"…. Another tactic that Cult Leaders employ is something I call “Complicated Backdrop” or “Where’s Waldo?” Apparently here in France it is “Where’s Charlie?” and in Germany, “Where’s Wally”. I trust that you have experienced these complex ‘search-and-find’ drawings.
Has it ever happened to you? Have you ever dropped something on a patterned rug and watched it land but then not be able to find it? Recently, I dropped a paperclip on my multicolored rag rug and even though I saw exactly where it landed, when I went to pick it up, I simply could not find it!
Now, if that same paperclip landed on a simple, white rug, it would have been easy to spot it. But not this paperclip! I finally ran my hand over the area and just before I was about to touch it, I finally spotted the rascal - right in front of me - exactly where I had been looking!
Cults are like that patterned rug. One of their traits is to have a complicated background rather than the pure white base that many of them proclaim to have. There is nothing straightforward or transparent about cults. They always have a complicated system with rules, structures, and rules about the structures and a complex hierarchy with rules about the various levels, that might be disguised as “truth” or “God’s will” or simply “what is right”. And in this complex environment, what should be obvious, simply isn't.
When my brother died, a sudden, tragic and complicated death in Jan 2014 I did not go to his funeral because it was scheduled at the same time as a CTL Retreat. At the time, I was in my height of involvement with CTL, having finally achieved the status of being an ‘Executive Committee’ member. Part of the culture within CTL was a rule, albeit unspoken, that once you were in the Executive Committee, the commitment to the group was so deep that only earthquakes and extreme situations could keep you away from a retreat. Retreats, in the CTL world were paramount.
So, I made a choice between my birth family and my CTL family and chose them because at the time, I believed that CTL was more important. I even lied to my family that I had already paid for the retreat and that was part of why I needed to go. The truth was, the bulk of my retreat expenses were added to my growing payment plan - assuring that I would be in debt to Doug for years to come which in turn assured that I would continue to work my fingers to the bone for him and his organization.
The complexity of CTL rules and the financial, social, emotional and spiritual dependence that I had on the organization, completely obscured my ability to see what was obvious. I did not know at the time that my decision to not go to my brother's funeral was influenced by the grip that CTL and Doug had on my psyche and that at that time, my mind was not fully my own. The complex web of conditions in CTL, spoken and inferred, clouded my ability to see what would be so obvious in a more normal situation: when your beloved brother dies suddenly, you go to the funeral, no matter what.
This was a case of “Where’s Gerette” in the complicated CTL Backdrop and it still pains me, every time I think about it.