Dear Rickety, all I can offer is, I grew up in a cult of 4 - my family. A cult of five, if you count the family friend I trusted as a second mother, after the other 4 had died--and who continued to generate the disinformation that covered up and rationalized what they'd done as normal and desirable.
1) Stick with your therapist for now, as long as the two of you have a good working alliance. If anyone says anything mean about how long you're in therapy, ignore them. They've not been what you have been through.
2) If anyone tries (as the family friend did) to guilt trip or shame you with lines like 'wallowing in victim mentality' or 'cant you just move on?' That means one of several things. a) they may have been harmed this way themselves and cant stand to face it b)They've learned this throw away phrases in the pseudo spiritual scene and or c) they or someone they love has not been through what you have been through, and they cannot understand.
3)If you are looking for spiritual resources, make sure to fact check the background of any group. This isnt negative thinking. It is wisdom. It is also the kind adult, healthy self care that will serve you well, the rest of your life. Just about all cults and abusive relationships start from a pattern of deceit--the leader or mentor presents an idealistic sparking public image and hides painful human or (in some cases) criminal information about him or herself. Some manage to hide that they actually are not licensed to function in their roles, or may invent fake lineages. A big part of stabilizing recovery is fact checking.
Note: a very good way to evaluate any sort of spiritual group or resource is to evaluate how it deals with issues of power, abuse of power and misfortune/human vulnerability. If you find yourself in a scene (it doesnt have to be a group, just a loose social network) where any discussion of power is considered negative or unspiritual, where issues of responsiblity, accountablity for use of power by a leader is considered 'unspiritual' and where you hear talk about 'victim mentality' or 'you make your own reality'-- watch out.
There are entire social venues where these pseudo spiriutal values are part of the atmosphere. They signal a scene where people cant stand to face human vunlerabilty and are trying to hide out. They may not be part of cults, but this kind of para-cultic mindset can soften folks up and make them less able to spot
danger if attempts are made to recruit them. Its also a social venue where crooks and hustlers operate.
If anyone tries to sell you on some ideology or method, find out if the person is licensed to practice as a therapist and is in good standing professionally. An amazing number of people are considered psychologists and have devotees, but are not actually credentialed at all. Learn to smell hype.
4) (This hurts and is why therapy is useful) You may have been targeted by your perp, precisely because you were already vulnerable. As an example, if a family routinely bullies its children or plays favorites and scapegoats them, children exiting this family may re-enact these patterns with abusive lovers, mentors or groups. This is NOT a matter of consciously 'wanting it' or 'asking for it.' You're pre-formatted. And some perps can spot this and capitalize on it.
People with self respect and who are assertive are rarely selected to be entourage members for bullies--they'd not stand it.
Finally, if this happened during adolescence, you may have missed opportunities for age appropriate learning, socializing. That has to be mourned and then you will have to look for situations where in person you can socialize and learn what normal relationships are like, without hidden agendas. This is learned in person, not on the internet.
Sports clubs, task oriented associations can help.
But whatever you do, dont dump on yourself and dont let anyone else tell you that you're taking too long. You are the best judge of that.
Also, be sure you are getting sufficient sleep. At one point, recovery triggered a nasty multi month bout of insomnia for me. I waited too long before finally getting help.
If you get anxious or angry and this is giving you health complications, insomnia or interfering with work, that is a signal to pace yourself.
There is a memoir by Sean Wilsey entitled Oh the Glory of it All. In it he suffered in a very abusive family, had to do lots of background research.
He describes at the end how he decided when he'd reached the point where he had done enough research.
Its different for everybody.
PS: You were saying something about issues of yours that got you hooked in:
"embarrassment into having been duped into such a weird relationship (especially since it reveals the naivety, greed, and need for narcissistic fulfillment that I had at the time--things that con artists prey upon"
So very many of us share these same issues and that is what makes us exploitable--and its something many people cant stand to face, and why some
love to console themselves that they are too strong minded ever to fall prey.
Psychoanalyst Daniel Shaw wrote an article, speaks of how perpetrators exploit universal human dependency needs:
"they have mastered the cruel art of exploiting universal human dependency and attachment needs in others.
The lengthy period of dependency in human development, the power that parents have, as God-like figures, to literally give life and sustain the lives of their children, leaves each human being with the memory, however distant or unconscious, of total dependency.
Cult leaders tap into and re-activate this piece of the human psyche. Followers are encouraged to become regressed and infantilized, to believe that their life depends on pleasing the cult leader. Cult leaders depend on their ability to attract people, often at critically vulnerable points in their lives, who are confused, hungry, dissatisfied, searching. With such people, cult leaders typically find numerous ways to undermine their followers’ independence and their capacity to think critically."
This second article may relate more closely to issues your mentor may have had
--issues perhaps concealed from you, and which as a teen, you would have lacked the resources and social support to cope with
Take good care
Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 12/13/2007 10:21PM by corboy.