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The Longest, Bass-Ackward Path From Christian To Atheist You’Ve Ever Heard


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From my very earliest memories, I had a very strong sense of a Something there watching out for me and caring about my well-being.  I called it God. This was true even though I was raised by Milquetoast Methodist parents who had me baptized and then took me to church a couple of times a year, being essentially agnostics.

 

One day during Sunday School (I was 5), I posed my first theological question when the teacher told us to pray for good weather for an upcoming church picnic. “What it there is a farmer who is praying for rain for his crops on the same day?” I asked. The teacher thought my question was cute.

 

In middle school, our neighborhood had a lot of (reform) Jewish families.  My best friend Bekka came from a large family that had emigrated from Israel a few years before. She and I were inseparable, and her father was a Cantor, so I spent many nights at the Synagogue and many other nights at Shabbats, mesmerized by the prayers over the candles: Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam…Amein. I even learned to write a little Hebrew. I fell in love with Judaism – what little I knew of it – and was jealous of Bekka and her family who had such a strong cultural and spiritual connection to God.

 

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This all came to a screeching halt when an evangelical friend of mine informed me that Bekka and her family was secret Satanists because they were “Christ-killers.” I pointed out how nice they all were, and he said, “It doesn’t matter whether someone is nice. God doesn’t care about that. He only cares if you have accepted Jesus as your savior. Otherwise you go to into eternal hellfire.”

 

This bothered me terribly, especially since it made God worse than Hitler, whose victims at least died in the end. But I still believed in God and wanted to be on his good side. Even after my parents pronounced him an “idiot,” I let my friendship with Bekka fade away along with my dreams of becoming Jewish.

 

In high school I was confirmed in a local Lutheran church. I was still uncomfortable with “saved by faith,” as my school was very diverse and I knew kids of all sorts of religions. The church had a large youth group and a “Luther Teen House” next door with a jukebox, pool table and Coke machine. I got high, got drunk, and made out for the first time all in that house. Seems the Christian girls were no less bitchy and the Christian boys no less sexually aggressive than secular kids … but they had faith in Jesus, so it was all good.

 

Lydia, my roommate in college, was something I’d never encountered before – a fundamentalist, young-earth Christian. In pre-med (!!!) she was convinced that dinosaur bones had been “created by Satan to fool Christians.” She had no problem with the concept of little Indian, Chinese and African children going to hell. The same applied to Catholics and other Christians who didn’t interpret the Bible literally or had been baptized as infants.

 

At the same time, my best friend Daniel (who, 30 years later, is still my best friend) was one of the most compassionate people I’d ever known (and he was a lot happier than Lydia, who was clinically depressed most of the time). He was also an atheist – raised that way. Again I was reminded that God only cares what you believe, not in any good works you may do. This struck me as inherently unfair given that Daniel did nice things without any expectation of reward or fear of damnation. This God thing was making less and less sense, but I still “felt” him … and I really didn’t want to go to hell.

 

Lydia was a straight-A student, but lacked real-world experience and common sense, so she was easy to debate. But each debate left me more weary and confused. I DID believe in God, and I had no way to know – could she possibly be right? I attended my own church, a liberal Lutheran one, but more and more questions started popping up. Such as:

 

--If Jesus were really God, how come he didn’t share some really helpful advice – like what germs are, how they spread and how to prevent disease?

 

--Assuming he knew the future, why didn’t Jesus make it extremely clear that events like the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials would be totally unacceptable?

 

--How did Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross accomplish anything for us? If God needed that to forgive us, then he is less “forgiving” than we are, because WE are expected to forgive without demanding a sacrifice in return. Vengeance is not forgiveness.

 

--If God is unchanging and “the same yesterday, today and tomorrow,” why does he no longer talk to us? Why aren’t we still making animal sacrifices? And the very act of coming to earth as Jesus represented a new idea – doesn’t a new idea require a change?
 

-- Why did God bother to create millions and millions of people, before and after Christ, who he knew would be damned in the end?

 

--If God could make miracles happen, and if we could give him credit for the small things, why did he do nothing about the big things?

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--If God made hell to punish bad people, and heaven for good people, then why did faith matter more than works? Now all the morality is gone from the issue. Either he cares how we act or he doesn’t. You can get away with anything if you say the Jesus Prayer before you die.

 

--If being filled by the Holy Spirit made you into a new creation, why were so many Christians assholes? It was the early 1980s and TV evangelist scandals were coming to light every day. And so often, they seemed to be on the wrong side of moral issues. I was a member of “Students Against Nuclear Weapons” and was informed by more than one fundamentalist that I was working against Christ because he needed a nuclear holocaust in order to return. The then-popular bumper sticker, “CHRISTIANS AREN’T PERFECT, JUST FORGIVEN,” seemed like a sneer to me.

 

And still I “felt” him.

 

That summer, I got a job doing filing downtown. One afternoon I looked out the window and saw one of those Jesus Freak cars, with verses from Revelation all over and a loudspeaker blaring that everyone had to come to Jesus, now. Suddenly I had the worst panic attack I have ever had. The room was spinning and was pouring sweat. I went into the bathroom and threw up. For some strange reason, I felt like that warning was meant for me.

 

Everything in my life changed at that moment. Over the next few weeks I recited the Jesus Prayer a hundred times, but never felt any different so felt it didn’t “take.” I was frantic. I tried unsuccessfully to witness to my parents. I could not look into a room without wondering who was saved and who was not. I began reading every book I could on Christianity, trying to find the “right” denomination, but that just confused me more.

 

This anxiety and angst became a phobia that lasted for years. I never told anyone what I was going through. Among my greatest regrets in life is distancing myself from my mother when she had cancer because she wasn’t “saved.”

 

I wanted very much to be married, and I knew I had to marry a Christian man; but had a quandary: I DIDN’T LIKE CHRISTIANS. In fact, as a self-proclaimed socialist, I preferred the company of agnostics and atheists. This put me into a situation where I was afraid to get intimate with anyone. The isolation was unbearable.

 

Over the years I “tried on” Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and even Quakerism. Nothing “fit.” The liberal churches I suspected of false theology. The conservative ones made me sick with their political rhetoric and their refusal to look at contradictions and absurdities in their Bible.

 

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Finally, God brought me an answer.

 

In my early 30s, I met my husband, Alex. He was an Eastern Orthodox priest, “on leave” after a divorce. I had never heard of Orthodox Christianity before, but I liked what I heard: A mystical or symbolic interpretation of scripture; no substitutionary atonement; no literal burning hell, and open to the possibility of people of other religions entering heaven. It seemed to be all the good stuff minus the bad stuff, and the fact that it was the “original church” gave it a lot of credibility.

 

Alex also seemed like the right kind of Christian for me. Raised in a communal atmosphere in Berkely, he was still a hippie with hair down to his waist, a love for film and rock n’ roll, and liberal political views. He was a recovering drug addict who credited God for his sobriety, and he had become a pastoral counselor. He was a gentle father to his 5-year-old son and was more intelligent than anyone I had ever met. He was deeply involved in peace issues and very inclusive as to who would go to heaven. I recognized a gift from God when I saw one.

 

But I didn’t know enough about Orthodoxy to see the red flags.  He’d been ordained in a non-canonical “independent” Orthodox church in Queens that mixed Kabballah and Theosophy in with its Orthodox theology. (I found out many years later that the Bishop who had founded it – and who Alex practically worshipped – had served time twice for embezzlement and once for mail fraud).

 

We were engaged and moved in together a month after we met. He refused birth control on the grounds that “I trust God about things like that.” He also trusted God so much he didn’t wear seatbelts and was staunchly opposed to any sort of significant savings, calling a nest egg “greedy and materialistic” and reminding me of the sparrows. He was an artist and didn’t have a “real” job, but promised to get one before we were married. He finally did get a job in IT, and our two jobs helped us to maintain a roof over our heads.

 

Alex was a study in contradictions. He read the Bible every day, taking copious notes. Our apartment was covered with iconography and he wrote several books on Orthodoxy. He praised God constantly, never taking praise for himself but attributing all to God. To this day I have no doubt that he really DID believe; he wasn’t faking it. But once we returned from our wedding in Queens, more problems came up.

 

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Now that he was married, he was reinstated to the priesthood. Suddenly I was a priest’s wife, something I hadn’t expected. About the same time he came down with a severe illness that kept him bedridden for two weeks, so he lost his job in IT. He was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but refused to try to get disability because he wanted to serve as a (volunteer) priest for a small congregation and he knew that would interfere with getting the benefit. We were back to my small salary, and I was getting scared.

 

His 5-year-old son was illegitimate, having been conceived during the process of his divorce. Just after our wedding, a 2-year-old illegitimate son popped up; we had to go to court to allow his stepfather to adopt him. I wept uncontrollably during the hearing; Alex seemed to feel nothing. I asked him, “How many more kids are out there?” He shrugged and said, “I don’t know. Probably several.”

 

He had already informed me that I was fourth on his priority list, after God, the Church, and his son. This was true. Once, when my stepson slammed the door and a large wooden icon fell and cracked me on the head, I swore, and he flew into a rage because I’d sworn in front of the icon. He kissed it – the icon, not my head.

 

We became the leaders of a congregation, but with a caveat – no one could know of his former divorce or his son’s illegitimacy. So began a life of lies where I had to subtly pretend that my stepson was my own (very difficult to do when the church women ask you about his birth or earliest years), and my stepson had to stay with the program and not mention his real mom or half-sister. He’s 22 now, and I cry as I write this. What we did to him was so sick, so unfathomable, that I will never, ever forgive myself.  

 

I began to feel more and more isolated, especially since the two congregations we eventually led were immigrants, most of whom did not speak English. I didn’t have anyone to confess my lies to.

 

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As it turned out, two of his exes had attempted or committed suicide. I never thought about the statistics of that – Alex explained they were both “crazy.” But as time went on, he displayed more and more of his temper. He would fly into unbelievable rages – often I didn’t know what he was upset about – and scream and swear at me. He was a very large man, and I would sit on the floor as he towered over me, yelled so the neighbors could hear (they told me), hands in fists, veins poking out of his neck. These weren’t “arguments” because I was afraid to reciprocate. Instead, I would go into another room and burn myself.  I’d never self-harmed before, but I had nowhere to put my emotions.

 

He never actually “hit” me, although he did cause two situations which left me bruised. But the yelling was worse, because for days afterward, I was physically sore as if he had. Unlike most abusive men, he never once said “I’m sorry.” He may have asked God for forgiveness, but not me.

 

For some years, I believed I was happy – because I felt every incident was isolated and would never recur. Later I became unhappy, but chose to bear my burden because I didn’t want to break up the church. When I was feeling down he sent me to a weekend retreat at a monastery nearby with a sweet and kind bishop we both loved. This bishop was later defrocked for sexual assault.

 

Things finally came to a head when my company declared bankruptcy and it looked like I would be laid off shortly. I began to hint that he might look into getting another part-time job (he was working for pay one day a week as a hospital chaplain). He exploded that he couldn’t do that and the church, and the church was his priority. He screamed at me to get a job at McDonald’s, when I was already working 50 to 60 hours a week. “YOU DON’T TRUST GOD,” he shrieked.

 

I began to get sicker and sicker, mentally and physically.  I lost 20 pounds and was constantly depressed and anxious. The doctors simply put me on more and more medication. But the more depressed I got, the more angry Alex got, calling me a “selfish bitch.” He would scream and swear at me the whole way to church, then get out of the car and become “The Gentle Priest.” It was as if he was two people.

 

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Like the Ingrid Bergman character in “Gaslight,” my husband kept trying to convince me that I was crazy, and I believed it. He made me flush my meds down the toilet because I was “depending on medication instead of God,” throwing me into SSRI withdrawal. At one point he attempted to exorcise the demons out of me. One minute I was praising God, a moment later the fears came back again. “You TOOK the demons back,” he screamed. “You WANT to be sick.”

 

By that time I was in a semi-psychotic state.  And one day I was greatly relieved and calmed to hear God’s voice say, “You can come home.” I had taken to sleeping on the floor in front of the altar, and when Alex came in I happily informed him. He flew into a rage. “What will that do to the CHURCH? You will go to HELL if you do this. But if it’s what you want, fine. What should I get you – a gun or a rope!?”

 

The next morning I made a serious attempt – not a gesture, not to get attention. I was 100% positive that I would die and life would be better for everyone. I wrote a suicide note to the church, telling them what a good man my husband was and why they should stay in his congregation. It was all my fault, I said.

 

Somehow, I survived. One doctor said he had never had a patient survive what I had done. They all expected me to be happy that I was alive. I was not. I was supposed to stay in the ward for two weeks. Alex called, demanding I come home, and telling me what to say to the doctors in order to get out. It worked.

 

The next three years were more of the same, except that now when we argued he would pull the suicide card. One night I came home late from work, as I was dealing with my most time-consuming project of the year. He was waiting for me. When I came in, he said, “So, I suppose you were out screwing someone else.” There was something new in his eyes. The next morning I got up, went to work and never came home.

 

Ironically, I still have to support him financially after the divorce. And if the State has a problem with the checks, which it sometimes does, he’s very quick to email me and demand the money (what happened to the sparrows?).

 

Over the next six months or so, the “feeling” I had, which I had called God, faded and faded. I knew God was gone completely when my father died. I was holding his hand as he passed away, and I felt noting – no compulsion to pray, no concerns about whether he’d gone to heaven or hell, no feeling that his spirit was anywhere at all. The chaplain came by and asked if he could be of any assistance. I said no – unthinkable in the past.

 

I never, never dreamed I would stop believing in God. For most of my life, God was the one thing I believed to be true. “I believe God exists because I exist,” I would say. I prayed every night before bed and throughout the day as well.

 

But I can’t imagine the opportunities I missed, the hell I endured, in his name. If there is a god who loves me, he has a funny way of showing it.  I’m not an angry atheist – I won’t call people “idiots” or “fuckwads” if they do believe. They’re where I was not long ago. But I defy anyone to go through what I’ve been through and not recognize that God is a myth.

 

We’re on our own, and I wish I had known that 30 years ago.

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Welcome.

 

Your story is indeed of a long and difficult path out of Christianity, and frankly not helped by that philosophy or many of those with whom you came into contact.  I hope that your lack of faith will provide you with the security and, ultimately, the happiness you need.  Don't beat yourself up over not having come to this position earlier though.  Tempting as it may be to wish to have turned from Christianity 30 years ago, you were what you were and you have come through it.  Now it's what is in the future for you that matters

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I'm glad you're ok now--that is quite a path.

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Welcome to the forum.  It's good to have you.  Sorry to hear that Alex is such a jerk.  Terrible.

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Welcome, Amethyst7. Yes, you took a hugely torturous path. You write well about its gut-wrenching twists and turns. I'm glad you've made it to this side! Your path is unique, yet in nearly every paragraph I was struck by how familiar the cult tactics are -- get you to deny your own mind and feelings, condemn anybody who is "other." The more I read stories like yours, the more I detest biblical religion and the more horrified I am by the harm it does every day.

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Welcome.

I know what you mean when you say you prefer the company of atheists and agnostics to christians. One of the reasons I started doubting. Christians are a miserable, judgemental and hateful bunch. My atheist friends accept me for who I am and dont try to change me to meet their expectations nor would I tolerate it.

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Hello and welcome to Ex-c! I'm glad your here and that you made it out of that living hell alive. I nearly sobbed when I finished reading your story. I am reminded yet again of the manipulative, abusive (as well as the thickheaded-ness, arrogance, false sincerity) behavior of Christians and why I avoid them like the plague whenever I can. 

You have the wonderful support of everyone here, Amethyst7! yellow.gif

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I nearly cried when I read your story.  

 

You are a survivor, no doubt about it.  I have been in an abusive relationship and been exhausted, broken, and suicidal.  It is a testament to your strength as a woman that you made it out.

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Wow. Thanks, everyone, for your comments. It took a lot of emotional energy to write it.

 

And that's the tip of the iceburg. There was more. Some of it too intimate to write.

 

Like any family or couple, we had some wonderful times, and I miss those. It's just that I was constantly on edge because I never knew when he would blow. It was like taking a nice walk in the woods while trying to avoid landmines. Right about the time I met him, when he was acting so sweet and gentle, he had been arrested for hitting his own mother. I found out about it a few days before I left because I'd called and requested his police records.

 

The idea of divorce was not even a remote possibility to me until about a week before. Leaving a priest and the church would be akin to leaving God. Truly, that is why I stayed for 16 years ... out of religious commitment. I kept thinking I was making a sacrifice and somehow God would someday make it better. But it was escallating. Now I see why he had a suicide and an attempted suicide in his past before me. He had threatened me several times with a "Biblical marriage" in which he would make all decisions and I would submit, but it was that way anyway.

To be 100% fair, it was an evangelical Christian counselor and 2 Orthodox friends from another church that talked me into leaving. And some Orthodox friends (different church) have been SO supportive after I left, not blinking an eye that I lost my faith. But that doesn't change all the logical inconsistencies of religion that I finally saw when the scales fell off my eyes. Now that Humpty Dumpty is broken I can't put them together anymore.

The most bothersome thing to me is I REALLY don't believe Alex was faking his Christian faith. He put far, far too much energy into it. We had thousands of books on Christianity and he'd read them all. He spent enormous amounts of time praying and writing religious material, which can be found on the web. If he was pretending, that would be one thing ... but he wasn't.

He used to tell me people were athiests because "They were trying to get away with something" but I think the opposite is true. My morality is still the same, and I don't have the option of being "bad" and then just asking Jesus to forgive me. His own family was a big red-flag example -- they were all extremely Orthodox (his father was a priest as well) and yet his mom, brother and sister all have police records for violent offenses. His brother was tried for attempted murder. But they were CHRISTIANS.

I feel SO stupid for not seeing the signs. I fully trusted God. Now I'm 50 and I feel like I wasted my whole life.

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I read this and the only word that comes to my mind is "ugh."  And BIG HUGS in regards to what you went through.

 

One thing I definitely want to address:

 

In regards to your son and that whole illegitimacy scandal: These "scandals" of this kind is something that is very common in all denominations of Christianity.  It's hypocritical and fraudulent, but a sad reality in a religion in which people put on a front to save face.  Hindsight is always 20/20 and in this case painfully so.  But my response is this: Forgive yourself.  There is nothing that can be done to change the past and, as I see it. you were the victim of a verbally, and, in my view. physically, abusive husband.  From what I have read, it seems he has some severe emotional issues that need work.

 

The Eastern Orthodox Church brings back memories for me too.  I had briefly considered the Orthodox Church at one point, finally being turned off by their avid fasting practices, albeit theirs pale in comparison to Coptic Orthodoxy.  The priest was nice enough, but the parish itself was just…odd and out of my league.  Now that I've left organized religion completely, I am glad that was the case.

 

Take it day by day.  Let no one rush you into anything.

 

Andrew

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LOL - I just thought. With my luck I'll meet the man of my dreams and I won't be able to marry him because he's Christian. trt19ROFLPIMP.gif

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LOL. :)

 

Another thought I've had:

 

I don't know if you live in America or not, but one disturbing aspect of American society--and this is completely separate from religion--is that once you hit a certain age, you've "wasted your whole life" and this and that sort of, if I may be blunt, B.S.  And it really, truly, is a load of B.S. because, well, I turned 30 last November.  As far as I'm concerned I've lived a full life, albeit it took me over a decade after I came out as a gay man to fully realize the corruption of Christianity, and that it's a process.  And, well, processes take TIME.  Very few things take place overnight.  Unlike a fast food joint, things don't happen INSTANTANEOUSLY.  So I think you should cut yourself some slack there, as well.

 

Andrew

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Abrooks,

 

Yes. Eventually we moved from Eastern to nonchalcidonic (Oriental) Christianity. Our congregation was a soup of Ethiopians, Indians and Coptics. And the fasting -- Oy. I tried, I really did!! Luckily there came a point where I had to have jaw surgery and so was allowed to eat whatever I could eat.

 

The standing too. Two hours every Sunday. Five hours on a Good Friday.

The thing that confused me about Orthodoxy from the beginning was that we would chant about things we said we didn't believe in, like hell. It was so contradictory. I would never say this to my friends who are still Orthodox.

 

The illigetimate children -- I heard (though I don't know it to be fact) that the Catholics moved to Celibacy because the money was trickling down to all these illigetimate kids.

And while I am on the topic of kids, don't even go to the topic of Bible-based childrearing (extreme corporal punishment). THANK GOD my husband didn't raise our son that way.

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You are welcome.

 

Corporal punishment…just another contradiction, added on top of the list of sanctioned slavery, genocide, and shady business dealings.

 

In the meantime, I must be off to 24 Hour Fitness for my daily workout.  But will check back later. :)

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LOL. smile.png

 

Another thought I've had:

 

I don't know if you live in America or not, but one disturbing aspect of American society--and this is completely separate from religion--is that once you hit a certain age, you've "wasted your whole life" and this and that sort of, if I may be blunt, B.S.  And it really, truly, is a load of B.S. because, well, I turned 30 last November.  As far as I'm concerned I've lived a full life, albeit it took me over a decade after I came out as a gay man to fully realize the corruption of Christianity, and that it's a process.  And, well, processes take TIME.  Very few things take place overnight.  Unlike a fast food joint, things don't happen INSTANTANEOUSLY.  So I think you should cut yourself some slack there, as well.

 

Andrew

My two cents on wasting your whole life:  I'm 50 also and I've been through my own fun and games of those years.  Divorce, losing my career, working for near minimum wage (three jobs cobbled together) for 10 years as an adult (I had never worked for minimum wage as a teenager, always more, and had a good career I had started decades ago then gave up to raise kids), and well, lots of crap.  Then I turn 50.  You know, it wasn't always fun, but sometimes it was.  I've had some good times and there are times I think I wasted a lot of my life.  But there really are still a lot of years to go!  And at least I've had those hard times young (rather than hitting them at 75 and going WTF?) and I've learned and recovered and also learned a lot about myself and my own resilience.  So yeah, cut yourself some slack.  You're still young!  You're obviously intelligent and hard-working and you keep trying.  And you're out of the craziness of xianity!  You can look at Alex and his family and see them for what they are.  There are people who never get out of xianity, who believe everything they're told and blame themselves their whole lives.  YOU GOT OUT!!!!  That is NOT a wasted life.  

 

And welcome!  One thing I can tell you about what you've been through -- you'll be able to bring a very strong, sure perspective on anything you post on here, and I'm very glad you're here.

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You might find these websites interesting.  They are written by and for women who have survived abusive xian marriages or restrictive xian upbringings:

 

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/

 

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/

 

There's also Recovering From Religion and the Secular Therapy Project, for more general information about leaving abusive xianity behind.

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Amethyst7, you shouldn't feel stupid or that your life was wasted.  Don't know if this will help, but it seems we're about the same age.  Speaking as someone who has also taken a long time and several dead ends (including fundamentalism, though without the issues of abuse you've suffered), I look at it this way:

  1. I wasn't stupid.  I just had not learned what I know now and developed to the maturity I have now; and in a decade I may be saying the same about my present state.
  2. My life was not wasted.  It brought me to where I am.

 

To quote Kris Kristofferson: "There's a lot of wrong directions on that lonely way back home".  Doesn't mean you're not getting there.

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LOL. smile.png

 

Another thought I've had:

 

I don't know if you live in America or not, but one disturbing aspect of American society--and this is completely separate from religion--is that once you hit a certain age, you've "wasted your whole life" and this and that sort of, if I may be blunt, B.S.  And it really, truly, is a load of B.S. because, well, I turned 30 last November.  As far as I'm concerned I've lived a full life, albeit it took me over a decade after I came out as a gay man to fully realize the corruption of Christianity, and that it's a process.  And, well, processes take TIME.  Very few things take place overnight.  Unlike a fast food joint, things don't happen INSTANTANEOUSLY.  So I think you should cut yourself some slack there, as well.

 

Andrew

My two cents on wasting your whole life:  I'm 50 also and I've been through my own fun and games of those years.  Divorce, losing my career, working for near minimum wage (three jobs cobbled together) for 10 years as an adult (I had never worked for minimum wage as a teenager, always more, and had a good career I had started decades ago then gave up to raise kids), and well, lots of crap.  Then I turn 50.  You know, it wasn't always fun, but sometimes it was.  I've had some good times and there are times I think I wasted a lot of my life.  But there really are still a lot of years to go!  And at least I've had those hard times young (rather than hitting them at 75 and going WTF?) and I've learned and recovered and also learned a lot about myself and my own resilience.  So yeah, cut yourself some slack.  You're still young!  You're obviously intelligent and hard-working and you keep trying.  And you're out of the craziness of xianity!  You can look at Alex and his family and see them for what they are.  There are people who never get out of xianity, who believe everything they're told and blame themselves their whole lives.  YOU GOT OUT!!!!  That is NOT a wasted life.  

 

And welcome!  One thing I can tell you about what you've been through -- you'll be able to bring a very strong, sure perspective on anything you post on here, and I'm very glad you're here.

 

Thank you so much. In many ways I've led an extraordinary life, and a lot of it because of the church. We traveled all over the country, we wrote two books together (on Amazon), I learned so much about different peoples' culture, and objecely, my husband did teach me a great deal (about lots of things, not just religion). I'm in a fascinating industry (journalism) and unfortunately having to transition to something else, as it looks like we won't be around much longer -- but I've learned an enormous amount from that too. So I do consider my world "big" compared to that of many people.

 

At the same time I've gotten divorced, declared bankruptcy, lost MY home to foreclosure and short sale, and lost track of my beloved son (once this happened, he pretty much ditched both sets of parents and I hear he doesn't have a permanent address anymore). My father died in the midst of this. Last summer I was diagnosed with PTSD from the abuse and spent several weeks in-patient. He got half my savings, and it won't be easy to find a new career, so thinking of the future scares me to death.

 

And really, all because of my "faith." If God exists, he should be looking for MY forgiveness, not the other way 'round.

 

I keep going back to that day in my mind, in 1996, and wishing I hadn't walked through the door. Then I go back to the roommate, then I think about the little anti-semite. If not for him maybe I'd be married to a Jewish doctor now! :)

 

I know none of that is healthy, but it will pass. I do, though, feel a loss of hope. I always thought I had someone, up there, in my corner so things would turn out all right. Now it's all on me, and that's frightening. That's the hardest part right now. "Everything happens for a reason" turned out not to be true, and now it's all random.

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Amethyst7, you shouldn't feel stupid or that your life was wasted.  Don't know if this will help, but it seems we're about the same age.  Speaking as someone who has also taken a long time and several dead ends (including fundamentalism, though without the issues of abuse you've suffered), I look at it this way:

  1. I wasn't stupid.  I just had not learned what I know now and developed to the maturity I have now; and in a decade I may be saying the same about my present state.
  2. My life was not wasted.  It brought me to where I am.

 

To quote Kris Kristofferson: "There's a lot of wrong directions on that lonely way back home".  Doesn't mean you're not getting there.

 I'll keep that in mind. (I wasn't stupid, I just had not learned what I know now.) Yes.

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FreethinkerNZ, Vycki from No Longer Quivering is a friend of mine on Facebook! What a success story!

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Hey folks - what's the difference between my testimonial here and the "Submit Your Story" upfront that has to be approved? Can I do both?

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I always thought I had someone, up there, in my corner so things would turn out all right. Now it's all on me, and that's frightening. That's the hardest part right now. "Everything happens for a reason" turned out not to be true, and now it's all random.

 

That's exactly how I felt, and how I feel now too.  I am slowly getting used to life being random.  I try to remember that my thoughts and actions are what creates meaning for me.  To help me feel less frightened and responsible for everything that happens, I think about all the wonderful people I have access to, through the forum and other websites, that I can learn from and get support from.  We are alone but not alone.

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That's exactly how I felt, and how I feel now too.  I am slowly getting used to life being random.  I try to remember that my thoughts and actions are what creates meaning for me.  To help me feel less frightened and responsible for everything that happens, I think about all the wonderful people I have access to, through the forum and other websites, that I can learn from and get support from.  We are alone but not alone.

 

It's scary, though. Maybe not as scary as going to hell, but scary nonetheless. I always thought my prayers went somewhere and someone was watching over me, and that my life was unfolding as it should. Now it's anything goes, which is a good enough reason for a lot of people who stick to a Christianity they find makes no sense.

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