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Posted: Mon Jun 05, 2006 6:52 pm
FT wrote:Wow - was that man warped or what?
he was probably in denial
Posted: Tue Jun 06, 2006 1:53 am
Yes, I think so too. I believe I posted about that a while back on this thread.
Re: Us gay folk...
Posted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:32 pm
Hello... Well I realise no one has written on this particular thread for a few years, but I think it's the most relevant to me at the moment... I won't say who I am, because I don't want to, but I grew up in a SES family, although, not in London, and I stayed in the school for many years. Only about 3 or 4 years ago did I realise that there was a huge contradiction between what they said and what they wanted us to do and believe. They tell you that they are teaching practical philosophy but then they just get you to do the same practical thing 1000000 times until you are so bored you think you've reached some kind of enlightenment and can spout the kind of crap that comes out in all those meetings. And they tell you that you must 'choose' the right path, but then they make you soncult with your tutor before you do anything! I think in some ways the SES taught me how to see inside myself, because that is where you sepnd most of your time during their meetings and weekends, inside youself, judging yourself and your actions, but most importantly, it taught me self denial. I say this because even now, when I am almost 30 years old, I have trouble accepting my homosexuality... I feel guilty about it, and I constantly hope that somehow I will change and become 'normal'. This also stems from my parents, who told me to deny it and that I was 'better than that' when they'accidently' discovered the truth about me when I was 18, and also from a fear of no being accepted that was encouraged by the doctrine in the school of 'conform or else'. Obviously this would have probably been the case if I'd grown up in say a fundamentalist Catholic environment too, but the SES stands out because it says it's not a religion... but what kind of non-religion talks constantly about god, teaches people to love god, and to deny the very truth about human beings... we don't choose how we are, we get dealt a set of cards and afterwards we have to deal with it. Admittedly, I chose to stay in the school. I could have left when I wanted, but as has been mentioned many times on this site, the SES has a way of making you feel special by telling you on weekends and weeks that you are contributing to something great just by being there. As far as I can tell all I contributed to was screwing myself up even more and making the clean floor cleaner. I don't blame the SES, because I chose to stay, but I do think it's good that poeple are discussing it, in fact for the past 10 years it seems, I'm a bit annoyed I only came accross this now. But I do blame the SES to a certain extent for my parents beleifs and the way they've handled the issue... we are still not open about it... although they do know about it they are more in denial than me!
Anyway, I'm dealing with this, and I think that eventually the school will have to deal with the fact that teaching that homosexuality, or other facets of human existence are wrong, is very dangerous, and they will have to change. In the meantime I want to finish with this little anectode which sums up why I am no longer even vaguely interested in returning to the school. One day in a meeting the topic somehow got onto homosexuality. Mr Lambie was taking the meeting and he said that Mr Maclaren had in the 80s I think discovered that in the New York school there were some men involved in homosexual activites. He told them they should stop it and come back to the 'path of righteousness' or they would pay the price. Some did and some didn't. 'And then came AIDS'. This last comment make him laugh explosively and provoked a lot of laughter from the other people in the room. And I wonder why my parents have trouble accepting the fact that I'm gay? Enpough said!
Re: Us gay folk...
Posted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:03 pm
Hi joeblogs, and welcome to the forum. Your experience will be so familiar to many people on this board, I'm sure I won't be the only person to reply to your post.
I am a lesbian who grew up in the SES and went to St James'. I am lucky not to have experienced much prejudice, and although my Mum in particular found it hard to accept my sexuality at first, my parents left the SES and took us away long before I even realised I was gay. I'm proud of my sexuality and have now been in a settled and happy relationship for nine years. I remember wishing, when I first came out, that I could just be "normal", but I have realised over the years that there really is no such thing as "normal". My life feels normal to me, as does my sexual attraction to other women, and I have learned to be content with that and to celebrate it.
Donald Lambie's comment about AIDS is fairly typical of the SES' ignorance about anything in "real life". The idea that AIDS is God's punishment for gay people is one that has been spouted by religions for many years, and I don't know that it will ever go away. The important thing to remember is that this is blatantly not true.
I'm so sorry to hear that your parents are finding it so hard to accept your sexuality. I've been so lucky to receive total acceptance from mine (eventually) and from pretty much everyone in my family, even my relatives who are still in SES (although they don't really like it). I hope you can grow to accept this fundamental part of yourself and stop wishing to be "normal". Sexuality, in whatever form, is one of the greatest gifts life has given us, and we should all celebrate it within ourselves. I hope that, if you are able to accept yourself as you are, then your parents will eventually be able to accept you too.
Good luck and thank you for your very honest post.
Posted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:15 pm
Thank you for your post.
Intolerance is not ‘spiritual’. It is not only very sad, it is as you mention very dangerous too. The manner in which you describe people laughing about AIDS I find cruel and sinister. But I know the atmosphere in those meetings only too well, a kind of soporific acceptance because the conditions are so ‘pleasant’, everyone is so nice to each other, all going through the same process of self-inquiry. And yet, when a kind of fundamentalist intolerance surfaces, no one blinks an eye. I still don’t quite understand how this occurs.
I am glad you got out and hope you are recovering.
With best wishes, Bluemoon
Re: Us gay folk...
Posted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 7:42 pm
Hi again. Thank you to ET and Bluemoon for your helpful and encouraging replies. I think that finding this forum has changed my life. In the last 24 hours I have been able to accepy my sexuality and come out to more people than I ever thought possible (using the great internet of course as I don't live in my home country anymore) and have also realised how much of an effect the SES actually had on my mind. When I left the school I just assumed I'd be ok because I was leaving all the wierdness behind, but now I realise I've felt guilty about that and about my sexuality and many other things, in a kind of subconscious way, ever since. After reading heaps of the articles on how cults work mentioned on this forum I can see that they really do get inside your head! Even if it's voluntary, they have an incredible power over you! Even today, this is ridiculous, I made a big pot of coffee and it fell over and smashed on the floor and the first thing I thought of was that god or someone was punishing me for contributing to this forum. How mad is that? For one thing, I like to consider myself an aetheist, but I have always had this lingering superstition from my school days which has really bothered me as I couldn't understand where it came from. I think that I will finally be able to move on now and deal with life as it really is rather than the way I was pretty much brain washed to believe it to be. The one thing I do appreciate about my years in the school is that I have a huge amount of wierd things I can laugh about. I had to serve tea one day at 5am, and the people were so fussy I had to walk away and get someone else to take over! They were insane! 2/8s warm water, 7/9s tea, 2/98s cream... get the hell over yourselves! Also, Mr Lambie in his chair... 'Yes, good what else?' I am a teacher and I sometimes want to say this to my students just for a laugh, although I know they wouldn't get it. What I find really scary is the glazed look cult awareness groups describe... I know this so well, as not only have I seen friends in this state, but I've been in it myself! It is like being on some kind of a wierd spiritual buzz... but it's also damn scary... I also have other problems from SES which I hope I can deal with... I hate cleaning... so much... this could also be a man thing, and it has been getting better I admit, but I remember being told once to vacuum the same floor for 30 mins, and then being told I was a great and real philosopher because I was able to do what I was told... at the time I stupidly took this as a compliment, but now I realise it was insane! Philosophers are not meant to be robots! They are meant to explore and discuss the world around them as it appears to them, and based on many different theories and points of views and not just find airy fairy mumbo jumbo shite which you can then repeat in automatic mode back in a meeting. I used to get told off because I never contributed much in meetings... but once one person has spoken everything has bascially been covered and any other stastement or question will just lead to the same answer... because thats the will of the the absolute! Absolute BS you mean! This whole focusing on the working surface thing is a way of stopping people from seeing how mad the stuff they're told to do actually is! Finally, my parents are very high up in the school, and I know I can never talk to them about how I now see the school as a cult and quite a strange and, although not dangerous, potentially dangerous mind controlling organisation, and so I'd be interesting in hearing how other people have dealt with thir family or friends remaining in the school after they've left. Thanks again everyone!
Re: Us gay folk...
Posted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:32 am
Yes I appreciate having all that weirdness to laugh about as well. At one point I toyed with the idea of staying on in the school so I could compile a dossier of weirdness. In the end though the price seemed too high so I left instead. There was one time at a residential when a woman said in the evening session with the head tutor (she'd been chopping celery for the meal) 'Wasn't it wonderful how the hand knew exactly what to do'. Yes 'the hand' knew what to do because 'the hand' had done it umpteen times before. Nothing mysterious or wonderful about that. Then in the same session, another woman asked 'What is our situation when we're unmanifest?' Unmanifest? Oh yes, that's 'dead' to everyone else. The head tutor garbled something unintelligible in reply, he hadn't a clue naturally but wasn't about to admit his lack of knowledge in the 'unmanifestation' department. Priceless.
And now we've got Lambie laughing about Aids as a 'gay plague'. Someone in the school I attended died of cancer and they were saying he must have done something wrong in a previous life. Where do they get these people? Unfortunately, whilst reasonable people know this is all nonsense, such comments can have a very negative effect on the recipient. It's a form of oppression really. The only answer is to get out which we've all done. It's also very therapeutic to look back and laugh at some of it. 'Pisspotical' is the word that sums it up for me.
Re: Us gay folk...
Posted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:25 pm
post deleted by author
Re: Us gay folk...
Posted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:10 pm
joeblogs wrote:I think that finding this forum has changed my life. In the last 24 hours I have been able to accepy my sexuality and come out to more people than I ever thought possible (using the great internet of course as I don't live in my home country anymore) and have also realised how much of an effect the SES actually had on my mind.
May I add my own welcome to you on this forum. I am really pleased that finding this forum has had such a profound effect. I really believe that you cannot appreciate the effect the organisation has really had on you until you address the issues once you have left. I am also pleased that you have realised the effects of the organisation because I do believe you were being a little too forgiving of the school in your first post. The more I examine my own experiences, deal with their consequences and hear stories such as yours, the more aware of just how insidious and dangerous this organisation is.
joeblogs wrote:I'd be interesting in hearing how other people have dealt with thir family or friends remaining in the school after they've left.
Both my parents are still in the SES and are very active. I find this very difficult and generally I'd say that there is a precarious truce held not to talk about the SES or much that is spiritual or philosophical. I have confronted my parents in the past about their decision to send to me to St James and my difficulties with my time I was there, some of which they were aware of and other bits that they weren't. I feel that I have got to a point of understanding with my mother that she accepts how I feel about St James and I understand her motives for doing that. With that understanding I do believe we both accept that putting me in St James was the wrong choice. Things with my father are entirely different. I get little impression that he understands my feelings towards St James and the SES or that there could be any wrong with the choices and decisions he took. Unfortunately my father is a "dyed in the wool" SES believer.
My mother does know my feelings but it doesn't stop her occasionally talking about the SES or people in my past rather tactlessly.
I would love to know what I could possibly do to open my parents eyes to what the SES is and their own roles in it. I accept with a great deal of unease that it's unlikely my parents with ever leave the SES.
Re: Us gay folk...
Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:03 am
Hi again... Thanks for your replies, Et, Jo-anne and Bonsai. I just wanted to say a few things before I stay away for awhile from this forum. Reading it has left me seriously stressed out and not sleeping well, and worrying about the fact that I was in cult when I actually didn’t think it was a bad organisation, is really a damn unpleasant feeling. I need a wee break to get myself sorted again and then I can come back maybe. For my whole life I was told I was lucky to be born into an SES family. It was the will of god. When you are young this kind of comment stays with you and even when you're old enough to realise how ridiculous it is, you still hold on to it because its a nice feeling. I have great parents, I love them a lot and am sad that what I thought was a pretty decent and honourable organisation is actually just the result of an attempted cult in the 60s which has mellowed out and become just a wierd juxtaposition of mind control techniques desguised as spiritual activities and some attempts to discover the truth behind these activities, which I dont think they will find as it may not even exist. In the last few days I’ve read a lot of the articles posted here about cults and watched a few videos about cults and it seems clear to me that when Maclaren started the school it was a cult- it was a time when many cults with similar ideals and techniques were started. Whether he thought of it as a cult or not, I don’t know, he sounds like a maniac, and the things they were teaching were pretty good at helping people hide from reality so if he was using them himself maybe he was just in denial about what he did. So, Maclaren became a cult hero in the school, destroyed people’s ‘ego’s’ (and lives) forgetting about his own of course, and the school went on. People were hurt, badly, children and adults, one of the inevitable effects of mind control and cults… people will do anything when they are exhausted and can’t think for themselves and also believe they are doing it for the good of the world. Anyway, Maclaren died, Lambie took over, and from the start he was a really weird guy. No social skills, just happened to be chosen, and he had been subjected to the mind-control too so he’s just another sheep (excuse the pun ) following the unpleasant memory of Maclaren. So what we have now, and nothing much has changed, is an organization that believes itself to be good. I believe this is the case. I don’t think there is any real sinister motive behind the school anymore. Maybe one or too people, but the people in it are so brain-washed and controlled, including Lambie, that they couldn’t do anything bad. You just have to go to one of their unbelievably boring beginning of term lectures to see this.
So, to sum up, what we have is a school of philosophy, which is actually a religion. What they teach are the mind-control techniques like meditation, the exercise, concerntrating on the working surface, and separating the true self from the ahankara. is the separation of the ahankara from the self and the long days of work that leave you exhausted so they can plaster you with more ‘material’ before you leave. This is a typical mind control technique! Teach people to see their individual thoughts as something separate so they can see that as evil. Everything is blamed on the ahankara. We were once told we should smile while we worked. This was really scary as it reminded me of some kind of horrific work camp where you had to pretend you were happy while you suffered miserably. Of course, this doubt was just put down to the ahankara, and my ‘real self’ should recognize this as the truth. This particular exercise left me with a dual identity complex which is only just beginning to disappear. One day I’ll be happy to be me and gay and whatever, and the next I’ll want to be holier than thou and save the world and I have to find a woman in order to do this! Ridiculous stuff. And the fact that cults often use this technique to control people is very scary… once they’ve emptied people of their own ideas, they can place the cults’ ideas in their place. That’s why people see Lambie as a god, even though as far as I can tell he’s never done anything to merit it. I’ve never see him fly, although I saw him scratch his arse after a meeting once, I’m not surprised, sitting down droning rubbish with a massive stick up your bum can’t be pleasant. Sorry, a bit vulgar there, but a lot of people in the school do look like that. I wonder at what point they ask you if you are prepared to take the jump, drop your pants and receive the holy stick? (No sexual pun intended).
When I was in the school I honestly believed that these were spiritual exercises, even if they never worked. From the videos and articles I’ve read, I have come to the conclusion that these are mind control techniques which Maclaren, either knowingly or not (depending on how much you want to hate him- because I have trouble believing a man my parents respect so much, could be so evil as to knowingly start a cult- the power of the quest for knowledge is very strong and can be blinding.) What has happened is that the fact that these are mind control techniques has not been realized by the current members… otherwise I would have to accept the fact that my mum and dad are evil and I happen to know that they are not, and honestly believe that when they teach these things, they believe they are offering a way to discover the truth. What can I do about this? Nothing. I’m not an apologist for the school, I have quite a large grudge against it for what it’s done to me and my relationship with my parents who I don’t think would hate and fear homosexuality if the school didn’t tell them to, but the people seem to have good intentions and aren’t evil.
I also worked in a day school for awhile. I don’t think they are particularly dangerous anymore. Weird, and they do teach the kids ‘philosophical’ stuff like pausing. But I don’t think there’s any harm in kids calming down before a class, but they take it too far. The one time I asked the kids to pause they got so pissed off it was almost worse after! They hate the philosophy stuff because as kids, they seem to be able to recognize that it’s BS. The ones that don’t are the ones you later see with glazed eyes wondering around Waterperry.
Anyway, that is how I see things. A cult that has become a religion. And religions can be dangerous or not, depending on the members. I would love to see Lambie explain why he’s teaching known mind control techniques (apparently cults that juxtapose western teaching and eastern teaching are becoming more and more common, and there are some a lot more dangerous that the SES because they take people in and don’t let them leave. The SES is at least voluntary, although they do lie about it not being a religion- mainly because I honestly believe they don’t think it is- even though to anyone with a brain it obviously is.) Lambie would probably just say that they ARE mind control techniques as the mind does need to be controlled… yes maybe, but not by someone else!
Re: Us gay folk...
Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:38 am
joeblogs wrote:I just wanted to say a few things before I stay away for awhile from this forum. Reading it has left me seriously stressed out and not sleeping well, and worrying about the fact that I was in cult when I actually didn’t think it was a bad organisation, is really a damn unpleasant feeling.
Hi Joeblogs, I share you experiences of what it is to confront the true nature of the SES. It does seem to cause a great deal of anxiety and I too found it incredibly hard to accept that the SES is a cult.
I left the SES when I left school and went to uni, having left my foundation group a year previously. Whilst I felt quite free to be out and away from the SES clutches I did feel entirely unprepared for coping on my own. I never questioned the philosophy particularly but always felt that there were flaws with the organisation. Let me draw an analogy. I'm like a house I have built; when I left school the house was fully built but somewhat shaky. During uni, part of the house fell down. In getting over my own difficulties during uni, I built a temporary scaffold to keep the house together. Many years later when I started inquiring about the SES, prompted by taking my friend to Art in Action and wondering how does the SES appear to an ousider, and I found this forum and became aware of the seriousness of the St James inquiry, it felt like the rest of my original house fell down and all I was left with was this scaffold. I couldn't get my head around the fact that what I had learnt about myself and my place in the world since my problems at uni was more secure than my entire upbringing and education. Seriously seriously unsettling!!
I'm seriously grateful to this forum and to all my friends who have supported me through this because I don't think you can really make these adjustments without good support.
By all means take a break from the forum, it is important to make sense of these things in amounts that you can handle. I know it is extremely easy to get obsessed and overloaded to the point of not being able to handle it. At the same time remember that time is on your side. It is impossible to make sense of it all just like that and you need to take the necessary time to adjust.
PS I do accept that it's highly likely that some people will never confront the SES or their role in it for the sheer fear of having to deal with that anxiety. I fear for my parents making such an adjustment should they ever come to realise. Perhaps it is safer that some people stay in rather than leave (although I'm not sure I could ever really advocate that)
Re: Us gay folk...
Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:28 am
PS I do accept that it's highly likely that some people will never confront the SES or their role in it for the sheer fear of having to deal with that anxiety. I fear for my parents making such an adjustment should they ever come to realise. Perhaps it is safer that some people stay in rather than leave (although I'm not sure I could ever really advocate that)[/quote]
Yeah I couldn't agree more. I can't stand the thought of going back, but my parents have been in too long and have too many friends to leave now. I don't even know what they'd do! But I know my mum has complained about not having many friends outside the school... well, thats kind of here fault but I can't tell her that... if you think you are the best thing ever and everyone else is below you because they are not on a spiritual path, of course you'll have trouble making friends with them! Just watching tv with them is an eye opeing experience, everyone is wrong! And women especially! I also liked your analogy of the house falling down. I think my house is coming down too, and it never was well built as the whole time I was in the school it seemed there was something a bit wierd. I still have an unreasonable respect for and interest in anything with a long unpronounable Indian name in it... Anyway, thanks again!
Re: Us gay folk...
Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 1:10 pm
joeblogs wrote:I can't stand the thought of going back, but my parents have been in too long and have too many friends to leave now. I don't even know what they'd do! But I know my mum has complained about not having many friends outside the school... well, thats kind of here fault but I can't tell her that... if you think you are the best thing ever and everyone else is below you because they are not on a spiritual path, of course you'll have trouble making friends with them!
My parents have seen a lot of their SES friends leave over the years and have kept the friendships in many cases. I am pleased that the organisation no longer encourages members to ostracise ex members. I do find watching my parents quite fascinating. Over the years they have developed interests in things and their adherence to the SES lifestyle has lessened, I think helped by the fact that none of their kids remain in the SES. I would encourage your mother to act on her desire for more friends outside the school. It's never too late to take up other interests and membership of the SES should not preclude having an active interest in other things and relationships with other people.
joeblogs wrote:I also liked your analogy of the house falling down. I think my house is coming down too, and it never was well built as the whole time I was in the school it seemed there was something a bit wierd. I still have an unreasonable respect for and interest in anything with a long unpronounable Indian name in it...
That's just it, there has been this little niggling weirdness that just never settles. It is scary just how deep seated the root cause of the problem is. I like the analogy of the house and I think the problem is lies as deep as the foundations.
I know it's unsettling making sense of the past and trying to understand why people would try and convince you of these beliefs. I think it is positive that you have expressed greater comfort with your sexuality already and I hope that means that you are already more comfortable with the person you are.
You have described in your posts that you believe the SES started as a cult and has evolved into more of a religion. This may or may not be true and is probably very subjective. If the SES is still a cult, it certainly belongs at the less damaging end of the spectrum, though it is clearly evident by the testimonies on this forum that it can hold significant sway over individuals and inflict a significant degree of harm and is far from benign. I personally believe that religions are just cults that have gone mainstream. In the end all cults and all religions endeavour to influence and control what people believe and in turn try and control how they behave. All cults and religions feed on the vulnerabilities of the human condition such as the curiosity of the meaning of life, what happens after death, why am I me, and what is the purpose of my existence and gives easy answers to these deeply profound questions. All religions and all cults have the ability to convince a person that they should be something or someone that they are not.
Re: Us gay folk...
Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 3:19 pm
Have you ever read Richard Dawkins 'The God Delusion'? It's very interesting. I bought it ages ago but I stopped reading it ages ago because it has a bit of a preachy tone that suggests he's right and everyone else is wrong. It's kind of true, but at the time I didn't like it. Anyway, I just picked it up again today, and found this, which I think sums up why for so long I and others couldn't or can't accept that the SES was wrong. It's espeically interesting as I have been in the school since I was a kid.
'My specific hypothisis is about children.More than any other species, we survive by the accumulated experience of previous generations, and that experience needs to be passed on to children for their protection and well-being. Theoretically, children might learn from personal
experience not to go too near a cliff, not to eat untried red berries, not to swim in crocodil-infested waters. But, to say the least, there will be a selective advantage to child brains that possess the rule of thumb: believe, without question, whatever your grown-ups tell you. Obey your parents, obey the tribal elders."
He later goes on to say 'Natural selection builds child brains with a tendency to believe whatever their parents and tribal elders tell them. Such trusting obedience is valuable for survival... But the flip side of trusting obedience is slavish guillibility. The inevitable by-product is vulnerability to infection by mind viruses. For excellent reasons related to Darwinian survival, child brains need to trust parents... An automatic consequence is that the truster has no way of distinguishing good advice from bad. The child cannot know that 'Don't paddle in the crocodile-infested Limpopo' is good advice but 'You must sacrifice a goat at tthe time of the full moon, otherwise the rains will fail' is at best a waste of time and goats.'
I think this sums up what happened to many people in the school, and indeed in society in general. We love authority figures, espeically ones who seem to have our best interests at heart. But we have to remember that just because one thing someone said was good, doesn't mean everything they say ever, at any time, will always be good. So one day you're told to be aware of negative emotions, good advice as they can be strong and harmful, the next you're told women are not as good as men and homosexals are evil, and you assume that as the same person said it, it must be true.
Anyway, I said I was going to stay away from here, but as you can see that hasn't actually happened. Oh well, I feel better now that I know I'm not alone in being blinded and influenced by a cult.
Re: Us gay folk...
Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:00 pm
joeblogs wrote:Have you ever read Richard Dawkins 'The God Delusion'?
Yes I have. I agree with you about his preachy tone and he does himself no favours by using it. His arguments are very compelling. The evolutionary explanations may well account from the fragile balances of charateristics of the human condition.
On the subject of religion, the only book I have read so far that does, in my mind, make some useful and constructive arguments against Dawkins is the book "In God We Doubt: Confessions of a Failed Atheist" by John Humphrys
Another book I would recommend, which says a lot about the problems of religion and particularly in relation to the education of children is "The War for Children's Minds" by Stephen Law. He describes a theoretical school that claims to be liberal allowing children to make inquiries and to discriminate for themselves but where actually a whole load of topics are off limits to discussion. This is actually exactly what St James was (and I believe still is) like. The SES as a whole is like this too.
Stephen Law also makes some very compelling arguments for how you can never really abdicate your responsibilities for what you believe to the view of the a teacher, guru or spiritual text because even when you do, you must take the responsibility for who you choose to follow.
joeblogs wrote:Anyway, I said I was going to stay away from here, but as you can see that hasn't actually happened. Oh well, I feel better now that I know I'm not alone in being blinded and influenced by a cult.
You are not alone at all. I'm glad that the discussion is helpful. I'm definitely of the view that "problem shared is a problem halved". Talking and discussing is I believe the most valuable tool we have in making sense of our experiences. There is one proviso, you must be aware of the agendas of the people you are in discussion with.