Bethany Joy Lenz will always have a deep sense of appreciation for her former castmates.
Earlier this year, the One Tree Hill star detailed her decade-long experience in a cult, noting to former costars Sophia Bush and Hilarie Burton that she wanted to reflect on the situation further in a memoir. And ahead of her book's release, the 42-year-old is sharing insight into how her OTH family was there to help her heal, which included them simply exuding "professionalism and kindness."
"Especially the older cast," Bethany said during the Nov. 28 episode of Southern Living's Biscuits & Jam podcast. "We know now being older, and we look at people in their 20s and the decisions they're making and the attitudes they have about things sometimes, and I think we have more grace for them because we know what we were like when we were 20 and the way that we saw the world."
As the Guiding Light alum explained, she believes those surrounding her had the assumption that she would make it through.
"I think they saw that in me and their confidence in my ability," she continued. "They knew I was a smart person. I was a good actor. You can't be a good actor without being smart. You can't dissect a script without being able to assess things, but I had a big blind spot in my life, and everybody does and mine was something that I was gonna have to work out on my own."
But while she was motivated to tackle her experience in the unnamed cult alone, it did help to have loved ones by her side.
"I feel like a lot of the people there, whether conscious or subconsciously," the Dexter actress recalled, "knew that just their presence and being an encouragement and letting me know that they still love and cared about me in spite of the fact that I was a little weird. That made a big difference."
She added, "It made me feel like there was a safety. When it came time for me to leave that group, I did still feel like there were many open arms and that felt really, really good and it was very helpful."
And Bethany wants those who may have experienced similar circumstances to know that they're not alone.
"There is life after trauma," she noted. "It was 10 years of pretty intense mental, spiritual, financial abuse. I'm back at square one, and there's so much shame attached to that, and then so many people that don't understand. They hear the word, cult, or they think spiritual abuse, and that sounds real hippy dippy, but it is very real and people experience it, not just on a group level, but one-on-one relationships with a partner, or sometimes with family members."
Regardless, the Drama Queens podcast host, whose book is expected to debut in early 2024, says the experience can be "insidious," but noted she remains focused on being a helping hand for those in need.
"It exists not just in the big, bad places that get all the attention, like cults," she added, "and so I wanna create a space that feels safe. You'll have tools to avoid getting into those traps. If you're already in that trap, and you don't know how to get out, maybe this will help inspire you and give you some ideas to be able to know what's normal, and what's not normal, how to have boundaries, how to recognize it."
Keep reading to catch up with the rest of the One Tree Hill cast.