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Yaiod (yet Another Inquiry On Divorce)


jbgood
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First post here, probably should have started with a testimony, but it's mostly written elsewhere. Feel free to read it HERE.

 

The short form is that I deconverted from Catholicism about 1.5 years ago. It happened extremely fast and from an extremely faithful, passionate faith life. A question that I looked into rattled me for the very first time, and since I've always been analytically minded, it came extremely naturally for me to fix my "mind powers" on Christianity. (More reflections on this HERE.) For me, who always wanted evidence for what decisions I made in my life, it was horrible when I realized that I'd never done that same type of research into Christianity. I also believe truth converges, so I decided that the best way to analyze the faith would be to suspect its falsehood and try to prove it back to myself. After a year and I half, I have failed at that task and have little hope of ever succeeding.

 

My Catholic friends didn't think that was a good idea, despite me thinking it was very sound. "Faith seeking understanding" was apparently the best route.

 

---

 

That's as much back story as I'll give. For more, see my blog. Based on the topic, you'll also gather that I'm married. I got married at 23 and am 27 now. We have two kids, about 1 and 3. My deconversion was crushing for my wife, and still is to some degree. While I didn't have any strong reasons to leave the marriage, I genuinely believed that she might be happier after the initial heartache if we were to divorce and she find a Catholic to remarry. She didn't really think that would be the case.

 

I guess to cut to the chase, I'm looking for others who are in this situation. Most of the content on the web about this that I can find has to do with one spouse being hellfire and brimstone natured toward the nonbeliever, no kids, abuse or some other pretty massive component in the relationship where many seem to suggest divorce is the best route. I don't really have any of that, but do have a lot of questioning going on.

 

First, one of the negative aspects of religion, at least that I see now, is the stress on no sex until marriage. I went to a therapeutic boarding school (think 12 steps/AA) where no relationships were allowed, was there 2.5 years, and then went to college. The boarding school is where I had a profound conversion experience and began living for the Lord. Despite wanting to just re-settle in the "real world" for a bit before looking into relationships, the reality was that I was very attracted to women and thought about relationship all the time. I met someone, we fell in love, hung out all the time, and got very serious. We fell into a repetitious and emotionally disastrous pattern of sexual sin, then recommitting to "the good," confession, and repeat. We took a year apart, I prayed a lot about God's will and whether I was even called to marriage, and a year later discerned that I was to be married and that I wanted to give it another shot with this girl. Things went much better, though not perfect, we were both more mature, and we got married.

 

Fast forward to now. I'm deconverted and realize I could have done things much differently. I own my choices, and I (or at least a previous version of me) did what I did. That doesn't stop me from feeling a bit gypped by the religious infrastructure I was living in. When we were dating, I had some serious reservations about our conversational abilities, because I've always been super introspective, an information-devourer, geek, science-lover, etc. I love to be challenged, debate (depends on the topic), and discuss things passionately. Her? Not so much. I worried back then about this but kind of shrugged it off. "We're not meant to provide everything for each other," I though.

 

This comes up more now, though. We don't share a huuuuge portion of common ground that used to fill our conversations and activities. We were involved in a lay-community of other Catholics who got together 1-2x a week for prayer and small groups. I'm no longer participating. We used to do morning prayer together with the Liturgy of the Hours and praise and worship. No more. We used to pray together -- period. No more. With this rug out from under us, the fact that we don't share many common interests or conversational ability has really been wearing on me. She likes to listen to stuff I talk about, and I definitely enjoy talking about things I've learned... but at some level I realize that I wish my partner had that same spark for these topics.

 

Tying this back into what I started above, I think the downside of the religious cage around the sexual arena is that after dating so long and with marriage being a legitimate future occurrence with this person... I think I disregarded hesitations more than I would have otherwise. I had tremendous feelings for this woman and I just longed to be with her and live all aspects of our lives together. I find it hard to write this part for fear that it will sound extremely surface-y, even though I think it makes sense. Essentially I think I was a less mature than I am now, never had any serious relationships before, and was completely love-blinded by this woman, the first girl to really ever show much interest in me. I went ga-ga. At some level, I don't think I thought I had a chance with anyone else, especially not with someone who took their faith seriously (that was my top interest), and so I went all out for her. If I could take half the knowledge I have now back with me, I'd wait until I found someone who aligned with everything I was looking for for a long-term relationship and also be able to explore far more diverse sources for these relationships, rather than just the intensely believing Catholics (not the cafeteria ones). This really weighs on me more and more.

 

There has also just been a missing spark since I deconverted. Some of that is probably just her pain, but something just doesn't feel "right" anymore. We still get along very well, but have our explosions. Talking about religion increases the chance for an explosion/defensiveness from me and/or a breakdown from her. We watch shows together, cuddle, make love, laugh, etc. Probably sounds like no reasons to even think about these things, but there's something deeper missing that nags at me.

 

Knowing that I sense this missing component really gnaws on me -- should I just bear through it and see if it gets better? Or should I realize that I'm 27 and have a ton of life left and go see if I will be more fulfilled elsewhere? This is complicated due to my children, whom I love and would not want to hurt, as well as my wife, who I have no ill feelings toward. It just feels heavily sad to me thinking about it. I don't want to strand someone, be hated by their family (which I think I would be), deal with the messiness of separation, etc... but I also can't ignore feeling a bit stuck and filled with questioning about whether this relationship is as good as it could be.

 

I think if I still believed, these questions would not be present, or at least not nearly to the degree that they are. There was so much more mutual purpose in our lives, I was more "mission for Christ" focused, loved that my wife would be home teaching my children the faith, wanted to evangelize with her, be a witness, pray together, etc. There was just soooo much more in common in our lives, visions for the future, etc. that I dont' think these other concerns really mattered. Plus, it wasn't as big of a deal with her not necessarily being as intellectual/conversational as me because I was kind of supposed to be the teacher/leader. Now I just want an equal and someone who's a companion, interested in the same things I am because there's nothing really else other than what I feel are superficial enjoyments (sex, laughing, watching shows, me taking/her listening). My point is that on some level, I feel like there's as much bond existing between us after my deconversion (aside from the length of our history, time together, and sex) as there is with a reasonable amount of other women friends.

 

We are seeing a counselor and I think it's helped in at least a small degree. We'll probably continue for another 6mos (maybe have been doing it for 4 months so far?). I'm also open to trying to rebuild around common interests, but don't have a lot of hope due to it having already been 3.5 years and I think a lot of this is just personality/in-born traits that are't going to change. I think we could also compromise somehow and find some ways that she can satisfy the desires for the relationship I have and vice versa (maybe trying to find interests the other has for each of us to learn and do regularly).

 

The sex/family area is also difficult. I no longer think my mission is to have "as big a family as god calls me to have," and don't really know that I want more than two. She wants many more. I'm now open to contraception or being sexual in the "non-traditional" Catholic sense during times when we don't know if she's fertile (we were using Natural Family Planning), but she's not and thinks those ideas are "cheap" and "juvenile." There's not going to be any leeway on this as long as she's Catholic, and that's a bit stressful.

 

We also have failed to agree on how to raise the kids. I want to raise them aware of many religious, but not "teach as true" any one of them. My elevator speech on that would simply be that in at least 1,000 years, the world has failed to converge on a religiously unanimous truth and I'm not comfortable teaching my child something as true that's as unconvincing as that. I want to teach them only what has shown itself to be universally (or almost) dependable, reliable, and converged upon (science, logic, critical thinking, curiosity, etc.).

 

There, I think I'm done trying to paint the picture. Thank you for anyone who read through all that. These things are complicated and tough to be concise about. I just don't know where else to turn for advice, really, and so I came here.

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First post here, probably should have started with a testimony, but it's mostly written elsewhere. Feel free to read it HERE.

 

The short form is that I deconverted from Catholicism about 1.5 years ago. It happened extremely fast and from an extremely faithful, passionate faith life. A question that I looked into rattled me for the very first time, and since I've always been analytically minded, it came extremely naturally for me to fix my "mind powers" on Christianity. (More reflections on this HERE.) For me, who always wanted evidence for what decisions I made in my life, it was horrible when I realized that I'd never done that same type of research into Christianity. I also believe truth converges, so I decided that the best way to analyze the faith would be to suspect its falsehood and try to prove it back to myself. After a year and I half, I have failed at that task and have little hope of ever succeeding.

 

My Catholic friends didn't think that was a good idea, despite me thinking it was very sound. "Faith seeking understanding" was apparently the best route.

 

---

 

That's as much back story as I'll give. For more, see my blog. Based on the topic, you'll also gather that I'm married. I got married at 23 and am 27 now. We have two kids, about 1 and 3. My deconversion was crushing for my wife, and still is to some degree. While I didn't have any strong reasons to leave the marriage, I genuinely believed that she might be happier after the initial heartache if we were to divorce and she find a Catholic to remarry. She didn't really think that would be the case.

 

I guess to cut to the chase, I'm looking for others who are in this situation. Most of the content on the web about this that I can find has to do with one spouse being hellfire and brimstone natured toward the nonbeliever, no kids, abuse or some other pretty massive component in the relationship where many seem to suggest divorce is the best route. I don't really have any of that, but do have a lot of questioning going on.

 

First, one of the negative aspects of religion, at least that I see now, is the stress on no sex until marriage. I went to a therapeutic boarding school (think 12 steps/AA) where no relationships were allowed, was there 2.5 years, and then went to college. The boarding school is where I had a profound conversion experience and began living for the Lord. Despite wanting to just re-settle in the "real world" for a bit before looking into relationships, the reality was that I was very attracted to women and thought about relationship all the time. I met someone, we fell in love, hung out all the time, and got very serious. We fell into a repetitious and emotionally disastrous pattern of sexual sin, then recommitting to "the good," confession, and repeat. We took a year apart, I prayed a lot about God's will and whether I was even called to marriage, and a year later discerned that I was to be married and that I wanted to give it another shot with this girl. Things went much better, though not perfect, we were both more mature, and we got married.

 

Fast forward to now. I'm deconverted and realize I could have done things much differently. I own my choices, and I (or at least a previous version of me) did what I did. That doesn't stop me from feeling a bit gypped by the religious infrastructure I was living in. When we were dating, I had some serious reservations about our conversational abilities, because I've always been super introspective, an information-devourer, geek, science-lover, etc. I love to be challenged, debate (depends on the topic), and discuss things passionately. Her? Not so much. I worried back then about this but kind of shrugged it off. "We're not meant to provide everything for each other," I though.

 

This comes up more now, though. We don't share a huuuuge portion of common ground that used to fill our conversations and activities. We were involved in a lay-community of other Catholics who got together 1-2x a week for prayer and small groups. I'm no longer participating. We used to do morning prayer together with the Liturgy of the Hours and praise and worship. No more. We used to pray together -- period. No more. With this rug out from under us, the fact that we don't share many common interests or conversational ability has really been wearing on me. She likes to listen to stuff I talk about, and I definitely enjoy talking about things I've learned... but at some level I realize that I wish my partner had that same spark for these topics.

 

Tying this back into what I started above, I think the downside of the religious cage around the sexual arena is that after dating so long and with marriage being a legitimate future occurrence with this person... I think I disregarded hesitations more than I would have otherwise. I had tremendous feelings for this woman and I just longed to be with her and live all aspects of our lives together. I find it hard to write this part for fear that it will sound extremely surface-y, even though I think it makes sense. Essentially I think I was a less mature than I am now, never had any serious relationships before, and was completely love-blinded by this woman, the first girl to really ever show much interest in me. I went ga-ga. At some level, I don't think I thought I had a chance with anyone else, especially not with someone who took their faith seriously (that was my top interest), and so I went all out for her. If I could take half the knowledge I have now back with me, I'd wait until I found someone who aligned with everything I was looking for for a long-term relationship and also be able to explore far more diverse sources for these relationships, rather than just the intensely believing Catholics (not the cafeteria ones). This really weighs on me more and more.

 

There has also just been a missing spark since I deconverted. Some of that is probably just her pain, but something just doesn't feel "right" anymore. We still get along very well, but have our explosions. Talking about religion increases the chance for an explosion/defensiveness from me and/or a breakdown from her. We watch shows together, cuddle, make love, laugh, etc. Probably sounds like no reasons to even think about these things, but there's something deeper missing that nags at me.

 

Knowing that I sense this missing component really gnaws on me -- should I just bear through it and see if it gets better? Or should I realize that I'm 27 and have a ton of life left and go see if I will be more fulfilled elsewhere? This is complicated due to my children, whom I love and would not want to hurt, as well as my wife, who I have no ill feelings toward. It just feels heavily sad to me thinking about it. I don't want to strand someone, be hated by their family (which I think I would be), deal with the messiness of separation, etc... but I also can't ignore feeling a bit stuck and filled with questioning about whether this relationship is as good as it could be.

 

I think if I still believed, these questions would not be present, or at least not nearly to the degree that they are. There was so much more mutual purpose in our lives, I was more "mission for Christ" focused, loved that my wife would be home teaching my children the faith, wanted to evangelize with her, be a witness, pray together, etc. There was just soooo much more in common in our lives, visions for the future, etc. that I dont' think these other concerns really mattered. Plus, it wasn't as big of a deal with her not necessarily being as intellectual/conversational as me because I was kind of supposed to be the teacher/leader. Now I just want an equal and someone who's a companion, interested in the same things I am because there's nothing really else other than what I feel are superficial enjoyments (sex, laughing, watching shows, me taking/her listening). My point is that on some level, I feel like there's as much bond existing between us after my deconversion (aside from the length of our history, time together, and sex) as there is with a reasonable amount of other women friends.

 

We are seeing a counselor and I think it's helped in at least a small degree. We'll probably continue for another 6mos (maybe have been doing it for 4 months so far?). I'm also open to trying to rebuild around common interests, but don't have a lot of hope due to it having already been 3.5 years and I think a lot of this is just personality/in-born traits that are't going to change. I think we could also compromise somehow and find some ways that she can satisfy the desires for the relationship I have and vice versa (maybe trying to find interests the other has for each of us to learn and do regularly).

 

The sex/family area is also difficult. I no longer think my mission is to have "as big a family as god calls me to have," and don't really know that I want more than two. She wants many more. I'm now open to contraception or being sexual in the "non-traditional" Catholic sense during times when we don't know if she's fertile (we were using Natural Family Planning), but she's not and thinks those ideas are "cheap" and "juvenile." There's not going to be any leeway on this as long as she's Catholic, and that's a bit stressful.

 

We also have failed to agree on how to raise the kids. I want to raise them aware of many religious, but not "teach as true" any one of them. My elevator speech on that would simply be that in at least 1,000 years, the world has failed to converge on a religiously unanimous truth and I'm not comfortable teaching my child something as true that's as unconvincing as that. I want to teach them only what has shown itself to be universally (or almost) dependable, reliable, and converged upon (science, logic, critical thinking, curiosity, etc.).

 

There, I think I'm done trying to paint the picture. Thank you for anyone who read through all that. These things are complicated and tough to be concise about. I just don't know where else to turn for advice, really, and so I came here.

 

Thank you for sharing your story jbgood and Welcome to EX-c..

 

I read the whole story and I have great compassion for you at 27. I am very experienced in divorce. I am a little ashamed to admit this - but it's true. I married for the wrong reasons and did everything in my power to make marriage work. Divorce is not fun.

 

I am glad you and your wife are going for councelling - this may very well help. I have learned a lot about relationships. You really don't have to have everything in common, but it sure helps if two people are basically on the same 'track. Religion has been known to destoy marriage for sure. You sound like you both need to compromise and listen to one another. Don't be afraid to speak your truth and let her do the same. Be patient. Don't run.

 

Don't give up whatever you do. Not yet. Let time, communication and effort show you if you can bring this relationship into some kind of 'oneness' again. There are too many emotions going on right now with both of you. Children to consider......

 

Maybe the councilor you are going to go see, can help you with all these seemingly difficult problems. Best wishes and keep posting your feelings - we are always here for you my friend.

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@Margee: Thanks for the reply and the welcome.

 

You really don't have to have everything in common, but it sure helps if two people are basically on the same track.

 

I agree and this is somewhat what I'm trying to figure out... are we? I have really been experiencing an emptiness that is quite new. It's a bit like waking up and realizing that while I've been extremely aware of how emotionally difficult the religious difference has made things, I was definitely not aware of what I now see as a fairly substantial lack of common interests other than what I have perceived as somewhat shallow pleasures. Like I said, we still get along for the most part (we, of course, have our fights...), are mostly respectful, can laugh and do activities together. But nagging me through it all is that it just doesn't seem richly satisfying to me. There's something missing, and it's significant. I told her this last weekend during a long talk. She has always said that she knows she will be happiest if we stay together, and I told her that I wasn't nearly that confident about it and of my awareness of things feeling very superficial lately.

 

And so, it leads me to wonder where the activation energy hump should lie in life. No abuse/addiction/adultery = endure the road ahead? Or do others have different takes on this?

 

You sound like you both need to compromise and listen to one another. Don't be afraid to speak your truth and let her do the same. Be patient. Don't run.

 

Also good advice, and I'm still just trying to find out about all possible options. I plan to keep quite open about these thoughts in the relationship as well. I loathe hurting her feelings, as that seems inevitable since she isn't really on the same place, but it's really starting to affect me. Responding reflexively to "I love you" with "I love you" has been giving me pause lately.

 

Don't give up whatever you do. Not yet. Let time, communication and effort show you if you can bring this relationship into some kind of 'oneness' again. There are too many emotions going on right now with both of you. Children to consider......

 

Indeed. I'm also open to hearing what constitutes "enough time and effort." It also seems that emotions will never really go away -- how does one know when there are not "too many" going on? Children and her feelings are probably the most difficult aspects for me. I don't want my children destroyed, and I don't want to condemn my wife to a single life feeling unwanted, abandoned and unprovided for.

 

Maybe the councilor you are going to go see, can help you with all these seemingly difficult problems. Best wishes and keep posting your feelings - we are always here for you my friend.

Perhaps. We have a session next Monday. I'm hoping we get to talk tonight and perhaps can focus on this for next week. I feel quote torn and lost about the whole matter. The options are not appealing in the least. Thanks for the support and encouragement.

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Hi jb

 

Welcome to Ex-C. You sound like you are very balanced and mature for 27 years of age.

 

I think those years in a marriage when you have a couple of little kids can feel feel very "trapped". Not as much money as you will have later in life, working hard to keep the finances together and not easy to go out on "dates" with your partner due to cost and babysitting concerns. Hard to develop new common interests under these circumstances as well.

 

These things would be there even if the deconversion issue was not hovering in the background. I would say that if you are not having constant horrible fighting sessions it is worth trying to stay with each other. Some of the member of Ex-C have intolerable situations with the still believing ex-spouse making threats and engaging in constant bullying. Counselling may help you to develop better communication patterns if there is the good will there for both of you.

 

Some of your previous Catholic religious interest probably included compassion and charity to those who are suffering and poor. Do these things still strike a chord with you and can you build some common ground with her on the practice of compassion (eg volunteering)?

 

If you separate, you end up with two households to maintain, but still only the same income. Life gets tougher when that happens.

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JBgood

 

I have never divorced but my brother has twice. I think your marriage was perhaps too early and the common interests a placebo instead of real common interests.

 

I only married at your age and was ready to settle down. My first kid was at 31 and as such our paths are different.

 

What you need to determine is can you at least find common interests outside of what you were used to? Maybe you never explored this and with kids in the equation already, it is going to be difficult.

 

It is good you are in therapy and I would encourage you to find a way to make it work. There are no canned fixes for your situation.

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@Blue elephant:

Welcome to Ex-C. You sound like you are very balanced and mature for 27 years of age.

 

Thanks!

 

I think those years in a marriage when you have a couple of little kids can feel feel very "trapped". Not as much money...working hard...and not easy to go out on "dates"... Hard to develop new common interests...These things would be there even if the deconversion issue was not hovering in the background.

 

That's extremely helpful to hear and I hadn't thought of that. Surprisingly, we had a fantastic talk last night. I was extremely tired from a sleepless night on Sunday evening and so I had wanted to talk last night (Monday), but felt too tired. I went to bed first, and she woke me up when she came to bed. At some point I rolled over and we just started talking. I think we might have talked and cried together for 3 hours or something. It was quite uniting to just lay it all out there. I think a pivotal moment was when I asked her why she had never thought about splitting up despite the difficulty. She gave quite a long list, but I noted that it didn't involve me much at all. She doesn't think about leaving because of positive outcomes... but they have to do with understanding other people's suffering better, being so overwhelmed (in a positive way) with other people's support and comfort, being brought closer to the lord, and gaining deeper reflection and meditation. I pointed out that I didn't make the list -- we, ourselves, had not been brought closer.

 

And this has been a big deal for me. I feel most at home with atheist or former fundamentalist meetup groups I've found online, blogs, forums, etc... not in my own home and around my own friends and that's quite a miserable time for me. In addition, I feel like her priority is Church, god, and being involved in "lay events" like prayer meetings and a couple's weekly small group, which I'm not in anymore.

 

I think this really struck her, which led her to affirm that she values me over the various religious communities she's involved with. That, in turn, meant a lot to me, as I've been fairly confident that this wasn't the case. I think there's also something to the simple act of grieving together which had healing properties. It was quite a good conversation.

 

I would say that if you are not having constant horrible fighting sessions it is worth trying to stay with each other. Some of the member of Ex-C have intolerable situations with the still believing ex-spouse making threats and engaging in constant bullying. Counselling may help you to develop better communication patterns if there is the good will there for both of you.

 

Yes, I have nothing like that, despite having a hard time living in midst of constant disagreement about belief. "Fighting sessions" are reasonably rare (1-2x / month), and counseling has been helping, as has time.

 

Some of your previous Catholic religious interest probably included compassion and charity to those who are suffering and poor. Do these things still strike a chord with you and can you build some common ground with her on the practice of compassion (eg volunteering)?

 

That's a good suggestion. I may still be a bit bruised, but I think I would have difficult time doing service "in the name of Christianity" or something of the sort. It's the same reason I don't want to tithe to religious organizations (or at least tithe to ones I'm simply a member of), but do believe in giving money to good causes. I will say that I have found it bothersome to listen to others talk about "being a light" or "god working through them" rather than be able to see that these are universally human characteristics and that Christianity has no monopoly on all things good. It really rubs me the wrong way when people suggest that our ability to care for others is really a sign of god dwelling inside of us. That was more of a rant... I should have left it as, "Thanks for a noble suggestion" :)

 

If you separate, you end up with two households to maintain, but still only the same income. Life gets tougher when that happens.

 

Yeah... everything I've read (which isn't that much) sounds like it would just be horrible. The religious issues in terms of the kids wouldn't go away, I'd probably feel like sh*t for quite a while for having departed despite having good intentions for doing so, any future relationship seems like it would be quite tainted by the past, finances would be ridiculous, and the social issues seem endless. And this was somewhat of my point for posting here. I see these negatives as opposing the reaction -- my question for those here was what type of activation energy should be present to cross the reaction threshold. Your answers concur with similar ones I've read: unless there is abuse, addiction, or adultery (or, in your words, constant fighting sessions or some severe animosity)... don't do it.

 

Thanks so much for the comments.

 

---

 

@LivingLife:

 

I have never divorced but my brother has twice. I think your marriage was perhaps too early and the common interests a placebo instead of real common interests.

 

I am inclined to agree, and this was what I tried to get across in my original post when I said that I think my hesitations were suppressed because of lofty thoughts of having a "vocation," "mission" for god, and having found what I thought was first and foremost important: a woman with "a heart for Christ." Honestly, if such things sustain marriage between two believers... that's fantastic. There are some very lofty driving forces and common goals/vision in such circumstances. My deconversion has removed the intermediate means of doing things like this, and I don't care to pray, read the Bible, or talk about what Jesus wants with my life anymore. I want to provide for my family, enjoy the one life I have, and get on trying to learn everything that's ever been learned. Above that, I would approximately die for a spouse who wanted to do these things along with me. I think there's hope for that.

 

What you need to determine is can you at least find common interests outside of what you were used to? Maybe you never explored this and with kids in the equation already, it is going to be difficult.

 

Yes, and Blue elephant said something similar. I hadn't thought about how much the kiddos might be influencing our relationship health, or at least the energy required to maintain a more blissful state. It's quite encouraging to hear that we might be experiencing something far more universal rather than some result of religious disagreement. I, again, hadnt' really thought of that.

 

It is good you are in therapy and I would encourage you to find a way to make it work. There are no canned fixes for your situation.

 

Thanks for the encouragement. It means a lot. It's quite nice to have communication with others online who relate with how difficult this is. My wife is amazingly supported -- our former friends/religious groups treat her as if I've been diagnosed with terminal cancer, in a way. They are always so compassionate and "pout-faced" for her (in a good way -- sensitive to her hardship). Many still don't know about my deconversion, and I often find out that someone new knows because they acknowledge how hard it must be... to her, not me. I don't get approached at all or comforted about what it's like to live in a desert wasteland, having lost almost all connection with most of my previous acquaintances. The "true" friends have stood the test and I've retained about 5-10 who I can still enjoy my time with, but we don't talk about religion at all. Others either want to debate, reiterate more than I'd like that they feel that "a part of me is missing/gone/dead," or simply stopped contacting me except when they need help with some sort of manual labor and I make the mass email request.

 

Thanks again to both of you for your comments.

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