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Wednesday, 06 February 2013

Got Cult?

By Sharon Ostrow who blogs at It's All About the Journey

I’ve been spending in inordinate amount of time on Facebook lately, involved with a group linked by a shared cult experience. Substitute cult with commune or family and you still get the idea.

This group is a remnant of one of many groups that bloomed during the 60s and 70s flower child era. Our page serves as both personal and group therapy - at least that is how I’ve chosen to look at it.

The cult fell apart back in the mid 80s and again in 2002 or so. It was a divorce on a larger scale and there were hard feelings which had built up and been repressed for years. It is for this fascinating reason: “therapy” is helping me with my memoirs because it enables me to look at my life from a broader perspective. Certainly the 20/20 vision of hindsight comes into play.

Who would have thought I’d be STILL involved all these years later, and online? This is what happens when Grandma gets a laptop. Move over AARP. Cult therapy is way more interesting.

I think we as a generation have some ‘splaining to do, some apologizing and some cleaning up to do for our sakes and for the sakes of our children. We made mistakes and bad things happened. Parents are people too, and many of us were young when we joined the cause.

Personally, I spent most of my adult life within the family, raised children, made some very good friends and for a short while lived out the ideals of peace and love that were sweeping the country during those years. Our problem, in my humble opinion, was that we thought we were going to create a utopia and change the world.

What we birthed instead was a microcosm of the culture we were trying to escape except that instead of being governed by a president, we gave our authority into the hands of one person and built a hierarchy that could not be sustained and, in fact, got corrupt.

I digress. Back to the online “therapy.”

What sparked the latest online development, in my opinion, was an email sent out to a group of ex family people written by a person who once had a respected position in the family, the second in command so to speak.

For well over 30 years, he was one of the most loyal not only to the ideals but to the spiritual head of the family but when his attempts to address an issue that was important to him fell on deaf ears, he declared the emperor had no clothes. This declaration took a life of its own and suddenly it is bigger than all of us.

Denial does not good communication make. To look at the world through a pink-tinted lens and pretend that everything is perfect does nothing to resolve issues or help people heal and process hurts and misunderstandings.

Personally, I believe our page is a healthy outlet as long as we stay respectful and reasonably polite. We began as an open group but some of us realized this was not wise. We needed more control of who was invited, who basically understood the purpose of the page.

We also didn’t want lurkers or those want a tabloid thrill to gossip about. So we created an offshoot of the original page which is moderated and private so people feel reasonably safe in expressing themselves. Closure is important for all of us.

I’m excited about this process and hope to grow as a writer with the insights I gain and to enrich the story I am weaving. I am not sure where this is going to lead, but the journey so far has been well worth the effort.

I say that now, but I have not been on the hot seat yet. Time will tell.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Sharon - fascinating post - the web is actually a very positive tool for therapy but of course can also be misused - it sounds as if you are wise to build in some privacy for yourself and others - good luck both with the therapy and the writing!

Interesting reflections. Makes me think of what my mother always said, "The More things changed, the more things stay the same." I liked what you said that this generation created exactly what it was trying to run from.

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