Re: Living with fears after leaving a cult
Date: August 16, 2009 04:16PM
The thing that struck me was reading the line "...one true form of Buddhism." I was in a group that practiced the one true form of Marxism-Leninism. We feared the police, we feared "them", we accepted re-education when we were errant because we were soldiers of the international fighting for the dictatorship of the proletariat. As I continue reading discussions, I see a lot of common statements. I wasn't in your group but there is a strange sense of familiarity. Yes, that rings true with "different lyrics, same melody."
My fears were not unfounded. I do not know if I am an example of a minority sector of persons ejected from a group. I was beaten and thrown out, classified as a dissident, subsequently harassed by the group. Recently, I have actively engaged in discussion forums about the group. So many others reported that once they left, that was it. Still, they had the fears that someone would come for them. Several have even gone to great lengths to change their identities.
Perhaps my treatment was atypical because my father was the group founder. After his death, another seized control and couldn't afford to have an heir running around advocating the restructuring of the organization. Even to this day I wonder if they will come after me, and I have been out for twelve years. They can't afford to have me advocating the disbanding of the group.
How do I cope? I have learned that if a cop is pulling me over, it's probably a tail light that stopped working. I had to learn a different way of thinking, that not everyone was out to get me. Rather than running and hiding, I have chosen to remain publicly visible. Recently, I have started talking about my experiences. I want people to understand what I went through, what others went through. The bad dreams finally stopped. It hurts that people call my father a monster, a drug addict, sexually perverse, etc. I accept that he abused drugs and enjoyed the constant entourage of women that tended to his needs.
The more I talk, the less real the fears seem. Still I remain vigilant. Maybe that will go away soon too as I keep talking about what happened. Some have suggested I need counseling. I have found more benefit to focus my efforts to educate people. I am not an "expert" and never went to college but I speak from the heart. This is just my experience. I suspect many have experiences that are similar, predictable, after leaving an organization. I suspect others thrown out of an organization also have some commonalities in their experiences.
If you leave with anything of value from this comment, I hope it is this: please continue checking out this site. Check out Janja Lalich's site and also Steve Hassan's site. There may be others of value, I don't know. Don't end up like me, 12 years out and still with unresolved issues.