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Losing My Mind


rosy_mary
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In the Testimonies section, I wrote about how I am a 20-year-old student currently attending a Fundamentalist Christian college in the Midwest. Right now, none of my friends or family have a clue about my true agnostic beliefs, and I don't have a clue how to tell them. The pressure of constantly putting a false face is getting to me. This semester I have to take an "Essential Doctrinal Themes" class. A year ago I would have eaten it up. Now I'm constantly suppressing the urge to jump up in class and start yelling at people for believing such nonsense. I'm so close to doing it.

 

From kindergarten to senior year of high school, I was always the "good" girl. I did all my work, got all the grades, liked and was liked by my teachers. Adults said I was intelligent and mature. But in the past few months I've lost almost all respect for the adults around me and even the motivation to do schoolwork. My grades are slipping like never before. My "terrible secret" is churning in my stomach like poison. I'm scared that if I don't open my mouth and tell someone soon I'm going to lose control and do something stupid. It breaks my heart to see my friends, parents, and younger siblings suffering such delusion. Dorm-mates come to me and tell me about some issue they're struggling with with God, and it kills me. I know enough about theology to give the "right" answers. But the "right" answers are not the truth.

 

Can I tell anyone? I'll lose the trust of my parents. I have no idea how the college staff will handle me. Will I be kicked out? Forced into some kind of Fundamentalist brainwashing therapy? I have little doubt that's what my parents will want to do with me. I could lose everything (maybe even my laptop--sooner or later mum and dad will connect the dots and figure out how I've been accessing anti-Christian writings). Dad is a proud, committed Calvinist, and mom is too hopelessly emotionally wrapped up in Christianity to ever come out. She loves being a Christian. All her friends and Christians (seriously, we barely know anyone that isn't in the cult). She'll never understand the kind of emotional damage her delusional worldview has caused me or my siblings. Knowing her, my entire "fall from grace" will become her social's group's gossip fodder (under the guise of a prayer request, of course). Everyone at my church will be told so they, too, can "pray" for me.

 

I want to tell the truth. I hate living a lie. But debating religion with my parents would break my heart--I don't think I could ever do it. What will my younger brothers and sisters think? Everyone I ever cared about? I just don't know if I'm prepared to face the consequences of telling the truth, even though the lie is eating me alive. I just don't know what to do.

 

Sorry if this sounds too depressing. I just needed to vent a little. I'd appreciate any advice.

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Being trapped...I know the feeling, but I honestly can't tell you what is the "right" thing to do in this situation.

 

One thing's for sure...it's killing you. Slowly, but surely and I do know that you have to get out of there. Run if you feel you have to. When starting a new life I don't feel that there's anything wrong with running.

 

It doesn't sound like you have any major responsibilities so that's good.

 

At some point you're going to have to get out from under your parents' "thumb" and realize that EVERYONE will almost inevitably disappoint their parents. Disappointing a few people is far healthier than living a lie for THEIR sakes.

 

Fact is; it's YOUR life. It's only yours. It doesn't belong to anyone else.

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I don't go to a xtian college but I still have to go to fundy church because I haven't been able to come out to my parents as an atheist yet, so I know how you feel about people's ignorance driving you insane and wanting to wake them up from their delusions. But if you're worried about being kicked out or being sent to brainwashing therapy, it's probably best to not come out until you're able to live on your own without your family's support. It can be a real pain but one thing that helps me is coming to ex-c and ranting about people's idiocy. Ex-c is a great site where you can freely speak your mind about your thoughts on religion and I don't know what I'd do without it. And if you ever feel the urge to start yelling at people's ignorance, just remember the saying that you should never argue with an idiot. They'll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

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I echo the sentiment to have a plan to support yourself before making the break. The economy stinks right now and decent jobs are hard to find, especially without any experience. But start thinking about how you would like to live; what you would like to learn and where; and what kind of life you'd like to pursue. Then start investigating what it will take to get there from where you are now. It might seem almost like a fantasy, but these are the first real steps you can take, and you are the one mostly in control of the rest of your life.

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Sorry about your situation. You know it will get better with time.

 

For now, I'd say consider yourself an anthropologist studying a society from the inside. You operate undercover, amassing information for a future book you will publish. When you finally get out of there, you will know more about the Bible, apologetics, and the believer's mindset than any Christian.

 

Hell, if you have no morals you could make a fortune with a radio or television ministry!

 

Hang in there.

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I was in close to your situation when I was your age, even including the Calvinist dad and the emotionally religious mom.

 

I carried on the charade longer than I should have, and damaged myself badly, even including marrying a man I should never have married because I was in such despair over pleasing my parents.

 

But I don't think that you need to totally turn your world upside-down all in one day. I think that you need an exit strategy, and with that plan in mind, you can start doing what you need to gain independence. Work on bringing your grades up this semester, and start talking to your parents about transferring BEFORE you reveal anything else to them. I would suggest transferring to a non-fundamentalist Christian/conservative college that has less rules and restrictions- including that church attendance is not mandatory. If you PM me, I can give you some suggestions. Tell your parents truthfully that you don't like your current school, even that you feel stifled. If you can get to a spot where you have some more freedom and breathing room, I think that you'll be able to finish school in an atmosphere that both pleases your parents and allows you to search and make non-Christian or nominally Christian friends. There's a big, big difference in an environment where everyone is or pretends to be a fundamentalist, and one where most people are liberal Christians who don't focus primarily on religion.

 

Then try to get a non-religious job outside the school, and build more relationships that way. Let your practical life become more and more secular, while remaining responsible for your behavior. It will be less hard for your parents to see over a year that you've changed from a Christ-focused fundamentalist to a school/work/career focused nominal Christian (and then maybe you'll want to come out all the way) than for you to tell them in one day that you've gone from fundamentalist to agnostic.

 

DON'T DEBATE. I wouldn't use the word "agnostic" even if you feel it describes you, because what they will hear is "I need to be reassured of Christianity". Focus on your actions and concrete decisions instead of on your beliefs. "Mom and dad, I know this is not going to make you happy, but I'm responsible for my own decisions now, and I've decided that I'm not returning to church" is better than "I'm not sure that God exists".

 

In my own life, I've told my parents that I'm not going to go to church, that I don't believe the inerrancy of the Bible, and that I'm going to be living with my boyfriend. I should have asserted some of these things sooner. However, I have left it at that, because I don't owe them any more information than I want to give them. You don't owe your parents an explanation of all your beliefs, only what you're comfortable with at any given time. I am now leaving it up to them to ask more questions or to chose to not know any more. I think that after a bit of time goes by, you'll be able to judge how you and your parents are responding to your new secular life, and you can decide from that whether you feel obliged to tell them more.

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Thanks, everyone. You've given great advice. I know that I need to be responsible and move forward, but sometimes the emotions become overwhelming and I need to give a good rant. :screams: For a start, I'll make closer friends outside the Fundie cult. One day I'll be able to clear things up with my family, but for now I'll be patient.

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I suggest not telling anyone. It's nobodies business but your own, and sounds like letting the cat out of the bag will cause you more harm then good. Try not to think about it, and when you need to talk, talk to us! That's what we are here for, to support each other. We are the last unprotected minority, and it will serve you well to keep that in mind.

 

Good luck to you, hope you do well in school and get a nice job eventually!

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Sorry about your situation. You know it will get better with time.

 

For now, I'd say consider yourself an anthropologist studying a society from the inside. You operate undercover, amassing information for a future book you will publish. When you finally get out of there, you will know more about the Bible, apologetics, and the believer's mindset than any Christian.

 

Hell, if you have no morals you could make a fortune with a radio or television ministry!

 

Hang in there.

 

I've actually been trying to deal with the situation by doing something very similar. I see myself kind of as living in a foreign country on a mission to observe and record the actions of the locals (I've even considered the book idea!). It's amazing how different everything seems when I look in as an outsider. The prayer rituals, bizarre, illogical thinking, the code language ("the Lord laid it on my heart to tell you..." = "I felt like telling you..."), etc. Today I got to listen to my sociology professor remind us all that even though it seems like Hell is an unjust penalty, it really is just because people are evil, evil, bad and deserve to go to Hell. In actuality, it's the fact that anyone gets saved at all that's really unfair! Now that I'm out of this way of thinking, I can't believe that anyone with human flesh and blood can believe it. Does he even know what Hell is?? Has he ever paid serious thought to the idea at all? (Temper-rising-must-control).

 

 

I suggest not telling anyone. It's nobodies business but your own, and sounds like letting the cat out of the bag will cause you more harm then good. Try not to think about it, and when you need to talk, talk to us! That's what we are here for, to support each other. We are the last unprotected minority, and it will serve you well to keep that in mind.

 

Good luck to you, hope you do well in school and get a nice job eventually!

 

Thanks, I know. Just reading through other people's posts always makes me feel better. I found this site just as I was about ready to call myself "not a Christian anymore." I can't imagine how I'd feel if I didn't have a way to access and communicate other people that are going through the same thing.

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I'd say step one would be to get the hell out of that school. Hell, dropping out right now may be better than damaging yourself by staying there.

 

((((hugs)))))

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*Hugs*

 

Also agree with the advice, make sure you have a plan before telling your parents.

 

I would wait until you have moved out of their house and gotten a job.

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Is it possible to move to a non religious educational institution and get credit for studies you have already done? I don't know how US eduction works.

 

Is it also possible to make that college be in a different city to you parents? That way they don''t have much close supervision over your life. Just find a church that you can go to, so that you have some church things to talk about.

 

As far as I can work out, there are a lot of people who change cities in order to live a different lifestyle to what their parents would choose for them. It is a trend I have noticed especially with gay people over the years.

 

You don't need to have a big confrontation with them. I even think it is OK to lie to people who are overly intrusive about your life and decisions.

 

As a very extreme example, is it OK for a woman to lie to her violent ex-husband about where she is living? Of course it is!

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Take things slowly and don't make any rash decisions. Not long after I deconverted I kinda blew up at my parents, and many arguments about my lack of religion ensued for about a year afterward.

 

It took them a long time to realize that I was not going to become some child molesting, baby eating, psychopath just because I wasn't a christian. For more than a year I wasn't allowed to babysit my sisters even though I had done so quite often for them before that. Eventually things changed, but if I had handled it better from the start then it might have been better.

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Put only C effort into classes you don't like, unless that would effect your entrance to a real collage. That way you will have time and energy to make plans.

 

Give yourself time to get over the shock of loosing your faith before you try telling other Christians. You need time to understand yourself it if you want to have a hope of having significant others understand it.

 

Don't date any men that are into the faith, falling in love will complicate things even more right now.

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Hey, Rosy Mary! Your school sounds wacky allright. Can you go on to university once you graduate, or is it a christian "pretend"- college? (I'm swedish, so I'm not entirely cock-sure about your educational system).

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