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It was another terrifying experience. One of many throughout the years. This time I woke up, face covered in tears, mind in a panic as I took a few minutes to calm down. I spent a bit longer than usual getting reoriented, my mind's movie content having hit a NC-17 for a number of things. But confirming that horrible episode of disaster and loss wasn't my reality anymore always takes a minute after waking up anyway. Deep cleansing breaths of cool forced heat assured me of what my slowly waking brain already knew. Just another nightmare. Just a mental brush with terrifying childhood programming warping some very bad life experiences. I was in my apartment. Safely wrapped up in the blankets on my futon bed in the living room, both my dogs sleeping soundly on my head. This shit gets really old. I haven't surrounded myself with the persistent teachings of apocalypse and eternal torment for almost a decade. I haven't believed in such things for slightly longer. Thankfully, these episodes rarely leave me reeling for more than a few minutes after waking. Still, why do I have to deal with it after all this time anymore? Programming of my childhood mind is why. Like everyone else, I have fears. Some rational, some not so much. The one ingredient these little terrors have in common? The way in which they manifest is eerily familiar of things I learned in church. Almost always while I am dreaming, all these nasty little insecurities and past traumas come out. And it never fails they appear in doctrine type scenarios. Like a terribly written script of Job's trials, with Godzilla marching through the fiery burning streets of Detroit after Jesus has slain the unfaithful, and the whole while Satan and Yahweh are just busy fighting over who has the bigger dick in some nebula billions of light years away. Completely unconcerned with the mayhem unleashed on the object they supposedly became enemies over. My biggest fear is losing a child again. One day, I worry I will wake up and one of them won't be here anymore. It's a terrifying thought to me. Naturally, in my sleep, my entire world is empty. I'm madly searching everywhere I can for them, keenly aware of impending danger. Nowhere to be found, I run without direction, just desperation. I am alone, vulnerable, and something lurks just beyond my comprehension, waiting to snap me up in its jaws. Maybe it's that demon of my former self I could never pull out of the mirror that I am subconsciously blurring from my mind's field of view. (Didn't read about that yet? Here's the link. Warning, sexual content. http://www.ex-christian.net/blog/170/entry-887-desperately-yours-lucifer/) Sometimes it is past trauma. Unfortunately, my father is a frequent figure in my dreaming. Along with experiences from homeless days where I can still smell the smoke ridden interior of a 1981 Cadillac I slept in all the time. These visits usually follow me for the day after or longer. I wouldn't say I get teary or angry when this happens, but my introspection is overly intense. I don't know if it's my red flag warning system going off about a situation or new acquaintance I encountered recently, but I am definitely perturbed for a bit. Feelings of being too trusting, or maybe exposed, lurk heavily during such spells. Ironically, my dreams directly regarding death and God aren't nearly as upsetting. I am disappointed more than anything. Almost a feeling of being let down by a parent over a promise to do something fun. I'm never being directly punished or paid attention to by this deity. I would say neglected would be a better description. This thing knows of me, but looks on. I guess that's the upshot to my psyche's night time romps. It at least knows where to put the blame. Imaginary saviors aren't on the shit list. Now, a few paragraphs in, you might be wondering what the point of all these nightmarish examples are about to begin with. We all have our past, right? Some pleasant, others not so much. It's the fact that some folks - certain god fearing ones - seem to think that these are hidden messages being planted by the good lord. When I have discussed these experiences with religious folk, a large number of them immediately attribute these scary nights to "God trying to help you see how much you need His grace." A scared straight style altar call, which immediately elicits from me the following response,"He wants to help me, and won't take no for an answer, so instead He plans to drive me batshit crazy until I agree?" "It's not like that, and you know it" "Why do you insist on twisting His ultimate intentions for your life?" "He's showing your mistakes for a reason." (Yeah, it's my fault I was abused...) These responses to my rejection absolutely enrage me. Somehow I'm twisting, and purposely so, what God is trying to show me. I'm twisting the dream sequences where my father's will is being remembered on my body. I'm twisting the revisiting of pain from being punched in the face until I black out by a former lover. I am totally perverting the absolute terror and panic I experience when I cannot find my children during global pandemonium in the dreamscape of my demented mind. The fuck ever. Torture me until I say okay? I spent the first thirty years of my life doing that already. I know exactly what happens when you keep saying,"Okay." No more, thanks.
We have all been there and done it. Sitting on a couch, consoling a friend over a terrible mistake that has been made, and used our own personal flaws as a buffer before giving advice on what to do about the mess at hand. This is self deprecation, and while a very useful tool while navigating social situations, there is a fine line between using it as a tool, and using it as a facetious psychological mind fuck. Usually, self deprecation is a general statement of flaws, like,"Well, Judy. I've been in your shoes, sweetie. I've had my bouts with - insert flaw here -. But I learned from it. Did my best to make it right, and now all is okay. And you will be too." Basically, what is being said is, "I'm a fuck up too." I think it is a given that in most awkward or stressful situations, one rarely goes wrong diffusing some of the tension with a little self deprecation. There is a time and place for doing so, otherwise you will come across as unbelievably modest, or as a conceited asshole that is rubbing in the faults of the other person(s). It seems Christianity, and most religions in general, have not figured this important detail out though. "I'm a fuck up too." This seems to be the motto emblazoned on every calling card, tract, and service invite that the religious use to spread their message of idol worship. While admitting one isn't perfect is admirable, there seems to be a twisted psychology behind its use in religious doctrine that I will get more in depth about as we go along. For the sake of length, I am not going to go into the fact that religious self deprecation is just another form of secret narcissism, as well. Nothing grabs attention like,"Oh, I fucked a married man before too! We all make mistakes, but Jesus it away, mkay?" First, as many reading this blog already have learned, it is important to recognize mistakes, seek to correct those mistakes, and try to seek the forgiveness of those you wronged. Additionally, it is essential to forgive yourself too. That is the problem with the religious and their usage of self deprecation. They skip the last step that involves forgiving oneself. Well, not really. They just do not realize that by going to God for forgiveness, they are simply granting themselves the right to move on. It's really messed up when you think about. Until one feels they have shown enough penance to God (I couldn't put in literal terms how one knows if it is enough), they live in a state of self perpetuated guilt. Now, this is where a Christian that I discuss such topics with likes to say,"See, atheists have no conscience. Why do you get to decide you've done enough for your sinning against another?" I know. With an eye roll, I explain for the umpteenth time I am not erasing what I have done wrong (which is impossible in the real world anyway). I am simply allowing myself to move forward so I can apply the lesson learned. One should always reflect on the mistakes made. Repetition needs to be avoided after all. Dwelling on mistakes for an unspecified amount of time? Waiting for an unseen deity to somehow communicate that enough penance has been suffered? It just doesn't make sense to do such a thing because it isn't truly helpful to the situation, and it is downright unhealthy. Now, it doesn't just stop at living in a constant flux of self hate and pity parties. Many take it a step further and try to pull others into this depressing view of reduced value when attempting to convert others. It is the same scenario taking place, only instead of an atheist consoling Juday, let's imagine it is a Christian friend. Not only will this Christian friend declare s/he is imperfect and has made many mistakes, this friend will also point out that s/he could not have learned the real leasson without accepting God, and that Judy needs to get a clue. Yes, that's right. Claims of not being able to accept who s/he is, an imperfect sinning child of Yahweh, until s/he laid everything at His celestial feet. S/He learned that without Him, s/he would have always been a fuck up beyond repair. It's like sitting down next to Judy, saying,"You aren't just a whore, Judy. You're a godless whore. And you will never understand how horrible it is to be a cock gobbling godless whore until you let God pull the cock out of your mouth once and for all. Put Him there instead, honey." Okay, maybe that is a little too crude, but you get the idea. "We're all fuck ups, but I am not as bad a fuck up as you because...God." Which translates even further into,"You are such a fuck up that you have no way of ever becoming better because you don't have God. You are not capable of improving your life on your own." It is a disgustingly facetious use of self deprecation, which leads into attempts at completely undercutting any positive self image in his/her target. Not only was zero tension alleviated, but the Christian in this example compounded the damage on a psychological level. Why is it necessary to further pound a person's self worth to dust in order to show how wonderful faith is? It is akin to a pick up artist at a bar, trying to find an emotionally vulnerable woman he can proceed to lay out all his accomplishments to while gently pointing out his target's failures. Ironically, this stands a chance of elevating his desirability as a role model in the victim's eyes, hopefully eliciting a knee jerk response to want to prove she is worth his interest. The bottom line within religious communities is that you are not allowed to decide for yourself what your true worth is. No, you aren't worth a wooden nickel without completely demoralizing your personal confidence and then allow it to be determined by God's influence in your life. Any boasts of "I am successful and am so happy in life" must be immediately followed by "but there was a time I wasn't. I owe it all to my Lord God for helping me stay on His path to heavenly reward." Self worth is always the primary target in any religion. An individual's healthy level of self confidence and value is equated to arrogance. To assess yourself ,and independently determine that you are valuable, is treated as self righteousness in religious circles. So, as you can see, self deprecation in proselytizing is just another insidious method of grinding down your personal confidence. This leaves you vulnerable, sometimes even desperate. Simple psychology that we all use from time to time in order to ease crisis, tension, or a really awkward first date. In Christianity, though? It is an effectively mean little hammer to beat you down into the mold of hopeless screw up. If you are ever in Judy's shoes, and wonder if your proselytizing friend might have a point, think before you act. Don't rush to any decisions while in a vulnerable state. Most importantly, understand what the real message is. It isn't only about accepting God, but agreeing you aren't worth two shits unless God is in your life.
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1114150/a_letter_from_hell/ The above video isn't meant for those who aren't indoctrinated. It isn't meant for the unsaved, but for those who ARE saved and believing, but who aren't taking it seriously enough. Watching this gives me chills and boiling anger. Emotional manipulation at its finest, I think.