The secret I used to gain confidence to leave a cult and live a life of freedom

Born and raised in a cult, I spent almost 30 years perfecting the art of lying.  Because to be honest about who I really was meant being shamed, guilted, rejected and invoking the wrath of god.  You have to keep that mask on and don’t let it slip even for a moment!

In a group where women had little value and no voice, I dutifully raised my four children, homeschooled, taught in the church, and listened to the men in power on how to live my life.  I looked compliant and put together, happy even, on the outside.  Yet each morning I would generally wake up wishing for a way out, fantasizing about running away or ending it all.

But there was no way out, right? 

Leaving was so big, so scary. Fear consumed me. Until one day I met someone living so honestly it shocked me. I didn’t know what it was but I knew I had to have it! So I borrowed a bit of her courage as I learned to speak me truth as well.

Once I tasted freedom there was no turning back… The cage was cracked open and light was pouring in! 

I started taking deep breaths and speaking up about the toxic beliefs and actions, taking a deep breath and questioning the control and manipulation.  Taking a deep breath and speaking. Leaning into the fear and not shutting down because of it.

After a year of taking tiny actions, each day building my bravery, I was able to step away from that cult.  My four kids, husband and I sold almost everything, packed a 4×8 uhaul trailer and moved across the country to start a new life.

I’ll be the first to admit that fear was a daily companion (it still is!) 

However, as I took one shaky step after another, freedom became more important than the fear.  I now live life loudly, happily and messily all out in the open. No hiding, no shame, no guilt.

My children are thriving as they watch their mom take one brave step after another to create a life that makes her happy.

Though my past is unusual, I have found that many people can resonate with feeling disconnected and afraid to speak up in their own communities. 

  • Maybe you find yourself afraid of what your parents, job, friends or partner will think
  • Maybe you are afraid you will fail, make yourself look like a fool, disappoint your family.
  • Not good enough, brave enough, smart enough…

If that is you then here is my secret for living boldly…

I Love My Fear and Don’t Shame Her 

“Getting over fear” felt so big and scary.  Too much and too hard.  After learning that I could take fear by the hand, thank her for trying to protect me and put her in the passenger seat instead of the driver’s seat I was able to really grow my courage.

I would lean heavily into the feeling of what was on the other side of the fear. I would hold tight to the vision of freedom, that big exhale, that would be coming on the other side of the action.

Giving myself permission to still feel afraid and move ahead anyway was so powerful! I realized I, along with everyone else, was figuring it all out and we were all afraid of something. This common bond powered me forward to do one small true thing after another.

I still feel fear. But now I know I am strong, brave, enough.

Putting myself out there vulnerably is brave work and I’m so grateful to keep growing despite the fear, instead of waiting for it to magically disappear.

Deep breath, hold fear’s hand and boldly tiptoe forward – one small honest thought and action at a time.

You are amazing, and the world needs your light and your gifts.  You and I are here for a purpose – let’s speak out and live boldly.  You’ve got this!