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Hammurabi

Phases Of Deconversion

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I think I'm still abusing the car a lot. When I finished with Christianity I felt like there was a hole in my identity which I've so far filled with being a loud Atheist. Even going on this forum is me doing that. It might take a while before I quieten down a little.

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I think I'm still abusing the car a lot. When I finished with Christianity I felt like there was a hole in my identity which I've so far filled with being a loud Atheist. Even going on this forum is me doing that. It might take a while before I quieten down a little.

It's OK Chris. Everyone handles it his/her own way and in his/her own time. There is no "normal" way to get out of the abnormal. Your religious "training" took years and getting over it doesn't happen overnight. Hang in there.

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Phase 5 - Acceptance

 

The ultimate tragedy of being a deconvert is the fact that even though we stop believing, we won't let it go. Imagine your old faith like a car. For a while you loved it, you took care of it and drove it all the time but one day it breaks down. You get out and try to fix it, but you can't. You ask a mechanic but he just asks for 10% of your income and tells you to fix it yourself. You consult the user manual but it was written for a horse-and-buggy. In desperation, you start kicking the car, swearing at it, throwing rocks at it. You hate it, and somehow punishing it for leaving you stranded makes you feel some amount of relief. You push it home, kicking it and swearing at it the whole way. You get up in the middle of the night just to take a leak in the gas tank. Then you start acting weird.

 

You start pushing the car wherever you go, breaking out the windows and scratching the paint. You get a new car and tow the old one behind it just so it's available for abuse whenever you need. You may even attack other peoples cars of the same make and model; "Your car's garbage! Throw it away, you can't depend on it!" Admit it, you actually enjoy being mad at your car.

 

For a time that anger is very therapeutic, it helps you cope with the loss of a major component of your life. Now however, your life is just as consumed with this car as it was when it worked, and you don't even get to drive it anymore! To truly be past it, you need to go ahead and drop it off at the dump. You don't need to rush yourself, have fun tearing the hunk-o-junk up, but wouldn't it be nice to live a life that didn't revolve around the old christ-moble anymore?

 

 

I have mixed feelings about this phase. I believe we should all learn to accept what has happened, and not let it consume us, but I also believe we should always remain angry in a way. We should never forget what this religion did to us so we can help it from doing the same to others. Over the years, I've spent a decent amount of time in another forum debating Christianity. It used to be partially for the therapeutic value. In the past year, I think, I've come to terms with my whole ordeal, but now, it's all about fighting for the truth; encouraging others to look at the religion critically and see how f*cking stupid it is. I'm a musician, and my hatred for Christianity helps fuel my creativity. I think as long as you can turn that hate into a positive thing, and use it to fuel you to do positive things, without it eating at you, then you're where you need to be.

 

Sure, drop that car off at the dump, but it's ok to remain just pissed off enough to tell everyone that the Christ-mobile is a shitty car.

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I went straight through each of these steps over the past two years. I was never 100% confident in my religion, so it was a relief to abandon it. Unfortunately, the sweet, sweet taste of freedom is somewhat stifled by the loss of a heavenly best friend that provided all the answers. However, I'm getting over it. I finally have the power to make my own decisions.

 

I agree with AKR that the anger can be channelled into action. Ex-Christians are in better positions than anyone else to tear down Christianity because we have been there. We know the Bible. We know the mindset. I don't want to forget what I've been through. Right now, as I'm attending a Christian college and surrounded by the nonsense, I want to learn as much as I can about Christian theology so that I can better debate it. Though I can't reveal my disbelief, I can try to encourage my classmates to pursue their questions about the Bible and learn to think for themselves. Christians are taught to distrust their intellect. One of the best ways to dismantle Christianity may simply be to teach people how to think.

 

My high school English teacher (I went to a Christian school) used to say that Christians were just "beggers telling other beggers where to find bread." Now, I'm the one with the bread! The only question is, how many Christians are willing to eat it?

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Guest awake now

I have to agree. You should get some kind of Master's degree for this. Wow. It was EXTREMELY therapeutic for me to read this. I'm going to have my husband read it so he can understand a little better what I am going through. He tried to buy into the Christian thing for many years, being nice and playing along, but was never truly sucked into it like I was so coming around to being an atheist wasn't such a major event for him as it was for me. And yes, I'm still towing around what's left of the "car".

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This is great and very accurate. I'd love to plagiarize it but won't out of respect.

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Guest AtheistInAFoxhole

I would say for the most part that this was pretty spot on. Very good! And thanks for posting something that actually made me aware that there were "phases". It wasn't until after I read this and really thought about it that I was able to see the distinct phases in my own deconversion.

 

:D

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Hi all, I am completely new to this site and forum. I have only deconverted in the last 3 weeks. Wow what a journey it's been. I can totally relate to the stages of deconversion. I am in the anger phase. I just wanted to ask everyone if they felt guilty once they walked away, every time they did something that was 'non-christian'. I am still trying to reconcile my brain to my own thoughts. I feel like I am being naughty all the time and a big bad bogey man will come thundering down on me. Has anyone else dealt with the no sex before marriage thing? I am thinking of going down that road, but the guilt is still sooo huge in my mind. I feel like I will have a sign on my head and the whole world will know, especially any christians that I come in contact with. I would love to hear how other people have dealt with this.

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Hi all, I am completely new to this site and forum. I have only deconverted in the last 3 weeks. Wow what a journey it's been. I can totally relate to the stages of deconversion. I am in the anger phase. I just wanted to ask everyone if they felt guilty once they walked away, every time they did something that was 'non-christian'. I am still trying to reconcile my brain to my own thoughts. I feel like I am being naughty all the time and a big bad bogey man will come thundering down on me. Has anyone else dealt with the no sex before marriage thing? I am thinking of going down that road, but the guilt is still sooo huge in my mind. I feel like I will have a sign on my head and the whole world will know, especially any christians that I come in contact with. I would love to hear how other people have dealt with this.

 

 

Hi Kathlene,

 

Welcome! Yes, I followed X for 30 years, so all of my adolescence and my adult life was fenced in by the bogey man until about a couple of months ago. Some things are now just enjoyable (like watching Harry Potter or more adult themes). But I find that the 30 years of fundamentalism are not always easily shaken off. I still feel sad or guilty sometimes. But I am beginning to challenge these feelings openly, because my conscience just needs to learn new rules of what is ok and what is not.

 

Christians often claim that they can read your life or spirit as soon as they see you, but I find that they are making it up. Cold-reading people is a lot easier when they seem nervous (i.e. reacting to their own conscience over things they believe are bad). But I have been up to my eyeballs in "sin" and totally escaped the withering gaze of self-proclaimed prophets. Some even claimed that they felt the spirit of God powerfully in my house. This stuff is really imagination, and unless I do something to give them an indication of sin, they are clueless. It is just one more step to realize that the bogey man is also imagination, this time your own.

 

There are things I still refuse to do, like being unfaithful to my wife. But that is a decision I make based on my commitment and promise to her, not because I am forced by a deity. In my experience, "he" doesn't prevent such things anyway. Religion can only condemn afterwards. One of the elders in my previous church just confessed to adultery. This points out the issue that being born again is just like the old story of the emperor's new clothes. They claim to be new creations, the old gone and the new has come, but they are still the same old humans.

 

Once you are more free from the bogey man of your conscience, then you will probably care less what others think about you as well. I face criticism from my friends for not attending church, and they don't yet know that I have entirely quit the faith. My act of quitting it actually gave me some insulation internally from their jibes, since it really is all meaningless outside of the faith.

 

Anyway, before I ramble too much, again welcome!

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Very accurate indeed. Great reading, so true. I went through those middle stages very quickly and came to the inescapable conclusion one day that "no", I no longer believed. It was not a choice as Christians would like to suggest it was.

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Great posts.

 

It is my firm belief that only the most intelligent and the most courageous Christians deconvert. (So I guess I am patting myself on the back some what)

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IMO Its not so much intellect as it is intellectual honesty. I've seen plenty of seasoned apologists on theologyweb that obviously were smart enough to have figured things out enough to come to the conclusion that its all bullshit, but continue on the path of xianiy out of sheer inability to take an honest look at themselves and realize how empty their religion had become after whittling it down with philosophical ideal after ideal.

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Phase 5 is what I think of as a bargaining phase. At least it was for me. If we carry it around long enough will we make sense of it and not have lost all that time, not have been so stupid, not have been so arrogant with potential converts and condescending with 'sinners'. Not have married and stayed with the wrong person because we had pre-marital sex. Not have raised our kids in such a fucked up way...

 

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa! (Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault!)

 

Put that burden down! We can't change the past, let's not keep on carrying it around trying to bargain with the devil, as it were.

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That is pretty much how I felt and am feeling. You are dead on. This could be the manual!

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Guest tumalo

awesome OP man. thanks for that. helpful to me, a new de-convert.

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Guest ephymeris

I know I'm late to the party but for me, this is so dead on, right down to the car metaphore. I hope, though, that by now I've stopped hauling my christ-mobile around. My process of deconversion started 10 years ago. I can now be around christians and even super-christians and keep it in check. I don't feel searing anger towards religion or the religious anymore. I don't agree with them but I temper my replies to be true to myself but not nasty or combative. A few good things about my deconversion: I'm much more self confident and self reliant now, I can watch the human experience with more objectivity and I think that helps me in my job as a medical professional, I will not pass on the disease that is christianity to my children.

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Great post OP. Although as many have stated each person can bounce between steps, or even be in anothe stage with residual effects from a past stage, and the bouncing back and forth even over a matter of years - sooo true!

 

It's funny, reading through this, I'd be placing my mother in that fear stage - but she's always been terrified of change, so it fits that she's stuck there (and very well may be till she dies). She's not happy with Christianity, but is scared to move on - it really fits her position. Me, on the other hand, who loves and embraces change, went through that phase pretty quickly, which is probaly part of why I find it somewhat frustrating talking to her (I haven't out-right told her of my deconversion for a host of reasons). I don't want to convince her to deconvert - that's her choice, and although I feel she's headed that direction, I don't want to push her since I do feel it is a path that each of us has to choose for ourselves.

 

I have no problem with christians - it's their choice, I feel no need to rally against them - heck, their need to reconvert me is part of their beliefs (annoying, but part of it), therefore I don't think I harbor that much hatred against christians, mostly just that it is such a suffocating religion when you are born into it, breaking free can become a life-long process, and perhaps something we are never completely free from since family and friends will still be there.

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Deconversion is rough at first. I can remember lying in bed long after I stopped believing in hell, riding out a wave of fear of ending up there. Fortunately, I'm well past that now.

 

Can't really seem to get past the anger phase, though. I suppose I can't really drop that beat-up old christ-mobile at the dump until I stop letting my family believe I'm still driving it. I don't say anything to indicate agreement with their beliefs, but I don't disagree either. Lot of polite silences. And they're all just becoming more fundie all the time...

 

Small steps for now: Telling them I'm not going to church for the summer b/c choir's out (I still enjoy that choir, even though I hate hearing the priest speak) - my mother actually got a little panicky about that one. Sitting in respectful silence but not in any way participating when they pray. Stuff like that. That way, when I do finally "come out" maybe it won't be such a shock. Can't take the hysterics.

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it was a slow process for me, the full deconversion didn't start until, believe it or not, after 9/11. it wasn't the event that took place, though tragic, it was response i got from my former pastor and my former church, and one stupid pastor blaming the "homo-sexuals" and the "abortionist" i started questioning, which is phase 1 then went back to phase 0, then after talking to a friend who is seriously stuck on phase 4 (so much he's still mad at this "god" thing) started me back on phase 1 again and the ball started rolling, my ex step father wasn't help either, well, he was, just moved me to step 4 at a rather quick pace. in 2003 i got a job at a "christian" bookstore, so that put me at officially at phase 4 then in 2005 i came to an acceptance and left the "christian bookstore" in 2009 and feel better about it.

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Hi I'm new here. I would just like to say that it was 10 years ago that I walked away from Christianity, and I wasn't even "saved" at that, and I was always being told that I would end up in the deepest part of hell because I knew the truth and rejected it...

I developed many phobias because of this religion, I was scared to travel and go anywhere in case it increased the risk of dying or being killed, and I was not right with god... In the end I walked away from it all and have ended up with mental health problems, such as depression and agoraphobia, although I am well on the road to recovery. I just thought that when I decided to walk away from it, that my phobias would disappear, but they haven't and I still find it difficult to travel... Sometimes way deep down in my head I still say "What if"...

You can read my story on my web page link...

Thanks for being here...

I can relate so much with so many of the stories on here... Brilliant...

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Hi I'm new here. I would just like to say that it was 10 years ago that I walked away from Christianity, and I wasn't even "saved" at that, and I was always being told that I would end up in the deepest part of hell because I knew the truth and rejected it...

I developed many phobias because of this religion, I was scared to travel and go anywhere in case it increased the risk of dying or being killed, and I was not right with god... In the end I walked away from it all and have ended up with mental health problems, such as depression and agoraphobia, although I am well on the road to recovery. I just thought that when I decided to walk away from it, that my phobias would disappear, but they haven't and I still find it difficult to travel... Sometimes way deep down in my head I still say "What if"...

You can read my story on my web page link...

Thanks for being here...

I can relate so much with so many of the stories on here... Brilliant...

 

welcome, and i hope you find encouragement here on the boards.

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Wow, a lot of the OP rings true. Sad but happy too that I'm not alone. Funny thing though is I never had phase 0. I always struggled with my faith and had lots of questions. I guess I was never a "good Christian". Didn't mean I wasn't committed though, heck I hung on for 22 years!

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All I can say is thank you, and well done. Great job of pulling together multiple posts and making sense out of the struggle.

 

Curiosity. That hit the nail on the head. For me, and I suspect for many others, it wasn't a curiosity directed towards suspicion, just plain old curiosity. If anything, I was trying to better understand, and even fortify, my beliefs. It was real, so it must be crucially important and require our dedicated efforts, right?

 

It was after I read the Bible that I thought there was something really wrong, and that lead to searching for verification of the history of the Bible, and that exposed me to Mesopotamian archeology and literature, and...

 

I still have questions, but not about faith. Questions about atheism. Is it the same for everyone? Evidently not, but why not? And what about regression? For me, impossible, but for others?

 

Well, thanks again.

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While I can identify with all the phases, I didn't experience them in that order at all. In fact, anger was quite early on for me. But it was a comprehensive post!

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Guest bell

Deconversion is rough at first. I can remember lying in bed long after I stopped believing in hell, riding out a wave of fear of ending up there. Fortunately, I'm well past that now.

 

Can't really seem to get past the anger phase, though. I suppose I can't really drop that beat-up old christ-mobile at the dump until I stop letting my family believe I'm still driving it. I don't say anything to indicate agreement with their beliefs, but I don't disagree either. Lot of polite silences. And they're all just becoming more fundie all the time...

 

Small steps for now: Telling them I'm not going to church for the summer b/c choir's out (I still enjoy that choir, even though I hate hearing the priest speak) - my mother actually got a little panicky about that one. Sitting in respectful silence but not in any way participating when they pray. Stuff like that. That way, when I do finally "come out" maybe it won't be such a shock. Can't take the hysterics.

 

I saw your post on ex-christian.net in response to the phases of de-conversion and I am with you I am having problems with getting past the anger phase. I was an adult when I foolishly became a fundie I had been an atheist, a Baptist and a Congregationalist left both religious sects no problem. It was harder for me to leave the fundies they have scarier threats if you leave the faith. Once I read the whole bible cover to cover in a month's time I was able to see that the God of the bible didn't create man, man created him in his image. I hope I put this post in the right place on the site I'm still learning about posting on different sites.

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