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I Don't Think I've Ever Felt As Lonely As I Do Now


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How do you learn the language of the world when you've been stuck speaking another language for so long?

 

You do what I did when I moved to a country where they don't speak English. You learn a new language. And there's no better way to learn it than immersion, is there? But you ask some very good questions..

 

1. Constantly thinking of death. I suppose this is the existential thing we all go through, but its very scary when it used to not be.

 

2. Don't know how to make good friends. Having to start over from scratch and I don't have the built in social structures I'm used to.

 

3. Don't know how to date. I'm extremely used to the church world, where God "calls" you to marry someone. I was actually engaged at one time to a christian woman, although it didn't work out. But now, going into the "world" its all very different.

1. This is perfectly natural. I'm not going to lie to you and tell you not to worry. Nobody knows what comes next. But now at least you do not have the false comfort of a lie to keep you from thinking about it. Whatever comes after death, it was going to happen regardless of what you believed about it. Every one of us wrestled with that question, I'm willing to bet. Every human being alive has died and has probably had to think about death at least a little. You are part of a vast brotherhood: humanity itself. Christianity teaches its followers that they don't need to fear death, that one experience that every single human goes through. Your eyes are open now. It might hurt a little as you adjust to the light, but you're part of the brotherhood now and you know it. I welcome you!

 

2. You may never have known how. Most Christian groups kinda throw people together willy-nilly and assumes they'll all get along, and as long as they share the same big hobby, they generally do. You need a new hobby is all. I'm a tabletop gamer and the good thing about being one is that there are always groups needing a competent GM or a good player. The SCA was great for me to learn new social skills in a supportive setting. Some ex-Christians end up joining Toastmasters or other groups to learn them. Others volunteer with animal shelters or tutoring or something. Meeting people and making friends with them is a skill and it can be learned.

 

3. If there is no god, then what was that "calling"? You're just used to a particular social paradigm, is all, it sounds like. You're used to relating to women in a particular way using particular social conventions and behaviors. And it sounds like you did just fine in that paradigm, since you managed to attract one to you long enough to get engaged to her. You'll learn the new rules just fine and repeat that success in secular settings.

 

Welcome to the reality party smile.png It's loud and it can be hard to figure out the dance moves at first, but it's the best party there is.

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Girlfriend is pagan and I meet a few interesting people through her from time to time, but it can be hard as a non believer of anything. A place of fellowship is one thing that being a freethinker doesn't really provide.

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Hey,

 

I totally hear you – When you leave the fold it’s like losing all Social Contact with everything you once knew.

 

That said – You don’t have to leave the Church there are a perfectly good number of people who attend Church services for the sake of their family not believing a word of it!

 

Outside of that there are many ways to make new friends.  Meet-up groups / events that you can attend.  I myself found attending the Health Suite over 1 year ago and I have made numerous new friends through that!

 

Then you have this place – Its strange at first to build up everything but you will eventually.

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Girlfriend is pagan and I meet a few interesting people through her from time to time, but it can be hard as a non believer of anything. A place of fellowship is one thing that being a freethinker doesn't really provide.

Well, there are lots of secular organizations out there that atheists can join, whereby faith, religion, and the like never come into the discussion, which is refreshing and nice. I'm thinking of say, book clubs, or running groups. I belong to a gym, where once per month, a group of us get together for dinner, and hang out. No mention of religion and such comes into play, because that's not the intention of bringing the group together. So, there are plenty of ways to meet atheists, and non religious people, it just might be different than what we were accustomed to being Christians. (when we were part of our church communities)
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Tyler - I can completely sympathize with you. I grew up in the church, but with a very liberal family (so I really only had religion in church and school). In my early 20's I was "born again" into Apostolic Pentecostalism (a very wild and conservative branch of Christianity). Just last month I walked away from it all. I've spent the majority of my 36 years in the church and now I, too, find myself very lonely.

 

Although I cannot answer to all of your points, I can say this about preoccupation with death: for myself it was the opposite! My religion used to make me contemplate it, to get it over with and escape this cruel world. But now that I realize there is no afterlife (at least, not as presented in Christianity), life has become more precious simply because this is all you have. It is scary, because the safety net of eternal paradise has been removed, but you have to remind yourself: that safety net was never actually there to begin with. In fact, nothing in life has actually changed. You just know better now than to put your efforts into it and that can free you to put your efforts into living a more full and rich life!

 

Frank

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Tyler, are you in Austin (that's what your profile says)?  If so, there is an active Atheist Community of Austing that meets for dinner every Sunday.  I was an active member about four years ago when I lived there.  They have annual bat/river tour in late summer which I found really enjoyable (I do suggest bringing a clear umbrella, so you can stand on deck for a better view).  That might be one to try to build a new social group. 

 

When I left Christianity, I felt very lost and alone as well.  It does get better.  The ACA helped me; joining shared interests groups (in my case, knitting; there's lots of different groups available in Austin though).  This board helped a lot as well.  I think what helped the most though was simply giving myself time.  It can be daunting task to find friends without a church.  However, once you find a social group that you're comfortable with, you do start to meet more people through them. 

 

I don't know if this helps or not, but you are by no means the first person to go through the loneliness and confusion of deconversion.  It took me a couple years to find my feet again.

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Beautifully put. I feel the same way. I have not "come out" to my family totally yet, and still attend church once a week, but I know it's coming and I have no idea what to do when it does.

 

I was born and raised in the church, my entire life and social circle revolves around it and the people in it. I still attend the same church I was raised in (met and married my husband there as well). My husband is at his friend's house as we speak, playing poker with a bunch of guys from the church. The only friends I have outside of my family are those I've met through church.

 

I know it sounds like a ridiculous reason for staying at a church, but at this point the social contact/etc is the only reason I am still going.

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You know, even though I've always had non religious friends, I still feel kind of lonely sometimes, because the only people who truly get what we've gone through are other ex Christians. That's why I love this site. I come on here to read what others are going through and many times I'm going through the same thing. So all I can say is that you're not completely alone. We're here. I know it's not the same thing as having physical friends next to you, but it has comforted me to know that there are other people out there who do care about what I'm going through, take the time to read and respond to me, and can validate my experiences. It's a big adjustment to assimilate into the secular world (I feel so weird in bars and don't know a thing about ordering alcohol D8 ) but like others have said, I can now take comfort in the fact that I'm living in reality. I'm sure that eventually you will be able to make connections with people more easily if you keep trying, and those future relationships have more potential to be real, authentic relationships, since you won't have religion clouding your mind :)

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Beautifully put. I feel the same way. I have not "come out" to my family totally yet, and still attend church once a week, but I know it's coming and I have no idea what to do when it does.

 

I was born and raised in the church, my entire life and social circle revolves around it and the people in it. I still attend the same church I was raised in (met and married my husband there as well). My husband is at his friend's house as we speak, playing poker with a bunch of guys from the church. The only friends I have outside of my family are those I've met through church.

 

I know it sounds like a ridiculous reason for staying at a church, but at this point the social contact/etc is the only reason I am still going.

It's not a ridiculous reason, it's an extremely sensible one.  I would do the exact same thing if I was in your shoes.  You need time to adjust to the new reality in your life.

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You are a very good writer. I have never been able to capture what deconversion feels like as well as you did in that paragraph. I remember VERY WELL how lonely I was about 8 months into my deconversion. My heart was breaking. I felt isolated. I was eventually able to find accepting non-Christian friends and Christian friends who kindly schooled me on how to get along in the world, what certain phrases meant, how to make out with someone, etc.

 

I started from absolute scratch and even though it took me a few years, I started feeling at home in the world. Living on a college campus really helped me since I had peers available literally all the time to hang out with and learn from.

 

I'll put this advice out there if you ever want some: When you're meeting new people and making friends, it's okay to own where you're at. Hiding your past is exhausting. When I was making friends in college and someone would bring up a well-known movie I never saw or use a phrase I didn't understand (it happened all the time) I would just remind them that I grew up under a rock so they might need to explain it to me. Most people really like introducing other people to their culture because it makes them feel important. You can even joke about it, like if your name is James, you can say,  "Christian James didn't see that movie. Can you explain what the fuck you're taking about?"

 

You'll find your way in the world. I promise. 

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