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Everything posted by RenaissanceWoman

  1. You are good and beautiful and interesting and deserving of love. Always remember that!
  2. Welcome, JenniferG! Yes, losing friends is one of the giant stabs to the heart of the deconversion process. I lost some of the outlying acquaintances instantly, and thought I might come out alright. But no. About 6 months later, I was down to maybe 3 or 4 friends from my old church. Now I'm down to maybe 1 (sort of). Part of it is logistics too. My old church friends are still busy several days a week, meeting at the church for services, choir practice, ladies' groups, etc. They have built-in friendships and a convenient half-way point meeting place, and no longer need me. Getting together with me is out of the way, hard to squeeze in their schedule, and simply not as convenient as it used to be. (And boy, have I tried, but no.) And frankly, I'm not in their gossip circle and not going to all their events and planning for the same things they are planning for -- there isn't much to talk about any more. It has been a sad realization. Just remember this: It is them, not you. It is not you. It is not you. Got it? I'm sure you're quite interesting and lovable. Am I right? (I think I am!) You are deserving of love and joy and friendship and peace. You just have to find it in new places. Ugh. You'll get there. Wow, if you are working on a book, you are already way ahead of where most of us were when we landed here! You are wrapping your head around it, and that's a huge step. I look forward to reading more from you. Feel free to jump in whenever you feel the urge. We appreciate perspectives. We're not the same as real-life friends, but hopefully we'll fill in some gaps for you. Welcome!
  3. Welcome! I'm glad you are seeing a secular therapist. In my experience, the antidepressants will help turn off some of the "noise" in your head and let you think clearly about this stuff (or not think about it at all, how refreshing!), and hopefully move on altogether. One day, I hope, you just won't need that bandaid on your brain anymore. In the meantime, keep plugging away at recovery. It will get better. I want to address the idea that you continue to attend church, against your desire to be free of it. Two things. First of all, I'm sorry to say, you will one day realize (the hard and painful way) that those other members are not your friends or your "family." You really don't need them. Right now, they are probably all (or most) of what you have, so it's hard to think past that. But based on my experience and the testimonies of so many others here, those friendships are not real, and will not fulfill you as you hope. Breaking away cold turkey is harsh, but it will help you clear the clutter and figure out who you are and who your friends should be. You'll find a couple, and that's all you need, in my opinion. Second thing, your daughter and her little friends. Is she in school yet? I got some advice from an atheist coworker when my daughter was about 3, when I was depressed and lonely as a mom and felt the need to find play dates for her. He told me that once she gets to school, I can get serious about meeting other moms and making new friends that way, for my daughter and for myself. Those people will probably live near me, and have at least a few things in common. This annoyed me at the time, because it seemed so far away. But he was right. Despite some other moms' obsession with play dates and socializing their kids at a young age, I don't think it's all that vital. Your kid will not be screwed up. I would encourage you to find other outlets: a children's art class at the local art center, science center activities, or something. If your kid is in school, find ways to volunteer and meet other moms. You might just find one. If your daughter has one other child she talks about a lot (or two or three), find a way to set up a Saturday play date with that child's mom. It's better to have one or two real friends than a church classroom full of acquaintances. Please do not let your child's little church friends be the reason for your decision to keep dragging yourself there. I hope this helps. Thanks for sharing your story.
  4. Welcome! I hope you are finding comfort and peace here. We're happy to listen and offer advice and support if we can.
  5. Just remember that the bible also says that our "good deeds are like filthy rags" to god. Seriously, you can't win. You have to be good and pious and all that, but god still thinks you're a filthy animal deserving of hell. (But wait, Jesus loves me and saved me, right? Right?!) But keep doing those good works to show the love of Jesus in you! But remember they are worthless no matter how many or how great. Wth? Just another contradiction that got me in trouble even in to my early 40s, when I pressed my most recent pastor about it. They don't seem to like that, by the way, lol. I also got in a little trouble for scolding people at church for blindly sending money to missions in other countries to help those poor people over there, but ignoring the single mom in the pew next to them who was praying through the whole service that she would have enough gas in her car to get home that day. Compassion is easier for them when its corporate (pre-arranged by the leaders) and far away from their real life. They are blind. You, dear megasamurai, are not blind, and never will be. You are the better person, my dear. I would choose you for coffee and friendship any day over any of those people.
  6. This is a giant realization for you at the age you were at the time. Wow! Hold on to that sense of self and self-empowerment. So many people come out of religion with completely shattered self-esteem from years of grovelling before god and suffering for christ and waiting for relief and jumping though the hoops and fearing the evil church folks around them and on and on and on... I'm sure you still have some scars from that kind of nonsense, but it sounds like you got to fast-forward through some of that misery. Does that sound right? If so, and judging by your current age... you really still have your whole life ahead of you! That's exciting for someone like me who suffered abuse from church people into my 40s! Way to go, man! You figured it out early. As for your pain... dude, that sucks, and I hate to hear it. At least you can move forward knowing it's not some silly test of faith from a loving god (omg), and knowing that science and medicine are not the enemy. We get a lot of that junk here in the States. Be good to yourself and never worry about what anyone else (or some absent sky daddy) thinks of you. Thanks for sharing your story. I have been inspired by your words here today.
  7. Wow, that was a fun read. Right on! I can't even pick out a sentence or two that I would highlight, because everything you said resonates so perfectly with me. What a great assessment. I feel lighter now, too. Thanks!
  8. Hey, Zephie, welcome back. Sounds like you've been on quite the journey so far. I'd be interested to hear where this discovery and deconversion process takes you, so stick around and share your adventures, struggles, and victories.
  9. Very interesting read. Thanks for sharing your story. I too am a little curious about the gun reference, if you care to expound. I laughed about your old friends acting like they saw a demon when seeing you at the mall. I see elders from my former church out and about sometimes, and their reactions are mixed and interesting. Some are nice to me, like nothing ever happened. (Really? Weren't you there when you guys voted to metaphorically burn me at the stake?) Another woman elder I have seen twice at Walmart; the first time, she was in line a couple of people behind us, and actually hid behind her taller husband hoping we would not see her. How pathetic is that? (She was one who used to "love" me, and I like to think the guilt is eating her up.) The second time we saw her husband walking down a main aisle pushing the cart. He never shops without her, so I looked around, and there she was...slinking through the women's pajamas section hoping to cut through without being seen by us. Nice try. Pathetic. Sounds like your parents are good people, so you got lucky there. No need to break their hearts. Just be the good person you always were, try to avoid the subject of religion. I'm glad you're out of the cult. You are no longer in chains from sin or tied to church commitments (both emotional/spiritual chains and physical/time chains), so I know how you feel about being free. Free to live and be you. Enjoy!
  10. I have a lack of tact and probably would have replied "So nothing then?" Thanks a lot, CB ... I just spit coffee on my laptop laughing at this. Welcome AuntB! I grew up in NW Ohio too (now in North Carolina). Let me guess... were you Lutheran? (I have 19 aunts up there, yes 19, but none of them start with "B", so I assume you're not one of them. That would have been an odd coincidence!)
  11. Wow, Blood! I had just finished reading and enjoying the entire passage, and copied the exact same sentence you did so I could start my comment. So to see that you had chosen the same sentence... something profound there! Hobbes, that was an amazing read. Expounding upon the sentence that Blood and I both noticed... Do you see the irony in how your biggest questions and doubts came to you from two extremes? The atheist on the one hand, and the Mormon (cult) on the other extreme hand. Those two very opposite viewpoints left you questioning in the middle. And despite all of your intellectual quandaries before and after these two encounters (reading, researching, pondering, praying, and the like), it was these two sets of in-real-life people who seem to have touched you in a special way. Not to get too far off subject here, but it reminds me of how recently more and more Christians are changing their long-held beliefs about things like homosexuality when these days more and more people are free to come out of the closet -- it's easier to bash gays to hell when it's not someone you know and love personally. When your own child, or the child of the family next to you in pew, has come out, you suddenly have to think twice about condemning them. There is something about that human connection that captures our attention. Your overall tone is very intellectual, without a lot of emotional wranglings. There are plenty of people who need to hear your (and our) thoughts on this plain. I can only assume that the story itself will contain the emotional angle (characters dealing with situations and emotional issues)? If so, these two approaches combined will make a powerful impact for the interested reader. I applaud your work here so far, and I thank you for sharing this Preface with us. Carry on, good man! I can't wait to read more! (I'd also like a bit part when your story is made into a movie. Just putting that out there, lol.)
  12. Agreed. I actually was naive enough to think the new pastor at my old church would give a damn. I contacted him a few months ago via email, after he had been there about a year and some of my trauma had subsided (from about 1.5 years ago). I just felt like he should know what is going on there, so he can fix the damn place, and maybe, just maybe, elicit some regret from the people who emotionally and spiritually tormented me. He had met me a few times, and before he actually took the job, he came to visit our church and happily spent about 20 minutes talking to me in the hallway about my family ties to the denomination (minister grandfather, two minister cousins, sister and aunt who are organists, uncles who are elders, cousins who are christian school teachers, my mother who attended the denomination's colleges, etc.) So... I waited about a year, and a few months ago we invited him to our house for dinner, which was quite common in my church growing up, especially with a new pastor; they went out of their way to visit every member gradually. (OK, I admit I had a bit of an ulterior motive, but still... I am technically still a member, and this is his freaking job.) The response from him was that he was not allowed to talk to me without the presence of the full board of elders, and not at my house but at a regular meeting at the church. Fuck that! Been there, done that! You know what that is? It's FEAR. And it's control. The elders are basically his employers, so he has to bow to them. They don't give a shit that three of their most active members (me, my husband and my young daughter) have admitted to falling away from the faith because they are a bunch of shits.They obviously don't care about our "eternal souls" burning in hell. Fucking hypocrites! It's easier to move on to the people who are still there playing their games and paying their offerings. My point is... don't bother looking back. No one cares. Not even the pastor. People like us are too hard to deal with. They have moved on to the next vulnerable, low-hanging fruit. This is not a reflection of me or of you. This is how they are. Please feel no loss, guilt, shame, or anything else by their actions or inactions. They are what they are, and you are free of their nonsense.
  13. Thanks, milesaway. I'll be checking these out today!
  14. Have you had this dream since? It may have been your brain's last ditch effort to work through your new idea that hell is not real, and those flames are just a scare tactic myth. You still had remnants of these ideas embedded in your brain/psyche, so maybe the dream was just the wires getting crossed or uncrossed as you dislodge this tiny tidbit. If your parents were part of your Christan upbringing, it would make sense for them to get mixed up in that kind of dream, since they were part of embedding that fear in you in the first place. Maybe, just maybe, this was a final clearing stage. Let's hope! I'm not an expert, just speaking from recent experience. Last month I was working with a professional to clear some junk... fears of not being accepted, and never feeling good enough. (In general, I am likeable and well-loved by the good people I have surrounded myself with, and everything I attempt I tend to be overly successful at -- so my fears are obviously unfounded. But thanks to my former church experience, these fears have reared their ugly heads.) My therapist got to the heart of the matter: I was "the smart kid" in school, with constant fears of being considered nerdy or not popular because of it, not to mention fear of not being the smartest kid... because then who would I be? When the recent church events revealed that people were rejecting me (for calling them on their mean-spirited shit), despite my obvious love for and commitment to them and my gigantic contributions of time and talent, my old fears of acceptance and not being good enough resurfaced. Assholes. For several nights in a row after that, I had uncomfortable dreams with a mish-mash of teachers from junior high and high school, some of the other smart kids (my competition), and my old school buildings. I was trying to take tests that were jibberish, couldn't remember my locker combination, forgot to go to school for a big test, and stuff like that. Man, those dreams sucked. But then they stopped. I chalk it up to my mind finally getting down to the root of the issue and clearing away all that old junk. I was uncrossing old wires, and building new connections. I saw my therapist last week and told her how excited I was about this, because I felt like "stuff was moving." Anyway... I hope this is what's happening for you. Dreams and the mind are mysterious things. You have layers of this onion to peel back, and it sounds like maybe that is what's happening in your head. Keeping working on it -- it will get better! P.S. I like Margee's idea of planning for a fire, to allay your fears of it happening in real life. Buy a fire extinguisher and a rope ladder, think about an escape plan. Do the same for your parents if that seems to help. Soon enough you will be able to check this fear off your list.
  15. You mentioned two things that I would like to address: looking for something else to believe in, and what if you're wrong. In the past two weeks I have been scouring every blog and youtube video by searching for "Jesus is not real." (A regular google search will give you the reading material, and you can also go directly to youtube and search -- several good ones that are at least an hour long.) I have also searched for "Jesus is myth", which gives some more. My undergrad degree is in art history, so combined with my intimate knowledge of Bible god and my interest in comparative religions, this reading/viewing has been right up my alley. I think it will help you, too. What have I learned? Many events of the Jesus story exactly mirror or lift from other religions (Horus = Egypt, Mithras = Roman, and I know there a few others, maybe Krishna?). Many were born of a virgin, visited by three kings, crucified (or otherwise killed) and rose again three days later, miraculous healings, walking on water, feeding 5000 (or similar), bread and wine communion... lots of eerily similar stuff. I realize there is no way I would worship Horus or Mithras, so why would I worship Jesus? They are all myths! Did Jesus the man really exist? Maybe -- there are plenty of good debates about that. But it has become apparent to me that the details of his life (if he even had a life here on earth) have been pieced together from other myths for various reasons, which makes sense since the gospels were apparently written 60-200 years after his supposed life. Easy to change the story after all that time, ya think? Ever notice that Paul never talks about Jesus healing the sick, walking on water, virgin birth, all that stuff? He just blathers on about the concept of a Christ, all the while making up his own religion/cult as he went along. (Search for "St. Paul is a fraud," "St. Paul is antichrist," "St. Paul and cult" -- stuff like that. Even when I was still a church-going Christian, I knew something was wrong with him, and stopped reading any of his books in the bible. (Thomas Jefferson famously felt the same way.) I think you are at a point now where you would be open to the idea that the Jesus myth is on shaky ground. I had to convince myself that yes, I am right not to think he was the son of god and my salvation ticket to heaven. I have confirmed for myself what not to believe in. This might help you too, with your doubts about "what if I'm wrong?" I am currently trying to finish reading this very long post. It's kind of cerebral at times and hard to read in large chunks, but maybe you can glean some of what I'm talking about: http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/jesus_myth_history.htm Regarding finding something else to believe in: Over all these centuries (millenia!), no one seems to have figured it out. All these gods have similar (human) traits, promise similar things, come in and out of fashion. On a personified "god" level, none can be right. So what else is there on the supernatural level? I don't know. But I'm at a point now where I don't care so much. I feel like if something comes along that sounds like the answer, at least I have picked up some cynicism and will be able to read and find out more, rather than swallow it hook, line, and sinker. For now, that is good enough for me. If there is something to find one day, I'm sure I'll find it. But if not, I don't mind so much any more. Woodsy, I know this process is a pain in the neck for you right now, but personally I am enjoying your questions, epiphanies, and the discussions here that follow. One day (maybe even today!) some other struggling christian is going to stumble upon these discussions, and will say, "Aha! I'm not crazy! I am not alone! Look what I found!" You are helping us all work through our own thought processes, and hopefully this is helping you work through yours. You're doing it, dear lady! You are making progress! You are freeing your mind and soul. You are on the path to discovery and recovery. Soldier on! Reading your stuff is a joy for me. Stick around and feel welcome!
  16. Yes, we organized women can go a bit crazy when things are out of place. That's what's bugging you with this deconversion process. What a giant stack of mess, it's so daunting! It's healthy in the end, and I know you'll work it out. It's been a year for me, but I still get weird dreams that tell me that on a subconscious level I still have some things to sort out. Much of mine revolves around lost friendships and feelings of powerlessness and not having my voice heard or valued. Ah well... at least knowing these categories still exist is a step toward working them out, I hope! It's like moving a desk in my office and finding old papers back there -- those have got to go! But there is light at the end of the tunnel, or shall I say... clear carpet under all my stacks. Ha ha!
  17. I would suggest you discontinue the practice of talking to your church. They've put you down and kept you there long enough. You are free now; just walk away. And whatever you do, don't try to fix things there. It cannot be fixed. This is a large problem in so many churches, and you matyring yourself to try to fix one is not going to do you any good, and is not going to work. I have a nasty letter from my elders who wanted to know the whole story so they could fix things. I was duped. I told them the problems, offered solutions, and left the meeting feeling that I had been heard, and all would soon be well. I told my friends afterward that I finally had "closure." So imagine my shock and anguish when I received the letter about a week later, telling me to basically get the hell out. Stay away from those people. They are evil, self-serving, back-stabbing, political little shits. They only care about their own good standing in their little club, and keeping the club looking good. If you are not going to play their game the way they think you should, yes -- you will be labelled "nasty" or a tool of Satan or some other mean-spirited nonsense. They are deathly afraid of anyone who makes waves, and will do anything they can to further demonize you and get rid of you. Now that you see their evil, you are free to walk away. They have no more power over you. You are free.
  18. He was one of the first writers I stumbled upon in my initial deconversion process, and those first few steps of mine were comforted deeply by his experiences. After I read some of his words, I did some searching and found this forum. Everything started to fall into place after that.
  19. Oh my goodness! What an awful story! Everything you wrote hit close to home for me; although you and I have different personalities and some of the church characters/details are different (I was in the band and choir, for example), I experienced very similar things. I know what you mean about crying at home. I thought about church stuff all day every day. Every. Single. Moment. That stuff was ringing in my head: Why did he do this? Why did she say that? What should I have done? Did I say the right thing? Why didn't this person stick up for me? Why did that person ignore the issues? Why didn't God come and clean up this miserable mess? Do I have an ego problem? Am I not good enough? How can I possibly not be giving enough with all that I am doing? Do I have no value to these people? Why doesn't this woman like me? Why did that woman betray me? Why does God hate me? Why am I such a miserable sinner? I finally got the hell out of there. Even after that, I had to actually be medicated to get that noise in my head to shut off. After so many years of that nonsense, it had become a pattern in my brain that I could not fight. I am also undergoing physical therapy to rid my body of the toxins and teach my muscles to chill out and stop storing all that angst energy. The first time my somewhat wacky therapist saw me, within a few minutes she said, "Your heart is carrying grief to the point of torment." Wow, is it that obvious? Lol. All the pain, frustration, self-doubt, betrayal, lies, deceit, fear, energy, loss, loneliness, hate, anger... I won't lie to you... you will get past this, but it will take some time and effort. Be good to yourself. Eat well, sleep well, exercise, and get help if you need it. I can tell that you are a lovely person. If there weren't an ocean between us, I would take you to dinner so we could talk, laugh, cry, bitch, mourn, and rejoice. It may be tough and scary, but you will find another person in your life who is worthy of your friendship. Really, one or two is all you need. That church full of people who "love" you (which they really don't) is not worthy of your time and talent. And the most important thing is that you are going to find YOU. We will do the best we can here to fill that void as you get your bearings. You are going to come through this, and you are going to be fine. You are going to find peace. You are not a miserable sinner, you are a bright shining star in this world. You have value, and you are worthy of love and real friendship. You were abused by the cult (I totally feel you!), but now you are free. It's scary but exciting. You are on a new journey. I wish you a speedy recovery, dear lady. Peace to you.
  20. Woodsy, so glad you have come to us with this. All the replies so far are great! The dissonance you are feeling is your brain trying to make sense of the nonsense. Yeah, it hurts, but you are on the right track. Push through! Last week I had some time to finally tackle some forboding stacks of papers on my desk. (I'm self-employed and work at home -- when I'm busy with work, the paperwork/invoicing/bills/tax forms can pile up to frightening levels!) I took those stacks and made small piles all over the floor, and started filing things where they needed to go, mailing things that needed mailed, handling what needed to be handled. It took about three days, and in the midst of those three days I kept apologizing to my husband for the giant mess of papers and folders all over the living room floor, and I hoped no one would come to visit me! Now all those papers are filed away, the living room floor is clear, and my desk is clear. Well, I do have one little stack to follow up on later. Right now you are metaphorically in the midst of piles of paper, but you are slowly filing them all where they go. It's a big mess, and seems like you'll never finish, and it looks terrible. But soon enough you will have it all sorted. You will probably still have a few sheets of paper on a stack to follow up on later, and that is normal too. And more papers will continue to come in the mail every day, but you will know where to put them since you already have your files and folders set up and ready. I hope this silly analogy makes sense! Believe it or not, Woodsy, you're doing it! One of these days you will feel clear, and this mess will be a faint memory and you will have a strong feeling of accomplishment. You are going to figure it out, my dear, and you are going to feel free and clear. Soldier on! Peace to you on your journey.
  21. Actually I wasn't but I am an authorized recruiter. Do you think you have what it takes to serve Satan? Apparently so, since my former pastor told me twice to my face (in private, of course) that Satan was using me as a tool to divide the music ministry and the congregational ministry as a whole (since I had the nerve to point out unfair treatment, politics, public humiliation, and such) -- while I was still an active Christian, leading worship in the music ministry, and giving them about 20 hours a week of my time and talent. And I still stuck it out for several months after that. What a schmuck I was! If he could see me now that I am no longer a believer. Muwahahahaha.
  22. Yes, Lilith! And be sure to tell him that an actual friend does not hover while he masturbates, and does not read his dirty thoughts at the same time. Just sayin'.
  23. Except, most notably, when you are in a crisis of faith (after so many years of him ignoring you on pretty much every prayer up until then) and calling out to him through tears and fears, begging him to help in your mounting disbelief. No response, as usual. And that's how many of us got to this site in the end.
  24. If it tickles their own doubts then it's an attack by Satan!!!!! Delete before Satan deceives you into surrendering your salvation!!!!!! MM, are you implying that falemon might just be a tool of Satan? Hurray for you falemon! You can check that goal off your bucket list. (I'm just saying that you're not a true ex-C until someone calls you a tool of Satan -- congrats!) Just teasing, falemon. It's a vote of confidence that you're doing something right. LOL. Carry on!
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