People are funny creatures. We can know each other for years and even have very deep and intimate connections with one another—all while never realizing that there are things about the other that we never even dreamed of being true. While in some cases these surprises about our friends and acquaintances can be pretty trivial and inconsequential, other times they can be quite the opposite. Here are 42 examples of times when people’s opinions of someone they knew were irreversibly changed in an instant.
1. Learning The Donation Is For You
When my elementary school donated canned foods for the needy, I thought it went to a homeless shelter or something. Imagine my surprise when they gave me this big ass box of canned foods one day.
I was all like, “No no no, we’re not homeless.”
And they were all like, “Take this food u lil thing.”
So I did. My parents were ecstatic about it, but my excitement was somewhat dulled by the realization that I was the poorest kid in my class.
Also there was some applesauce in there that went south, and I puked it all up after eating the whole jar. It smelled funny, it tasted funny, but I still ate it. I still don’t understand why I did that.
2. Heating The Family
When my mom would leave the oven door open during the winter while cooking so she’d also be heating the kitchen, and we’d all pile into the kitchen.
3. They Prey, It’s What They Do
My sister was involved with a cult for a little while. She never joined; she was too smart for that, but she was friends with a few of them. But of course, that’s how they get you. Eventually (like … a year or so after she started hanging out with them?), they basically forced her to make a choice: join the church or get lost. They worded it differently, of course, about how they just wanted her to be “saved” and all that nonsense.
Obviously, they’re just trying to prey on people with few friends and low self-esteem, making them scared to lose the only friends they have and tricking them into joining. My sister got the heck out of there and never contacted those people again. Smart gal.
4. Corruption is Bountiful Out in the World
Well, I was born into a family that were Jehovah’s Witnesses. Now, whether they are a cult or not is debatable, but I for one do believe that it is. The moment where I realized that I had to leave was when I brought my friend over one day. My mom scolded me for bringing them over and told me that everyone was out to ruin my life if they weren’t in the same religion as us.
They would talk about how they are horrible and corrupt people, that we needed to cleanse them. I took a look at my friend and I couldn’t see that. All I saw was love and kindness, I knew that these views were corrupt themselves, and then I started to talk to my brother who also shared the same thoughts. We both brought it up with our parents and the elders of our church, and none of them could give us any answers about anything.
This is when we both decided that we cannot follow the lead of people that can not explain what they are leading us into. In the end, we just didn’t really believe in the religion itself.
5. Maids of Dishonor
This actually happened pretty recently. I am getting married in less than three months and I was supposed to have a get together with my bridesmaids, four life long friends and my older sister. My sister is a very unreliable, mildly selfish, drama-filled person. My friends are all reliable, amazing people who have been there for me my entire life.
The get together (which was basically replacing my bridal shower since I wasn’t going to have a shower) ended up only consisting of my sister showing up on time and excited, and just one of my friends who showed up right at the end of the event. The other’s excuses: “I don’t feel good” (her Snapchat showed her out drinking just a few hours later).
“I decided not to come into town.” “I woke up late and decided to hang out with my other friends.” I’m hard on myself, so I feel a little petty—but, come on, this is my wedding. I haven’t spoken to the other three since then because I can’t even bring myself to say anything to them other than how utterly disappointed I still am.
6. Cheater Cheater Pumpkin Eater
My opinion of my good friend of nearly 15 years changed instantly the moment he told me that he was cheating on his wife. He explained that he absolutely “loves his wife to bits” but that she’s “boring” now that she only has time for her full-time job, being a mom to their three kids, and honestly doing a lot to keep his life running. He was totally shocked when I said that it was inexcusable and that he needed to stop immediately. He thought it was just fun and harmless, even knowing full well that his wife would be utterly devastated if she ever found out.
7. A Change of Heart
My ex-husband, after 12 years of being genuinely good friends with one another and helping with the parenting of our three kids together, randomly filed a motion against me—claiming neglect and abuse, and demanding that my children removed from my home immediately. Needless to say, everything that I thought I knew about him after 20 years was completely wrong. He got laughed out of the courthouse.
8. Your Opinion of Him Just Got Auto-Corrected
I had a friend throughout my entire childhood. We were in Boy Scouts together, along with church, school, and everything else. When I was 13 years old, we moved all but next door from him, and it was awesome. However, when we were both turning 16, one of his family members died—leaving him about $4,000, specifically for his first vehicle.
To anyone else, that would have been a true gift. To him, though, it wasn’t good enough. I vividly remember watching him telling his dad (in front of me, who drove a used old Buick Regal) that he’d never be caught DEAD in a piece of junk like the Dodge Neon that his dad had all but bought for him. He demanded that the money be put towards a down payment on something much nicer.
So, the first day of senior year rolls around, and he makes sure to buy the parking spot next to mine, driving a maybe 3-year-old Acura TL. If that’s not the kicker, as of today he’s driving a brand new car that his dad still makes the payments on. He’s currently 27.
9. Exorcisms Aren’t as Glamorous as They Sound
I was 18, I just wanted to start a new life and they seemed so inviting. I told my mom I was going to school in the states. She didn’t ask many questions, my dad had just passed and I told her they offered me a scholarship. I left in January. I was greeted by many foreigners who had just graduated high school. I think in total there was 55 of us.
They didn’t have a place for us to live when we first got there. We ended up living in an abandoned hospital. I was scared, but everyone else around me acted like it was normal. The second day they took our passports to “scan them in case we lost them” that was the last time I saw my passport for three months. When I questioned them about it, they said the scanner needed repairs but it was high on their priorities.
The second week was a struggle, one of the leaders called me out amongst the entire group and said I had been infected with evil and was demon-sent. This lead to me being cast away from the group. I tried to find friends in the locals but instead found drugs for the first time. Went on a good two-week binge spending nearly $800.
Eventually, they invited me back, they held me on the ground and had an exorcism to remove the evil. I was so scared, I was so high, I played along. This went on for almost 10 months on and off being attacked. I got my passport and fled back to Canada (my home country) with one of the girls who was also enrolled.
It’s too long of a story to tell the entire 10 months. I ended up going back recently to the city to shoot a photo series that I’m currently developing in the darkroom to turn into a book.
10. Enjoying The Food
My favorite meals when I was little were beans on toast and Kraft Dinner. I loved eating it and we had one or the other every other night. Years later I realized it was because we weren’t rich enough to afford more food.
11. A Game of Clue
I determined that my colleague was a nut when he told me that the entire world was filled with secret hidden “signs” that he had to personally decipher, and gave me an explanation that made no sense whatsoever.
12. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Several months after going on a single date with a woman, she calls me out of the blue on Christmas Eve while I’m at work to introduce me to her family over the phone as her boyfriend. The one date we had gone on was dinner at a restaurant. She didn’t order anything, just kept eating my fries, and then went and watched TV back at her place. Nothing physical happened whatsoever, and the date ended with a handshake. When I responded that we were not a couple, she started freaking out and crying about how horrible I was for breaking up with her on Christmas Eve.
13. Jumpin’ Jupiter!
I was on my first cruise—a three-day trip to the Bahamas and back. I was talking to a dude at the bar who seemed cool and asked where he’s from. “Jupiter!” was his response. Luckily, my buddy came around and I just walked away thinking that the guy must have been nuts.
Then I found out many years later that Jupiter, Florida is a real place and remembered this guy from the cruise. Maybe he wasn’t crazy after all…
14. Getting to Know You
I knew my acquaintance was crazy when he told me, in full seriousness, that he’s a werewolf.
15. Where There’s a Pill, There’s a Way
I knew my wife was crazy when she was arguing and trying to convince me to get my doctor to perform an unnecessary and potentially dangerous surgery on me just so she could try and swipe some pills.
I divorced her.
16. Appreciating The Sacrifices
I actually didn’t really realize it until I was around 21 or 22 honestly. We were poor. My parents skipped dinner sometimes so my sister and I could eat, but as a kid I didn’t really notice. It was only as I got older and was able to reflect back that I realized the sacrifices my parents made for my sister and I. They ended up securing a really great contract with their cleaning company when I was about 12 and things really turned around for us. They’re good inspirations!
17. Medical Costs Are Outlandish
When I broke my wrist and my parents used a bread knife to saw my cast off so they wouldn’t have to pay for the bill.
18. Outside The Trailer
When I went over to my friend’s house for the first time. I thought they were filthy rich, but now looking back I realize they were middle class. At the time, my family lived in a small trailer.
19. Looking Back With Consideration
Actually only in retrospect I realized that we were wealthy when thinking about why some buddies didn’t want to come with me to skiing or go traveling and later as a teen didn’t want to go out partying as often as I did. Maybe they simply didn’t have the money, then.
I have been very poor since then, too. As I’m already on this topic I want to say one thing: it is much easier to be poor after having been “rich” once, if you have always been poor poverty can never be regarded as a joke or not as easily. That’s why I see people like Gautama Buddha, or several saints like St Francis who have been born into wealth and nobility and then chose to be poor in a different light than others might, meaning I maybe don’t see them as grand and noble as others.
20. Affluence Helps
When my mom offered to just give me a paid internship at her company in High School. I’m in college now and I know people who’d love to have an unpaid internship let alone a paid one. Also the fact that I turned it down, and my wallet was completely unfazed by that.
I mean we’re not rich rich… more like affluent. But that made me realize (in hindsight) just how many opportunities I had compared to people that were less fortunate than myself.
21. Kids Are Mean
When another girl at school was made fun of for wearing Payless shoes. I had begged my mom to take us there the week before (we always shopped at Goodwill). I guess I dodged a bullet, that girl got called “Payless” for the rest of the year. Kids are mean.
22. Hammy Downs
I remember being probably six or seven years old when my brother told me we were poor. I didn’t believe him. We had a TV, I had toys, we had an apartment and a car so I thought we were doing great. My brother explained to me that the clothes I was wearing and the toys I played with used to be owned by other kids and my mom bought them after the other kids were done them.
23. Passport Privileges
Realizing what having an American Passport in third world countries really mean… “oh wow you live in Washington DC.”
Also when I would tell my friends my parents have multiple homes that serve as rental properties, my mom told me that they will be okay when they are older and retired they will be financially independent.
24. It’s Aliiiiivvee!!!!!
I was arguing with someone on Facebook. Seemingly out of nowhere, he wrote that the Obama administration had authorized the use of billions of dollars for an attempt to create life outside of the womb.
When the project was deemed unsuccessful, his supporters realized that Obama was not more powerful than God and became disappointed in him. Whatever you say, man…
25. Killing the Friendship
My ex-friend sent me a link to some kind of inappropriate website. I was 12 years old at the time. I don’t know if it was real or fake, but it depicted a person being killed. He thought this was a normal thing to watch and tried to discuss it with me. My 12-year-old mind wasn’t ready for it.
26. Proportionate Response
I started to feel that one of my coworkers was crazy when another person who worked with us got engaged, and he responded by looking at her ring and saying “The bigger the diamond, the colder the heart.”
27. You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Til It’s Gone
I didn’t really realize we were rich (more like well-off) until it went away. The recession hit us hard, but my parents always tried to act like we are doing okay. But it is easy to notice our situation when we went from piles of presents under the Christmas tree to one or two for me and my brothers to share.
In a way that is when I realized how well off we were and then how poor we have become. Of which my family still isn’t recovered and I don’t know if or when we will. Another good comparison for how the times have changed is birthday presents I’ve gotten over the years, although some were combined gifts for me and one of my brothers.
One year I got a trampoline (with my brother) and another I got an Xbox. I’ll admit I’m now 19 so I don’t expect to get much for my birthday but this year I got two shirts and two shorts. Last year I got a backpack. I miss the days where we had money for gifts, I know that is a bit selfish but if we had that money then we wouldn’t have to worry about a foreclosure on our house that may be coming in a few weeks.
28. Company Cars
My dad always had high-end Mercedes Benz cars as I was growing up but when he quit his job when I was about 16 I found out they were company cars. It wasn’t until he had to buy his own car that I realized I was dirt poor.
29. Childhood Happiness With Friends
My parents were poor when I was a small child, then became wealthy when I was a young adult. I had no idea they were not financially well off, but my sister and I made our own happiness just by playing outside with friends. We had no comprehension of our place in the economic totem pole.
30. Indoor Shoes
When my dad made me wear my outdoor shoes as indoor gym shoes. EVERYONE else had new shoes for both. I would of course lie and comment on how cheap my parents were.
31. How Can I Help?
When my dad got laid off the first time, many many years ago. My mom hasn’t worked since I was very little because of injury, having no money come in was scary, and still is.
I finally realized that we were only getting one income my whole life and that’s why I didn’t have everything others did. But when my dad lost his job, that’s when it really hit because we couldn’t afford anything anymore. Still figuring that out now but now I can help support my parents by working.
32. Squatting Times
When my mom dropped me off with my grandparents for a few months, I did visit them for a week or two at a time every year but this was quite an extended time. I realized something was wrong because we had to move out really quickly a couple of days before this.
I asked my mom years later and she informed me that we were squatting in the house. We may have been poor but I was never hungry and never had to live on the streets. So in the scope of things not that bad.
33. Projected Shame
I didn’t grow up objectively rich, but comparatively so. I knew when my best friend would never let me go to her house. She eventually told me she thought I would judge her and her family because they lived in a tiny run down place and I was in the suburbs. I was horrified—she was feeling shame I never would have wished her. 🙁
34. Eating On The Floor
Never did realise it as a kid, kid me had totally thought sleeping on the floor, eating on the floor, and a rickety old house was normal even though I did go to my wealthier friends houses I had never thought of it as them being “wealthier” but had thought “man they clean a lot more than we do.” My kid self wasn’t the most perceptive.
35. Knockoff Dad
I was in fourth grade and the popular girls from fifth grade took notice of me. I didn’t know why at first but quickly figured it out.
My dad had given me a new watch in a very popular style. It had a small round face with interchangeable colored rings on the front of the face. Mine was Gucci. I had a Louis Vuitton purse and the Christmas gift for my teacher was an LV wallet. I had no clue what any of it meant and didn’t care. The older girls lost interest in me when I wouldn’t give them things.
Jokes on them. I found out later it was all knockoffs. My dad had an in with some excellent counterfeiters so that’s how we had all the swag. Seriously, like a 13-year-old in 1989 is going to know to look at the stitching.
36. Doing Her Best
I have a boss who is very good with numbers and making plans, but she is not good at all with interpersonal relationships. I once very publicly exposed her lack of people skills, and she called me up to a meeting which I thought for sure was to fire me. Instead, she just asked me: “I think you hit the nail on the head back there, I’m not really that good with my people skills. What do you think I can I do to improve them?” I was totally surprised to hear that, and my entire opinion of her changed in an instant. She’s now very clearly trying to warm up to everyone, and even still asking me for advice from time to time.
37. Double Standard
I was out to dinner one time with a few of my guy friends, who were all in their 40s. They proceeded to go on a series of long rants about how women in their 30s and 40s have too much “baggage” and, therefore, everyone should be trying to get girlfriends in their teens and 20s. These are guys often with a divorce or even two behind them, with kids and/or multiple issues of their own. They’ve lived life. But they don’t want the same from women. It was pretty hard to find respect for them again after hearing that.
38. A Not-So-Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
My cousin’s neighbor was once at an event with some girls from a Danish charity for kids with social challenges and eating disorders. He went up to one of the girls and made a really mean joke about her weight. I haven’t talked to him since.
39. Reputation Down the Drain
I thought that my plumber was a pretty nice and cool guy—that is, until one day he started explaining to my wife that Hurricane Sandy didn’t really happen, and that the storms are due to the government “shooting electrons” into the sky.
When my son’s mom sent a text message to me threatening to kill my son while he was with her. I now have full custody…
41. Rodents Weren’t the Only Thing That Hotel Was Infested With
When I was 17 I moved out of my parents’ home and into an evangelical Christian cult in Chicago. I lived there for under a year. It was a strange place and it took me a few years to realize it was a cult. This place was founded during the 1970s and bought a large hotel building on the North side of the city. They had extremely rigid rules about dating and talking to members of the opposite sex.
There were also rules that stated people could not leave the building without a “buddy.” The building itself was in terrible shape, it was infested with rats and cockroaches. I would wake up at night to find mouse droppings in my sheets. I ended up leaving because I developed a crush on a girl. The leadership found out and I was pretty much shunned by any other women my age (I am a chick). So needless to say they were not very gay-friendly. The whole place was pretty messed up. I am lucky that I left when I did.
42. The Moral of the Story is Pot Saves?
I joined a very extreme charismatic church in around 2006 when I was 18 years old (I’m female). I was very involved and would attend church around five times per week. The movement started in the UK, but I am from Canada. When I was 18 years old in 2008, I took a gap year after high school to go and volunteer in one of the churches in the UK.
The rules were fairly strict. Women were not allowed to preach and it was taught that men were the head of the household. Things got more intense the elders not letting me leave prayer meetings ‘til I ‘encountered’ the holy spirit (i.e. falling on the floor). I was made to sign a contract that I would work 60 hours a week for 12 months.
However, before signing the contract I reminded them that I would be leaving in June because I was starting university that fall and wanted to have the summer at home. In April they told me that I was not allowed to leave until September when my Visa was up. The ‘elders’ told me that they had a meeting without me and God had told them that I had to stay the rest of the year.
Being an 18-year-old girl I was naive and terrified. I told my parents. My parents threatened to go to the media, as I was being held against my will in the UK. The elders from my church back in Canada basically had a lot of bad press already so they convinced the elders in England to let me go. Since then I have become an atheist, but not without being kicked out of the church first (because I smoked pot). If I ever asked questions they would tell me I had a deceiving spirit, and try to pray it out of me. They only let me read the books that they said I could. It was awful.
43. Social Chameleon
I realized the man sitting next to me on a bus ride was crazy when he told me that the place I was headed to was full of reptile people. I clung tight to my man until the end of the 14-hour Greyhound trip, listening to this guy’s lunatic ramblings the whole time.
44. Best Foot Forward
I was friends with this girl in high school who was a grade above me and I thought she was so cool. She had these amazing stories of things that happened in her life. After a few years, I started to wonder if she was lying. There were little things I’d catch her in. I started to think she might be a compulsive liar, and then one day I knew it for sure when we had a conversation in the mall parking lot. We parked, got out, and began walking to the building. Here’s the conversation that followed.
Me: “I like your outfit! Where’d you get those shoes?”
Her: “They’re my roommate’s. We had a party at our house and someone stole all of my shoes.”
Me: “Oh, that’s terrible, I’m sorry!”
Her: “Haha yeah. Where’d you get your outfit?”
Me: [Name of store.]
Her: “I love that store! I got my shirt there and these shoes are my roommate’s. We took all of my shoes to a bar when we were out drinking and gave them away.”
Then we keep walking and as we get to the door.
Her: “Let’s go into Wet Seal first. That’s where I bought these boots.”
This whole conversation happened as we walked TO the mall. Her story changed three times. And she definitely was not just messing with me.
45. Chicken or the Egg?
We had a float nurse who would occasionally appear on our unit. Great nurse, patients loved him. Also completely insane. He would often start talking about insane conspiracy theories that he documents on Twitter. I decided he was definitely crazy when I received a very long lecture about how there were secret ties between Big Hero 6, a Brad Pitt war movie, and the number three. Because the meaning of everything is love. I’m pretty sure his wife leaving him triggered some kind of psychotic breakdown. Or maybe she left because he was crazy. Who knows?
46. What Have You Been Smoking?
I determined that my mother might legitimately be crazy when she—a 40-year smoker who has watched her sister and ex-husband die of cancer and has two brothers currently with cancer, all of whom were lifelong smokers—told me, “I don’t believe cigarettes really cause cancer, it’s all a conspiracy.” You crazy, mom.
47. Poetry in Motion
I worked at a gas station when I was in high school. Every day around the same time for a couple of months, this really cute guy would come in to use the restroom.
Eventually, I started being friendlier and he’d stop to chat whenever he saw me. One day, he asked if I’d like to hear a poem. I said yes, gushed about how great it was, and then he went on his way.
This guy was gorgeous so that he clouded my judgment. His poems made no sense and got weirder as time went on. My coworker urged me to stop being so friendly, as the guy gave her the creeps. I, being 15 and boy crazy, ignored this.
This went on for months until one day, he ran in with his hair in pigtails and with cat-style whiskers drawn on his face. He locked himself in the bathroom for over an hour. I knocked on the door several times and heard him talking as if on the phone.
Finally, he busts out, clutching a half-dissolved urinal cake up to his ear and says, “Someone left me a clue. I finally found it! Farewell!” He ran away down the street and we never saw him again.
48. Picking Up on What’s Going on Here
I knew my ex-girlfriend was crazy when she started dressing like a schoolgirl to pick up taxi drivers who were three times her age. This from someone who would also constantly go on about being a good Christian to everyone who knew her.
49. Calendar Girl
My brother started dating this girl and I thought she was a little clingy and insecure, but I chalked it up to being a little nervous around her new boyfriend’s family.
However, she had been with my brother for less than six months when I got engaged. In a conversation about wedding dates, I said I wanted to get married in October. She immediately got upset and started crying to my brother. She didn’t want me to steal her “dream wedding date” and she told me that the entire month of October was off limits. She expected my brother to propose to her and wanted to get married that year. Yep. She cray.
Luckily my brother eventually realized she was a little unhinged and dumped her. And I had my wedding in October. Take that!
50. Love Thy Neighbor
My very sweet, elderly next-door neighbor decided one day to explain to me about how God had promised her my house.
She casually told me, “Oh, you should have seen how beautiful it was the day we moved in. I touched your door, and I knew then and there that God wanted me to own your house. You may live in it now, but it’s only temporary.”
It gave me the creeps, but I didn’t say anything because her husband mows my lawn for free.
51. Guns A-Blazin’
I was at a Halloween party several years ago with a secondary/tertiary friend group. You know the kind. I was kinda friends with some of them, only barely knew others. But it was a costume party and I didn’t have anywhere else to be, so I went.
There was a guy who was near to the center of said group that was always a little odd. Everyone called him Prison Guy because he had been to prison. I had run into him a few years before when I was maybe 14 and he had offered me $20 to take off my shirt. He was at least 20 years old at that time. Real class act.
Well, during the party, he pulls out a LOADED GUN. He starts waving it around in the air and saying that he could end it all right there if he wanted to or something to that effect. Two guys eventually manage to get it from him. Now he’s pissed and running around the house yelling. A third guy steps in and decides to break down the gun. So one guy has all the bullets and one guy gets the actual gun. Someone else took the magazine.
NO ONE ELSE reacted. They were just like “Welp, typical Prison Guy behavior”.
So that’s the day I decided that this entire circle of friends was completely crazy.
52. Not Cool, Man!
I knew a boy from my old school who was the stereotypical loner and weird kid. He often talked about hunting animals on his parent’s farm and showed people pictures of his sword collection. He also wore heavy belt buckles and joked about using them as a weapon. When there was a school shooting recently and someone told him the news, his response was “Oh cool!”
Didn’t talk to him again after that…
53. What’s in a Name?
My ex-girlfriend, to whom I was not married, surprised me by legally changing her surname to mine after the one-year anniversary of our relationship.
54. Home Sweet Home
My flatmate’s ex was drunk and got mad at him for reasons unknown. She vomited into a bucket, then stared him in the eye and tipped it all over our lounge floor. Then she tried to throw pizza at him which she had chewed up and spat into her hand. She missed him and hit someone else.
Then, she put her hand through our window, as in she literally broke the window by shoving her arm through it, and smeared the blood all over the walls and floor—all the while saying pathetic things about him and being a general buffoon.
This was all in the space of about an hour, at 11 in the morning. The relationship didn’t last long after that, but she continued to try and blackmail him for some time after they broke up. Definitely had some issues I think.
55. No More Mother’s Day Gifts
My friend’s stepmom attempted to suffocate him with a pillow in his sleep. He was 17 years old at the time and a linebacker on the football team. He literally woke up and threw her out of his second story window. She is still in prison for attempted murder, and in a wheelchair for life.
56. Band of Brothers
I recently found out that my little brother is a sexual predator. I don’t know how to feel anymore about the fact that he’s my brother.
57. Secret Admirer
I’ve always hated my boss, because he has always been a complete jerk to me. He talks to me extremely rudely and treats me like I’m stupid. Then, last week, I found out that he often says really nice things about me behind my back to my coworkers and upper management. I really appreciated learning that, and I view his actions in a completely new light now!
58. His Dream Job
I was on a date with this guy who acted rudely towards the waiter all night and was only interested in sex. The thing that made me say that he was crazy was when he brought up the fact that he enjoyed staring at dead bodies because it aroused him. What’s even worse is that he worked at a morgue…
59. Executive Order
I work at a Cadillac dealer. There was this homeless guy who would always wander around the area, and I didn’t ever think anything of him. That is, until one day he rides up on his bike and marches straight up to our manager. “Can I help you?” the manager asks.
The homeless guy was twitchy. “Yeah, so, I was just talking to President Trump and he said wants me to have a nice car.”
The manager nods, looking all serious. “Did the president give you money for a new car? Do you have a way to purchase one?”
Homeless guy is undeterred. “No, no, he says I should just tell you that he’ll take care of it later. He wants me to have nice things.”
The manager is again nodding seriously. “And I understand that, sir, but I’m just the manager. I don’t own the cars and can’t just give them out for free, unfortunately.”
Homeless guy was still determined. “Okay, okay, but let me put it this way: are you a father?”
Now, I don’t know what argument he was going to make about free Cadillacs and fatherhood, but suddenly he sees some macho-looking guys walking towards him and he promptly leaves. My hunch is that they were coming because he stole his bike from the Walmart down the road…
60. The Barter System
I was eating at my local sandwich shop when a woman comes in and heads over to the counter. She pulls a dead bird from her coat pocket and asks what type of sub she can get for the bird. Everybody turns and watches as the teenager behind the counter tries to process what’s going on. He starts yelling that she needs to leave because a dead bird is an obvious health concern. She gets mad that he’s not even willing to hear her out, and storms off mumbling and swearing under her breath.
61. Vow of Silence
I met my friend’s super Christian girlfriend for the first time. Out of the blue, she starts asking me questions like if I’m a virgin, who I dated before I started dating my SO, why I didn’t have a crush on her boyfriend (he liked me in high school), who her boyfriend liked in high school, who her boyfriend liked in middle school.
It got even weirder after that. My friend and I used to game all the time. After meeting his girlfriend, she told me we can no longer game together. We can’t Skype together (we were in different states at the time). We can no longer speak on the phone together. We can’t be alone together. We can’t even text.
She claims that he’s a good, Christian guy, and he needs good, Christian guy friends. Since I’m a girl, she told me that Christian guys shouldn’t have friends of the opposite gender.
I knew something was seriously wrong with her when she demanded that he choose between herself or his female friends.
Unfortunately, my friend became blinded by his girlfriend, and he chose her over all of us. We don’t talk anymore.
62. Center of Attention
My brother’s ex-wife once went on a tirade in front of everyone, screaming and yelling, threatening to set her hair on fire, and promising to cut herself because her baby was getting more attention than her from the family. I could never view her the same way again after that…
63. Prime Suspect
One of my co-workers, Karen, was definitely not my favorite person to talk to and/or work with, as our personalities and our worldviews always seemed to be complete opposites of each other.
Karen makes these completely irrelevant, irrational and extreme statements out of the blue all the time, often seemingly just to disagree with me or one of the many other people that she can’t get along with in the office.
Another co-worker’s cat died some time ago, and after the autopsy, it appeared that the cat had eaten a poisoned sponge. You’ll often hear about cat or dog haters that poison snacks and scatter them around here in the Netherlands.
That person had obviously had a hard time coping with the death of his cat and while we were talking about it with a group of co-workers, Karen barges in and says that she can completely understand why people poison cats or dogs, because she can’t stand the fact that cats come in her backyard and poop there whenever they feel like it. She even stated that she’d do it too. Yup, ever since then I know she’s crazy.
64. Take Me to Your Leader
A man came into the bar I work at. He’s a semi-regular and is generally quite energetic, but harmless. Everything was as normal. He drank his small Sauvignon Blanc and left.
This is where it gets weird. He came back in a couple of hours later and I asked him if he’d like the same wine he had last time. He stared at me, dead-eyed and completely silent for maybe 30 seconds, before laughing. He went on to tell me that I must be confusing him for his twin brother and that in fact his brother was from Earth but he is from another planet, and there couldn’t possibly be anything suitable for him to drink in our bar because his digestive system is completely different from ours.
This explanation went on for a while. He eventually left and came back in an hour or so later, had a glass of wine, and left again.
He’s perfectly nice and respectful so it isn’t a problem and there’s a whole community of people looking out for him, but he’s definitely crazy.
65. Plot Twist
My first job was at Target. I was in the Food Avenue section, which is where you would buy things like popcorn, nachos, or soft pretzels.
This lady would come in quite often. She had a little cart with two wheels that she pulled behind her, full of stuff. She would wear baggy dresses and had what can only be described as a Benjamin Franklin hairdo. She would wander around for a while and then come to Food Avenue and buy a sandwich.
Whenever we exchanged money, she would ask me if she swallowed or was choking on any change. I would calmly look at her and say “Nope, you’re just fine,” sometimes repeating myself four or five times. At that point, I figured something was not right with her.
Turns out she had witnessed her grandmother choking to death at a young age and was traumatized for life.
66. Using His Head
When my college roommate tried to annoy the girls living in the dorm room next to us by banging his head on the wall constantly to anger them with the noise. I still don’t even know why he hated them so much, he just did.
67. Rain Boot Games
Instead of buying multiple pairs of shoes, if it rained I’d tie grocery bags to my sneakers with rubber bands and wah-la, rain boots.
68. Hiding The Wealth From The Family
I had a funny dynamic in childhood, my father would take huge risks in business and create huge wealth but was a super scrooge in his personal life. He would come home and talk casually about having bought two houses or a new commercial property that afternoon but we had a twenty-year-old tv sitting on a box in the living room and we would huddle in the cold with blankets during winter because he didn’t want to pay heating costs. We never ate dinner out once in my childhood. He drove a messed up old truck that would always break down.
69. Suspecting the Worst
I had an extremely clingy friend that texted and tried to call me 50 million times a day. Well, I was having a really bad day and wasn’t in the mood to converse with her at all, so I just ignored her. She called the police and told them she thought I had committed suicide. That was fun.
70. That’ll Do It
I realized my family was in a cult when I was 10 and we had a burn party for the television. As it exploded, people chanted, “Die, Satan! Die!”
71. A Unique Experience
I don’t want to overstate my experience. In my late teens, I became involved in a group called The Way International. Shortly after I made my recruitment official (by graduating from a 36-hour introductory class), the cult fractured in a major schism. I “left,” but it’s not that simple. Everyone around me left too and we all stuck together.
The local leaders formed their own group. So although I was involved in The Way for less than a year, formally, I spent two years before that immersing myself in its doctrines and the better part of a decade after that trying to hold on to what I thought was good about it. So, yes, I left a cult. But it was unlike the experience of most people who leave cults.
I was not isolated. I was not alone. I didn’t lose contact with my friends or my family. I was shunned—but only by people with whom I had no daily contact in the first place. In other words, so what? For me, the value of leaving a cult lies in recognizing what draws people to and from religion in general.
72. Sometimes You Gotta Disguise Yourself to Get Away
My dad used to be one of those cult guys you’d find in airports with the shaved heads and robes. He said he joined because the cultists were all like friends to each other and he was disillusioned with the world in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. One day he was offered a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work on a construction site and after a few weeks of that he just broke off contact with the church, grew his hair out with a beard and they never found him.
73. Ain’t That a Kick in the Head!
Some girl who I had a crush on when I was a kid kicked my dog one time while I was out walking it. My crush was gone in an instant.
74. I’ve Got a Secret
I was friends with this one guy for quite a while. He and I met all the way back in fourth grade I believe, and we were friends up until just a few years ago. He had tried to get me and my then girlfriend, now wife, to break up. He even told her that I was secretly a pedophile, which I am not. As soon as I found out about this claim, I stopped talking to him forever.
I mean, that’s just really messed up.
75. Old Habits Die Hard
I stopped respecting my friend the moment I realized that she hadn’t matured or changed at all since I’d first met her, and that she’d just continue to make the same mistakes for the rest of her life. I find it hard to respect someone who doesn’t even make an effort to change for the better.
76. So it Was a Good Cult?
I ran away from home at 16 and joined this weird spiritualistic cult. They didn’t have any gods but they believed a lot in spirits and ancestors and stuff. We all lived in this big house owned by the leader guy whose name was Jonathan, Jonathan had a special kind of connection to the spirit world or whatever. They were all super good people, they took me in, gave me food and clothes and stuff, one of the guys gave me a job in his company.
They had a lot of rituals and stuff we all did, with a huge emphasis on community and common good and honoring the dead. It wasn’t a bad thing so does that make it not a cult? They did require a lot of dedication to the group and stuff, I believe 5% of income had to go to the cult, to help Jonathan with rent and so they could all buy food and stuff.
I lived with them for a few years, they got me through high school and without them I never would’ve gone to college, which is the reason I left and where I am now.
77. Hunting For Food
The moment I realized that my dad didn’t just shoot/trap squirrels and rabbits for fun, but so that we had meat. Eventually I did the same. He used to go plant traps and go hunting, and would come back with meat.
Same thing with fish. He’d set yo/yos in the morning and my brother and I would go check on them throughout the day.
78. Love Thy Daughter
My mother was very conservative and devoutly religious. On the Fourth of July one year, some friends and I took a bunch of mushrooms. My friends tripped out and called their girlfriends to pick them up. I called my dad since he was the more relaxed parent when it came to that. He told me that he couldn’t help me and that I was going to have to wait it out.
So I called my mom. She picked me up, clearly furious and asking how drunk I was. I hit her with “Penny, Andy, and me just ate a bunch of mushrooms.” Her whole mood literally changed in an instant when I uttered that sentence. She suddenly seemed happy. She asked if my friends were really with me or if I was just tripping. I asked if she would buy me cigarettes since I left all my stuff in the car.
She made me go into the gas station with her and I started to freak out. I yelled, “YOU CAN’T KEEP ME HERE!” and stormed out. As soon as I got a whiff of fresh air, I felt fine. My mom was in tears laughing so hard. She let me smoke in her car too. She said that everyone should experience that at least once. I literally could not believe that my mom was totally cool about this.
79. Fair Weather Friend
My opinion of my formerly “close” friend changed when I stopped smoking weed and she suddenly stopped hanging out with me. So much for that friendship!
80. A Minor Problem
I had this teacher in high school. He was funny, intelligent, and down to earth. He liked to tell us stories about growing up on a farm out in the sticks. I was a pretty good student and he always went out of his way to encourage me, even above and beyond the call of duty. He wrote me some recommendations that got me some great opportunities.
I wanted to call him up earlier this year to ask him for some advice on becoming a teacher. The first thing I saw when I Googled his name was a news headline. The police had recently busted him for doing indecent stuff online with minors. I was floored. I still get chills thinking that it could have happened to me.
81. The Truth is Not Always What You Think it is
I grew up in a ‘Hindu’ cult. It was the Truth, exemplified in our guru with his lifestyle of six cars, two mansions, three businesses and international vacations in first class, together with annual celebrations of his and his family members’ birthdays. All of which we were solicited to pay for and sponsored to the bottom of our pocketbooks and into debt, to prove our devotion.
We were the elite destined for self-realization and were only to have limited association with the rest of the world, even our own non-believer families. Disobedience meant shunning and expulsion. We celebrated our birthdays only by decorating the guru’s home and giving gifts to him and his family. I was homeschooled and attended university by distance learning, all so that I could stay in the group with our strict timetable of daily morning and evening prayers, communal meals, and morning and evening sermons by the guru (unless you were ‘spiritual enough’ to work unpaid in his businesses or doing chores at his home).
We had mandatory purification baths every morning and evening, and if we touched something “polluted” (a menstruating woman, an unbathed person, old food, dirty clothes, a thread from these clothes, had marital relations, etc.) we had to bathe and change clothes all over again. Menstruation meant seclusion for three days; birth or death in the family, 11 days.
We asked the guru’s permission for every step in our lives—going to the doctor or into town, buying appliances, visiting family and hiring someone for home repairs, to education, career, marriage. Vaccines were frowned upon and if you got chicken pox or cancer, or had an accident, it was due to your bad karma or ego. Girls had to wear their hair long and both sexes had to wear old-fashioned traditional clothes that covered us from shoulder to ankle. We had to be vegetarian. It was easy to control people—we lived in rental accommodation owned by the guru’s organization, overseas disciples had visas sponsored by him, and he handled our utilities, phones, and internet.
These were occasionally cut off or destroyed (once or twice by bulldozer) to discipline erring disciples, in addition to the public shaming during the sermons, yelling at or “blows” that also included physical ‘correction’ AKA purification (being hit) by the guru—which was considered a blessing as it was his guidance and sacred touch. Teens were strictly supervised; we got in trouble after a group of teens went out (chaperoned) to a local temple’s dance and music program, and more seriously when we went the beach, since the cult provided “everything we needed in life.”
Romance was forbidden and marriages arranged by the guru between group members. The more the couple was opposed to each other, the more ideal, “to put the guru first always in your marriage.” Even those young people who vomited in disgust, or swore they would rather die, were gently coerced into marriage; gays too, with the opposite sex.
Several disciples were encouraged to and did break off their engagements or divorce their significant unbelieving others who would “block the light” and “drive them insane.” Two girls eloped and no one, including their families, attended the wedding. We were also told that natural disasters and manmade tragedies were due to our impurities.
To offset these, we made huge donations to the guru’s temple. He even had a (badly) hidden camera to film worshippers who thought they were alone. We were told that in fact, nothing would be immoral if the guru “the living Truth” asked it, whether financial transactions, plagiarism, lying or stealing. Information was strictly controlled: gradually, movies were banned and our library was disbanded.
People were told to stop talking to one another “gossiping”; new babies were secluded at home. Disobedient disciples were sent out of town and shunned for several days as punishment. Around the point when we were told to cut off our mobile phones (both private and group-sponsored contracts) give up our Wi-Fi and Facebook, and abandon our pets (“do not try to understand the guru’s orders but just trust”), I read up on cults on the internet and decided to get out.
I sold my jewelry to finance my plane ticket, driving lessons, return to university classes and cult recovery workshop. In my recovery group, I discovered how similar our cults were. My friends and family in the cult have cut me off; my other family and ex-cult-members have welcomed me with open arms.
82. Imagine Not Having Coffee for That Long, I Would Break Down Crying Too
My family had a foreign exchange student live with us my freshman year of high school. He was a great guy and we had never thought about having someone live with us out of the blue like that. He came over here from Germany and the family he was assigned to (before he moved in with us) was a part of some sort of cult here in Texas.
He was locked in his room all the time (when he wasn’t in school) and as soon as he came home he had to attend “the temple” as he called it. Imagine coming across the world to experience the US and THAT is what you encounter. Word got out through our high school that he was being subjected to this stuff and my dad of all people said: “he should come live with us.”
Both my sisters had moved out for college so we had extra room. The second day after he moved in I walked into the kitchen in the morning and he started acting REALLY weird. Like freaking out. He was cooking something in the microwave. I opened the microwave door and he started crying. Turns out he was boiling a cup of water with confiscated coffee grounds so he could make a damn cup of coffee.
He said his previous host family literally beat him when they caught him making coffee and locked him in his room for a week. I got my dad’s bottle of whiskey out of the cabinet and said not only can you have coffee, but you are welcome to anything in our house as well. It took him a couple of weeks but he finally assimilated. In the end, he actually became Homecoming King of my high school as well. He also became my best friend for a year until he headed back.
83. Masochists Just Want to Have Fun
I don’t know if I was born into a cult or we started when I was one. It doesn’t really matter for me. At a very early age, my mom divorced my dad, and we were in this cult that beat the sin out of you. The ideology is simply put: we are all sinners with the devil is in us and the only way to get him out is brute force, preferably with a gang beating by the church elders.
There would be days we had to stay at other people’s homes when my mom was recovering from the beatings. When new members realized what was up they’d go to the cops and the church would then move. When I was about two my mom kidnapped us kids from my dad and we ran away with the church. The church moved several times, and we with them.
This continued until I was about 10. We changed my name four times during this period and I would sometimes go to more than one school per year. I’m now in my mid-40s; a recovered alcoholic, successful at work, and in a relationship with a terrific woman. I only reached out and found my dad about a year ago. Which didn’t go as well as you would hope. But hey, it’s not Disney, its real life.
84. Salty Attitude
My ex called the cops on me because she thought I was trying to “poison” her. This was all because I accidentally bought salted butter instead of unsalted. That was the moment!
85. Alternative Facts
One of my coworkers seemed okay at first. She would tell me stories about her life where literally everyone in her life had done her wrong. I finally realized just how delusional she was when she was telling me about an interaction with a third coworker that I was present for. She skewed the details of that interaction so bad that I’m standing there listening and questioning everything this woman has ever told me.
86. They Love the Young and Vulnerable
This past year in college I was gradually pulled into a cult at a vulnerable time in my life without being aware until I did some thorough research online. It’s a Korean cult, here it’s called Providence, and it has a growing following here in the US. The leader used to be a Moonie and claims that he is the real messiah—although no one in the group will mention this until you realize it yourself.
He is in prison on rape charges. Coming out of this I have serious trust issues and only a month ago finally completely broke off all contact with the group after I pulled the wool off my eyes in August. They continued to try and convince me to come back.
87. Not My Idea of Fun
I could not look at my friend the same way again after he told me that he had a secret Reddit account where he would just go around spamming the comments sections on people’s posts with racial slurs, “for fun.”
88. No Antidote
I worked with this woman for a long time and we had both always gotten along pretty well. She was in the training department and I always enjoyed her classes. We liked the same nerdy stuff. Our kids go to the same daycare and are in the same class. I finally added her on Facebook, and found out like a week later that she’s very passionately against vaccination. Cool, thanks for endangering my kid. Definitely can’t look at her the same way anymore…
89. Just as I Thought…Frauds
I was married to a Scientologist. Well, Scientology is weird. It’s all consuming, as most cults are. My ex-husband only knew and associated with people in Scientology. However, all his friends were actually very very nice and really cool to me. I made a lot of friends through him. I never felt outwardly pressured to join Scientology, but the insidiousness was absolutely there. I’ll get to that.
My ex-husband was raised in it, you could say he was a second generation Scientologist. His parents joined up back in the L. Ron Hubbard days and they were IN IT. They both worked for the church, as auditors. They were dirt poor; all of their money went to the church. Hundreds of thousands of dollars. They were so deep in debt.
They had no health insurance, and no money for anything except rent for their tiny, run-down apartment. That part made me the saddest. They were nice people. Now, I married him back when I was younger, more idealistic and willing to overlook major differences. I was a bit lost myself and really just looking to connect with anyone.
I was always atheist, and actually really against organized religion, but he always assured me that Scientology was not something he was active in and that it wouldn’t be a problem. He wasn’t taking any courses all the time we dated and were engaged, so I believed him that Scientology was more like his parents’ thing than his.
After we got engaged, he started telling me how a friend of his needs some “help.” She was training to become an auditor (that e-meter thing you hear about) and needed someone to practice on. I declined. He kept asking and insisted that it’s just for her practice, it doesn’t mean I’m “doing Scientology,” and that it would mean a lot to him.
So I did it. Ok. What a silly experience. Honestly, it’s just really silly. You sit in a room with the auditor, hold these cans. Let me tell you—the rigmarole they use to get the “cans” set right so they pick up your wavelengths (or whatever they call it) is laughable. Lotion on the hands, squeeze the cans—that didn’t work? Go for a walk, drink some water.
Lotion again, squeeze the stupid cans. All this over and over, until something on the auditor’s end says it’s all working now, and then you’re good to go. I lied through the whole thing. They acted like I made some amazing breakthroughs, (I got a “floating needle”!) and then that was it. However, I was then called over and over and over to come back in.
What the heck? I thought this was a one-time thing to help this chick out? Nope, they were all over me. They wanted three-hour sessions, days in a row, on weekdays! No wonder Scientologists are all poor as shit—they want you in constantly, during work days! I became so disagreeable to them that they actually gave up calling me to get me in.
I guess they figured me being married to one was enough to eventually get me. The Scientologists on the lower portion of the “bridge” tend to know nothing about the Xenu stuff. I asked them and they acted as they’d never heard of it. I guess you don’t get to read that “tech” till way later (a few hundred thousand deep).
The overriding insidiousness I saw was the learned ability to scam people. I witnessed a Scientologist owned business get taken down by the feds for defrauding their clients. The reason I divorced him was that he stole a large sum of money from my account that was not to be touched. It just vanished and he had nothing to say for it. He opened TWO credit cards in my name and maxed them. He put me into financial ruin. It was a disaster.
90. I Dreamed a Dream
The following conversation led me to believe that I was dating a crazy person.
Her: (looking very upset) “I dreamed of my deceased father last night.”
Me: “Oh, so how did it go?”
Her: “DON’T YOU KNOW THAT WHEN A GIRL DREAMS OF HER DECEASED FATHER THAT MEANS THAT MY PARTNER IS CHEATING ON ME?? WHY DID YOU DO IT?? I TRUSTED YOU!!” (sobbing starts)
That was a fun day…
91. High Steaks
A coworker of mine was in his basement apartment one night and, after coming out of the bathroom, one of his ex-girlfriends was just standing in the hallway staring at him. He immediately told her to get the heck out, as any person would. She responded to that by pulling out a steak knife from her back pocket and swinging it around, making some pretty crazy statements. He managed to get the knife away from her. AND THEN SHE PULLED OUT ANOTHER ONE. THIS GIRL HAD A FULL PACK OF STEAK KNIVES IN HER POCKET!
She then proceeded to stab herself in the neck. I think that was the moment when he realized she was pretty off.
They’re dating now.
That’s when I realized my coworker was crazy.
92. Does Anyone Like Homeschooling?
I was raised in a cult. Both of my parents were members of the Children of God, nowadays called the Family International. We traveled all over Europe from city to city and performed music on the streets and passed out leaflets to convert people. I have many brothers and sisters mostly from different dads, as the philosophy of the sect was kind of rooted in the free love hippy movement.
There are some pretty serious and I think conclusive accusations of child sexual abuse within the sect, but thankfully my parents didn’t do that. My stepdad however physically and verbally abused us, as corporal punishment was very encouraged. He never got caught, although we frequently showed overt signs of abuse, but since we weren’t ever in one place more than a couple of days.
We were, of course, all homeschooled too, which I hated since that was also a constant source of abuse. My stepdad taught me timetables by asking me repeatedly “what’s x times y?” and if I’d get the result wrong I’d get slapped on the fingers with a cooking spoon as many times as the result was. Thankfully my parents got out of the sect by the time I was about 13 years old.
My stepdad didn’t give up his habits though, which continued until I was big enough to fight back. Settling into regular school was very difficult, as I was constantly and heavily bullied for wearing second-hand clothes, not speaking German well and just being completely different. After a couple of years though I went from worst in the class to best and being kind of accepted.
Nowadays I still have some lingering issues, which I’m not sure if they’ll ever be fixable. One of them is trust issues, which has also prevented me so far from seeking therapy. It’s all a very long time ago too and I’ve pretty much made my peace with all of it already. I think my parents got out of the sect before it got really crazy.
93. Only in It for the Free Drugs
According to my dad who joined a cult when he was 17 in California, and left about a year later: He joined because of free drugs and free place to live. He left because the cult started to tell people not to contact their families and only the higher-level members got drugs anymore. He says after he left the main leader went to jail for sex crimes of some sort and the whole cult folded.
94. Get Your Story Straight
I was talking to a girl I didn’t know that well. It went like this:
Her: “Oh, I’m an only child.”
Me: “Really? I could never imagine being an only child, what’s that like?”
Her: “It gets lonely sometimes but you get used to it, y’know?”
*Fast forward a few minutes*
Me: “I really like your bracelet!”
Her: “Thanks, my sister gave it to me!”
95. Kicking Him While He’s Down
“What does he have to be depressed about? He doesn’t have a job, and he doesn’t do anything!” This quote was said by my aunt to my mom, while I was in a mental hospital. She relayed it to me later, but I kind of wish that she hadn’t. It really made me question my relationship with my aunt from that point on.
I discovered that my former best friend was what’s known as a “jersey chaser.” She openly started befriending college seniors because they were soon-to-be “FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICKS.” Her goal was to snag one of them and then live off of him for the rest of her life. I ended our friendship shortly after I found out.
97. Coach’s Corner
When I played rugby in undergrad on the school women’s team, I was still only 17 years old. There was this one coach who I always really respected and admired. Then, at the social event post-game one time, that coach started relentlessly hitting on me. I told him I was underage. His response? “Good. That’s right where I like them.” Admiration instantly gone.
98. Living on Easy Street
I’ve had a best friend since high school, and people have always treated us somewhat differently. She’s frankly a knockout—tall, unusually model-like face, aloof in a way that a lot of men find endearing. We were out together in New York City for a few weeks and I realized that her life was way, way different from mine.
Everywhere we went, she was mysteriously given free stuff, or given help just for asking. When I got nothing, people just went way out of their way to help her. I suddenly realized why her life was on easy mode, why literal strangers sometimes offered her jobs, or why her jobs were crazily easy. She knew our lives were different too, but because she’s never been non-beautiful, she doesn’t really understand. Even though she didn’t do anything wrong per se, I have found it hard to relate to her on the same level ever since that trip.
99. A Matter of Trust
My mother is a very protective woman—as in, if she couldn’t pick me up from work driving one day for any reason, she would rather walk us home in the dark than let one of my fellow coworkers drop me off at home. I started seeing this dude and, on the first date, she made my sibling supervise—typical mom. However, before the next date,
I told her that I was going and she didn’t ask any prying questions except one: “Is he a good guy?” I said yes. She said “Okay!” and trusted me, just like that. She would cover for me from my even more overprotective dad if I came home late. She even offered to buy the guy some food one time when he was coming over. It really made me appreciate how much my mom really trusted me. I guess I had always just misunderstood her behavior and what was motivating it.
100. Brothers in Grief
The person that my opinion changed about in an instant more than anybody else was my former bully. I absolutely hated this guy for as long as I could remember, but we had a mutual friend. The bullying disappeared over the years, but there was still bad blood. Then, in our senior year, our mutual friend died of a head injury at his home one weekend. The following Monday, me and my bully made eye contact and approached each other. We chatted for what felt like hours. Just two guys grieving and trying to stay normal. I gained a lot of respect for that man that day.
101. Sketchy Indeed
I worked for a New York City political party which doubled as a sex cult behind the scenes. The short version is that they’re a political party whose foundation is built on a controversial form of amateur therapy which insisted that depressed/lost people use political activism as their means of finding fulfillment.
It’s a perpetual motion device essentially, processing sad people into activists for the cause via a ‘school’ and political party both headed by the same figure. Lots of sketchy additional stuff about patient-patient and patient-doctor sex being a part of therapy, and the highly questionable practice of party-members and patients giving financial donations to support the party leader’s lifestyle. I worked for the party for a while, and definitely felt like they were trying to convert me in a number of instances.
102. Getting Out is Only Half the Struggle, You Still Need to Survive
I grew up in an international extreme cult known as “Children of God” or as we called it “The Family International.” In many ways, I never truly escaped. I’m really scared to go into the details right now because I’m at work and I’m afraid someone will glance over and see what I’m typing. I’ve never really told anyone, mostly because I don’t want to be treated as less of a person over what I’ve been through.
Part of this cult’s doctrines involved going abroad to poor countries to spread the religion, and so I ended up in a tiny village in Romania. Growing up we were never allowed TV, books, games, nothing, it was all of the devil. I was allowed to have Legos growing up. One of my first memories is having my dad smash the spaceship I built because it had guns on it.
As a child I was suicidal from a young age, I used to sit in front of a window crying and wishing to jump, but I was afraid, not because I might die but that if I didn’t I would be beaten. In our group, we were encouraged to live communally, and I grew up living with other families in one big house. This presented many clashes between people and tensions not just between the adults but between the children as well.
I used to live with a family who had a 16-year-old son who was the definition of a bully. He would walk into the room where I would be doing something and just proceed to kick the crap out of me, but he made sure to never leave marks. As for how this affected me, well as soon as I could, at 16, I started smoking.
Until then I was homeschooled, and when my parents decided to put me into public school, I didn’t know the local language (we weren’t allowed to socialize) and I had no idea what the heck I was doing. I dropped out of school after three months and began using everything I could get my hands on. Three years I spent living with my parents just kind of lost and alone.
Fast forward to now. I’m off the stuff for a year, have a job, and got my GED (not like it helps since it’s only valid in North America). I’m hoping to one day move out of my parents’ house but I have nowhere to go. I’m saving up money and intend to leave for England as soon as I can afford it. As for how I am now, all my experiences in my life have led me to be very untrustworthy of everybody.
If someone is nice I automatically assume they want to hurt me. It’s something I’m working on but is still a very real problem. Psychologists are unable to help me due to the fact that I live in Romania and they’ve never witnessed or heard of anything like what I’ve been through.
103. Rinse and Repeat
I was born and raised in a cult as well, left the week before I turned 18. I don’t particularly want to name it, as though not well known, it can definitely be Googled, and I’ve been hiding this part of my life too long to be able to be open about it now. Praying, fasting, guilt, prophecy, end times, guilt, isolation, communal living, guilt, tithing, self-loathing, guilt.
The cult I was raised in sex was highly encouraged, and that’s putting it mildly. Enforced is not the right word, but it’s the first one that comes to mind. In my opinion, second generation cult kids have it the absolute worst. We didn’t ask for it, we literally didn’t know any better. That was our “normal.” By the time second generation kids come around, the cult is still new enough that later generations haven’t been able to mellow it out yet, and small enough that horrible practices and abuse are able to pass under the radar.
Abuse was so much a part of my life, physical, sexual, mental, you name it, that when I left and started socializing with regular folks, I couldn’t process what real socializing, dating, or an active sex life really is. I couldn’t understand, couldn’t believe it, couldn’t accept it. I have been locked in rooms for three days and night to “fast and pray.”
I’ve been denied contact with other humans for weeks, or even months, to “get closer to god.” I was given to men by request. I was once held down by four men, while a group of maybe a dozen other men exorcized me. They believed I was possessed by a demon because of my inability to be like them, to “get with the program.” I was spanked, beaten, and whipped most of my life.
Simply put, I was terrified my entire childhood. I lived every second of my life in fear. And in case you were wondering, no, I am absolutely not religious in any way, shape or form. I believe religion is a cancer. No offense is intended.
104. Giving It All She’s Got
I just found out that my mom is about to get her three-month chip from Alcoholics Anonymous. I had given up hope that she would ever want to quit drinking about 20 years ago. I have always just thought of her as an irresponsible drunk, but hearing about this and realizing that she really does want to change for the better really shifted my entire perspective on who she is.
105. Swept Under the Rug-by
A few years ago, this guy we’ll call Jon played rugby alongside myself and about a dozen and a half other teammates from my school. Jon was quite a nice guy on the outside and we were always pretty good friends. Everyone has secrets, it’s true—but they should not include sex offenses. We are not friends anymore.
106. Third Time’s the Charm?
Despite being only a distant relative, I really took a liking to my second cousin. However, he then cheated on both his first and second wives. Hard to respect someone once you learn that.
107. Under the Same Roof
There was this guy who I had absolutely considered my best friend for years. He had helped me get jobs, let me stay at his house when I relocated cities, and even helped me to find my own apartment a few months later. While I lived with him, I never saw anything to cause me to be suspicious. Four years after I moved out, I learned that he had been sent to prison for multiple counts of molestation. I never knew. I still feel terrible.
He is in prison for at least another five years and when he gets out, I won’t be taking any calls from him. He made his choice, now he has to live with it.
108. Trough Luck
My best friend openly wondered why I began to date an overweight person in my 40s. I explained that she happened to be the only employee at the company dinner who had remembered the waiter’s name. Before I could explain the waiter rule to him, he cut me off with “Every pig remembers the name of the farmer who keeps their trough full.” And that was the end of that friendship!
109. I Like How the Terrorism Didn’t Factor Into the Reason She Left
It’s not a cult per se, but I joined Hezbollah when I was 17, and left when I was 22. I’m a girl so I didn’t fight or anything, but I did recruit a lot of other girls. I joined because a lot of my friends were doing it. Now, they are not your everyday terrorists. A lot of our activities concentrated on the concepts of jihad and martyrdom, but they offered a bunch of other stuff.
A lot of it was educational (because women can’t be uneducated, they are half of society and they raise the other half). They give university scholarships, offer free additional classes for those with learning disabilities to help them, and eventually, they even made job offers. We also had outdoor activities, trips to tourist sites, hiking, picnics.
They also organized “cross-religious” activities, especially with Christian organizations, those were meant to teach us tolerance. All in all, they were very nice people. The reason I Ieft is that I didn’t feel like I fit in, they are EXTREMELY religious. I’m religious too, but not to that level. They also started judging me for the way I dress, for having male friends, and for being “too brainwashed by the western media.”
Also, I was too surrounded by women, which led me to discover I’m bisexual, this is something I’m still struggling to accept. I felt I needed to get away from all these women before I lose my mind. I’m still friends with many of them though, and I still count myself as a Hezbollah supporter.
110. 16 Years Without Realizing
I always had some inclination, like how we used to eat out at restaurants every day of the week, but it really dawned on me when I got my license and my parents wanted to buy me a brand new expensive car that I didn’t even ask for.
111. By Any Means For A Child’s Happiness
When I realized my mom would change the price tags on more expensive toys to get me the stuff I really wanted. I know it’s not right but I love my mom for risking everything and breaking her back to keep us happy.
112. Unconditional Love Pays Off
My opinion of my mom totally changed when I told her that I wanted to withdraw from college. I thought that she would get upset, explode at me, and give me a huge lecture or something, as I’ve always thought of her as a pretty judgmental person. Instead, she was totally calm, cool with it, and supportive of my wishes. I was totally shaken up by this surprise, and I always saw her in a new light after that.
I ended up returning to college a couple of years later anyway, so everyone was happy in the end.
113. Starting Over at 21
From birth. Literally walked away without a penny at 21. When you leave a cult you not only lose your home, family, financial stability but you lose your lifelong identity, your only known community, and you lose the ability to be sure of anything anymore.
114. College Is Such a Vulnerable and Curious Time for All of Us
I didn’t initially think it was a cult but during a senior trip (private Christian high school) we met the group Bound 4 Life. I went to college in San Diego and joined their local chapter. After joining I was heavily encouraged to not cut my hair or shave and to fast for 21 days (any liquid was fine). The meetings were either in front of the courthouse or in an office building.
You were expected to stand for four-plus hours, three days a week with tape over your mouth in silent prayer then two days a week there were meetings designed to make you feel like you weren’t doing enough for “the cause” and that you were not praying or participating enough. You would get calls on a daily basis from the leader “checking” in on you.
It was very well organized focused on making you feel inadequate mentally, physically and religiously. Something just clicked in my head and I stopped responding to their calls and since they could not get past the main gate on campus they just left me alone (despite the emails I still get 11 years later).
115. Funny How the World Never Seems to End
I grew up in the Family Radio cult. What they are mostly remembered for is their 2011 prediction of the end of the world and rapture. Spoiler: The world didn’t end. I was a young adult and able to leave in the chaotic aftermath without too much of a fight from my parents. I’m doing…okay. Many people are not. Some are still making more predictions.
I do want to take a second and say that 90% of the people in the group were kind people who really didn’t want the world to end, but were just so brainwashed that they really believed it. Some of the nicest, most giving people just got sucked in, chewed up, and swallowed in the abyss.
116. Time and Self Assurance Are Survival Tools
It’s a Slavic community (Russians, Ukrainians, Georgian, etc. Eastern European) strictly Pentecostal (talk in tongues). Ladies required to wear headdresses and skirts and men aren’t allowed to wear ties. Extremely misogynistic, if you’re a woman over the age of 21 and not married then you’re odd. Going to college and wanting something better for yourself is wrong and against the Bible, women should only want children and understand that they are put here to bear children.
I went to church four times a week. Eight years of Bible studies since I was six. I could go on for hours about having to fake attaining the holy spirit. But I just want you to know that there are other people out there, yes they’re your family but is it worth having to be part of this? Obviously not. You have to choose the life you want to live. I moved out, I stopped attending church.
I even got my septum pierced. My mother was distraught but slowly she is accepting this is who I am. I’m talking reaaaaalllll slow—she still tries to get my septum out. But I’m happy we are on speaking terms. I’m in college, I’m supporting myself, and I’m happy. Though parts of my family won’t speak with me, I’m okay with it. Because I’m leading the life I want. Right now it may seem terrible, but I promise it gets better. Baby steps
117. Cults Work the Same as Some Large Corporations, They Like to Settle Out of Court
I was raised in cult teachings in an isolated, homeschool environment, and then my family moved to the cult later. Brainwashing was there. It wasn’t obviously rote and the same thing every time, as the pastor was very charismatic and convincing, but it actually was. We sang about only 20 songs, mostly hymns over the course of the time I was there.
It was run and controlled by a single pastor. There was a board, but there was no accountability. It was kind of a joke. Only the most supportive (i.e. the people who considered him always right) were elected to the board. It was very abusive and controlling. Coffee was unspiritual. Missing meetings gained you a phone call from a board member telling you that you were breaking fellowship.
Everything was about the pastor. I mean, literally. Sin was thinking negative thoughts about the group and the pastor. He set himself up as the wisest man on earth. For the girls…they had it worse. He would convince each one they had a sex problem (i.e. idolatry), and he would proceed to sexually abuse them. This cult is less than 30 people. As for why he’s not in jail…settlements.
My experience was awful. I had some serious depersonalization, and the effects on me are awful. Living in fear, anxiety, intense emotional pain, constant flashbacks—it’s really bad. My parents are still in it, and relationships with them are probably impossible. Talking about anything will get me verbal abuse. Child abuse is really bad. I left this last year, so I’m still processing a lot.
118. Up Close and Personal
My opinion on a friend of mine changed when they told me that they frequently do drugs for fun. This issue really affects me because someone I love nearly killed themselves due to a substance abuse issue.
I was part of a mom group on Facebook. It was a place I needed being a first-time mom. Five years go by and it became my safe place. One day, the only mom in the group that I didn’t like made a terrible comment. She said that she thought that killing her daughter’s pet fish was an appropriate punishment for getting an inappropriate haircut.
I commented that I thought that was emotional child abuse. Apparently, according to the other members of the group, child abuse is just parenting differently and I am a horrible person for judging. Looking back at it two years later, a lot of those women were narcissistic. Glad it happened so I didn’t waste any more of my time with them.
120. Emotional Ecstatic Manipulation Says It All
I left a Pentecostal group that was very cult-like. The leader had a charismatic personality (no pun here), whom you dare not question, extremely strict rules, there was shunning, there were services every night of the week, and people were manipulated into ecstatic fervor that was like an addictive drug. I lived in a group home situation where everyone was part of the church.
The reason I got involved is that I needed love, security, and certainty. The group gave me these but also demanded everything in return. How I was able to consider leaving started when I got pneumonia and was on bed rest for several weeks. While the group in the home was still around me, I was freed from the cycle of emotional ecstatic manipulation in the daily worship services and from the leader’s daily control.
With my head getting a chance to clear, I decided that this church situation was not healthy and secretly made plans to get out. I was able to get an outside job that paid me enough so I could move out, get a place of my own. When I left I went cold-turkey on the group and just told them my work hours didn’t allow me to be at all the services.
After a couple of years, they gave up on getting me back in the group. And it took a couple of years to get my mind free and become my own person again. Years later I look back and see how I fell into the trap mostly because of my emotional needs. Now I know how to look for the signs as to how healthy a group is and how to avoid the ones that aren’t.
I avoid leaders with charismatic personalities. I judge if a group is able to accept me despite my difference of opinion or not. I’m not an atheist, I’m still a spiritual person, I’m not anti-religion. But I’m not totally dependent on anyone for my spirituality or my judgments.
121. One Big Happy Family
I was born and raised in a small communal Bible-based cult in the US. I was a part of the cult until I was 27. Daily life revolved around a church and the pastor’s wife, who ran the cult. The children were raised to be workers in the church and to give their lives for what the leader wanted. My siblings, mother and I were once one of nine families and other single people when the group originally started, but that has now dwindled down to roughly three-four families.
We were not allowed to have friends outside the church, to live anywhere except a church-owned house, or leave the church without escort or express permission. As kids grew up and went to college, they were discouraged from getting jobs to pay for school, but instead heavily encouraged (coerced) to max out student loans and give the money to the church.
Student’s class schedules were denied or approved, as the leadership saw fit. The single family unit was destroyed and everyone was pressured into viewing the group as one big family. I have been out now for four years and it has been one interesting ride thus far. Learning how to live in the real world has been difficult but the independence and freedom I now have is irreplaceable.
My entire family, except for my father, still attends the “church.” I still believe in the Bible and I attend church. Needless to say, I am extremely skeptical of dogma and religion and I do my best to seek out the truth and reject lies.
122. Guilty By Association
There was a guy I knew in high school who always tried to pursue me romantically, but I never really gave him the time of day. We were friends, but I told him that was all I wanted to be. He had this infamous group of friends who were wild, gang-like and could be very annoying and childish. I always associated him with being just like his friends.
About eight years after high school, we stayed acquaintances and saw each other on an occasional night out here and there. We always had good conversations when we did see each other, and he was always a funny guy. Nevertheless, I still always saw him as another one of “those boys” like his friends. Then one day, out of the blue, he asked me to hang out—as friends, but just him and me.
We met at a local bar for some casual conversation. This was the first time that it had ever been a real conversation between just the two of us, and I suddenly started to see who he really was. He was so much fun to talk to and, after a few hours of talking, I realized that he wasn’t like his friends at all. He was sweet, genuine, fun, funny, and still truly had a romantic interest in me.
We went on an actual date a week later and we have been inseparable ever since. We have been dating for just shy of two years now, and have been living together for seven months. Giving him a chance and getting to know him was the best decision I ever made. He has turned out to be the most amazing man I know, and the best boyfriend I could have hoped for.
123. Investigative Reporting
This is the story of my work friend. Our kids often played together and we were friends for at least three or four years. I considered her a BFF since she was one of the few people I had met and connected with after moving to a new area. She went to HR one day out of the blue and told them that she feared I was coming down with “single white female syndrome” (whatever that means).
She asked to have her desk moved away from mine without me knowing. After that, she becomes very rude to me over work stuff, to the point where I was confused as to why she was treating me this way. We ended up having a big blowout, and that was when I found out about her weird accusations against me. We did end up making up, at least on the surface, for the sake of not losing our jobs, but I could never trust her again after she essentially threw me under the bus at work for who even knows what reason.
For the record, the evidence that she provided in her insane report against me was that I used to be blonde but then I dyed my hair brunette, which was the color of her hair. Therefore, she concluded, I was trying to imitate and copy her. So yeah, people are crazy.
124. Being Asked to Lie to the Police is Definitely a Red Flag
I was raised without ever going to church. The only experience I had with religion was being told about the Christian god and that we were apparently Methodists. I had no idea what church was supposed to be like. I joined a non-denominational youth group when I was 12. It’s a national group, but this particular church hosting it was batshit crazy.
The shirts we wore to the group were all cotton because mixing fibers is a sin. They would take the girls aside and tell us that accidentally showing your bra straps was tempting the boys into rape. Grown women were encouraged not to work in favor of being a wife and mother, and birth control was considered abortion. The fun videos we watched were Ken Ham lectures on, as he called it, “evil-lution.”
And they were trying to begin running a pray the gay away camp. I finally left at 14 when the church leaders took me aside and told me that because I had a single mother and she didn’t come to the church, I was surely hellbound. To save my soul, they were going to find me adoptive parents in the congregation, so I would need to tell the police my mom was abusing me so I would be free to adopt. I never went back. But even as crazy as they were, they weren’t even the worst group in town.
125. The American Dream
My friend, who is quite a bit older than me and whom I’ve known for almost 20 years, is an immigrant. I always really liked her, but didn’t really think too much about her. I had never heard the story of how she ended up here in America until another friend recently told it to me via text. My respect for her went up immensely as soon as I heard it.
Basically, she just kind of got stuck in a country where she didn’t speak the language and had to raise her kid on her own after her American boyfriend dumped her. She responded by teaching herself English and putting herself through school, too. You never really know the full story of even the people you see every day!
126. From an Extra to a Star
I had a friend who was the typical “frat bro hunk” type. You know the kind I mean: party hardy, slept with lots of women, athletic, huge male ego. Super nice guy, though. Like the kind of loyal friend who would give you the shirt off his own back if you were cold. One day, he says that he’s found his true love and is going to get married. I am dubious.
Then he surprises us all by really going through with it and marrying her. Has a kid, too. A daughter. “Haha,” I think. “God has a sense of humor.” For years, I see this kid grow up from afar. Then, when she was about 5 or 6 years old, she started hanging out with our kid, who was around the same age. I always found her to be a little mousy and timid.
She was kind of a static background for a bit. Like a “minor recurring character” in a sitcom. One summer day, her parents asked us if we could watch her for two weeks while they took care of some family issues. Yeah, sure, bro. She’s no trouble. I think she was around 7 years old or so by this time. A few days into her staying with us, she gets sick.
Some kind of stomach bug. Nothing big, but she is on the couch with a mild fever, and is clearly a little scared. Nevertheless, the dogs kept her warm and my partner and I stayed with her to keep her company in shifts. At one point, she gets up to throw up. She doesn’t make it to the bathroom, and just throws up on the kitchen floor. You have kids, it happens.
So my spouse and I clean her up and make sure she’s okay. Meanwhile, the kid is bawling. She keeps apologizing, and we’re like, “It’s okay, really! We know you didn’t mean to do it. The floor is washable vinyl. You have extra clothes. Vomiting is just your body trying to get rid of the virus.” She gets even more hysterical. “What’s wrong?” my partner finally asks.
“Why are you so nice to me??” “Uh… because you’re sick and we like you. You know, decent human beings take care of one another.” She just lost it. “I wish you were my parents…” My partner and I were stunned. Throughout the rest of her stay, she just did this verbal dump on us about her home life. It was awful. I mean, not surprising, really, but the change was suddenly this kid bawling in our living room went from a background character to “Holy cow, this is a real person. She really needs us.”
From that day forward, we sort of adopted her. Her parents were grateful, sort of, in their own way. They aren’t bad people, but they probably shouldn’t have had a kid. She stayed with us a lot. We took her to the school stuff that her parents found boring. We planned her birthday parties, and even made sure that she got all her shots, doctor visits, and all the usual stuff that comes with childhood. Eventually, she grew up to be a fine young woman. She’s living on her own now, and my partner and I miss her as much as we miss our own kid.
127. From the Life of the Party to Uninvited
My opinion of my best friend changed when I realized that every single time I saw him, he was always drunk. He was always a social guy with lots of friends, but slowly those relationships started to fade. People started saying “Don’t invite John Doe to (insert event here) because he just gets too wasted.” In our circle, we even started referring to getting hammered as “John Doe drunk,” as in: “How drunk was he?” “He was John Doe drunk.” That was when I stopped thinking of him as someone who just likes to party, and started thinking of him as someone with a very serious problem.
128. Showing Them Who’s Boss
I had a boss who was a notorious jerk. Like, a get-in-your-face and chew you out kind of jerk. He was loud and obnoxious and, honestly, even a little frightening. Nothing was ever good enough for him. He would nag you about every last detail. He was the senior partner for my particular practice group and, by far, the most intimidating person I had ever come across.
I dreaded coming to work to have to deal with his non-stop hostility. After I had worked for him for about a year, a firm-wide party was being held. One of the female associates in my group was sexually harassed by another partner from a different practice group. She went to HR and nothing happened. My boss (the jerk) then found out about it and discretely pressed her for some more details.
He wasn’t having that crap at all. He went on a rampage on her behalf, ending with the lecherous partner quietly leaving the firm. She told me that at one point he said, “Nobody messes with my people.” I started thinking about him differently after that and then noticed something else. My practice group (that he chose) was about half made up of people of color and women, while every other practice group was 90% white males.
My practice group got regular promotions and a real career track, while other practice groups worked like slaves to make the partner look good but never got anything for themselves out of it. When someone on our team screwed up, he would ream them out mercilessly when it was internal, but in front of the client, he would always claim any mistakes as his own.
When someone on our team did well, he never gave them any praise directly—but he always made damn sure that they got the credit for it. Turns out, he was an unbelievably surly dude, but still a stand-up guy and one of the best bosses I’ve ever had, all things considered.