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  1. Hi Everyone! This is my first post on this site. I just found you all last week, but I am so glad you are here! I need to share a little back story, and then I’ll get to my current situation. In high school, Christianity quit making sense. Why would my gay friend have to go to hell because of the way he was born, and what about all those people in China who had never even heard of Jesus? My logical brain began to reject the ridiculousness of many of the Christian teachings. So much of it just didn’t make any sense. I went to college and tried to find my faith again, but all I found was more crazy thinking and lots of hypocrisy. The sticking point, though, was hell. I was truly scared (brainwashed, as I now understand) that I was going to hell because I didn’t believe. Fortunately, a college anthropology class released me from that fear. Religion was created by people to explain things they didn’t understand. Ahhh… I get it! Hell is merely a construct of human thought. One lecture and I was free! Whew! After my sudden enlightenment, I pushed away all things religious and spiritual (I thought the two were the same). I went through many of the painful experiences with my family that fellow members of this site have written about, but I persevered. I partied hard in my 20s, doing all the things forbidden by my childhood religion. In my 30s, I began to investigate the new age spirituality, finding it also to be quite full of crap. I studied Eastern philosophy, astrology and the Tarot, all of which were interesting, but they didn’t fill that hole inside of me. I escaped into television. I became a workaholic and got sucked into a job that finally took me down (my boss “suggested” that I look into medical leave). Now here I am, almost 40, and I find myself broke, unemployed and without much interest in life. I feel worthless and don’t know who I am. I am struggling with depression, autoimmune thyroid disease, and digestive issues and I have no idea what makes me happy. I am empty. I can’t even bring myself to write a resume (how can a person who believes she is worthless create a document that says “You should hire me because I’m good at something”). The last couple years, I have been baffled by my experience. What is causing all this pain? I was never abused as a child. My parents didn’t get divorced or abandon me. They loved me then and still do now. No person ever did anything horrible to me. I was never raped. Why do I feel like I survived some great trauma? Then, at a recent yoga retreat, a fellow attendee (a psychiatrist) suggested that I might be experiencing the effects of religious trauma. What? Really? Religion can abuse a person and generate results similar to other forms of abuse? Seriously?? So I began my search. I found Marlene Winell’s site journeyfree.org and started reading her book, “Leaving the Fold”. The light bulb came on. Yes, the religion of my childhood, while not fanatical, still prevented me from developing normally in so many ways. All good things are from God and all bad things are my fault. It’s not surprising that I never learned to take care of myself or find value in myself. Now I am reading obsessively everything I can find on the internet. Unfortunately, there isn’t much on religious trauma. I find lots of stuff about atheism and why the Bible is BS and how God and Jesus (and heaven and hell) don’t exist. I feel like I have sufficiently let go of the dogma and the fear. But I haven't found much about how to deal with the emotional deficits that religion causes. Maybe I just have to read all the PTSD stuff and apply it to my situation. I am feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed with this new realization. Have you been through this? Will you share your experience about how you managed to grow up later in life after religion destroyed your self-esteem? Thank you for reading my story and thank you all for the support I know you offer even if you don't post a reply!
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