My Name Is Ashley, I was an Honor academy Intern in August 2008. Shortly after my grandmother passed away I was called by an Honor Academy representative who offered this bit of insight, “I know your grandmother has gone to be with the Lord, but you should take this as a clear indication that life can be too short not to be close to God.” We had many conversations up until I left for Garden valley in August of 2008.
My life at HA was great at first. I was the new intern cxcited to grow closer to God. I was sold on the idea of my “ability to attend college courses” and thrive in a community of fellow believers. I, however, was not aware I would never be able to speak my mind freely about my feelings, or my take on certain teachings, or that I would be required to attend an approved church. After all the biblical teachings we received on campus not even our Sunday was a day of rest. Around ESOAL time I began to really doubt the teaching methods of the HA and after questioning my Core Advisor (CA) about why I wasn’t able to search out colleges like I had been told I would be able to , I was told that’s not until your here for 2 or 3 years…
Also the first week I was there I had Bronchitis and had to use an inhaler but was still MADE to do corporate exercise. Running 2-3 miles coughing and feeling like I was dying! Back to the week or so before ESOAL, I had general concerns about the intensity of ESOAL and the potential risks as I had heard horror stories from numerous interns who had had a sibling attend in years past. When I twisted my ankle 3 days before the event, I told my CA I was going to opt out of ESOAL. I was then faced with my entire core criticizing me and lecturing me that I needed to beat my body that I would be fine. I don’t to well with conflict so I just went with it. I lasted 1 day and 11 hours before I rang out. I was muddy, ant bite ridden, soaking wet in my heavy clothes and near exhaustion In the 110+ heat. I was again taunted, humiliated and guilted before I rang out. But my body and mind were through.
After ESOAL, I had to return to my normal schedule: 5am corprate exercise, showers quiet time, breakfast, work in the call center until 6pm, then dinner, night seminar and back to the dorm at 10:30pm, lights out and back up at 5am again. There was barely any time to think to myself or call loved ones, or even be allowed to go off campus for a movie …Because it had to be approved… and it almost always was not.
About a week after ESOAL, I began to Experience fainting spells and would pass out in class and wake up with people huddling around me. I would pass out in the call center during a phone call to a church. I would wake up to people blowing in my face offering me peanut butter crackers and juice. I would pass out in my dorm and not wake until dinner. Finally I said enough is enough and I made someone drive me to a hospital nearly 30 minutes away, where I was diagnosed with Vaso Vagal Syncopy. This is caused by a continuous nutritional ceficiency. We had fasted sugar for the past week, and I was about to fast on our “Core agreed” one week food fast – something our CA’S decided we were going to do without question… Needless to say I refused to do so after my diagnosis but was reprimanded and told to fast everything I could to make up for the “Void” in my life. I fasted because I didn’t want to be ridiculed. I only fasted meat, sugary things and junk food. I lost 15lbs in one week – not exactly healthy to lose that much in a weeks time.
Needless to say, by February of 2009 I wanted to go home. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had a counseling session with Mr. Hasz and then with Ron Luce. They both tried to convince me to stay and then said the only reason I felt the way I did was because of my own personal issues and that the ministry had no fault in any of my physical, mental or spiritual misgivings. In fact, it was striving to follow the teachings and be an exemplary intern that led to my physical, mental and spiritual health issues.
When I returned home, it was difficult for me to socialize, go to church or work and it was really hard to connect with anyone because no one knew what I had been through. I spent countless days in my room, secluded and not being myself (I’m outgoing, loud and talkative) I was quiet and reserved and seeing this documentary really opened my eyes and my old wounds. I’ve kept them down because they made me feel like i was the problem , that I was the reason I was feeling the way I felt – but it’s not me…It’s the Honor Academy.