I figured out another one of my cultic patterns: I tend to make “friends” based on shared politics and beliefs. And that’s not healthy. In fact, I think it’s a huge obstacle to my cult recovery.
I know, I know. This isn’t something that only cultists do. It’s natural to seek out friendships that validate your worldview (because who the hell wants to navigate a friendship full of constant disagreements and debates? LOL nobody.) And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.
However, as a recovering cultist, I think it would serve me well to try actively seeking out friendships based on shared hobbies/interests, rather than passively falling into relationships contingent on shared beliefs/politics, which has been my pattern thus far.
I’ve come to realize a few things:
- Belief-based friendships are volatile. Unless you have other things in common with a person, or they’re mature enough to engage in critical discourse, they’ll probably turn on you as soon as you start challenging the shared worldview. After all, it is the foundation of your relationship. And a shaky foundation crumbles the entire house.
- Belief-based friendships are echo-chambers. They don’t allow challenges or growth or evolution. There tends to be an unspoken pressure to keep your questions to yourself, which leads to suppression and denial of the self.
- Even if your friends are tolerant/accepting when you change to a different worldview, it might still feel uncomfortable to bring up the topic.
For example: since I started eating animal products again and feel much healthier and happier, do you even KNOW how much it SUCKS that I can’t share my bubbling excitement with my vegan friends? It feels like trying to contain a river. I feel like I’m flowing and moving and changing — and they’re a dam, stopping up my flow. Not intentionally, of course. That’s just how it is. And now I wish I’d spent more time during the past 5 years cultivating friendships with non-vegans, so I’d have people to go to when I want to share this excitement.
- Every time I’ve left an ideology behind me (Pentecostalism, veganism, liberal feminism, and now I’m headed that way with radical feminism), I’ve left most of those connections behind as well. This is why so many people stay in destructive, cultic groups. You feel like you have to choose between keeping these amazing people in your life, or being psychologically autonomous. And that’s a heartbreaking choice to make.
I’ve been reflecting a lot. On all the friendships I’ve had in my life. The friendships that lasted 5+ years, were the ones that were based on compatible personalities. (And even when some of those friendships ended, they didn’t end because of a difference of opinion — they ended because we either drifted away from each other or had significant, incompatible personality changes, not belief changes.)
And the friendships that burned out in less than 5 years? You guessed it: they were belief-based. I have lost count of how many people cut me off because I stopped mindlessly agreeing that veganism is perfect, or that “transwomen are women,” just to give a few examples.
Also: I’m fucking tired, okay? I’m tired of politics. I’m tired of the superiority complex, the gatekeeping, the litmus tests, and the character judgments disguised as “critical analysis.” I’m tired of discussing the same topics over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over….
So here’s my late New Year’s Resolution:
Be less political, and more somatic.
I want somatic friends. Friends who want to hear how I’m doing. Friends I can go out dancing with. Friends I can go to concerts with, go out to dinner with, watch movies with (and not apply a feminist lens to everyfuckingthing). Friends who don’t care if I use a ‘problematic’ word once in awhile. Friends I can have sensory experiences with, instead of more endless broken-record, circlejerk conversations about the world’s problems we’ve allegedly solved. Friends who actually care about who I actually am. Friends who would still be here for me if, let’s say, I announced tomorrow that I’m no longer a feminist.
I want to see the world from as many perspectives as possible before I die. I want to be assured that I am not afraid of ideas — yes, even anti-feminist ideas. That, to me, would be true psychological freedom. And I don’t think that freedom can happen, as long as I’m living this pattern of choosing friends based on whether they agree with my opinions or not. Nor do I think I can heal my cult-conditioned psyche, if I’m surrounded by “friends” who take my recovery decisions as a personal or political attack. I need friends who can accept my frequent and intense ideological changes. Who understand that I am a Destroyer at heart.
So that’s my resolution. We’ll see how this experiment goes…