Identity & Boundaries
The short answer is, yes. Despite all their efforts, you might have had moments of doubt, moments where your real self came through. And these are not trivial, but extremely important to remember.
Unlike what you were taught in the cult, disobedience is not a sin. The most important word in the human language is "no." It allows us to be different, create boundaries, protect ourselves, and respect others. It's what kept your true self alive.
"Some that have counseled those from cults maintain that our original personality is with us forever and that mind control cannot erase it. Therefore, even those born into cults will have an original self, although it was suppressed by the mind control and abuse of the group. The development of the "true self" was delayed, and there will be developmental lags, but as the mind is set free from the influence of the group, that self will begin to tentatively emerge and will grow even stronger as it is nurtured along by the "adult self" who is in recovery."
D. M. Williams (former WCG member) and Rochelle (Child survivor of WCG)
Here are a few things you should not feel guilt or shame for:
Dependency (the cult wanted you to be unable to make your own decisions)
Sexuality (because regardless of what they told you, you did not have a choice in the matter)
Rebellion (if you had strong ideas and were punished for them, hold on to that - it was you!)
Emotions (to feel because you are alive, human, and have empathy for yourself and others)
Hate and Anger ("negative" emotions are warning signs, they are crucial for your survival)
Yearning (to want something else, more, love, kindness, or closeness, to follow your dreams)
Boundaries (you are only you, have a right to your own opinions, and they can shove theirs)
Along these lines, here are some negative messages that children (and grown ups) are told in cults, and often internalize. If not addressed, these messages can become part of how we view ourselves, part of our identity and belief system.
"You are not worth anything." "You will never be good enough." "Nobody could love a person like you." "You never finish anything." "You are not smart." "People will only like you for your body."
"You are selfish when you look out for your own interest." "You don't deserve to be happy."
Find what was good in the cult and keep it, but chuck the rest. See what you can still love about your parents, friends, and almost brothers and sisters that you grew up with. If you discard all of your childhood as evil, you are left with a gaping hole. So if there's anything left to save, keep it as a positive memory. But if somebody is not good for you, move on. Turning away is not a sign of weakness.
Oh, and you don't have to tell people about how weird it was when you were growing up. You shouldn't feel guilty about it, it doesn't make you a freak, and if somebody judges you it's their fault. You may choose to tell close friends, write about it later, or share in some way. But only when you really feel like it. It's okay to have secrets in order to protect yourself.
And one more thing. Most people are not "normal." It's just how people presents themselves. Once you get to know them, you might realize they've had harsh childhoods, experienced sexual assault, had their heart broken, or in some other way experienced suffering. You're not the only one. Your story is just a bit more intense than most.
NO is the most important word and action in life.
When did you say or think:
This is mine!
I deserve it.
That's not fair!
I am proud of it.
I created this.
I feel different.
I don't want to.
"It's okay to let somebody ruin their life. After all they have worked very hard on it.
It is not your job to save anyone, interfere, or feel guilty for doing better and healing."