Monday, November 14, 2016

Broken Pieces - Broken Lives

In the last month, I came in contact with a variety of ex-members. In spite of differences in age, race, and situations, we all share the commonality of trying to make a life out of the broken pieces that were left after leaving the cult. After years of being exploited and abused, we are now each doing our best to make our way in the world with little help, experience, or foundation. The following people are far from anomalies.

"A," whose parents joined the group when she was a child, is engaged in a daily fight with depression, constant financial struggles, and hopelessness. Anger flares against her parents, then turns inward. She puts on a brave face each day for her children, but on the inside there is black sadness. Putting one foot in front of the other is how she makes it through each day.

"B," born in the cult, has been pulling together his broken pieces and has struggled to teach himself the language that should have been his mother tongue, then he ambitiously took on a third language. Fighting feelings of insecurity, he's overcome and been successful in supporting himself in a job that uses his tri-lingual abilities. Quite impressive, considering he lives in a rigid, unforgiving country, and has never spent a day inside a school building.

"C," another who had the misfortune to be born in the cult, struggles with finances and a psychologically abusive spouse. She is stuck; her child held hostage to her marriage.

There are more, many sick with stress over the future; all coping the best they can.

Finally, "D" who joined at age 18 and had five children in the cult. Divorced, living alone in a foreign country, she has been struggling to reinvent and educate herself so she can get a secure job - and all this in her 50's. 

Her desire is to erase the past and only live in the present, otherwise guilt and sadness overwhelm her and pull her in a downward spiral of shame. She feels her children blame her for her bad decisions, and she blames herself for having brought those children into the world while in the cult. There are no happy thoughts of her children, no cheerful memories - all are colored by guilt - she only yearns to forget. A great divide of pain and bitterness lies between her and her children. 

This is deeply saddening. What a legacy of our years spent "serving the Lord." A travesty.

I am thankful that my children can laugh about the absurdity of their past. Needless to say, I sincerely wish it had been different.

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