Hello, Ex-C community. I've roamed these forums on and off for over a decade, since shortly after deconverting about 15 years ago. Mine was a traumatic exit from the church, then it took me a few years to realize that the break was permanent.
I'm an older woman (as implied by my name, I guess). I came to faith for the last time in my mid-30's, after a couple of decades of trying to find my way to something in which I could honestly believe, trying very hard to make a spiritual home somewhere. I blindly accepted the lie that children require spiritual training to become moral adults, so when my three kids were 4, 6, and 8, my now-ex-husband and I accepted a neighbor's invitation to church and ended up staying ten years.
It was my family, my social life, my purpose, my creative outlet, my solace, my hope; it was also, for the last two years, my employer. For the first time in my life, I belonged somewhere. But it ended badly, and the day that happened is, as for many of us here I'm sure, my before-and-after moment, the day I can point to and say "everything before THAT was a different life, and everything since has been something else entirely." I've never been the same; sometimes that feels like a good thing, sometimes not.
My relationships with my husband and with the church died in the same week, and though that may sound simplistic, believe me -- it wasn't; by the time I arrived at that point, the marriage was easy enough to walk away from, but the loss of faith was a four-year-hell. So I'm turning off the invisibility screen, because after two decades of kicking around a novel I've promised myself to finish some day, I find myself halfway through the writing and I'm getting to the hard part. It's not autobiographical, but it does come from the place where my end-of-faith pain is stored; the old wounds need to be inspected and cleaned again, and maybe this time I'll get it right and it'll finally heal.
Thanks for all the help you've given without knowing it; your existence here means something to the world, even if we're not all brave enough to say hello at first.