Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Loneliness Legacy

Having spent many wasted years in the unreal bubble of life in TFI and then emerging into the real world, it can be difficult to relate to people who have not experienced it. Generally, friendships are build on commonalities, shared interests and backgrounds, and maybe more importantly, similar ways of thinking and mindsets. 

Coming from an insular cult background, it can be a challenge to form deep friendships with those for whom that reality is foreign, or perhaps, virtually unimaginable.

This is not unlike the experience of "Third Culture Kids," referring to those people (not just children) who have spent much time in a culture outside of their national culture. As TFI has its own culture, customs, and esoteric language, upon leaving, one is placed in the position where they must suddenly learn - or catch up with - the culture of their citizenship, years behind others their age.

As an aside, this is particularly egregious for those whose citizenship is, for example, Japanese or Chinese and were born in the cult and brought up primarily in an English environment. To be thrust into mainstream society in a country where you are not fluent in the language of your birth is the epitome of lack of foresight of the parents, bordering on cruelty. I cannot imagine how hard it would be.

Thus, the sad fate left to many ex-cultists is a life of relative loneliness, and/or a tendency to seek the company of other ex-members. Others have left one cult for another, be it MLMs with their alluring promise of "get-rich-quick" (particularly alluring for aging ex-members who have no savings and have made no provision for retirement), conspiracy theory groups, or political fringe groups. Sadly, many have chosen to take their own lives, while others have fallen into addictions and alcoholism.

"Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It's how we get our satisfaction. If we can't connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find -- the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe."* Or, I might add, the warm embrace of a cult.

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