When someone has been involved in hate groups and movements for a prolonged period (five years or more), and they leave that world behind them, they leave a lot more than hate. You lose friends, the media you ingested, and the feeling of fighting for something bigger, but you also lose the adrenaline rush, for former leaders, you lose the limelight, and the infamy, for some who made a career in hate, you lose your income. Leaving that life behind for any seasoned racist is like being reborn into an alien world with nothing and in many cases, no one.
Leaving is only step one, second comes breaking the indoctrination, then learning to take personal accountability, then learning to love people who are different, and trying to rebuild your life anew in a place you no longer recognize. This is not an easy road, which is why I took on the role I did to mentally prepare and help those willing to set aside that life of hate and be reborn into a world of love and respect. Sadly, this growth is a road less traveled due to its difficulty and due to it utterly destroying the comfort zone of those who genuinely wish to leave that world behind.
Too often, individuals leave and hop over steps in the process, generally, it’s anything uncomfortable or that they cannot let go of due to personal reasons… and I get that, I was radicalized by trauma myself. Even more often, people leave and think that it’s the end of it, that leaving is the sum total of the work required to move on, but they are leaving in body only, their mind is still there. It takes genuine work, over several years after one moves on, to be truly free, but that’s a ballpark figure, for some it can be a year or two, for others it could be ten, but the work is worth it in the end.
Many times, these individuals will trade right-wing extremism for left-wing extremism, not realizing they are two wings of the same bird. This is especially detrimental, as often when a person leaves a life of hate behind them, they feel a need to prove to the world they are not that person any longer, and switching branches of extremism will only make that individual even more extreme on the opposing end of the spectrum. In that case, they never left extremism or hate, they traded it in for different extremism and hatred, regardless of what they proclaim to the contrary.
Sometimes, individuals will leave that life and jump into something else desperately trying to fulfill some need that the movement they were once a part of, fulfilled. I’ll use myself as an example; When I left I missed the adrenaline of always being outnumbered in protests and rallies and the potential for explosive violence, so when I left, I began working with Anonymous the hacker collective to find and destroy pedophiles. That work fulfilled the desire, it gave me that adrenaline, that fear, that potential for something horrific to occur.
Some quit a life of hate and immediately try to become “professional ex-extremists,” even when they were little more than a grunt, did next to nothing, served little time in the movement, and were as radical as a wet napkin. These individuals do a horrible disservice to combating extremism, as they give interviews on topics they know little about, and otherwise muddy the water of combating hate. If I ask a child what is painting, they might respond, “It’s smearing paint on paper to make a pretty picture,” now ask a professional artist the same question and see if the two answers align… it’s exactly like that!
Another issue is that the search for perceived boogeymen often continues when one leaves the movement, in the world of hate, it’s minorities, and Jewish people, when one leaves, they often find racism and or a nazi under every stone they turn over. It becomes almost like a game where someone picking the wrong flavored ice cream equates to being a fascist, racist, bigot, or otherwise a boogeyman who is oppressing others. This is often the case due to wanting to deflect from the work of self-reflection and introspection, personal accountability, and absolute responsibility.
Those who ran businesses of some sort within the movement, oftentimes find it difficult to reenter the job market and often turn to disability and or selling another product, themselves. I fully understand this, I used to be an occult author and paint occult idols and sold hundreds around the world, only to convert to Judaism and have to refocus my art altogether (to not paint idols). It is seemingly self-destructive at first, it is a period of monetary pain and it puts you into survival mode, where living life seems impossible and survival is all you have left.
Remember this, things tend to work out as they should, use this period to find yourself, to change yourself for the better, and to experience those you once hated, in a new and accepting light. You’re not merely surviving, you’re regrouping to reenter life better, bigger, and anew; so, don’t do anything you’ll later regret that will be the proverbial nail in the coffin of your character. Gather your inner strength and focus on you, focus on the inner and let the outer come as a byproduct of that incredible work.
Some individuals miss the camaraderie they once believed the movement offered, but later found out was false (Like myself). I have heard good and bad come from this lacking in ex-members, with some joining extremism on the opposite end, others joining gangs (especially biker gangs), but others finding their own community can be welcoming, or a church, mosque, or synagogue. Some find their tribe online, in groups and forums based on mutual interest; I myself am the only Jewish (white-passing) member of a black gun club (Bee help found it) and am very active in our synagogue and the local community here in Philadelphia.
People who once ran organizations in the movement often have the same drive toward leadership once they’re out of the movement. This can be phenomenal or it can be tragic depending on where the energy is aimed at by said organization and its leader. One thing that often leads to tragic outcomes, however, is running the organization as they did the hate group, outside of the scope of society and government. Someone running their organization outside of government oversight will be seen more as a scam or money laundering operation, than anything noble (especially with the person’s background). I know, this is difficult because the movement indoctrinates its people to hate the government and be distrustful of it, but it is a necessity.
One thing mentioned to me that ex-members sometimes miss are group outings, whereas ten or more people go out and do… just about anything together. This can be alleviated by engaging in community events, or religious events, and sporting events (especially non-professional teams), there is always something going on whereas groups of people gather for a singular reason. If you have a hobby or interest, try finding groups that meet up to share in it, for example, video games, there are a ton of groups and events for gamers to attend. If you can only go to one event a year even, it will become something to look forward to and will help fill this issue.
As someone who is losing his ability to walk, I am losing the ability to do a lot of things I once enjoyed, and one thing that helps in dealing with that loss is finding things to fill in the space left behind in life. This is really no different from almost anything in life and equally applies to things one misses or loses in leaving that life behind them. We find fulfillment through finding things and people to fill our days and bring us joy, that’s it, that therein is the great mystery of most things in life.
I have helped many to leave that life behind, find meaning, and to become a person who lives and acts out of love through all of my training, and I’ve done so mostly for free for years now. I will forever set my sights on helping humanity, even if it leads me to be penniless in the process if someone cannot afford to pay for therapy that will better their life, I will do it for free, and I have for years. If you or someone you love genuinely wants to leave the life of extremism or hate, and find a better world beyond it, contact me.