When I set up this blog, I had no real goal in mind. I had attended my first cult related conference in Sweden, meeting some of the most prominent academics in this field. International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA), hold an annual conference on cult-related issues, including academic speakers from across the globe.
However, I was still knee-deep in my own recovery, and hadn’t long come out from, what I call, the ‘frozen state’. The ‘frozen state’ is a place where it seems as if no life exists. The trauma is so profound, that for psychological, emotional and ‘spiritual’ reasons, the organism becomes mute, reclusive, apathetic and still. No real emotions are felt as such, there is just a sense of ‘deadness’ and ‘coldness’ deep inside.
Coming out of this state includes many different elements for people experiencing this phenomenon. However, a key part of the journey for me was working with professionals who understood, much more than I did at the time, what I had experienced.
I worked with two professionals. I worked with a male therapist, who coached me through a very specific aspect of my experience and a certain type of on-going trauma. And I worked, and still work with, a female therapist in a more traditional counselling role. Both have been profoundly instrumental in my recovery.
There is something very unique about entering a therapeutic relationship with professionals who understand the reality of what a person has faced if they have belonged to a cult. Although it would be possible to work with any therapist that is worth their salt, having a therapist that really understands the issues at hand, is saltier than even salt.
When I felt as alone as a person could ever feel, with seemingly no-one around that could understand (and that does not mean I did not have good, loving people around me during this time, I did) finally connecting with people who really ‘got’ it was very healing and life-enhancing. It started melting that which had become frozen.
It took time for me to build up trust with both therapists. I was still in a state of humiliation, shock, profound grief, defensiveness, battle, survival. But, I knew, if I didn’t pull myself out, and put on the oxygen mask, I was going under. I needed professional help.
Thankfully, life (the universe, God, myself?) brought me, two exceptional therapists. Both have held me and nurtured me in their own unique way. Both have understood, empathised, offered reflection, educated me and cared for me. I am truly not sure where I would be now, if I would not have had them in my life.
So back to the ICSA conference…I was moved…I was so moved I spent most of the experience crying. I cry a lot anyway. I have always been the same. However, hearing other people’s stories had a profound impact on me and I was struck by how much courage people on this journey need to muster.
I was particularly struck by a story of a young woman who had been born into a fundamentalist Christian cult. She told, eloquently, with documented evidence, the life she had been born into. I couldn’t contain my heartache when she described reaching puberty, knowing she wanted out, but facing the devastating consequences of leaving all the siblings she dearly loved.
A theme of this blog will continually be relational. I believe wholeheartedly, that it is our relationships that truly nourish us. Imagine leaving a cult you had been born into, knowing that by doing so you lose all your closest relationships? Imagine the pain?
Yet, the reason people do actually make this choice is that living within a cult can only lead to one final destination….
Death of self.
To live in a cult is to live a lie. To live in a cult is to live emotionally incapacitated. To live in a cult is to live psychologically stunted and trapped. To live in a cult is to live alienated. To live in a cult is to live un-educated. To live in a cult is to live with no creativity. To live in a cult is to live disconnected. To live in a cult is to live without freedom…
Sometimes, I think I am one of the lucky ones. I wasn’t born into a cult. I was tricked and deceived into joining as an adult. I already had a personality that was formed pre-cult. Yes, a personality whilst in the cult that was warped and controlled and a personality that was deadened in the process, but still it was mine before the cult hijacked it. Second generation cultists, those unfortunate enough to be born into one, have it so much worse than I ever did. I understand this, for reasons I will explore further in time on this blog.
The journey continues…this blog… I am hoping I will give more time to it over the coming future. I have a lot to say, but I am working hard to educate myself currently. This education feels very important to me. A disdain for education is a common theme in cults and certainly, in the one I belonged to, education was frowned upon.
I have many goals, goals that did not exist when I had become indoctrinated. I want this blog to educate, but I also want to share my own experience. I know hearing other people’s experiences have been very healing for me on a personal level.
The journey continues….