Freedom Day 2020

Five years ago today, I began my journey out of a cult. 
I walked into a counselors office for the first time in my life and asked for help. 
I didn’t fully understand what kind of trauma I had endured; after all, it was my “normal”. 
I began the incredibly hard work of facing the reality of my trauma. I got angry. I grieved. I accepted. I healed. 
I then began to deconstruct everything I had been taught about God. Was He a God who only loved me if I did...
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The Modesty Files: A New Podcast on Toxic Fundamentalism

I woke up just a touch nervous today. This morning a podcast episode has been released where I talk quite frankly about the messy details of my trauma story. 
A few months ago I received an email from a group of three sisters who run a new podcast called The Modesty Files. They found Thriving Forward on a whim while doing research on the Christian Fundamentalists culture and they began to read my story.
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You Can't Always Choose How You Respond to Trauma

Why are victims told they can control how their body responds to stress? Why is the burden put on them? The four involuntary responses to stress, Flight, Fight, Freeze, and Fawn, are just that —involuntary. They are *God-given* response you were created with to keep you alive in a life-threatening situation...
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Triggers are Our Teachers

My husband, Joshua, and I were in our counselors office earlier this week to discuss this very topic. Five months into marriage and we’ve both noticed a pattern of a few things that each of us do that annoys or upsets the other. We didn’t know why. Our counselor surprised when she said, “You’re getting triggered.” 
Ooohhhh....
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The Body Holds Trauma

The body holds trauma.
This past week I’ve dealt with an unexpected flare up of my chronic illness.  I’ve also dealt with a frightening stream of relentless nightmares and last night a rare panic attack appeared out of no where.
After the panic attack told my husband I couldn’t figure out why my body had gone haywire this week.  He asked, “Is there anything significant about this time of the year?”  And then it hit me.  This week is the 9th anniversary of my brief stay at the cult headquarters. The week that forever changed my life.
Though this happens every year...
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The Darkest Nights

Last night I was once again hunted by dreams of some of the darkest evil that exists in this world.  One lasting affect some sexual abuse survivors often endure is having their trauma manifest in horrific nightmares.  
After what seemed like an eternity, my screams at last woke me and I lay in bed shaking and hyperventilating.  I was terrified to fall back asleep so I grabbed my Jesus Calling and turned on some worship music and listened until the heaviness in my eyes finally overcame my fears and I drifted back to sleep.
This morning I have felt...
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When The Triggers Don't Stop

I’m currently reading a new book released just this past week, “Woman Rising: A True Story” by Julia McCoy.
This memoir is the incredibly raw and vulnerable depiction of the horrific abuse the daughter of a cult leader endured throughout her childhood, and then how, as a young woman, she made her escape in the middle of the night, and eventually built a new life for herself.  
I’m only a few chapters in, but reading this woman courageously recall the stories of the pain her father inflicted on her has already brought up...
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When You Just Can't Forget...

I feel restless today. 
I’m itching to be somewhere where I’m not yet.  I’m yearning for a place of healing where I have not yet reached.
The last several weeks I’ve been going through a rough patch in my healing journey.  Some dark memories have been resurfacing a lot lately and I’m getting triggered far more often than normal.  
It’s annoying.  It’s frustrating.  It’s painful.  
I’ve said it over and over for a month now: 
“I just wish I could forget.”
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I Walked Away from Church -- But Not Jesus

Shorty after leaving the cult, I took a break from church.  I was so tired of the abuse of authority that I’d experienced most of my church-going life; I needed a break from it all.
I walked away from going to church, but not from my faith.
While I do believe being a participant of a local church congregation is a wonderful thing and has so many benefits and protections for the believer, we should never confine our faith to four walls.  
During my two years away from church...
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New FB Group for Trauma Survivors!

One of the most healing tools for me these past three years has been some private FB groups for other survivors who have walked through similar journeys to mine.  The communities I have found there have been wonderfully helpful as I’ve deconstructed my former beliefs and eventually rebuilt them...
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