Jump to content

Isolation


SillyString
 Share

Recommended Posts

I just wanted to write about something that's been on my mind quite a bit lately. Maybe it will help me a little to get some feelings out.

 

I've quietly deconverted from Christianity over the past year or so; only those closest to me have some idea of what I've been through. Only one person, my sister, knows the full extent of it. She's taken it well, and has promised to keep things quiet and not tell anyone else in my family, who are all Christians. After a couple of conversations with her, she asked me not to talk about it anymore. She started questioning her own faith a little at this point, but I don't think she is quite ready to confront the issues head on. A loss of faith would be devastating to her, honestly I don't think she could handle it, and I feel bad for even telling her sometimes, because it made her question.

 

I've made the decision to remain quiet about my non-belief, because of certain situations and people in my family. I don't see the need to put them through any unnecessary pain because of it. So, I don't talk about religion or god. I constantly avoid the subject and church as well. I avoid the subject completely with my husband after a couple of fights after I revealed to him about my questioning.

 

I can't help but feel isolated from everyone in my life right now. While they are clinging to their faith, all the while I am despising it - keeping my feelings pinned up inside. I wish I didn't think about religion so much, but I find that I do. I'm noticing that I am beginning to withdraw a bit...and I'm not sure what to do about this. I don't mind solitude sometimes, and I definitely need my share of it, but there are times that I long for deep, meaningful and honest conversation. Conversation that isn't met with harsh criticism or anger or bitterness.

 

I'm really trying not to let this be an issue with people in my family or in my life. But damn, I sure do feel lonely at times.

 

Anyone else in a similar situation? How do you deal with these feelings of distance from your family and friends?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm the only apostate among my family and my wife's family. However, unlike your situation, everyone knows. I have made some new friends who are atheists, but it doesn't fill the void of the loss of the old friends. I relate somewhat to your post, Beth. However, I have made friends with the pastor at my wife's church. He seems willing to talk openly and honestly about things. And it doesn't always have to be religion. Maybe you could confide in someone at your old church? Someone mature enough to still be friends even though you disagree on religion? I find that to be a very refreshing thing! If you find you're thinking about religion a lot, maybe talking to such a person could be an outlet for you. I hope things improve for you! It's really too bad that Christianity has to be such a large, brainwashing cult that we can't feel comfortable telling our loved ones we no longer follow it. We should be able to without fear of rejection and/or any negative repercussion. Hang in there. For now, maybe this place can be somewhat of an outlet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm really trying not to let this be an issue with people in my family or in my life. But damn, I sure do feel lonely at times.

 

Anyone else in a similar situation? How do you deal with these feelings of distance from your family and friends?

I feel the same way fairly often, which is why I spend a lot of time here. Almost all of my old friends are devout Christians. My wife and her entire family are hopelessly devoted to Assemblies of God doctrine. The only place I can talk freely about what I believe (or don't believe anymore) is in secret, online. Sometimes I feel like I'm living a double life because of this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Beth do you believe that you and I could have a deep and meaningful conversation without talking about religion? I believe we could.

 

My family is religious, but for my part, I do not allow this to keep us from communicating at deep levels. I can hear them with or without the god talk. And I can express myself without religious speech, and I can even ask suggestive questions about their beliefs as part of a communicative style.

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is this... intimacy is an art. And it's available to you any time. It's almost a matter of focus, if you catch my drift.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This site is my place for community with nonbelievers. One learns to live with the real world isolation. Like Legion says, it is only one aspect of our lives and intimacy is possible without sharing it.

 

My wife is an apostate, which helps, and my children think religion is ridiculous, having never seen it from the inside. They are too well-mannered to show contempt in the presence of believers, but they won't take any crap from them.

 

If you need real world rationalist fellowship, try to find a rationalist organization. Even the intellectual backwater of East Tennessee has such an organization. When I went to see a lecture by the president of American Atheists, sponsored by the East Tennessee Rationalists, I saw several fellow teachers there. They were all seated in one section, called the teacher's section. The media had agreed not to film that part of the audience for television coverage so as to avoid outing any teachers. If I needed Ex-C fellowship in meat space, I'd join. But I'm a busy man, and having done without for so long, I do quite well without it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess what I'm trying to say is this... intimacy is an art. And it's available to you any time. It's almost a matter of focus, if you catch my drift.

 

I understand. I'm learning, I guess.. I know that a lot of this might be just the way I'm looking at things.

 

Thanks, Legion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear you feel isolated.

 

I'm really trying not to let this be an issue with people in my family or in my life. But damn, I sure do feel lonely at times.

 

Anyone else in a similar situation? How do you deal with these feelings of distance from your family and friends?

 

Yeah that is pretty much my situation as well except without the sister part. My sunday school class has had a couple of members leave and break contact. I want to reach out to them with the hope that they have become ex-Christians but they might have some other situation (maybe they just switched to a different denomination) and I can't risk blowing my cover.

 

So I come here a lot.

 

Maybe you should start a thread about that stuff you want to talk about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you tried finding some Meetup groups in your area through meetup.com? There may be some humanist, freethinker, atheist or skeptic groups in your area. I've gone to a couple of group's events in my area to break the sense of isolation. It may be a good opportunity for you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know that a lot of this might be just the way I'm looking at things.

I'm one of those weirdos who prefers solitude and silence. I rarely get lonely, but it does happen. When it does, I find others nearby and I listen to them. I do what I can to be with them.

 

Thanks, Legion.

You are welcome Beth!!!

 

A song for you...

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderator

Beth I am sorry you are feeling isolated. It's a lonely feeling. That is also why I have lived here for the past year. This is my other life - this is my double life. Although I am lucky (besides a few clients now) to be away from all fundamentalists on a daily basis. My problem is the rest of my friends are all, very much god believers and I have to just play along.

 

Nobody, except the people on EX-c understands. Even my dear spouse said to me this morning;'' Well, you still believe in something, don't you?'' wink.png Even he doesn't want me to be a complete 'non- believer'. It makes me too different??

 

We are different from them Beth - we're the minority now...... like the blacks, the jews, the homosexuals....We are the 'witches' of the 18th century.............

 

I am just so happy I have all of you guys.....I hope you will feel better soon....hug for you today!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Beth, I fully understand the isolation you feel. Over the past year, I've experienced a crisis of faith, where I'm questioning everything I've believed for 40 years. I can't say that I've fully deconverted, but at this point my faith is barely hanging on by a thread. My husband, my dearest friends, and my husband's family are all very devout Christians (as I once was). I've shared bits and pieces of my crisis of faith with my husband, and understandably his reaction is one of concern for me as well as grief. He said that he couldn't bear the thought of us not being together in heaven. I love my husband so much. He is an extremely good man. We have had a wonderful marriage and life together. I also love my friends so much, and also my husband's family. I don't want to turn my world upside down, or throw away all that is good in my life. So for now the only place I can freely share the depth of my unbelief is here on this board. I'm so grateful for everyone here.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Beth, that isolation is part of what has me down right now. It's a balancing act and sometimes you just want to scream "shut up you blithering idiot, you're brainwashed like the rest of the pew warmers."

As the gang advised me, come here to blow off steam and otherwise pick your battles carefully.

I'm pullin' for you.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing how you're feeling, Beth. I can definitely relate! I am fortunate in that my husband and I are on the same page. But he is all I have. Both of our families are believers and all of our "friends" are, too. We recently left our church and only a couple of people have "reached out" to us (mainly wanting to come to our house to pray for me and my health problems). It is a very lonely feeling. I've never been a super outgoing person w/lots of friends, but I do usually have one or two close girlfriends to hang out with. My sister and I were really close until a few years ago. I want to reconnect with her but now I don't know how b/c our view of the world is SO different. I think if I were honest w/her it would freak her out. I'm not the kind of person who can have superficial relationships, I just don't see the point. So if I don't feel like I can be fully honest with a person, I don't really want to invest. I get the feeling you're the same way.

 

All I can do is hope that I will meet some new people who I can connect with. We are thinking of hitting up a Meetup sometime soon. But for now, there is Ex-C! Thank goodness for this site.

 

If you ever want to "talk", feel free to send me a private message. :)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We are different from them Beth - we're the minority now...... like the blacks, the jews, the homosexuals....We are the 'witches' of the 18th century.............

 

I am just so happy I have all of you guys.....I hope you will feel better soon....hug for you today!

 

I know Margee. I do feel different...I don't consider it a bad thing because I don't want any part of that life anymore. Still, I have to deal with certain aspects of it at times, and I guess I'm learning how to sort of just put it to the side and focus on more important things now. Thanks for the hug, I need it!

 

Beth, that isolation is part of what has me down right now. It's a balancing act and sometimes you just want to scream "shut up you blithering idiot, you're brainwashed like the rest of the pew warmers."

As the gang advised me, come here to blow off steam and otherwise pick your battles carefully.

I'm pullin' for you.

 

Thanks par. Hope you get to feeling better soon! I'm pullin' for you too man! :)

 

I'm not the kind of person who can have superficial relationships, I just don't see the point. So if I don't feel like I can be fully honest with a person, I don't really want to invest. I get the feeling you're the same way.

 

 

If you ever want to "talk", feel free to send me a private message. smile.png

 

I am that way, always have been. Thanks for offering to listen, I really do appreciate that. :)

 

This is a great site, and I'm thankful for it and for all of you willing to come and share and listen. I wouldn't have come this far without everyone here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I can't help but feel isolated from everyone in my life right now. While they are clinging to their faith, all the while I am despising it - keeping my feelings pinned up inside. I wish I didn't think about religion so much, but I find that I do. I'm noticing that I am beginning to withdraw a bit...and I'm not sure what to do about this. I don't mind solitude sometimes, and I definitely need my share of it, but there are times that I long for deep, meaningful and honest conversation. Conversation that isn't met with harsh criticism or anger or bitterness.

 

I'm really trying not to let this be an issue with people in my family or in my life. But damn, I sure do feel lonely at times.

 

Anyone else in a similar situation? How do you deal with these feelings of distance from your family and friends?

 

I think that anytime one experiences a sense of identity or an expansion of self (discrete altered states of consciousness) to encompass wider aspects of humankind, life and the world(cosmos)they will experience resistance--especially if one considers "normality" as a form of arrested development (Abraham Maslow).

 

The crucial point being that our potentials do not remain undeveloped merely by accident; rather we actively defend against them.

 

As you know growth involves movement into the unknown and often requires surrendering familiar ways of being. Consequently, we tend to fear growth.

 

As has been suggested, socially, the means of fostering personal development is providing what Abraham Maslow called a eupsychian environment, namely an environment optimal for psychological development. Socially, this means sharing the company of people who value growth, who undertake practices to foster it, and who provide an atmosphere of interpersonal safety that allows for defenselessness and experimentation.

 

That historical use to be religion's (the church's) gig. Today people who value growth come together for seminars or workshops or as intentional communities, and support each other through ritual, education, modeling and social reinforcement. I was fortunate in that the church I attended sought and attracted people who valued growth at every level--cognitive, emotional, interpersonal, psychosexual, moral, spiritual, etc.

 

Being a man of modest means I was limited to my participation in seminars, retreats, workshops etc, so to stay "connected" I followed the people whom I "discerned" competent and bought their books, found recorded seminars and work shops(years before the net)they had lead or in which they participated.

 

I would investigate their sources of reference which opened up new vistas of thinking and perspective.

 

My pilgrimage to make sense of this panorama of experiences called life has "opened me up," and "hollowed me out," to where I can listen to the "stories"(as fundamentalistic as they are) of others, as common and unique as my own and feel at "home" and even love the storyteller!

 

This remains my way of coping with loneliness. It has stretched my boundaries and experience of compassion in ways I never dreamed!

 

It is my way of taking the tremendous trip of exploration and never leaving the "farm."

 

I have had the good fortune of sharing the company of wisdom and depth through persons of great wisdom and depth!

 

In books of impeccable quality they unfurl the Beautiful, the Good, the True!

 

They are all around! Here at Ex-c they are pecking on key boards their stories!

 

Welcome to the crowd!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is so hard and I feel your pain. I think we all do. The Christian friends I had in my life have quietly disappeared. Mainly because I flat out told them my beliefs were not open for debate or discussion. I would welcome them warmly into my home always, cup of coffee or tea at the ready, but no talking about my beliefs. Unless of course they were open to hear some hard things. But I really don't want to destroy other people's beliefs. Uncool. So, when they couldn't talk about God with me, they oddly had nothing to talk about. I was hurt by this at first. But the pressure I had felt all these years to be the perfect Christian are now gone! How extremely refreshing! Freedom! I do have a knitting buddy who is not a believer at all. We hang out and knit and talk. No expectations for the first time in my life! No judgement! OMG what a huge relief! the hardest part for me right now is that my older boys are having difficulty finding friends. They have been "dumped" also. They will be going off to college soon and I have high hopes they will have many opportunities for great friendships. My little ones have each other right now so they are fine. I am working on finding a home school group without religious ties. I have a couple of leads. I'm hopeful, but not holding my breath. Secular homeschoolers are a rare breed. I am very thankful to have found this forum. So greatful to have a place to hang out.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is so hard and I feel your pain. I think we all do. The Christian friends I had in my life have quietly disappeared. Mainly because I flat out told them my beliefs were not open for debate or discussion. I would welcome them warmly into my home always, cup of coffee or tea at the ready, but no talking about my beliefs. Unless of course they were open to hear some hard things. But I really don't want to destroy other people's beliefs. Uncool. So, when they couldn't talk about God with me, they oddly had nothing to talk about. I was hurt by this at first. But the pressure I had felt all these years to be the perfect Christian are now gone! How extremely refreshing! Freedom! I do have a knitting buddy who is not a believer at all. We hang out and knit and talk. No expectations for the first time in my life! No judgement! OMG what a huge relief! the hardest part for me right now is that my older boys are having difficulty finding friends. They have been "dumped" also. They will be going off to college soon and I have high hopes they will have many opportunities for great friendships. My little ones have each other right now so they are fine. I am working on finding a home school group without religious ties. I have a couple of leads. I'm hopeful, but not holding my breath. Secular homeschoolers are a rare breed. I am very thankful to have found this forum. So greatful to have a place to hang out.

 

 

Seems odd, but it's not when you think about it; for them, everything is tied to God. Plus maybe they are a little afraid of you now, afraid that you will fan that little spark of skepticism that inhabits their own minds.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Beth, are you in a position seek out one or two local (i.e., not online) friends who are non-believers? They may be findable via meetups or in occasionally in the normal course of meeting people if you keep your eye out (this could take time, though, and I think it's a lot tougher in the most religious regions).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is useful to think of loneliness generically as you have to deal with it the same way regardless of the cause. The truth is that meaningful connection is hard to come by. Most people, most of the time, are not that acquainted with themselves and with reality. This makes the path of awareness a lonely one beset by the limited thought constructs in between other people's ears. I am gradually reconfiguring my environment to provide me more opportunities to feed my spirit but it is not an easy thing to do. For us it involves moving to a more eclectic and stimulating environment and developing friendships and connections and roots and hobbies around that. We've both had too many eggs in one basket -- our kids -- which tends to make one's life an exercise in shit-for-thanks. We're slowly changing that. We may or may not succeed.

 

I guess what I am saying is, be as proactive as possible in building a compelling existence for yourself. That would be good advice even for a Christian. Remember that even Christians struggle with loneliness -- don't forget the hypocrisy in the church, the vapid pointlessness of much of what goes on there. Don't think of it as THAT much of a loss :-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Beth, are you in a position seek out one or two local (i.e., not online) friends who are non-believers? They may be findable via meetups or in occasionally in the normal course of meeting people if you keep your eye out (this could take time, though, and I think it's a lot tougher in the most religious regions).

 

Possibly, but I just happen to live in one of those most religious regions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, when they couldn't talk about God with me, they oddly had nothing to talk about.

 

Seems odd, but it's not when you think about it; for them, everything is tied to God. Plus maybe they are a little afraid of you now, afraid that you will fan that little spark of skepticism that inhabits their own minds.

 

This.

 

Now, I know that should not stop me from having meaningful conversation with someone who believes differently than I do. But it seems that a good bit of the time when these conversations do take place, religion or god talk creeps in, and I think it's for this reason that Ro mentioned. When religion comes up, I tend to shut down - because I am not ready to reveal yet that I don't believe in their god anymore. This god that is the center of their being, this god that is everything to them, is nothing more than a horrible story book character to me. So it's becoming difficult, and I find myself in avoidance mode more often than not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This god that is the center of their being, this god that is everything to them, is nothing more than a horrible story book character to me. So it's becoming difficult, and I find myself in avoidance mode more often than not.

 

Yes! Avoidance mode! That's where I am. Totally know where you are coming from.

 

Me, too! I hate confrontation and I am not a good debater. So I just keep quiet and hope the subject doesn't come up when I'm w/believers. And I have completely stopped communicating online with former church friends.

 

I think all we want (and need) are a few people in our lives who really know who we are and accept us. That's a basic human desire. I just don't have it in me to try to create that dynamic with people who have a completely different world-view than I do. It's too much work and I really need peace and simplicity in my life right now. I have to believe there are relationships like that out there for all of us.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Beth, are you in a position seek out one or two local (i.e., not online) friends who are non-believers? They may be findable via meetups or in occasionally in the normal course of meeting people if you keep your eye out (this could take time, though, and I think it's a lot tougher in the most religious regions).

 

Possibly, but I just happen to live in one of those most religious regions.

 

I think it's harder in the buybull belt for two reasons: 1) There are fewer of us out there and 2) those of us there are tend more to be bullied into hiding. There is an increased chance of finding rational thinkers among those who share some of your interests: science, astronomy, cosmology, technology... No guarantees, but you might find kindred minds in clubs, groups, or ogranizations of people who share some of those interests. You might have to probe gingerly at first to identify kindred minds. I have a couple of non-believing friends who are apostates of christianity. It is refreshing, and I value their friendship highly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.