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Hammurabi

Phases Of Deconversion

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This was a fanastic commentary on the deconverting process....and you're sooo right...it's exactly the opposite of conversion...instead of coming into a community it's like everyone is just dropping you off since you no longer center your life around what they believe in.

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It's so sad that for some people it takes years to cope with the consequences. Sometimes it's different. My father's deconversion was quick and easy. His father committed suicide and the catholic priest refused to bury him. His undertaker dug a ditch and threw the body into it without any marks. Through all that pain though, looking back, they actually saved my father's life. Bizarre.

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It's so sad that for some people it takes years to cope with the consequences. Sometimes it's different. My father's deconversion was quick and easy. His father committed suicide and the catholic priest refused to bury him. His undertaker dug a ditch and threw the body into it without any marks. Through all that pain though, looking back, they actually saved my father's life. Bizarre.

Holy shit! That is the most insensitive thing, both with respect for the dead and the living, that I have ever heard. I knew the RC Church discourages suicide, but once done, it's done. There isn't any point in punishing the dead.

 

And for goodness' sake, give the living some peace of mind.

 

My mother had no such religious problems when her father committed suicide, but she still suffered for her entire life wondering why he did that. I never met my grandfather, but in a way his life still affects mine. He was a physician, and I am a physician in part because of his example. I don't intend to follow his example any further than career choice however.

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His father committed suicide and the catholic priest refused to bury him.

 

When I was about ten years old, one of my uncles was murdered in a random shooting. The priest refused to bury him because my aunt and uncle were divorced. His VERY irish-catholic father -- my grandfather -- never stepped into a church again.

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I've been stuck in the anger phase for a few months; I just can't let it go. I try, believe me, I try. I tell myself, I had no choice in the matter of being born into a christian home; I had no choice in this thing called faith. I tell myself, I am now free from such a petty constraint, and I am utterly free to walk in my own shoes now. But everywhere I turn my head I am reminded by this religious bull shit; or a thought from my childhood experience that just sets me off on this inner rampage. I know I need time, I know this, but what can I tell myself, or what do I need to let the anger pass?

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I've been stuck in the anger phase for a few months; I just can't let it go. I try, believe me, I try. I tell myself, I had no choice in the matter of being born into a christian home; I had no choice in this thing called faith. I tell myself, I am now free from such a petty constraint, and I am utterly free to walk in my own shoes now. But everywhere I turn my head I am reminded by this religious bull shit; or a thought from my childhood experience that just sets me off on this inner rampage. I know I need time, I know this, but what can I tell myself, or what do I need to let the anger pass?

Me giving advice on getting over the anger is like a Catholic priest giving advice on Marriage.

 

But I would say find an outlet for your anger. Anger can be a great motivator; books, music, art or just carefully applied logic to destroy the fallacious arguments of the apologists.

 

There is a sense of satisfaction when you have pinned their collective asses to a dart board with pinpoint reasoning.

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I've been through the stages in a slightly different order.

 

For me, I went through Phase 0 & 1 pretty much as described but when I hit Phase 2 it wasn't about fear for me as it was simply an extension of the curiosity I felt in Phase 1. After college, I started seriously reading the Bible for the first time and then dove straight into Phase 4. I was very, very angry at God and at all the people in my life who I'd felt had lied to me about what God & religion were REALLY about. I'd kept hearing it was about love and salvation, but all I read about in the Bible was hate, fear, ignoble "righteousness," and bloodshed. I was an antitheist long before I became an atheist.

 

But my anger cooled as I read more and more from secular sources, finishing up my Phase 2 and finally entering Phase 3. I realized that my anger towards god was misplaced - not because of free will or any of the reasons Christians claim excuses god from responsibility for evil and the sorry state of the world, but because god was completely imaginary! I realized it was akin to being angry with invisible pink unicorns: absurd.

 

These days I mostly fluctuate between 4 & 5. I'll be just fine and content for weeks or months at a time, and then some asshat believer will try to force their beliefs on me one way or another and the anger will come surging back. Sometimes, I can just shrug their attempts off and move on with hardly skipping a beat, and it's gettin easier to do this, but sometimes...

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Ok, first of all I just want to preface this by saying that these are my personal observations. I am not making any claim towards what the "right" way to deconvert is nor am I laying exclusive claim to the means of deconversion. Not everyone goes through ever phase and not every phase is significant to all deconverts. I am just writing what I observe, if you think I'm full of shit, feel free to say so. I"ve also used some quotes from the anti-testimonies posted on these boards, if your quote was used but you'd prefer it not to be, let me know and its gone.

 

 

 

 

Phases of Deconversion:

 

Phase 0 - The pre-deconversion.

 

This step really isn't a step at all. This is just the generalized time before deconversion. In this phase you are 100% committed to your belief, you call yourself a christian, you think of yourself as a christian, you know all the ways to answer all the questions about your faith and the idea of not being a christian has yet to enter your mind. This phase could be brief or quite lengthy, but it is characterized by the complete lack of questioning about your faith. You may be confronted about your faith by others, and you respond with all the "right" answers, but you yourself have yet to put your belief under the microscope. Some can go their whole lives without ever leaving this state, but we are talking about deconversion here, so on to phase 1.

 

Phase 1 - Curiosity killed the cat.

 

This is what I would consider to be the real first step toward deconversion; The point at which you first examine your own faith. Now, this can come about in many ways. For some, their zeal for discovering more about their religion leads them to examine themselves, ironically enough this quest for a greater faith leads them towards a lesser (or non-existent) one. For others, this questioning process is brought about by the inquiries of others. One particularly poignant question becomes the seed from which reason sprouts. Others still may find that in their increased knowledge of the natural world, they find things in conflict or even contradiction to their previously held beliefs. Sadly, many... far too many come to this step through tragedy or hardship, when the question isn't about religion per se, but about the nature of god itself. "How could god let this happen?" or "Why would he let this happen to us" or such questions simply cannot be answered to any satisfaction.

 

There are many other ways this questioning process can be kicked off, but the point is that at some point the walls around your faith that protected it from introspection yield. I have a suspicion that most believers encounter this phase of deconversion at least once in their life of faith, though most find cause to ignore or suppress it. The bible itself warns against such questioning. The entire apologetics industry is designed to push phase 1ers back to phase 0, as demonstrated by the fact that anyone well into their deconversion (not to mention anyone of other faiths or non-faiths) find apologetic arguments laughable or downright insulting.

 

Fast forward nearly 10 years and after countless debates on the subjects of the bible and creation science i noticed myself doing something ive never done before, i started becoming troubled by the atrocities in the bible, in particular the OT.

one day while reading the old testament i came to a passage where god commanded saul to kill everyone in a town, including women and children. this deeply disturbed me i thought to myself how could a loving god order the murder of those who could not defend themselves, not just the women but also that of innocent children.

 

After that, I was sitting in my second astronomy class where I learned so much that was almost contradictory to what I had learned growing up. Over the course of the rest of the class, I added all the new knowledge on the size of the universe and how we are all "star dust" to things I learned in the previous classes. This began rational thinking in my life.

 

 

Phase 2 - The quest for answers.

 

Ok, so now you've got a mind full of questions... or maybe just one or two particularly persistent ones. Who has the answers? For most, the first place we look is also the least helpful, religion. We scour the bible, meet with our pastor, call up our strong christian brothers and sisters. We peruse christian message boards and we read christian literature. So careful are we to avoid any secular literature for fear that it may seek to lead us away from our faith. The answer-seekers are convinced that they are still trying to save their faith, to fortify it with godly answers. This phase is characterized by one emotion; Fear.

 

It is a particular brand of fear, I can liken it most to the feeling of being lost. Like you were hiking in the woods and lose your bearings, all of the sudden you are struck by this sense of "I don't know where I am." Luckily for you, you are surrounded by others and can simply ask for directions. Unfortunately the answers you get are thoroughly unsatisfying. In fact, sometimes your questions aren't answered at all, but rather turned around onto you as some sort of flaw in your faith. You are told to consult the tour guide, but he just tells you to stay with the flock, and go read your guidebook. You check your guidebook but it barely seems to make sense anymore; "What the hell are these guys talking about palm trees for? I'm in the rocky mountains!!"

 

In your search to find slightly more satisfying answers, you find a secular source. It may be by accident, a non-religious friend or relative, or it may be on purpose under the guise of curiosity, such as stumbling onto exchristians.net, but none-the-less you find someone, somewhere, who will actually answer your questions. However, far from sealing this one tiny leak in your otherwise unsinkable faith-tanic, you are spurred on to new questions, until you inevitably find yourself at "the" question, and the answer isn't 42.

 

When I expressed my concerns to people in my ministry I was told I needed to go to school and learn more about my faith so I would better understand our theology and doctrine.

 

A funny thing happened on my way to my liberal arts degree. I was required to take a Humanities course called “Western Civilization.†In it I had to read the work of several eighteenth century philosophers from the “Age of Reasonâ€. It was a flunk-out course and most students hated it, but I loved it. The scales fell from my eyes. At the end of the two-semester course (sophomore year), I was a full blown atheist. A little education is a dangerous thing.

 

 

Phase 3 - Do I believe?

 

Most people, I find, don't actually ask this question until their deconversion is at such a point that the answer is "No". We skirt around the question, avoiding it for fear of the consequences. This can be a very desperate time for some, especially if your whole life is built on a christian foundation. It isn't just a question of changing perspective, but of giving up everything you've ever known. Desperately, you seek the counsel of your friends and mentors, but to your surprise your hints at a failing faith are met with hostility, condemnation, and rebuke. I suspect that this is because your open questioning of faith sheds light on their private questioning of faith and their aggression is really a defensive maneuver. Either way, this can be a very lonely time, one at which you fell isolated from your normal support group, if not physically isolated, than emotionally isolated. Some are lucky to find others of fading faith for support, others unfortunately face this transition alone.

 

In some ways, and for some people however, this can be a very liberating process. If you find yourself in a religiously neutral environment, the pursuit of knowledge of the world and yourself can be exciting, filled with new discoveries every day. You can throw off the shackles that bound you to your faith and are free to explore all sorts of new things you may have never heard of before.

 

Nevertheless, at some point the question is asked, by yourself or by someone else; "Do you believe?" and you answer, "No."

 

But I kept asking questions. Finally one day I asked our pastor (a second evangelical pastor who came after Al) about "the unforgivable sin". I had read this in my bible, but I didn't really understand what it meant. He told me that the unforgiveable sin was turning my back on Jesus. Well, I was sure I'd done that. Was he sure that was unforgiveable? Was there really something that I could do and I wouldn't be forgiven? That scared me.

 

After that I became much less religious, almost to the point of agnosticism. I wavered from rejecting God to running back to theism. My church friends were no help, the hypocrites. Praising God in one breath and backstabbing and uttering insults the next. The girls, even worse. They were the more zealous to worship Father God, and yet that didn't stop them from sleeping around or being catty bitches to one another. I began to see just how corrupt the church's followers were. The few good men were outnumbered by dozens of hypocrites, liars, and charlatans. I was disgusted. I stopped going to youth group meetings because of that. Another symptom of my disillusionment.

 

a switch went off in my head,for the first time in my life someone said it was ok not to believe in god, in an unconscious way i had searching for someone to tell me that it was ok, taht someone else doubts in their faith. the other incident that finally seperated me was one day my friend had made me a cannibal corpse (death metal) t-shirt with sharpie that had a pentagram on the back a typlical staple of death metal imagry, a older kid at the school cornered me and told me did i know i was going to hell for wearing that?? i told him casually yes not really caring or beliveing him, and for the first time i was able to look from the outside in at how ridiculous that sound, a 5-pointed star would curse me to hell??

 

 

Phase 4 - Anger

 

"Congratulations! You are now a non-believer. Here is your hat and t-shirt. We're having a bake-sale this Saturday at the park and I'll go ahead and sign you up for our newsletter...." Well, not exactly. When you converted, there was all sorts of pomp and circumstance. People were showering you with attention, everyone was your friend and you were instantly tied into a new social group. Your moment of deconversion, the moment you first answer that question "No", by contrast is wholly unsatisfying. The sky doesn't part, lightning doesn't strike your house, demons don't stab you in the ass with pitchforks... In a way you almost wish you did get stabbed in the ass, at least there would be something that happened to signify your deconversion, some sort of moment in time that you could point to as the beginning of a new life. We could all sit around and talk about our deconversion moment: I'd ask, "So when did you get stabbed in the ass with a pitchfork?" and you'd reply, "Oh, it was back in aught-six, I was visiting my parents for christmas. Do you want to see the scar?" at which point I'd reply, "No thanks.... You should really pull up your pants now, this is awkward."

 

Unfortunately for all of us, there is no signifying moment of deconversion. We still live the same life we did, but now we are constantly bombarded with reminders of our old faith. We can feel very rejected, very hurt, insulted, or degraded. You end up feeling embarrassed by your former belief, and you feel so dumb for falling victim to it for so long. You feel betrayed by the people you trusted so much to tell you the truth of the world. Above all things, you begin to feel angry.

 

And you should feel angry! You were lied to, you were kept in fear. You expected love from these people but they were just using you. When you needed support while giving up your faith, they told you it was your fault! How dare they! These people called themselves your friends but once you had a little ideological difference they abandoned you, they judged you, they completely ignored you. Oh the hypocrisy! They stole your life from you, you'll never get those years back. All the embarrassing things I've said to non-religious co-workers and friends. How could I have been such a fool! etc...

 

For many, many of us, the anger phase lasts a long time. It manifests itself in all sorts of ways, sometimes overtly, sometimes passively. Don't get me wrong, it's good to feel anger, it is good to get these feelings out, but at some point the anger must give way. The anger feels so good, it is so emotionally satisfying that we sometimes want to hang onto it too long, but we must give it up to move on to phase 5.

 

I just am facing the fact that I am still really freekin angry at these suckers and it's not only based upon this woman's lying ass horseshit. It's years of wasted time dealing with control freaks who ain't no better than me but on the flip side are some of the most deceitful lying little pustules I have ever dealt with, and BEEN HARMED BY, in my entire life. And most of them do it with such relish, because of course, they're 'saved' and I ain't so they can feel free to do as they please and harm who they want and all is 'forgiven'. Fuck them. I have tried to bury how I really feel about it all for too long, and repressing it has made me sick, and I mean even feeling physically sick, so pardon me if anyone feels like I've tipped over some line somewhere here.

 

When I finally left Christianity after many years, I became very, very angry over the manipulation, the fear-based theologies of hell and demons, the suppression of questioning, the guilt, the shame, etc. At the same time I was also still convinced that I was a sinful, horrible, no-good person and the guilt was crushing.

 

 

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?

 

Phase 6:

When a car breaks down, you learn to walk and enjoy the view to wherever your going and not worry about your broken down car behind you. Title not needed.

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Now I know there are questions without answers. I know that life is terrifyingly random. Is there a pure, perfect, all knowing, all loving God? No, I don't believe. I've seen too much, endured too much, suffered too much, wept too much, and fallen too far down the rabbit hole, to believe. But, a part of me still wants it to be real. Dumbo's magic black feather. I let go of the feather. It's falling to the ground. I'm still flying, but I miss how the feather felt sometimes. It was a comfort, even if it wasn't really helping me fly.

 

And then again, some days I'm glad I'm free to think, and question, and grieve, wonder, observe and laugh and just be...

 

CelloChick

I'm not sure you are still active on ex-christian.net, but I can completely relate to what you have written about the randomness of life. I was so hoping that there was more to this terribly disappointing (at times) life that we lead. Now I don't believe there is and that life is just what it is...life. The incredible complexity of biology itself is enough to make one believe in something, but the car I've been dragging around has become rusted beyond all recognition now and has turned to dust.

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I honestly woke up one morning and said in so many words: 'Fuck this'. Can't really describe it, but my first inkling of utter freedom from any dogma was when the guy who claimed to have helped 'save me' came up to have a chat to me at uni. I just flat out told him. "Dude. There is no god. Have a good day".

 

Mind the irony, but he looked like Christmas had been cancelled. It honestly sounds like I was no where near as faithful as some of you people here, for me, it was just a wake-up call. For many, it sounds like the decision to abandon dogma and lies for truth and reason has cost you more than just a friend or two.

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Well written, sir.

Confused Idiot should read this for a little perspective. He could then see where he is in the sequence.

 

MonolithTMA,

Betrayal of friends. That's exactly where I faced betrayal. They weren't friends after all.

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Well, over the last few months, I've finally moved on to acceptance, after about a year of rage and regret. Hell, I could even lead worship now and find it very amusing. Now that I'm in this stage, I'm getting all sorts of insights into why I am the way I am and how I allowed the church to shape me. This is a much happier place.

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Great post!

 

Anger is where I am right now. Thank you for touching on that -- I thought I was all alone on that one.

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Well, over the last few months, I've finally moved on to acceptance, after about a year of rage and regret. Hell, I could even lead worship now and find it very amusing. Now that I'm in this stage, I'm getting all sorts of insights into why I am the way I am and how I allowed the church to shape me. This is a much happier place.

 

Very nice. That's quite an achievement. Congratulations. I'd love to see you do that.

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This is pretty dead on. My phases were about the same but were a bit more sudden. It was like, faith, doubt, denial (for a long time), realization that god isn't listening, realizing he isn't there, freedom. I was tired of having issues in life and my friend telling me to "pray about it." Ok, did that. Now what? Take the good and praise him? Take the bad and.. ignore it? What? So I guess there was a lot of anger but more frustration than anything.

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Ok, so now you've got a mind full of questions... or maybe just one or two particularly persistent ones. Who has the answers? For most, the first place we look is also the least helpful, religion. We scour the bible, meet with our pastor, call up our strong christian brothers and sisters. We peruse christian message boards and we read christian literature. So careful are we to avoid any secular literature for fear that it may seek to lead us away from our faith. The answer-seekers are convinced that they are still trying to save their faith, to fortify it with godly answers. This phase is characterized by one emotion; Fear.

 

It is a particular brand of fear, I can liken it most to the feeling of being lost. Like you were hiking in the woods and lose your bearings, all of the sudden you are struck by this sense of "I don't know where I am." Luckily for you, you are surrounded by others and can simply ask for directions. Unfortunately the answers you get are thoroughly unsatisfying. In fact, sometimes your questions aren't answered at all, but rather turned around onto you as some sort of flaw in your faith. You are told to consult the tour guide, but he just tells you to stay with the flock, and go read your guidebook. You check your guidebook but it barely seems to make sense anymore; "What the hell are these guys talking about palm trees for? I'm in the rocky mountains!!"

 

In your search to find slightly more satisfying answers, you find a secular source. It may be by accident, a non-religious friend or relative, or it may be on purpose under the guise of curiosity, such as stumbling onto exchristians.net, but none-the-less you find someone, somewhere, who will actually answer your questions. However, far from sealing this one tiny leak in your otherwise unsinkable faith-tanic, you are spurred on to new questions, until you inevitably find yourself at "the" question, and the answer isn't 42.

 

This fits me, in a way, except I did look outside of the "accepted faith" pretty quickly. My curiosity is insatiable. The Bible failed me pretty damn fast. I also looked into other religions, and found a couple that spoke to me. I've changed my ideas several times since then, even, but never became atheist. But I was deeply afraid when I first started reading the bible in order to save my weakening faith (after being molested in a school hallway, and I was punished for it, yay private christian academy!), though I was also dealing with simmering anger. It later exploded, like Pele.

 

Phase 4 - Anger

 

"Congratulations! You are now a non-believer. Here is your hat and t-shirt. We're having a bake-sale this Saturday at the park and I'll go ahead and sign you up for our newsletter...." Well, not exactly. When you converted, there was all sorts of pomp and circumstance. People were showering you with attention, everyone was your friend and you were instantly tied into a new social group. Your moment of deconversion, the moment you first answer that question "No", by contrast is wholly unsatisfying. The sky doesn't part, lightning doesn't strike your house, demons don't stab you in the ass with pitchforks... In a way you almost wish you did get stabbed in the ass, at least there would be something that happened to signify your deconversion, some sort of moment in time that you could point to as the beginning of a new life. We could all sit around and talk about our deconversion moment: I'd ask, "So when did you get stabbed in the ass with a pitchfork?" and you'd reply, "Oh, it was back in aught-six, I was visiting my parents for christmas. Do you want to see the scar?" at which point I'd reply, "No thanks.... You should really pull up your pants now, this is awkward."

 

:HaHa: But my scar looks like a bunny!

 

Unfortunately for all of us, there is no signifying moment of deconversion. We still live the same life we did, but now we are constantly bombarded with reminders of our old faith. We can feel very rejected, very hurt, insulted, or degraded. You end up feeling embarrassed by your former belief, and you feel so dumb for falling victim to it for so long. You feel betrayed by the people you trusted so much to tell you the truth of the world. Above all things, you begin to feel angry.

 

And you should feel angry! You were lied to, you were kept in fear. You expected love from these people but they were just using you. When you needed support while giving up your faith, they told you it was your fault! How dare they! These people called themselves your friends but once you had a little ideological difference they abandoned you, they judged you, they completely ignored you. Oh the hypocrisy! They stole your life from you, you'll never get those years back. All the embarrassing things I've said to non-religious co-workers and friends. How could I have been such a fool! etc...

 

Thank you.

 

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?

 

Wow, this is the best analogy I've ever heard. And I think I still drag the transmission of my christ-mobile around. Years later. Even after moving on to other spiritual worlds and a whole new life. I'm a lot better than I used to be, but I still love screaming along to "Judith" by APC. Maybe I can get to a point where I can do that (it's a cool song), and still drop the dead tranny at a chop-shop.

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I am not sure if there are distinct phases of deconversion. To me it feels like waves of deconversion. I have month without any doubts. Then suddenly nagging tiny thoughts pop up, like "you should have tried harder". Then I dig deeper into the concept of xianity to make sure I did not miss an important thing about it. I know, that in two weeks everything will be fine and this entire idea of xianity is just a weird, old and bad dream. But right now it hurts and my doubts make me feel weak. But people like justyna help me to distinguish between right and wrong.

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I am not sure if there are distinct phases of deconversion. To me it feels like waves of deconversion. I have month without any doubts. Then suddenly nagging tiny thoughts pop up, like "you should have tried harder". Then I dig deeper into the concept of xianity to make sure I did not miss an important thing about it. I know, that in two weeks everything will be fine and this entire idea of xianity is just a weird, old and bad dream. But right now it hurts and my doubts make me feel weak. But people like justyna help me to distinguish between right and wrong.

This reminds me of the stages of accepting death or grief or loss posited by Kubler-Ross. She never meant those to be ironclad sequential stages either, and it's widely understood by thanatologists that when someone dies, surviving loved ones go through something more akin to a spiral than a sequence, and that's just what you're describing. Just when you think it's all over another wave hits you. That is how a lot of people grieve and this is just another kind of loss. You're grieving. When a wave hits you, let it pass through you. Bear with it. They become less frequent and intense over time.

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I would add a Phase 6 and that is No Turning Back.

 

It is like a reverse Damascus Road experience where the scales fall from your eyes. Consider it like the Matrix. You have taken the red pill. Once you see the truth, you can't go back to believing a fairy tale even if you want to. There are some who want to go back, but you can't.

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Wow, OP

 

This was a great read. I could see in my mind's eye how this would play out if it was on youtube. Have you thought about making a video for it at all?

 

...I had an odd deconversion. I converted to paganism, but still had some respect for christianity as a path, up until I found out Jesus was just Dying God 2.0 and patchworked... and even as a person, likely didn't exist.

 

...I think that's when I finally hit the anger phase. It was like.. 'The audacity of it all!' ...But yet, I love my family and there's that catch 22 of being tolerant of the BS they believe... Thankfully, so far as fundamentalists go, they are rather tolerant, so long as it's not brought up. Does kinda get on my nerves, though, that I give them more consideration to speak their mind and heart, but I feel the need to keep mum with mine, around them. :| And yes, even with others, I want to cry out, "But it's not real! Don't you see? You're playing pretend~!"

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Guest wasachristian

That's brilliant! ... a much happier place!

 

BTW, I love your signature

Well, over the last few months, I've finally moved on to acceptance, after about a year of rage and regret. Hell, I could even lead worship now and find it very amusing. Now that I'm in this stage, I'm getting all sorts of insights into why I am the way I am and how I allowed the church to shape me. This is a much happier place.

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I don't know if anyone else has had this kind of experience, but I got really disillusioned with fundamentalist Christianity during the last presidential election cycle, when I witnessed alot of 'loving' friends & classmates spew utter vitriol and hate toward a very reasonable and even compassionate presidential candidate. Not that anyone here has to agree with Pres. Obama's political positions, but I just couldn't believe the large-scale hypocrisy (and ignorance) that I was witnessing during that time. My doubt had already started long before that, but that experience really crystallized for me that I didn't want to associate anymore with people who would stoop to such a low level of behavior.

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When you converted, there was all sorts of pomp and circumstance. People were showering you with attention, everyone was your friend and you were instantly tied into a new social group. Your moment of deconversion, the moment you first answer that question "No", by contrast is wholly unsatisfying. The sky doesn't part, lightning doesn't strike your house, demons don't stab you in the ass with pitchforks... In a way you almost wish you did get stabbed in the ass, at least there would be something that happened to signify your deconversion, some sort of moment in time that you could point to as the beginning of a new life. We could all sit around and talk about our deconversion moment: I'd ask, "So when did you get stabbed in the ass with a pitchfork?" and you'd reply, "Oh, it was back in aught-six, I was visiting my parents for christmas. Do you want to see the scar?" at which point I'd reply, "No thanks.... You should really pull up your pants now, this is awkward."

 

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.

 

Funnily enough, I just read this now being new to the forums and this was written while I was really in stage 2 or 3. I would have still called myself a christian at that time and would really have had trouble knowing where that road was taking me.

 

Anyway, these two paragraphs I quote are great. And hillarious. I love the idea of actually talking about the time you got stabbed in the ass, like its so casual and conversation-worthy. And the car analogy is just perfect. I love how you really emphasized how fucking long it can take to work through it. Sometimes, when you're just a doubting Thomas and you're surrounded by committed atheists, it can feel like you're behind the times somehow and that you need to catch up. It's nice to be reminded that it takes as long as it takes.

 

I also found this incredibly helpful, as I think Ive been repressing my anger and frustration to a degree. Its those old guilt habits that stop me from being human and having raw emotion because it might offend god/others. I'm extremely grateful to have found this paragraph pushing me to blaspheme a little louder than normal, because goddammit, it feels fucking good.

 

Ironically, this post got me all fired up and excited about being a non-Xian again, sort of that same experience as "feeling" the holy spirit. So much the same in fact, that its just another nail in the coffin. The Holy Spirit sure feels a lot like plain old adrenaline.

 

So thanks a million Ham, you really succinctly spelled it all out. You've described what I'm feeling in side as well as the continued fears and doubts. It's therapeutic to call it like it is.

 

Also, I had to stop reading and laugh outloud at the line "get up in the middle of the night to take a leak in the gas tank." Hahaha, so extreme and so such a specific insult to that car. You actually get OUT of bed to sabotage the car when it thinks its safe. Amazing.

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