children would be upset. They'd have to change schools. They would know anybody. There's your answer?
. It was your dream, but it's not in line with your values because obviously your family is very important to you. And that's the reason why you never accomplish that because internally something was telling you, this is not the right thing to do. So once you sit down and think about things like that, is it good for me?
Is it ecological is a good for the people that I love. Ben, you make those decisions in full knowledge that you are in line with your values and that you're doing the right thing. And that you're completely happy that really like blew my mind because a lot of times people have these dreams and then you just don't think it through though.
And it's just up in your head and never really going anywhere because in actuality, if you stop and think about it, it's not really going to work out the way that you're dreaming about it working out. Wow. I've never heard it told like that before that this was really eyeopening.
That was amazing. That's one of those stories that really woo to me. Yeah. Because the decision making process is something that I'm still learning and trying to embody, so this was really wow. That makes a lot of sense and I think that's what I've been trying to do, but hearing it said like, this is just definitely, really eyeopening. I'm happy. I could be anointed by the spirit.
Oh my God.
We forgot to tell our cult joke. We did whisper has called jokes. Often our conversations ended up being a lot more on the kind of soul seeking and heart searching type of stuff. So we like to bring a little levity to it, to make everybody laugh. It's like a little, band-aid a little band-aid after that alcohol,
did you find them? Oh yeah. , my uncle started a cult and married 20 women. People are telling me it's a terrible situation, but I think there's a lot of nuance,
That's particularly good for us because we have to call everybody uncle and auntie. So that's pretty funny. Yeah.
This is another one I love. Um, , What do you call it? When a cult is looking to get a loan for a property compound interest. Oh my
gosh. Do you guys ever think about the communal aspects of life and think about what it would take to actually do that and have it be something that is like positive. For men. I do, actually, I do. I thought about it a lot to be honest, but then I had roommates and I was like, nevermind, this is never going to work.
you have to have some very pliable people to be able to live together. What I was thinking is that you have to have the sort of like dominate or this sort of one, the sort of one person to glue it all together to whip out any dissent or to keep everything in line, yeah. Yeah. Because when we were in, in Russia that same home that I lived in that started that project. We were called the nut home, the new year old team. And it was all, it was the first place that I ever lived that didn't technically have any adults there. We were all 19 and 20, technically we weren't really adults, like you were saying, you're 21 and you've never done anything. It's was like that. So it was all second generations, except for the one, one lady was like 27 year old from Poland. And she was considered our adult,
it was constant arguing, screaming, and yelling. Each meeting, had to have one person ruling it. And then we had to take turns because nobody wanted just one person to do it. All of a sudden everybody had an opinion. So it was after the charter. So we felt like, Hey, now I'm allowed to have an opinion.
And we all wanted to do things our way we were nine people living in. I can't even tell you how small this apartment was. It was called a three bedroom, but in Russia that includes the living room and the bath, the kitchen was like, you could barely walk into it. I'm talking tiny freaking apartment that we lived in.
And our weekly meetings were just like huge balls of rage. Everybody just yelling their opinion and screaming we managed, we got along, we scheduled ourselves, we did our work, but yeah, there should have been somebody there to bring down the gavel.
All right. Everybody order in the court. Either that or that the focus or the ideal is of what you're doing is actually the boss. So to speak. . Sometimes if you do have somebody that's at the top, the guy in charge, the girl in charge, you can end up going sideways because yeah.
You end up like your quote unquote, following that person. And you don't, you run into those problems. But if you're doing it for a certain purpose, say, there's, I don't know, like three families and they're like insanely passionate about rescuing animals and they go and they open the, find a farm and they all lived in, like that would work because their deal is what's pulling them together.
I think those are the areas that it could work. It's like people who practice ethical non-monogamy right. It's not to say that's a better way or a worse way, but , if you find the people that all come together, that prefer that style of relationship that's when it works.
I think that there is the possibility of it being successful for people to live together and have a communal living situation. That's just my thinking on it is that is the idealism behind it. I'm the oldest of 11 and so there wasn't a time in my life that I could remember that I.
Responsible for someone else than not, there's not a moment in my life. And then your raised being like, okay. The only thing that you can prepare for is a life of a missionary mom. That's the only thing you're allowed to do. And so here I am now in my forties and it's the first time in my life.
I'm living in a place by myself and yeah I'm a little bit still going through that. What the fuck am I doing? What what am I supposed to do now? I've got I've got this. Like I got this free time. And I'm like, what, oh, what do I do?
Feeling ever go away because I live by myself. Sometimes I walk around my apartment. I'm just like, oh my God, I don't have anyone telling you what to do. I don't have to take care of anyone.
Like I wonder when that's going to go away. It's just such a blessing to be able to have my own space. Yeah. I don't know if that is ever going to fully go away, that sort of deep understanding of what it really feels like to not be controlled, you have to have lived in a place where you're so intensely controlled, to be able to appreciate that experience.
And I don't think there's very many people. Aside from people that have been in, in a cult or in jail, in prison for long periods of time. I think those are the only kinds of situations where you can really fully understand what it's like to have literally no choice for yourself.
And then now, and yeah. And then now having it for the first time. I don't think that forget how amazing that is. Amazing. It's great that we can appreciate what may seem insignificant to others. Even to me, just I can do my kitchen, however I want, I can have whatever bed sheets, like if I want black ones, I can have black ones.
Nobody's going to tell me what I can or cannot do. And I really relish it. I love it. And I think it's amazing that we can enjoy something as simple as free time and not being told what to do, but it becomes one of those great joys of life to us. The ability to sit on the couch and just do whatever I want is like the purest joy. And, I watched whatever fucking show you on without like feeling guilty or yeah.
And some people are probably like saying oh, maybe we could say, oh, you were kids. Kids don't have autonomy anyway, teenagers can't really, but it's no, you don't understand. It's not about like that. You couldn't just leave the house whenever you want it.
It's every single option, every single choice, everything was controlled. And policed down to like your very thoughts, and I'm not just in that moment either it's like your future was planned for you. So that's where the choice is gone.
It's not oh, maybe I could be an astronaut. Maybe I could be a rancher like that. Those there's no such thing as that. You knew you couldn't get a further education, . You know what I thought, what I had to look forward to I was looking forward to living in the woods, in the wilderness essentially to escape the antichrist forces and having to hide out because we were going to be hunted and to basically be shot in the back by a laser gun.
Remember that poster? Yeah. I'm trying to I'm trying to post her and witness I'm being like assassinated. Oh,
I remember being a kid and being, so I don't know why, but like I just had this image of myself being really hairy in the woods because I wasn't allowed, I didn't have cause I was thinking about what it would be to be an adult. I was like, okay, I'm going to be this adult with hairy armpits and hairy legs in the woods.
And I don't know why that was like my image
of myself and I was mortified.
I'm just going to be by myself. I'm only going to have my brothers and sisters I'm never gonna have any friends. Like what is terrifying? Funny and sad.
Oh, like so many of our stories, they're only funny now. And only if you have a dark sense of humor.
I remember being in Italy in this home where I was like probably maybe six and my older brother was I dunno 15 or 16 or something like that. And they would go around the room and pray over each person.
Like laying on of hands, the anointing of oil, the whole thing. But. My brother had collected a couple of watches, a few watches and he requested to be prayed over for a spirit of materialism or something like that. And so then after the prayer, , he went and he like threw away his watches.
And I was like, oh my God. That was his only little thing that he had, yeah. And everyone was like, so happy and so excited. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord. Thank you Lord. That my brother passed away his possessions
it's little things like that little memories like that that I have never really shared with anyone because they're so tiny, but those are the little snippets, that I have. Yeah. That's tough. And they're the stuff that sticks with you. Yeah. It really helps to process it. And just to get it out because in your head it's a jumble thoughts, but once you verbalize it, it's a little bit clearer to your brain even.
Just verbalizing it.
And then it's actually you've made it into reality and then. But, it really helps with the processing to verbalize things. Just say it, even if it's uncomfortable and difficult, it's like cleaning out the wound a little bit.
Yeah. Wow. And then also this next step further, which is, like what we've been experiencing doing this podcast is when you verbalize it, sometimes your thoughts, you are putting into words, what someone else has been trying to put into words for a really long time. And suddenly they're now processing something that they needed to process, before for a long time.
And sometimes it's like the simple things where you're like, okay, if I had stopped to think about it in that way, I would've, I would have realized it, but I didn't. I watched this video clip of someone actually a life coach, they said anytime you art super critical on yourself and the things that you hate about yourself, remember the only reason, that you think those things are wrong with you is because someone else told you that.
right. It's a simple thing, but for whatever reason, putting it in those words, It gave me another tool to use when I get these hateful thoughts about myself or, I'm doubting myself or whatever it might be, I'm like, oh my God, I'm making myself wrong.
Not because that's actually how I feel, but because someone else told me that's how I should feel about myself. And now I have a new tool, so yeah. That's why I think it's so important to, have conversations with people and tell your story and just share the way that you see things because you're going to help somebody else.
Yeah. Wow. No matter what, someone's going to hear you in your it's going to help someone else. So yeah, I think for me, it's been so crucial to say things out loud because we weren't allowed to speak our mind. So, at night, just before bed was like my most favorite time, because I would just go into my mind.
I would just go into these worlds that I created in my head. And I would just live in them and I would experience them. And that was, the only thing I had that was my pleasure in life, in terms of something that belonged to me. And I would make up these fantasies and these scenarios and I would go to parties and I would have friends and I would.
Go to school and I would read books and I would do all these things in my head. And at some point, I realize that it was very hard for me to even speak to people to begin with, I could sing, I could do something scripted, but having a conversation and not becoming devastatingly afraid and fearful was something that I had to learn how to do.
Because there was a disconnect between my thought processes and the ability to speak. It wasn't like a flowing thing. There wasn't a flowing process between my brain and my mouth. I would have three thoughts in my head. And my mouth was like struggling to keep up with them almost because my brain processing was so much faster than my ability to like, just speak my mind.
And and sometimes I'll not even really know what I'm feeling until I. Forced myself to use that ability because that the speaking ability I feel is very tied to your body and your feelings and it's like a primal thing. Whereas your brain is just, it can just go off on its own. It's almost disconnected from that.
It can, for me, at least it's a big deal when you go from that, this association. So speaking really helps to connect those, like clamps that we're disconnected. Yes, exactly. Very true. It's like sucking you back into your body so that you can control your mechanism, yes, exactly. Really good way of saying it, actually.
That really is. Yeah. There you go. Putting into words, what we all been trying to think about.
I love it. Yes. That's why we have to have these conversations. That's why we're doing this because like we say, we heal in public so others can heal in private it's these type of difficult conversations are the ones that we need to have and we need to open them up.
Everybody has some sort of mental health problem. Everybody has physical problems. Everybody has mental issues. . There's no such thing as like the perfect brain, just like there's no, my body is perfect.
There's nothing wrong with me. We all have issues, but a lot of people don't acknowledge them. Like you said, they'll go to the grave, carrying that trauma and not processing it. And then you can't really live because you're living in a brown paper bag in there in your own little head processing all your trauma, when you could come out of that bag and be whatever you want to be do whatever you want to do.
It's while we're here, we're above ground. We can do anything we want. The world is our oyster. I love it. This has been so great. So great talking to you, Susan and connecting with you. This is fantastic. Thank you. So tastic. What's the name of your podcast?
Did we say that already? Am I in just like it's the Susan caygill show? My fourth episode at this point. But if you guys wouldn't mind coming on my podcast, that would be awesome. Yeah. We'd love to honor. That'd be awesome. Yes.