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How Do You Heal Deep Emotional Pain From Fundy-Ism?


SeekMyWayHom
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I have spent some time the last couple days looking for information on the internet, and it amazes me that I can't find anything that specifically addresses this. My emotional self is pretty battered after growing up in Fundamentalist Christianity. This is really hard to articulate, so I hope I can say this right.

 

I need to heal the damage, but I'm having a very hard time "owning" my own feeling reality, and giving it the credibility it needs to heal. I can say it verbally: I am filled with fear and mistrust; guilt is subliminal and constant; my concept of love is completely f*#!ed up - what else would it be when FC demands that I love a terrifying and abusive being and threatens me with eternal torment if I don't?; I have so much outrage; etc. But I'm having a very hard time accepting the truth of it in a way that feels real and genuine.

 

There's a strong message in my head that my truth isn't good enough or reliable. It's like I have been so brainwashed that they're right and I'm wrong that I have automated internal barriers against my own truth.

 

It also plays with my head that I am surrounded by people who are unquestioningly convinced that all of the myths are real, and that I'm the one who's messed up - OMG.

 

Another thing that's making it hard, for some reason, is that I'm really struggling with the idea that so many well-meaning people tried to kill me (that's how it feels to me to have my ability to feel, reason, and self-determine stripped from me). Somehow that fact that they were actually trying to help me seems to be blocking my ability to say, "Yes, that's how I feel."

 

Not only that, but everything in my religion got relabeled. They tried to kill me and called it saving me. God slaughters infants and children, but he's loving and just. Wisdom is actually foolishness, and vice versa. I am evil and untrustworthy, but their Book full of fables is the Truth. This is crazy-making.

 

Do any of you have any ideas, information, techniques, practices, insight, etc. that might help me with this? I've read Marlene Winnell's book, but for some reason it didn't find it that helpful for my situation. I have a good therapist, but a lot of what I need to do is ultimately my own internal work, and rational thought only goes so far in healing emotional wounds.

 

Thanks for any input.

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I was never really a fundie myself, but I still struggled with some of the same things.

The process can take a while. Its a lot of doubt, frustration, anger. I seemed to pass through these in various phases over weeks and months. I kept reading and researching to make sure I was making the right decisions. I had to keep proving to myself that the God of the Bible was a lie. Studying the history of Christianity and other religions helped me a lot.

You've probably been told for years that you're "sinful, dirty, weak, stupid, etc." You have to reclaim your humanity. Of course you're not perfect nobody is. We hurt our fellow man and ourselves at times. Now you no longer have stupid impossible standards to live by. Be a good person, love, teach, be generous, be happy. Embrace the things that God deemed "sinful" that don't hurt anybody at all.

Remember that your loved ones were only doing what they thought was best for you. They think Hell is real and don't want you to go there. The bonds of religion are hard to break. You broke yours, but not everyone will free themselves.

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I think there are some wounds that can never be healed, you only learn to live with them. Its so hard, but time does help. I found it was almost like waking from a dream but it was a process, didnt happen overnight. I have been out four years and my life is now unfolding in ways I didn't anticipate. It is almost like deconstructing yourself and building a completely new you.

 

Firstly just learn how to be kind to yourself. The guilt does go away eventually when you realise nonr of us are perfect christian or otherwise and it is okay just to be human. And stay AWAY from christians.

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It is difficult ro articulate, but you've done pretty well.

 

Although it's you that has to do the work, a good therapist should be able to guide you through the process.

 

You're right about the lack of information on recovering from fundamentalist Christianity, however, you may find information on cult recovery helpful, even if your ex-church does not meet all the criteria for definition as a cult. You can pick and choose from the infirmation what feels relevant.

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Seekmyway: It looks like you have gained a lot of valuable insight into your situation. Its hard to explain, but just SEEING this truth changes things.

 

It takes time. I have no more guilt and much less fear. There may be some areas that will never be resolved, but that is when you must strive for self- acceptance and moving on.

 

What has helped me also is isolating myself from my fundy family. Yes, that sounds bad, but I live a thousand miles away from them and I think its mostly for the best. Although I love my parents, we have incompatible views of the world. I don't think I would have been able to find out who I am without distancing myself. It might not be necessary for others.

 

I have read some self-help stuff and it has helped me to a certain extent to find a backbone and stand for what I really believe and not what some book says or what people say, no matter how much I love or admire them. For about eight years I read the writings of J. Krishnamurti. He helped me learn how to think in a different way. Not the entire answer, for sure, but it did help.

 

Understand that freedom will not happen overnight and cut yourself some slack whenever possible.

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Don't worry. What you're feeling is normal. It can take a long time to go away, and some bits of it may be with you forever. But it does get bettter.

 

You'll also find helpful articles at the "Main Blog" link here at Ex-Christian.net and on http://recoveringfromreligion.org/

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We never truly, fully, and perminantly heal, don't expect that. But what you can expect is to move on with your life and move away from the religion, this wont be the last time you will encounter it. The best thing to do is educate yourself about the world around you and about the theological and historical problems with the bible, by doing this you set up a shield to further religious manipulation.

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As others have said, it takes lots of time and essentially, you have to reprogram your brain.

 

I don't know if you like reading self-help type books, but Marlene Winell's "Leaving the Fold" was quite helpful to me.

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Hi Seek. Welcome to the forum!

 

I have one incredibly simple thought for you:

 

You must realize that there was never anything wrong with you!

 

When you boil down all the xian theologies, the simple fact is that to get/keep you in xianity, someone must convince (and keep convincing and reinforcing to) you that you were/are broken, and that you therefore need(ed) it/him to fix you. That is simply not true. There was no "original sin". You never had an obligation to feel guilt and shame. That was put on you (probably by well meaning people who were just perpetrating their own deception). Be intentional about letting that go.

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Take time to really love yourself.

 

Every time you have a negative thought of doubt or guilt, consciously replace it immediately with an opposing or positive thought:

 

This one might sound a little weird, but just go with it- when you're in a safe quiet place, play some relaxing music, meditate for a bit & keep your thoughts positive. Go back in your mind and picture yourself as a young girl sitting in the church pew or at your fundy parents' house during a time when you felt the most lonely; the most abused; the most ashamed because of religion. Now mentally walk your adult self up to that hurting little girl and comfort her, love on her, tell her the things she needed to hear but never did.

 

And trust your therapist.

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Hi Seek! I totally understand your rage. Your post reminds me very much of my first posts. You are completly normal.... except for the anger at being told a complete lie all your life. You have a right to be angry.You are going to have to deal with this and there are hundreds of posts here to show you how to get through it.

 

Take a deep breath, do a lot of reading in the testimomies and take your time. Post like crazy!! Get it out! Journaling really helps. That's what I did for 2 years on EX-c and I am almost completely healed. It takes time.

 

It is one thing to find out that a loved one lied to you, let alone the whole god-damned world!! You're here with us now and you are safe.

 

Best of everything on your new path....we are right here for ya.

Sincerely, Margee

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I have spent some time the last couple days looking for information on the internet, and it amazes me that I can't find anything that specifically addresses this. My emotional self is pretty battered after growing up in Fundamentalist Christianity. This is really hard to articulate, so I hope I can say this right.

 

I need to heal the damage, but I'm having a very hard time "owning" my own feeling reality, and giving it the credibility it needs to heal. I can say it verbally: I am filled with fear and mistrust; guilt is subliminal and constant; my concept of love is completely f*#!ed up - what else would it be when FC demands that I love a terrifying and abusive being and threatens me with eternal torment if I don't?; I have so much outrage; etc. But I'm having a very hard time accepting the truth of it in a way that feels real and genuine.

 

There's a strong message in my head that my truth isn't good enough or reliable. It's like I have been so brainwashed that they're right and I'm wrong that I have automated internal barriers against my own truth.

 

It also plays with my head that I am surrounded by people who are unquestioningly convinced that all of the myths are real, and that I'm the one who's messed up - OMG.

 

Another thing that's making it hard, for some reason, is that I'm really struggling with the idea that so many well-meaning people tried to kill me (that's how it feels to me to have my ability to feel, reason, and self-determine stripped from me). Somehow that fact that they were actually trying to help me seems to be blocking my ability to say, "Yes, that's how I feel."

 

Not only that, but everything in my religion got relabeled. They tried to kill me and called it saving me. God slaughters infants and children, but he's loving and just. Wisdom is actually foolishness, and vice versa. I am evil and untrustworthy, but their Book full of fables is the Truth. This is crazy-making.

 

Do any of you have any ideas, information, techniques, practices, insight, etc. that might help me with this? I've read Marlene Winnell's book, but for some reason it didn't find it that helpful for my situation. I have a good therapist, but a lot of what I need to do is ultimately my own internal work, and rational thought only goes so far in healing emotional wounds.

 

Thanks for any input.

SeekMyWay ((hug)) for you! Yes, crazy making is what it is. I felt a lot like you when I left the cult church. I think it just takes time to allow yourself to feel & think for yourself again.

I don't know if this will help you, but reading about the way people are manipulated by religion helped me a lot. You probably already know about "spiritual abuse" if not you can google it.

 

also I began to read the writings of real historical people who were expressing exactly what I thought & felt.

That was extremely helpful because it validated what I experienced.

I don't have the links right now, but reading the writings of Robert Ingersoll, Thomas Paine & Ralph Waldo Emerson helped me a lot. I think you can access some of Robert Ingersoll's writings at the bottom of the main

page here at Ex-Christian..you gotta look though. If I have time I will find the link for you later.

 

I know it is so difficult, but you really are on the right path!!! Even though everyone around you is telling you you are backslidden or wrong or sinful DO NOT BELIEVE THEM. they are only telling you what they have been told &

have probably not given it one bit of REAL THOUGHT & consideration. THEY are the blind ones leading others into their blindness. You are doing the right thing.

This is a hard time for you, but it really does get better. Hopefully in time the toxic ideas that have been shoved into your mind will begin to be replaced with positive & good & truthful thoughts.

Try to expose yourself to what will help you to move forward because in most cases those religious nuts wont change...& in their twisted minds anyone who disagrees with them will always be wrong. So you wont find any consolation from that close minded & toxic group of people. Not that I hate those people, but it's just how it is.

Unless they allow themselves to think outside of that box, they will remain prisoners.

 

One of my favorite quotes from Emerson is: "Do not go where the path may lead. go instead where there is no path & leave a trail"

 

Oh don't know if this will help but I often had to "talk" to myself, reason with myself. It's like I was arguing with the toxic dogma in my own head. an example of a conversation with myself would be:

"god hates me because I've left the true church.."

"wait..there are thousands of churches who say they are the true church..."

"Where is the freedom in Christ? I certainly am not free in this prison of a church & religion??"

you see I just kept talking & reasoning & being honest with myself & the truth began to shine through...& the truth was bible religion is a lie!

OK I've rambled enough...please take care & you are not alone I promise you that.

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Ditto to what so many others have said on this thread. I'm curious, though: how long have you been religion-free, and what were your reasons for leaving? These will impact how you feel.

 

And all this takes time. I was severely depressed for the last 2-3 months of my "seeking" process (which turned out to be my deconversion process). Things immediately got better after I decided to leave for good in January, but I only started to feel like a normal autonomous human (rather than a sinful, depraved one) in the last couple months. I suspect it will be a couple years before I don't feel a twinge of the "I've done something terrible" feeling.

 

Don't look back, look forward. See if you can immerse yourself in a non-Christian community of any kind, one where you'll find acceptance.

 

There's a strong message in my head that my truth isn't good enough or reliable. It's like I have been so brainwashed that they're right and I'm wrong that I have automated internal barriers against my own truth.

 

 

I can totally relate to those "automated internal barriers". Something inside of me implicitly assumes that people like Tim Keller and Gary Habermas and N. T. Wright must always be right. I'm not sure why... it's probably a vestige of spending a lifetime in a community where everyone was so *sure* of what they believed, and everything seemed to fit together. If I hadn't spent almost two years doing the research, I would likely be plagued with self-doubt even today. Knowing the counter-apologetics has given me something to fall back on when my emotions and self-doubt start to get the better of me.

 

But even while doing the research, I was constantly asking myself, "Who am *I* to think I can figure this out, and do a better job of finding the truth than the men of the ages who have gone before -- all of them more intelligent, better scholars?" And who was I to question the God of the universe?

 

What quelled me was that it wasn't "my" truth. I wasn't the one coming up with these arguments; I was finding the best arguments I could and pitting them against each other. And at the end of the day, nobody can ask you to believe something other than what you think is true.

 

(oh, and the "who are you to question God?" is, of course, question-begging. Bonus: if your interlocutor isn't a Roman Catholic, you can throw this back at them)

 

Not only that, but everything in my religion got relabeled. They tried to kill me and called it saving me. God slaughters infants and children, but he's loving and just. Wisdom is actually foolishness, and vice versa. I am evil and untrustworthy, but their Book full of fables is the Truth. This is crazy-making.

 

I LOVE this paragraph. Love it. So much truth there.

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Emotional trauma is hard to heal. For me time is the biggest helper. Unlike a lot of people hear I never chose to be fundie. I was forced into those churches so I never had to deal with not trusting my own thoughts. However, I can relate to the emotional damage fundies can inflict.

 

Time and patience the biggest helpers... that and just having people to talk to who will listen and care for you.

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I like to tell myself that:

 

"Emotions are insanity. Yes of course we all feel them. Let them come and go naturally. But we don't have to trust them. We don't have to listen to them."

 

I find these days my happiness comes from trying to be rational. It isn't always easy. I was brainwashed from an early age with the virtues of anger and revenge strait out of the Bible backed up by gawd almighty. But I am making progress slowly.

 

I wish you the best and hope you get to where you want to be. Also welcome to ex-C.

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Wish I knew. I was a fundie and still struggle so much! I keep going on dates and finding out that I get weird even about kissing. There are two sides of me: the sex-positive who really really wants sex, and the shy, frigid who can't shake the idea that if I have sex outside of marriage I will really regret it and feel like a colossal failure for having let go and caved in after all I've invested in saving myself for the prince of a husband who was to have the honour of being my first.

 

Going from fundamentalist to atheist has allowed me to live two different lives within the same lifetime. Unlike many atheists who were not raised in devout religion, I have the unique advantage of being able to know what it's like to REALLY and truly believe two diametrically opposed worldviews. But going from faith to deed is a whole other matter for me. I am one of those dreaded double-minded individuals the Bible warns about and that would really worry me if I could bring myself to care about what the Bible says anymore.

 

I guess it also depends on what your issues are with your fundamentalism. Some things, like being pro-life, are grounded solidly in science and can easily be held by a non-believer. As to the rest... if you figure out the escape route, let me know.

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I would like to suggest two things that most people overlook, info on PTSD and info on recovering from a cult.

 

Depending on how deeply religious and/or any verbal/mental/physical abuse was involved, those subjects can be of some help.

 

We all heal at different rates and we all have different depths of scarring from religion.

 

If anyone ever feels like your life has no meaning and you are lost, talking to a therapist or help line can help, no one should have to feel alone.

 

It always takes time to feel normal, don't ever make yourself feel bad because you have not healed at the speed of light, we are only human. :)

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This poem I always loved as a kid has taken on new meaning now. It makes me think of Christians and their false comforts... and our waking up:

 

Nobody By Shel Silverstein

 

Nobody loves me,

Nobody cares,

Nobody picks me peaches and pears.

Nobody offers me candy and Cokes,

Nobody listen and laughs at my jokes.

Nobody helps when I get in a fight,

Nobody does all my homework at night.

Nobody misses me,

Nobody cries,

Nobody thinks I’m a wonderful guy.

So if you ask me who’s my best friend,

in a whiz, I’ll stand up and tell you that Nobody is.

But yesterday night I got quite a scare,

I woke up and Nobody just wasn’t there.

I called out and reached out for Nobody’s hand,

In the darkness where Nobody usually stands.

Then I poked through the house,

in each cranny and nook,

But I found somebody each place that I looked.

I searched till I’m tired,

and now with the dawn,

There’s no doubt about it

—Nobody’s gone!

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omg – deeply heartfelt thanks to all of you who have responded to my post. I probably don’t need to tell you how welcome your support is, and how grateful I am to find a community of other humans who really understand what kind of damage religion can do and what it takes to get free. I am fortunate to have several close friends who love me and care about me, but they have no way to understand what it takes to get free of this. I have been greedily reading your replies and hope to sit down tomorrow and reply in detail; I’ve been running the last couple of days. thank you, thank you...

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I was never really a fundie myself, but I still struggled with some of the same things.

The process can take a while. Its a lot of doubt, frustration, anger. I seemed to pass through these in various phases over weeks and months. I kept reading and researching to make sure I was making the right decisions. I had to keep proving to myself that the God of the Bible was a lie. Studying the history of Christianity and other religions helped me a lot.

You've probably been told for years that you're "sinful, dirty, weak, stupid, etc." You have to reclaim your humanity. Of course you're not perfect nobody is. We hurt our fellow man and ourselves at times. Now you no longer have stupid impossible standards to live by. Be a good person, love, teach, be generous, be happy. Embrace the things that God deemed "sinful" that don't hurt anybody at all.

Remember that your loved ones were only doing what they thought was best for you. They think Hell is real and don't want you to go there. The bonds of religion are hard to break. You broke yours, but not everyone will free themselves.

Joe - thanks for reminding me how long this can take - it seems like it ought to be done by now, and that stuff is so stubborn after growing up with it in church, home and school. It's oddly reassuring to hear about your doubt, frustration and anger, because that's kinda where I am right now.

I have started to read a little bit about mythology, and I think that could really be enlightening. You said you studied the history of Christianity and other religions - can you recommend any books?

"Be a good person, love, teach, be generous, be happy." Thank you. This means a lot to me now. I typed "Be Happy" in my favorite huge font and color and stuck it on my wall where I can see it all the time.

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I think there are some wounds that can never be healed, you only learn to live with them. Its so hard, but time does help. I found it was almost like waking from a dream but it was a process, didnt happen overnight. I have been out four years and my life is now unfolding in ways I didn't anticipate. It is almost like deconstructing yourself and building a completely new you.

 

Firstly just learn how to be kind to yourself. The guilt does go away eventually when you realise nonr of us are perfect christian or otherwise and it is okay just to be human. And stay AWAY from christians.

I'm sure you're right. Certainly, my life will never be the same as it would have been without all this crap. Since I started this road, I have experienced things - good things - that I never thought I'd get to, so I am assuming it's only going to get better, even with all the frustration. I have used the same analogy of deconstruction on myself. It's beyond taking the house back to the studs - it's ripping it off the foundation, demo-ing the footers, and starting over. Yikes...

Thank you for the reminder to be kind. That religion taught me to be very destructive to myself, so I'm trying to reprogram. I'm glad to hear the guilt gets better; it's so useless and debilitating. Since I have several friends and all of my family who are Christians, it's tough to stay away from them, but I at least try to stay completely AWAY from Christianity.

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It is difficult ro articulate, but you've done pretty well.

 

Although it's you that has to do the work, a good therapist should be able to guide you through the process.

 

You're right about the lack of information on recovering from fundamentalist Christianity, however, you may find information on cult recovery helpful, even if your ex-church does not meet all the criteria for definition as a cult. You can pick and choose from the infirmation what feels relevant.

 

Fortunately my therapist is very experienced, and she really seems to get the process of deconverting, and how much effort it can take. IMO, you are totally right about cult recovery. Early this year I started to view Xtianity this way and it was really a big AHA. I started writing about the mechanisms they used to indoctrinate me...and I haven't stopped writing yet.

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Seekmyway: It looks like you have gained a lot of valuable insight into your situation. Its hard to explain, but just SEEING this truth changes things.

 

It takes time. I have no more guilt and much less fear. There may be some areas that will never be resolved, but that is when you must strive for self- acceptance and moving on.

 

What has helped me also is isolating myself from my fundy family. Yes, that sounds bad, but I live a thousand miles away from them and I think its mostly for the best. Although I love my parents, we have incompatible views of the world. I don't think I would have been able to find out who I am without distancing myself. It might not be necessary for others.

 

I have read some self-help stuff and it has helped me to a certain extent to find a backbone and stand for what I really believe and not what some book says or what people say, no matter how much I love or admire them. For about eight years I read the writings of J. Krishnamurti. He helped me learn how to think in a different way. Not the entire answer, for sure, but it did help.

 

Understand that freedom will not happen overnight and cut yourself some slack whenever possible.

wow - no more guilt. Can you sell that?! I'd subscribe.

I have been trying to sit still and listen to my insides, and practice accepting everything I find - hardest thing I've ever done, and I'm not very consistent with it yet. In spite of that, it's been radical. Never thought I could embrace my own self - what a difference.

I totally get isolating yourself from your family. Wish I could just not see certain people in my family, but it's hard to do. One of them is 80 and in declining health - not a good time to leave them alone. I also have a couple of very thoughtful fundy family members too, who try to be kind. I try to keep many people around me who support my "secular self", and I belong to an interesting discussion group that's mostly atheists.

Do you have any favorite writings by J. Krishnamurti that you could recommend?

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Don't worry. What you're feeling is normal. It can take a long time to go away, and some bits of it may be with you forever. But it does get bettter.

 

You'll also find helpful articles at the "Main Blog" link here at Ex-Christian.net and on http://recoveringfromreligion.org/

Thanks Merry - I'm really focused on this right now, and it really was reassuring to be reminded that it's "SOP" to go through this.

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We never truly, fully, and perminantly heal, don't expect that. But what you can expect is to move on with your life and move away from the religion, this wont be the last time you will encounter it. The best thing to do is educate yourself about the world around you and about the theological and historical problems with the bible, by doing this you set up a shield to further religious manipulation.

 

I am actively working on re-edumacating my self about the Bible. Any sources or reading you would recommend? Thanks.

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