We often have a very black and white thinking of good and evil. Gurus, and spiritual teachers and those under the guise of “Swami” or being an enlightened being often come off as living saints on earth. They act kind, warm, enigmatic, charismatic, full of joy and when they see you, you feel addicted to that energy and you feel like a warm blanket was just draped over your shivering spiritual body. Rather than deal with your problems, you bury your identity in the figure of Guru, your teacher starts to mold you and says you are in his image and all is perfect. For me wanting to escape responsibility and accountability this was very enticing. To go back to the world when there is nothing there, this becomes a crisis especially if you feel no one would notice if you lived or died. Faced with this, the love of my Guru, meant the world loved me, because I saw myself through him, and in doing that, I became him.
To backtrack, I was an occult practitioner, and I started to study eastern mysticism. The occult left me with a void that became an echo chamber of my ego and showmanship. I had a thriving business and many followers, but I felt like an actor, and when the show was over I slumped back into some gray mass of sadness. Reading one day about “enlightenment” I became obsessed with what this phenomenon was all about, is there such a thing as enlightenment? Though the new age teachers seemed like shams, I happened to stumble online into what seemed a humble Swami, with a tiny following on Facebook. His words disoriented me, and I can only compare it too feeling like a starving child. I finally friended him on Facebook. At first, he didn’t seem to notice, and weeks went by before I made contact. I was scared, so I first just messaged a shy “hello.” He responded kindly and asked me a few questions about why I followed him. He was patient, as he explained many teachings. He was concerned about everything in my life and remembered everything I would tell him. He even remembered people I complained about. In a few months, he was closer to me, than anyone in my life. He had a sense of humor and he had a degree and education. We literally talked all day and often all night, laughing too, and he had many stories about his life in India. I trusted him with my life. If I was five minutes late coming home he was worried. This is grooming, and this is love bombing. I was becoming addicted and dependent.
Swami Schhidnand taught me Yoga and meditation, but it dissolved as he was mainly talking to me about personal feelings and he seemed less the pious saint I was first drawn too, his personality changed drastically, he was becoming possessive, demanding, critical, screaming and insults were replacing the compliments he showered me with just months prior. He started to say he would kill himself if I could not be with him, and he often cried over yahoo messenger, as he said that I ruined him completely. That at 60 years of age he never fell in love with a woman, and his whole life now was a wasteland and fraud. From laughing and sharing to tears and rage the next minute was now my dreaded daily talks with him, and I felt like a walking time bomb. My life became a hellish nightmare. I was in some sort of shock and thinking like a robot.
I would jump if I heard the phone ring and would answer the phone trembling and shaking. One time when I answered, I heard what seemed a gun go off. He told me next time it would be real and pointed to his head. I was re-named as his “Ma Premswarupa” I was his private secretary, and everything came through me, he loved this, he felt like a King, and he wanted me to arrange a trip to the USA. He told me “when I come to the USA, I am not leaving without you.”
As things worsened (and believe me they did) the eventual break up was the most vicious and traumatizing occurrence in my life, in which I felt just left me for dead inside for a long time. What also died was the search for spirituality, as spirituality is very much like heroin to me. I am even careful to this day, in researching groups to kind of stop and take a breather as the fumes get toxic for me. I never looked back at the occult again, or was drawn to the carrot of “enlightenment.”
With the death of my spiritual identity of “Ma Premswarupa”, the former ghost of who I was, now haunted me, of who I was from innocent happier times, and what do you do when you are chased and hunted down by your own ghost? I felt like Peter Pan trying to sew back his shadow. This is how I felt for years, and with no therapy, no help, I lost all my friends as when I was “Ma Prem” I was reborn in the image of Guru and became an asshole. My husband helped me and just having a routine, going to my job, doing regular things, wearing regular clothes, watching movies, reading about other topics. Each day, I became “Debra” again, one memory at a time and building new memories with people that got to know me and loved me.
I never thought in a million years I would be an anti-cult educator, or have a magazine on cults or my own company. I wanted to forget about everything and just live out my life. Afterwards, I started lurking in several Guru bashing type groups online, and my story would leak out and I would get into some deep talks with those coming out of these types of relationships. I felt a strange sense of fulfillment because I was able to understand that I wasn’t alone and had empathy for others. I started to read about cults, and join different types of groups but I was quiet in these groups. I once put up a website with chapters and chapters detailing everything. My ex-Guru finally found out and tried to threaten and blackmail me. He was hardly dead and is still kicking. He pulls this every few years, for money, for sex, or for control on women. I was just the flavor of the month.
One day I decided to take down all the blogs on him. Inside I lit a match and set fire to all of this, I walked away, purified by the fire and realized how I was going to live my life was my responsibility and on my own terms. I was no longer a victim, or a former victim, I was just “me” and I was okay with that. Ma Premswarupa never existed, she never died, just the illusion. What didn’t kill me didn’t make me stronger, it is what killed me that made me strong.