Eight “School”- Free Holiday Seasons

I left “school” in 2011. I still say, the one good thing about experiencing “school” was leaving. I realized what I almost gave away. I am eternally grateful to have reclaimed it.

Every holiday season, no matter how perfectly imperfect it is, no matter how many years have passed between my tenure and my cult-free existence, I’m thankful to be free of the Christmas Party — the event to supersede all events that devoured five years worth of holiday seasons. Yep, folks, I don’t miss the constant and ever-growing demands always coupled with growing dismissal and disregard for all things personal, especially spouses and family.

Another gift that comes from leaving: time and agency. In that spirit, I decided after leaving to re-read classic literature from junior high and high school … you know, real school, as opposed to the cult that called itself “school.”

Recently, I finished John Steinbeck’s, East of Eden. As a holiday offering here are two quotes. Blog Monitor — I suggest that you share them with “school” leadership:

“A [human], after [s/he] has brushed off the dust and chips of [his/her] life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?” (p.475 )

“It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world.” (p.477)

Happy, Merry! May you have a cult-free New Year in 2019!!!

 

Cohen Leaves the Trump Cult …

At some point over the life of this blog, I made a political comment that offended a reader. At the time I apologized and said this is not a political blog, so I’ll refrain from political commentary. Obviously, I have stopped worrying about that, because today presidential politics intersect with all things cultic. Trump could bomb a nursery school and the Trump cultists would justify it. Daddy Donny would come up with some b.s., like “those the toddlers were terrorists!” All the monkeys would jump up and down, pick it up and repeat, repeat.

It then makes sense that I’m also obsessed with the Russia investigation. This week, Micheal Cohen was sentenced to three years in jail for campaign finance violations. Cohen is the man who once professed, “I would take a bullet for this president.” I’m no fan. For a while, he clearly enriched himself through his Trump alliance (financially speaking, of course).

I don’t trust this sudden epiphany of consciousness. But I will give him this: the statements he made during sentencing do have a somewhat authentic ring of someone exiting a cult. He previously admitted in court to arranging hush money payments to women who had affairs with Trump (barf) “for the principal purpose of influencing” the 2016 presidential election. At his sentencing hearing he added the following:

  • Blind loyalty to Trump overrode “my own inner voice and my moral compass.”
  • And “…  time and time again, I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”
  • He described his life as “personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real estate mogul whose business acumen … I deeply admired.” (ugh)
  • He said of his prison sentence, “Today is the day that I am getting my freedom back.”
  • He said, “…and it was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man” — a reference to Mr. Trump — “that led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”

Blind and unquestioning loyalty, losing moral compass and authentic voice, feeling responsible to protect the group/leader no matter what, recognizing suddenly that you’ve been walking through life in a cognitive, psychological and emotional prison, being lorded over by a false belief in non-existent benevolence, or business acumen and the feeling of relief, of freedom, that comes when you wake up to the con – yep, those are all common cultic hallmarks. I wonder if Allison Mack — the Smallville actress who is being charged with human sex trafficking after becoming deeply entrenched in the NXIVM cult— can relate. I wonder what her story is.

Cohen probably was no angel before he partnered up with the rapist-in-chief. The phrase business acumen seems to me to be a euphemism for corrupt and sleazy. But it will be interesting to see what unfolds after this confession and dissolution from the Trump cult.

Things that are wrong

Given that while I was at the Spiritual Abuse Recovery Conference, a man gunned down 11 innocent people in a synogogue, wounding several more, I’m veering into politics. Most things in life are complex, containing many shades of gray. Some things aren’t. Some  things are blatantly and unequivocally wrong:

  1. Violence
  2. Condoning and encouraging violence to millions of toadies at rallies
  3. Calling White Nationalists, i.e. Nazis, ” … very fine people”
  4. Shooting people, randomly, in temples, in churches, in schools, in movie theaters, in malls, etc.
  5. Allowing entitled, violent and sick people access to military grade weapons designed to optimize killing in the least time. (Spare me the b.s. argument about technical details. Technicalities don’t care about right and wrong, life and death. Technicalities don’t have morals.)
  6. Ripping apart traumatized families escaping violence and seeking asylum
  7. Locking toddlers in cages after ripping them away from their parents (gosh, I feel so much safer now that those toddlers are in prison)
  8. Lying from the bully pulpit every time you open your mouth
  9. Mailing pipe bombs to political opponents
  10. Raping 13-year olds and then saying this about Mexicans, “they’re rapists”
  11. The appointing lying rapists to the Supreme Court because doing so means your lackey “justice” owes you and will let you get away with your crimes

The liar-in-chief will now click on the gaslight and turn it up, blaming this avoidable violence, these murders, on  everyone else: “protesters”, “liberals”, “the press”.

Trump and the Republican Party — the party that props up and supports a demogugue while claiming to be great patriots, defenders of the rule of law and christians  — have blood on their hands. When Trump speaks in public, he sends the clear message to every asshole with delusional vendetta that he now has permission & entitlement to do whatever to whomever, whenever, no matter how vile and wrong. Trump as a role model.

Use your vote on Tuesday Nov. 6th to oppose things that are wrong. Because those wrong things are running our country into the ground right now.

Things to know about: Conferences, Podcasts & Movie, oh my…

Good Afternoon Folks,

This is a short one. Wanted to share some of cult related things —

Maybe you’ve been hearing something about a f’d up group called NXIVM in the news. The podcast, Uncover, centers on one woman’s recruitment, indoctrination and escape. I thought it was powerful.  I often, sarcastically, refer to “school” as cult lite. But stories like this make me realize how lucky I was – “school” inflicted damage, that’s for sure. But, hey, it could have been much worse.

The movie, The Endless, is about two brothers who revisit a cult that they escaped. I haven’t seen it but it’s been highly recommended.

AND here’s another nudge about the Spiritual Abuse Recovery Conference. If you go, come say hello! Okay, that’s it for now. Inhale, exhale:

 

New Podcast about Multilevel Marketing – The Dream

When I speak with fellow ex-cult members, we often marvel at how the very manipulation that we were blind to when in respective cults, we see everywhere after leaving and begining to recover. I  listened to the first episode of The Dream and was struck by the fact that Ponzi schemes  “leverage trust through relationships” exactly like “school’s” “new friendship” protocol does.

I specifically remember feeling uneasy when my recruiter — Lisa — started introducing me to her “friends” and this weird bi-weekly group. But I also remember thinking, “Lisa’s a friend. She would never mislead me.” Yep, I trusted the wrong person. And a few years later, I became that wrong person, and my friend (my one recruit) trusted me. Thankfully, once I left I was able to stay connected with him. Now he’s out, too. But, at some point, Lisa must have trusted the wrong person and so on, and so on, and so on …

This podcast is fascinating and I wonder how many of you will draw the same parallels as I did while listening. Here’s the description and  a link to the show. Please lemme know what you think:

“About This ShowWhat if we told you that with zero experience and only a few hundred dollars down, this podcast could change your life? Well, we’d be lying. This season on The Dream, Jane Marie dives into the world of pyramid schemes, multi-level marketing, and all the other businesses that require their members to recruit their nearest and dearest in hopes of a commission. Join us as we trace the path of get-rich schemes from Jane’s roots in rural Michigan all the way to the White House.”

 

 

Spiritual Abuse Recovery Conference – Sessions

Good morning Readers – I just looked through the agenda for this conference. It looks quite good! I’m posting the info. If you’re thinking about going, take a look. If you do attend, please come say hello!

Thanks, Esther

To register, click on this link: A Conference for Survivors, Churches, and Helpers

October 26-27, 2018

  1. Biblical sessions are aimed primarily at those struggling to maintain or strengthen their Christian faith. These sessions are heavier on theology and lighter on psychology.
  2. Recovery sessions are aimed at those trying to cope with the effects of a spiritual abuse experience.  These sessions are heavier on psychology and lighter on theology.
  3. Helper sessions are aimed at those trying to better understand the needs of the spiritually abused and how to effectively communicate with them.
  4. Personal accounts are designed to present the variety of ways in which different individuals respond to spiritual abuse
Time Title (Speakers) Room (Session)
Friday, October 26, 2018
9:00 – 10:30 Welcome.  (Bob Pardon; Michael Langone)

The Varieties of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse (Michael Langone)

Aberrational and Healthy Churches: What Distinguishes Them (Robert Pardon)

10:30 – 11:00 Break
11:00 – 12:30 Personal Accounts: Returning From Unhealthy Christian Groups to Healthy Christianity (Maureen Griffo, Ray Connolly, David Clark) Personal Account
Personal Accounts: Returning From Unhealthy Christianity to a Nonreligious Personal Alternative (Carrie Buddington; Samie Brosseau) Personal Account
Personal Accounts: Returning From Non-Christian Groups to a Personal Spirituality (Esther Friedman; Joseph Kelly) Personal Account
12:30 – 2:00 Lunch
2:00 – 3:30 The Bible and Spiritual Formation Following Spiritual Abuse (Ken Garrett; Pat Knapp)

Discussion (Facilitator: Lois Svoboda)

Biblical Session
Postcult Recovery: Overview (Ron Burks; William Goldberg)

Discussion (Facilitator: Lorna Goldberg)

Recovery Session
What Can You Do When a Loved One is Involved in an Abusive Situation? (David Clark; Joseph Kelly; Patrick Ryan;)

Discussion (Facilitator: Mike Kropveld)

Helper Session
3:30 – 4:00 Break
4:00 – 5:30 Does the Bible Really Say That? (Neil Damgaard; Ken Garrett)

Discussion (Facilitator: Doug Duncan)

Biblical Session
Getting Help for Depression, Anxiety, and Other Problems (Lorna Goldberg; Lois Svoboda)

Discussion (Facilitator: Ron Burks)

Recovery Session
Marriage Issues for the Spiritually Abused (Pat & Heidi Knapp)

Discussion (Facilitator: William Goldberg)

Recovery Session
7:30 – 9:00 How Distorted Views of Heaven, Hell, and Salvation Contribute to Spiritual Abuse (Robert Pardon)

Discussion (Facilitator: Wendy Duncan)

The Impact of Cults on Creativity, and of Creativity on Recovery (Diana Pletts)

Discussion (Facilitator: Heidi Knapp)

Biblical Session
Spiritual Abuse: A Family’s Journey (Sally and Dennis Meyer)

Discussion (Facilitator: Judy Pardon)

Helper Session
Saturday, October 27, 2018
9:00 – 10:30 Shame and Guilt (Wendy Duncan)

Forgiveness (Doug Duncan)

Discussion (Facilitator: William Goldberg)

Recovery Session
Reconnecting with God: Reconnecting with One’s Self (Robert Pardon; Eric Sweitzer)

Discussion (Facilitator: Ken Garrett)

Biblical Session
Post Cult Parenting: What to do if the World Does not end on Schedule (Ray Connolly)

Discussion (Facilitator: Lorna Goldberg)

Recovery Session
10:30 – 11:00 Break
11:00 – 12:30 Dealing with Loss: Loss of Identity (William Goldberg; Eric Sweitzer)

Discussion (Facilitator: TBD)

Recovery Session
Making Your Church a Safe Haven (Neil Damgaard; Pat Knapp)

Discussion (Facilitator: Robert Pardon)

Biblical Session
How to Trust Again (Ron Burks; Lorna Goldberg)

Discussion (Facilitator: Wendy Duncan)

Recovery Session
12:30 – 2:00 Lunch
2:00 – 3:30 Reconnecting with Loved Ones (Doug Duncan; William Goldberg)

Discussion (Facilitator: Eric Sweitzer)

Recovery and Helper Session
Finding and Making the Most of a Healthy Church (David Clark; Robert Pardon)

Discussion (Facilitator: Wendy Duncan)

Biblical Session
Women’s Issues (Judy Pardon) Recovery and Helper Session
3:30 – 4:00 Break
4:00 – 5:30 Open Discussion (Co-Facilitators: Michael Langone; Lois Svoboda)

 

Conference: Recovering from Spiritual Abuse

I left “school” in 2011. In 2012, a number of my essence friends also decided to jump ship. You’re welcome to read all about the January, 2012, Mass Exodus here, if inclined. After that I recall many fellow “apostates” talking about how the cult experience left them bitter and cynical. Many felt spiritually battered; “school” ruined their best inclinations to seek out meaning and manifest the best in themselves.

Unfortunately, that’s the nature of cults. But it’s not impossible to heal. If you want to learn more about recovery, I will be joining ex-members, researchers and clinicians and family to present at this conference:

 

My focus will be on how the expressive art therapies helped me, so I’ll be sharing some of my writing and bits of songs, talking about how they rolled out. There are plenty of other presenters speaking, with different points of view, that you might find helpful. So, consider this an FYI. If you go, come over and say hello!