Updated: Jan 26
A Lighthouse International Group mentee shares her transformational experience after seeing anonymous defamatory posts about Lighthouse.
By Ella Watson, guest writer
I'm doing this because I want my personal account as a client of Lighthouse International Group to speak up against this abuse. Yes, Lighthouse is addressing this on a rather impressive scale but a testimonial from a client about this has its stand-alone value, and a potential to touch the hearts of those who really need the help Lighthouse International Group offers and are open and genuine to accept that and face their fears and inadequacies head-on. I know there are such people out there and I don't want them to be dissuaded from taking that step towards an opportunity that is so extraordinarily rare to come across, that even exploring enough to find it is a big feat in and of itself!
So this is an honest account of the hurdles I faced in seeing my own narcissism as well as that of the trolls whilst coming across the online abuse against Lighthouse International Group. This journey also enabled me to be very, very honest with myself about the reason for my reaction to this abuse and why I wanted to be mentored in the first place. I asked myself, "Do I have what it takes to face these painful areas in myself?" And because I did, I saw how this same incidence was a catalyst to the rapid progress I'm seeing in myself now. But that was only possible when I was prepared to go deep in myself in order to go up i.e. reach a higher state of consciousness.
I came across the negative content against Lighthouse International Group while going through answers to a related Quora question. I had been mentored by Daniel Schmitz, from Lighthouse International Group for a few months by then. I was a bit doubtful of what I read but I was already dealing with a recent fallout with a family member having seen their years of narcissism for the first time head-on. And at some point, I began to believe all that was being said against Lighthouse International. What I didn't realise was that I was acting out years of pent-up emotions from experiencing emotional abuse from a parent. The same mechanism that was never put into action went into overdrive as I read the online abuse and started to make assumptions upon assumptions, taking situations and stuff my mentor had said completely out of context.
Reacting In a State of Panic
Ever since my teenage years, I had been taught to mistrust my own judgement and experiences and to pass on that decision-making power to my parents. And having gone through repeated rejection and emotional neglect from my family members and friends, I feared the same thing was happening again in terms of my relationship with my mentor, Daniel. Given this background, it was no surprise then that I suddenly started to doubt all the progress I had made with my mentor so far; in breaking through my self-sabotaging habits, and increasingly limited way of thinking about myself and life in general. Not only that, I trusted people online I had never met over the relationship I had developed with Daniel. This was so much so that I didn't even think to ask him about what I read online. I made the conclusions I needed to and blocked everyone I knew from Lighthouse. I did all this in a state of sheer and utter panic. However, a day after doing this, I received an email from Daniel. He knew why I had taken such a drastic step. The reason I read about the abuse via the Quora post was because, ironically, I went there, following discussions with Daniel, to post my experience of achieving breakthroughs upon breakthroughs after meeting him. But it had all backfired!
The Process of Forgiveness & Reconciliation With My Mentor
In his email to me, Daniel pointed out the reality of the situation, something I had not even thought to consider. He said there was an investigation taking place against this online abuse, which was from people who previously got involved with Lighthouse International Group for their own selfish reasons, but after realising these reasons were not being realised, not only left but had now become vindictive in the most disgusting way possible. He also pointed out to me that I was doing the exact same thing I had done with anyone to whom I started to open up to. I used to turn against them, recapitulating the rejection I experienced in my upbringing and passing it on to other people. Though it hurt when he mentioned that, I soon realised, he was far too right. Moreover, despite the focus our mentoring sessions had on striving towards objective reality as much as possible by asking questions, I had done the exact opposite thing and made overt assumptions on my own. It's hard to describe how it felt making these realisations and challenging my ego in those moments where it was the most active and in complete control. Saying this was painful would be an understatement! And now I can understand why this is a process that many people do not want to face in themselves. Realising my blunder, I apologised to Daniel, and explained in length what I learnt about myself, him and this online abuse with this experience. It was after this, that I was able to resume my mentoring sessions; I was encouraged to ask more questions and I have been doing so increasingly ever since in all areas of my self-exploration journey.
In a nutshell, I think this has been the best learning experience I have had so far in my journey of being mentored by Lighthouse International Group. This process not only tested the strength of my relationship with my mentor, but also my motivations for being mentored.
Trolls Will Only See What They Want To See
I learnt the pathology of a troll is that they have already decided what their version of reality is... and are not willing to question it! Because of that, even answering their questions does not placate them at all because the only answer they want is what they think it is! That is exactly what I had to come to terms with while I was looking at what questions I wanted to be answered when I restarted my sessions with Daniel following this entire escapade. After getting answers to my major questions, I realised this was still not addressing the underlying disconnect I was feeling and this situation wouldn't be addressed by merely having all my questions answered. I needed to understand where the trolls were coming from, and their pathology. And I needed to accept that I have this narcissistic damage from my upbringing and very strong narcissistic tendencies in me, which make me very prone to connect with this dark side in me, sparking a very cynical nature.
So, for me, it went a lot deeper than answering the questions I had because I already knew quite a bit of the context from my talks with Daniel. Why was it that at one point of going through the Reddit posts and the 'Questioning Lighthouse' website, I 'changed' from scepticism to outright cynicism? It was never the questions it raised, it was a build-up from struggling with the narcissism in my family members, my tendency to completely depend on them and the damage this had inflicted on me over the course of many years. In this situation, my ego was almost primed and ready to repeat its self-sabotaging cycle yet again. I had been let down by so many people so many times, starting with my parents, that I was really fearful that this was happening again!
A Tiny Number of Trolls Changed My Whole Perception of Lighthouse
I was concerned as to why these increasingly vicious attacks were not being addressed directly by Lighthouse online? Why wouldn't they do it? I mean they have been at this for 18 years! They are battle-hardened, so why aren't they addressing it? The answer was that they were! I was later to find out that they decided (in line with advice from their legal team) to give those spreading these malicious falsehoods enough space to incriminate themselves and enough time to discover their identities, which has now happened. What I have realised now is what I was seeing was actually an extremely tiny proportion of people, literally less than 0.01% of those that Lighthouse has actually served. To only have this tiny bit of noise online after 18 years especially when working with people who come from backgrounds where they have been exposed to such dark pathologies is incredible really!
What can seemingly be such a prominent voice online, and all anonymously, was actually a minuscule representation of those people they have helped immensely, like me! It seemed like quite a few, but from the investigation, they have discovered that, as they expected, it was literally a couple of people and their families/partners with multiple pseudonyms trying to break down the amazing work they were doing because they didn't get their selfish ways.
I Wanted My Voice To Be Heard To Help Others
I mean let's be real about this... what was stopping Lighthouse International Group, who have a substantial team, from spending time creating false profiles online and just outgunning the few people who were on there? No... they wanted to do it legitimately and authentically, they trusted in their work and those who were genuine about using it! That said, I was still wondering why there isn't more online from those that they have served.. and then I looked at myself. This post is written under a pseudonym. Why? Because as you will read in this post, and in subsequent ones that I write, I have suffered from severe narcissistic damage from my family so I learnt to hide away, for fear of being taken out. It has taken immense courage to even write this. It has taken me months and months and I had zero pressure from Lighthouse International Group. If anything they told me to take more time, to make sure I was ready. So I empathise with others who aren't yet ready to share. I know you will get there. I am getting stronger every day with their care and so are others! You will hear their voices rising up here... the once suppressed and battered souls rising up to face their oppressors! I allowed these trolls to affect me the same way my family did and I will not allow my fears to get in the way of this helping others! So here I am.
Reading This Abusive Content Brought Out My Narcissism
It brought out a heck load of my narcissism for me to see in plain sight and not avoid facing for once. I saw my unhealthy ego for the first time in full action and how it differed from my spirit and conscience. Prior to this experience, I had no clear distinction between these two aspects of myself at all.
It also gave me a greater understanding of what choices I make that lead me towards narcissism and those that lead me towards the source of love and compassion. And this could only be realised when I took full responsibility for my own actions, despite the narcissistic damage I endured from my upbringing that led to such actions in the first place. Because if you think about it, without taking such responsibility, this cycle continues from one generation to the next, ad infinitum. This was exactly why I suffered the narcissistic damage from my upbringing:
'He (The Lord) punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.'
- (Numbers 14:18, New International Version)
Facing this side of me and my fears, was the catalyst that allowed me to go deeper in myself. It enabled me to finally open up to exploring Islam and Christianity despite the damage my dad had seriously inflicted on me; not just emotionally, but spiritually, on a deep level. This would also explain my obsession with spirituality for a certain period of time.
It was scary to see this side of me, this darkness that has a will of its own. But I soon realised the deeper I went into my self-exploration journey after this experience, that I was the one giving this darkness that power; I was choosing to delve into this narcissism. Yes, that's what I was accustomed to by my parents, but I had choice, to choose differently to how they lived their lives. As Jesus said:
'Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.'
- (Matthew 7: 13-14)
Over the coming weeks, this experience paved the way for me to come to a point of deep acknowledgement of the source of love within me; one that I was deeply connected to as a child but got more and more out of touch with owing to narcissistic feeding by my family and my own choices I made as a result of that feeding.
Working Through This Challenge Removed My Doubts of Lighthouse
Most of all, this process removed all doubts I had about being mentored by Lighthouse International Group. I felt on a much deeper level the genuine care, love and dedication of my mentor towards my growth and towards our relationship as a mentor and mentee; the tough love he gave where it was much needed to help me see where I had been highly egotistical and what I learned from this.
But what touched me the most, something I was emotional over for the next couple of weeks, was how Daniel was ready to forgive me completely and immediately. He saw I had realised my mistake, made several realisations and was prepared to learn from this experience. Not only that, he took the time to speak to me outside of our designated mentoring sessions, to make sure I was in the right place in myself, despite the selfish act I had pulled.
The lost sheep parable probably fits best in this scenario:
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
- (Luke 15: 1-7)
My Personal Message To The Trolls of Lighthouse
To any troll reading this, I have this to say: the level of manipulation, narcissism, racism and downright lying that has been portrayed online shows, more than anything, the deep demented nature of your own mind. It shows the extent to which your selfishness goes to inflict the deepest damage (that you can conceive of) on people who have been nothing but caring and supportive. And I know how giving, caring and supportive they are because I have experienced that myself. To people who have sacrificed decades of their life to extend themselves to anyone in need of help, you go ahead and abuse and taint their reputation.
When I found out that every person who felt they had been cheated out of their money had the opportunity to speak to Paul and sort this out in person, and they didn't, it became very apparent where they had forsaken their own responsibility altogether as well as showing their cowardly and deceitful nature. The experience I went through, put me in a deep depression as I lost hope for a very rare opportunity I had. Interestingly, the effort it took to work through it all became the force of inertia that thrust me towards ever-increasing realisations and depths of self-exploration. But my question to you is this; who are you and what is your motive for doing this? Because it's clear it is not good and is aimed at breaking down and causing damage to the people who care beyond what any normal person can fathom.
If you or anyone you know has suffered from any form of toxic abuse there are people who can help you. I’m writing this to share my experience to help others and I’m part of an initiative called Parents Against Trolls and Trolling that I encourage you to check out.
More people need to be made aware of this awful abuse and how to learn to handle these damaging negative influences in our lives.