👤 This week’s INF interview is with Rebekah Mallory. In her own words...
Rebekah is an INFJ, cult surviving writer. Having experienced mind control for most of her life, her upcoming memoir gives the reader a taste of what life was like being raised by Deaf parents in a doomsday cult. As a result of her upbringing, Rebekah tends to lean a bit on the dark side...unless her dogs are around.
🎧 We followed this interview up with a podcast conversation -> listen here
Hey there! So first things first… what do you like to be called?
Rebekah. I kinda wish my parents had gone with “Jezebel” but Rebekah will do.
Hi Rebekah! Okay, can we start this interview by finding out where in the world you currently reside? Is this also where you grew up?
Currently I live in New Hampshire in the U.S. and I did grow up here, yet I’ve spent most of my adult life not living here. I only came back “home” two years ago. And you really “can’t go home again.”
Oh, where else have you lived previously? I’m sure it must feel interesting returning “home”...
I’ve lived in Massachusetts (where most people from N.H. move to first since it’s still in New England), Silver Spring, MD, Austin, Texas and McMinnville, Oregon. Coming back “home”has been a mixed bag; I love the atmosphere, having four seasons and seeing old friends, but all the childhood memories—the ones most people try to forget—are still here.
Do you remember what you were like as a child?
All too well. I was very shy, withdrawn. When I DID speak, awkward things flew out of my mouth before I could stop them. I loved to read, I loved spending time alone—teaching my stuffed animals their lessons for the day. I wrote, I drew; I had a very active imagination.
I fondly remember playing with toys and day-dreaming, too. I was a real dreamer, in fact I still am.
I still am, too. :)
What was school like for you? And how were your teenage years as a whole?
School was hard. Not only did I feel like I had nothing in common with my classmates, my parents are Deaf, which makes me a Child Of Deaf Adults (CODA) and I was also raised in a mind controlling, doomsday cult. So, there’s that. ;)
My teenage years were a special kind of hell. I was very curious...sexually. I was drawn to misfits and outliers, but was not allowed to foster that obsession, or meet other like-minded weirdos, because as a Jehovah’s Witness you are to associate only with those “in the truth.” So, I was again, alone mostly.
It sounds like you had a really interesting time back then, thanks so much for sharing all of that with us so openly.
You’re very welcome. I hide nothing.
Fast-forwarding a lil bit to today, what words, or phrases, would you use to describe your current self?
Pensive. Raw. Determined. Passionate. Survivor. Soft-hearted. Caring. Listener. Creative. Curious.
And when did you first realise that you were an introvert? How did this happen?
I was interpreting a team-building workshop and everyone in the room was taking the Myers Briggs. As the working interpreter, I didn’t take it at that moment, but I snuck the handouts and test in my bag and took it later. I was about 27, 28?
Cool! So, are you an INFP or an INFJ?
When did you first do the Myers-Briggs test and realise you were an INF_?
A couple of years ago, maybe? I was definitely in my 40s at the time. I’d known I was an introvert during that work assignment, but had no clue about the NFJ portion.
Oh, so you didn’t actually look at those papers that you snuck into your bag all those years ago…
Oh, I did. The flyers I kept didn’t go into great detail. It was a team-building workshop and the company hosting the event only touched on the Myers Briggs; everyone took the test, but I don’t think they spent much time delving into all 16 types.
Has discovering you were an INF_ impacted you in any way? If so, how?
Jeezaloo. Yes, it has—in so many ways. It has influenced how I see myself. I understand why I do what I do more now than I ever did. I don’t feel so weird, and if I do, it doesn’t bother me the way it used to. I forgive myself more freely now.
That’s so nice to hear, Rebekah. And what qualities do you think INFJs, and INF-types (INFPs and INFJs) in general, share?
Anxiety. Feeling everything ALL THE DAMN TIME. I’d venture to say INF-types are old souls; we seem to share a darker side too. There are way too many things to list.
I can really relate to being an ‘old soul’. What were your favourite subjects at school? (If applicable) what did you study at university/college?
English, Creative Writing, History, Greek Mythology, Art, Philosophy and Psychology.
All of this sounds so interesting. I actually ended up doing Maths and Sciences, like the exact opposites ones lol. If I could decide again, I’d have picked different for sure. (I’d have done Latin, for example, I loved languages and also learning about the history of Ancient Rome).
Oooooh. Rome. I love Rome.
So, what are you spending your time on at the moment? (Whether studying, working, or other focusing your attention… it can be more than just one thing!)
Oh my gosh, getting my first book published! I’m ALMOST there. I just confirmed a proof request yesterday. I can see the finish line. Aside from that, I workout almost everyday—I love lifting weights. I read (sometimes more than one book at a time). I love to cook, there’s Italian in my blood and it runs the kitchen. I spend a lot of time at home with my dogs, they’re the best things about me, and I guess my husband is ok, too. ;)
Was there a moment in your life when you made a drastic change?
Several. I made a huge one at 16 when I left home. Then at 26 when I abandoned my childhood faith, again. I’ve moved across the country several times and with each state line I crossed, there was a major turning point ahead.
Do you have a preferred creative/artistic outlet? Can you tell us a bit about this?
I write. That one is my favorite. I can do whatever I want there. I cook when I need to break free from commas and word strings. Sometimes I paint, knit and/or sew.
I’m seeing lots of creative stuff in there :) Would you describe yourself as a 'highly sensitive person' (or an empath)?
Yes. Absolutely. Loud noises, strong odors (I hate perfume) really set my teeth on edge. I can physically feel the anxiety, pain and discord in those around me.
And do you have a personal definition of 'success'? What does being 'successful' look like to you?
Gosh, success...I think success looks like fully knowing yourself and having the balls to live how you see yourself, unabashedly, everyday. There are so many influences out there these days—social media, fake news, tv binge watching, everyone has a website—it’s information overload. I think success is being able to wade through all the excess and find the you that you are meant to be. Does that make sense? :)
That makes total sense. There is so much information out there, and I still have to be cautious to not let it all overwhelm me, and find myself getting lost in those currents.
What about 'happiness' - do you have a personal recipe for that?
For me, if I go by the above definition for success, happiness isn’t too far off. I think it’s important to realize that happiness isn’t tied to anything external—not a thing, not a spouse, not even your best friend—you’ve got to find what turns everything inside you on and go for it.
I love that.
Do you like to plan things, or are you more of a go-with-the-flow type of person? (Or, perhaps, a little bit of both?)
Generally, I need a plan. Don’t tell me you want to go see the 2pm showing of Star Wars at 1pm that day. Lord, please. Give a girl a three hour window. (This just might be me speaking to my husband right now—he’s an ISTP). I ask for that time so I can mentally plan my day: are the seats reserved? Will I want popcorn or raisinettes? I’ll need to clean the house a bit before I go, and take the dogs for a short “sniffing-walk.” Will we be taking my car or yours? Is there anything I need to grab before or after the movie while I’m out? Better get the grocery bags just in case.
Oddly enough, I can go-with-the-flow while on vacation and at random times if I’m in the mood.
Oh I love your honesty here, and gosh I can really relate to this. I enjoy going with the flow, but when I make plans involving other people I like to have plans at least a day (or an evening?) in advance. I’m glad I’m not the only one!
I’m also glad I’m not alone here!
What does your 'perfect Sunday' (or Saturday) look like?
I wake up around 8. I start my coffee and while that’s brewing, take the dogs out. We come in, sip my coffee and go over the last thing I wrote. I stand at the kitchen table and write. On a good day, I get 1,000 words. Then I workout. After my workout, the husband and I get ready and head out for the day—we stop to check out the newest rigs at the RV dealership (we’re looking into getting one), then we hit Boston for a day of whatever and have a nice dinner in the city. We head home, then snuggle into a movie. Simple.
Lately, I’m coming across a few folks who have done, or are looking to do, the RV life. (Interestingly, they pretty much all happen to be INFJs).
Oh, I’d love to hear more about that!
Well, Jae Hermann and Jen Rao are the two ladies (both INFJs) I had in mind in this regard :) I'm sure you could reach out to either of them if you wanted to.
Moving along… Is there anything you've read, watch or listened to recently, that you've loved? (Whether a book, blog, podcast, film/TV show, etcetera).
I’m currently watching Stranger Things and I LOVE IT. I read Revival by Stephen King and loved every page. As for podcasts, I’m a huge fan of anything serial killer.
I need to finish Stranger Things, but loved the first season. And I LOVE true crime too, whether podcast or TV. Speaking of which, do you have any favourite blogs or (other) podcasts?
Introvert, Dear, The INF Club, The Serial Killer Podcast (there’s 2 with that name), I love Greg Levin’s blogs—he’s witty and charming—Katherine Turner and of course, my amazing friend, Lauren Sapala.
That’s so kind, thank you for the mention. Wow, I really want to check out that Serial Killer Podcast haha. Our mutual friend, Lauren, is wonderful - and I’m currently in the process of interviewing Katherine Turner, as it happens. It’s a small ol’ INF world 😊
How about favourite movies or (other) TV shows? Anything you've seen recently that you'd recommend?
Favorite movies… the original Star Wars trilogy (episodes 4, 5, and 6), Tootsie, Murder by Death, Grumpy Old Men, American Beauty, Harold and Maude, and most recently two that took me by surprise—Joker and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Favorite shows—Dexter (I named my dog after him), I Love Lucy (I mean, who doesn’t?), Seinfeld, Mindhunter...there are so many good shows out there.
I’m off to see the new Star Wars this evening. I really hope I’m not disappointed by it. Dexter and Mindhunter are both on my mental list.
We’re planning to see the new Star Wars Sunday. I also hope it’s not disappointing; there’s nothing like the original trilogy.
If you could go back in time and meet "you" back in 2010, is there any advice that you'd give this younger self?
2010...I had just become a full-time stepmom. Advice: be patient with the kids. Give them space and make time for yourself. You don’t need to be anyone’s martyr. Oh, and don’t take your dachshund, Bartok, to the lake—he’s gonna get sick and die a few days after from some fungi. So, skip the lake. :(
Aw. It looks like there’s some great advice in there, thank you for sharing that.
If you could one or two pieces of advice to your follow INFs, what would they be?
Trust your intuition. It’s strong. If you’re not ready for an upcoming change, wait. It takes INFs a little longer to process things and make peace with it all (whatever it is). Give your head a chance to catch up to your gut.
That is awesome advice, and actually feels relevant to me right now. Thank you.
You’re welcome. Still a work in progress for me.
What does 'self-care' mean for you? How do you practise it?
Time alone. Time to just be with my thoughts. Permission to do nothing. I often feel guilty when I have no project to tackle. Sitting still is hard for me. I’d like to allow myself more opportunities to do nothing and be ok with it.
Yes, I totally hear you. I have a tendency to over-work myself and then over-do it and have a procrastination binge. I’m working on it.
Do you have a favourite quote?
I have a few but this one is my all-time favorite: “I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful force controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field that controls my destiny.”—Han Solo (that may be a slight nod to my atheism).
Okay, this has been such good fun Rebekah. If others would like to find out more and connect with you, where can they do that?
my website: www.rebekahmallory.com
And lastly, is there anything else you'd like to say? (Whatever's on your mind, whether it follows on from this interview, or is just something completely random and opportunity. Say whatever and as much - or as little - as you like :)
Feel free to sign up for my mailing list so you can get first dibs on my dark, coming-of-age-in-a-cult, memoir when it publishes! 📖
When it comes to dogs: adopt, don’t shop. There are so many rescues out there that need love.🐶
If you know anyone who grew up in a harsh belief system, and is struggling in any way because of that, send ‘em my way. 🖤
I can’t wait to see your book out in the world, I wish you the best of luck with it. And thanks so much for that last offer, that’s really kind. This has been so fun, thank you for taking part.
THANK YOU! I loved it!
Jas + Rebekah
Published: January 29th, 2020.
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