Frances’s Story

This is one of a thirty part exposé on the Children of the Legion. This group of women, then girls, in the Regnum Christi, share their stories of abuse, neglect and the aftermath of being children in the Regnum Christi. For a complete list of stories to date, view Children of the Legion.


Thank you to one and all who have shared your stories so far. I don’t know many of you at all, and others I lived with for three years and still barely know–but I am truly grateful for this group bringing us closer together. Funny we’ve discovered more about each other over the internet in a month than years of living together.

I was at the PC for 3 years, I left after my junior year. I went to the PC as an escape from my home–my family had just moved, I didn’t have friends, and I was depressed. My options were homeschool or PC, so I got the hell out of Dodge.

It’s been absolutely amazing and eye-opening to me to think back to the insane life that was the PC. Yet, there we were, tucked back in there, us Russian Princesses and Nuns of Naragganset, better than our peers because we had chosen to give our lives to God. Those other mere mortals were living flamboyant and sinfully pleasurable lives; because wasn’t life all about sacrifice and self-denial?

For a group that preached “universal Christian charity” it’s amazing to think how much we judged any and all who weren’t doing exactly as we were. “Oh, she must not be generous with God, she is going HOME”. “Oh did you hear? So and so had fun/danced/got pregnant/etc etc.” Seriously?! Who were we to judge or say what God’s will was for someone else? We were better somehow for giving our lives to God, others who were called to vocations such as marriage were lesser beings, not capable of the love and devotion we chosen souls were capable of. The hubris of those thoughts disgusts me even as I write it.

That feeling of superiority was only escalated in those horrific team balances. I honestly can’t for the life of me think of what could possibly have been said between us docile and charitable PCs, but I’m going to bet that absolutely everything that was said was petty and overly scrupulous. For what? To ruin the shred of self-worth we may have felt that week?

Everything was so calculated so as to look perfect, yet hearing the common themes of depression, eating disorders, and low self esteem rampant at the PC, that very façade takes on an eerily sinister note. I’m sure the majority of our parents thought they were doing us a favor sending us to such a “prestigious institution”, yet what message were they getting? Clearly not an accurate one. The silence amongst ourselves only masked the truth, a show of happiness cleverly hidden under strict norms.

How is it that 80 girls could live so close together, do absolutely everything together for years, and yet know so little about each other? I think we were only allowed to speak a total of about 30 minutes a day, maybe less. The rest of the time we walked about like drones, taking in what we were told we could take in, nothing more, nothing less.

The very essence of what it means to be a human, to have the freedom to choose was taken away and put inside the tightest of boxes: the schedule. Every minute of every day was planned out, to the point that if you got constipated, good luck. Your free time didn’t allow enough time to remedy that problem.

I remember one year after final exams, going outside and yelling FREEEEDOOMMMM (braveheart style) with a couple other PC’s. We earned a intolerably long lecture about the inappropriateness of such behavior. We were teenagers, for Christ’s sake.

Any type of creativity or originality was stifled under the pretext of “God’s will”, an all encompassing mandate I have come to loathe. A God who is a God of love would not want so many of us to be in constant physical and mental pain. I remember going to the doctor at one point, because I couldn’t run on account of intense back pain. He told me he’d never seen a back so bad, especially on someone so young. “Why?” I asked. “Stress”, he replied.

No kidding. The weight of constantly trying to achieve an unattainable level of perfection taxed our bodies to the max. I distinctly remember telling Heidi I was going to leave after the school year ended, and walking out of her office and down the long hallway. It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I had no idea until that moment that something internal could be felt so dramatically, so distinctly.

It took a long time for me to realize after leaving the PC that it is perfectly ok, dare I say normal, to sit back and relax. I don’t think there was ever time to unwind in our schedule. Instead we were frantically going from one thing to another, spinning the hamster wheel faster and faster not even realizing we were going nowhere.

I absolutely shudder when I think of the life I led in high school. I’ve blocked much of it out. All I wanted was a “normal” high school life, with crushes and dances and extracurriculars and freedom. I know I’ve rambled on, but there are a few things I’d like to make clear. One, I’m so grateful to know each one of you, as well or as little as I do. We went through a type of hell together, and lived to tell the tale. Thank you for your friendship and support. And two, freedom has become my life mantra. I’m a firm believer in doing what you want in life, and being HAPPY. Life is too short to live otherwise. I wish you all happiness in your lives.

I had a nightmare the other night that I was back at the PC, and was being shuttled from activity and prayer then more prayer and activity. Then I stopped. And said no, I won’t do it. And just left. It felt almost as freeing as the day I actually did.


49 Weeks
This story is a testimony from the 49 Weeks Blog. You can see this and more stories by visiting 49 Weeks.

 

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2 thoughts on “Frances’s Story”

  1. I have thoughh that what the legion does to people some part of what it does is to encourage the super ego. That part of you that wants to be a hero at the expense of the id which just enjoys being and has been accuse of being less moral than the super ego but it is not very moral to want to be to wonderful so both bits of the psychis have some fault ar causes of the persons faults.
    It seems to me this is one reason that Regnum Christi made you all so unhappy. If it is agreable to aim for sainthood and most satifying to the super ego who longs to be great, it is also so nice to curl your feet in the warm sand on the beach, an activity the id would enjoy. MY legionaire’s voice told me, as an answer to my sand description that the only serious occupation is to think of my and other peoples souls.a pretty big order legionaires seem to have no idea how difficult it is to understand other peoples souls you have to spend hours and hours talking to them to get anywhere near knowing them and it better be on any old subject, if you restrict the subject to what you imagine their faults are you lose so much other information about them.
    I answer that my soul is best pacified by a bit of gardening and far from any subjects that might make me into double trouble. One thing is sure, which is that I am double trouble writing here on the internet, at least i am for some.
    The legionnaires answer was that curling your feet in warm sand is not the Holy Ghost. They have been told they are the Holy Ghost or at least his voice, which is tremendous.Believign they are the voice of hte holy Ghost stops them from havign to think ever. It seems to me that their Holy GHost is the voice of the teaching of MM. He would see himself as the holy ghost. It is so awful they think they are expressing his thoughts and their thoughts are so mean. How could the holy ghosts thoughts be so narrow?
    My answer was, the Holy Ghost is in everything,everywhere so that curling your feet in warm sand by the beach, watching your children or grand children play, is him, while thinking of your soul is a super ego activity.
    As he is everywhere i suppose he is in super ego activities too.
    Super ego activities help you feel that you are super but they also make you vain and far from many good things, they are not healthy in big doses.
    The legion over balances so much of what God put on our plates to teach us. They shut peoples eyes to so much we were given as learning material.
    Catholic thought as I know it is that it takes a saint a life time to come closer to a completer understanding of God. For the legion to take away from people all that information that helps them to understand God by obliging then to centre their whole minds on their shortcomings or on how to keep us all straight and far from sin, day and night is terrible.
    If i was expressing my self religiously, as I am, I would say that God god realised that our psychis would break if we had to spend our whole time looking at murk so he gave us sun and flowers and he knew we would be overdone with flowers and gave us a bit of murk to stop things being too pretty pretty and to make things more serious.
    If there is no God the last paragraph still holds good. We still need to deepen our human sympathies but humans can be so mean that we need a sunny day that help us keep our spirits up or a cloudy one to accompany us in our sorrows.
    Who can get to know the Holy Ghost puddling in my black soul and finding it expertly blacker and ever blacker. Legionnaires are not allowed to find rays of light in souls, they are there to clean them, they spend their whole time looking for murk, that cannot be a good way to get to know the Holy Ghost. A legionaire should not bury herself in my soul instead of watching her grandchildren learn. It is foolhardy to imagine you can take to much murk, we are human.

    Regnum Christi took you all away from so much of what is God and good. No wonder you all got so ill. I am feeling romantic about God tonight and inspired and overly confident about being a teacher on Gods goodness. I have written myself into a a happier state of mind.
    I can also manage to talk of things without talking religiously.
    In Buddhism you are meant to find your Buddhic nature, that part of you that is loving and non aggressive. Regnum Christi turned your thoughts away from that to contemplate the opposite in people and to be the opposite, to be soldiers who were meant to attack people and punish them for their faults. To talk like this is to be a heretic and someone who is treading the happy path, I suppose that path that leads to the eternal bonfire, as I heard one catholic talk of those who mix religions.
    I have also read a story of Buddhism in which a monk was told to go and live in the wild for a while, so as to get more real about life, so as to complete his understanding of how things work by observing how big fish eat little fish. How Marcial Maciel eats so many little fish.
    How is one to understand such part of the workings of God? I have a book on mandalas which includes a mandala on a eagle catching a rabbit. You are meant to meditate on mandalas. I find it very hard to spend time thinking of the rabbit in the eagles claws. I so identify with the rabbit.
    Psychically speaking your psychi just needs to do things like curl you feet in the sand as well as to work out how the world goes round. needs to hold a baby and watch it, etc..

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  2. Did you see the film, ‘Soldier’, a nineties film about a lot of boys brought up in a terribly sever regime, just to be good soldiers, sort of robot soldiers and also I saw a film about Spartans whose subject was the same.
    The children of Regnum Christi were brought up like the boys of the film, Soldier, taught to go without emotional warmth and to suffer endless criticism and no pleasurable activities and when you got if you did to the stage of formators, you had to learn to fight everyone without minding if they were your best friends or not. The soldiers film is much the same story as the story of Regnum Christi children, it is the story of boys who were groomed to have no emotions and to face any pain and to fight.
    When you see the film Soldier you have no difficulty in feeling sorry for the boys whose every activity is about them learning to deal with pain and to wound and kill so that there are so m any parts of life they have no idea about they are mainmed of many bits of understanding in order to make them better ssoldiers. Also, for whom there is none of the emotional warmth and pleasurable activities normaly supplied to children.
    Stories and films often explore middle statesof human love or abuse by exploring the most extreme possible example of a piece of behaviour, so the brutality of the film is not so very surprising and so we can feel for the soldiers. Also it is easy to feel sorry for them, because when you watch a film you are meant to react to the story put in front of you, while when it is real life your increduality about such a thing happening in the twentieth century makes it hard to sink yourself uncritically and all believing into the events.
    It does not seem real for modern girls to have been asked to suffer too much pain. so when you hear about the same happening to real and modern girls it is harder to understand the suffering, it is so hard to believe that real girls from the present time were treated in a way that equals the children of a bit film of such an out out brutality, You were not asked to bare being wounded physically but yes emotionally.

    I started writing now because i had a lot of long planned stuff to write and I have ended up just getting carried away with the subject.

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