So, here we are, at the hardest entry in this series to write. I’ve been actively stalling, which is why the blogs have been a little more sporadic. Writing about this stuff is embarrassing. As much as I love
the person I am now, I don’t really like the person I was at that phase in my life. I do think that it was something I had to go through to become the woman I am today, but that doesn’t make it easy to talk about. It made me a better wife, mother, daughter and friend because it broke me completely and I had a chance to rebuild.
In Part Four I explained how Jordan set up the mythos that would consume my (and a few others’) lives, and if you haven’t already read that, I really suggest you go do so, because it’s only going to get weirder. And if I hadn’t taken the step-by-step route, I wouldn’t have believed any of the crap I ended up believing. And that’s the thing; I really did believe it. I’d say that I believed 95% plus of what Jordan created. There was always a little tiny part of me saying wait, what? what the fuck? but I was very good at ignoring that. It’s the same part of your brain that, when you’re drunk, knows that you’re making an ass of yourself.
So. I guess I’m stalling again, because I don’t want to admit I believed all these things. On the other hand, I really hope that maybe I can raise awareness of this kind of cult/abuse so other people can get help. Not just other people he’s controlled (or is currently controlling) this way, but maybe bring to light other abusers. I’ve met at least three other people who were in cult/relationships like this one, just as lavish in their mythology and just as personally devastating to the believers.
1.) The earth exists in multiple dimensional layers simultaneously. What we would consider the “afterlife” was just a different layer, as if we were one radio station and the afterlife was on the next channel. Thus, ghost sightings, haunted places, etc. were just where there was “interference” from the next plane over. Later, layers of time were added to the story, and because they were different “channels” any historical inaccuracies were irrelevant. The same explanation held for another layer, which was where the Elves and Hobbits were. (In the Lord of the Rings books, it’s called the Undying Lands.) Human mythology and religion are often explanations of how these layers of reality can bleed over in certain places or for certain people.
2.) Jordan could channel other consciousnesses. It was a rare mutation (among others, the Oracle at Delphi also had it). His own consciousness would cease to be and his brain essentially was taken over by the “electrical patterns” of whomever was possessing him. He could “bring” people from any of these layers, including currently living people, provided they were either heavily intoxicated or capable of astral travel. Jordan was unaware of what happened while he was “gone,” and thus you had to tell the story back to him as soon as it finished. As if his brain was a computer loading a different operating system, complete with programs, apps and files.
3.) At some point, the original (female) inhabitant of his body just refused to return, which was in essence the non-corporeal version of committing suicide. The body, needing a “core” program, “duplicated” the last person who he had channeled. Thus, he became Jordan, which was short for Elijah Jordan Wood. This “core” switch happened a total of three times while I was there, and in retrospect served to start a major storyline change. The cores were always male after the original “died.” I’d say The Others (as we called them) had an 80/20 split in favor of males.
(An aside: This is why Jordan being transgender is such a huge part of things; because he had started out well-known as a woman and later began living as a man, the gossip always includes this part. And because Jordan was a manipulator and pathological liar (on an epic scale), it has been discussed to no end. I will not take any more part in that than necessary, because other Trans people have been hurt by the kind of disgusting shit people have said about Jordan. It never ceases to amaze me what kind of personal, rude things people think it’s ok to say. Seriously, it is so not relevant to any of the evil shit Jordan did.)
4.) Over time, there were more and more people who “came through.” Initially it was a limited number of Lord of the Rings characters. Later were vampires (which were really a subgroup of elves), time travelers, movie stars, soldiers, and a good-sized handful of X-men rip-offs, all of whom had powers that could almost be reasonably explained by science. I have rarely been so delighted as when I discovered Stan Lee’s Superhumans and learned that some of the things Jordan claimed were possible actually were.
5.) Name changes were important. When someone “joined” us, they always got a new name (and often a nickname as well). I kept going by my own name, though I did consider changing my middle name to Elhoriam. Bob, Sam and Diamond all considered legally changing their names, and almost certainly would have if the cult hadn’t fallen apart. Bob was lucky; he wised up and got out before he could be fully indoctrinated, though Jordan had started saying that he “thought Bob suspected what’s going on.” There were several other failed converts later, after most of the originals had gone. And, of course, Jordan changed default names every time there was a “core” change.
6.) Each of us “BagEnders” (long story, but the nickname stuck for years) had our own special elf guide. I was the first one, so mine was Lord Elrond. The other two girls (Sam and Diamond) had their own (original character) Elf guardians, and I’m sure Jordan had one all picked out for Bob before he left. There was also a “doctor” elf who dispensed medical advice, mostly “natural” medicine that was scientifically completely unsound. A lot of the stuff the PseudoElfDoctor said was pretty standard alternative/herbal healing stuff, but infused with extra bullshit.
7.) Once The Others were established, they would “knock” when they wanted to talk to you (unless it was more effective to burst right through). Each one had a totally different personality, backstory and often a different accent. As more and more were added characteristics were recycled and later Others were more and more similar to earlier ones. Also, since The Others existed on other planes together, there was all sorts of drama and infighting and adventures. They could also be played off of each other, meaning no matter what defense you had could eventually be broken.
8.) Doubts were used to reinforce our commitment. Questioning was encouraged, because as many Others as necessary would explain away any doubt you had. Sometimes Jordan himself would bring up doubts, so you’d have to hear the entire argument why all this was real and then recount the entire thing to Jordan when he “came back.” Asking for any kind of “proof” was met with the same sort of thing. Sometimes you ended up feeling that your faith wasn’t strong enough, or that your doubts were insulting. Sometimes, he would deliberately create doubt in your mind, usually as punishment.
9.) Once we met The Others, they always wanted to talk. There was almost constant drama, day or night – emergencies and fights and questions and on and on. You might be called on to mediate a dispute, help solve a mystery or to explain something from “the future” to someone. I’d say that Jordan was only actually Jordan for two or three hours a day sometimes. It was almost guaranteed that the moment you’d start to drift off to sleep someone would want to talk to you (and sleep deprivation is the first thing they teach you in Brainwashing 101.)
10.) Jordan worked long and hard (heh) to separate people from friends and family. He would carefully sow seeds of doubt, while the elf guide would give you “therapy” for your fucked up family life. Therapy was a huge part of the entire thing; there was always something terribly wrong with you that needed to be fixed. And the only fix? More hours of walking and listening. He was amazingly skillful at creating false memories, which is scarily easy and incredibly convincing. Once you remembered your friends or family doing terrible things to you, it was far easier to get you away from them.
11.) Sometimes Jordan would dictate extremely detailed rituals that were roughly based on Wiccan and Pagan practices. They were never duplicated and (as always, in retrospect) were only used for dramatic effect. Always there was some kind of high stakes situation prompting it, so we’d be frantic and emotional. The endorphin rush of managing to get things done convinced us that something otherworldly had happened. Plus, severely disrupted sleep can cause hallucinations.
Also, since Diamond had recently left Christianity, there was a lot of logical deconstruction of the religion. Any mainstream religion was likewise dismantled. The theological side of things was skirted as much as possible unless it served the plot. I guess the best way to describe how it unfolded was that it was like living inside a video game. You could go on missions, unlock characters, earn bonus things and get rewards. But it was a twenty-four hour game you could never escape that woke you when you tried to rest.
Not long after Bob left, Sam’s mom came to her senses and took her home. Which is a very, very good thing; it was so phenomenally toxic for a kid. For a long time it was Diamond and Jordan and I. By now we were living in Hollywood, working the boulevard and dealing with Jordan day and night. At some point we had a falling out with Diamond and Jordan asked her to leave. He kept trying to get other people to believe, but at that point things were too fucked up to jump in headfirst. Once it was just the two of us, Jordan ramped up the stories and channeling to make up for the loss of other believers. Eventually, I was little more than a shell that tended to The Others’ endless needs. When we finally hit bottom and I called my mother, she brought me home and found me a therapist who had previous experience deprogramming a cult member. It took a lot of work to come back from that place, and I am proud as hell of that.
Of course, the cult aspect of my relationship with Jordan was only the tip of the iceberg. He was also a low-level con artist. Not for money, although that’s the reputation he has. Money has never been his goal – his actual goal is total control over the people closest to him. Money is just incidental to that. Ditto for meeting movie stars; he wasn’t interested in famous people beyond using (real or faked) connections to celebrities to gain power over people. Living in hotels and working on Hollywood Boulevard was a great thing for him, because he had that level of power over me (and others when they were there). He dictated when I woke, when I slept, how long I worked, how much money we had. If he wanted attention, we quit working. Even if that meant we didn’t eat.
I know of his current activities (we do share a stalker that I keep one wary eye on) and I strongly suspect he’s doing the same thing again, only basing it on Harry Potter instead of Lord of the Rings. I’ve read part of the epic fanfic he wrote (and his followers are now called “DAYDians” instead of “Bagenders”) and I recognize lots of characters and plots. Jordan’s identity was exposed almost a year ago, which trimmed his following down to a handful. This is exactly what happened when his identity was exposed when I was with him. As a direct result, I found myself redoubling my faith in him and later felt there was no way to get out. If any of his followers end up reading this: It is never to late to get out. Never. The real world is so much better than the dreams he creates.
To be concluded…