Saturday, July 16, 2011
Kelly Cousins at Cross Creek programs - Volume 3
Like I said earlier, I was never one of the girls that were routinely taken down, but it still took me several months to really advance in the program.
Let me explain - although the program cronies would say like to say otherwise, unless you are crying in group and painting a very melodramatic picture of your "issues," you will not advance to the upper levels, and you will not go home (which is where we ALL wanted to be). I, however, had difficulty with this, because I had a hard time expressing emotion back then - especially when put on the spot in group.
Thus, my inability to "be real," (translation: cry) held me back on the low levels for a good seven months or so. As I stated earlier, I had been a good student in school, unlike most of the other girls at CCM, and was always very bright. My intelligence, apparently, was something to be ashamed of. I was routinely punished and chastised in group for being "better than," and being "in my head" all the time. I was specifically reprimanded in group for using "big words" that the other girls didn't understand. This was all brought on because I was trying to help some of the other girls with their school work, which was, apparently, a bad thing. After being "confronted" about my "intelligence issue," (yes, they actually called it that) I remember trying to dumb myself down in order to not incur the group's criticism.
As anyone who has been incarcerated in a WWASP program knows, their "school" system is, at best, laughable. As I said earlier, I was a very good student, and I was enrolled in a very challenging high school curriculum. At Cross Creek (or "Browning Academy" as WWASP likes to refer to the fictional "school" associated with their programs), I was given a remedial level text book for each respective class, and instructed to complete the chapter excersizes and a chapter test. This was the extent of our "education," and it was a mockery of my intellectual ability. I learned absolutely nothing my senior year in high school - if you could even call it that.
Eventually, I got over the hump and advanced to level three. But let me first let you know that I wasn't allowed to speak to my parents on the phone until I had been there for four months, the first time I saw my parents was after seven months, and the first time I saw my two brothers was after nine or ten months. And of course, I was not allowed to communicate with anyone from the outside world besides my parents - not friends, family or anyone besides my parents & brothers.
After I began to advance in the program, I became one of its most vocal supporters. I was notorious for giving "hardcore" feedback to new girls, and "not taking any crap," from anyone not subscribing to the program's mantras. Honestly, I became a blood-thirsty pitt bull - anxiously awaiting the opportunity to tear another girl down, the way that I had been torn down before. I'm sure that I probably caused a lot of girls pain, and this is something that I feel intensely remorseful for to this day.
After I had been at CCM for 10 months or so, I was on level five and able to take an off-grounds pass with my family. My parents, brothers and I went to Las Vegas and another small town in Utah (I can't remember the name) - and had a lot of fun. I missed my family so much by that point that I thought I might break in two. The pass really broke down a lot of the months of brainwashing, and I eventually reached a point where I felt like I would literally go insane if I had to remain in the program.
Basically, I cracked - one night at St. George (the high phase facility of CCM), I spent three hours pacing around my room trying to figure out how I was possibly going to complete the program without losing my mind. You see, by then, I was 18, and I was able to walk out of the program if wanted to - however, my parents had made it very clear to me that they would not let me come home if I left Cross Creek without completing the program.
My "exit plan" was pretty similar to other kids that were in WWASP programs - if I decided to leave after I turned 18, I would get $10 in my pocket and a bus ticket to Denver (not Houston, my native city), and my parents would not accept me back in their house. So, back to that night when I lost it - I eventually decided, after a couple of hours of pacing, that I had to leave the program, despite the fact that I would probably be homeless.
So, I went to the head staff at St. George, Bernie, and told her that I wanted to leave. She attempted to change my mind for an hour or so, but I wouldn't be swayed. Then my parents were called. We had an incredibly gut-wrenching phone conversation during which my mother told me "goodbye" for real - at that moment she believed that she was talking to me for the last time. After my parents couldn't get me to change my mind, my 17 year-old brother, Cory, was put on the phone. I remember him sobbing over the receiver and pleading with me not to leave the program, because he "didn't want me to die." I cried my eyes out during all of this, but still, my parents and I held firm in our positions.
Finally, after a few hours of this, I spoke to my case manager, and she told me that I could still change my mind about leaving. I was petrified by the thought of being abandoned in a foreign city (not to mention the fact that I had no way of contacting any of my other family members, since it was forbidden to record any phone numbers), so I acquiesced, and remained at Cross Creek.