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What Mental Issues Did You Have As A Christian?


Kathlene
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Hi all. It's been a while since I have started a thread so I thought I would discuss this. I am trying to work out how my life has changed now that I am no longer a christian and what differences or positive outcomes have come from leaving it. I feel such a sense of relief, and this is why. As a christian I was constantly worried, stressed fearful and anxious about god's will and if I was walking in it. I felt like I couldn't make any decisions about my life for myself. I still find this a big one to overcome even now. I felt like god was in control of every single thing I did, who I talked with where I went...everything. My entire life was trying to wake up every day to please him. I just felt confused all the time. I felt like a tightly wound, anal retentive, judgemental, self-righteous, obnoxious, pious idiot. My behaviour reflected that too. I think as a christian I had serious mental issues. I don't have that tight feeling in my head anymore that would be constantly alert if I was around non-christians. Like I had to impress them with how wonderful life was with god and how peaceful and awesome it was to have god in control of my life. Every little decision had to be prayed over and I had to get the right sign from god all the time, aaargh.

 

Did anyone else suffer from having words from god given to them from other people? Or prophecies? Or the feeling that you had a promise from god and he would bring it to pass? I was in a very strong charismatic church so these things were very normal to me and to talk about them with other christians. I was always confused about how or when god would start bringing these things to pass in my life. So I would sit and do nothing, and expect god would do it all for me. I think a lot of christians suffer from that delusion that god is going to use them in this huge magnificent way in his ministry. What a load of crock the whole thing is. When I think of my wasted years being brainwashed in that way of thinking and just waiting, waiting all the time. I have to admit there have been times when things did happen. Now I just attribute that to completely rational reasons. Also the fact that we are geared to look for patterns, and positive outcomes to prayer and what have you. I am surprised how little I have thought about god since I walked away. For something that engulfed my life and was almost an obsessive compulsion with me it strikes me as strange that I haven't felt like god was running after me trying to change my mind. I still do think there is something out there. But I will never delude myself to think those answers come from a book that someone handed to me and told me all the truth to life is to be found in it. The fruit speaks for itself in that manner. I spent 13yrs in a wasteland of nothingness. Accomplishing nothing. In essence giving up my life to gain the stupidest judgements on people and their lifestyles.

 

Christianity is meant to empower you and make you feel loved and special. Don't even get me started on my self-esteem as a xtian. It went to way below zero and I am still struggling to get out of that dark pit.

 

So I would like people to discuss if they had struggles AS a christian. Do you feel like you have overcome them since you have left?

My mental issues as a christian...were being fearful. OCD. Stressed, anxious, confused...all the freaking time. Critical, self-righteous and judgemental.

What were yours?

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This is where I feel like an oddball. :( My problem was trying to make others happy- have my kids baptized so people would not think bad of me, go to church every time the doors were open so they would not say, "Where were you? We missed you?" thus passing judgment on me. Being able to tell my mother I went to church when she asked me, without lying about it. Take communion so others would not think something bad about me, yet rant in the priest's office about it. You get the idea- do this, do that, so others won't think negatively. That was my church life.

 

Except for one thing- fasting, every single chance I got and basically had the church's permission because it was a time of fasting. Most people fasted from like say chocolate during Lent. I just did not eat. Cool thing about, it intensified my sense of the aesthetic, AKA numinous feelings definition #3 in Webster. Those extreme feelings attributed to God, when all along they were just feelings from external stimuli which triggered neuro-chemistry, more so because I had not eaten in so long.

 

In affect, my concept of God, which I realized as a child, was very much different from other people's. Thus, I feel like an oddball when I read/hear other Xians or ex-Xians talk about such things as you are in the post above, Kathlene. What you did to please God, I did to please others and keep them from thinking badly of me, yet I had a sense of god, my own concept of god (lower case intentional), yet it was not what others had in mind when they spoke of God and I was keenly aware of this even as a child, because I was told as a child "that's not God", yet it felt like God to me, because I could feel it in nature, in my pets, and sometimes in people. I did not feel the need to please it though. The experience just happened under the right circumstances.

 

I don't know if I make any sense at all, but that was basically my life as a Xian- pleasing others so they would not frown upon me, yet I did absorb some elements of religion. Thing is, IF I had disappointed god, why would I have had feelings of transcendence when my first child was born and I held him in my arms for the very first time? Yes, something did not compute even though I was very aware of other people's ideas of God. Maybe I've been a weird thinker all my life. I don't know.

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Did anyone else suffer from having words from god given to them from other people? Or prophecies?

 

Oh god yes, it was one of the worst things that ever happened to me.

 

About eight years ago, a prophetess called me up out of the blue and told me that if I ever fornicated, the girl would get pregnant and have an abortion and it would destroy me. Oh, and on top of that, the poor girl would be swarmed by demons by way of my cock and be driven to madness, possibly suicide.

 

Yeah... that's why I kept my dick in my pants until I was nearly 29. That's why I passed up several opportunities to have sex, and I still kick myself now. I'm 30 now. And I'm still angry.

 

As you can imagine, at one point I got fed up, and was tired of blowing my chances at having such a primal need finally be met, and I just did not want to be a 30 year old virgin. So I said "fuck it, she can abort the baby, I don't give a fuck anymore." I got laid. Repeatedly. And there was no pregnancy. The condoms never broke. And it was fun. And she didn't get driven to madness or suicide because of an angel of death that went up her coochie or whatever. I'd been doubting for a while, but that's pretty much when I went over the top hump on the roller coaster.

 

Boy, I wish I wouldn't have taken that shit seriously. I could have had so much more fun.

 

Or the feeling that you had a promise from god and he would bring it to pass? I was in a very strong charismatic church so these things were very normal to me and to talk about them with other christians. I was always confused about how or when god would start bringing these things to pass in my life. So I would sit and do nothing, and expect god would do it all for me. I think a lot of christians suffer from that delusion that god is going to use them in this huge magnificent way in his ministry. What a load of crock the whole thing is.

 

Yeah, that happened to me, too.

 

And these awesome, incredible, straight-out-of-Acts awes and wonders never came to pass.

 

They told me "Moses was in his 80s when God finally moved. Be patient."

 

But I inevitably realized that either God was a liar, lazy and didn't give a shit, flaky, impotent, or non-existent.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Striving to be more like Jesus gave me a nasty martyrdom complex :P

 

More seriously, I'm fairly certain I have narcissistic personality disorder, which is often characterized by delusions of grandeur. One delusion that I had as a Christian was fantasizing about being morally perfect, and I worked hard to be perceived that way by my peers and family. Weirdly enough, humility was an important part of the perfection fantasy... Cognitive dissonance strikes again! :wacko:

 

I would usually see myself as superior to Heathens and even other Christians. That is, until something happened to challenge that image, causing me to feel ashamed.

 

Ultimately, because I had used religion as a mechanism to inflate and (precariously) bolster my pride for so long, I felt hollow and generally worthless after my de-conversion.

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As a christian I was constantly worried, stressed fearful and anxious about god's will and if I was walking in it. I felt like I couldn't make any decisions about my life for myself. I still find this a big one to overcome even now. I felt like god was in control of every single thing I did, who I talked with where I went...everything. My entire life was trying to wake up every day to please him. I just felt confused all the time. I felt like a tightly wound, anal retentive, judgemental, self-righteous, obnoxious, pious idiot. My behaviour reflected that too. I think as a christian I had serious mental issues. I don't have that tight feeling in my head anymore that would be constantly alert if I was around non-christians. Like I had to impress them with how wonderful life was with god and how peaceful and awesome it was to have god in control of my life. Every little decision had to be prayed over and I had to get the right sign from god all the time, aaargh.

 

Wow, you just described my life.

 

I spent 13yrs in a wasteland of nothingness. Accomplishing nothing. In essence giving up my life to gain the stupidest judgements on people and their lifestyles.

 

Try almost two decades as a self-loathing, queerophobic hypocrite.

 

 

Christianity is meant to empower you and make you feel loved and special. Don't even get me started on my self-esteem as a xtian. It went to way below zero and I am still struggling to get out of that dark pit.

 

Ditto. My life could have been completely different. My career would have turned out much better. I would have made much better life choices. I would have been happier, sooner. I am MUCH better today but I do even today still question myself. My partner and other people around me tell me how smart and pretty I am and how much I have going for me, but I don't often see it myself. I try to, and I try to be positive, but it's emotionally exhausting at times trying to do so. To be fair, not all of it was just christianity. A good part of it was just my father and his callous abuse.

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What mental issues? I don't even know where to begin. Christianity of the Baptist Fundy type was what I was raised in. Jesus was presented as the answer for every human problem. Too bad it doesn't really work that way, does it?

 

I think that the most damaging things were:

 

1. Women were meant to be mothers and wives and nothing else. As a woman you didn't even have the authority to run your own life, you needed a man to do it. Result: A bad marriage that lasted 6 years to the first person I could find who would ask me to marry him (because I never thought there could be someone else) a lying cheating lowlife.

 

2. You were supposed to always think of yourself as a "sinner"-- in other words, damaged goods.

 

3. It was impossible to do any good without Jesus.

 

4. Bad things happen, yet "Jesus loves you".

 

5. You will one day stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ - doesn't matter if you are saved or not. God is eventually going to get you.

 

My mother modeled this type of Christianity. At 73 years old, she still reads the Bible every day. She has a list of people she prays for. I am sure I am on that list. My father is a deacon.

 

I can't begin to relate the damage the low self-image has done, plus an inborn shyness and social anxiety problem on top of it.

 

Christianity has been a terrible nightmare for me.

 

No wonder I have been here on this site 3 years and am now paying a therapist big bucks as well. I will do anything I can to help people escape this terrible trap of Christianity.

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I didn't take responsiblity for my shit when I was a Christian. Everything was "ordained" to be. It was "part of the plan". And if it really fell to shit, it must have been Satan doing it. At any rate, none of it was within my control. It was angels and demons wrestling about and I was just a peon on the sidelines. Powerless. But a worm, saving for god's grace. Blech.

 

I was also clinically depressed for about 2 years, but wouldn't seek counselling. It was a weakness and I needed to overcome it, with Jesus' power.

 

Cognative dissonance bites. It's so much better on the other side. I don't have to hold conflicting ideas anymore. No more "God loves you/God is sending you to hell." I believe in things because they make sense. I behave morally because it's the right thing to do, according to my own mind, not because a sky fairy ordained it.

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Ditto. My life could have been completely different. My career would have turned out much better. I would have made much better life choices. I would have been happier, sooner. I am MUCH better today but I do even today still question myself. My partner and other people around me tell me how smart and pretty I am and how much I have going for me, but I don't often see it myself. I try to, and I try to be positive, but it's emotionally exhausting at times trying to do so. To be fair, not all of it was just christianity. A good part of it was just my father and his callous abuse.

 

I totally relate. At times I can also be positive and think that after all, at least I am able to financially support myself. It was no thanks to my father. I don't know what your father did, but my dad was absentee. Then when he was home the football game on TV was more important than interacting with his daughter.

 

I can't actually blame it all on Christianity either. The brutal treatment from my two brothers (who beat me up all the time) and being bullied at school definitely played a role.

 

I learned early on it didn't pay to show much emotion.

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Ditto. My life could have been completely different. My career would have turned out much better. I would have made much better life choices. I would have been happier, sooner. I am MUCH better today but I do even today still question myself. My partner and other people around me tell me how smart and pretty I am and how much I have going for me, but I don't often see it myself. I try to, and I try to be positive, but it's emotionally exhausting at times trying to do so. To be fair, not all of it was just christianity. A good part of it was just my father and his callous abuse.

 

I totally relate. At times I can also be positive and think that after all, at least I am able to financially support myself. It was no thanks to my father. I don't know what your father did, but my dad was absentee. Then when he was home the football game on TV was more important than interacting with his daughter.

 

I can't actually blame it all on Christianity either. The brutal treatment from my two brothers (who beat me up all the time) and being bullied at school definitely played a role.

 

I learned early on it didn't pay to show much emotion.

 

My father was absentee much of the time too. For him it was out in the garage most nights after work, working on his boat or some other project. He is a brilliant man and built some amazing things, but as a parent he was horrible. I was the youngest of three and always in the way. I frequently kindled his anger and would be sent to my room and told he didn't want to see my face, for weeks over one little infraction. More than once I even had to be whisked away to my aunt's house in another town, for two weeks or more and he was calm enough for me to be back in the house I still had to stay in my room for days or a week or more when he was home. My eldest sister of us three does not speak to him, as she finally came to terms with the abuse she received, which was physical as well as sexual. She confronted him and he denied everything. That was ten years ago and they have not spoken since. He hasn't spoken to me in almost two years since I came out of the closet except one time when I called to talk to Mom and he thought I was my other sister, whom is and always was his favorite. Interesting what you learn when you talk to the parent who hates you and he thinks you're someone else.

 

I was also bullied in school so much that I just wanted my life to end and I made several attempts to accomplish just that. That and self mutilation. Lots of self mutilation. I was the meek geek, the one who never fit in because I was a gender confused misfit forced to be someone I wasn't. Speaking of that other sister, I often got blamed for things that I found out later my father had caused, like when she broke her arm. I was never, ever right about anything. Talk about growing up questioning yourself and just giving up because you think you can never do anything right. As it turns out, I was the gifted one of us three, thanks to the same genetic mistake that gave me all the physical things that have challenged me my whole life.

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I cant really say if it was religion or my family, both I would say,

 

I was neglected as a child and subjected to mental abuse from my mother who was a Christian turned schizophrenic, and my father instead of doing something just focused on his work and went deeper into his faith, instead of anyone doing anything, we just prayed for over 10 years, and it did nothing except prolong my neglect,

 

it was not until I turned 17 that I was done and demanded change or I was going to take my life, I was moved out of the home, and started trying to construct my life,

 

but I went on to be diagnosed with severe depression, bi-polar disorder, and I tried to kill myself 3 times and cut myself over 700 times in a few years time, was hospitalized 7 times,

 

but I was still a xian through all this, it was the only system I knew and I went deeper into it,

 

once my mind started to settle down, I become a on fire for god xian with a testimony that I used to give speech's and church's, people twisted my life to serve there groups but shortly after I reached a level I could no longer go any further, the standards of xiainty kept making me depressed again, I felt like I was always failing in my faith, at heart I found the bible boring, I felt bad when I could not keep a regular prayer life, I had people around me pushing me to do more and more, I still had old doubts going back years that would crop up all the time, it became harder to resist Self injury a addiction I struggled with at times, because I always felt pressured by god and his silence left me with little comfort,

 

after falling into a low period my church made some harsh judgements on me and it gave me the excuse to do something I had been wanting to do at some point, and that was to challenge my faith and examine my doubts, which I did over a period of a month and slowly I lost my beliefs in my religion.

 

I now have been out for almost 3 months now and I have not been depressed, and I have chosen what makes me happy and what makes me sad, I used to try to apply the ideals of religion to define my sense of failure and happiness but now I choose what makes me feel the way I do, and I am truly free and I am loving it,

 

I have not hurt my self in 5 months, I no longer take any med's for depression, I no longer am in therapy, and I have survived D-DAY of braking apart from religion without trauma or injury, I was promoted to full time at my work 3 days after I declared I was a atheist, despite the claims of people who told me I was going to kill myself and fail and be miserable,

 

I don't believe religion ever caused my mental illness's but I do know that religion made mine worse and my mental integrity is alot easier now to maintain as a atheist then it ever was as a xian.

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I think I put myself through most of the emotional stress that I had as a believer. I had read the scriptures through repeatedly prior to ever going to church, so I didn't take a lot of bullshit that people made up, or that some pastors wanted to pass off as "authority". But boy did I hold my own feet to the fire about what I considered true. I had other people prophesy over me, but honestly they always seemed so vague I never trusted them. I didn't say so out loud, but I didn't let them influence me. I had staring contests with charismaniac pastors trying to "test my spirit". I guess I've never been one to put much stock in church authority. But if I really though God wanted something, I strived to perform it, and failed again and again.

 

I remember one day I was in tears, clinging to the banister of the stairs in my house, because I wanted to go get a porn video and wank. It was a terrible struggle at the time and very disturbing that I wasn't acting like a new creation. Of course now I realize that I wasn't a new creation, just a normal human with normal desires.

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I didn't have any mental issues, but adults repeatedly training pre-teens that they are subject to hell for normal human emotions and hormone influences is truly sick. Let the adults scare each other silly with their fairy tales if that gets 'em off. Leave the kids out of it. :vent:

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If that is true, you certainly got lucky. Very few people escape without some sort residue.

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I already had some hefty emotional and psych issues before xianity entered the picture. Xianity just exacerbated what was already there.

 

Grew up in an alcoholic family, with all the happy mental bullshit that entails. By the time puberty hit I was pretty well fucked up emotionally from years of overall chaos. Guilt, shame, anxiety, and depression pretty much summed up my meat and drink; the addition of xianity just gave me more reason to feel guilty and ashamed, and more things to be anxious and depressed about. Not only was I an offense to my alcoholic family, I was also an offense to the almighty god. He was just one more person I could never please - plus he had the power to cast me into eternal hellfire if I pissed him off enough.

 

Yeah. Not a pretty sight.

 

I married my first husband in part because he was doctrinally sound (though there were other reasons too). Our marriage was miserable and I definitely stayed in it WAY too long because that was what a good xian wife was supposed to do. I was supposed to fix everything and stay with him no matter what, because that's what gawd wanted, and if the marriage failed it was because I hadn't tried hard enough to be a good xian wife. (Of course if it had improved and thrived, I wouldn't have gotten any credit for it, as that would've gone to gawd.) :Wendywhatever:

 

I still sometimes deal with anxiety, guilt, depression, the like, but in a different way, and to a lesser extent, and I have no religious injunctions making it worse. Ditching xianity was among the better moves I made, when it comes to preserving my mental health.

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Well, I am beginning to think I was only an Xian through my mother, if that makes any sense at all. Because she was born-again, I had to be too and I didn't have choice. It was just apparently a given or else, my opinion or thoughts didn't matter. No that is a psychological trip. Just drag your daughter with her, whether she wants to be or not.

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Dang. Did we have the same mother??

 

Does she and everyone else in your family, including relatives, have a Biblical name or a derivative there of? Did she even give you a horrible Biblical name too? If so, we might and if that is the case, I have a sibling I never even knew about. :lol:

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Does she and everyone else in your family, including relatives, have a Biblical name or a derivative there of? Did she even give you a horrible Biblical name too? If so, we might and if that is the case, I have a sibling I never even knew about.

 

Heh! No, they weren't that bad. And actually my name is pagan in origin, mainly because my mom was pissed off at xianity at the time!

 

What struck me was the note about how you kind of got dragged into xianity by your mother, regardless of your own feelings on the matter. That sounded very similar to why I ended up in it too: I wasn't dragged into it, exactly, but I did convert shortly after she did, and her wishes and her attitude towards me as an extension of herself had a lot to do with it.

 

Sometimes I speak with people whose mothers were controlling in one way or another, and it's always an uncanny thing - it's as if all our mothers went to the same school in bad parenting or something. Their attitudes and methods are like carbon copies. It's just weird.

 

So I wondered, only half tongue-in-cheek.

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About eight years ago, a prophetess called me up out of the blue and told me that if I ever fornicated, the girl would get pregnant and have an abortion and it would destroy me. Oh, and on top of that, the poor girl would be swarmed by demons by way of my cock and be driven to madness, possibly suicide.

 

Yeah... that's why I kept my dick in my pants until I was nearly 29. That's why I passed up several opportunities to have sex, and I still kick myself now. I'm 30 now. And I'm still angry.

 

 

 

Oh my ____. That's aweful. I'm so sorry that happened to you!

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Well, since anxiety is pretty prevelant in my family and my mom struggled with depressino for a long time before getting on meds, I don't know how much was heredity and how much was religion, but I know that I am currently at the best state of mental health I have been in years.

As a Christian, I was depressed, anxious, uptight, very paranoid that I would be in the grocery store or something and the Holy Spirit would tell me to witness to someone so I actually got to the point of not wanting to go out because I was afraid that would happen. I was suicidal and I self-injured occasionally. This improved when I started taking an anti-depressant.

 

My self-esteem was nearly non-existent, because of course we are all horrible people who deserve to burn in hell, and since we don't deserve love we are just fortunate that God "loves" us. However, even God's "love" isn't so great because every time we mess up, he keeps a tally and we'll never really be good enough for him.

 

My understanding of my own sexuality was very very screwed up thanks to years of youth pastors, pastors and teachers telling me how bad and dirty sex is (and you should save it for someone you love!) It was so bad that just overhearing a conversation about sex would send me into a panic attack. And not even anything explicit. The night I saw the movie "Take The Lead" (there is no sex in it at all. No nudity. Just ballroom dancing) I had a total breakdown. I was slightly bi-curious so I hated myself for that, not knowing that it's normal and healthy for adolescents to have same-sex curiosity. When I started to discard my faith and enrolled in a state university, all that sexual anxiety quickly started to go away.

 

I know I have changed a lot because not long after my deconversion, my sister and my friends commented on how much more laid-back I became. It's been a very good change. I used to drive people crazy with how type-A I was. Now I'm hardly ever on time! lol

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Not many of my mental issues are related to Xtianity, other than constantly wondering what people think. My parents constantly told me to not care what others thought... then they took me to churches where anyone and everyone could be judged- and my mother is extremely judgemental. Every kid wants to please the sexually/physically mature humans in their lives...

 

A while back I started getting the idea that storms were a punishment from god. Imagine what that did for my storm phobia...

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I was...always in the way.

 

This struck a nerve with me. I constantly heard "You're in the way" from my parents as a kid. It was like I was a piece of fucking furniture or something. I half expected my dad to just pick me up and move me out of the way sometimes. I was the oldest of two, so I can't relate to being the youngest, but this I can. Something else that really bothered me was when my mother would ask me to help my dad with something that he was doing, but when I'd try to do it, he'd get all pissy and say that I wasn't doing it right. It usually ended up with him shooing me away because I was apparently such a screw up that just watching him do it was bad enough or something. One point of contention between us was putting stuff in the shopping cart. We had so many arguments over this one simple thing. I remember the exact phrase my dad would use every time: "No, you're not doing it properly." Then he would go on to explain this fucked up way of having to put stuff in the cart that was so particular and perfect that no kid should ever be expected to remember it. I just throw stuff in there, unless it's eggs or something that can be easily squished. He had this flawless system that I was constantly thwarting just because my mom would ask me to help put stuff in the cart. You'd think she would've gotten it after the tenth time I got yelled at. Maybe she wanted me to get yelled at? Who knows.

 

On a similar yet different note, was anyone else compared to their parents by others? I was quite a bit. I was told that I looked like my mom and had my dad's personality. Both of my parents abused me, and when people would compare me to them, it really fucked with my self-esteem. I didn't get mad at people when they would do that, and I still don't hold it against them, even now, because no one really knew what was going on between me and my parents, but it really screwed with how I view myself. I realize now that I'm my own person, and that person is nothing like my parents.

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One which I still have to this day is perfectionism issues. These came from religion, which had convinced me that I would burn in hell forever for not being perfect enough. I've improved a lot since I was young, but I still am highly detail-oriented and have to check my work multiple times. This generally goes for anything written or work-oriented, not so much in house-cleaning or anything like that.

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I have always been a little bit anxious--I was one of those "smart kids", and so was one of many in the Bullying Target Pool, and the ties of family did not prevent fami And I was always a little bit of a worrier. It came with being the oldest, and the closest to my parents. Partially because of the bullying, my self-esteem was already a little low.

 

When I became a Christian, every issue I had was magnified and made exponentially worse. My self-esteem went so low that "rock bottom" was a few floors up from where I stood, mostly because in the specific denomination I was brought up in taught that self-esteem didn't matter but "God-esteem"...whatever that meant. Looking back at that time, right now, that phrase still doesn't make any sense whatsoever. But yes, add the parts where everything was a demon, even the twisty-turny roller coaster of emotions called adolescence, and you get a teenager who was deathly afraid of everything, especially earning the disapproval of the adult leaders, which, I was told, was the same as earning the disapproval of God himself.

 

I was also told that things that happened to me were either a test from God or a result of some secret sin, so I was constantly checking myself to see that I wasn't sinning. I had become something of a defeated perfectionist--I tried to do everything expected of me, but found that I could never do so.

 

Looking back now, all those rules were ridiculous and stupid, but some of the worrying remains. It's annoying as hell, but I'm working through it.

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Guest dragonfly310

I cannot blame Christianity alone for my list of mental issues. I'm even told that I cannot even blame how I grew up for developing (not the right word, but I hope it's still understood) in me. Can I at least blame them on genetics and say that genetics probably exacerbated them?

 

I too was raised in an abusive home. My mother and I never got along and we still don't. It's not a mere difference of opinion that causes this. My mother is also sick with a myriad of mental issues, starting, but not ending with bipolar disorder. She could never be pleased. Every day was a literal screaming (not that I was allowed to scream back, mind you) and physical fight. I don't think I need to go into detail into the things she said to me which totally obliterated my self esteem, which was combined with mind games and lies. With them, I couldn't tell what was the truth and what was a lie. School was my only relief, even though I was taking crap from the lovely people I shared classrooms with. At least they couldn't hit me and get away with it. Sure, I might be dragged down the hallway, but they'd eventually be removed from the school.

 

My father was no better. As soon as he got home from work (sometimes before, since Mom would call him at work), Dad would merely finish what she started, so it was merely more screaming in my face with more hate filled diatribes and more physical violence. Later on, sometimes the same night, other times days later, when he was out of ear shot and eye sight from her, he'd tell me that she was indeed wrong but that he had to do that in order to keep the violence in the house. Meaning, he had to beat me so that she wouldn't hit and scream at him. He'd do this often. After a while, you'd think he'd catch on, but nope. Catch this: Dad's a retired US Army officer. That doesn't automatically make him a hero. In my eyes, he's the biggest coward I've ever met. This grown man, this Army officer, would hide behind his young daughter from a violent woman. (Go ahead. Tell me I hate the USA because I *gasp* called a US soldier a coward.)

 

My mom thought it would be a good idea for me to at least know about Christianity, so as a child, I was sent with the neighbor to the local Methodist church. Before I was a teenager, she made me go, but after I became a teen, she let me decide for myself whether I wanted to go or not. Most of the time, I chose not to go, but I did still attend and I knew enough about the faith to "get away with it" amongst my peers. She didn't care either way. She was also cool about my questioning the faith. The discussions we had about faith were some of our rare pleasantries. At that time, I didn't study it either way. I didn't question the faith, and I didn't devote myself to it either. I really had no time to develop a strong faith. I had no time for apologetics and what not. I was too busy trying to physically and emotionally survive my home life. Even after my high school graduation (I walked across the stage with a hand shaped welt on my thigh and obviously upset because I felt battered from the fight earlier in the day), I still had to live with them. There was no way I could've supported myself.

 

I went to college for a year after high school, but even though I was a decent student (3.8 GPA), my head and heart wasn't in it. My grades were slipping because even though I was over 18, I was still taking abuse. There was no way I could escape it except through my boyfriend. I couldn't wait it out until I graduated. I quit school thinking I was going to marry this guy. I even moved in with him. Thankfully, life took a different turn. I did quit school, but I didn't marry that guy. I soon learned that he was just as abusive as my parents. I went to work after that, but I still lived at my parents house. Well, they had a lot of catching up to do....

 

It didn't take long until I met and married my husband. Sometimes you get lucky. I got lucky. Ten and a half years later, we're still very happy and very much in love. The abuse from my parents still didn't go away, but at least it wasn't every day. Yeah, they would wait until my husband was at work and then come over to the house and start their sh*t. I told my husband about them, but it was a mixture of, "It can't be as bad as she's saying. We all exaggerate when we're hurt," and "I do not want to confront them because they will buy our groceries when the money's tight (which I never wanted them to do, but my husband pressured me to ask them)." When we had our first child (exactly 10 months after we married), we thought it would be a good idea to be believers and involved in church because that's what (our young, naive selves) thought good parents do: raise their kids in the church. We gave everything we had to the church: our money, our time, and our devotion. All we got in return was all the negativity from the church like what's mentioned in other person's posts in this thread and maybe then some.

 

There is a reason I gave a little background about how I grew up. It was to show how easy it was for me to become so devoted and gullible about Christianity. I was used to abusive parents. What I read in the Bible (not the genocides and other outright killing, but the worthlessness of self) was normal to me. It was easy for me to consider myself worth nothing more than "filthy rags." I already felt that way. It wasn't a hard stretch for me to believe in a supernatural being I couldn't see, hear, or touch because I had often daydreamed that I was a different person in a different place, and/or I would invent a person in my daydreams that thought I was the best thing that happened to him/her just to be able to settle down from the fighting earlier in the day. God was both of my parents combined, and Jesus was the person that thought I was worth a damn. Even though I would use these daydreams as coping mechanisms, I never for a second thought they were reality. I was a legend in my own mind yes, but I knew it was only in my mind. I would "wake up" and be my battered self again...

 

Like I said before, I gave my heart and soul to our chosen church because I did believe (although naively) that being a believer was the right thing to do since we had brought children into the world and since I wanted to fit into my new family. My husband's family are devout Christians. Because of the way I grew up and since I knew I had gotten extremely lucky with my husband, I desperately wanted his family to like me. I desperately wanted a "normal" life. I felt safer (though not completely safe from them and myself) so I was able to recover a little bit and think of something other than trying to survive my family. After those first couple years, when our baby turned into a toddler, circumstances beyond my control turned me into a stay at home mom. Finally, I was able to study the faith. Since I was heart and head strong about remaining in the church, the thought never crossed my mind to investigate both sides of the story. When Christianity came into the picture, I was too busy trying to fit into my new family and raise my own family "properly."

 

As time has passed and certain events have occured, I feel safer now than I ever have. I was starting to feel embarrassed and ashamed of myself because I was over 30 and I was still scared to death of my parents and I still carried all the baggage that an adult survivor of child abuse will carry if it's not dealt with. When I look back at my life, there are some things that I still get angry about, even though the events happened 15-20 years ago. Yes, something that happened to me at my parent's hands when I was 14 still makes me angry today (I'm 32.) There are some actions that I took (3 suicide attempts, for example) that some days I'm so ashamed of, and other days I can look in the mirror and say, "Yes, you tried to end it all because this, this and that happened, but you are still here and you do still have the right to breathe, contrary to what everyone else tells you." Most of the time I believe, "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." My past does give me the courage and inspiration to face other things.

 

Since I have felt better about myself in the past year or so, there are a lot of silly coping mechanisms I can give up. I no longer have to distance myself from most social events because my guard is so high it's inevitable that I say or do something weird. I no longer have hide from the world. If I want to go back to school, I can without fear that someone will track me down. As I gain more confidence, I feel like I have the ability, if not responsibility, to be honest with myself and be myself. I seems like I have never been allowed to do this before so I do feel emotionally stunted. Therefore, at age 32, I am doing what feels like a complete life inventory. One of my 2009 New Year's resolutions is to be honest with myself. So, I have to examine whether some things I truly believe or if I believe them to suit a purpose. One of those things was my faith in Christianity, especially since I started doubting anyway. Doubts started creeping up long before my resolution.

 

The result is that I no longer believe. The feeling of freedom I have was sometimes terrifying, but it has turned exhilarating. I no longer have the fear of dying and going to hell. I no longer feel as utterly worthless. I don't feel as guilty when my mother (mis)uses, "Honor your mother and father." It does take incredible strength (for me anyway) to stand up to your long sought friends and state, "I don't believe this anymore," but it's harder to be dishonest with yourself. It's a relief that I don't have to please un-please-able people under the yoke of fear of hell (The pain of ostracism remains, but I'd rather have that than the irrational fear. I like knowing who my friends are.). At age 32, I give myself the privilege of living sanely. Since leaving Christianity, I have felt safer emotionally and physically, and I feel more sane than I ever have. I don't feel as anxious anymore. [storms still make me panic, though. (Gimme a break please. I am a Katrina survivor. :) ]

 

Again, I cannot blame Christianity alone for the way I am now. However, I can say it caused a delay. I started to recover from the abuse a little bit once I married. Yes, the process would've been slower than it is now since I feel almost completely safe, but maybe I might've been in my early to mid 20s when I've been able to relax and be myself. I might not have attempted suicide that 3rd time were it not for Christianity. I cannot believe that I traded earthly abusive parents for a supernatural abusive parent. UGH!!!

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