ag_NO_stic

Free Therapy (discussing upbringing and family of origin)

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This is gonna ramble a lot, apologies in advance.

 

My parents were pretty strict in a lot of senses and very easy going in others. I feel like I probably misconstrued a lot of what I was being taught about being a good Christian girl at the time, in the sense that I basically became a doormat and had a lot of faulty friendships when I was younger who took advantage of that. My parents really pushed on me that I was a nice and good kid, so whenever I acted otherwise I felt like I was a failure and going to hell. 

My dad always taught me to defend myself, and encouraged me a lot when I was younger to stand up against boys and even fight them. However when I did the same at college he said I shouldn't and that people would think I was a bitch. His words not mine.

My dad was pretty distant growing up looking back on things, he was a pastor basically and was always busy developing new teachings or working on his math thesis. He always had time for everyone except for family, he was too tired when he got home. Sometimes he would spend time with us on vacations but overall he really wasn't there for me. He never kept promises about coming to things or doing things with or for me or my siblings. And as we've grown up the only one he really invests in is my brother who does sports. Somehow he manages to go to all of his games, but never anything for my sister. He'll always apologize, usually once every two years. He'll promise that he will get better, and then he doesn't. I'm pretty used to that by now.

My mom was almost always there in contrast. I had a hard time with her in my teens because everyone compared me to her, but once I got past that she was one of my most favorite people. However she always has to follow my dad and do what he says, at least in front of him. Despite the fact that she always defers to him she's bent the rules a little at times. When I left home and my dad decided they would cut off all support from me, she would slip me a 20 for groceries when I visited home. Or call me and make sure I knew I was loved.

Now that I've come out to transgender to them things have changed even more. They refuse to accept me and are convinced I'm like a prodigal son (again, their words, not mine) who will come back to Christianity. They're also keeping my siblings from visiting me despite promising not to because they're uncomfortable with me being around them.

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I think I get what you are saying here, Faithfulless,

 

Examining one's past can be helpful but if they use their past as an excuse not to change that's a whole different conversation.

 

About right?

Yes, that's pretty much right, but I think some folks can dwell on their past way too long as a means of trying to understand who they are now. They keep digging deeper and deeper into the past hoping for some sort of epiphany. I think there is something to be said for a little healthy repression (if there is such a thing). A constant examination of the past, IMHO, kind of keeps you looking in that direction. But, hell, what do I know?  Whatever works to keep one's sanity, right?

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@knightcore

Now that I've come out to transgender to them things have changed even more. They refuse to accept me and are convinced I'm like a prodigal son (again, their words, not mine) who will come back to Christianity. They're also keeping my siblings from visiting me despite promising not to because they're uncomfortable with me being around them.

This sounds very painful, Knightcore, I'm sorry to hear you're going through this. There are way too many parents - Christian or otherwise- who refuse to accept their kids for who they are. My best advice would be to stay gracious and loving, but be true to yourself. In most cases, I think families will come around, particularly if they're not extremists. Stay strong. I wish you well.

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Interesting thread!  A favorite Dostoevsky quotation of mine is, "How can you have lived and not have a story to tell?"  I tend to agree with Faithfulless that re examining the past can be overdone. I am seeing a therapist right now and it has been extremely helpful. She explained it as a decoding process to help show how your brain interprets things. The point being that if you figure out some of your blind spots, you can account for them(vs being unaware of them and then crashing w/o warning). That all being said, I think we've all encountered people who use their past or some kind of paychobabble as a convenient excuse. I also think there's a point where we can over examine our lives to the point that we get trapped and aren't able to enjoy the present. I think it all comes down to balance. 

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Absolutely! I also have been on the chat, so there are personal messaging options on there as well. :)

 

I must be blind, but where is the chat on this site?

@ag_NO_stic I can PM you if you're interested in the subject. I've recently gone over this with my therapist and have sort of wondered, what is the point of talking about childhood experiences, is it supposed to help us reframe them in a new light?

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I must be blind, but where is the chat on this site?

@ag_NO_stic I can PM you if you're interested in the subject. I've recently gone over this with my therapist and have sort of wondered, what is the point of talking about childhood experiences, is it supposed to help us reframe them in a new light?

 

There are all kinds of reasons. For me, I processed it better and had to face it when it came out in the form of words. All kinds of negative cognitions occur in our heads, talking/writing about it can force a bit of organization.

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There are all kinds of reasons. For me, I processed it better and had to face it when it came out in the form of words. All kinds of negative cognitions occur in our heads, talking/writing about it can force a bit of organization.

Ok, I've no problem chatting but I don't see a chat forum anywhere. I can put something together and PM it to you, who knows, maybe it will be some help. I've thought a great deal about my childhood lately, trying to figure out is it still holding me back in some ways or having a negative influence, but I just don't know.

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Ok, I've no problem chatting but I don't see a chat forum anywhere. I can put something together and PM it to you, who knows, maybe it will be some help. I've thought a great deal about my childhood lately, trying to figure out is it still holding me back in some ways or having a negative influence, but I just don't know.

 Yeah, PM me. No rush, take your time. It can sometimes be emotional

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I must be blind, but where is the chat on this site?

 

 

Ok, I've no problem chatting but I don't see a chat forum anywhere.

 

For anyone else wondering where Chat is - its on discord, not on Ex-C forum. See here for details

 

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I think one needs to remember that Xianity, like all religions, has to recruit.

 

it is facing a very difficult and uncertain future. Most of its adherents are old. It used to be that adults would procreate and bring their offspring into the fold but not so much nowadays.

 

The easiest converts are the vulnerable ones. Something like college or university is often someone's first foray into independence and it can be daunting. So parasitic Xian recruiters loiter around, befriending the vulnerable, bewildered or overwhelmed. Inviting them to meetings and introducing them to new friends. Before you know it you are reading the bible or being told bits of it and praying. 

 

Glad to to see people coming out the other side. Best wishes.

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My broken family ?

 

I actually was just thinking about this the other day. I told my wife that I am so happy our daughter has been able to have both her parents her whole life. Between my mom, me, and my boys we've had 3 generations of broken families. My grandmother never married my mom's dad.... I think it may have been one of those free love things. My mom and real dad divorced when I was 4 but I did have a great step dad who adopted me when I was 8, and my boys can't even remember me and their mom together. I can see such a difference with my daughter. You can just tell by watching her that she feels safe and secure. I never had that, kids always tend to blame themselves for their parents mistakes. I dunno why but they do. So I always wandered why I wasn't good enough for my real dad not to be there. I actually visited his grave today for the first time since he was buried and in my newly deconverted state I politely flipped him a bird. Told him he was a piece of shit, and spat on his head stone. He deserved it. Just wish I had said it to his face when he was alive. But everyone said I needed to forgive him..... no fuck that. Some things can't be forgiven.

 

But to answer your question about being brought up in church, we went to church on a regular basis when I was a young child after my mom and step dad married. Sunday school and morning service. I can't remember if we went nights or not. They stopped going to church for awhile because they had a hard time controlling my youngest brother how is autistic. When he got a little older we started going back. But belief in Jesus was never questioned. It was just the facts. We have a long line of preachers in my family of which I was the last....... so far. In the area I live most churches are fundamental and back then I imagine almost all of them were. I even had to attend church with a scalded butt after I accidentally burnt my bottom on a wall heater one wintery Sunday morning. That is the worst church service I ever remember sitting through. 

 

My mom and adopted dad were good parents tho. My mom is a very loving and genuinely kind person and my dad was always a strong respectable man with a great sense of humour. He filled my childhood with laughter even tho my real dad was persona non grata. They always provided for us, they weren't abusive but we did get spankings. I'm still old school on that myself. Non of my ass whoppings ever scarred me for life. I deserved every one I got lol. But in today's technological world I have found that grounding my children from electronics is a worse punishment. But corporal punishment still has its uses from time to time. 

 

I hope this is what you were looking for.

 

Dark Bishop

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On 6/15/2017 at 9:34 PM, Bhim said:

@ag_NO_stic, here's one you may not have heard. I was born and raised Hindu to parents who emigrated to the US from India about 10-ish years before I was born. My parents are not ultra-religious, ascetic Hindus, mind you, but average, religious, not-too-religious Hindus who have assimilated well to American culture. In college I discovered the horror that is evangelical Christianity, and for varied reasons was attracted to it enough that I converted. After six years as an evangelical who was very much "on fire for the Lord," I very quickly deconverted and sought to return to my Hindu roots. I am now a practicing Hindu, married to a Hindu (arranged marriage, even!), and happy to be back in this religion. Intellectually I am an atheist and don't believe in God, but I practice this religion as a way of maintaining some connection to Indian culture, since in pretty much every other way I am decidedly not very Indian. Feel free to question me on a variety of topics. With all due respect to those who prefer privacy, I'm quite comfortable discussing this openly.

 

I like this! There's no way I can be a cultural Christian, having been raised in a fundy church. I suppose if my family would convert to liberal Christianity, some of it might be fun. But really no better than being a cultural American. Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas ham and presents don't have to be associated with religion. About the only good thing would be the music, in some cases. But right now, I hate the acapella Church of Christ music that I used to think was awesome. A church where there's an orchestra and no singers might be nice! On the other hand, season tickets to the symphony would be a lot cheaper than a weekly contribution to a church.

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I see about 50/50 good and lousy parents as I look around at life. They really are just plain people, some trying to figure out what the hell to do with these kids, and some doing great and others not as great. Then there are the lousy ones that wish the kids weren't there, or would robotic-ally do everything they are told. Then the really lousy ones that use them like toys or punching bags. 

 

My parents wanted kids and did the best they could with us. They really didn't have anything to do with my conversion at age 11. Mom was an atheist with odd hangups about anything sexual. Dad was agnostic. They had previously gone to a Nazarene church out of social obligations (early 60s), but left when the pastor took a special offering and gave it to his kids. I was a very superstition kid, extremely shy and quiet, no friends, scared of monsters and knew each one's weakness (vampires, the flying omelettes from Star Trek, the bone sucking creatures of Terror Island, etc). Then I saw an advert for The Exorcist. Scared the shit out of me. We had all watched the TV special "Jesus of Nazareth" (TV specials were big entertainment back in the 70s), so I knew he was the fix for demons. That childish decision was my conversion point.

 

Superstition got me there, and 5 years later church gave me my first social interactions where I felt comfortable and fit in. That's powerful stuff for a kid like I was. Hugs from girls!!! Parents were tolerant of my new found faith. Oldest brother converted the same time I did, due to a navy chief who wanted to be a preacher. Years of he and I being in a special club of belief finally got my middle brother to convert after years of despising religion. I left the Naz and went to a Bapti-costal church (a mix of stalwart Baptists and pentecostal types) due to a lady I liked. Stayed there for years, then left due to them rejecting the concept that God could still interact with people. I got hooked up with an "extreme" belief crowd following a preacher/missionary from the south who claimed God was healing and raising the dead. I promoted him for 9 years until I finally caught him first-hand making up the incredible stories. That was a slap in the face and started me questioning why he would have to make them up if the Bible is true.

 

A year later I found this website and you all, and a month later posted my own deconversion. Brothers are still ardent believers, as are some extended family.

 

 

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My parents separated when I was 3 and my mom and I moved in with my maternal grandparents and great-grandmother. My father was barely in the picture (he was an alcoholic, mean man who terrorized his 6 children that he had with his next wife). My grandparents were pillars of the community - active in the Southern Baptist church, my grandfather was a deacon and later chair of deacons, on buildings and grounds committee, did pro bono work on church air conditioning and refrigeration equipment; my grandmother taught Sunday school and women's missionary union and donated anonymously to people in the community who were in need. My mom was floundering for many years due to divorce and not quite fitting in as a single mom in a conservative fundamentalist church, but she eventually remarried after 7 years and gained respectability. My stepdad never tried to parent me, but he was a gentle giant. I continued living with grandparents after my mom remarried and moved out and would visit her and my stepdad on weekends. My grandparents and mom only pushed me to "get saved" which I didn't really want to do because I didn't want to go down in front of the whole church, but at age 12 I picked a Sunday just to get it over. The church itself wasn't so bad - people were nice with limited hell-fire and brimstone preaching. There was still a focus on salvation, which permeated everything, but most of the teaching/preaching had to do with living a good life and doing good things for others. Parenting was always fair with open discussions about what behavior was acceptable and what behavior was not acceptable and why. I always got a reason for why a particular behavior was unacceptable, and we discussed these matters at length. With my mom, no topic was taboo - sex, drugs, etc. As someone who was struggling with her own faith, she was very open about discussing concepts from a secular standpoint and not just a religious one (as she got older and more entrenched in the fundamentalist church, that changed, with increased interest in apocalyptic prophecy, but I was grown by then). My grandmother was one of the most compassionate and moral people I knew but she always thought she wasn't good enough according to church teaching, which I always found incredibly sad - she was always trying harder to be the perfect Christian wife, mother, and citizen. She did have extreme ideas about playing cards (she would not touch them because they were a tool of gambling), and she banned certain shows/movies/MTV from our house, but otherwise nothing particularly unusual.

 

Where I got messed up was fundamentalist Christian school.

 

When I was 11 my grandparents and mom decided that they didn't want me getting bussed out of district to a lower-income (read not white) middle school, so they put me into a fundamentalist Independent Baptist Christian school. The school had strict code of conduct rules, strict gender-based dress codes, taught young earth creationism, and students could be expelled at will for smoking/drinking/sex even outside of school (3 boys my sophomore year in high school were expelled for going to a party where there was drinking, and another student heard them talking about it and turned them in where they confessed and were expelled). Bible classes 3 days a week and chapel services 2 days a week were mandatory. Bob Jones University was the source of our Bible class and science curricula,  and other textbooks were about 20 years old. Most of the students attended fundamentalist Christian churches, though a few kids were Hindu (their parents didn't want them in public school and were looking for an alternative). Each year we had a week long Bible conference with guest preachers (always men - only male teachers or preachers were allowed to preach) where salvation was primary topic. The teachers at the school were, for the most part, kind and caring people (with few exceptions). Newer teachers were required to have attended Bob Jones University, Pensacola Christian College, or other fundamentalist approved institutions. After I married a teacher I realized that these teachers were underpaid and overworked, with 4-5 preps per day (where most public school teachers have 2-3 preps). Most young teachers didn't last long at the school. All coursework was taught with a fundamentalist Christian cast, including literature, history, etc. While gender roles were clear, teachers never, ever discouraged us female students from excelling academically. While fundamentalist Christian colleges were encouraged for the students, faculty never once tried to discourage me from applying to a top-20 secular university (I think they wanted to be able to say they had a student who got into that university so their academics must be sound). While I was never mistreated at the school, some of my friends reported that faculty would meddle in their choice of dating partners and other decisions that they made. That never happened to me. Where I got messed up was that it took me decades to get over fear of eternal damnation in hell (and fear that I was subjecting my children to it as well because I don't take them to church), and it was extremely hard to shake the indoctrination even though intellectually I saw the flaws. My questions at the school were not encouraged, so I learned not to ask them out loud, but they festered within me until I could go to college and explore different ideas on my own - and even then, it was taking a major leap to seek out alternative ideas as we had been taught that those were lies of the devil, or temptations put in our path to test our faith.......  People on this site speak of "cognitive dissonance", and I certainly suffered from that. I spent decades (am now 47 years old) questioning and finding evidence that Christianity is not true, and I even had to learn evolution on my own because I had never been exposed to it in school and actively avoided courses in college that included evolution because I had exactly zero knowledge of it and never wanted people to find out. While I could not get away from fundamentalist Christianity fast enough after leaving high school, I still liked the people. They were not bad people - they just had some bad beliefs. I feel sad for my grandmother and mother who felt many years of guilt over not being good enough as their interpretation of their religion would lead them to believe (my grandparents, mom, and stepdad are all dead now). 

 

A few years ago I took my mom with me to dinner with some friends from high school whom I hadn't seen in years. Eventually the subject came up of "how our school messed us up". My mom was in shock - she said she had no idea and asked why I never said anything, and I told her it was because (a) I didn't want to appear ungrateful because they were paying a lot of money they couldn't afford for me to attend that school, (b) I didn't think it would make any difference, and (c) the school had us so indoctrinated to believe that any comments against the school and its doctrine were blasphemy. She apologized for sending me there.

 

 

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On 8/4/2017 at 4:10 PM, ObstacleChick said:

Where I got messed up was that it took me decades to get over fear of eternal damnation in hell (and fear that I was subjecting my children to it as well because I don't take them to church), and it was extremely hard to shake the indoctrination even though intellectually I saw the flaws.

 

Perhaps it has been said on these forums before but the only logical approach to me seemed to be to reject religion and accept that I might burn in hell. I guess the fear is subjective depending on how much you were threatened with hell fire but once I accepted that the man in the sky might send me to hell a weight was lifted in terms of fear.

 

Anyway, briefly: both parents raised in Catholic families. After marrying they started going to a Pentecostal church. Father worked on and off and was an alcoholic. Mother was a stay at home parent and highly strung in the sense that she was a bit anxious and inclined to snap. They had separated when I was about two and then both went to church on and off until I was in my teenage years. Both parents repressed about sex and never talked about it. I was introduced to stories of demons and "spiritual warfare" from about 6 years of age which resulted in me going to church of my own accord for a while when I was 16. It was always a result of fear and "spiritual warfare" - never about the bible or God. There wasn't much discipline at home from either parent so it's strange that I was poisoned with religious ideology but you only need a lack of a positive psychology from your parents for bad stuff to fill the void. In their case they had that in abundance.

 

 

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On 7/28/2017 at 3:34 PM, Lerk said:

 

I like this! There's no way I can be a cultural Christian, having been raised in a fundy church. I suppose if my family would convert to liberal Christianity, some of it might be fun. But really no better than being a cultural American. Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas ham and presents don't have to be associated with religion. About the only good thing would be the music, in some cases. But right now, I hate the acapella Church of Christ music that I used to think was awesome. A church where there's an orchestra and no singers might be nice! On the other hand, season tickets to the symphony would be a lot cheaper than a weekly contribution to a church.

 

Very interesting. I rather like the idea of being a cultural Hindu and I don't wish to go any further than this. However I've always thought that cultural Christianity could be a happy alternative as well. There is much to appreciate in Christianity within the realm of art and music. Perhaps in another life I could have been a cultural Christian, except for the fact that Christianity doesn't lend itself to toleration of atheism the same way that religions like Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism do.

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I had very loving parents. They perhaps loved too much. They had no boundaries which led to inappropriate behaviors and sexual things. They also coddledme to the point of doing everything for me so I'd be dependent on them. There was a LOT of role reversals and covert/emotional incest and possibly overt incest. There was physical abuse and some severe and also twisted physical torture games. But they were literal games. But severe pain inflicting. And I asked for them. 

But as far as religion ties in, I was born into it, from birth - 21. I went to all different churches, 25 - 50 and probably many more. But the main fall back religion was fundy Pentecostalism.  Ceremonies and rituals were performed and I was brainwashed and indoctrinatedto be a die hard little soldier for God. I believed it 100%. I was also forced to attend a private Christian school from K-12 grades. It was also very abusive as far as forced solitary confinement for consecutauve school days and public shaming and humiliation and many other untoward things. 

But my parents also were very loving. Giving me anything I wanted and spoiling me and just showing SO MUCH love. It was very confusing. 

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