My overdue New Year’s Resolution: Be less political

 

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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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.

Johannes hlmann - Reality is the Sum of All Perspectives

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…

 

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9 thoughts on “My overdue New Year’s Resolution: Be less political

  1. You hit the nail on the head. I’ve also left liberal feminism behind, as I noticed it took on the stances of radical feminism more and more, and now calls itself “intersectional” feminism to hide the subtle takeover of radical feminism into “moderate” spaces. The thing I learned is that they’re just as cultic as the Hare Krishnas I was once a part of. Group think is powerful and people don’t see it. It breaks my heart and makes me so upset, but I am so very grateful I have surrounded myself with friends based on personality and character, not what their political beliefs are. Hell the put up with my rambling and ravings and even the self-professed feminists in my friend group agree with my more scathing criticisms of what feminists are doing in the UK, US and Canada (particularly with regards to college campuses, no-platforming speakers and creating so-called “safe spaces”).

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  2. There are questions peppered into my response. Such as: How can you feel good about participating in the atrocities that you KNOW about intimately? And how do you back your claim that veganism is a cult? My tone comes as a result of the sting of your words. Dismissing veganism as a cult is a slap in the face to those of us who work tirelessly, day after day, seemingly in vain, with broken hearts over what is happening to animals in our society. I am sorry if you don’t like my tone, but at least you are in the position to defend yourself. For myself, I will stand on the side of the animals (that you have chosen to reduce into “products” instead of living, feeling, peaceful beings with personalities) who have no defense against the horrors they endure every moment of their lives. And I read your other pieces. All I heard was, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME….

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    • When i said ask questions, I meant open-ended questions that aren’t loaded with assumptions about my intentions/character.
      All of the questions you asked above read more like statements about me. That I don’t care about animals, that I don’t care about how vegans feel, etc.

      A better beginning to a real discussion would be “What led you to transition out of veganism?”

      Just for future reference: one of my personal rules for dealing with people is to never respond to guilt trips or character judgments. And reducing my journey to and from veganism to being all ‘ME ME ME ME ME’ before waiting to hear my answers to your “questions”? Yeah, that’s a character judgment. So I’m done interacting with you.

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  3. Landanne and Kayla: please read my post “The Ex Vegan Debacle.” From there, you will find a link to another article I wrote: “Today’s my Veganniversary….” In those two pieces, I did my best to articulate why I returned to eating animal products.

    Also, I highly suggest taking a look at your comments and reconsidering the tone with which you’re approaching me. Your comments are laden with guilt-trips and implicit character judgments. If you’re genuinely ‘interested to hear my answers’ you could start by actually asking questions.

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  4. I couldn’t agree with landanne more. How tragic that you’d turn your back on feeling beings like that all the while bashing veganism by whitewashing it as a “cult.” What a cop-out. Never ceases to amaze me how people will attempt to rationalize their cruel behaviors. Shameful.

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  5. You make some good points here. And you had me up until “since I started eating animal products again”. Of course you know well that you are eating ANIMALS who suffered horrifically and died terrified – shocking to hear that this has made you happier (and healthier?). How does one go from knowing what you know and doing what is right in answer to your conscience, to backpedaling and being uber excited about it? Also, can you please back your claim that veganism is a cult? The group or groups of people you involved yourself with may have been cultish but veganism is a rational response for people who care deeply about the plight of animals and who suffer daily knowing the treatment they are subjected to at the hands of humanity. The least you can do, if you are going to betray the animals by participating in their mass oppression, torture and murder, is to not also sell them out by telling people that veganism is a cult. And would you honestly expect your “vegan friends” to be excited for you and at your news? I really would be interested to hear your answers…

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    • Landanne, just reading through the comments, I am mildly confused why you object to the writer being all about her, her, her. This is, after all, a blog where she is chronicling her personal journey out of cultism, so of course it would be about her? I understand you have other ideological differences, but if you don’t want to hear about her then you could stop reading the blog. I for one really appreciate that Alicen is willing to be so generous with her experiences and struggles.

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