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How Much More Can Christianity Take From Me?


wanderinstar
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Most of you have heard my previous rants about things I have lost to Christianity so I won't repeat myself, but to add context to new readers here is a brief list; mental health, self respect, chance of a healthy marriage, sense of self, career opportunities, connection to reality thus extended isolation from it, proper medical treatment for serious mental and physical health conditions...I could go on. Anyway, now I am fully deconverted (although still dealing with the effects) and feeling fairly comfortable in my own skin, I thought christianity couldn't hurt me anymore, that it couldn't steal anything else precious from my life. It would seem I was wrong.

 

For the fifteen years I was a wholehearted believer in christianity I lost almost all my close friends, as they understandably were put off by my new 'religious nut' persona, and we had nothing in common anymore; plus I believed I should only have close christian friends in order to live a holy life. So I abandoned my intelligent, open-minded, fun, non-religious friends for a cult. I tried so hard to make close friends in church but I kept hitting up against a wall of superficiality and the fact that these people in their 20's and 30's and brought up in church already had more close friends than they could handle as they were incredibly busy serving. So I came out of christianity with two close friends; one is a deconverted catholic who is intensely into the new age at the moment and as she has simply changed religion she doesn't understand my struggles (but is a very fun and caring friend), the second is still christian and heading in the fundie direction. I am making new friends and have close family, so I am not at all alone in the world. I'm just annoyed as I know I would have more like-minded people in my life if I hadn't followed a delusion for fifteen years.

 

My actual rant is about the second friend. She is a very intelligent woman, a clinical psychologist who understands science well and also into the same alternative music and movies as me. We have great intellectual discussions too at times, which is valuable for me in a friend. Just before I deconverted she actually had a spiritual experience that led her from a place of almost being deconverted to 'on fire for Jesus' status. As time passes she is only becoming more fundie which I find very sad to watch. She was always a liberal christian; accepted evolution, gays and the fact that the bible is not at all to be literally taken. Yet now she seems to be heading away from logic and reason into religious fundamentalism based on some recent decisions she has made.

 

Sorry, this is taking forever. What I am trying to say is that the more religious this friend becomes, the less valuable I seem to be too her. She is a thoughtful, caring woman it is just that serving in the church has chewed up all her free time. It burns that she no longer makes much time for someone who is a close friend, who help her hand through her divorce (as she did mine). This is her choice, and I do understand she loves me and has good motivations at church so I am not too angry with her. Instead I am very angry at christianity for taking my beautiful friend and slowly turning her into a christbot, for narrowing her vision and opportunities and manipulating her when she is vulnerable. It is gutting me to watch, and to slowly lose a friend. It is frustrating as when I was a religious nut, she was going through her serious doubt faze, so we have missed each other. For me, it is difficult to find new good friends as I am a single, childless woman in her late thirties who can be a bit of a handful due to a Mood Disorder/PTSD. Doesn't help that I seem to be heading into a depression, so I am not my usual upbeat self.

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I watched the same thing happen with my parents once they decided to get involved in church. They never became fundies. They just ended up choosing going to church instead of say -- going to family get-togethers, their grand kid's school functions and even birthday parties, opportunities to babysit their grandkids, etc... You get the picture. They missed quite a bit of the important things in life due to church. And now, they don't even have a really good relationship with any of their grandkids.

 

Any way, just by reading your words, and those in your profile, in my opinion, you should stop being so hard on yourself by bleaking the shit out of your future. You've got a lot of good years left in you. And you seem to be doing pretty well with your recovery.

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Oh sweetie, how well I understand your post. They say that to an alcoholic or drug addict, the addiction comes first (it is 'King') and everything else is secondary. Religion is like a drug and you are now second in line. It is a very sad thing. I lost many friends when I 'sobered' up from religion. The losses can cut deep. You might need to grieve this. I did. It was part of my 'deconversion'. Keep posting and talking about it - it really helps.

 

Big hug for you today.

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What makes religion so powerful? How does it weave its way into our political system? Why do people believe and follow obvious religious charlatans? What makes people profess deep faith even as they act in ways that betray that faith? What makes people blind to the irrationalities of their religion yet clearly see those of others?

 

The God Virus: How religion infects our lives and culture.

by Dr. Darrel W. Ray

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...things I have lost to Christianity...; mental health, self respect, chance of a healthy marriage, sense of self, career opportunities, connection to reality thus extended isolation from it, proper medical treatment for serious mental and physical health conditions..

 

I tried so hard to make close friends in church but I kept hitting up against a wall of superficiality... 

 

For me, it is difficult to find new good friends as I am a single, childless woman in her late thirties who can be a bit of a handful...

 

Hey, wanderinstar!!!

 

You and I have much in common!!! I too have thrown most of the best things in life into the bottomless pit of Christianity. You and I could definitely compare notes and find solace therein.

 

And I too had a difficult time making friends in church. With church friends, there is this assumption that because we are all on the same heaven-bound train, we will all be best buds (preparing for heaven, ya know!). I too found this to be superficial. Many of my deepest values are in conflict with those of church-going Christians, so close kinship is hard come by there.

 

It has been hard for me to learn how to be friends "in the real world". I was socially awkward and don't know how to have real friendships. Previous friendships were all on the Jesus Train, and in those relationships you don't need to do real things when someone is in need--all you have to do is say "I am praying for you" and move on to the next thing. wacko.png

 

In my new relationships sometimes I come clean and say "I'm an ex-fundy so please bear with me". Christianity is such a mind-fuck that we spend years in the deconversion and rebuilding process.

 

For what it's worth, I am just a bit older than you and childless, and have just come out of an 8 year illness. I am rebuilding my life, and it feels great. Msg. me if you want to be friends on FB!

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Wow wanderinstar; I certainly have a lot of sympathy. You and I have clearly walked much of the same path. My deconversion ended up costing me my marriage, my relationship with 3 of my 4 kids, my job, my health, massive struggles with depression, lots of lost friends, financial struggles, a night in jail (with attendant record to haunt me), even lost my beloved dog and cats. I've been rebuilding now for a couple of years. Still have a good ways to go.

 

Having a valued friend head into fundamentalism has got to be anguishing. I have two friends who always have been a bit fundy, but they were that way before, during and after all my troubles. They are among the very few who never wavered in sticking with me. If you're friend is not sticking with you, then that sucks royally.

 

I do have one long distance friend who has taken considerable umbrage at anything I say that questions his faith. It strains the relationship a lot. A part of me just thinks, "Hell, challenge him and if he can't handle it, then let him go be a baby for Jesus. I've lost enough, what's one more?"

 

Anyway, I very much understand how hard it is for you to struggle through things when depression and the like are dragging on you.

If you want to talk, exchange war stories or ideas, etc. I'm happy to.  I certainly wish you strength.

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It certainly is true that Xtians say one thing and do another. It's ubiquitous in the faith. Help for the poor, birth control, euthanasia, etc. etc.  What helps the poor is forbidden. They even think that it is their duty to put christians in political control of the US. What ever happened to Xtians' duty to focus on the "next" life rather than this one? Apparently they are not so sure the next life will be as heavenly as they publicly claim.

 

Forgive my diversion. I welcome you here and believe this site will help you in the sometimes long ordeal with deconversion. Best of luck to you.   bill

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I am having the same thing happen with my beastie and it has ripped my heart out. She has pulled away from me at a time when I am having a heartbreaking estrangement with my daughter.

 

People suck and they will always disappoint me. This situation has caused me terrible suicidal feelings, but no one cares. I don't blame Christianity anymore, I blame the individual for being a selfish asshole. I'm sorry thi is happening to you :(

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Thanks everyone! Sorry to hear so many of us have suffered great loss at the hands of religion. Galien, I do understand how you could become suicidal over that considering you also have depression. The fact that I was doing great (perhaps a little too great - hypomanic) the last two months and could not be upset about pretty much anything only to now in the space of a week, fall in a big fat hole, has demonstrated clearly to me the chemical nature of depression. Nothing happened in life to trigger me, this friendship thing has been brewing for months, my brain just switched to 'depressed' mode. When you are depressed blows like this can push you over the edge. Hang in there Galien, we care about you.

 

These mood swings are (very up for nearly two months now very down) most likely due to me coming off my anti-depressants, slowly over the last two months (under the supervision of my psychiatrist). I am still on Lithium, a mood stabilizer. Anyway, it is incredibly scary just how dramatically brain chemistry can effect our thoughts and mood. This is why I feel like punching people who tell me you can think your way out of clinical depression, as if it is some kind of lifestyle choice to remain depressed. These attitudes make it very hard to make good friends. With all my new acquaintances I feel I have to pretend half the time, or all the time, as most people misunderstand or outright judge people with mental illness. Add that to my Fibromyalgia, trauma issues and brainwashing by a cult, and I become a bit to much for many people to feel comfortable with, so I basically have to not mention most of the major things in my life and talk around them so that people are not overwhelmed. This is why my close friends are so dear to me as they know all of me and accept me so I don't have to pretend half the time.    

 

Back to topic. It is gutting to watch my friend fall into the same cult that nearly ate me alive. She knows what I went through and was deeply upset by what the church did to me but she saw it a problem of interpretation and application of scriptures rather than christianty itself. Now she is beginning to fall for the same crap I used to believe (staying 'pure' before marriage...as in no kissing before you wedding day...and she is a divorced woman in her forties who was poorly treated by her first husband) which doesn't make sense in reality. At least she is still defending the scientific theory of evolution, but she is surrounded by creationists. I am scared she will be badly brainwashed and lose herself as I did. I really care about her but I am afraid if I directly confront her she will only diver deeper into religion. So far she has been accepting of my non-belief and I accepting of her belief and we have remained firm friends due to our many other shared interests. Apart from seeing her a lot less, I do think we could remain friends I just don't know how I can watch her make this massive mistake without saying a word. 

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When I was in the depth of my post-partum depression, I met with my pastor. (This was two churches ago, before I left them and went to the more recent church who abused the hell out of me.) I explained how no one at the church had offered any support of any kind. No casseroles, no home visits, no nursery care on Sunday mornings so I could worship in peace, etc. These were all minor things he could have fixed, and I believed they would have made a difference -- just to have a little support, a little relief, just knowing that someone cared enough to come by my house and sing Jesus Loves Me and then leave -- I would have loved anything. I then brought up the topic of suicide, since I was considering it as an option. Did he say, "Don't do it!"? Did he contact anyone in the church to send me a card of support, or call to check on me, or offer to come over for an hour so I could take a nap or something? No. He explained theologically that God understands if someone is that messed up that they take their own life, he will take that into consideration and forgive that sin, and still admit them to heaven; God wants as many people in heaven as possible. (Not from what I have recently understood from reading about Biblegod, but I digress...)

 

Anyway, rather than helping, he basically told me it was ok to off myself. Seriously.

 

My point is... I am very sensitive to people suffering from depression, people considering suicide, people feeling absolutely no light at the end of their tunnel.

 

Galien and Wanderinstar: Both of you have posted many things throughout this site that have resonated deeply with me. Over the past few months since I have been here, both of you have touched and inspired me. I have often thought -- these are the kinds of women I wish I could find in real life. You are both bright shining stars in a cloud of darkness.

 

Please know that both of you are valuable, appreciated and loved. If I could, I would make my world-famous baked pasta casserole for both of you, personally deliver it, hold your hand and sing a song to you to lift your spirits. So instead, please eat up my words here, hear me singing to you, and feel the giant hugs and and hand-holding I am sending your way.

 

Be strong, dear ladies. You will come through again. The sun will shine on your world.

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I'd just tell her what I thought. I also want to punch people who believe you can think your way out of depression.

Or faith your way out of depression.

 

 

Exactly. Because nothing "helps" depression quite like knowing God is mad at you for some unknown sin you have not confessed, or God is testing your faith since you obviously are not strong enough of a believer yet, or God is using your pain for some higher purpose, or your depression is a result of sin in general (punished for Adam and Eve, essentially), or that you have simply not prayed and fasted enough, or that you have not done enough or given enough yet to be worthy of relief, or that you are just a poor miserable sinner overall. Yeah, that really helps.  Wendybanghead.gif

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When I was in the depth of my post-partum depression, I met with my pastor. (This was two churches ago, before I left them and went to the more recent church who abused the hell out of me.) I explained how no one at the church had offered any support of any kind. No casseroles, no home visits, no nursery care on Sunday mornings so I could worship in peace, etc. These were all minor things he could have fixed, and I believed they would have made a difference -- just to have a little support, a little relief, just knowing that someone cared enough to come by my house and sing Jesus Loves Me and then leave -- I would have loved anything. I then brought up the topic of suicide, since I was considering it as an option. Did he say, "Don't do it!"? Did he contact anyone in the church to send me a card of support, or call to check on me, or offer to come over for an hour so I could take a nap or something? No. He explained theologically that God understands if someone is that messed up that they take their own life, he will take that into consideration and forgive that sin, and still admit them to heaven; God wants as many people in heaven as possible. (Not from what I have recently understood from reading about Biblegod, but I digress...)

 

Anyway, rather than helping, he basically told me it was ok to off myself. Seriously.

 

My point is... I am very sensitive to people suffering from depression, people considering suicide, people feeling absolutely no light at the end of their tunnel.

 

Galien and Wanderinstar: Both of you have posted many things throughout this site that have resonated deeply with me. Over the past few months since I have been here, both of you have touched and inspired me. I have often thought -- these are the kinds of women I wish I could find in real life. You are both bright shining stars in a cloud of darkness.

 

Please know that both of you are valuable, appreciated and loved. If I could, I would make my world-famous baked pasta casserole for both of you, personally deliver it, hold your hand and sing a song to you to lift your spirits. So instead, please eat up my words here, hear me singing to you, and feel the giant hugs and and hand-holding I am sending your way.

 

Be strong, dear ladies. You will come through again. The sun will shine on your world.

 

Wow, that is very touching RW...I can feel the love...and thankyou, it means a lot to me. I will have to drop by for dinner next time I'm in the area...I really am hoping to head back to North America in the next ten years, health and finances permitting. :)

 

My pastor gave me a similar response when I directly asked if I would get into heaven if I killed myself. She knew I was very unwell and said she would call me the next morning after my psych appointment to check on me as I was very concerned my psychiatrist would not be helpful. Psych ignored my pleas for help and let me leave, despite my clear statement that I could no longer keep myself safe and my pastor didn't call. It is not their fault (ok, the psychiatrists' a little) but I nearly died that day and I fully intended too. Considering the very serious responsibilities pastors have due to service they are claiming to offer I have found pastors woefully under-trained to cope with mental health issues in their communities. They basically need to be taught about safety and referral as they cannot counsel themselves when mental illness is involved. Sorry, I get on my soapbox over these issues. Sorry you have been through being suicidal, it really is an awful, scary headspace. How are you getting along now?

 

Interestingly, I was at a more deadly level of suicidal while a christian than I was prior (Very Depressed on and off since early childhood) and was so sure that god would understand why I ended my life, and so looking forward to heaven that my faith was not much of a protective factor. My Mood Disorder may have progressed that way naturally but there were times that I was so full of rage over gods lack of comfort, protection, wisdom...anything, that I was pretty desperate to get to heaven and demand answers. I think society as a whole is yet to feel comfortable with regards to mental illness, like say they are with cancer. It seems like people either have to shut down and avoid you or feel like they're 'helping' by telling you what you can do if you want to get better. 

 

Right now I am actually processing that I most likely have a lifelong Mood Disorder (dr still working on which one) so I am bummed about that too and even more insecure in regards to relationships. On the plus side I am feeling a little better than yesterday so perhaps I won't fall too far on the depression side this time. Thanks again RS (and everyone else). The support on this site is so valuable to me. 

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wanderinstar

 

Again your experience is so resonant with me. I was checked into an institution 3 years ago for suicidal thoughts. Spent 3 days there. It was actually very valuable. My fellow "inmates" were really the best therapists in the place as we all could identify and sympathize with each other's struggles. We would talk, listen, share, and tell each other that we were pulling for them. Three years later my meds are reduced to just 20mg of Prozac a day. I still have times when the depression takes me down and I CANNOT "think" my way back up. I just have to wait and ride it out. Upping the meds a bit can help. I also have a terrific lady friend who also deals with depression. We rarely sink at the same time fortunately so when one is down, the other supports. We both know what the other is going through, so there is a lot of patience there.

 Keep hanging out here. Looks like there are many here who have dealt with some mental illness. We will listen and support and wish you the best.

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wanderinstar

 

Again your experience is so resonant with me. I was checked into an institution 3 years ago for suicidal thoughts. Spent 3 days there. It was actually very valuable. My fellow "inmates" were really the best therapists in the place as we all could identify and sympathize with each other's struggles. We would talk, listen, share, and tell each other that we were pulling for them. Three years later my meds are reduced to just 20mg of Prozac a day. I still have times when the depression takes me down and I CANNOT "think" my way back up. I just have to wait and ride it out. Upping the meds a bit can help. I also have a terrific lady friend who also deals with depression. We rarely sink at the same time fortunately so when one is down, the other supports. We both know what the other is going through, so there is a lot of patience there.

 Keep hanging out here. Looks like there are many here who have dealt with some mental illness. We will listen and support and wish you the best.

 

Thanks Lepardus! I too have been a psych inpatient and found great strength and comfort from other patients. You are so right that they can be the best therapists, and while being that unwell was excruciating I really believe I gained insight from the experience. Great that you have been able to reduce your meds and seemed to have a decent response to them. My chemistry has been a bit of a puzzle for my doctors to treat and 17 years after I too my first antidepressant I am still not completely stable on meds. Getting pretty close though and we're hoping to have it sorted in the next year; appears the diagnosis was incomplete. 

 

In the last few years my grief load has been way, way too high so mixed with my mental health issues I am not as resilient to the prospect of losing another person dear to me as I could be. I guess I could manage to find the courage talk with her as she can be a very understanding and open minded person but I am in doubt it will help the situation any. It is not my place to rescue her from her mistakes (if that is what she is doing) and she has been made aware of just how baseless christianity is by others and clearly still wants to believe christianity. Perhaps if I be patient she will deconvert and for now I can enjoy our changed friendship for what it is. She and I are still firm friends so maybe I am getting ahead of myself as I am so scared of having to suffer any more loss at the moment.

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On top of the things that Christianity takes, it also gave us extra baggage on our lives, things were toxic. I know that Christianity took my sanity, my ability to think for myself, and gave back self-loathing and extreme guilt, while failing to provide "peace that transcends all understanding". It's kind of funny how the peace that no one seems to understand fails to function as advertised. I know I didn't have it.

 

But despite everything Christianity took from us, at least it didn't raid our refrigerators and steal all of our food.

 

I'm sorry to hear about how your friend is being pulled away from reality. Maybe she will one day realize that Christianity is nothing more than some drug that makes some people feel good when they need it to. I don't know, but we can always hope that she escapes the fundamentalism in the future.

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Psych ignored my pleas for help and let me leave, despite my clear statement that I could no longer keep myself safe and my pastor didn't call. It is not their fault (ok, the psychiatrists' a little) but I nearly died that day and I fully intended too.

 

 

That is inexcusable! Clearly the psych didn't believe you.

 

My wife was at her OB's office and, while the tech was taking her vitals and asking questions, she mentioned that she just didn't really care to live anymore. The office was in a professional building attached to the hospital, and when the tech told the doctor, they called the ER and had a wheelchair sent over to get her. If a person even hints  that they are suicidal, they should not be allowed to leave, and fortunately this tech knew what to do.

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My point is... I am very sensitive to people suffering from depression, people considering suicide, people feeling absolutely no light at the end of their tunnel.

 

Galien and Wanderinstar: Both of you have posted many things throughout this site that have resonated deeply with me. Over the past few months since I have been here, both of you have touched and inspired me. I have often thought -- these are the kinds of women I wish I could find in real life. You are both bright shining stars in a cloud of darkness.

 

Please know that both of you are valuable, appreciated and loved. If I could, I would make my world-famous baked pasta casserole for both of you, personally deliver it, hold your hand and sing a song to you to lift your spirits. So instead, please eat up my words here, hear me singing to you, and feel the giant hugs and and hand-holding I am sending your way.

 

Be strong, dear ladies. You will come through again. The sun will shine on your world.

 

Thank you smile.png

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... Sorry you have been through being suicidal, it really is an awful, scary headspace. How are you getting along now? ...

 

 

Thanks for asking! I am great, actually. Amazingly great. Happy and joyful. About this time last year, I had stopped going to my church (evil abusive assholes) and quit my association with the agency I was at (toxic situation of lazy people making a ton of money off of my sacrifices). A month later, someone asked how I was doing, and I responded, "I finally know what the word 'joy' means!"

 

In the beginning of the post partum depression, it was the sleep deprivation that was (almost literally) killing me. Breastfed babies don't sleep through the night for a long time, and in my case it was 13.5 months. The brain chemcials are not right, hormones don't bounce back, and on and on. So 13.5 months after that I had sort of caught up on my sleep, and things suddenly got better. I found a book called "The Triple Whammy Cure" which recommended various supplements to help feed the brain and give it building blocks for seratonin and hormone distribution. That made a huge difference. A few weeks after my baby had been born, my main client got bought out and I lost them -- 90% of my income (and I am the primary breadwinner in my house -- oh the drama!). (There's some serious karma coming their way, lol.) So I got my career back on track in about the second year, and that helped a lot, obviously. I had switched churches, and for a while there they seemed to love me, and gave me great outlets for my musical ability -- giving me a sense of belonging and purpose and stuff to do. (That went sour a couple years later, but at the time, it was good and was what I needed.) When that church started to turn on me, I got on a mild medication, and that took off the final edge. Then I quit the church and quit the job and now I'm on my own -- life is good!

 

This might sound simplistic, but to sum it up: get rid of the bad, focus on the good, get medication and counseling when needed, take control of my life. That was my cure.

 

I think I may have posted this here before, but let me tell you what kept me alive in those first two years: I am a Madonna fan. When I was in college, her rockumentary "Truth or Dare" came out. The movie followed her around on her world tour, and gave behind-the-scenes glimpses as well as luscious concert coverage. There was a tiny part of that movie that caught the eye of critics: When she was in Detroit, she went to visit her mother's grave. (Her mother died of cancer when Madonna was maybe 6.) Madonna laid down on the grave, and talked softly to her mother. (Oh the critics thought this was all a show.) Maybe it was, but I remember thinking how poignant it was that she had everything, but all she wanted was to talk to her mommy. Fast-forward 15 years, and that image kept me alive -- I did not want my daughter to have to visit my grave to talk to me.

 

I have joked to many Christians -- including the clueless pastor at the time and the evil pastor of the second church -- that when Christianity and God and my brethren in Christ could offer me no support, it was Madonna who kept me alive. Isn't that funny? From some people I got the expected, "Well, we never know what mysterious ways God will work, and he used that image to help you." Bullshit. That was, once again, the lazy way out. I was helped in some small way, so they didn't have to lift a finger to do anything more than "pray for me." Lazy fucks.

 

I will add that my husband is supportive and loves me like crazy. My daughter is wonderful and completely healthy, so she was "easy" as a baby in that way. I had one person to rely on for every little thing (hubby), and the building blocks in place for a good life. It just took time, courage, perseverance, and faith in myself to get through it all.

 

Well, that's my story. I hope it inspires you in some way. Feel better, my friends. You will figure out what to do to get better. You will figure it out. You will figure it out. Do you hear me? You are valuable, loveable, intelligent, and you will figure it out.

 

Peace, ladies!

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