Join the Conversation on
281 people
0 stories
24 posts
Explore Our Newsletters
What's New in

Fear #SuicidalIdeation #PTSD #Religious Trauma #spiritualabuse #ChildAbuse #DysfunctionalFamily #Relationships #Anxiety

I don’t think anyone understands the magnitude of fear I have towards my mother. When my dad died, I wanted to go with him, because I felt like I had nobody to protect me from my mother! I had to be hospitalized for suicidal ideation. I’m really shook up from yesterday’s phone call, prior to that I felt empowered because I had finally put up a fortress in my mind to protect myself from her by blocking her number. I am now afraid to block her new number before I leave because, I don’t know what might happen if I do between now and when I move. I still have a few months before I can move. She is one of the main reasons I’m leaving, to leave the abuse behind. I’ve experienced so much trauma in this state. I see my mother every where, she’s in every woman, she’s every bully I’ve ever encountered. She is the reason I had no boundaries, struggle with self advocacy, and everything else a programmed codependent child is robbed of. Essentially, she set me up to be a perpetual victim of abuse. I now feel like a spineless, coward who betrayed myself, and feel like I’ve been knocked back down to sit at her feet, where she can continue to control me. She believes she is god’s special prophet and everyone else is subservient to her, except my younger brother (who will rule over and judge the world someday) and anyone else she likes. Everyone else is her and his servant. I literally mean this. This is the cult I grew up in.

42 reactions 21 comments

Decision-making paralysis

Hi everyone, I joined this group as soon as I saw it created, but I haven't posted here before. I feel so much turmoil still around my religious affiliation (evangelical Christian). I'm at a point now where I can say, "I don't think I'm a Christian anymore." The thing is, even if I'm not, the Bible verses and teachings are so, so ingrained in my psyche after being in the church from the time I was born.

I am having a lot of difficulty with making decisions now, in particular. When I was actively living as a Christian, I would pray and seek advice from church leaders and read the Bible if I had to make a decision. I always had this dread hanging over me that I might make a decision that was against "God's will" though; as a result, I definitely made a number of decisions that were harmful to me because it seemed like they were more acceptable to the church.

Now, I don't feel that dread about God's will, but I feel that I am completely lacking a foundation or framework for deciding what to do. I'm currently going through some career decisions and I can't separate "my values" from what I was indoctrinated into. Every time I try to start processing through this, I end up just breaking down because I feel like I don't even have an identity, and maybe I never have had one of my own. It's all very overwhelming and crushing.

I know there aren't any easy solutions to this, but I hope someone out there can at least relate to where I am at.

Thanks for listening ❤️

#Decisions #Career #Faith #Christianity #spiritualabuse #Identity #MentalHealth

13 reactions 8 comments
See full photo

Isolation / Avoidant Attachment / Boundaries ?

The image says: "My past is an armor I cannot take off, no matter how many times you tell me the war is over." -- Jessica Katoff

My therapist offhandedly said something about avoidant attachment style a few weeks ago and it totally changed how I think of myself and made me realize how I am really experiencing the world.
I was always the good kid who did the right thing and helped others. I wasn't wildly popular, but just a solid *nice* person. Up until very recently, I would have told you I was a "people pleaser", and really needed the approval and love of others.
It turns out I have some serious anger raging inside of me that I never knew was there - and it is anger toward all those people I was nice to, all those people I helped, all those people I smiled at and befriended. All the people I listened to. All the people I never said "no" to. All the people who never *saw* me.
My last boyfriend told me all the time how he had never felt so well understood by anyone in his entire life until he met me. How could I tell him that I didn't feel at all the same about him?
I don't know how to stop this angry part of me from putting up a barrier to protect myself after decades of no one even bothering to notice that I might have reason to be angry and that I was in fact angry. I don't know how to switch my thinking from "boundaries" to "giant flaming wall" because I'm angry that I spent all my time and energy understanding other people so well and they never did the same for me.
I don't even know if this post makes sense, but it is such a wild mind shift for me that I am struggling to know how to think or process things these days. Thanks for reading and for being there.

#Isolation #avoidantattachment #boundaries #Relationships #Therapy #MentalHealth #Depression #Anxiety #spiritualabuse #EmotionalAbuse #narcissisticabusesurvivor #Family #angry


My great aunt died and now my boundaries with my family are being tested

I have withdrawn from communication from all family members other than my siblings over the past couple years. The main issue is with my mother, but if I communicate with any extended family members, she will find a way to get the information and then reach out to me again. She comes up with these situations that she decides are absolutely crucial (ex. do I want this old bookcase they are getting rid of?) and will bombard me with messages (email, WhatsApp, SMS, etc.). I don't respond or even open the ones that would have a "read receipt", so then she starts bombarding my siblings saying that she desperately needs an answer to this question and would they ask on her behalf. This behaviour just confirms to me that I am not ready to have contact with her again.

So, she had texted me last week to say that she and my dad would be in town over the weekend. I didn't read the whole thing, so I am just assuming that she also tried guilt-tripping me into seeing each other. And then my 100-year-old great aunt died on Saturday morning.

And now the bombardment begins. The big difficulty here is that I am actually in the same city so I can't isolate myself as well as I could when I lived abroad. I cannot attend this funeral. I keep asking myself if I would regret it later if I didn't but I don't think I have the perspective to be able to answer that question.

The thing is, I feel like if I go, the expectations on me to be who I've always been - my typical role in the family system - will be so high. I'm at a point now where I don't think I can even fake being that person anymore, but I don't have any kind of solid expression of myself now to replace it. I don't know who I am or what I like or what I want to do or even what I believe.

And that's the other issue - I can't walk into a church. The funeral will certainly be a religious event and I can't be part of those words and conversations and Scriptures and prayers and I will have my religious abuse triggered and start dissociating and lose the ability to form sentences or be present.

To be honest, the part of me that has always highly valued and appreciated heritage and history and tradition is either very deeply buried or dead and I just feel nothing about my aunt's death. I know there is a lot of emotional repression going on too, but I simply don't have the capacity to open this up.

I don't see my therapist until Thursday and it's already been since Saturday.

I'm not looking for advice about what to do, but just wanted to share with someone what I am experiencing right now.

#Family #Relationships #Funeral #EmotionalAbuse #spiritualabuse #Trauma #Depression #Anxiety #MentalHealth

See full photo

Cult recovery memoir!#PTSDAwarenessMonth #PTSDSupportAndRecovery #UlcerativeColitis #AnalCancer #spiritualabuse #cultrecovery

I'm thrilled that a publisher has accepted my memoir, "A Slice of Orange." It is about my life in the Rajneesh cult and the long recovery as I re-entered society. My history of ulcerative colitis since the age of 10 certainly features, but it is not about chronic illness. It is about resilience and recovery from #Trauma of several kinds (I am a trauma therapist). Please go to my website nicolaranson.org to sign up for the newsletter and track when it will be released

Nicola Ranson - Trauma therapist writes about her cult recovery

My memoir addresses what leads someone to join a cult, how to recover from the psychological devastation – and the many joyful times in between.
See full photo

"Good for you"

I've been thinking a lot about these phrases I heard all the time when I was growing up: "good for you" and "bad for you". They were applied in all kinds of situations, but most notably to do with health, religion, and relationships.

My dad grew up with very little, so it was always drilled into us as kids that we should never waste food and should be grateful for the healthy food we get to eat. If there was a food we didn't like (in my case, fish), we were constantly told it was good for us and we should eat it anyway. It didn't matter if we liked it or not.

Now, I am struggling with gut health issues and found out this year that a whole bunch of foods that are "good for me" are actually causing me harm. For example, a food allergy test last summer revealed that I am actually allergic to broccoli, carrots, sunflower seeds, and olive oil! I've always enjoyed my veggies and needing to limit them so severely over the past few years is really hard. Turning the "good for you" saying into "not good for ME". It's hard for me to stick to food plans when I know all the nutrients I am missing out on in "good" foods. It's hard for me to turn off the black and white thinking that things that are good are not necessarily universally good, and it's ok if I don't partake in them.

Taking it a step further, even if a "good for you" thing isn't causing me harm, if it isn't actively creating joy or peace, I don't have to engage with it. For example, I've been taking a break from church for nearly a year now. The spiritual and religious abuse I've experienced has resulted in church feeling like a very unsafe place for me (even though it is "good for you") and I just can't be there right now. I've attended church since even before I was born, and it is a really big deal to stop attending, let alone volunteering in every program and ministry. But, just because it's good for other people doesn't mean it is good for me. And that needs to be ok. I'm working on it.

(***Please do not respond with prayers or Scriptures or religious messages as those are very triggering to me***)

The other side of this is completely avoiding things that are "bad for you". There is such a long, long list of things that I was taught were bad for me when I was growing up, and I still find it difficult to switch this off decades later. It's hard for me to spend money on myself. I judge myself for being attracted to someone based merely on external appearance. I don't know if I'll ever feel comfortable in a bar. All the time I spend sitting at home just breathing must surely be selfish, right? And yet - these things can all actually be good for me. They may not be good for everybody and there may be cautions around them, but they may not be bad for me. It's ok to explore and discover and be curious about people and the world around me. More than ok - it's good.

#goodforyou #Relationships #spiritualabuse #EmotionalAbuse #FoodAllergies #Family #MentalHealth #Anxiety #Depression #PTSD

1 comment

A dream about my ex

I just woke up from a dream about my ex. He is a narcissist. I have had no contact with him since 2013, but somehow he shows up in my dreams. I hate this!
It feels like I can't fully break free from him even after such a long time. How is he still in my head?? How can I get him out?
Not the start to 2022 that I wanted...

#Dream #nightmare #Ex #NarcissisticPersonalityDisorder #narcissisticabusesurvivor #EmotionalAbuse #mentalabuse #spiritualabuse #Trauma #Depression #Anxiety #PTSD


Round 4 with a new therapist

It's been a rough year trying to find a therapist... One of my reasons for coming back to my home country was to have access to consistent therapy in my native language. Unfortunately, that has not been my journey so far.

The first (and persisting) issue has been finances - therapy isn't cheap! If I had a sufficient budget, I think it probably would have been easier to find a competent therapist more quickly. Sometimes therapists who work for subsidized services are not the same quality (not always!!).

So last summer, I finally had enough income to start looking for a therapist. I sent an intake form to a local centre that offered subsidized services and accepted the first therapist I was matched to. This therapist was male...which was the first mistake. He was not specialized in trauma therapy and ended up doing me a lot of harm in the three months I worked with him.

In the wake of that, I was fortunate to have access to eight weeks of free therapy sessions with a therapist from my depression/anxiety group with the local public mental health service. She was the first mental health professional to ever acknowledge that I had experienced trauma, that I was having a trauma response, and that I needed trauma therapy. I wish I could have kept working with her, but there were limitations due to the service's regulations.

Following that, I found another subsidized service that had only female therapists and that specialized in trauma, and I signed up with them. The therapist that was available was not very responsive to my stated needs, was very chatty, and seemed to want to be more of a friend than a trained professional. We had three sessions together and I think the last straw for me was when she told me that I was doing fine because I could still go to work and some of her clients couldn't. Just not helpful or respectful.

So then I took a month off because I couldn't cope with trying again.

Last week, I signed up with BetterHelp (online counselling) because they had a one month free promo and it seemed worth a shot. I'm proud of myself for not accepting the first therapist I was matched with when she didn't have the expertise and experience that I was looking for. I had my first online video session with a second therapist yesterday and I think it will be ok. She is very willing to take it slow and to build up trust and safety. She understood why that was important to me and just let it be.

I'm feeling hopeful - but hope is also a scary thing.

Here's to round four!

#Therapy #OnlineTherapy #Therapist #MentalHealth #Depression #Anxiety #Trauma #NarcissisticAbuse #EmotionalAbuse #spiritualabuse #mentalabuse #Hope

See full photo

The Flip Side #Narcissiticabuse

I've been feeling really scattered and untethered and unable to commit to anything. I think I've been struggling with this fall-out from narcissistic abuse in my past where even the sweetest, most supportive statements or most boring, innocuous activities can have a flip side.

For example, the quote in the photo that is attributed to Buddha: "When you like a flower, you just pluck it. When you love a flower, you water it daily." The flip side for the romantic partner of a narcissist could be a) an absolute deluge of water that makes you feel like you're drowning; or b) pouring liquid poison on you so that you slowly shrivel up and die. But both examples are fulfilling the "sweet" intention of the quote.

This whole "flip side" of things is seriously messing with my ability to have healthy relationships or communication, to apply for jobs, to practice my faith, or to engage in hobbies I used to love. Everything feels like it could flip on me, and my experience showed that sometimes things do, and it seems like there is no longer a firm foundation upon which to build my life.

#NarcissisticAbuse #mentalabuse #EmotionalAbuse #spiritualabuse #Relationships #thinkingpatterns #Depression #Anxiety #lost