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Rebuilding Relationships

Cults specifically work on separating you from your family and friends. This is so that they can isolate you physically (and mentally), to ensure your thoughts are solely focused on the cult leader and the group you have become involved in.

Before I escaped my cult I did not see or speak to my family for three years. Before the final separation, I rarely spoke to my parents and only saw them around once a year (for ten years). I was living 11 hours drive north of them and had become so ingrained in the cult and its beliefs that I knew not to speak openly to my family about what I was experiencing, and I was no longer my former self.

When I finally left the cult, it took me about a week or so before I called my parents. I didn't know if they would want to speak to me after all the heartache I had put them through. Thankfully, they were completely supportive and overjoyed that I had made contact again.

It can take some time for you to adjust to the 'outside' world again, and to feel normal. You may be experiencing highs and lows, hyper-arousal or numbness, or be splitting/floating. Your brain has not yet grounded back into your body and your thoughts are racing. Memories of the cult and negative experiences will flood your consciousness at any moment of the day or night.

It is extremely difficult for family and friends to understand the trauma you have experienced. You may feel you want to blurt out thoughts and feelings to them continuously for a while, but you could realise before too long, that it is too much for the person on the receiving end to cope with. They simply don't understand, and it is hard for them to fathom what you have actually been through.

Therefore, I believe it is best to find someone that has either been in your cult, or a different cult, so that you can confide in them and chat openly about your shared experiences.

It is not a good idea to suddenly blame your family or friends for the past, or be harsh with those around you who are trying to support you if they don't understand where you are coming from. Unless someone has experienced indoctrination for themselves, it is unlikely that they will fully understand your situation.

If you have a supportive parent, sibling, or friend who is willing to educate themselves by reading books about mind control and/or attending a cult support group with you, you will find your recovery is that much faster and a less bumpy ride.

For some ex-cult members, family and friends may not be waiting with open arms. In this case, it is imperative that you find people who you can trust, to get the support you need. Psychologists or counsellors who are trained in cult dynamics are a good start. As well as ex cult member support groups. Getting caught up in a cult is completely not your fault. Always remember this and try to remain positive about a future reconciliation.

You need to take rebuilding relationships slowly and carefully. You don't have to tell every person you meet about your cult experience. You can gradually build a rapport and openness with new acquaintances, one step at a time. There is no need to divulge everything about your recent past too soon.

Be gentle on yourself and only do and say what you feel comfortable with. It takes a different amount of time for each individual, depending on your circumstances... however eventually you will feel normal again!

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