Bethany Joy Lenz Says Writing Her Memoir, Including Reliving Her Time in a Cult, Has Been ‘Painful’ (Exclusive)

The ‘One Tree Hill’ alum tells PEOPLE her upcoming autobiography will revisit “challenging” memories from the past, including her decade of alleged “spiritual abuse” in a cult

<p>Mindy Small/Getty I</p>

While Bethany Joy Lenz has mostly focused on her music since moving to Nashville last summer, the actress and singer-songwriter is also carving out time to write a memoir due out early next year.

The autobiography will detail her life’s ups and downs — including her years in a cult.

“There’s a lot to tell,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.

Until the book is published, Lenz is only sharing a few details of that traumatic experience. She says her 10 years in the unnamed cult overlapped with her years on One Tree Hill and allegedly involved “spiritual abuse.” Lenz, 42, also adds she has had “lots of therapy” over nearly a decade to move forward.

Related: &#39;One Tree Hill&#39; Star Bethany Joy Lenz Says She Has &#39;a Lot to Tell&#39; After 10-Year Experience in a &#39;Cult&#39;

“Recovery looks different for everyone, depending on your experience of trauma,” she explains. “I had to start from a baseline of my personal understanding of God and the experiences I had had. And then there was a lot of going back to who I was before and remembering that, and then acknowledging that there was so much I just didn’t know.”

While the writing often flows smoothly, revisiting “painful” times is difficult, Lenz admits.

“I’m a writer at heart, so turning a phrase is easy for me,” she adds. “Exploring the memories, and really facing them, can be challenging — but I’m doing it.”

<p>Bethany Joy Lenz/ Instagram</p>

Bethany Joy Lenz/ Instagram

Related: Bethany Joy Lenz Would &#39;Certainly&#39; Join a &#39;One Tree Hill&#39; Reboot

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The One Tree Hill alum, who played the kind-hearted Haley James Scott for nine seasons on the popular CW coming-of-age drama, also finds time for pals and former costars Sophia Bush and Hilarie Burton and their nostalgia-fueled Drama Queens podcast. As they revisit One Tree Hill, sharing behind-the-scenes details on episodes, they have used the platform to speak out about bullying and sexual harassment they allegedly experienced on set.

Lenz was initially reluctant to do the podcast, which launched in 2021 and was “incepted as a memoir of everything that we had been through.” But being vulnerable to listeners has ultimately proven worthwhile.

“It’s been really valuable,” she says. “I’ve arrived at the conclusion that the hard things are meant to be shared, not hidden. They can be helpful and healing.”

For more on Bethany Joy Lenz, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here. 

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