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Part of the reason it is so difficult for former cult members to let go is that years, sometimes decades of work have been invested into future outcomes. In many cases, former members no longer believe in those outcomes, yet continue to cling to the people, beliefs, or doctrine that promised return on investment. It isn't that they fear losing the outcome; they have already made a conscious decision to leave the cult. Instead, it is a fear that respectful boundaries must be retained to maintain dignity. Worse, those boundaries began to crumble after leaving the cult, and former members feel they must somehow repair them or be seen as a failure.

Instead of looking at fundamental elements of their former lives as pillars holding up virtue, former members must look at those fundamental elements as chains virtue is suspending from. Even if the pillars were to crumble, their values would remain intact. They are the strength behind their virtue, not the cult. Some of that virtue may still be dangling from the cult, waiting to be released, but they hold the keys to the chains from which it can be released. Letting go is realizing that the cult and its members are no longer in control, and no matter how much pressure is applied by former members, they will always be in control.

Former members must view remaining ties not as investments, but as expectations, and those expectations must be properly set. They must not expect to suddenly experience a healthy relationship with a person whose only ties were those which the cult had created. Like continually attempting to draw water from a dry well, they cannot expect those relationships to be fruitful. If they are clinging to hope that their investment in religious discussions with a cult member who values the central figure or his doctrine more than scripture, they cannot expect the cult member to suddenly agree to religious opinion. Sure, any of the above might happen, but must not be expected to happen.