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Angry (Post-Deconversion)


Seeking
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I could use some perspective.

 

I was just reading the Phases of Deconversion thread. It's very interesting and spot-on. My talk of "stages" below comes from that thread.

 

I'm 35 years old and spent the first 15 years of my life in a blissful Stage 0, with not a single doubt in my mind. Then from age 15 - 33 I was in Stage 1, although being discontent, I dipped my toes into Stage 2 from time to time, and then retreated quickly in fear. I finally allowed myself to begin to question at age 33, and Stage 2 lasted for 2 long years. Six months ago I cracked the door to Stage 3 and finally admitted that this journey might end with the loss of my faith, though I was so desperate to NOT have that be the result. It was terrifying. In just the last few days, however, I have gone through Stage 3 and now realize that I no longer believe. (This is due in large part to actually reading the Bible.)

 

I read the Phases of Deconversion thread back in March when I was wavering between Stages 2 and 3. At that time, I couldn't ever imagine progressing into Stage 4 and actually feeling any anger. After all, what would I have to be angry about? I come from a loving family (who only indoctrinated me in Christianity because they believed it to be true and they cared about the state of my soul), I had a very nice childhood, my adult life has been pretty sweet, no one in the church has ever mistreated me....

 

Well, you know what? I am feeling angry. My anger is growing every day, and I don't know why. This is all so new to me that I still haven't defined exactly what I'm angry about, though I wonder if my mind reacted to God as a sort of emotional abuser. I spent the last 20 years of my life (TWENTY YEARS!!!) with nearly zero self esteem. I hated myself because I was constantly told (by the Bible and the church) that I was no good, that my good works were like excrement in the eyes of God, that I was struggling with my faith only because I wasn't doing it right, that I needed to pray harder, etc. I spent so much of those 20 years begging God to hear me, to give me peace, to help me know that he was actually there, to give me some faith (!!), but what did I get? 20 years of deafening silence. And guilt. I struggled, I searched within myself to figure out whether, theologically, I was approaching it from the wrong angle, if I was relying on myself instead of God, if it was some hidden sin that was keeping God from hearing me. I talked to pastors and saw counselors through the church, and I was told that my problem was me. That I was too self-reliant and logical (truly, I was told this!), and through sin had suppressed my emotional side too much to feel God as I should. (All of this was coming from non-Charismatic churches, by the way, mostly conservative Presbyterian and Lutheran denominations.)

 

I no longer believe the Bible is the word of God, and I have come to realize that the god of the Bible was a cruel, cruel being not deserving of any respect, let alone worship. However, though I now consider myself to be agnostic, I keep feeling this need to look over my shoulder (metaphorically), for fear that God is lurking there, waiting to pounce again. I feel so incredibly vulnerable. And I don't know anyone in my real life that has gone through this, so I can't really talk to anyone about it. None of my friends or family know my circumstances.

 

Anyhow, I know this is long and rambly, but I'd love to hear any encouraging words you might have if you've gone through this same thing and came out the other side unscathed. Thanks.

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I could use some perspective.

 

I no longer believe the Bible is the word of God, and I have come to realize that the god of the Bible was a cruel, cruel being not deserving of any respect, let alone worship. However, though I now consider myself to be agnostic, I keep feeling this need to look over my shoulder (metaphorically), for fear that God is lurking there, waiting to pounce again. I feel so incredibly vulnerable. And I don't know anyone in my real life that has gone through this, so I can't really talk to anyone about it. None of my friends or family know my circumstances.

 

Anyhow, I know this is long and rambly, but I'd love to hear any encouraging words you might have if you've gone through this same thing and came out the other side unscathed. Thanks.

It gets better. It takes a while for this to sink in, and for the "aftershocks" to die down. There's stuff you may not have thought of, or that you may not expect, that may still be awaiting you.

 

But I've found that there really isn't any "choice." Truth is truth, and once you have grasped the whole picture, trying to believe in god is like trying to believe in the tooth fairy - even if you never actually caught the tooth fairy in action.

 

You can perhaps salvage something for a while, like maybe god is a spark 14 billion years ago. Who cares? You can even try praying. Many do, but I didn't. In fact, I was "struck" when I was praying, and it all came together so fast that I wanted to run, but it took me 20 years to get there.

 

And it has been 20 years since. I love my job, my wife, my children, my hobbies and I love life! It doesn't get any better than that. If anything, my appreciation for life increases daily. It's the only life I have, and the only time I have to be with my family.

 

"That life is worth living, we can say, since it is what we make it, from the moral point of view."

William James

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Nobody really comes out unscathed and I'm not sure if the anger every truly disappears. It feels like mine has constantly been on "simmer" and I go through sudden flare-ups every so often. I think it will always be there on the back-burner and who knows what could cause it to suddenly boil over.

 

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I just have more issues than most. Maybe I'm subconsciously hanging onto it. I don't know.

 

But it does get better. I think the "simmer" times get longer and the "flare-up" times get shorter.

 

All in all, I don't think the anger is really a bad thing. It keeps you on your feet, keeps you going, keeps you driving ahead bloody-hell determined to never let anyone control your life that way ever again.

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If I choose to think about the ways Christianity has ruined my life, I can get angry quickly. The self-esteem issue is a big one for me also. I have had a problem with it since I was 13. I know that my youth was ruined by fundamentalist Christian ideas. A big one was the notion that nothing matters that you do in life except believe in Christ. Well, I believed, but not enough, it seems. Money did not magically appear at my door and I had to find a way to make a living, a concept that was not considered important.

 

I won't go into how Christian ideas about women, men and marriage ruined my life. That is a whole long story too. Lets just say I found out the hard way that marriage is not for everyone.

 

I don't much associate with Christians or any other sort of people for that matter. I keep to myself and like it that way. Sometimes someone will post something on this site that really gets me enraged. I think overall its good though, because it gives me continuing insight into how far I have come and how much I never want to return to those ideas. Most people, I am convinced, who are Christians, do not think through the implications of their own beliefs. They ignore much of it or don't take it seriously. Many of us here, including you, Seeking, DID take it very seriously and the more we seriously examined it and the impact it had on our lives, the more danger we saw in it.

 

Mostly I am over the anger. The past is gone. It is a tremendous task to drop the conditioning and find a different way. Your own way. It is a battle and requires a lot of courage but the end is peace with yourself and a type of strength and fearlessness you would never think possible.

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The anger is a natural part of it - this was something that was a part of you for nearly your entire life, and that anger is bound to show up. Generally I wouldn't say I'm angry anymore, but there are certain topics or items that will, like Mark said, cause a "flare up."

 

You have suddenly lost your self identity, only to realize that it was a false, poor, and weak identity, and now after 30+ years, you have to finally figure out who YOU are. I went through that as well, and I was sad, angry, mad, dissappointed all at the same time. It was rough. To top it off, at the time I was also in a super stressful job, I think the combination of everything is part of why I had to quit (not entirely, but it didn't help).

 

I would suggest taking some time to learn who you are as a person - try some different things, right down to hair styles and clothing. You might be suprised. This has been very empowering for me. For the first time in 30+ years myself, I am happy with being a woman. I can enjoy wearing cute clothes, hanging with the girls, and putting on makeup. For most of my life, I hated that I was female because I was thrust into being a lesser person just because I didn't have diddly bits - not because of anything I did, chose, or anything else. For me, that was a major part of my journey out, and a large portion of my anger - anger that had been simmering my entire life, and now I realized there was a reason for it.

 

Your reasons will probably vary from other people's but the feelings that they create are very similar. This does tend to be something that we struggle with alone - part of why I came here orgininally - just to know I wasn't alone in the world. It's not the same as having people in real life, I'm finally starting to meet people outside of my old christian circles, and I think that is helping me move on as well. That, and finally coming out to my parents was another of the final hold ups I had to deal with. But none of this happens all at once - if it did, we'd be overwhelmed.

 

Take some time to think about why you are angry. Understanding may not get rid of the anger, but it will help you process through it. Heck, it may even make you more angry since you may get mad at people you thought you weren't mad at - but process through it. Write out some letters to god, family, yourself - not in order to actually send them, but to get your thoughts out. I find that to be very useful sometimes, and very calming. They have lousy grammer, are disjointed, and would make no sense to another reader, but just processing through those thoughts is useful. Just open up MS Word and start typing - who cares if you have no ideas other than "why am I angry" to start with! Just keep your fingers going, and you may get a start to an answer to the question.

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Seeking, as well as the encouragement coming your way from other posters meant to help you, I'll add that your well-written post, as well as the fact that you included the link to the other thread, can and probably will be a great help to other people who are going through earlier stages. I can't tell you how common it is for a Christian who's struggling with this stuff to feel that they are all alone, may be crazy, or worse, may be in the grip of Satan.

 

Just to see that they're not alone can be a tremendous comfort.

 

I've been here for years and know as fact that for some topics, far more people read than post. Try taking a thread like Phases of Deconversion and going to the index page of that forum and comparing the numbers in the, "Views," column with the numbers in the, "Replies," column.

 

Not only are you getting help (We hope.), but you're giving help as well.

 

Loren

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Thank you all for your replies. It helps a lot to read what others have gone through.

 

If anything, my appreciation for life increases daily. It's the only life I have, and the only time I have to be with my family.

You make some great points. It suddenly struck me the other day that life is so much more miraculous and precious when it's not being attributed to an omniscient, controlling god who *poof*ed us all into existence just the way we are.

 

You have suddenly lost your self identity, only to realize that it was a false, poor, and weak identity, and now after 30+ years, you have to finally figure out who YOU are.

That loss of identity is probably a big part of it. I feel un-moored. Who am I now?

 

For most of my life, I hated that I was female because I was thrust into being a lesser person just because I didn't have diddly bits. [...] That was a large portion of my anger - anger that had been simmering my entire life, and now I realized there was a reason for it.

Wow! This is exactly what I've felt my whole life. I have always hated the fact that I'm female; I even remember when I was 6 years old being very jealous of my brother because he was a boy. I've always been taught through church that women are worth less, and so I've always viewed women as less, including - especially! - myself. The church I recently stopped attending caused me so much anger because of their views of women, which are based on the Bible, of course. (I do want to say, however, that my parents never said anything like this. They always told me that I was intelligent and fully capable of doing and being anything that I wanted. Gender never affected their encouragement of me and my pursuits.)

 

I can't tell you how common it is for a Christian who's struggling with this stuff to feel that they are all alone, may be crazy, or worse, may be in the grip of Satan.

I know that feeling all too well. I still have moments of panic, wondering if I'm being deluded by Satan. Then I open up my notebook of Biblical errors and contradictions, and that calms me down. Or I just come to this site. :)

 

Not only are you getting help (We hope.), but you're giving help as well.

Thanks.

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Nobody likes to be conned. And on some level, when we leave xianity we all recognize what incredible suckers we have been. Anger is a natural response.

 

It can be even harder when most or all of the Christians you know are fairly decent people. You're pissed off, but it's not their fault - they were conned, too! So your anger has no place to direct itself, which can be very frustrating. You can't be mad at god, because he doesn't exist. You can't be mad at other christians, because they're victims, too. And often we end up being mad at ourselves for having been tricked - and that's even more infuriating, because one reason for getting out of the jeezuz cult is that it encourages us to kick ourselves. Now we have to kick ourselves for having been so foolish as to kick ourselves???

 

It's a mess. Just know this: it does get better. I've been out of the church for about a year now, and I'm not mad any more. I get sad sometimes when I see how stupid humans are, but that's not the fault of the church - there are stupid people falling for all kinds of scams every day.

 

Hang in there. This too will pass. Every cloud has a silver lining. A miss is as good as a mile. Never give a sucker an even break. Don't take any wooden nickels.

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That loss of identity is probably a big part of it. I feel un-moored. Who am I now?

Ask yourself why god said "I am that is." or "I am that I am."

Those words are very empowering. ;)

 

For me, the moment was physically standing up and saying, "I am a human! I am me!"

 

 

Kinda sheds a whole new light on the phrase Born Again, doesn't it?

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Instead of feeling angry and saying "I was so stupid", try to tell yourself "I figured it out!" You should feel accomplished and go drink some wine to celebrate.

 

Most of humanity is caught in an ugly web, but you had the bravery to stare it down, to be honest with yourself and question your beliefs and now you are free. What does that mean? Who knows, but you know what that web is like well enough, it's time to move on. The next chapter of your life begins.

 

It's like a baby turtle who finally digs his way out of the sand, and makes it into the sea. You don't know what exactly you're going to do now, but it's where you belong.

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I get really pissed off when I think about what it did to my sex life. I feel like I got cheated.

 

I get really sad when I think about what it has done to my brother and our relationship.

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Shallow, I do think "Hooray for me, I figured it out!" a little bit. :) But I feel like more of a numbskull that it took me 35 years.

 

I've been thinking about this topic a lot over the last few days, and I've realized something out: A lot of my anger should actually be directed toward the people at every step of the way (from Jesus' time onward) who have known the UNtruth about their writings/teachings, and yet have continued to preach as though it were fact. There must have been people throughout Christian history who knew that what they were writing wasn't true, who knew that what they were teaching people to believe was a lie, yet they continued. THOSE are the people who deserve my anger. Manipulative, conniving, deceitful, arrogant, cruel people.

 

Like some posters in Loren's thread on the testimonies board, I have come to think that most clergy are either intentionally dishonest or just incompetent. After all, if I - a person relatively untrained in theology - can find such huge, irreconcilable problems in Christianity and the Bible, why haven't any of the pastors I've known been able to do the same?

 

So, it is to those who have misled the "sheep" in their care that I attribute much of my anger.

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Well - Christianity ruins lives, breaks up families, denigrates women, fucks with science education, vilifies homosexual people, demonizes sex and sexuality, shreds people's self-esteem, interferes with public health... it's given people reasons to hate and kill each other, go to war against one another, torture one another, enslave one another, perform all sorts of nasty deeds, all sanctioned by self-righteousness and the holy mandate that "God says so".

 

Really, what's not to be angry about?

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Chalk me up as another one who went through an angry stage. I mostly kept it bottled up and didn't flare out too much, but I was indeed pissed off. Hurt and depressed too, of course, but angry for having been fed lies, angry for having not seen through the lies sooner, and angry for how my whole life had been built around those lies.

 

I also have to agree with what others have said, which is that it will get better over time. There will probably always be some level of resentment, but it will be more subdued and not as difficult to deal with. And you will feel more and more freed, which is a great feeling.

 

As far as the anger stage itself, while I can identify with a lot of what everyone here has said, I think that Davka's remarks are what identify me the most:

 

It can be even harder when most or all of the Christians you know are fairly decent people. You're pissed off, but it's not their fault - they were conned, too! So your anger has no place to direct itself, which can be very frustrating. You can't be mad at god, because he doesn't exist. You can't be mad at other christians, because they're victims, too. And often we end up being mad at ourselves for having been tricked - and that's even more infuriating, because one reason for getting out of the jeezuz cult is that it encourages us to kick ourselves. Now we have to kick ourselves for having been so foolish as to kick ourselves???

 

Anyway, Seeking, just keep seeking and growing, and things will improve. Enjoy the journey ahead of you....

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Ah wish I'd read this before posting up a new topic a few moments ago- perhaps people should just ignore it? (Can you delete topics/posts? I'm clueless here).

 

Yeah, I'm angry at myself, and it can flare (mostly on-line).

 

Mostly because the on-line preachers remind me of how I used to be. And I hate that. I particulary want to punch the early teen years christian me sometimes even more than the more retarded 'you'll burn!!!' version. I was a bit less hard core than that. But I don't like being reminded of the past me at all.

 

I feel angry for believing the lie. But as said here, it's hard to know where to direct your anger- most of the other people I'm mad at were duped just like me. So the anger is mostly directed at myself, but other people get caught in the 'flares'.

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Seeking,

The problem is you? I don't think so. I had that same sh*t pulled on me by some of the young adult pastors. At the time I believed it, but now I can see it's just manipulation to try to keep you from looking elsewhere for the source of the problem (that Xtianity is BS).

 

I can relate to the self esteem issue. That screwed me up to the point that when I finally left a year ago, I noticed that I was always looking down. I'm sure that this is a result of Christianity telling me that I'm evil and worthless.

 

As to why you are angry, I can speculate. You're angry because you were robbed. Robbed of what you could have done with those wasted years. Angry at those who you trusted because they deceived you (intentionally or unintentionally, it makes no difference), angry because your reality has been destroyed and you are wondering why this happened to you when you did nothing to deserve it, angry at the false promises of an imaginary deity, angry at thought of having to re-discover reality because it is not what you thought it was. (Was any of this accurate?)

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You're angry because you were robbed. Robbed of what you could have done with those wasted years. [...] angry at thought of having to re-discover reality because it is not what you thought it was. (Was any of this accurate?)

I don't think I'm angry about wasted years, because I don't think my life is any different now than it would have been had I never believed. I have a good education, a secular career, a strong marriage...I don't attribute any of that to the church. And actually, I appreciate the morals that were instilled in me from a young age. I don't see any of those changing or disappearing along with my beliefs. (Unlike some others, I am glad I didn't have sex before marriage.)

 

I do agree, however, with your idea that I'm angry about having my reality yanked out from under me. I know nothing of the nature of the world around me!! I feel like I'm a complete stranger living here on earth because I've always been told I was "in the world, not of it". Well, as it turns out, I am of the world, yet I don't know a thing about it. It's the strangest, most frustrating feeling. I feel stupid and blinded in this area.

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One solid month of getting laid like Mick Jagger in 1968 would make me forget the whole thing ever happened.

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You're angry because you were robbed. Robbed of what you could have done with those wasted years. [...] angry at thought of having to re-discover reality because it is not what you thought it was. (Was any of this accurate?)

I don't think I'm angry about wasted years, because I don't think my life is any different now than it would have been had I never believed. I have a good education, a secular career, a strong marriage...I don't attribute any of that to the church. And actually, I appreciate the morals that were instilled in me from a young age. I don't see any of those changing or disappearing along with my beliefs. (Unlike some others, I am glad I didn't have sex before marriage.)

 

I do agree, however, with your idea that I'm angry about having my reality yanked out from under me. I know nothing of the nature of the world around me!! I feel like I'm a complete stranger living here on earth because I've always been told I was "in the world, not of it". Well, as it turns out, I am of the world, yet I don't know a thing about it. It's the strangest, most frustrating feeling. I feel stupid and blinded in this area.

 

I know that feeling all too well. One thing that helped in my case was to read science books. I started with the Evolution of Species, then other evolution information (http://www.talkorigins.org/ is good), and started reading some basic astronomy, anthropology, psychology (which I've taken a liking to). Stuff I was told was evil or should exercise caution with.

 

Traveling also helps free your mind if you have the time to do it. You meet a lot of people and see so much that it opens up your mind (at least to me)

 

It's a bit unnerving at first, but as you gradually rediscover what the world is actually like, it gets easier.

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I know that feeling all too well. One thing that helped in my case was to read science books. I started with the Evolution of Species, then other evolution information (http://www.talkorigins.org/ is good), and started reading some basic astronomy, anthropology, psychology (which I've taken a liking to). Stuff I was told was evil or should exercise caution with.

 

Traveling also helps free your mind if you have the time to do it. You meet a lot of people and see so much that it opens up your mind (at least to me).

Thanks for the input! I have traveled extensively, even living overseas (in third world countries) twice, for a year both times, so I'm well aware of the current nature of the world and the people in it; what I meant was the origins of everything. Reading will be my solution. I've got a list of books I'm going to work my way through.

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