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Life After Xtianity....


joD
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Wow! There are so many great discussions on here. Something "Stop Clubbing..." asked was about how to de-tach since his whole life is/has been wrapped up in religion. I totally understand that! It's like you go from this instant community (i.e. non-stop church activity, volunteering, "fellowship") to trying to find where you fit in the universe. I am married, have children (some grown, some still at home) and our whole world has changed. I have coined the non stop church activitiy as "fellowship" addiction. At first, I thought there was something wrong with me because I felt so great to have devconverted, but then I would feel so lonely. Like, wtf did I just leave the only social life I have ever had? Honestly, my deconversion was so slow, most of my friendships had already fallen away due to my growing skepticism. I was the one who pulled away. So, does anyone else feel the void of after deconversion? I love my new freedom of thought, how liberated I feel when I look at the world and other people with new eyes. I feel like I am finding myself and learning how to relate to people as real humans, not "subjects of evangelism" or "bro/sis in the club". So many good things about my new life, just this nagging thought that I no longer know where I belong. I think that's normal after a lifetime of living in the shadow of religion. I just needed to vent a little, feels good to have a place to go for this.

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joD,

 

What you are feeling is quite normal. I only deconverted 3 months or so ago, and on hand you feel elated to be free from this cage, and on the other the sense of loss is huge and so real. I didn't have many xtian friends anyway, and I had stopped going to church long before I deconverted, but the sense of loss is still big in my mind. Its kind of scary being out in the real world again, making decisions for yourself again, and dealing with the grief, anger and guilt of leaving xtianity. Its still a real rollercoaster of emotions for me. One day you will feel fantastic, life is great, and feel such freedom, and other days will be torment and confusion. Hang in there though. I am finding I am not having as many days of despair anymore. I can really relate to how you feel now interacting with other humans without that feeling that you need to evangelise them. I feel like a normal human being now, and I can relate to others normally now. The weight that has lifted from me is huge. I hope in your journey you continue to find more and more freedom. This is a wonderful place to find a community and sense of belonging too, and a great place to vent as well. All the best.

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Welcome, JoD.

 

If you think about it, leaving the social life of a church community is no different than graduating high school or college. You just move on and make new friends and develop interests in other, more practical and fulfilling endeavors. You have graduated into the real world!

 

The friends you make outside of a church setting are real friends; real people - not just brothers and sisters in Christ. It always takes time, and it's usually a transition with some regrets and a lonely feeling.

 

Just remember, the real world is much better once you get used to thinking for yourself.

 

Good luck!

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*Hugs*

 

This is very normal.

 

There are alternatives to non-church social life, but they are hard to come by in some places. Join a club that fits your interests. Toastmasters isn't a bad thing either. I am also an advocate of volunteering and charity work. Taking classes at a community college is also a good way to have a social structure.

 

I wish you the best of luck.

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Welcome, joD.

 

As others have said, it's absolutely normal to feel as you do. Obviously, some move more quickly or slowly than the average deconvert in establishing new social connections, so be easy on yourself.

 

The suggestions offered by Amethyst are good ones. You might also try hanging out in your favorite section of a mega-bookstore and striking up a conversation. Your children may bring new contacts into your life, too, so be open to that possibility.

 

Glad you're here with us!

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If you think about it, leaving the social life of a church community is no different than graduating high school or college. You just move on and make new friends and develop interests in other, more practical and fulfilling endeavors. You have graduated into the real world!

 

Where this breaks down though is that when you graduate HS/college, all the friends you made there don't completely turn their backs on you. You can still maintain a long distance friendship with them as you're adjusting to a new life and meeting new people. You can know that they still care about you as a person even if you can't be together constantly.

 

That's different than the way you're all alone when you leave the church.

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It feels good to be heard. At first I thought "Hey, what's wrong with me?" I guess this is pretty normal, just another transition to go through. (I hate starting over at 45!) And of all the suggestions mentioned, I plan on trying them all! Also, since I left the church, I am treating my kids differently. We are more "friends" than before. No more Me-big-mama/vs. You-bratty-kids. Yeah, I was kind of a bitch. Everyone says they can see a positive differnce in me. Anyway, on Wed this week, I am taking my kids to the Natural History Museum and getting us passes, which we plan on using a few times a month. (In Pittsburgh, it gets you into 3 different museums). A good way to get out, learn more about our world and spend time together. I have to say, I am excited at "seeing"things for the first time, with adult eyes, with no one telling me how or what to think about it. Thanks for all the great feedback! THis is a great place!

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You sound like a game and curious woman, joD. Both of those qualities should make the transition easier.

 

Have fun with your kids on Wednesday!

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So, does anyone else feel the void of after deconversion? I love my new freedom of thought, how liberated I feel when I look at the world and other people with new eyes. I feel like I am finding myself and learning how to relate to people as real humans, not "subjects of evangelism" or "bro/sis in the club". So many good things about my new life, just this nagging thought that I no longer know where I belong. I think that's normal after a lifetime of living in the shadow of religion. I just needed to vent a little, feels good to have a place to go for this.

I'm in a similar stage right now. It's particularly difficult because we moved away from our home town just a few months before experiencing our deconversion, so I had just started feeling that we were making a few casual friends in our new town, all of whom are Christians. I'd already openly discussed my Christian beliefs with most of them, so now it feels so awkward trying to find an opportunity to say, "Um, by the way, I'm not a Christian anymore." I know some people would just advocate letting it slide, but I would feel like I was totally betraying myself by keeping my beliefs a secret. And if I had been nonreligious all along, it would be easier to just let them learn naturally what I believe through our discussions, but since I have professed Christianity to them quite recently, I feel that it would be rude to confuse them by just suddenly and inexplicably seeming to have changed my mind.

 

The other issue is, all of the people I've met are moms with young kids like me, and I sincerely worry that my children will no longer be allowed to associate with their kids once they've learned of my atheism. After all, you know those atheists, they've got nothing to stop them from engaging in every form of immorality known to man! :Wendywhatever: I personally think it's pretty cool to be a member of one of the most hated groups in America, but I don't really want to make my children feel ostracized for my beliefs. And atheist playgroups don't exactly abound in the buckle of the Bible Belt!

 

Ah well, one day at a time. I guess my kids will end up loners like hubby and I.

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Welcome joD. Like many others have suggested, try to find some civic clubs or volunteer your time. You will eventually start to network with people of your own choosing. Not just because they sit in the pew next to you. Congratulations on your deconversion

 

So, does anyone else feel the void of after deconversion? I love my new freedom of thought, how liberated I feel when I look at the world and other people with new eyes. I feel like I am finding myself and learning how to relate to people as real humans, not "subjects of evangelism" or "bro/sis in the club". So many good things about my new life, just this nagging thought that I no longer know where I belong. I think that's normal after a lifetime of living in the shadow of religion. I just needed to vent a little, feels good to have a place to go for this.

I'm in a similar stage right now. It's particularly difficult because we moved away from our home town just a few months before experiencing our deconversion, so I had just started feeling that we were making a few casual friends in our new town, all of whom are Christians. I'd already openly discussed my Christian beliefs with most of them, so now it feels so awkward trying to find an opportunity to say, "Um, by the way, I'm not a Christian anymore." I know some people would just advocate letting it slide, but I would feel like I was totally betraying myself by keeping my beliefs a secret. And if I had been nonreligious all along, it would be easier to just let them learn naturally what I believe through our discussions, but since I have professed Christianity to them quite recently, I feel that it would be rude to confuse them by just suddenly and inexplicably seeming to have changed my mind.

 

The other issue is, all of the people I've met are moms with young kids like me, and I sincerely worry that my children will no longer be allowed to associate with their kids once they've learned of my atheism. After all, you know those atheists, they've got nothing to stop them from engaging in every form of immorality known to man! :Wendywhatever: I personally think it's pretty cool to be a member of one of the most hated groups in America, but I don't really want to make my children feel ostracized for my beliefs. And atheist playgroups don't exactly abound in the buckle of the Bible Belt!

 

Ah well, one day at a time. I guess my kids will end up loners like hubby and I.

 

I have this very same issue with my child. She is growing up with her mother as the primary caregiver and I have standard visitation. My ex is very involved with her church. When my daughter visits me, the only children her age that she knows and plays with are the kids from my former church. I'm still in the closet for various reasons, but I know that the day I "come out" those Christian "friends" will vanish. I don't care as far as I'm concerned, but I worry that my child will suffer.

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So, does anyone else feel the void of after deconversion? I love my new freedom of thought, how liberated I feel when I look at the world and other people with new eyes. I feel like I am finding myself and learning how to relate to people as real humans, not "subjects of evangelism" or "bro/sis in the club". So many good things about my new life, just this nagging thought that I no longer know where I belong. I think that's normal after a lifetime of living in the shadow of religion. I just needed to vent a little, feels good to have a place to go for this.

I'm in a similar stage right now. It's particularly difficult because we moved away from our home town just a few months before experiencing our deconversion, so I had just started feeling that we were making a few casual friends in our new town, all of whom are Christians. I'd already openly discussed my Christian beliefs with most of them, so now it feels so awkward trying to find an opportunity to say, "Um, by the way, I'm not a Christian anymore." I know some people would just advocate letting it slide, but I would feel like I was totally betraying myself by keeping my beliefs a secret. And if I had been nonreligious all along, it would be easier to just let them learn naturally what I believe through our discussions, but since I have professed Christianity to them quite recently, I feel that it would be rude to confuse them by just suddenly and inexplicably seeming to have changed my mind.

 

The other issue is, all of the people I've met are moms with young kids like me, and I sincerely worry that my children will no longer be allowed to associate with their kids once they've learned of my atheism. After all, you know those atheists, they've got nothing to stop them from engaging in every form of immorality known to man! :Wendywhatever: I personally think it's pretty cool to be a member of one of the most hated groups in America, but I don't really want to make my children feel ostracized for my beliefs. And atheist playgroups don't exactly abound in the buckle of the Bible Belt!

 

Ah well, one day at a time. I guess my kids will end up loners like hubby and I.

I understand! How it affects my kids is at least as much as an issue for me, as well. Have you considered finding "secular" groups in your town, such as

4 H, community sports programs, zoo/museum classes? We have stepped out of our homeschool group in the past year due to family emergencies (long story) and eventually our own scepticism, Our local h.s. group is totally right wing fundy xtian....we just don't click anymore. When it comes to relating to people, try to be the example to your kids of being true to yourself. I know, easier said, than done. You might just come right out and confess that you are inactive right now, and going through a time of doubt. Glad you're on the forums! Hang in there!

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Jesus, I wish I could wave a magic wand and transport y'all far and away from the Bible Belt. Here on the godless West Coast, it's five times harder to find new Christian friends than new heathen friends when you're new in town.

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Jesus, I wish I could wave a magic wand and transport y'all far and away from the Bible Belt. Here on the godless West Coast, it's five times harder to find new Christian friends than new heathen friends when you're new in town.

 

I honestly stand in the middle of a crowded room and wonder, "Am I the only sane person here?"

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So, does anyone else feel the void of after deconversion? I love my new freedom of thought, how liberated I feel when I look at the world and other people with new eyes. I feel like I am finding myself and learning how to relate to people as real humans, not "subjects of evangelism" or "bro/sis in the club". So many good things about my new life, just this nagging thought that I no longer know where I belong. I think that's normal after a lifetime of living in the shadow of religion. I just needed to vent a little, feels good to have a place to go for this.

 

One of the things I've noticed at this board and others, is that for most of you from strict Protestant/Evangelical/Pentecostal backgrounds, deconversion was more or less a sudden event. And that is why a lot of the problems you experience with your social lives and emotional status happen the way they do. After a long intense involvement with the religion you were in, you suddenly have this vacuum that needs to be filled with something else. For me it didn't happen that way. My walking away from theism happened slowly, in bits and pieces over a period of years. I really never had any circle of friends based on any church activity. The parish our family belonged to was new, and there was little socializing outside of the church. There were almost no activities outside of church for kids. No sports, nothing that Protestants would call "Bible fellowships" or clubs, or anything like that. We were on our own as far as entertaining ourselves outside of church and school (Catholic).

 

So by the time I realized I was an atheist as an adult, I had long since left Catholicism behind, and save for a brief flirtation with a United Methodist church for a couple of years, religion was not a part of my life afterward. The wife and I had no circle of friends from that Methodist congregation, since she never attended anyway. So for me, there was never any issue of social consequences of the type you all describe in here. It just wasn't the sudden and dramatic break for me that it was for many of the others in the testimony thread.

 

I am quite open about my atheism, and so far I haven't lost any friends or relatives over it. As far as your former church friends go------think of it this way-----imagine that you deconverted and then moved out of state. You would still find new friends through other avenues. Just not through another church, unless you went Unitarian maybe.

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