Welcome to the Real World!
So you've crawled out of your underground bunker, caught a flight from some remote tropical location, or simply left the group that still operates in your hometown. You might have run after getting to a breaking point, the police raided your compound, or you got kicked out (no shame in that, you will thank them later - but rejection still hurts).
There's a chance that you can't focus on anything, people seem strange, you have no idea what you want, plus you've got a whole set of financial worries. Welcome back to the real world.
Also, you've just lost your complete support network (a very creepy and negative support network, but still). You might have left behind friends, parents, children, or siblings. Your heart might be breaking just from separating from these people, and on top of it you're faced with a million new challenges.
There is no "easy button" anymore, no magical solution for all your problems. It's going to require real hard work to adjust. And even harder work to feel whole again. But you are allowed to feel, experience, and create your own path! And over time connect with other humans in a meaningful way, again. There are ways to feel part of this world, have a sense of belonging, while being only you.
Unfortunately, old friends and relatives might have a hard time reconnecting. There are few things scarier than seeing someone you love change into a different person, seemingly overnight (other than being that person obviously). So they've had their own amount of shock. Often times, people can hardly see past their own hurt, let alone truly understand yours.
Some friends and relatives might never have told anybody that you were in a cult. Now they're embarrassed or worried that their neighbors will find out (especially if you decide to press sexual abuse charges or decide to go public at some point). That hurts.
A few might even put the blame on you and say, "this could never happen to me." Typical victim blaming. It just makes them feel safer in an unsafe world. Give it time. Most people will come around, even if some will never even attempt to understand what you've been through.
Some people after coming out want to adjust to the outside world in every way, so people don't realize what they've been in a cult. Others go against the system in every way imaginable. Find the way that's right for you. It might take a few years to see who you are now.
As a side note, being "normal" is just an idea. Nobody really is. It's okay that you're different, it's okay that you fail, it's okay that you try again. Don't judge yourself based on unrealistic doctrine.
I wish someone had said:
"You are not to blame for anything! It is not your fault that the goal
of the cult could not be reached. You were a victim and had to do
things you didn't want to survive." Anna W.
“It is okay to miss your friends and feeling homesick for the cult.
Wanting to go back is understandable since it is the only way you knew
how to live." Anna W.
"It is okay to fail. There won’t be any punishment. Not everything has
to be perfect. Mistakes are fine and not something to be afraid of."
"Your feelings are valid and important. They are not a bad thing to be
oppressed." Anna W.
"Be patient with yourself. Healing takes time and everybody is
different. Do not compare yourself with others and find yourself
lacking. You are important." Anna W.
"You are not alone. There are many people who've been through this.
Accepting help is not a sign of weakness!" Julia W.
"It's difficult at first, and even if the world doesn't understand you
right now, and you don't understand the world - it will get better. I
would have really liked a hug and compassion by others." Julia W.
"In some ways it's easier to make friends, have a family outside of the cult
than it was inside." Rebecca
"The big bad world out there is not as big and bad as they make it out
to be." Rebecca
"I can trust my instincts and don't have to be told how to feel about
"I am perfectly fine just the way that I am. I shouldn't worry about
not being perfect. No one else expects that of me." Rebecca
"Letting go of that group/family/lifestyle is a process like mourning.
I should be easy on myself for feeling as heartbroken as I did."
"You are incredibly strong, because you survived that time. You should
be proud of yourself." Lea L.
"It was just a "normal" cult, like any other cult." Lea L.
"We are here for you if you need anything." Lea L.
Coming out of the Cults
by Margaret Thaler Singer
Blurring of Mental Acuity