To read "Thriving Outside Of A Religious Noose"
in order, you will want to start at my
March 13, 2011 post and scroll up.
FREEDOM. There is nothing like it. There is liberty in resting on the other side of a cult. But how do we get out? How do we get here? I’ve seen it happen in a variety of ways:
Leave. Yes, it feels like rebellion. And, unless you can shed the mind control, I’ve seen this lead to destructive, fear-filled, agnostic, or even atheistic living. The misuse of the Bible has these people confusing God with the very thing that is hurting them. Some people may think they didn’t measure up to this organization’s requirements, so they must be less than desirable to God.
Get kicked out… Or, as the religious like to call it: shunning. The one being shunned obviously has not mentally or emotionally yielded properly to the brainwashing of the organization. Being shunned can cause great guilt (and grief) do to the fact that, being a minority in the situation, you’re made to believe that the situation is your fault.
Burn out... Have you ever felt so used up that you’re hardly able to function? In this situation, symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Reactive Attachment Disorders have been known to overwhelm the victim.
Discovery… You stumble upon information that disproves everything you thought you believed and trusted in. You catch a leader telling a lie. Or maybe it’s just an exaggeration. Or twisting the truth to accommodate his point. And then it happens again. And then again. After a few incidents, it dawns on you that you have been dedicated to a foundation of lies. Yes, some of the teaching are true. (Remember: every cult begins with a seed of truth.) But the FOUNDATION is lies. Harmful, controlling lies. To the person who finds out that they have been following lies, well… their world has been rocked to its core. It will take time. Lots of time. To wade through the mess to find the Truth.
Wise, loving counsel… I’m not sure this is very common. But there are those people who have been counseled by concerned individuals… people who saw the damage that was being done and spoke up. In many cases, the person receiving the counsel is so caught up in their lifestyle that they cannot see the harm. Since the person giving the counsel is “from the outside”, they are viewed as a heretic or a liberal or worldly, or what-have-you.
I think that no matter how you leave, reality is going to be a difficult grasp. Maybe for some people, it is easier to fall into a normal lifestyle without feeling tremendous guilt. But for some, they are leaving the only culture they knew to try to fit into a normal America. If you’ve not been a part of a separated organization, you will not relate to the cultural and social issues I’m referring to. Your reality is standard to you. But to those coming out of a religious sect, reality can be a little foggy. I personally go through cycles of life where I have this tremendous drive to study, study, study… Figure out what the Truth is on a few particular issues. Then I land there and rest for a while. Basking in the reality of my freedom. Then, the cycle hits again triggered by family issues, my child’s question, a reconnection with someone from my old life, or a particular sermon heard at church. And then I find myself driven to study, study, study again. And so then I can, once again, rest in the fact that no matter how terribly I’ve messed up, GOD LOVES ME. And I so here I rest until the next cycle hits. Surely I’m not all alone in this???