If it hadn’t been Al-Anon, it would have been another cult. Who I was in late 2005 was desperate, traumatized, feeling abandoned and alone. I was easy pickings for a cult because I wanted one. Thinking you, your group, your leader, have all the answers is an intoxicating lull. Getting to jettison all your choice paralysis because someone wiser is making those choices for you can be the ultimate release. Letting go, surrendering, giving in: there’s a reason these phrases are found in both cult literature and erotica.
Being in a cult, like being on drugs, has a part that feels good, better than normal life or churches or support groups. Love bombing feels amazing – safe and protected, cherished and adored, not by one but by many. I still feel a thrill in my heart when I recite whole prayers and verses from memory, based on a residual memory of the praise my leader would lavish on me when it pleased her to do so. I am hard wired for cults.
This is why I study cults, why I look into the founders and who they stole their ideas from. It’s why I familiarized myself with multiple models and definitions of cults, why I try to learn the secret meanings behind cult speak phrases and slogans. I know that I am vulnerable, that when I feel lost and afraid and alone, I am the easiest recruit there ever was. Cult survivors are sadly likely to join cult after scam university after crooked church after abusive relationship after cult. And those of us raised in cults from infancy are especially vulnerable.
I left Al-Anon after a year and a half. I’d given up on my marriage, and suddenly didn’t understand why my whole life had to be about his drinking anymore. I wasn’t paying for it, wasn’t being sent to the store nine months pregnant to earn death glares picking it up, and my car was no longer being stolen and driven drunk on a regular basis. My attendance lagged to once a week or every other week.
That’s when my third sponsor (first had a mental breakdown, second couldn’t stop breaking anonymity to tell oldtimers on me) told me that she was getting married for the third time, to her first husband, the drunk who’d put her in the hospital and led her to meetings in the first place. I couldn’t respect her choice, her counsel, or Al-Anon for having no reasonable criteria, prerequisites, or screening process for sponsors. I quit. A year or so later, after joining a cultic workplace, I learned the truth about Giggy. I have finally stopped joining cults, through constant vigilance.