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Goodbye Jesus

When Does It Get Better?


All Gods Fail

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Hey all-

 

Thought I'd start a thread about de-conversion and invite senior Ex-C's to give their thoughts on the process. I've noticed a lot of recent threads about the problems newbies are having, from doubts, fear of hell, alienation from family members, losing old friends, etc. Some long-time de-convertees especially seem to have a hard time adjusting to life on the 'outside'.

 

Anyone have some encouraging words or helpful advice for those just de-converting (or considering it)? Especially for those who were in the cult for a long time?

 

 

-----

 

EDIT

 

Oops - sorry, I meant to put his in the Ex-Christian Life forum! :Doh:

 

Mods, could you please move it?

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*moved as requested, AGF.*

 

As far as answering your question, "When does it get better?", I guess I'd have to say that it's all circumstance-specific. And a lot of it depends on the psychological "wiring" of the individual.

 

I really don't believe that there are any set-in-stone answers to these types of questions. :shrug:

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As usual Fwee is wrong. One can calculate a proximate release date with this formula.

 

 

B = (FC x N)/1 or /SR

 

B = Days required for liberation

 

FC = Faith Constant (Value depends on sect, general values are fundy sect 1, moderate sect .69237, liberal sect .3333333

 

N = Number of days spent in bondage before getting a clue.

 

SR = The number of times the subject has read scripture all the way through.

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Some advice...

 

-Be yourself.

-Read lots, then give yourself lots of time to reflect.

-Figure out what is most important to you.

-Surround yourself with friends who will accept you no matter what.

-For me, being around lots of Christians during my deconversion was a great desensitization tool.

-Your Christian family most likely will never understand your deconversion--just accept that now.

-Stand your ground when it is important, but also know when to be open to new possibilities.

-You have a right to feel angry, sad, frustrated, happy, etc...whatever you may feel in the moment it is OKAY.

-Stay as positive as possible, look for opportunities and things WILL get better.

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Guest Ivy Leigh

Right now your whole world view has shifted radically. It's like a death in the family or a divorce. You no longer have an Invisible Friend who has a Plan Just For You that you can talk to at any time. And the afterlife is no longer...Super Happy Funland.

 

Ya know, it's almost BIGGER than a death in the family, in some ways.

 

I promise it does get better and you'll feel joy in a way you didn't feel before you lost your faith. One of the joys you'll feel is the absolute thrill in knowing that you can question and think as deeply as you want about ANYthing now!

 

We've had 4 members of my family "depart the faith". For us, the time of confusion/anger/hellfear lasted about a year and a half. After that time, the intensity of the feeling (and the tendancy to obsess about god issues) seem to have dropped off dramatically.

 

Ivy

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- Give yourself time to grieve, feel afraid, feel stupid, or be fragile for a while. It IS a big thing to deconvert. All those feelings are normal, and it doesn't mean you are being silly, stupid, or that there is anything wrong with you!

 

- Seek out your friends, and even if you can't tell them what's going on in your life, make time to have fun and relax. Deconverting can be very mentally and physically taxing, so make sure you take time out.

 

- You're probably going to go through nightmares or flashes of insecurity, wondering if you are wrong. This is totally normal. Remember to breathe deeply and remind yourself of your reasons for deconverting.

 

- Don't push down your feelings. If you're angry, BE angry. Go punch a pillow or take a walk or scream. If you're sad, let yourself cry. If you're happy, laugh for no reason at all because you're free. The important thing is to let it come out or it's going to take the process longer to get through.

 

- Don't stop learning. Read everything you can get your hands on, including books on other religions.

 

- Acknowledge your thoughts. It's important for people to hear, even if it's just from themselves, that what they are going through is valid. Say stuff to yourself like, "Yeah, what I went through WAS really unfair and they had no right to do that to me." And, "I have meaning just by being alive. I don't need a god or religion to justify me."

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As usual Fwee is wrong. One can calculate a proximate release date with this formula.

 

 

B = (FC x N)/1 or /SR

 

B = Days required for liberation

 

FC = Faith Constant (Value depends on sect, general values are fundy sect 1, moderate sect .69237, liberal sect .3333333

 

N = Number of days spent in bondage before getting a clue.

 

SR = The number of times the subject has read scripture all the way through.

That's beautiful Chef! Actually you are onto something though. I think I would say it may be something like the rule for breaking up from a long-term relationship. The general rule is it takes half as long to get over as the length of the relationship was.

 

However as you point out, if you were an avid student of the belief and worked long and hard at self-imposed brainwashing, shaking off the programming might take a long time. I guess you have many things that hang on: the emotional connection; the habits; the socialization; redefining the image of yourself you project to others and dealing with that transition; and the habitual thought patterns of doctrinal programming to overcome. :phew:

 

It's not simple, but remaining in it is a dead-end.

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I don't know if I qualify to respond to this question. For me it's been two stages. I would say the first stage was far more traumatic on every level of my being than the second. But I'm just starting the second so I don't know how it will end up.

 

The first stage was leaving the community into which I had been born, lived, and had my being/identity. What many people on here describe of their deconversion is very much like the first stage for me. I did not at that time come out and suggest that there is no god. With my head I did not believe in god. (Ironically, the fundamentalist Christians around me in the modern church believed I had a very strong faith.) With my heart I was praying day in and day out. I felt like two different people. Over the years that has changed and today I feel comfortable being out. So I would say it does get better. It can take years. I feel it took me about seven years. But it was not traumatic all that time. I would say the first six months were the most traumatic. I had LOTS of people I could talk to. That helped enormously. I think after a year the sharp edge had worn off. I still had burning questions. I still could not bear to think about hell. But the dust had settled, so to speak. The people who had been so terribly upset when I left had come to some kind of terms with the situation.

 

The reason I had so many people to talk to was that I had not left Christianity, just an overly religious group and many people seemed to be so happy that I found my way out of that specific community. I met many others who had left before me. So this does not exactly equate with your situation. If you have been reading my posts you will know that I have only recently "come out" about my unbelief. That makes for a whole new situation. The people I can expect to understand do not exist on every street corner. I even found myself being the focus of a lecture from a Muslim woman. She and a Christian pastor ganged up on me because I opposed religious prayer in a secular university. That's an issue on its own but it occurs to me that in religious language the "end of the world must be at hand" if we have Christians and Muslims joining forces for anything. What I learned from that was that this is not a Christian-only issue; it extends to the wider religious community. At least it can.

 

However, I do believe it will get better. And I believe that it can be measured in increments of time such as the first three weeks were a nightmare for me. The next several months were merely hectic. After the six-month mark the swirling slowed down somewhat. Then there is the first anniversary. Then the two-year mark. Eventually it's five years. All the time it gets better.

 

I had many other major issues playing into the situation. So the time frame may be different for others than it was for me. A major part of the "other issues" were the direct result of my serious questions about Christianity. And these developed into serious issues because I remained in the Christian community. I was consciously aware that I was not taking the full step out of Christianity. I was consciously aware that I needed a Christian community to take care of me after leaving my own community. As one of my "primary care-givers" put it, they are a hospital to nurse people until they can look after themselves. She said not everybody in their church felt that way but it was her way of seeing it.

 

Thus, again, your situation will be different from mine because I take it you are taking the full step out of Christianity at the same time as you are leaving the church that has been your spiritual home for a long time.

 

This must be a muddled post but perhaps the message is clear: Things do get better with time and the schedule is not the same for everybody because situations are not all the same.

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I agree that a 'normal' timetable is all but impossible, due to all the variants we as ex-c's have. I do believe that education is vitally important, though, to help speed that process along. The more you learn about the history of xtianity and the bible, the easier it becomes.

 

Also, things get better a little bit at a time, generally speaking. Unlike conversion, it seems like big, emotional or intellectual breakthroughs don't happen very often in the process of apostasy. It's

like a melting iceberg - sometimes a big chunk may dramatically fall off, but mostly it just gets smaller day by day.

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It's like a melting iceberg - sometimes a big chunk may dramatically fall off, but mostly it just gets smaller day by day.

 

Wow! AGF. You're so inspired today.:17:

 

I want what you smoked! :dance:

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AGF, having left christianity decades ago, I can say that the residual fear of hell is very real, even if hell itself is not. There's that question the fundies throw at you..."what if you're wrong?" Scary, but to a thinking person, it's like the question, "but what if there really is a boogeyman under your bed?"

 

When I left christianity I felt a load come off...no hell, no judgement, no more "burden of sin". The way I lived didn't change much. I just no longer felt guilty about being a normal human being. There was no wrathful god's judgement hanging over me, and I knew that I had already done far more good in this life than bad. So, what was there to fear? Nothing. Not even death.

 

Yes indeed, it just gets better. Whatever bad things happen to you are the result of things you can't control, wrong decisions you make (which is just human), or the actions of other people, (and you can't control them either.) All you can control is you...sometimes.

 

It's a journey, AGF, enjoy the ride...even if the road gets bumpy.

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Yes indeed, it just gets better. Whatever bad things happen to you are the result of things you can't control, wrong decisions you make (which is just human), or the actions of other people, (and you can't control them either.) All you can control is you...sometimes.

 

It's a journey, AGF, enjoy the ride...even if the road gets bumpy.

 

When I realized the difference between sin and wrong decisions--and that wrong decisions are a normal occurance for humans--I was way ahead. Hope this helps someone as much as it did me.

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When does it get better? Well, I'll speak for myself - it got better for me when I went from suspecting christianity was bullshit to knowing it was. And the way I got there was through intensive reading, learning, and spending time among the great folks here at Ex-C.

 

When you can laugh at someone who's trying to evangelize you, and tell em to keep their superstitious nonsense to themselves, you've arrived.

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It's like a melting iceberg - sometimes a big chunk may dramatically fall off, but mostly it just gets smaller day by day.

 

Wow! AGF. You're so inspired today.:17:

 

I want what you smoked! :dance:

 

 

Shucks, it weren't nothing. :mellow:

 

 

Oh, and I was smoking Parliament lights.

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Guest Billy Sands

I suppose it depends on the reasons for your deconversion. I started deconverting about 3 years ago. It has been hard. I lost a lot of so called friends, but also realised who my true friends are. I realised that trying to keep my faith despite mycrushing doubts was seriously unbalancing me and causing me a great deal of torment. I felt rejected by god. I "knew" he existed, but despite my sincerety, for some reason he was rejecting me. Can you immagine how bad I felt? I hadto make a concious attempt to not believe at first. This is hard, you often feel your self being pulled back. You must do your best to resist that last chance prayer. If you do that , you take a massive step back, and only cause yourself more grief. The best thing to do is remove as much christian influence as you can in your life - anytime you are out with a group of Christians, there is allways one who will try and talk you back to faith. You have to avoid these like the plague. Its a bit like going cold turkey.

Realising the bible is full of contradictions, historical and scientific inaccuracies, acts of gross god ordained immorality and fabrication. Read critical accounts of the bible, and realise that Jesus fulfiled no messianic prophecies, and most such prophecies were taken out of context and twisted in the first place. Web sites that helped me are

http://members.aol.com/ckbloomfld/

http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/

http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/

More recently, i have found this site http://richarddawkins.net/ here you will find many people have independantly come to the same conclusions as you, and you can even argue with some fundies (very therapeutic) and see how pathetic their argument.

I have even started writing a book as a self healing excerise.

BE SURE OF WHAT YOU DONT BELIEVE!

IT IS A TOUGH PROCESS AND WILL TAKE TIME, BUT IT IS DEFINATELY WORTH IT! ONLY NOW DO I START TO SEE A HOPE THAT FAITH NEVER GAVE ME.

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Well, lets see..its been three years since it started. The first year was hell..(pardon the pun). Lots of doubt about my doubt. Even returned a time or two.

 

But, now, after three years, it no longer bothers me. I really don't have that fear of hell. Actually, I never had much to begin with..as a believer, it never occured to me that hell was an option for me. Once I stopped believing, hell no longer existed.

 

Mythra:

When you can laugh at someone who's trying to evangelize you, and tell em to keep their superstitious nonsense to themselves, you've arrived.

 

I did this recently..guess I've arrived? :grin:

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Lizard! :beer:

 

Bravo!

 

Seriously, though - christians are used to people getting a worried look on their faces (or possibly getting angry) when they tell em about hell. Or that God has a purpose for their lives. Or that God hates sin. Or that our country is in trouble (with God).

 

Christians are good at laying their guilt trip and hitting you between the eyes with their presuppositional bs that "everyone knows, deep down, that the bible is true"..

 

When they come up and ask you if you have a personal relationship with Jesus, and you just bust out laughing (or even have a little chuckle as you walk away) - it's got to set them back a bit.

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I mean, think about this: (for those of us who've been around awhile)

 

How many of you remember when the Hare Krishna's were big? Every college campus had a group.

 

What did you do when a couple of these bald-headed pajama-clad goof-balls with a spot on their forehead came up to you to tell you about their gig?

 

I know what I did. Found it amusing. Kind of said - "hey whatever"... I looked at em like they were loony.

 

Xianty deserves no more respect or concern than that.

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I know what I did. Found it amusing. Kind of said - "hey whatever"... I looked at em like they were loony.

 

Xianty deserves no more respect or concern than that.

 

Good point! I live for the day when I no longer feel like I need to explode with anger or pointedly critical arguments every chance I get. The problem is, I enjoy it so much--is there something therapeutic about attacking christians on internet forums? Shhh *looks both ways* is there somebody here who knows me? Ahhh! now I remember. This is the X christian board :grin:

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re. Good point! I live for the day when I no longer feel like I need to explode with anger or pointedly critical arguments every chance I get. The problem is, I enjoy it so much--is there something therapeutic about attacking christians on internet forums?

 

Ruby,

 

I think it is good to arrive at a controlled emotional state. I'm not sure I'm there. I can get quite pationate when I speak to fundies face to face and on the net. To steal a word from xtians, I get pationate about the truth.

 

I don't however have to win the argument but rather stand my ground and establish that I'm not in their camp and proud of who I am.

 

Nonetheless, there are some fundies who absolutely need to be told that the prosltyzing that they do is vile and reprehensible manipulation of people in weak moments of their lives. Seducing someone in the wake of a breakup is a comparision imbalanced comparison. Fouling with someone's head with religion is viscious abuse and we need to speak out against their irresponsible and immoral behaviour.

 

In conclusion Ruby... keep up the good fight. You should be proud of yourself!!! The net needs more people like you to speak out and present a strong voice for ex-christianity.

 

Cheers,

 

Eric

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