Tough times get cults like Qanon more followers. My sister is one of them.

I miss my sister. Until several years ago, my second youngest sister, who I will refer to as Josephine, was smart as a whip and not easy to trick. She made her own magic wherever she went and traveled the world in spite of not having much in the way of career goals or a real income. Still, she was happy and safe and not concerned with things that were beyond her control.

But things changed going on ten years ago now after she went through a bad breakup with the father of her child which ultimately led her to becoming homeless and losing custody of her daughter.

She rightfully began to hate her ex and accused him of all sorts of atrocities that are common to be used as ammo in this type of situation, whether true or untrue. Because he was transitioning to being transgender, she accused him of touching their daughter inappropriately, although no proof of this ever surfaced.

The battles in family court were ugly. Even the judge admonished my sister and her ex that they “did not bring out the best in each other.”

She didn’t do herself a favor when she reported the upstairs neighbor at the flat that she rented to immigration authorities for being undocumented on the premise that they were making too much noise. The neighbors, it turned out, where also employees of her landlord. She had just fucked him and them over with this uncharacteristic call. She was given 30 days notice to move out.

Soon after, Josephine said that she was giving up on renting a house and was investing in a camper van which she planned to park along the streets of our home town, which is a very rural village along the California coast. Josephine asked if she could store her belongings “for a short period” in my garage, and I said yes. It’s been nearly a decade and her items are still here, although partially destroyed by the felines of the house that spend time in the garage. And yes, I have started to throw some of her things away.

When she does call or text it is typically to give me an update on some of what has become her obsession, which is things to do with the Deep State, a conspiracy theory involving child molestations on a global basis happening out of a pizza parlor (“PizzaGate”), and her belief that President Trump is “sending messages” of what he is doing to Make America Great Again via his alternate identity of being “Q”, who runs a website and network of people who believe in him and spread his message to anyone they can talk to because “the fake new media” will not.

Josephine’s most recent tales have had to do with the global pandemic that devastating the world. According to Josephine, the pandemic is just a cover so that Q’s (Trump’s) military forces can enter the “underground cities” where enslaved children have been taken and to free them. If you believe Josephine, the Hydroxychloroquine medicine that Trump (“Q”) recommended, that is supposedly used to prevent or treat malaria caused by mosquito bites, is actually something that celebrities take on a regular basis to keep young looking. She said that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are regular users of the drug.

The “Qanon” cult is said by members to be led by President Donald Trump

Without Hydroxychloroquine, she said, they would both look like shit.

When Josephine first began coming to me with these delusional tales, I told her that I was worried about her because she was sounding very much like our shared maternal grandfather, who was on medication for schizophrenia for much of his adult life, and when he was not on medicine for it, Grandfather was deep into conspiracy theories.

After the death of my grandmother in 1981, followed a year later by my mother, Grandfather had stopped taking his meds. He soon believed that he was being followed, and that he was to buy large quantities of items from the Home Shopping Network. He would show up on trips to California with his Home Shopping booty in the trunk of a rental car. The first instructions were to bring him to the nearest garbage dumpster where he very nervously would throw the items away. It got worse, including being on the lam after breaking the window at an FBI field office in Wyoming. But once Grandfather got back on his lithium medication, he was fine.

“Without Hydroxychloroquine, she said, they would both look like shit.”

Josephine, on the other hand, was not hearing any of it. She was deep into the conspiracy world of Pizza Gate. And when Donald Trump was elected president, Josephine suddenly became very anti-immigrant and Pro-Trump. And by her telling, she could read the covert messages that he was putting out at his press conferences. He is out to save the children that are being victimized, among other things. However, Josephine has told me several times, banks were going to fail (“Better to be back on the gold standard.”) Big Tech is spying on all of us (*this statement is likely true).

She had me intrigued with the underground cities and how are military forces are freeing victimized children. Why hadn’t this made the news? And how come no one else knows about what is happening?

The answer, she said, is that it is literally a state secret, but that Trump/Q are secretly revealing it to followers in the hidden messages. All things will be revealed in due time. As has been said by the leaders of many cults to their followers when answers would be harmful to them or are not immediately clear.

I don’t think it is Josephine’s fault that her brain has fallen into the cult of Qanon. The internet itself can be addicting and cults are known for feeding on people that are weak and quite often have no sense of direction. Before losing custody of her daughter, Josephine was a stellar parent with instincts of a mother bear. I feel like she was beaten down in the court battles where she was out-battled by an ex with more financial resources and a meaner spirit than she.

Once, when all of this began, I begged her to focus on getting her life back on track, saying that she had “bigger fish to fry” than all of the PizzaGate and Qanon stuff. She looked at me like I had grown a third head and told me that she was paying so much attention to these things so that she could educate people like me who didn’t have time to pay attention to the facts.

My sister also revealed to me during this time that as a child she had been molested in our home by one of our mother’s male friends. I had no previous knowledge of this in spite of having become her legal guardian after our mother passed. I did have a vague recollection of being made aware of this by another sister, and throwing the perpetrator off of our front porch and telling him to never return. But then I apparently forgot the incident and buried it and her pain away in my own subconscious.

Like I said, I miss my sister, but I accept her as she is today and make time for phone conversations to hear about the military battles in the underground cities, and anything else that she has learned from Q and her other sources. On some level it is entertaining. On a more important level, it is keeping the brother and sister connection going, and not judging her for whatever is taking place in her brain.

I will say that I do hate Qanon and all of the conspiracy theories that come with it. But as my schizophrenic grandfather used to say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”