That Time I Joined An Internet Cult

That Time I Joined An Internet Cult

Things went from weird to downright scary.

SHE'SAID'
SHE'SAID'
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We all go through weird stuff when we're teenagers. We experiment with sex, music, fashion, food; anything we can get away with (and some things we couldn't). So becoming a teenager at an age where the internet was new and full of information and possibilities that were untapped by the majority of the population made my teen years all the more interesting. Most of my weird stuff was pretty benign. Sometime in the mid to late 90s I got really into anime, started wearing baggy black T-shirts from Hot Topic, and joined an internet cult.

It started out as innocent as the rest of my adventures; chatting online with a classmate of mine and a few of her internet friends. Though it was always from behind our computer screens, we all got to know each other pretty well, and started chatting regularly, mostly about our fave animes, with a slice of religious and philosophical exploration. There were four of us at the core: myself, my friend Mary, and our two internet friends, Skylar and Mike.

Then one day they introduced a fifth. They'd all known her before, but hadn't been sure about introducing us. It was "a big deal", they told me. They'd been talking to her about me and she wanted to (virtually) meet me, thought I might fit in. I thought I already had, but at 15 I was pretty eager to meet anyone's supposedly high standards.

Her name was Rama. Unlike the rest of us who were based in the United States, she lived in the Philippines. But that wasn't really a problem because she said she flew to visit them often.

"That's nice of her,' I told the rest of the group, during one of our regular online chat sessions.

"You must be really close for her to spend that much money to come out here all the time."

They laughed.

"No, no. She visits us on the astral plane."

The way they explained it, they all came together on the astral plane to spend time together. It was apparently some kind of psychic platform that let them see and interact with each other. I was pretty skeptical, but each to their own. The more we talked, the more Rama had to say about me. My aura was a rainbow, and she remarked that this seemed like the "perfect fit." Everyone agreed. Everyone except me, who was still feeling stupid about being stuck on figuring out how to 'astral project'.

After about a month, they decided to let me know why I'd been brought to the group in the first place: my job was to help Mike on his personal quest. His mind was fragmented, you see. And each fragment connected him to another one of his lives. I was supposed to train to use some kind of astral weapon so I could literally fight his demons for him and rejoin his shards.

Looking back, it's a hundred per cent ridiculous, but at the time, 15 year-old me was enthralled. I was suddenly the focus of everyone's attention – all of these people wanted me to help them. Completely unremarkable me. I wasn't sure if I completely bought into their weird world yet, but it seemed harmless enough. I wanted it to be true. So I decided to make it be true for as long as I could manage.

It meant months of pretending to 'channel' other people, of hearing about how Rama was pregnant by her Japanese god of a husband (who she also met on the astral plane), and how her child was going to be royalty. To this day I don't know if she was actually physically pregnant or if this was just another one of her "projections".

Mike became more and more attached to me during our online interactions. Each time I fought off one of his supposed demons, another one mysteriously appeared. It was an endless stream of issues and it was my job to solve them.

It all came to a head when I confronted him asking how long he expected this to take. He seemed shocked. It was apparently assumed that I'd be doing this the rest of my life – basically the group wanted me to marry Mike some day – despite never actually having met him in person or even seen his face – so I could devote my life to clearing his mind.

That's what snapped me out of it. Helping people, sure. Pretending we were basically playing an RPG in our minds, whatever. Literally devoting the rest of my life to this guy? Nooooooope.

It took me a little longer to figure out that I was being used to make this guy's life easier. The 'demons' I was battling for him were essentially his own insecurities, and he was feeding on mine to make his better. The group splintered when I quit and we all went our separate ways.

Years later I ran into Mike again on another forum. I think I was selling off some of my old video games. We chatted about it for a bit, and I brought up the topic of our weird little cult, ribbing both of us a little on our teenage gullibility. Mike was genuinely offended. He still believed it was my true calling to heal his mind, and even tried to guilt me back.

"Do you want me to be broken forever? You're the only one who could heal me!" he exclaimed.

I did feel bad. Not for quitting, but because I thought this was a guy who genuinely needed help.

When he confessed he wasn't the teenager he'd pretended to be – that he'd actually been in his 40s when he'd been preying on 15 year-old me online – I felt a lot less guilty.

I do hope he got his life figured out, though. I hope he's happy with wherever he ended up. But man, do I not regret cutting those people out of my life.


This story originally appeared on SHE'SAID', a global women's lifestyle website, and was written by Natalie Slaughter.

Natalie is a former Texan currently living in LA who enjoys politics, cooking, video games, comic books and spending more money than she should at ModCloth. She takes her nerd title as seriously as she does her writing and believes anything's a good story if you tell it right.

Follow SHE'SAID' on Twitter and Facebook and check out these related stories:

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According To Astrology, Here’s What Each Zodiac Sign Is Like In Bed

My beginner’s guide to sextrology

Dr King
Dr King
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“What's your zodiac sign?" will probably be one of the most common follow up questions when getting to know someone and while astrological analysis tells us about some of the core parts of our personality, it also shows us how those personality traits correlate to what we're like between the sheets.

If you're looking for a unique approach to sex then astrology can help you map out what distinguishes you and others in the bedroom, so scroll through and discover what each zodiac sign says their bedroom vibe.

Capricorn

Capricorns are ruled by the planet Saturn so many of them are naturally cautious about decision making and reserved when it comes to meeting new people.

So it's important that when sleeping with a Capricorn, they will feel their best about the sexual encounter when there's some sort of intimate connection involved.

This earth sign appreciates honesty and boundaries so they'll most likely want to know both of you stand in a relationship or else they may not see things going much further. But fear not. Just because they tend to be more traditional and conservative doesn't mean that the sex will be boring.

They're just romantics at heart and prefer something classic to set the mood. A bottle of red wine and sensual R&B or jazz music in the background would be their go-to.

Aquarius

Ruled by the planet Uranus, those born under this water-bearing sign are natural-born creatives and intellectuals.

This sign thrives off meaningful conversation and mental stimulation before getting intimate. However, don't necessarily take the conversation and shared time as the key to their heart for a potential relationship.

Aquarius people value their independence and freedom so they may be more inclined to look for a "friends with benefits" situationship rather than a full-blown committed partner or at least at the beginning stages of becoming intimate with them anyway.

Sex with an Aquarius may not be the most conventional, but their creativity and free-spirited aura make for a captivating and unforgettable experience.

Pisces

Ruled by Neptune, those born under the sign of Pisces are spiritual and wise.

Pisces genuinely like to be in tune with their surroundings and thrive when every part of their environment fits into place. They are empathetic to others' feelings and desires, so this is a great thing in the bedroom considering that they're willing to go above and beyond to please their partners.

Also, their dreams are nearly psychic and vivid as can be and this transcends to their imagination in the bedroom as well. For example, a sex playlist is crucial for a Pisces because it especially taps into their sexual aura, curating their endless imagination through the sounds they hear and lyrics they listen to.

Aries

Aries are ruled by the planet Mars which is commonly known as the planet of passion and desire.

This fiery persona will definitely make its way into the bedroom. Aries is also the sign of the ram which means that those born under it are blessed with endurance and stamina to last for rounds. People born of the sign of Aries tend to have an aggressive or warlike personality so they prefer a fast-paced and highly intense sexual experience that centers them as the dominant one who calls all the shots.

They enjoy teasing and being able to adequately chase their desired person as if it's a game of love. This doesn't mean that they don't want to be courted, but fawning over them like you're competing to get a rose on their reality love show won't do you any favors either.

Taurus

Contrary to the fiery personality of Aries, people born under the sign of Taurus are gentle and prefer to savor every moment of a sexual experience.

Ruled by the planet Venus, known as the goddess of love and beauty, those born under the sign of the bull-like to make every moment count to appreciate its essence.

However, don't be fooled by their calm exterior. What a Taurus wants, a Taurus will stop at nothing to get. They are incredibly stubborn and strong-willed. But, they are sensual so they crave exploration of the universal and sexual realm with all five senses.

When having sex with a Taurus, expect some of the most affectionate lovemaking you'll ever experience with special attention on foreplay.

Gemini

Geminis are ruled by Mercury, known as the messenger of the gods.

Similar to Aquarius, those born under this sign need intellectual and mental stimulation to turn them on. When it's time to get physical, their mercurial minds make for a fun experience because they can easily adopt multiple personas in bed.

Don't be surprised if a Gemini will come up with different ways to explore the moment whether it be through many positions you've never even thought of or the most interesting scenarios for role play.

In the bedroom, their most cherished value is experimentation so the romance and sex is more playful than serious, but their seduction powers are through the roof!

Cancer

Cancers are ruled by the moon.

This water sign expresses a tendency to be guarded, but when they feel safe and comfortable, the intimacy and loyalty is off the charts. Those born under the sign of the crab are governed by their emotions which naturally makes them inquisitive people who are okay with being in tune with the depths of their feelings.

For Cancer, they value being in love rather than embarking in casual flings so their high level of commitment and emotional intimacy creates a sexual experience that'll appear to be sacred and deeper than just a physical act.

When it gets to the point that a Cancer is secure in the relationship, their walls will crumble and their erotic side will emerge.

Leo

Similar to their sister sign Aries, Leo is highly passionate.

They are ruled by the sun so they're blessed with an enigmatic presence that can fill up an entire room. These felines take pride in being the kings and queens of the jungle and their declarative nature translates to the bedroom as well.

The biggest sexual turn-on for any Leo is to not only feel wanted on a surface type of level, but the be desired, ravished and worshipped in bed. They are keen on giving and receiving the utmost seduction and appreciate that seduction in ways that aren't necessarily sex, but very well can be a prelude to it such as romantic dates, tempting gestures and expressions of adoration.

The mere thought of their desired person giving them their undivided attention is what gets them going which will then lead to passionate, dramatic lovemaking.

Virgo

In traditional astrology, the Virgo constellation represents a virgin, which leads to the false assumption that Virgos are innocent or prudish by nature.

Ruled by Mercury, this sign aroused by clear communication whether that be through humor, stimulating conversation, or wit. They will most likely be interested in some form of romantic writing as well, sexting included.

While they enjoy back and forth discourse, when they finally feel comfortable enough, they will match their actions with their words prior to the act.

Virgos enjoy a fixed schedule so they do prefer to have sex regularly explore kinks within a safe environment that they are used to being in.

Overall, they are precise and calculated in bed, but their willingness to devote enough attention to detail can be a great thing.

Libra

Libra is often visually represented by scales, and this is symbolic of the air sign's value of balance in their life.

The same can be said when it comes to their attitude regarding sex. Libra lovers appreciate reciprocity so they do want to give, but they definitely want to receive as well. Libra is ruled by the planet Venus which is the planet of aestheticism.

This is not surprising considering that Libras tend to treat their partners like a muse, adorning their bodies as if they were a work of art.

However, be mindful of the fact that getting a libra to fall in love with you is much harder than it is for you to fall in love with them so it's best that you let them do the chasing if you're interested in them because they long for legitimate fulfillment rather than just being content.

Scorpio

No other zodiac sign is as closely associated with sex than the Scorpio.

These water signs are known for their magnetic charm, seductive prowess, and an insatiable appetite for desire.

There are a few astrological signs that garner potentially false misconceptions (i.e, Geminis being two-faced and Virgos being prudish), but the sexual aura of a Scorpio is a rare case in which the rumors are typically true seeing as their associated physical domain is their pelvic region and genitals.

Sex with them is more than just an act, but includes intimacy that penetrates the mind, body and spirit. Scorpios are no strangers to pleasure and never hold back with experimentation and exploration of any sexual aspect.

Sagittarius 

Ruled by Jupiter, they are the most adventurous and thrill-seeking sign in the zodiac.

Sagittarius is represented by the sign of the archer so they have a tendency to be more open when trying new things in bed.

As a bonus, they are transparent about their needs so you won't have a hard time trying to figure out what to do with them or how you should do it. They'll tell you plainly whether it's turning them on or not.

All in all, they are naturally spontaneous and take every sexual experience as a chance to go on a brand new and carefree adventure.

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I Broke Up With My Boyfriend And It Was The Best Thing I Could Have Done For Myself

After four years of giving my body, mind, and soul to him, it was time to tell the truth and in the end, we were both better for it.

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I didn't really know if I wanted to write about this. I'm a pretty open person but this began as a painful process that ended in resolution. I think a lot of the times, we begin to open up about what's really going on with us when we let other people see how we feel. I didn't want to slander him because we ended on good terms. But I feel like I need to tell you all how I've been feeling.

About a year ago, a lot of things changed with me and him. We didn't really see it at the time but something was wrong. Circumstances were different for him, his life was being set up exactly as he wanted it, and I was still in school.

That's when I started to see that we were becoming two different people.

I don't think he ever saw anything wrong with us the entire time. I started to feel lesser than him and I think even now, I would still feel that way. It wasn't something that I could shake, even knowing that we were in two different places in our lives.

About three months ago, I started imagining my life outside of school, where I wanted to be and who I could be once I was free. I started to realize that the answer was already there in front of me. My home was picked, the district I would be working in and most importantly, the person I would be spending the rest of my life with.

I had spent my entire college career up until that point with a specific plan in place with no extra time to think. Over time, I felt the walls caving in like I was losing air every minute I thought about the after. I questioned myself being with only one guy, having only ever dated just him. It may have been fate or the universe telling me that we weren't meant to be together, at least not now.

He helped me a lot with school and I'll always thank him for that. He brought me out of a deep dark place, one that gave me anxiety to even think about for months after. I had never thought I would find someone to spend that long a time with but I had. He was my everything but there were a lot of issues that kept bubbling from under the surface whenever things got hard, and they often did for me.

I often got confused as to what I wanted when it came to a relationship. There were a lot of times that I wanted to be alone and there were times that all I wanted was to have someone near me. We both had changed over the years and I think in the end, that's what made it all go away.

He became more independent and more isolated from me in a way that is hard to describe. He had already known who he was for a long time and I am still trying to figure that out today. I believe he wanted someone who could give him everything and I wasn't able to do that for him.

I saw a timeline of my life every time I looked into his eyes and that scared me to no end. The unpredictability of life is what makes it so exciting and that's exactly what I had been missing for so long. People can think that it's childish to want something like that but I believe life is too short to not experience the things that make life so great.

It's so hard to give all of yourself to one person. It makes for a lot of love but also a lot to lose. We had a lot of great times together but I kind of knew that something was very wrong for a long time. I didn't want to deny myself the truth and I kept it up for too long. I wanted to be myself without having to hold someone else back.

I wanted the freedom to choose where I wanted to live and what I could do with the rest of my life. I know now that he was that freedom too. This was a decision that made both of us stronger, just now separately.

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