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Hi, from Covington, Kentucky! The neighbor of Cincinnati, Ohio. My name is Amanda Ashcraft. I work for the postal service, write numerous articles about ex religious life and childhood abuse, parent four beautiful children, and live openly secular as a humanism practicing atheist. I grew up in a charismatic home in southwest Ohio, my earliest memories being that of a Pentecostal church with wonderful music, a very loving pastor, and always trying to get God's direct attention so I knew he was real. We had congregation members who would get "slain in the spirit", my own mother often cried in euphoria while speaking in tongues during services. The day I was saved at age five, all I could think of was how proud my mother would be of me. I really didn't understand who Jesus was and what his sacrifice meant at that young age, but my pastor still pronounced me saved when I repeated his magical prayer of acceptance. You have to understand why I sought my mother's approval instead of that of God. My home life was abusive, but on the outside, my family appeared like an everyday middle class family in the 80's. My mother was a teacher, and my father was a machinist at a large tool factory. Being an only child, one would think I had it made, but as I mentioned, my home life was abusive. It started off just verbally, eventually escalating to more physical episodes, and even sexual abuse came into my experiences before I was ten years old. This type of home life caused me to act out in some of the worst ways possible, had me believing I was being tormented by demons, and truly set me on a path to get God to somehow help me, or at least get Satan himself to punish me for being so bad. To accomplish that would mean I had proof that God knew what was happening to me. By the time I was sixteen, I'd managed to get out of my family home but it was like going from one bad situation to another seeing how I was pregnant and married by the time I was seventeen. My parents had agreed to sign the license for me to get married under age. This was a disappointment on many levels for me... Read more at my blog The Bluegrass Skeptic http://thebluegrassskeptic.com/2015/05/15/living-openly-secular-openlysecular/
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.