|Posted by Natacha Tormey on 4 July, 2014 at 19:55||comments ()|
Recently, as I was taking part in a radio discussion, I was asked what I would say to someone who was thinking of leaving a cult.
As we were recording live, I had to respond quite quickly but the question lingered in my mind for several days after. What would I have needed to hear when I was in that position?
After much thought, there was one point that kept coming to mind. I would have loved to have been told that I didn't need to feel shame about my past - that I didn't need to hide it, lie about it and keep it all a secret. The weight of secrecy is heavy and is one that I carried for years. I couldn't allow people to get to close to me because that would inevitably mean that I would have to a) lie to them or b) face the terrible task of telling them the truth about my past. Where would I start? Would they understand or would such a monumental revelation change their view of me?
Since I have 'come out' with the truth, I have had incredible feedback from friends and colleagues. Instead of thinking negatively of me. all those who cared to comment said that they admired the journey I had taken and the courage it took to tell the truth.
I would also say the following to anyone who is thinking of leaving a cult. Don't be afraid. You are probably feeling very uncertain about the future and perhaps you are torn about whether you are making the right decision. You are - don't doubt yourself. There is a life post-cult and there are support systems out there that can help you make the transition. It will be very difficult, both emotionally, psycologically and often, financially and practically. But you can make it and you will never regret making that decision because you will spend what ever time you have left in this world as a free person. Over time, you will rediscover who you once were before the cult or find who you really are (if you were born into one, like me) and that was the most liberating experience for me.
Learn to trust and accept help. Best of luck to any of you who are reading this and are in that position!
|Posted by Natacha Tormey on 7 June, 2014 at 8:15||comments ()|
I would be lying if I claimed that achieving my life-long goal of becoming a writer has been the happiest event in my life.
It is bittersweet. When writing a book about your life, it seems that no matter what you do, there will always be those that will be unhappy about it. Some are driven by envy and others, by their firm belief that your perspective and opinions are wrong, and that theirs are right. There are also those who believe that by publishing my memoir, I am in some way trying to cause pain, which could not be further from the truth.
It has been a long, tough road but as always I have focused on the positive that has come from it. I call it ‘finding rainbows’. I have often coped with hard times by hunting for the good in bad situations. If you look hard enough, you will always find these rainbows...they are there but only if you choose to see them.
In this particular situation, I have found many rainbows. For one, I count myself lucky to have seen the true colours of many people in my life and I now know who I can trust and who I want continue building relationships with, moving forward. Secondly, I focus on the positive reactions I have had from people who have read my story and who have been given hope for their own future. But more importantly, I have found happiness and incredible satisfaction through telling my story. It is the final chapter of my healing process. I can now look back on my past with calm acceptance and move forward into the future with a liberated heart and a peaceful soul.
I have also learned many valuable lessons through this experience - the prominent one being that it is ok to do something that you believe is right, even if others do not agree. It is ok to make your own path and share your own views, even if others hate you for it. It is ok to be YOU...the real YOU and not the YOU that others would like you to be.
The truth really has set me free.
|Posted by Natacha Tormey on 1 April, 2014 at 8:05|
I have often been asked why I chose to publish my memoir. Some find it shocking that I am prepared to share such a personal story and others have told me that the past should be left in the past, so that all those involved can move on.
Until quite recently, it was not my past, but very much my present. As a child, most of my memories were hazy & obscure. Although I knew that some of the things that had happened to me were very wrong, it was not until I hit puberty that I realised that I had been psychologically, emotionally, sexually and physically abused from a very young age.
This realisation led to years of depression, anger and bitterness that continued into my twenties. I was never able to speak about my feelings as when I tried, I found it too difficult to describe the strange environment that I grew up in. This incapacity to get things off my chest led me to writing, I started from the beginning and wrote a draft of my life story in less than a year. I found that as the book progressed, the nightmares that haunted me each night began to disappear. I felt lighter. I felt free. Each time a chapter was completed, I felt that I could finally close that section of my life and move on.
When the book was finished I felt an overwhelming urge to scream, cry and laugh with joy all at once. Scream, because of the outrage I felt in my heart. Cry, for the innocent girl I was who endured things that no child should. Laugh, because somehow I felt I had won. I had released the darkness and the demons that had plagued me for years. I could finally look to the future with hope and beat the cult by making a success of the time I had left in this world.
Making the decision to publish was a difficult one, the very thought filled me with fear. I was afraid of hurting members of my family and I was afraid that if people knew all the grisly details of my life, they would look at me differently. But as time passed, I realised that my conscience left me with no choice but to put my story out there. The public must know the truth. The innocent children who were raised in The Children of God deserve to have our story told. It is not just the story of my childhood in the cult but one that describes the long, painful road of healing that followed as I struggled to integrate into normal society, while facing the demons of my past.