I've taken a little flack lately for the fact that I was in a cult and tend to be frank about it. It's amazing how many people consider themselves an expert on the topic, despite having never been in a cult or even so much as read a book on it. I suppose they saw some documentary on Jim Jones or David Koresh, which was all the education on the topic they really needed. A friend of mine jokingly told me once that this video was all he needed to know about being a Mormon. The context made it quite funny, but I'm not going to go into that. What's sad is that many people probably think that it's true.
Joining a cult is not an indication that you're stupid or disturbed. That's like saying being raped makes you a slut, it's idiotic. A cult is something that happens to you, like a car accident, being mugged, or getting a disease. Nobody joins a cult intentionally, nobody joining a cult knows they're joining a cult. Most don't know they've joined a cult when they leave.
Maybe people think I'm honest about it because I think it's cool. I don't. Would you brag about being raped? That's how stupid the idea is.
Maybe people think I'm honest about it for attention. Would you want that kind of attention? If you do, you're a moron. Imagine how much fun it is to go back to all of the people you were an asshole to and say "I'm sorry I was an asshole to you for the past few years, I was brainwashed in a cult." Woohoo, now that's some real fuckin' fun!
I'm honest about it because it happened to me. It's part of who I am now, and that can't be changed. Believe me, I would love it if I could erase that from ever having happened. I was a different person before, and that person is gone now. I miss him, because he was a great guy.
Maybe you would like to have somebody fuck with your brain for years, then have to recover on your own. No empathy, no resources, nobody you can talk to about it. Jack shit. You're on your own to figure out what happened to you and make sense of it, and try to rebuild some sense of self and self-esteem. How's that sound for fun? Wanna try it? I hear the Scientologists are still recruiting.
And here's the best part, in all the years since, all the people I've told this experience to, not one person has EVER said to me "Gee, I'm sorry that happened to you." or anything even remotely empathetic. Instead, I get jokes, off color comments, and strange looks. I went through hell, and my reward is people looking at me like I've got a nose growing out of my eyeball. What lovely people. Let's be honest, I don't really expect anybody to give a crap, and I never have. That's not why I'm honest about it either. I'm honest about it because it's liberating. If I can tell people what happened, the cult has no hold over me any more. Believe me, my first instinct was to hide it and never tell anybody. I'm glad I didn't go that route. I will, however, never refer to them any other way than "the cult."
Next time somebody tells you they were in a cult, perhaps you should ask them about it, instead of mocking them for it. You might learn something. At the very least you'll look less like an asshole.