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Goodbye Jesus

My path, my choice.


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Like most of you ExC'ers here, I grew up in a Christian home. However, I always felt... "disconnected"... from the religion. I feel somewhat unique, however, because I was exposed to different denominations. My mother was a Catholic who converted to Methodism to marry her second husband (when I was in kindergarten). My aunt Cynthia is a Greek Orthodox. The rest of my family is largely Roman Catholic Italians.


My mother used to bring me to Sunday Mass when she was a Catholic. I loved the pomp and circumstance, but it meant nothing personal to me. Rather like dangling a fascinating new toy in front of a small child's eyes. There was nothing personal or deep behind it, however.


When my mother converted to Methodism, she didn't take me to the Methodist church until I was about 7 years old. Again, while I enjoyed the Sunday School arts-and-crafts sessions and sing-a-longs, it was of no import to me.


When I sat in the church -- often for hours at a time -- I would easily become bored and restless. I would even fall asleep during the pastor's sermons. It wasn't until I was of confirmation age (13 years old) that religion began to have any meaning for me. At that point, I became curious of other possibilities and faith systems. I started studying ancient Greco-Roman and Egyptian mythology. I also wondered about Judaism.


Ironically, at that time, my stepfather had became one of the laity in our church. He was a cruel, abusive man and I was afraid of him. I began drawing mental conclusions about the similarities between him and the God I was supposed to love. "If he loves me, then why does he continue to hurt me? Why should I be punished for a mistake? If God loves me, why won't he protect me instead of letting this happen to me?"


Eventually, my parents -- apparently concerned that I was delving into alternate religions to satiate my need for understanding -- contacted the pastor of our church. The pastor came over and talked to me about becoming a confirmed Christian. When I raised questions about how Christianity compares to Judaism and other religions, the pastor was shocked. She basically insisted to me that Christianity was the be-all and end-all of religions.


I was a little hacked off by this lack of enlightenment, but I went ahead and got confirmed as a Methodist. I still remember that horrible, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I read my confirmation vows at the pulpit the week after that. I felt like I was being sentenced to death.


I quietly continued my research into alternate belief systems, however, and I even briefly delved into Wicca in private while projecting the false image of the ideal Christian. I eventually stopped attending church regularly to pursue my goal in finding my faith full-time. I spent much of my late teens drifting from agnostic to sort-of Christian.


Meanwhile, my stepfather's abuse continued. When all else failed, I prayed to the Lord regularly to save me from the abuse, to protect me from my stepfather. Jehovah never showed up, and the mental and sexual abuse at my stepfather's hands continued. I began to think that perhaps it was my fault, for not being a good enough Christian.


I despaired, eventually believing that I might be better off dead. I attempted suicide -- twice. The first time was in June 2000 and the second time was in early 2001. In November of 2001, I went into counselling, and confronted my fears of my stepfather and, in turn, my fear of the invisible sky-daddy who would condemn me to hell for not being a perfect Christian. I had been manipulated into fear enough at the hands of my stepfather, a supposedly "ideal" Christian, and I didn't need any more condemnation at the hands of a manipulative God or His followers.


My beliefs began to change. I began to put my faith in a more tender and compassionate entity that could substitute for the loving father figure I never had. I rejected the warring Jehovah in favour of this kinder, gentler, unisex Deity who would accept me for who I am -- all of who I am, and not just bits and pieces of what anyone thought I *should* be. So, knowing my believes didn't jibe with the image of the Christian God, I walked away from the church and didn't look back.


It wasn't until late '03 that I discovered the Gnostic Gospels. And it made more sense to me than Christianity ever did, so I -- at this point in my life -- consider myself a freethinking neo-Gnostic. I don't think Jesus was the saviour of mankind. He was just a man, if indeed he existed at all. And that's what gets me into hot water with my family.


A few weeks ago, I had an occurance that made me grateful I'm not a blind worshipper of the sadistic Yahweh. I was told by my aunt Cynthia (the Greek Orthodox aunt, who I happen to admire deeply) that "you better believe in Jesus, or you'll end up in Hell". All because my mom innocently blurted out over the dinner table that she noticed and was sorry that I cringed when she (my mom) said "in Jesus' name we pray" while saying grace.


I realize that when I chose my path, I would be censured for it. But I never expected it from my aunt. Ouch. I just hope that she will try to be more understanding when next we talk.


One good thing about the whole thing is, though: Mom's trying to be understanding about it, because she knows I'm searching for answers, just as she did at one point in her life. She's even defended me. I think she sees being supportive of my choices as part and parcel of both being a good Christian and a good mom. She even once told me that "you are at this moment, exactly where you need to be".


But I still get calls and notes from people at my old church asking me when I'll be coming back. The last time I showed up there was almost 2 years ago, because my mom asked me and my then-boyfriend to go at Easter '03. I haven't been back since. What makes them think I'll be back anytime soon?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Eternal Darkness, I had to go back and look at your old post of this story on the previous site: My path, my choice, Why and how I left Christianity


The thing that gets to me the most is your step-father's behavior and the lack of intervention on the part of God...

Ironically, at that time [Ed: The age of thirteen], my stepfather had became one of the laity in our church. He was a cruel, abusive man and I was afraid of him. I began drawing mental conclusions about the similarities between him and the God I was supposed to love. "If he loves me, then why does he continue to hurt me? Why should I be punished for a mistake? If God loves me, why won't he protect me instead of letting this happen to me?"


Meanwhile, my stepfather's abuse continued. When all else failed, I prayed to the Lord regularly to save me from the abuse, to protect me from my stepfather. Jehovah never showed up, and the mental and sexual abuse at my stepfather's hands continued.


I had been manipulated into fear enough at the hands of my stepfather, a supposedly "ideal" Christian, and I didn't need any more condemnation at the hands of a manipulative God or His followers.

The lack of intervention of God, again. No wonder we have such a hard time trying to continue believing in him; in the worst of situations, the absolute worst, he's not there and he never shows up. Consistently!


I have a step-father too (since kindergarten, like you) but I was fortunate in that he never abused any of his children, ever, in any possible way. I curse the name of the predators who abuse the little ones and the weak. May they reap from life what they deserve.


You are not a one-size-fits-all; you are totally unique. As you are searching and growing, I agree with your mom that "you are at this moment, exactly where you need to be." I hope your mother continues to be supportive as she has been in the past. At the age of 22, I hope you are also now at a safe distance from your step-father or able to defend yourself, that he may never harm you again.


I hope that you have found this place to be a haven of rest, a harbor of safety, a home with some loving family members who will not abuse you. Thank you for posting your story again as I missed it the last time. I'm glad you're here. :)



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My stepfather left our home in December 2003, to shack up with his Phillipina internet girlfriend. He's still living a few towns away in his mother's home, but I have been fortunate enough to have seen neither hide nor hair of him since.


Living alone with my mother for the past year or so gave me a chance to decompress from the abuse. Initially, for the first few months after he left, I had regular panic attacks and bouts of insomnia out of fear that my stepfather would come back for me. I even accidentally locked my mother out of the apartment a few times.


I'm definitely not that scared anymore. But I still look over my shoulder when I'm walking home at night, to make sure no one's following me. I need to be aware of a possible threat to protect myself, after all.


I will be moving in with my friend Christine as soon as humanly possible. This apartment I'm in with my mother has too many bad memories for me, and because of the poor lighting and the deteriorating condition of the locks, bolts and windows, it doesn't feel safe. I also plan on taking self-defense classes with Chrissy as soon as I can get enough money to support myself. In the meantime, she and I carry pepper spray.


My mother is still very supportive of me. She was also sexually abused by an uncle of hers when she was young (and my stepfather knew about that story), so she knows what I go through every day, on a mental level. She's also still supportive of my searching, although she's a little disappointed that I walked away from the church. But the church is her refuge, not mine.


She's now embraced my beliefs as part and parcel of her little girl's being, and she's been giving me books on mythology, herbs, psychic phenomenae and spellcasting. (Interestingly enough, when she was my age, she also got into Wicca. She's a whitelighter, liberal variety of Christian now.) She doesn't mind, as long as I don't use my beliefs to justify harming others, and try to tap into negative energies.


I know Mom also feels guilty for not being able to protect me, and not realizing that there was something going on, because she didn't want to think of her husband that way. When I eventually was able to tell her about the abuse (in the presence of a counselor, and giving rough details of the abuse), she and I both hugged each other and wept and she told me how sorry she was that this happened to me.


She's been the one constant in my life, and there has never been a doubt in my mind that she truly loves me and wants the best for me. Now that she and my stepfather have been separated for 16 months, she will be able to divorce my stepfather in another 2 months (in accordance with NJ state law).


The New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) also pulled a fast one on my mom as, according to them, she's on their child abuse offender's central list and has to appeal to have her name removed. (I just found that out a few weeks ago.) It amounts to no more than libel, as I can tell you for a fact that my mom wouldn't harm a fly. The person who should be on that list no longer lives here.


I'm more at peace with myself now than I was, but I'm anticipating a long uphill battle. And I'm very glad to be here. It feels very much like a home, and I admire many of the people here. And thanks for reading my venting. :)

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Thank you for letting us see this, Eternal. Since you posted it, I've wanted very much to reply, just to let you know that I saw it and give a shit. My problem has been that I don't have anything in my own past that lets me relate to it, yet the things you've been through are so compelling that I feel I need to say something. So every time I've tried to think of something to say, anything I come up with just sounds like something that would trivialize all you wrote.


I very much wanted to reply, but definitely didn't want to do one of those generic, "Great post! Thanks for sharing," kinds of responses. I suspect that other members may feel the same way, so I don't want you to think that the lack of replies means that nobody here gives a damn about you and your experience.


I just can't think of anything useful to say in response.

I still can't, other than, "I'm glad you're here, glad you're out of that, and glad you're moving in the direction you are."



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Yes, that's it Loren. It's so hard to know what to say sometimes. We want to convey something meaningful, some compassion and understanding but without a similar shared experience we are left feeling inadequate to do so, the proper words failing us.


EternalDarkness, you've come a long way in your struggle to free yourself and move forward from this tragic past. It must be encouraging to you, as you glance backwards, to see the decompression you've achieved and the sense of safety that you are beginning to experience. Your own hard work has paid off. It looks like you've taken the responsibility and are following through in meeting life head on. I think learning self-defense will be very beneficial for you and I'm glad you plan to pursue that. (Loren didn't mention it but he spent six years in training.)


Next time you find yourself looking back over your shoulder, I hope you will bear in mind that some friends in this community, along with Chrissy and your mom, are actually behind you, helping to push you up that hill you're climbing.


One peak at a time is finally attained by one step after another, firmly planted. It may all feel like hell but this isn't eternity.


I wish you all good things. Here's to bright days and a kinder future.



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Dear Eternal Darkness,


It is inspiring to hear how you've pushed on ahead, and how you can recognize and receive love from other people like your mother and Christine. Truly, it does take work to put together your own mind and to trust people when you've been hurt. I'm glad that you've been doing that and that you have shared the process with the rest of us here. I think anyone's individual circumstances touch on universals that resonate with other people, so it helps us all profit from what each other has seen and done. I went through a lot of abuse as a child, not sexual, but major mind- and soul-rape from my mother, to which my father was oblivious (my sister endured it even worse). It is such a liberation at least to come out of the rape that hostile dogma does to us, isn't it?



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I understand that it's difficult to find the right words to convey your feelings. I feel much the same way with some of the other "antimonies" here. But I appreciate the sentiment. And I do know, in my heart of hearts, that even if people aren't replying, they're still reading it. And maybe one of those silent readers will walk away from my post with something to think about. :)




It can be rewarding sometimes, to look back and realize how far I've come. It's not that I'm glad about what happened to me but, if what happened to me didn't happen, I wouldn't be the person I am today. I have changed, for the better. And that's what's important.


I have a family that I am creating for myself among friends. "Family isn't necessarily the one you were born with. It's the one you make for yourself." I'm also in love again for the first time in two years, which is simply amazing. I spent a long time healing from the hurt of breaking up with my ex and find it difficult to trust a man due to my past, so the realization that I want to try again is gladdening.


Changes take time to develop. That much I know. And where I am now is so much better than where I've been, already. The days to come look brighter from here, even though it will take work to get there. But I am willing to work for it. And with such wonderful people supporting me, how can I lose? :)




Indeed, it has taken a long time to get myself to open up to others and, particularly, to not feel any shame for what has happened to me. I remind myself that what occured is through no fault of my own, and it is not an indicator of what the rest of my life will be. And the knowledge that I have gained is indeed liberating, as I no longer feel the pawn to someone's cosmic chess game.


If someone can learn from my experience, then they are gifted with more knowledge that didn't come to them through their experiences alone. At the end of the day, we humans are social animals and we all need each other to learn, to comfort, to gain a foothold in our own lives. And I'm slowly learning to depend on people again, to take the risk of trusting others.


To all three of you (Loren, Reach, Ficino),


I appreciate your responses. I'm glad that my voice is being heard, in the presence of such a safe haven and among such wonderful people. I give you my heartfelt thanks. :)

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Thank you, once again, for sharing your story with us, for letting us in.


You are a lovely example of the kind of person who can emerge from terrible circumstances, in a Christian home, no less, without becoming hateful and bitter, which is what so many Christians accuse us of becoming.


Congratulations on your new life, your personal growth and inner healing. May your future be as bright as your past should have been.


With much love and the highest respect for all of your hard work, on you,


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Like Loren, I have nothing to say which seems up to the moment. I found your story deeply affecting, and watching how far you've come - even since you've been on the site - is inspiring. Your presence here enriches the community, and I personally look forward to your posts.


Thank you for sharing this part of yourself here.

And for sticking around :-)


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Hi, Eternal Darkness. You should have called yourself "Eternal Strength". For you to retain your sanity after all you've been put through makes you a strong woman worthy of emulation and respect. I was abused as a child also and have been hospitalized twice for suicidal attempts. For a long time, I searched for the paternal love god was supposed to have for me. As I began questioning my beliefs, I came to the conclusion that the love I was looking for is what I should search within myself for and only I know what's best for me.


It looks, like everyone's said, like you're on the right path. There really isn't any such thing as a wrong path so long as you've learned something from the places you've been. And don't worry about your step-father coming after you. Use your energy to heal yourself instead. Don't put any more of your precious time on a predator who's not worthy of taking up space in your brain.


Oh, and by the way, I think the folks at DYFS are a bunch of morons.

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