Those were the words I said. It felt good – and weird – to say them.

I followed it with, “I’ve sat in many chairs in many rooms to introduce myself in the past, but I’ve never used those words before. ‘Hi, I’m Lisa, and I a cult survivor.’”

I attended an ICSA conference a few weeks ago. My brain is still reverberating. I have sat in many rooms and introduced myself in the past. I have bared my soul to (somewhat) strangers, to find comfort, camaraderie, and mutuality. It is such a wild feeling to feel completely understood – people who speak your language and “know what you mean.”

Maybe I’ve forgotten that feeling, as it’s been awhile, or maybe sitting in a room of Second Generation cult survivors (people born into and/or raised in cults) was more powerful. Boy did it feel more powerful. I felt like these people were in my brain and “got me” more than anyone ever had…except maybe my big brother who was there with me.

I sat in the presentation and the speaker listed “effects on Second Generation cult survivors.” It was like a list of me. I remembered when I had mistakenly stumbled into an Adult Children of Alcoholics meeting decades ago, and they read the “laundry list of Adult Children of Alcoholics.” My mind went, “yes, yes, always, sometimes, yes, yes, yes, well maybe, no not that one, yes, yes, yes…” Who knew? Who knew I was such a textbook case?

Same feeling this time, only even more. I’ve known for years that I was (obviously) affected by my childhood as a Moonie. (No duh, huh?) But I felt like the presenter was explaining me. Explaining ME.

Hi, I’m Lisa, and I’m a cult survivor. It feels good to say that out loud. I am a survivor. It was/is a cult. It affected me in some pretty powerful ways. And while honestly, that is okay – it is at this point really, really okay – it was intense and somewhat intoxicating, and freeing and very, very freaky to hear those effects read out loud. And to watch the rest of the Second Generations in the room also nod in agreement and community. It, once again, felt as if pieces were falling into place and the world was making more sense. Like I no longer had to try and explain to people what I meant. I was understood. I was in community. I was not alone.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

Photo by Imre Tömösvári on Unsplash