Monday, January 18, 2010

The after life

I’m writing today about a subject close to my heart, as it’s the plight myself, and a lot of close friends are dealing with, on a daily basis, to start out I’m quoting a piece written by Jan Groenveld titled “The Emotional Pain Of Leaving A Cult” as she does a wonderful job portraying the pain and additional challenges leaving cult life presents.

“It Hurts
It Hurts to discover you were deceived - that what you thought was the “one true religion,” the “path to total freedom,” or “truth” was in reality a cult.

It Hurts when you learn that people you trusted implicitly - whom you were taught not to question - were “pulling the wool over your eyes” albeit unwittingly.

It Hurts when you learn that those you were taught were your “enemies” were telling the truth after all - but you had been told they were liars, deceivers, repressive, satanic etc and not to listen to them.

It Hurts when you know your faith in God hasn’t changed - only your trust in an organization - yet you are accused of apostasy, being a trouble maker, a “Judas”. It hurts even more when it is your family and friends making these accusations.

It Hurts to realize their love and acceptance was conditional on you remaining a member of good standing. This cuts so deeply you try and suppress it. All you want to do is forget - but how can you forget your family and friends?

It Hurts to see the looks of hatred coming from the faces of those you love - to hear the deafening silence when you try and talk to them. It cuts deeply when you try and give your child a hug and they stand like a statue, pretending you aren’t there. It stab’s like a knife when you know your spouse looks upon you as demonized and teaches your children to hate you.

It Hurts to know you must start all over again. You feel you have wasted so much time. You feel betrayed, disillusioned, and suspicious of everyone including family, friends and other former members.

It Hurts when you find yourself feeling guilty or ashamed of what you were - even about leaving them. You feel depressed, confused, and lonely. You find it difficult to make decisions. You don’t know what to do with yourself because you have so much time on your hands now - yet you still feel guilty for spending time on recreation.

It Hurts when you feel as though you have lost touch with reality. You feel as though you are “floating” and wonder if you really are better off and long for the security you had in the organization and yet you know you cannot go back.

It Hurts when you feel you are all alone - that no one seems to understand what you are feeling. It hurts when you realize your self confidence and self worth are almost non-existent.

It Hurts when you have to front up to friends and family to hear their “I told you so” whether that statement is verbal or not. It makes you feel even more stupid than you already do - your confidence and self worth plummet even further.

It Hurts when you realize you gave up everything for the cult - your education, career, finances, time and energy - and now have to seek employment or restart your education. How do you explain all those missing years?

It Hurts because you know that even though you were deceived, you are responsible for being taken in. All that wasted time ... at least that is what it seems to you - wasted time.”

The Hasidic sect more than other sects within Judaism is a full fledged cult, leaving its folds is a rare accomplishment, even for those that became disillusioned with its philosophy, most resort to a double life, not wanting to deal with the consequences of leaving.

What hurts is that, often times even those that had the courage to leave, are left with nothing after breaking away, they do not have the strength to move on with the challenges of regular life and especially the challenges specific to their situation.

There are groups that formed to assist in some of the challenges, giving a helping hand to ease the transition, kudos to them, unfortunately another grouping formed as well, groups that are formed based on a philosophy that enforces the misconception that its impossible to move on and have a normal life.

No benefit could be had from assembling on a regular basis to; grieve, complain, whine, reassure failure, and romanticize a life that was left due to a realization of its falsehood.

Are there things to be missed? Of course, the sense of belonging, the communal life, and spiritual expression, but there are other outlets for that, being nostalgic and feeding of, of something that is in the past, chasing something in the rear, is a deterrent to progress.

The emphasis should lie in the future, what’s ahead, yes the challenges are tremendous, life in itself presents challenges to all of humanity, coupled with the additions of the specific challenges, but time, the future, dedication, and hard work, provides hope and accomplishment.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The pursuit of happiness

“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”
Anne Frank.
Happiness is the state of being, we are constantly yearning and striving to achieve and attain, and is seldom acquired by most of us.

I did not do much scientific research on the subject matter, but I’ve accomplished this feat on a few occasions, therefore I want to document and share what brought me this happiness and how it was accomplished, or rather how I found myself being in that state.

As one of my favorite philosophers Albert Camus said” You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Happiness is a state of consciousness, which happens in a void.

We do see people that are happier than others, that might indicate, that there are other factors, which are directly linked to reaching that void, resulting in happiness. They might be; a specific action that brings happiness, or by removing the factors that are in direct conflict with happiness. This is what I will try to focus on, rather then what happiness and its consistency are.

Reflecting back at some of my happiness experiences, I’ve realized that there is a common denominator, they are; being totally consumed, lose of inhibition, logic, and control. This would typically occur in the midst of experiencing; beauty, love, or passion.

Observing a child in play, it’s noticeable the state of oblivion, and total in total sync, it’s a state of raw emotion if they are satisfied with the action, the state of bliss and happiness will usually follow, otherwise anger will ensue.

The issue with being totally susceptible to emotion is; raw emotion swings in all directions the good and the bad, that’s why children are constantly thought to control their emotion, although it would typically be when it’s the bad sort, it would affect the freedom of emotion as a whole.

Another fact that affects a child like oblivion is; that children are typically cared and provided for, therefore there is no distraction, on the other hand adults have responsibilities.

Is it possible to control one direction of emotion and be free on the other? Is it possible to gain that freedom while having survival responsibilities? I don’t know the answer, but what I learned is the direction and distractions to the void that enables happiness, perhaps one day I’ll figure out the perfect formula, in the meantime I’ll embrace the journey and pursuit.