My gratitude isn’t a platitude

Gratitude. Some people think it’s trite.

Not me. I’m incredibly grateful.

That’s what happens when you leave a life of deprivation, indoctrination, and control and discover the world isn’t nearly as horrible as they led you to believe.

This world is amazing. Life is amazing.

It’s a far cry from where I was in the early 2000s, fully under the scientology spell.

One particular memory from that time is as clear now as the day it happened.

I was sitting in a window seat on the bus, headed to berthing after a long day.

As we drove by a familiar neighborhood, I glanced out at the homes. Most of them were dark, but a few had lights on. I imagined what the people living in them were doing: Watching TV. Having a snack. Chilling out.

And I thought, “Those poor people. They don’t know how terrible their lives are. They’re doing all these meaningless things, totally unaware that they’re living in an endless loop of birth and death. If only they were smart enough to understand that scientology is their only hope.”

I had to think that way. Otherwise, what was I spending 18 to 20 hours a day, seven days a week for?

That incident happened almost 20 years ago, and I’m in a far better place now.

I’ve done a lot of work to get my mind straight (well, as straight as it can be).

And I know the world isn’t as dangerous as they said it was.

As I sit here in my comfortable home, dog snuggled at my side on the couch, I feel joy. I get to live my life the way I want.

This was never supposed to happen. I was supposed to be a loyal sea org member for the next billion years.

So yeah, I’m grateful.

I’m grateful my mind and body are intact.

When you leave a cult, you may be out of the physical trap, but it takes a while to get out of the mental ones.

Starting over after two decades of physical, mental, and emotional control is a process. It’s rediscovering who I am, what I believe, and what I want in life.

Amazingly, after all that, my mind is sharp, which helps me make a good living as a writer.

And my body is functioning well, despite being constantly malnourished and sleep-deprived — and not seeing a doctor for almost 20 years.

I’m really proud of this mind and body. They’re still going strong after all that abuse.

I’m grateful I can make my own decisions.

One of the first things I did after escaping was to go out and walk down a street on my own with no time limit.

I had nobody to answer to, nobody expecting me to be anywhere at a certain time. It was a strange experience.

You mean, I can decide to do something just because I want to? I don’t have to do what someone else orders me to do? Luxury.

It’s funny because I go back and forth on this. Some days, I’m all about making my own decisions and not listening to what anyone else has to say. And some days, other people’s thoughts and opinions seem more important than my own, even if I don’t agree with them.

And that’s okay. I’m a work in progress. You don’t just “get over” mind control and indoctrination. But it gets better.

I’m grateful I have money.

I worked for years for the equivalent of pennies per hour — when I got paid at all. We often didn’t.

So when I got my first job after leaving scientology, getting paid $8.50 an hour, I was over the moon. Such riches!

Over the years, my income has grown as my confidence has returned. But I’ll never forget just how wonderful it felt to get paid again after having nothing for so long.

Now, Tom and I live a comfortable life that I could only have dreamed of. And I’ll always be grateful that I have money to do the things I love to do.

Plus, I know that money isn’t the real point: it’s the freedom that money provides. And believe me, freedom IS the point.

I’m grateful people love me.

There’s no such thing as love in scientology. I had no idea what it felt like to be truly loved until I was out of that mess.

But wow, does it feel great to have people in my life who love me.

And I never have to worry that the people who say they love me will turn on me — which was a given in scientology.

My wonderful Tom is my number one fan, and that’s something I’ll never tire of. He’s the best thing in my life, and I’m grateful for his love every single day.

I also receive so much love from my family and friends (and friends who have become family). It’s overwhelming sometimes, but getting less so the more I experience it.

Things could be a LOT worse.

We’ve all been through challenging times over the past few years. Yet, I’ve been fairly happy through it all.

Does this make sense? Am I just a Pollyanna?

I think about this from time to time. And the answer is always no.

No matter how tough things get, I know they could be FAR worse.

I survived years of coercive control and mental manipulation and came out the other side much stronger. Everything else seems like a cakewalk. Yes, even a pandemic.

Now, I’m not saying that you should go through a cult experience to build resilience. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone!

But I am saying to look at the difficult times in your life that you survived. And be proud of yourself for what you’ve accomplished.

You might be surprised at how fast that feeling of gratitude shows up. And how much happier you feel.

2 thoughts on “My gratitude isn’t a platitude

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