Self talk

“Maybe you are afraid that every friend you have now will leave you eventually. Because that is what always happened back then, and you were left without friends.”~Self

As I have written in past posts, after Jenn (my only friend) left, I did not have any friends. No friends from the time I was 14 and into adulthood. Those are formidable teenage and young woman years. I made friends with my Mom, but I couldn’t tell her everything. Samantha and I were ‘friends’ but we couldn’t really let anyone know, because it wasn’t appropriate. I’m not telling you this for “woe is me” attention. These are facts that affect me still today. I am hesitant to make friends. I expect them to leave eventually, so it is a challenge for me to reach out to new people. I have made friends since becoming an adult, but I hate/don’t know how to handle drama that can come along with friends. I do have some really really good friends who have stuck through hard times with me, and myself for them. For these friends I am thankful.

I was taught that it was inappropriate for me to be friends with girls that were a different age than me. The pastors gave an age range that was appropriate; I had to have a friend that was within one year of my age. That hardly matters to me now. I was taught that if I didn’t have any friends, then there was something wrong with me, that I was “not right with God”. Furthermore, as long as there weren’t any girls in school my age, the school suffered from low attendance. I grew up with this idea that as long as I was not right with “God”,  I was costing the school money. I felt this enormous responsibility. When I graduated, I felt that I had never learned my lesson of what was ‘wrong’ with me, because I was the only girl in my graduating class of three students.

As you can imagine, I became a confused emotional mess. I am sure I will always be learning to pick up the pieces, and I am okay with that. I became so accustomed to being alone that I became dis-interested in friendships. When Husband and I first started dating and talking on the phone, I told him every terrible thing about myself. He just kept saying that he didn’t care. He told me that he wasn’t interested in the past or the things that I had done, he saw me for who I am now, and he liked me. I couldn’t believe that and I would push back. I wasn’t letting him or anyone else in, and it was for their own safety. My self esteem was and still can be extremely low.

When I am having a bad day, the words echo in my head of the horrible things they told me about myself: arrogant, unworthy of friends, whore, stupid, ugly, evil… These words are being replaced by wonderful words from my friends: kind, caring, compassionate, intelligent, beautiful. With repetition, the kind words will drown out the past. My friends are creating a new script.

Some things I have learned about friends since being out of the cult: they come and go. There are good ones and ones that pretend. I have kept the good ones and learned that it is okay to let go of those who are not genuine. It is okay to tell a friend about my past, so they can understand, but that doesn’t change their opinion of me. They see me for who I am today, and I am okay with that. Friends are great!

~E

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Tree of life

It started with a message from a friend “I mean, they literally said ‘did you grow up in a cult?'” A casting call for people with unusual backgrounds. A peek into their lives. I responded, I said, “I grew up in a cult.” The producers called me for an interview, we talked for 45 minutes. Mostly me talking, with a few audible gasps from the other end of the line. They were intrigued by the story, I am cast in the video. They want to focus on one situation in my life: the suicide choice. I said okay, and I have felt okay, until today. Today I’m nervous. I have been writing this public blog for everyone to see, but tomorrow I will be in front of a camera. I feel a little more exposed than usual. It’s okay, I’m okay with talking about it. The choice to end it all or carry on is a heavy one, and a choice that I don’t often speak of. I became suicidal when I was 19, 20, I don’t remember. How can you choose one thing to lead you to that thought? Many situations led up to me driving my car around all day looking for a tree to drive my car into. And I had one picked out. I drove up and down that road for hours thinking “this time” and then “next time” each time passing it by. Then I decided to give myself one more chance. I asked “how can you choose to end it all when you haven’t even given yourself a chance?” I didn’t have an answer. I decided that I was going to live for what was right, and I wanted to find out what makes me happy. I was going to stop listening to the pastors and everyone else. I didn’t care if I had to throw a fit, yell and scream, I didn’t care. What was the worst they could do to me? Kill me? I want to die anyway so go ahead. They didn’t kill me, I made some tough choices. It was hard, I did comply to them for a while because I was not sure if I was ready to live on my own. I played the game, but slowly backed out. I didn’t answer Ted when he called. He got mad. I met my husband shortly after this incident. The “authority” told me not to date him. I did. He makes me happy. They told me I had to be home at midnight. I wouldn’t come home on the weekends, I was happy. They started leaving me alone, probably waiting for me to fall. I fell in love. I fell in love with my husband and I am still learning to love myself. Every time I drive down that road I look at that tree. Happy to see the tree is still alive, and happy that I am still alive.

~E