Ten years ago today, at the age of 31, I left the cult I was raised in. Naked, exposed, vulnerable, I ran. I was shunned by my community. I kept running. Everything I believed came crumbling to the ground. I kept running. Who I thought I was disappeared like an apparition in a breath of wind. I kept running.
Ten years ago today, at the age of 31, I left the cult I was raised in. And it saved my life.
Today, when I meet someone new and they discover that I was raised in a cult, one of their first responses is, "But you seem so normal." And I smile. Because that is the best compliment anyone can give me. All my life I was different, other, separate. And while I relished the sense of specialness this gave me, it also alienated me from life, from connection, from reality. So, if I have somehow, over this long decade, managed to recreate myself into a being that on first impression seems 'normal', well, I think I've done a pretty damn good job.
As I reread my early blog entries (like the entry above), it's clear how long it took me to feel like I was part of this world and not outside of it. Feeling like an alien coming to the planet for the first time was harrowing and exciting. And traumatic and wonderful. I remember that person---that struggling, feeling, hurting person. She is me, and she is not me. I've come a long way from there to here.
I don't think much about suicide anymore. Although it was once my constant companion, it is now more of a passing glance by someone I once knew.
Being alive today is a gift. I am honestly not sure I would've lasted another decade in the Jehovah's Witnesses. Or lasted in this life at all. If I had, I believe all that would be left of me is a shell. A hardened husk of a human waiting for the end of the world. Waiting for judgement. Waiting for a new world I was never sure I would be deemed good enough to be part of. Waiting. Waiting. Forever waiting.
I don't wait anymore.
I wake up. I work. I love. I breathe in. I breathe out.
Everything else is just details of a story not unlike so many others that share this planet. One of survival. One of resilience. One of hope. But I do not wait. I live.
And so, here I stand, ten years later. Ten years out of the cult I was raised in. The questions and the constant ponderings are still there. But they no longer overwhelm me or drive me into a depression wondering why I'm here or what I'm supposed to be doing. Instead, they drive me forward, aware that there is always more to learn, always more to experience, patient, as Rilke says, with all that is unresolved in my heart, loving the questions themselves.
In the words of my wise father, all I really know is that I am here. And that, finally, is enough.