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Anger And Regret


alexander
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I'm in the process of purging years of xanity from myself, especially my emotional system. I'm stuck with lingering anger and regret: anger for being so dumb as to miss being fooled ("there's a sucker born every minute", says P.T. Barnum) and regret for spending so much time following a loser philosophy and following it so devoutly that I missed out on irreplaceable life experiences.

 

Has anyone else been stuck at this point and what did you do to get past it? I don't want to keep looking back so much because if I do that, I won't have time to see the future and plan for it in the present.

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To be honest, I think it's mostly just going to come with time.

 

One of the best things you can do is to try and make up for those experiences you've missed out on. That doesn't mean rushing into anything, or doing things you might also regret later (ie: trying to make up for lost time with sex and drinking), but going out and doing stuff you want to do, instead of dwelling on all the times you didn't.

 

I'm lucky, I was only a Christian for a grand total of 18 months, so there isn't that much lost time to make up for. And I'm still only 21. But I still have regrets.

 

My time as a Christian almost cost me my relationship with my boyfriend (of over 3 years now), and ruined the way I thought, and interacted with others (seeing them as targets for conversion, rather than just as friends). I neglected other groups of friends so much during my second year of university, because I was always doing church stuff. This is my last year, and I'm absolutely determined to make the most of it. I'm working a lot harder, because my degree actually matters to me now - I can't just trust that God will use me wherever I end up in life (I'm also budgeting carefully, and trying to keep fit) - but I'm also going out a lot more with friends. Life is hectic, but fun.

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There may always be an element of regret, but that is also a part of life - I doubt that too many people in their golden years would say that they went through life with no regrets. Some of my regrets are related to christianity and how it messed with my views of the world and people, some of them are simply personal regrets (even if influenced by the religion, it was not a major factor in them).

 

Either way, focusing on where you are now and your goals is the best solution I've found. I'm also coming to realization that there are going to be things in my past I will never be happy with - and that's okay, too. I'm happy where I'm at and with where I'm going, so that's the most important thing. Past regrets is something I'm working through myself right now - you can't change the past, however, so there's only one thing to do: learn from it and move on. Right now I'm working on learning from it to apply it to my life now, and make sure some of my regrets don't follow me into the future.

 

Making the break from christianity is liberating, but there's also that element of realizing how many of your decisions were based on an ideal you no longer hold to - but you know what? That's okay too, because now you're free of that. Don't focus on what you can't change, and instead focus on what you do have control over. For me, there are times this takes a concious effort - when I'm wallowing in regret, I literally have to stop that train of thought and look at where I am and the things I am happy with.

 

They say happiness is a choice, and you know, I'm beginning to see that as being more true than I realized.

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I'm lucky, I was only a Christian for a grand total of 18 months, so there isn't that much lost time to make up for. And I'm still only 21. But I still have regrets.

 

 

Eighteen months? You're lucky you got out with few injuries! I was in it for about 300 months. It's hard to even try to play catch up because I was in it for so long that now, at least according to the society where I live, I'm "too old" to have any of that fun. That's partially why I'm filled with anger and regret.

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Perhaps try dwelling on how you were clever enough to get out of the maze, not how you got into it.

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Thought stopping provides one technique which, over a short period of time, becomes very useful in refocusing thoughts and actions on the now rather than on the past.

 

When you notice that you have started thinking about regrets and anger, etc., which you identify as being troublesome, simply shout, in thought that is, STOP! Then try to focus on the now. The technique takes a little time to start helping, but keep at it and it should be of great use!

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I would expect that virtually everybody who breaks free from a worldview they were brainwashed with for considerable time will have anger and regret to some degree.

 

I went through a very depressing time that probably lasted close to a year while I was going through my deconversion. Afterward, I was still frustrated about all that I had lost because of years wasted on religious nonsense. I was pissed off. Not at anyone in particular, since I believe that those who brainwashed me were not doing so out of deception but because they themselves were also brainwashed, but I was still pissed.

 

Over time it has mostly healed. Sure, there are still regrets and I feel odd around certain people in certain circumstances, simply because I know the worldview they espouse, but I have a personal sense of freedom from bondage and am grateful to no longer have to try to rationalize things to fit them into a bankrupt worldview.

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You live, you learn. Everyone makes mistakes, I don't know anyone who has never had some of their beliefs change over the course of their life. A lot of times it just takes life experience to truly learn the truth. Besides, isn't it more remarkable to have believed in a lie but recognized it as such and fought to learn the truth instead of just inheriting it from birth?

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Thought stopping provides one technique which, over a short period of time, becomes very useful in refocusing thoughts and actions on the now rather than on the past.

 

When you notice that you have started thinking about regrets and anger, etc., which you identify as being troublesome, simply shout, in thought that is, STOP! Then try to focus on the now. The technique takes a little time to start helping, but keep at it and it should be of great use!

 

 

I would expect that virtually everybody who breaks free from a worldview they were brainwashed with for considerable time will have anger and regret to some degree.

 

I went through a very depressing time that probably lasted close to a year while I was going through my deconversion. Afterward, I was still frustrated about all that I had lost because of years wasted on religious nonsense. I was pissed off. Not at anyone in particular, since I believe that those who brainwashed me were not doing so out of deception but because they themselves were also brainwashed, but I was still pissed.

 

Over time it has mostly healed. Sure, there are still regrets and I feel odd around certain people in certain circumstances, simply because I know the worldview they espouse, but I have a personal sense of freedom from bondage and am grateful to no longer have to try to rationalize things to fit them into a bankrupt worldview.

 

 

You live, you learn. Everyone makes mistakes, I don't know anyone who has never had some of their beliefs change over the course of their life. A lot of times it just takes life experience to truly learn the truth. Besides, isn't it more remarkable to have believed in a lie but recognized it as such and fought to learn the truth instead of just inheriting it from birth?

 

Honestly, I would have liked to know the truth from the beginning. I wouldn't have wasted so much time, and to quote Fats Domino, I would have been a wheel already. I mean learning it this way, I can stop others, but the cost has been so high.

 

I agree with all three of you, but to quote your favorite 12-step program, there are 'triggers' everywhere and they take me from happy to sad in less than a minute and that's because this stupid fucking religion cost me the best part of my life. The phrase "I could have/should have done/did/have/had that" comes up frequently.

 

The other thing that pisses me off, and maybe some people here too, is what I call "4th Down Conversions". These are the people who, while you were in Christ-insanity, they were out causing all sorts of mayhem and never getting in trouble for it. Then, when you see them now and you want to go out, they say "I gave my life to the Lord; God is the king of my life". That is a 4th Down Conversion: people that raise all the hell they want, then when it looks like the world may go at anytime, try to get back into the religion and then moralize on you.

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I'm in the process of purging years of xanity from myself, especially my emotional system. I'm stuck with lingering anger and regret: anger for being so dumb as to miss being fooled ("there's a sucker born every minute", says P.T. Barnum) and regret for spending so much time following a loser philosophy and following it so devoutly that I missed out on irreplaceable life experiences.

 

Has anyone else been stuck at this point and what did you do to get past it? I don't want to keep looking back so much because if I do that, I won't have time to see the future and plan for it in the present.

 

Alexander!!! A man after my own heart! Are we twins?

 

I joined the Jesus cult (Baptist cum Pentecostal) at age 17 and left about 10 years later.

 

I always thought I had better than average reasoning skills and fairly observant of reality and yet I fell for the Jesus cult hook line and sinker.

 

Leaving was hard because I had invested so much emotionally into the (mis)adventure.

 

Disconnecting from xtianity was an experience of "death by 1000 cuts".

 

Each of those cuts had some nugget of truth like the disconnect between the integrity of televangelists and the inability of xtians to disown what is obviously a corrupt industry. Xtians did not set standards that televangelists needed to meet before they would support the scummy preachers and the local churches were unable to band together to set standards either. This is a moral failure and I took notice of this and many other instances of foolishness.

 

Another cut was that many self-righteous people would make a big deal about going to movies and say almost nothing about the time wasted watching television let alone commenting on the content. The moral guidelines were often bizarre.

 

At the end I felt really bad about being duped. I felt like a fool. How could this happen to me?

 

I went through alot of soul searching to try and understand this.

 

In the end... I found alot of comfort in my reading on how the brain works and how people can be logical and intellegent on one hand and then emotional and irrational on the other. I think the key is to stop thinking about the brain as being one solitary entity. This idea is a theme in literature much older than the story of Jekyl and Hyde.

 

Of course popular understanding is that crazy people are duplicitous. In reality, we are all like that.

 

One of the first areas of investigation was the skeptics dictionary where I learned about basic concepts like Confirmation Bias and the like.

 

I read a facinating book on consciousness by Jay Ingram called the Theatre of the Mind.

 

More recently I have listened to marketing style books that explain why generally rational people make dumb choices. I liked "Predictably Irrational" and "The Wisdom of Crowds". I also liked "Fooled by Randomness" but it is more about the perception of risk versus reality.

 

If any of this rings a bell I have other suggestions.

 

Mongo

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Mongo

Disconnecting from xtianity was an experience of "death by 1000 cuts".

 

 

An excellent post, Mongo. You really get down to brass tacks here for many, including myself, in the kind of apprehension, anxiety, and turmoil I experienced on my "way out".

 

I had no idea, and was quite surprised, at how many things that I still thought somehow were connected to that which was "good", and that rejecting all of Christian thought and belief was somehow embracing a "world view" that might be a bit dangerous. I had no guide to follow, really. Science was a nice guide, but I had to search around for good philosophical content that addressed deconversion and changing that "world view". Some atheists I talked to seemed a bit narrow; nihilistic types who pretty well thought of humans as warlike lowly creatures and such, little different than some of the fundy views about it.

 

I was still looking for a world-view that saw humans as "high-potential" creatures as opposed to "damaged goods" that could only have value through the grace of an invisible and vague "deity", or "God" entity, and why was this "God" obsessed with dogmatic rules as opposed to the "true substance of an individual" ? That to me, was the weakest link in the chain, the slip knot that just kept unravelling the whole ball of string.

 

I still wanted to be on good terms with some of my Christian relatives, friends, co-workers and so on, but at times it was like walking on eggshells. More and more I would be irked by statements like "everything happens for good"; and "God has a plan for everyone", which I now know to be total bullshit.

 

Emotional investment, yeah. You know, some of that Christian stuff used to make me happy, and even give me hope for the future. The comforts of it all filled in a lot of holes. Even during my early breaking away I sometimes thought that God was still leading me to a more deeper understanding and such. Dissolving all these elements was painful, but at the same time liberating. And yes, I am a little bit pissed with the whole religious brainwashing, and their pathetic rationalizations and such.

 

I will never be "OK" with religion of any kind. We're at war. It's a cold war, to be sure, but a system of thinking that I believe can have the best of intentions but at times I see as something darker. Being "spiritual" isn't the same thing; you're not making "demands" upon me or my thinking. That is usually a sharing experience, unless it involves somewhere along the way having to bow down to somebody's "Deity".

 

There's no need to have regrets about it for all time, though. As one famous scientist once said, "I need to see a negative before I can verify a positive". It may well be that for many of us, we have to learn the value of how important it is to establish a method of approaching reality in our lives. I really don't think that anyone get's a "free ride" anyway. Everyone sooner or later must confront their own imperfection and error.

 

 

Anyway....

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I've yet to go through any phase of anger. If I did, I would probably direct it at some in my family. And in that case, I just don't have the stomach for it. I spent so much time when I was a Christian being depressed and pissed off that I don't want to be that way now. I gave up on Christianity for a myriad of reasons, but one of them was that I wasn't happy and didn't think I was as good of a person as I could be.

 

Piss on the anger, let it go. Enjoy what you are and have NOW. The past is gone and you can't get it back. You control your attitude, so don't let the bullshit from the past dominate you. You are free. Freddy

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I'm in the process of purging years of xanity from myself, especially my emotional system. I'm stuck with lingering anger and regret: anger for being so dumb as to miss being fooled ("there's a sucker born every minute", says P.T. Barnum) and regret for spending so much time following a loser philosophy and following it so devoutly that I missed out on irreplaceable life experiences.

 

Has anyone else been stuck at this point and what did you do to get past it? I don't want to keep looking back so much because if I do that, I won't have time to see the future and plan for it in the present.

 

 

I don't have any real advice - just wanted you to know you're not alone. I am just trying to do like some of the people here advised - live in the NOW. I'm trying to make decisions now for ME and what I want for my life, rather than what I thought I "should" do for so long. It is difficult though because of being a christian for so long that a lot of the choices I have made thus far, make it really hard to make the choices I want to make now. Where I am in life does not lend itself to picking up and starting over and becoming the me I would have been had I been able to have those life experiences that you speak of. So I'm having to figure out how to do that within the paramaters of the life I'm currently living, but at the same time trying to figure out how to be true to myself. So much of what I did in the past was what god would have me to do, or what my christian family expected, or what my church expected - I'm just now on the path to finding my way. My one consolation is that I will not counsel my kids to do what "god" wants them to do in any given situation, instead we'll be able to talk about dreams and goals and having a life they love - something I never got!

 

I really miss the me I would have been had I not been indoctrinated with christianity for so long. I know she's inside of me - but right now she's still surrounded by all those people who told me what I couldn't do. I've quit listening, but it makes it very hard to reinvent myself!

 

You're not alone!

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I don't have any real advice - just wanted you to know you're not alone. I am just trying to do like some of the people here advised - live in the NOW. I'm trying to make decisions now for ME and what I want for my life, rather than what I thought I "should" do for so long. It is difficult though because of being a christian for so long that a lot of the choices I have made thus far, make it really hard to make the choices I want to make now. Where I am in life does not lend itself to picking up and starting over and becoming the me I would have been had I been able to have those life experiences that you speak of. So I'm having to figure out how to do that within the paramaters of the life I'm currently living, but at the same time trying to figure out how to be true to myself. So much of what I did in the past was what god would have me to do, or what my christian family expected, or what my church expected - I'm just now on the path to finding my way. My one consolation is that I will not counsel my kids to do what "god" wants them to do in any given situation, instead we'll be able to talk about dreams and goals and having a life they love - something I never got!

 

I really miss the me I would have been had I not been indoctrinated with christianity for so long. I know she's inside of me - but right now she's still surrounded by all those people who told me what I couldn't do. I've quit listening, but it makes it very hard to reinvent myself!

 

You're not alone!

 

Thanks, you said that really well!

 

I was "in the fold" from about age 19 to 23. When everyone else in college was out drinking, having giddy dorm sex and laying the foundation for a career, I was at Intervarsity retreats and praying the hunky Nazarene leader would notice me and spirit me off to an MRS degree so I could make babies and homeschool. I'm 41 now and still struggle with some bitterness that I missed out on a lot of normal young adult experiences. I was extremely sexually repressed at a time when I should have been sowing my oats.

 

Actually, it was my church's abysmal treatment of "singles" that spurred my discontent. It was all about families; if it wasn't bad enough that I was approaching old-maidhood (at 22 :Doh: ), I was being told that it my admittance to that blessed caste was "in God's hands," and I was called only to dutifully attened young adult mixers where the pheromones reeked of desperation and self-denial. It was unnatural to the point that I had to start asking questions.

 

As others have said, a lot of it is about time. You've come out of a world that was very good about keeping things tidy and having answers to all the questions. For years I felt like I'd lost my security blanket at the time I needed it the most. It does get easier. Time brings experience in a new and different world, new friends and interests and goals are woven into your life. I still have moments, but mostly, I don't have time to be bitter because I've got better things to do.

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Alexander, I was "in" from birth to age 35. I've just recently deconverted, and I know exactly what you mean about the anger. In fact, I posted a very similar question a few weeks ago, and most of the replies there were along the lines of "Give it time." Though it's only been a few weeks, I can see that time is going to help. Another thing that is helping is this site! Realizing how many people have gone through the same thing has been very beneficial for me. Good luck to you.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm in the process of purging years of xanity from myself, especially my emotional system. I'm stuck with lingering anger and regret: anger for being so dumb as to miss being fooled ("there's a sucker born every minute", says P.T. Barnum) and regret for spending so much time following a loser philosophy and following it so devoutly that I missed out on irreplaceable life experiences.

 

Has anyone else been stuck at this point and what did you do to get past it? I don't want to keep looking back so much because if I do that, I won't have time to see the future and plan for it in the present.

 

Where I am in life does not lend itself to picking up and starting over and becoming the me I would have been had I been able to have those life experiences that you speak of. So I'm having to figure out how to do that within the paramaters of the life I'm currently living, but at the same time trying to figure out how to be true to myself. So much of what I did in the past was what god would have me to do, or what my christian family expected, or what my church expected - I'm just now on the path to finding my way. My one consolation is that I will not counsel my kids to do what "god" wants them to do in any given situation, instead we'll be able to talk about dreams and goals and having a life they love - something I never got!

 

I really miss the me I would have been had I not been indoctrinated with christianity for so long. I know she's inside of me - but right now she's still surrounded by all those people who told me what I couldn't do. I've quit listening, but it makes it very hard to reinvent myself!

 

You're not alone!

 

Hey! I've learned to use multiquote! I'm losing the number of times I can pick up and reset my life as well, but I would really like to do it now. I don't have kids -- ironically from following xtiany -- but when I do, there will be no god talk and church attendance.

 

 

 

I don't have any real advice - just wanted you to know you're not alone. I am just trying to do like some of the people here advised - live in the NOW. I'm trying to make decisions now for ME and what I want for my life, rather than what I thought I "should" do for so long. It is difficult though because of being a christian for so long that a lot of the choices I have made thus far, make it really hard to make the choices I want to make now. Where I am in life does not lend itself to picking up and starting over and becoming the me I would have been had I been able to have those life experiences that you speak of. So I'm having to figure out how to do that within the paramaters of the life I'm currently living, but at the same time trying to figure out how to be true to myself. So much of what I did in the past was what god would have me to do, or what my christian family expected, or what my church expected - I'm just now on the path to finding my way. My one consolation is that I will not counsel my kids to do what "god" wants them to do in any given situation, instead we'll be able to talk about dreams and goals and having a life they love - something I never got!

 

I really miss the me I would have been had I not been indoctrinated with christianity for so long. I know she's inside of me - but right now she's still surrounded by all those people who told me what I couldn't do. I've quit listening, but it makes it very hard to reinvent myself!

 

You're not alone!

 

Thanks, you said that really well!

 

I was "in the fold" from about age 19 to 23. When everyone else in college was out drinking, having giddy dorm sex and laying the foundation for a career, I was at Intervarsity retreats and praying the hunky Nazarene leader would notice me and spirit me off to an MRS degree so I could make babies and homeschool. I'm 41 now and still struggle with some bitterness that I missed out on a lot of normal young adult experiences. I was extremely sexually repressed at a time when I should have been sowing my oats.

 

As others have said, a lot of it is about time. You've come out of a world that was very good about keeping things tidy and having answers to all the questions. For years I felt like I'd lost my security blanket at the time I needed it the most. It does get easier. Time brings experience in a new and different world, new friends and interests and goals are woven into your life. I still have moments, but mostly, I don't have time to be bitter because I've got better things to do.

 

Oh yeah, I'm missing out on many normal young adult experiences. If I don't turn it around now, I might as well be dead. This is one of the things that makes me really angry. In fact, I'm angry right now. I just wrote a very hot message to a soon-to-be-ex-friend. If it wasn't for drugs and parties, I would have missed out on all the normal young adult experiences altogether. I should mention that I mention drugs a lot -- I like them like I like salad or Chick-Fil-A or In-N-Out, so I'm in good control except when I starting thinking about how I was PT Barnumed by xtianty: that's when it's time to hide the money. I'm liable to walk out the house and not come back for a few days.

 

Alexander, I was "in" from birth to age 35. I've just recently deconverted, and I know exactly what you mean about the anger. In fact, I posted a very similar question a few weeks ago, and most of the replies there were along the lines of "Give it time." Though it's only been a few weeks, I can see that time is going to help. Another thing that is helping is this site! Realizing how many people have gone through the same thing has been very beneficial for me. Good luck to you.

 

I know you guys are right, but its hard for me to believe. Usually I can find a silver lining to this dark cloud, and I suppose not being under it anymore is the silver lining, but look at this price I/we have paid. It makes me want to cry.

 

Then it makes me fucking angry. Even right now I want to punch through my $300 LCD monitor. I've been Madoff'ed by xanity.

 

Two ironies: while I was falling out of the religion, not one of my "xtian" friends came to my aid. Hard times show you who your friends are and I see I have 2. 6.4 billion people on the planet, and I apparently have 2 friends. Irony 2: my winamp is on random, and James Brown's "The Big Payback" came on while I was writing this. Check the lyrics.

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