This post is part 4 of a glimpse into my memoir from my upcoming book “The Apryl Michelle Brown Story.. More than a Body.” If you missed it, you can start from the first post “I Am Not Afraid Of My Greatness!!!
The age seems to escape me but I think I was around 8 years old.
I remember sitting around the table having dinner with my siblings . My mother was telling us to hurry and finish, because we were having company.
We were all excited, asking, who, who? My mom replied, “Some people from the church”.
In my mind I was like, “people from the church?”
- Who are they, was pondering through my mind?
- Are they the people from my grandmothers church?
- Why are the people from my grandmothers church coming to our house, I wondered and wondered?
Well, I decided to not ask a bunch of questions because my mom was really adamant for us to get prepared for the church people.
As my siblings and I prepared for the church people, I started to feel sick.
At that time I didn’t know what nausea was. I went to my mom and told her that my stomach was hurting. She told me to go get the pepto bismol out of the bathroom cabinet (oh God, not that nasty pink stuff, I thought to myself.)
So to the cabinet I went, moving slow as a turtle, dreading the taste of the pink stuff.
I heard my mother’s voice, shouting, hurry up Michelle.
Increasing my pace by a 1000, I grabbed the pepto out of the cabinet and took it back to my mother. She gave me a couple of cap full, and I was on my way to meet and greet the church people.
As we waited for them to arrive, I noticed my stomach ache seemed to be getting worse.
This stomach ache seemed to be different from the stomach ache I got after eating a bunch of Halloween candy one year. This stomach ache felt more like an uneasy feeling, a nervousness.
I didn’t know at that time, but I was experiencing anxiety, for the first time in my life (definitely not my last.)
My hands were clammy, and a bead of sweat formed on my forehead as the door bell rang. It’s the church people. My mother opens the door.
My siblings and I are standing there looking well-mannered, but nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to see and experience.
As the church folk walked into our house, it was immediately very clear that these were not the church folk from my grandmother’s church.
The people at my grandmother’s church did not dress like they were dressed.
The six women wore long dresses, with long sleeves and no make-up and brightly colored turbans on their heads, like a bunch of exotic peacocks.
There were three men; to this day, I cannot explain their wardrobe. They carried drums and tambourines.
At my grandmothers church everyone looked “normal”.
But these church people were different.
As they filled our living room, they introduced us to their “Bishop”- a very tall, full-figured woman. ‘This is Bishop Dawson” one of the peacocks said.
I can’t tell you how my sisters and brother felt during that introduction, but I can definitely tell you how I felt.
It was something about this woman. And my little 8-year-old spirit was feeling really weary (of course I didn’t know that at the time.) When I tried to look at her, my stomach felt like it was in knots and my stomach ache grew worse.
It was so bad I thought I would up chuck that great dinner my mom had prepared.
She was definitely not the most attractive flower on the bush – although beauty is in the eye of the beholder – I now understand that spirit works through our feelings.
We all have been in a predicament where we met somebody, or walked past somebody, and felt a strange uncomfortable feeling? This feeling is called spirit.
Always follow you first mind (spirit), because it will never lead you wrong.
Her wig seemed to be on backwards. She seemed incredibly tall to me. I didn’t get a friendly vibe.
Somehow I felt there was something sneaky about her. Something weird, I was afraid to look at her.
She wore a hat and this long black dress. I felt she was trying to be nice in some kind of way, but I just couldn’t look at her-even years later, I couldn’t look in her eyes.
She wore glasses. But she always seemed to be looking over them.
She had this bullying presence about her. Lawd knows I didn’t even know what bullying was at that time – but that’s the exact energy I felt.
It was clear to me that night, that she ran the show. And, she ran her husband too.
She just seemed creepy. She was wearing this funny smelling oil… a mixture of oils. It had a horrible smell to it. Even to this day when I smell that scent I call it witch craft oil :).
I don’t know how I knew she was cunning when I was only 8 years old, well, I guess I do know its called intuition (spirit).
Only one other member of the nine-strong troop was introduced, her husband.
He was called, “Overseer Dawson”.
He would become known as the “death prophet” (yea.) I will tell you about that in just a minute. It was hard to look at Overseer Dawson too, but for totally different reasons.
I am not going to say he didn’t feel strange, because he did. He had these boils all over his face and his hands. And you know anything that looks “abnormal” to children, normally frightens them.
After the introduction of those two, there was no formal introduction of the other church members.
They started singing, the drums were playing, the tambourines were jangling. For a split second, I remember saying, “This music is nice and it sure does sound better than the music at my Grandmother’s church.”
I still couldn’t shake that feeling in my stomach that I called a stomach ache.
After the music stopped, they started to sing this song. Everyone started to kneel and we were instructed to do the same.
After what seemed like at least an hour of prayer, (it was not a synchronized prayer either), everyone just shouted out their prayers, as if it was a prayer competition.
That was so freaking traumatic for my young siblings and I could see the terror on their faces too. The trauma was just starting, so hold on.
Then the “Bishop” instructed us to get up from our knees. They started to sing another song.
Once again, I was enjoying the music but what was about to follow no one could have prepared my siblings or myself, there was not enough insight in the world to see this coming.
This lady started, screaming, running, jumping. We all did the exact same thing, that she did, except we were running in the opposite direction.
We were screaming too, but not because we were feeling the spirit. We were scared to death.
We all ran in our rooms, straight terrified. I can’t remember who it was that came and got us from the rooms.
We were kindly escorted right on back to the church people.
You talking about scared, I can still feel that feeling, as I am typing .
For the next few hours, I think my siblings and I were numb. I remember trying to get to my mother, but I couldn’t.
It seemed as if they were surrounding her in some form, remember, this is coming from the eyes of a child.
Just when I thought it’s about to be over, the music had stopped, nobody was running, screaming or jumping.
Then, all of sudden, I see my mother stand up (a sigh of relief). Then she suddenly got back down on her knees again, and the church folk started physically surrounding her, screaming and shouting at her saying, “Say Jesus, Say Jesus, Say Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesus.”
Oh my God, I started screaming, “Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama. What are are they doing to mama?”
Screaming to my brother, “Why is spit coming out of her mouth like that?”
I was looking at my siblings, they were just as terrified. What are they doing to Mama?
I was screaming, Mama… Mama… Some woman grabs my hand and says to me, “She’s OK, Stop blocking the spirit”. Huh? What? Who? where? What did she say? Maaaaaaaaaaaaama I screamed to the top of my lungs.”
That was my last night of peace, for a long period of my life. My first night of feeling “anxiety” (spirit).
The introduction into the cult.
This is in no way a put down to any religion. I am only sharing my experience about the one I was raised in.