After effects of cults
Date: November 06, 2004 04:52PM
Good questions, Jewels!
Whoa! I have not thought about all of these details in a LONG time... so here goes :
* Why did you leave? What influenced you etc.?
I wanted to live my own life, without someone telling me my thoughts were wrong, or that i had to go to sleep at a certain time, eat only certain foods, use certain body lotions, etc. - all in the name of facilitating higher spiritual consciousness. The goal of all was Cosmic Consciousness to get off the wheel of karma, and never reincarnate again.
Was all way too ridiculously controlling the way everyone lived. Also, the children of the group were always neglected while the parents went off to meditate or go to meetings. I refused to leave my children so much (the way my parents had done), but then i was judged as 'off the Program' - a great stigma.
* What was the hardest step you took towards leaving?
The hardest step was convincing my then husband to leave the community. That took a couple of years to accomplish.
* What was the hardest thing to get over once you left? Or, something you are still trying to get over?
After leaving, the hardest thing was learning to connect in a meaningful way with people who did not share that background, or did not have the same lingo.
Currently still trying to hone my 'bullshit detectors'. I'm way too gullible, just assuming that folks are always as honest as I am. Was sad to learn that is not so.
* Would you have gone to a shelter if needed?
If I was being physically abused and was unable to work, I suppose I would have done that. But I've always been willling to work hard, so never had the need of that.
* Did you think about or want help when you left?
It never occured to me! That is why I'm learning all about this now, 16 years after the fact! oh well, better late than never.
* If yes, why did you not get help?
Didn't occur to me; I didn't know it existed.
* Have you, or do you think about getting help now?
Have done so, for sorting through the residual magical thinking, and social vulnerabilities. Has been an immensely growth producing year or two!
* Would you have gone to a shelter for help if there were one for people leaving cults?
I didn't even identify it as a cult until a few years ago (what planet was I on?!)
* Would it make it easier to go if it were ran by an ex-cult member?
There was a group that used to exist, for those who left my family's group. They struck me as a bunch of fanatics at the time. In reality, they probably would've been helpful, but I did not contact them.
* What has helped you overcome the most since you have left?
Obtaining an education and jumping fully into community life ... e.g. Little League coach, volunteering in my kids' schools, professional associations, etc. Such involvement gave me a different social paradigm to replace the cult, and also learned to communicate w/o the cult lingo.
Many young people from the cult, twentysomethings, still show up at my house periodically for a sense of 'normalcy' (whatever that is!)
* If you joined a cult why did you join? What appealed to you most about the group?
Did not join. It was my parents' group, then I married young in the group rather than attending their advanced trainings (several months' long meditation courses in Europe), and popped out 3 children in my twenties.
The Community support, emphasis on drug free and health conscious living, was very seductive. Was easy to share child care, easy to coordinate a group to go to the beach or have a Superbowl party at home. Always ran into 'friends' in the grocery store etc. Gave a small town sense of security and safety.
Now years later, for those who still live there - it is so hard to tell who is related to whom! They've all married, divorced and remarried within the group so many times, having kids along the way. The ongoing 'joke' (but true!) is that the young people currently in the group need a map to know who is really safe to date, and who is not a real relative, in order to avoid an incestuous liason. Many of the young people now leave though.
* If you rejoined a cult why did you go back?
Did not rejoin, but visited the town a couple of times with my children. Have to admit, the simplicity, easy comradry, automatic support system is seductive. Could easily fantasize moving back and having a supportive community. But that fantasy was always fleeting (thank heavens!). I know others who moved away, and then returned later for the community support. Still others (the majority of those who left that group) are busy cult-hopping on an ongoing basis.
My guess is they did not succesfully learn to interact socially, nor obtain a true inner self identity. They need someone to provide their connection to 'God' 'higher consciousness', etc or to provide the rules of morality.