“I grew up in a cult.”
Such a ridiculous thing to say to a new acquaintance, but over the course of my life I have said it more times than I care to admit. Usually because I’m feeling vulnerable and I want them to know I’m not stupid: I simply grew up extremely isolated and lack much of the pop-culture and social knowledge someone my age should automatically have in their back pocket.
It is a ridiculous simplification of my life to try and explain why I will always be an outsider, even twenty years after having escaped the isolation. So I’ve decided to stop saying it.
I have decided that my past doesn’t need to be an excuse for my interactions. Life is hard for everyone in its own way. It doesn’t matter if they know I grew up very different from them. It doesn’t matter if they see a fraction of the trauma my early life inflicted. It doesn’t matter what I’ve had to overcome to get to the starting line most people take for granted. The abuse, the near-death experiences, every step that has been overcome does not need to be known.
Maybe someday the stories of what brought us each to this place will matter, but for now, let us take this moment for what it is: Simply existing in this beautiful moment called the here and now.