Kacey: Hello listeners and welcome to part two in this mini series on Sufism and child brides. I’m your speaker Kacey and for this segment I’ve been chatting with Tamara MC. Tamara is a freedom activist for girls and women worldwide, highlighting her family’s involvement in a Sufi group in part one. In this part, we will be looking at Tamara’s experiences as a child bride, before jumping into part three, where Tamara talks about her escape and subsequent journey through further education to obtain her PhD.
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co. uk to get 10 percent off your tickets today. But for now, here is Tamara.
There were two thoughts that came to my mind when you were telling that story then. First of all, the The fact that you stuck to, for most of the time, your prayer and your, your clothing and your diet, even when you weren’t within the vicinity of the community, I think that speaks again to your commitment and dedication that you’ve already explored with us when you graduated high school so early.
It seems that you have these traits. Within you, that perhaps might have been recognized by people in the group, um, and, and used against you at some point when you decided to move over there full time. Do you think that your dedication to the group was something that was used in exploitation?
Dr. Tamara MC: Yes, it was absolutely.
I didn’t know it at the time, but way before I moved to Texas, like when I was a young girl, I was actually named when I was five years old by the leader. Bye. At that point, he put his hand on my head and he said, You’re the most beloved. Your name is now beloved. So I became Beloved, which is actually a translation of my name.
Um, But I immediately became what they called, he told me that I was the most special child in the community. And I was continuously told that we had three separate leaders. And by the third leader, I wasn’t very close with at all he like came later but the first two leaders who were the ones who organized this whole group.
basically chose me as that. And so because of that, they knew that I was, I don’t know how, but I guess kind of if you child, if you study exploitation and trafficking and all of this, you begin to understand it. But I had the qualities that they knew that I would listen and I wouldn’t cause problems. And I was a rule follower.
And my, my younger sister, the one I was speaking about, who was a year and a half younger than me, She was opposite of me like that. She was completely rebellious and broke every rule and anything that somebody would tell her, she would speak out against, she would fight it, she would get beaten physically because she would speak out.
And so she was always in trouble. And I would witness that from her, but I was not like that. I just stayed quiet and my way of surviving. Was just pleasing everyone and being happy and being the biggest helper and just working really hard and being super responsible. And so all of that translated. So yes, that was used against me like My younger sister never had to work for the leaders like I did because they would have never chosen her because she would have been terrible at the job.
So, but I was like really good.
Kacey: The conversations that have taken place on this show, where people have talked about Finding a group that they fell in love with and going all in, throwing everything that they had, you know, reading all of the texts and the, and all of the scripture or, um, all of the history of the group, the, the group’s official history anyway, reading all the history and learning all of the rituals or learning all of the services and Go into groups and clubs and everything associated with the group.
There’s been so many people that have been intelligent, educated, motivated, and dedicated individuals who, when they have found a group like this or, or being a part of a group like this, they have thrown themselves at it in this way. And at a certain point, some of these people have talked about becoming deployable for the group where they are then.
groomed essentially to go out and find other people that will be as dedicated and as inspired by the group and either recruit outsiders into the group or groom others around them to take on Responsibilities as they are now doing, would you say that this is something that was being looked at for you in the community?
Or was that not possible because you are a woman?
Dr. Tamara MC: You mean was I being groomed?
Kacey: For specifically to be deployed where you would, you know, keep an eye on other People in the group feedback information to leadership where you were given extra responsibilities, like being head of the kitchen, for example, um, or leading prayer sessions.
But again, I’m not sure how it works because of the, uh, misogynistic aspect of some of these religious groups.
Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, I wouldn’t describe it as that way. I was definitely groomed from the time my father joined this group that I was going to be like the chosen girl child and that I was going to have all of these responsibilities. I was never in a position where I was asked to you. To tell the leader anything that was happening within I was never in that position.
I was just groomed to be the worker bee, and to be like the responsible one that would take care of the food, take care of the babies, and. take care of the kitchen and so in that way. And I think like, unlike my sister who was born into this group, like she knew nothing other. So she was like always fighting because she knew something was wrong within her.
But when I would come in, I was trying to be accepted. So I was going above and beyond to suddenly be dropped into this place that was completely foreign to me. And I had to be accepted. So me being accepted. was being obedient and she didn’t have that same responsibility in the same way.
Kacey: And some of the pinnacle decision making And, and changes in your behavior seem to have happened around the age of 12.
Was there anything significant that happened in the community that made you decide that you were going to live there full time, that you were going to strive to finish school early, that you were going to take on the responsibility of praying every day? Or was it sort of a slow build up to you recognizing that that was your decision?
Dr. Tamara MC: No, there was something, two very, very specific things that happened.
So up until that point, the most difficult thing in my journey to speak about and, and it does make me emotional sometimes. I’m not always, but it is making me a little bit emotional now, but so up until the point, until I was 12, I’d visit my father and I was doing exactly what I said, the praying, the cooking, all of that.
I was the special child. And, but then when I was 12 and I got off the plane, um, in May, early May, At my father’s house, my father told me that the leader wanted me to live with him full time that summer. And so he told my father that he wanted me to live with him. So our community was like on a 300 acre farm.
And that’s where like, My father lived, my siblings, everybody lived there who was part of the community, but then the leader lived maybe an hour away and on a hill that was, um, an hour away. And he lived there with his three wives. He had, I believe, eight children, no, maybe six children at the time. He had two older children and his mother and his close family lived on this hill and they were completely separate from our community.
And so when I was asked to live there nobody else from the community, even visited there, but now I was being asked to actually live with him and his family. So I ended up moving into this his second wife’s house, and I lived there with her, and I spent the summer on the hill. With the leader and his three wives and family.
And while I was there, I became their full time. I took care of the second wife had four children all under the age of six, I believe, and she had a six month old baby. And so I became the full time nanny to four children full time. Like again, from four in the morning until they like woke up sometimes five.
I don’t know exactly what time it was until they’d go to bed at 10 or 11. And so I was just there to work seven days a week without a break. I didn’t have any breaks. And I was completely alone on the hill without my siblings now without other children. And I was just in this house, um, completely alone.
So that’s number one that changed. And then the most significant thing that changed is that within the first week that I was on the hill, The leader’s adopted son snuck into my room. I didn’t really have a room. I was like in this shed kind of shed like facility off of the children’s playroom with a sliding glass door that had no locks on it.
And he snuck into my room and he married me. So I then became married when I was 12 years old. And so I spent my summer right after I completed seventh grade living in the leader’s home working horrendous hours and Being married in the secret marriage that my mother did not know about my father didn’t know about and not even the leader knew about I was just alone in this dark room that after I was done working, he would sneak into my room.
And so I was having almost no sleep at that point because he would stay in my room until it was time for me to wake up and. So during that time, I was completely sleep deprived, completely exhausted. I had no idea what had happened. Like I couldn’t even in my head understand how I was suddenly in this marriage, but through that, I was like, Program to think that I was supposed to be married to this person because that’s what this person told me and this person said that he loved me and that we were going to spend our lives together and that he was going to help me and I wouldn’t be kind of in the same situation I was in then working for this leader.
And so there were all of these promises that by the end of the summer, I thought that I also loved this person that was now my husband. And I thought that I was meant to work like this in many ways, because he also, my husband at the time taught me that the leader was like the closest to God on earth.
And so. So by being close to him, it was such, I was just, again, like I was given this gift that I was able to be in this person’s house and live with them, whereas no other child had. So by the end of the summer, I had All these thoughts coming into my mind that I didn’t have anywhere else to go that I had to be with this man and I had to be with this leader, and I had to serve, and my only plight in life was to be a slave and to work like this because that was going to get me closer to heaven.
And so, so by the time I went to my mother’s I had all of this in my head. Yes, I thought that I had to go live in this community full time so I could rejoin my husband and I could rejoin this leader. So yes, those were. Yes, that’s why everything changed when I was 12. You
Kacey: mentioned that the leader had three wives at this point.
Do you recall their ages at all? Were they of age to be married?
Dr. Tamara MC: Yes, they were all older. Yes, they were all older women. They were all women. They were not, they were not underage.
Kacey: And the adopted son, do you have any recollection of, of, of how old he was at the time that this happened?
Dr. Tamara MC: Yes, he was several old, several years older than me, so he wasn’t an adult himself, but he had grown up in the community, he’d already lived on like three different continents by that point, he was multilingual, he had lived with the leader, and so He was so much more worldly than me.
Like, I had no idea what I was doing, but he was very adept in this community.
Kacey: And I think I read in your writing somewhere that this, uh, this marriage that took place, there’s a specific word for it and it, and it translates to, uh, like temporary marriage.
Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, so it’s called a temporary marriage, which is different than other marriages because I was only married to him for a specific amount of time.
So when he married himself to me, he married himself to me. And probably, I mean, I don’t remember. We were married for the whole summer, but then the marriage is just supposed to end. It just kind of like, There is no divorce. Um, there, there is no paperwork. I, he married himself to me in the dark room, like at midnight while I was still wearing my sleeping clothes.
And I just repeated after him in a language that I didn’t understand that I was married to him. So I didn’t even know what I was saying when I said it, it wasn’t even in English. And so, and it’s really. It’s really one sentence, so it’s not like this long, this long sort of ceremony. It was like one sentence.
I’m married to you for the next whatever amount of days. It can be even like 24 hours, you know, so it can be as long as the marriage wants to be and then it’s over. So, so, yeah, so, so that was the marriage that I was married into.
Kacey: And did the marriage end at the end of the summer or, or you, you mentioned that you were trying to work out ways to return to this individual, uh, who had coerced you over a number of weeks to think and feel that way.
So was this something that continued after that summer?
Dr. Tamara MC: Yes, it did continue. So it was. Meant to last for the time we were physically together. Uh, the marriage did continue. We had multiple ceremonies. I actually stayed with this person until I was 20 years old. And so that’s eight years. So kind of a summer marriage turned into an eight year marriage and I don’t even, I couldn’t even count how many times we had these temporary marriages.
We had them so often and I would just repeat this sentence and then we were suddenly married. And then it would kind of end and then after that he’d say, Oh, we need to get married again. And I’d be like, okay, sure. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even know what this was. And I’d be like, okay. Or I don’t even know if I’d be okay.
He would just do it. I mean, initially, he would just do it. Later, I’d be like, probably okay. Um, but yeah, so it, so it landed many, I mean, it lasted many years, but during all of that time, I never had a divorce. And I also never had a legal marriage in the courthouse. So, yes.
Kacey: At the age of 16, you graduate high school early and then you, you, you’ve done what you needed to do to fulfill your mother’s stipulations.
Do you then leave for Texas to, to move there full time? It, does it all happen very quickly?
Dr. Tamara MC: It happens the day after I graduated. I had a little Nissan Sentra, a blue Nissan Sentra. I packed it all up. And I drove myself to Texas. I think it was a 35 hour drive by myself with whatever little things I had.
And yes, I was there forever. Like that was my plan. And, you know, in the beginning we didn’t discuss it, but one of my great motivators of telling my mom that then, and kind of my motivation that kind of kept the steam going for that. 12 until 16 years old, that four years was, I thought that I had fallen in love with this person.
And so it was like, the motivation was like, I had to get out of school to be with this person, to be in this community. And so that was really kind of what was propelling me forward so much.
Kacey: Oh my goodness. Um, I’m again, so impressed by this. A thing that you’ve been able to accomplish driving from basically one side of America to the other.
That’s pretty wild. Um, and still, you know, you’re what, 16? Coming up to 17? Oh my goodness. And this individual that you were trying to get back to In the community, is he of an age at this point where he’s moved out of the leader’s house, has his own place, is he like contributing to the community, or maybe has a job on the outside that brings in some type of money?
Are you returning to your father at this point, or are you returning to this individual that’s Coerced you into this temporary marriage?
Dr. Tamara MC: Okay, the per the first part of the question, no. Nobody on the community had outside jobs. Nobody was allowed to work outside. My father didn’t, he didn’t. Everybody worked for the leader. And we were all incredibly poor, except for the leader who was a multi millionaire. So him and his wives and family.
lived like the top top, like they had beautiful clothes and beautiful housing and all of that. But all of the community members were incredibly poor, including my temporary husband at the time as well. And so there was not money. There wasn’t a way he had no education. He hadn’t hold on a second. When I met him, he had had really almost no education.
He then went on to get some education. He like traveled abroad. Like he went back and forth a lot with travel. And so he actually got his, his A levels, the first one are O levels.
Kacey: A levels. That’s right. Yeah. I appreciate, I appreciate you using that English terminology. Thank you very much. Usually people say to me, I got my such and such.
I’m like, that sounds really good.
Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. No. So no, but he actually did get that because he was, he was like British educated. So he wasn’t educated in the United States at all. Cause our community also lived in England as well. And so. So there’s lots of going back and forth as well and all sorts of things.
So no, he had no way to support me other than the leader who kind of supported us all. So we were all dependent on him.
Kacey: Right. Mm hmm. And when you talk about the leader being a multi millionaire Do you know where this money’s coming from? Is it people signing over all their worldly goods when they join?
Is it more trafficking or a combination of, of, of both perhaps?
Dr. Tamara MC: Neither. Um, he came in with all of his own money. Um, he had a business that did exceptionally well that he sold and he used all of that money to kind of create. This utopia in Texas, kind of this, this community in Texas, it was all of his money with this leader.
We had a third leader that came in who had no money, who took everybody’s money and everybody’s houses, et cetera, but not the second leader, the one who I lived with, he was independently wealthy.
Kacey: That’s not something you hear about too often. The third is, is of course a lot more common, which is why I jumped to that conclusion, but it is, it’s, it’s different to hear.
The, the second leader as an example of how these communities grow, it’s, it’s not, usually they don’t start with loads and, and funnel it down. It’s usually that they start with absolutely nothing and end up at the very tippy top. So it’s. And it’s interesting to learn that there are different ways these communities can exist financially, especially if none of you are accessing jobs outside or that there’s no trafficking happening, you know, like with the unification church, I know it wasn’t communal based.
Um, of course there were some houses where people lived or children lived, uh, together, but people would be deployed onto the streets to. Give money to get money for the unification church. People would be extorted into handing over everything that they had to the church. So it’s interesting that that didn’t happen with this group.
Um, The, the, the Moonies is just one example to pull out of thin air in terms of a group that that’s how they made their, you know, their money and were able to then obviously go on to buy sushi chains and hotels and newspapers.
Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. So actually the second leader. So kind of like my father and kind of all people like my father didn’t have money because They were kind of like the Americans were kind of like these ex hippies who didn’t even believe in like money and all of this, but they were super.
My dad wasn’t super educated, but he was super smart. So like they kind of like reeled in these people who are like highly. Like kind of brilliant. My dad’s pretty brilliant. Like these people that could then serve the community with their minds. And so in that way, but when I say that the leader didn’t take money from like kind of my dad’s group of people, because they didn’t have money.
That being said, he had a whole entourage of people who were very rich like him, who were also born internationally and came to the United States, who were also independently wealthy, who did give their money to him. So, backing up, there was actually a whole nother level of people that were actually supporting with money as well.
But it just wasn’t like kind of my father’s generation that was doing that.
Kacey: I guess in some situations that would be when, especially when plural wives are involved, that would be when we would hear of those people with all of that money potentially accessing vulnerable women and, and young children within the community. Um, So I’m not sure if that’s something that happened with your group, but of course there is some sexual exploitation of children that is taking place because you are a personal victim of this happening.
And I wonder if This person that you were in a temporary marriage with, did he go on to put other people in other, other young girls in this same position, or, or maybe we don’t even know because you, you know, 12 to 16, you were only there for a short. short period of time.
Dr. Tamara MC: So, yes, later on, my husband ended up marrying multiple other women.
Multiple other women. Um, their ages are kind of spread all over the place, but about my age at the time. Whatever the age I was.
Kacey: And Your involvement with this person that finished at your, when you were aged 20, was there ever, um, uh, uh, an official wedding ceremony? Did you ever become officially married to this person?
I guess I’m speaking of Not, not the temporary marriage. I understand that that’s not something that is common in, in other religions. But I’m thinking traditional wedding ceremonies. I’m just thinking of, of typical Christian church weddings, I guess. I’m not sure how it works with the Sufi branch. I’m not sure how it works with the Sufi teachings.
But would there be traditional wedding ceremonies for people that do become fully married as opposed to temporarily married?
Dr. Tamara MC: So first of all, there’s many, many ways to be a Sufi, and so, to kind of make a blanket statement of what marriages would or would not look like, and also in our community, Sufism was practiced in a very specific way, and it was also in a very different time period.
So more than 30 years ago. Um, so I don’t want to make a comment on that, but I will say that the girls in our community, like I was one of the only people at the time that had a temporary marriage. But all of my kind of commune sisters that I spoke about in the beginning, that we were in the kitchens together, they ended up almost all of them getting married by the time they were age 14.
And they had much more traditional weddings because they had a real, I call it a forever marriage. I know my terminology sounds so silly, but that’s what I was brought up with. Like I had a temporary marriage, but they had a forever marriage. And so my whole goal in my life was to have a forever marriage, but I never ended up getting that forever marriage.
It was like this promise that I could have never, ever reached. For some reason, I was just given this temporary marriage that I was given, but. That was the manipulation of it, which often happens in these coercive communities, that you’re promised something, but if you do all these things at the end, you’re going to end up with this thing that you really want, but there’s really nothing ever at the end.
And so I thought I was going to end up with a forever marriage, but I didn’t. And not that any of my commune sister’s marriages were forever because that of course didn’t happen, but our mindset was that they had a traditional ceremony where people attended, and they were dressed up, not in white or not anything remotely like an American Christian wedding, but it was definitely known that these two people were together.
Kacey: Okay. And after this happens at the age of, of 12 in, in the night for the first time, and then you move over there full time at 16, is there ever a point between the ages of 12 and 20 where your father or the leader becomes aware of what’s happening between you and the adopted son?
Dr. Tamara MC: Yes, there is. I never had a conversation with my father or my dad in like this very Okay.
I was so shy, it’s not like anything I would ever talk about. Sexuality was never discussed, much less sexuality between like, a girl and a boy or a girl and a man. So it’s not like I was ever in a position to be able to be in a room and have a discussion, but everybody in the community knew that we were together.
And the only way we could have been together in our community was through marriage because we weren’t allowed to be intimate with the opposite sex without marriage. So, so the only way we could be together had to be marriage. So there’s no way that anybody didn’t know what was happening, even if it wasn’t discussed and like, we’re having a conversation about this.
Kacey: So this person is, is, is old enough and versed enough to understand that in order to sexually abuse you, they must read a passage, get you to read it back, and then they can basically, in, in the eyes of, of, of their God. Do what they want.
Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. That was the only purpose of the marriage because in a temporary marriage, the man, and I’m using gender very binary because that’s how it was used in my community.
Not because I believe in the binariness of gender and sexuality, but the man in a temporary marriage does not have to support the girl. He does not have to live with her. He doesn’t have to have any responsibility to her, like in a forever marriage, like my commune sisters, they were in this firm ever marriage.
And kind of in our marriage, it said that like the man has to support the woman and like all of this. But the only thing that a temporary marriage does is that if the girl or woman gets pregnant, the child is not considered illegitimate. And so that is really the only thing that the temporary marriage provides.
And I’m not saying it provides anything. That’s like insane.
Kacey: It’s like, uh, almost for, for the male standpoint, it’s almost like a have your cake and eat it situation.
Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah. It’s like, here’s the way to break the rule. You’re not allowed to be with somebody of the opposite gender until you’re married. But you can have this temporary marriage that allows you to be sexual with this person.
But you have to, but you don’t even need a commitment or a responsibility to this person, but it’s no different than sexual trafficking of minors.
Kacey: Is this something that was widespread throughout the community?
Dr. Tamara MC: Not at all. We were probably My husband at the time ended up reading and reading and found this loophole and that was how he decided he could be with me.
It had not been practiced before him in our community.
Kacey: Did he start something that other people took note of?
Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. Then, not immediately, but definitely later. And then he has had multiple temporary marriages throughout his life. Dozens of them with dozens of girls. Like myself, not necessarily the same age because we were young then, but other women as well.
Kacey: Oh, this must be so confusing for yourself without all of the abuse and coercion. To also think and feel that you’re in love with this person who is exploiting this loophole to have no responsibility to you and be with whoever they want to be with at the same time as being in a temporary marriage with you.
It’s almost like involuntary polyamory because it’s not an official marriage. But you’re still almost sharing this person with whoever they decide to also coerce into this temporary arrangement.
Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. Yes, it can be that, um, in our religion, a man can be married to up to four women. Um, but a temporary marriage is also another loophole that allows a man, they could still have four women, but they could have multiple temporary brides.
So it’s another way to like extend that and with a temporary marriage, a man doesn’t have to tell his wife that he’s taken a new wife so it can be kept a secret. That’s another advantage to this marriage for the man.
Kacey: Something similar I read in Jamila Chisholm’s story or where she wrote her memoir, The Community, which was also a Sufi esque.
Group that was run by Dwight York and it’s of course it has similar themes, but I do recall the misogynistic themes of Jamila’s mother finding out about her father doing the same thing and then saying I don’t bear any responsibility to you. I can’t even comprehend how that must feel as an adult in a consensual relationship.
That’s without all of the other stuff that we’re, that we’re talking about here that’s been happening to you since the age of 12.
Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. Yeah. And meanwhile, I’m keeping the secret from my mother and I’m still going back to Arizona and keeping, yeah, so I’m just keeping it all inside. I had nobody to talk to.
I didn’t talk to my mother or anybody in Arizona. None of my teachers knew what was happening. Nobody in Arizona could have imagined what my life in Texas was like. And then when I went back to Texas, My husband told me not to talk to my father and to keep it a secret. And so like, I didn’t even talk to my father about it.
So it’s like, I was like living in like these layers of secrets from every community and I had to keep it all straight. And so I just. Became silent. I pretty much became a selective mute and stopped speaking at a very young age, and other than just like smiling and like being like, okay, yes, of course, and just like agreeing, but I didn’t speak.
I didn’t verbalize what I was feeling or thinking. I didn’t fight for myself. I didn’t say no, I just went along.
Kacey: It’s important to keep going back to the fact that. All of this time, you’re, you’re only between the ages of 12 and 20. And I just think for one individual to have to bear all of this in solitude, it’s, it, you can’t comprehend it.
Know that there’s so much that’s happened since you left the community, but how does How can this type of environment ever allow protection for vulnerable individuals? How can it ever say that it’s a safe place for any young person who is the target of an abuser?
Dr. Tamara MC: Well, I think environment is most important because in an isolated environment, Where there is no way out, and there’s, or there’s only one way in and one way out, and there are children living behind walls, and they don’t have access to education, they don’t have access to the outside world, and that they’re just within this community, and there aren’t outside resources looking after, like, Like, none of our kids went to school.
Like, there’s nobody that knew what was happening within our community. And so there is no way that a child can be protected in that way. Ever, ever, ever. And, yes, so it’s impossible. And just real quick, and being a young girl, like talking about vulnerability, I was, during the ages, Of being the most vulnerable in the community, as were the girls my age, because in our community, we were told that by nine years old, we were considered women.
And so between starting at nine years old, I was considered a woman in the community. And I was then become, I then became sexualized. I didn’t understand this at the time, but then the whole goal is to marry off these young girls quickly because they then become a threat because they are now supposedly sexual beings that could then, I don’t know, somehow leave the community and according to like, what they think is like, like, just because, just because we become, it’s so complicated, but just like Because of that, we could leave the community and then we could have, um, sex with people that were not our husbands, which could be the absolute worst thing that could happen to a girl.
Not that it’s the worst thing that a young girl is going to marry a man. And all of my girlfriends, almost all of them were married to men much older than them. And so I was in. A separate situation where there wasn’t a huge age difference, but all of my commune sisters for the most part were married to men twice their age, and they were all almost married and polygamous marriages, and they were the second or third wives.
And so the men already had a first wife and then they would then come in. And so. So that wasn’t tragic and to be like really worrisome, it was the opposite that we’re going to leave this community and go to school and have a boyfriend and have sex like that’s what supposedly they were trying to save us from, which really isn’t that is the case at all.
They were really just, they were men running these communities and wanted were pedophiles and wanted to be with young girls.
Kacey: It’s like victim blaming girls for hitting puberty, which happens between the ages of nine to 12. So it’s actually a biological decision to marry the girls off and then, and then tell you it’s your fault.
You have to be married by this age because you’re, you’re causing. What men to stray within the community or men’s eyes to wonder or what that you might gain a semblance of independence or individuality and then decide to go and pursue other things.
Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. And I mean, also my siblings were really. I was already little, I’m like 4’11 so I’m super small.
Kacey: Oh my goodness. I never would have, sitting down talking to you, I never would have assumed that you were 4’11
Dr. Tamara MC: No, I’m really small, and my siblings were small, and they I think my my little sister didn’t weigh more than 80 pounds like as a teenager like that’s how small we were. And I think I weighed 95 pounds to 100 maybe but I was like 15 pounds bigger than her, which everybody thought I was fat in the community because of that.
But, um, but that was another thing is like. I grew breasts kind of young and I grew hips kind of young and that was a big problem whereas my sister didn’t so she still had like this boyish body and so they could kind of deal with her better. But with me, it’s like they didn’t know what to do with me like they didn’t know how they couldn’t have put enough fabric on me to like cover me and that was a big problem.
Kacey: How dare you Tamara? How dare you grow into your body? So at the age of 20, you, you mentioned that that’s when your involvement with the adopted son came, came to an end. Was this a significant decision? Did it fizzle out? What, what did that situation look like?
Dr. Tamara MC: Yes, it was a significant event. Um, I was living in England at the time.
Our leader had moved to England and I lived outside of London, like maybe two hours. And my husband at the time was living in America. And so we were like writing letters for a while. A lot of our marriage was through letters. Um, so I mean nothing about our marriage is like actually translates into a regular marriage.
So to make sense of it is impossible. But yeah, so a lot of that was through letters. And whereas he was always the main communicator through most of our marriage, he stopped communicating with me and he stopped. He rarely was writing me letters and I was trying to figure out what was happening. I was living with the leader in his house at the time.
Now that he had 10 children and I was caring for multiple babies, doing all of the cleaning. I was doing exactly what I had done when I was 12, working seven days a week, um, call 24 hours a day, having no rest. And My husband at the time wasn’t writing to me and I kept asking him what’s wrong. He didn’t say what was wrong.
And then eventually the leader told me to call him up. My husband on the phone in America and tell him to come to England and to begin working for him again. And so I called, I called up my husband. He ended up coming to England and working for the leader. Cause like me, he also worked for the leader. And so.
So he was like, but he did different things. He was like the driver and did like kind of the, the boy things or the guy things. And I did like the girl things and I stayed in the house, but like, and being a driver, whatever, he had access to like getting out of the community. Whereas I didn’t, I was always stuck.
So he came. And then after he came again, I was begging him, please tell me what’s wrong. And it was at that point, he finally opened up and said that he had married another woman. He had fallen in love. He was living in Chicago at the time, and he fell in love with this woman, and now I was in this polygamous marriage, and that he loved us both, and that he was going to remain married to us both, and that I would have to accept it, and that I would become her best friend, and she was so wonderful, and this and that.
And I was just heartbroken because I had grown up in the community seeing polygamy, but I wasn’t yet in a polygamous marriage. Like whether or not my husband, when he wasn’t with me was telling me what was, what was happening. If he was seeing other women or marrying other women, I didn’t know about it until that point.
And so, I knew just this knowing that you have within you that the one thing I would never do was be married and polygamy. I knew I couldn’t. I just knew it wasn’t for me. I saw all of my girlfriends and the pain that they went through. I was with them when they went through the pain. I was with them in the rooms when they were constantly crying.
I was with the women. When their husbands married the young girls and then the women would cry to me about that. So it’s like I just saw and within that time, I had witnessed so many polygamous marriage divorces and children left with like all these babies that suddenly didn’t have fathers. And so I knew that it wasn’t going to be for me.
And so we tried. That’s not the right word. We did not try to work it out. That is not the right word. I tried to convince him to divorce this other person for months and he said no he would not and he was adamant that he loved her and that I had to be a good religious girl and accept this because there’s nothing wrong with what he did and there’s something wrong with me because I’m selfish and I’m not willing to share him and everything is wrong within me because I’m not accepting of this.
And I just was in the greatest pain because by that point. I had nothing else I thought but him and I still didn’t have a forever marriage with him. So I had like worked eight years like getting out of high school early, like working for the leader, like everything I had done was to build up to where we could finally be like we can be together in this forever marriage.
But there was always something, the leader always by that point would say no we couldn’t be married, um, in this forever marriage. He, my husband would say no we couldn’t be married because. He didn’t have enough money or he didn’t have a house or who knows. There were so many excuses, but I just thought, okay, if I do this one more thing, then I’m going to get this marriage.
It’s just going to happen. And then when that happened, I knew. All the dreams I had were gone. I was not going to get this thing. The only thing in life I wanted, I didn’t want education. I didn’t want anything. I wanted this man to be my forever husband. And that’s the only thing I dreamed about in life at that point.
And then I lost it. And so I made the most difficult decision of my life. Um, back in Arizona, my grandmother had a boyfriend, it wasn’t her, really her husband, but she had been with him for many years and he died. And I then made the excuse that I needed to go back to America to go be with my grandmother, which I did want to be with my grandmother because she was alone and I wanted to take care of her during this time.
And so I had planned to return to England to work for the leader again. But they, they let me go because of this situation and I then told my husband that I was leaving and I just left and I got on an airplane and I thought maybe within six months I had planned to come back or three months or whatever.
I never went back. That was it.
Kacey: That is the end of part two of this mini series on Sufism and child brides. For more information on Tamara’s work, you can visit tamaramc. com. To get in touch with me, you can find me at cultvaultpodcast at gmail. com or follow me on Twitter and Instagram at cultvaultpod.
I’m your speaker Kacey, host of the Cult Vault Podcast.
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