• Jessie Shedden

It infuriates me that my family would rather eat and socialize with my sexual abuser than with me.

"It took me a long time to realize was that being born into the brethren and the abuse that took place, these things are not my fault! But it infuriates me that my family would rather eat and socialize with my sexual abuser than with me."

The awfully cute Beth Seed from America has been free of the cult she grew up in, 13 years now, so she has plenty of thoughts to share.

What is the one thing in life you’re so happy you did?

So many things! This one is a challenge! But I’m going to say I’m so happy I found the love of my life! I'm so happy I adopted my first kitty (which turned into adopting 3 kitties ). I'm so glad I was brave enough to put myself out there and let people see the real me. It took me a while to realize that being born into the brethren, and the things that happened to me, are not my fault. They're just part of my story, and it doesn't make me less, it just makes me who I am. I'm so happy that I let people see the real me! I'm so happy I've been able to connect with an aunt that left many years before I was born and an uncle that was kicked out when I was 5 years old. Having them in my life has been an enormous blessing!

What would you tell your younger self?

Be careful who you trust and be more self-confident! You are so much stronger, braver and smarter than you think!

Who is the one person who changed your life the most?

My husband. He gave me the confidence to do so many things and to see that I was so much more than I had been raised to believe.

What is the biggest lesson(s) you’ve learnt since starting your new life?

Again, so many, but one of the biggest is learning to trust myself, my decisions and be more confident. As I mentioned before, one thing it took me a long time to realize was that being born into the brethren, the abuse that took place, these things are not my fault! They are just part of my story! Another huge lesson, that again took me a while, was that every little thing that doesn't go right in my life is not the result of me leaving the brethren. From such a young age, it was drilled into me that if I left the brethren, everything would go wrong and essentially my life would fall apart. It was probably five or six years after I left before I stopped instinctively thinking, oh no, this is because I left the brethren. That is simply not the case! Another lesson that I've learned is that it's okay to be happy. Sometimes I think what's wrong with me, how can I be happy being separated from my entire family? But it's not my choice, it's theirs, and it's okay for me to live my life and enjoy my life and be happy. Another huge lesson is that while it's important to be careful who you trust, it's okay to ask for help! It's never easy to do but we all need a little help from time to time! It does not mean you're weak! In fact, it takes huge strength to ask for help!!

What are you most passionate/grateful about being able to do now as a woman that you couldn’t do before?

I’m so happy to be able to have the career I want, a career I love! The freedom to go where I want, when I want and to be exactly who I am is a huge blessing that I will never take for granted! I work in Social Services. I work with people that need public assistance. Sometimes it's the result of a hard time, a disability, or simply old age. But I love being able to help people and I empathize with them. It's not easy to ask for help and I'm very aware of this. I've become very close to some of my clients, to the point that I get Christmas cards from some of them. It's very touching and makes me feel good that people appreciate the care I try hard to show.

If you have a motivational song, what is it?

I would say Fight Song by Rachel Platten, is a major anthem for me, but I also love Unstoppable by Sia. So, either one of those are my go-to when I need a little reminder of who I am and how strong I am!

What is most important for your mental health?

Spending time with those I love and who love me unconditionally is huge. Time spent cuddling my little kitties always makes me smile too. But along with that, I also started going to therapy about a year and a half ago and that has made an enormous difference for me too. Again, this is something that took me a long time because I was raised that psychologists and counsellors are not acceptable. But for me, it's one of the best decisions I've ever made. I've made huge strides in my healing since I started going. It definitely has to be something that you're ready to do but I highly recommend it.

What should be required reading for every woman?

I don’t really have any specific required reading to recommend. I think if there’s a strong woman you admire, if she has written a book, read it. You will often find amazing advice from strong role models.

What in your life gave you courage?

My faith, my husband, my friends.

What ignites your sense of injustice?

Seeing the endless amount of abuse (sexual, physical, mental) that’s perpetrated in the Brethren (and in similar groups) that never gets addressed. I have first-hand experience with this and the knowledge that my family would rather eat and socialize with my sexual abuser than with me infuriates me on a level I can’t even describe. I know there’s hundreds, thousands, of women like me that will never see their abusers face any sort of consequences on this earth and that is something that really makes me crazy.

What’s the greatest gift we can give ourselves?

I know what I want to say here but I hope I can explain it the way that I want to. The greatest gift we can give ourselves is the freedom to be ourselves! The freedom to love who we want to, to do what we want to, to go where we want to. I think as a woman raised in the brethren, it never occurred to me that I could, and should, love myself for being me! That it’s okay to be different, in fact, it’s a good thing! Celebrate being you because you are enough!! You are amazing!

What’s the greatest gift we can give each other?

Love and support. Especially currently, it’s so easy to lose sight of what someone else is going through. We’re busy rushing through life and sometimes it’s easy to overlook that someone else just needs a kind word, a smile. Instead of judging someone for their opinions, their looks, their ideas, we should accept that we aren’t all the same, we aren’t all going to feel the same way about everything all the time. If we can just sit back and say, I see you, I see that you’re struggling, or I see you’re succeeding but no matter what, I see you, and you’re not alone. That is a huge gift.

Is there anything else you’d love to say?

Don’t let anyone else make you doubt yourself. You are so much stronger than you know! Life is hard and there will be days when you don’t want to go on, but you will because you are strong! Never forget that there is a huge sisterhood of women out there who have gone through terrible things, things they may not even talk about, and they have your back! They’re there for you when you just need a listening ear or a friendly voice.

Thanks for including me in this project! I think especially as women raised

in the brethren it's super important to reflect on how far we've come!

Yes, Beth Seed you are quite right, we don't give ourselves anywhere near enough credit. It's been a real honour to have you take part.

#internationalwomensday #IWD2021 #girllegends

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