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How Long Does This Go On?


truthbound
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Advice Wanted:

 

This is a call for help to those of you who have been “out” for a while. Though I started my de-conversion eighteen months ago, it was not until January of this year that it all boiled over and became official. It took a year of battling and obsessive researching to finally come to the point where I felt sure of my decision to leave, which was difficult in its own right because of my positions within the church. I have already posted my testimony elsewhere on this site earlier this year so I won’t go into those details here.

 

My current question can be summed up as this; how fucking long am I going to feel like I’m losing my mind?

 

Now let me state here for the record that I do not regret in any way shape or form the decisions that I have made and have felt, at many different times, feelings of overwhelming freedom. However, as I recall my very first ride on a roller-coaster, I remember all the feelings of excitement, nervousness, joy, anxiousness and then I actually got in that car! As we pulled away from the loading dock, those feelings amplified then the climb up the first and tallest hill I recall wondering if there were any ways off! Then we fell and screamed our heads off twisting around the corner to approach another hill this gave me a sense of relief followed by the growing realization that we were about to do it all over again! I was mortified; it was just after that moment that I began to scream for someone to let me off! It was all I could think about, everything seemed to go into slow motion I was amazed at how an entire train full of people could be having the time of their lives while I was being tortured to my end.

 

Though, I have become fond of those torturous rides, I compare my mental state of de-conversion to this sort of entertainment and I am tired of the ups and downs. My family (Wife & kids) did not leave the church with me and we are entrenched in a weird existence where we both love & hate each other almost simultaneously. I hate the fact that my kids are being poisoned and that I am, at every turn being checked on for the possibility that I might be trying to de-convert them. I am the “enemy” that everyone must live with, she actually said during one of our arguments; “I’m not going to divorce you because god hates divorce” Hey, that’s great! Not that I really want that, but its unreal to think that the only thing holding your marriage together is the one thing you want out of your life forever!

 

As part of my testimony I shared that when I first moved to this town, our first friends we met were the ones who shared the gospel with us and from there every friend we ever made was a member of the church. Making friends, outside of evangelical purposes, was not considered a very good idea as we would be “unequally yoked”. My point being that I have no one with whom I can vent or relate with. What’s worse is that when I do occasionally meet someone and begin talking with them it doesn’t take to long before they start telling me about Jesus! (SHIT!!!) On top of that, every where we go (we live in a smaller sized town) we/ I run into these people that I used to “shepherd”, nobody knows how to react to me its awkward as all get out. Unfortunately, I get all emotionally charged whenever the topic begins to come up and I shake and sweat and carry on like a lunatic, so I try to avoid it at all costs. The further I go and the more I read the more ridiculous it seems to me that I could have been so blind! Why can’t I just let it go? Just walk away and let it be? I think I could do it a lot easier if my family were to wake up. I lost my Father a few months ago, so it feels like I’ve lost everything but my family and I am hanging on to that with all I can!

 

How long will this go on? I’m sure that it is different for everyone. Sometimes I dream of ways to just slip into oblivion where no one knows who, what or where I am, sort of like pulling a Henry Thoreau at Walden, let the world just pass me by.

 

I have been reading like an obsessed mad man. I read anything related to comparative religion, Eastern & Western philosophies, Science and the like. I have several motivational quote pages that e-mail me daily along with the testimonies from this site all to get me from one day to the next. I sometimes think I should get counseling of some sort, but I’m terrified. I’ve thought about several other types of groups including a local freethinkers group and a Buddhist group (which I have become somewhat fond of at least the Taoist/Alan watts version) Book clubs, etc… But I can’t help but feel like I am leaping out of the frying pan into the ??? So I have become reclusive, introvert which is the opposite of how I used to be. I travel for a living by car which gives my brain ample opportunity to spin out of control dwelling on all this crap! I get to where my head hurts from all the thinking! I feel like I think to much and then begin to think about thinking to much and that sort of thing!

Does this sound remotely familiar? And can I expect it to fade away with time?

 

I would be grateful to hear of anyone’s experience with these things and how you managed through it, family issues and all.

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For some reason, my deconversion wasn't as rough as yours is... but my husband is having a really hard time like you are. Stressful life events don't help, either. He is seeing a therapist and it is really seeming to help him out a little. The problem with that is finding the right therapist... it really is the luck of the draw (by your health insurance, if you have any... if you don't, you have a little more freedom).

 

I can relate to your obsession with world religions, though... I even got a degree in comparitive religion, and it wasn't on purpose either... I'm in pharmacy school! I just happened to take so many classes on the side that it added up to a degree! I am much more at peace with myself than I used to be directly after deconversion, and I think the formal academic study of religion really was therapeutic. I don't think reading it all on my own would have been as useful, though... professors help you keep your brain in check and use good reasoning as you analyze the literature. It also helps you keep an open mind towards everything without being sucked into it at the same time. I'm a happy agnostic... uninvolved in other religions, but very intellectually curious about all things. It works for me. I don't know if I would have ended up this way without the guidance of a formal liberal arts education, however.

 

I feel for you though, because I saw many of my peers in the religion department go through really rough deconversions like yours. It's like you have to learn to swim all over again, and I really do feel for you. Hang in there. Find someone in real life that you can relate to. Maybe look into therapy. Learn to enjoy life and not take all of this so seriously! :)

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It's very, very difficult to get disentangled from something if you're still right in the middle of it. It's always there to pull you back in, isolate you, tell you that you're crazy (even though you really aren't), vilify you, manipulate you... in short, do everything possible to pull you right back into the meme again.

 

Sadly, you may not feel any more sane unless you somehow separate from the life you're in. I mean that's just awful that your wife considers you the enemy. I couldn't live like that.

 

I don't know what to suggest though. "Leave" would be the first thing, but I don't know whether or not that's what you want, or if it's appropriate for the situation. Therapy might not be a bad idea, just for some support.

 

Hang in there, in any case.

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It sounds like you have an agreement with your wife about not teaching the kids your stuff. That would make me feal like a 2nd class family memeber, and I wouldn't put up with it. I think that at least unconsciously this would add to your load. I would insist on not hiding what I think from the kids. You might just try asserting your place as the head of the house if she isn't the passive agressive type.

 

When you meet those you used to shepard, you set the tone. As you say no one knows what to do. You decide what to do and then do it. The worst that could happen is that any alienation they feel will be out in the open where it can be delt with. I'd start a converstation with something like, "I'm sorry Ralph, but I found out some of the stuff I used to tell you wasn't on the up and up. If you would like to talk about it, it would be alright with me."

 

You know what Christians are like, and you have to know that there is going to be a lot of rejection. I'd say face it straight on and get it over with. Otherwise it will drag and drag. Be as pleasent as you can be during the process. Let any anger be in them, for you can have compasion on them knowing the delusion they are under.

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I like Chef's advice.

I'm lucky in that my husband was only pretending to be Christian to make me happy.

He said, when I informed him of my deconversion, "Meh...I never really bought that bullshit. I thought maybe you knew something I didn't, though, so I gave it a shot."

 

As a former "Christian wife" I have to admit I always thought my husband's lack of zeal was a serious failure on his part as a husband.

Man oh man oh man how things change, huh?

Wow...I bet your wife thinks Satan's trying to get your kids through you.

I agree that you're going to have to draw the line and insist that you be able to tell your kids exactly what you think. That would drive me nuts to know that my kids were being brainwashed and I was forbidden to counter it in any way.

 

As far as the post deconversion crazies go, mine lasted about a year. I had a really rough time with it, too. Visions of burning in hell, questioning the fabric of reality, nagging fears that I'd fallen for a massive Satanic attack...the whole nine yards.

 

You know what the best advice I heard was that pretty much ended it for me?

It was a thread here called "Do you ever have doubts or fears?"

And one of the replies was :

"Doubts and fears are for the weak".

I thought the poster who said that was an insensitive ass for replying like that at first.

But it stuck.

It works. I'd start feeling crazy and afraid and think "Doubts and fears are for the weak"...and poof...bye-bye visions of hellfire.

Be strong. You'll probably be feeling better living in your own mind in another 6 months or so. It just takes some time to untrain your brain and form new neural pathways.

It was your own courage and intellectual honesty that got you this far, and it will see you through.

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Guest tigg13

I have a couple pieces of advice for you.

 

If you seek out counselling, be sure to make it clear that your not interested in rekindling your faith. Some mental health professionals may see you situation as a crisis of faith and try to get you to go back.

 

Couples therapy could be very good for you, but don't let your wife pick the therapist or you'll be looking at a spiritual intervention.

 

It sounds to me like your problems with your wife are more her problems than yours. After all, she vowed before her god to love, honor and cherish you, for better or worse till death do you part. She's the one who's going to have to figure out why her god put her into this no-win situation.

 

In the mean time, you need to make some tough, worst-case-scenario decisions about your kids. I.E. if you and your wife do split up, are you going to fight to keep them. I know this is rough right now, but they didn't ask to be in this situation and you have a responcibility to put their needs before your own. It is also better to work out your position on this matter when you can think it through with a clear mind and not be rushed or pressured into doing something that you may regret.

 

Let me be clear - I am not advising you to take your children away from their mother. Nor am I advocating that you use your children to manipulate your wife. Only you can decide what you think is best for them. I am simply saying it is always wise to expect the best but plan for the worst.

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Tigg, I think that is good advice about the kids. I, too, was afraid they'd be caught in the middle if both parents push their own beliefs onto them.

 

Truthbound, an idea just came to me about how to keep from going crazy in those long hours alone in your car. Sometimes when I'm feeling low I put on some music that supports leaving religion. Don't know if it works for you. Or, if you prefer lectures, is there something on CD that supports leaving religion? Just some thoughts or ideas.

 

Ruby

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Hey,

 

I just want to thank every one of you for taking the time to respond. I can say, without a doubt, that just hearing from people who in one way or another have experienced similar situations or can at least identify with your problems, helps tremendously.

 

I have noticed a sort of pattern to my emotions that seem to follow the roller-coaster analogy, that they seem to increase steadily to a bursting point and then it starts all over again with certain key circumstances acting as emotional "triggers" along the way. What a frigin ride!

 

You guys, and this site in general, have definately been a real anchor for me dring this whole thing! Thanks again for your advice and support!

 

By the way... Has anyone ever read any Alan Watts stuff, and if so, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts or opinions about him and his philosophies.

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