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A Traitor To Myself And My People


rach
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You know what guys I just am still drowning in the guilt, depression and shame.  I am like a little fish swallowed up in the big ocean.  I blame myself and berate myself over my Christian years and I don't know if I should do this to myself but I do it anyway.  How could I have been so foolish!  To have given myself away mind and body to a religion like a prostitute sells herself to a man, and that's the kind of shame I feel.  You deserve this pain Rachel you sold yourself away.  You sold everything away

 

The thing is I don't know how things could have gone any differently than what they did.  I was indoctrinated before I could tie my shoes, before I could write my name, I was very lost in all the confusion of getting a new family and new culture and new religion, and probably the biggest factor- autism- which in my case led to an inability to swim against the tide.  I needed to be told what to do, otherwise I was lost, and here was the bible right there telling me lots of rules, how can an autistic person be expected to know any better?  So why do I feel so guilty?

 

But I feel like I betrayed my own self identity and my own culture and my dead parents and all the indigenous peoples that ever lived and died and for that I will never forgive myself, even if it wasn't my fault it all happened.  We are indigenous blood we are supposed to be strong, wise, independent, free thinking, we are supposed to listen to ourselves and listen to nature, in short we are not supposed to fall in lockstep with the herd.  It is not in my nature, not in my blood to follow the crowd, so why did I let it sweep me away?  I am like an eagle that needs to fly free why did I let them put on chains on my feet? 

 

There was a story I read about a chief I think it was the famous chief joseph (not sure if the story was made up but it reflects on true events), well anyways when he was a little boy the whites started coming through.  First explorers and then missionaries coming through.  They taught the people to become Christians and converted the people.  They also gave gifts to the people like "white mens" suits and looking glasses.  But one day the missionaries got angry with an Indian and beat him.  The young chief (who was already converted to Christianity) saw this and took the bible from the white missionaries and made them sit there as he read to them from their own book about love.    The young chief saw what is Christian missionaries doing to the native people, beating them into conversion- and all with a hidden agenda- to have their lands.  When the chief was grown he saw the damage that the Christian missionaries had done to his people and decided to leave "the book" and go back to the old ways. 

 

I was taught always, always always, to trust Christian missionaries.  And I did.  I trusted them too much and got hurt.  Here I learned a great lesson- don't be too trusting.  Investigate people, investigate their motives and things they are telling you.  Because they might try to take advanatage of you since you don't know any better. 

 

So maybe I am like neytiri (avatar movie).....without meaning to she betrays her own people by trusting jake "the white guy", because she trusts him too much, I guess I trusted Jesus too much.  But she learned, stay with your own people because they are the right group for you that cares about you, others will take advantage of you.  Thankfully jake in the movie saw that he did a wrong thing and tried to fix things. 

 

But I still feel like a sad, pathetic, unworthy human being

 

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Sorry to hear.  Christianity is bad for the self esteem.  It will get better.  Give it time.

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rach, I know that your suffering is complicated by cultural issues and personal tragedies that most others here don't share and can't fully know. In that, you may feel (and be) alone. But we've all been through painful journeys from those days of being subject to false gods. I know that everyone wishes you the very best in growing through the rage and finding your true self.

 

For sure you can know that you, as a little, vulnerable, bereaved child could not have prevented what was imposed on you. So please release yourself from blame as much as you can.

 

And don't worry about what you are "supposed" to be. We all fail at that. Just give it time and become who you are.

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Hi Rach,

 

Your feelings are normal, but you're working through them, and please be patient with yourself. You know the stages of grief? A lot of us go through them when we leave behind a false thought pattern that we were fond of, and most of us here are very familiar with what you're going through. 

 

My advice is just one person's advice, and you can take it or leave it, but I've found that looking back with regret and mourning over choices I made from the past doesn't do me any good. I can't go back in time and fix it or give my younger self any advice. I can only live in the present and look to the future. Try to leave your past in the past. Try to understand and forgive yourself and others who steered you in the wrong direction. 

 

Finally, don't regret any experiences you've had. They make up the story of your life. They give you more empathy for other people who are brainwashed by religion or stuck in a thought pattern that isn't working well for them. They give you compassion and understanding, and so it wasn't a waste of time to go through it yourself. You learned something. Chalk it up to a valuable experience that you might need to draw on some day. You never know when it might come in handy to support someone else or to tell them you understand exactly what they're going through. That's really comforting to people while they are still going through a rough time. 

 

For instance, i can tell you now: I know exactly how you feel, because I was there too. Those feelings of guilt, depression, and shame will fade with time, and you will adjust and come out the other side a stronger person. 

 

You know, I have met some people who never did any soul searching, never went through much sorrow or suffering... and they tend to be shallow people who can't relate to anyone going through a tough time. So in some ways, going through a tough time isn't a waste of time. It makes us deeper, kinder, and more compassionate. I know it hurts to go through it, but it won't last forever, and you'll come out the other side so much more confident, healthier, happier and ready to deal with real life as you live it in truth and honesty. 

 

You've been very brave to confront your beliefs and in your search for the truth. Promise yourself that you will stay strong and get through this tough time one day at a time. Visualize the light at the end of the tunnel, where you get through it, and you're stronger and kinder and smarter. Because that is exactly what's going to happen next. Hold on to that next step on your journey. 

 

I think you're an incredibly smart woman -- I have read your postings (my first name is Rachel too -- I use RaLeah because my parents named me Rachel Leah) and I've felt proud someone with my name was so smart and has such inspiring things to say. You're doing great. Just keep breathing, keep living, and be compassionate and patient with yourself. You're doing great, and you're going to get through these conflicted feelings. 

 

Best wishes for you on your life journey!

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I was a Christian for more than 40 years. Well, duh, so I was slow to catch on. I can't do anything about that now, but I did eventually figure it out. There is no point living in the past. James Fowler's book "Stages of Faith" is but one of many that will confirm what you are experiencing is normal and should be expected.

 

Getting all of that nonsense our of your head is a process and often a lengthy one. It has to be done one day at a time and every new day is a victory and another day of freedom to enjoy. Keep your eyes on the road ahead not the rearview mirror, because everything you see there is in your past.

 

 

I wish you much happiness in your new journey.

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rach,

 

You are NOT a sad, pathetic, unworthy human being.  You did what you did and you made the choices that you made because everyone you trusted taught you that these were the right things to do.  You should feel proud that in spite of the obstacles you face, you have found your way out of the lies.

 

You have NOT sold everything away.  You have not given away anything that you cannot get back.  Your ancestry, your spirit, and your culture are all things that still belong to you and will be yours for the rest of your life.

 

You are NOT a traitor.  A traitor is someone who knowingly deceives.  This does not describe you.  You have learned a lot of valuable life lessons and are equipping yourself to make better decisions in the future.

 

Forgive yourself.  You are human.  We all make mistakes.  It will take some time to ride through this stormy period in your life, but you will get through it.  Really!  You will!

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rach: It seems to me that you should be the last person to blame for your past decisions. You were

brainwashed! From an early age. Instead, you should be proud of yourself. You had the courage to break

through the barriers that had imprisoned you almost from birth. CONGRATULATIONS. Very few people could do that. You are a winner and don't let anybody (especially yourself)convince you otherwise.

 

Replacing the old tapes playing in your head with new ones filled with the truth will make things

easier for you. There are many good books that are designed to help people deconvert. You can find many

of them in a good library in the section on religion. There is a list of recommended books in this WEB

site. There are good videos you can access here also. Replace the old tapes and keep coming back here

for support. bill

bo;;

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Rach,

I agree with new2me about accepting your humanity.  Lions hunt, birds fly, fish swim, and people have crazy metaphysical ideas.  I say consider yourself one of the fortunate ones to see through it.  Many, many never can.  (And in many ways I don't think we should be too critical of them either!  I've still got plenty of my own issues...)

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You're not a traitor, so stop beating yourself up. So you got stuck in Xianity. You got out of it too. You know how many people don't? You're lucky. And strong, because it takes courage to question your beliefs.

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Hang in there, my thoughts are with you. I too went through a period where I felt stupid and embarrassed. I would think about how I am in academia, surrounded by science and it still took major life events and time to really see things for what they were. Occasionally, I still feel like a stupid pushover who has no business being a teacher because I was so easily swayed. However, if you grow up with it, even if it's not fundamentalist, beliefs that are solidified as children can be exceptionally difficult to overcome. Count your self among the lucky and brave for breaking such a vicious cycle.

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Thank you everyone for the kind and thoughtful responses I am so glad to have some kind words.  I am the type of person that never forgives herself for making mistakes.  I don't know if anybody here has ever done a psychology class but I know I am going through the process of "self actualization" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-actualization .....or in other words figuring out how to be the best Rachel that I can be.  That means making some changes, letting go of some things that have held me back. I am not trying to amputate Christianity from my life, I mean just the other day was at the art store and fell in love with this nativity painting that really struck a cord with me (and would have bought if it were not an expensive piece of art), and so I do feel that Christianity has a place in my life and will always be part of my life.  However wanting Christianity to have a place in my life is very different from wanting to give myself over to Christianity the way I did before.  I want it to be balanced with my original religion (which I simply call "spirituality")....the spiritual beliefs my biological parents had which weren't based on any book.  Incidentally I have read that this is precisely what many native peoples did when Christianity was introduced to them.  They didn't make a full conversion but sought to integrate the new religion with their previous beliefs.  I am convinced this will be a good path for me if I can strike the right balance.  Certainly I am never returning to the fundamentalism. 

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I started to type this out before I saw your post.

 

People turn to Christianity for a variety of reasons, but you were indoctrinated as a child. You didn't even have a choice on whether or not to be taught the Christian Way. As a child you are going to believe what your elders taught you, and it is our childhood that lays the foundation for our adulthood. You are a very brave women even if it may not seem like it right now, because not many people can walk away from what they are taught. It means admitting you were wrong, and this is even more damaging because this means having to completely re-evaluate yourself. Sometimes even the very foundation of one's identity.  This is a very messy process, but this also opens the door to new opportunities and freeing yourself from such a restricted frame of mind. You are right, you don't even have to toss out everything you were taught in Christianity. Take what you see is the best in Christianity and ignore the rest.

 

You're only human and no one is perfect, and even then no one agrees on what perfection even means. Life is all about trial and error and making mistakes is part of the human experience. Be kind to yourself and trust yourself.  In the end, all we have is our knowledge and life experience to guide us and only you know what is best for yourself even if you may not know what it is right now. 

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Heh, if you think you're a traitor I've got you beat.  Ethnically-speaking I'm the other type of Indian, and unlike you I was actually raised in my culture's religion (i.e. Hinduism) rather than Christianity.  What the heck is my excuse for running off with Jesus and his false message of salvation?

 

Christians have been unable to afflict India to the same extent as they did the Native Americans.  But there is no short supply of stories ranging from economic exploitation, colonialism, and indentured servitude to outright Inquisitions.  That's right; if you think the Inquisition was limited to Europe, just Google the Goa Inquisition.  The thought has crossed my mind more than once that whereas other Hindus throughout history have fought to retain their faith in the face of this persecution, I happily discarded it.  I've read similiar thoughts from Jews who converted to Christianity and then came back.  I guess that's the strange conundrum of those of us ex-Christians who don't come from a fundamentally Christian culture.

 

What I can tell you is that conversion to Christianity isn't a permanent change of affiliation.  You left Jesus, and presumably aren't coming back.  You have plenty of time to use what you've learned to keep others from making the same mistake.

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I think it's worth pointing out that christianity isn't really indigenous to people of European descent.  In lots of cases (most?), it was forced on our ancestors by the Romans- pretty similarly to how it was forced onto the Native Americans in lots of cases.  So if taking up christianity at the expense of native traditions is treason, then pretty much everybody on this forum is guilty to some extent- our 'treason' just happens to be several generations older.

 

Rather than being hard on yourself for what you believed as a child (when you were INCAPABLE of questioning what you were taught)- you should be proud of yourself for seeing through the bullshit.  Millions of people never will.  Experience is a damn costly way to learn, but its lessons have staying power.

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Oh Rach, I get it. You sound like me on my bad days!

 

When I was first coming out of Christianity, there were days I didn't want to get out of bed because I felt so much shame and guilt. I would feel like I was physically paralyzed by self-doubt and guilt over my past mistakes.

 

When I was in my late teens, I was Evangelist Barbie. I particularly focused on witnessing to my coworkers at the restaurant where I worked. Even when my managers moved away, I would call them at their new jobs and hound them about accepting Jesus as their savior. I called one of my former managers 3 times in a row at midnight because I thought God wanted me to witness to her right that second.  I NEVER talk about this because it's fucking embarrassing, but I thought it might help you feel less alone. 

 

I was watching Mike Birvliglia's (I can't spell his last name) stand-up comedy on Netflix tonight and he was telling these really embarrassing, cringe-worthy stories about mistakes he made when he was young. He told a story about how in high school he dated a girl who didn't want him to tell anyone she was his girlfriend and in fact, she had another boyfriend at the same time that he knew about. Basically, he had a pattern of letting girls treat him really badly. The audience was laughing and he said, "Of course, we all see the problem with that because WE'RE IN THE FUTURE!"

 

The point is, WRITE THIS DOWN, you can't hold your past self to the standards of your current self. You are older, wiser and better informed now. When I was 17 and trying to save everyone while driving them crazy in the process, I was making the best decisions I knew how to make at the time. I really thought I was doing the right thing. 

 

I'm telling you (and myself), you could not have possibly made better decisions in the past because you were not as well-informed as you are now. 

 

Why were doctors letting people die of smallpox 200 years ago? Because they were stupid? Because they were immoral? No! Because they didn't know how to prevent or cure smallpox back then.

 

Forgiving yourself is a process and it is the path to sanity.

 

I hope this helped.

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I've been thinking recently about how all my life I've been (and I assume many others have been) like Pinnochio.  Poor innocent naïve gullible Pinnochio who wants to be a "real boy", wants to do the right thing but at every turn there is someone ("fox and cat") there to sidetrack him, to manipulate, to deceive, to tempt, take advantage, to get him completely off course.  And he falls for it, every time.  Gets robbed, gets lost, gets used, gets humiliated.   That's how my journey has been, learning from one painful costly experience after another.  Wanting so badly to take the right path but always getting tricked into taking other ways.  I am so much wiser and more cautious now than I used to be.  I don't trust somebody anymore just because they say they are a Christian.  I investigate things better.  I use my "sensors" (conscience, mind, heart): my Jimney Cricket.  I read all sorts of books and learn through the experiences of the characters.  I'm mortally ashamed of what I used to be but like Pinnochio I always meant well. 

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Bhim- you converted to Christianity for the same reason I did- because you thought it was true. 

 

Oh, I see.  Perhaps I misread your earlier post.  I was under the impression that you were raised in the Christian religion and simply accepted it as true.  It would appear we have even more in common as far as Christianity goes.

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Adult converts are less common than those who were indoctrinated by their parents.  But don't feel guilty about it.  Christianity's modern marketing is some of the best in the world.  There is an entire army of con men who make a living off the religion.  And they have to stay relevant or else they lose their following.  The religion itself was designed to resist outside "enemies" so once somebody take the plunge to blindly accept the core principles there isn't much that can be done until they do enough investigation to see the Bible is wrong.  And the whole time the con men are trying to whitewash with "You need to understand the times" or "it was a different culture" or "that word had a different meaning back then" and so on.

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I am of Cherokee descent, I was a Christian for over 45 years. I was born into a So. Baptist home, my dad was a So. Baptist preacher now going on 50 years. I felt betrayed when I left Christianity because I had no one's opposing point of view without religion when I was younger and it took me into my adult life to understand how religion violates a person's free will, because of peer pressure. When religion is pressed upon us by peers, friends and relatives, there is hardly any other way to think other than with what we are given as choices--not a Christian is damnation for eternity. It is a hard struggle to find one's true identity in life when everything we have known is religious instruction because our thoughts are shaped to fit our religious indoctrination. Even after leaving the religion, some still view life according to what they were taught as good vs evil. Religion is god-inspired bigotry against humanity. It is hard to live in a society where even our politics is dictated according to the belief system of our representatives. Such politics is a betrayal of human dignity and reason. As others have pointed out, give yourself time to adjust. Leaving religion gives us a whole new way to think and live. Every habit takes time to make and time to break. 

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Bhim- I was raised Christian fundamentalist by my adoptive family.  I became a real "convert" when I was "born again" and became a member of the church many years after my introduction to Christianity.  From the time my a-parents started taking me to the Christian church I felt uncomfortable in the religion.  I should not have gone on to make a full conversion but I did so because I thought that the religion was true, in spite of having misgivings. 

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