Jump to content

Cat's Story


Cat
 Share

Recommended Posts

My deconversion, loss of faith, whatever you want to call it is still relatively new, just over a month ago.

I was previously a Catholic Christian for 40+ years and my faith and my god were the focal points of my life. All my family, my friends were centred in the church, my reading, outside activities also church based, my coping style in a difficulty has always been to pray first.

So in loosing god I have somehow lost a base in which to stand, which (with British understatement mode on) is a little disconcerting.

 

So how did I loose god if I was so wrapped up in belief that I was unable to see all the things I see so clearly now?

 

I was always very deep in my beliefs, through my life when difficult things arose- initially the serious mental and physical illness of my sister when I was a teenager; I went through terrible periods of doubt and questioning about how a loving god could allow this to happen. I eventually settled on a position of trust- life without god for me was unthinkable- and that carried me through much.

 

I married a man who had gone through a similar process and whose family were also devout and church going. Our first son was born with problems and for a time it looked as though he wouldn’t make it. I begged and pleaded that he might survive, which he did but damaged.

 

Over the years, adjusting to that damage and his suffering was more than difficult, at times it was impossible. He developed a psychotic illness and became profoundly depressed at the age of 12, tests showed epileptic activity in one side of his brain to be the likely cause. Drugs didn’t help, neither did god. The only thing I could do for him at times was to hold him as he wept and shook, terrified by the voices that tormented him and wouldn’t leave him be.

 

God became someone for me to rage at, what loving god would allow this? Even as part of a cosmic grand plan, why pick on my son as the one to suffer? I spent a long period in this state, but finally came out of it by again deciding to trust. Once more the option of there being no god just didn’t even occur to me.

 

Part of the way I helped myself through was by joining a Christian forum on the internet. Evenings were often fraught and after son1 had gone to bed, I could surf and get help and strength from like minded individuals. I stayed out of debates, not being into confrontation and found it a great blessing. After about 18 months there, someone suggested I apply to be a mod. In typical Cat fashion, I decided to put it in god’s hand. I reckoned that seeing as how most of my posts were in fellowship rather than meaty debate, I wouldn’t be accepted, but to my surprise, I was.

 

I got finally allocated to mod the apologetics forum, where I hadn’t spent much time previously. The ethos there at that time was to mod quite firmly, to flush out blasphemony and promotion of atheism and to take no nonsense, backed up by Christian posters who reported everything they felt breached those rules. That meant lots of reports to deal with, lots of posts to read and lots of information to be taken in that wasn’t exactly new, but hadn’t been prominent in my mind.

 

I didn’t enjoy it, in fact, I hated it. Giving out my first warnings as instructed brought back furious messages that I found hard to deal with, especially if I’d had a difficult day in work or with son1. But the more I dealt with them, the more I began to realise a lot of what I was reading and what was being said to me made far more sense than the things the Christians were saying. That shook me. My whole anchor for life came under attack, so I did the only thing a decent Christian woman of faith could do at this point.

 

I gave up moderating.

 

But the things that had been awoken in my mind wouldn’t go away.

Hell, this strange god of love who also tormented and tortured suffering, the historical nature of Jesus, and many more arguments all danced around my head to meet with no real answer.

I decided to put my faith to the test, confident that if I did that, god would send me an answer and I would be safe.

There started 4 months of reading and searching and thinking. Karen Armstrong’s works left a deep impression, as did Geza Vermes, various books on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Elaine Pagels, which weren’t eased by reading the bible again, especially the Sermon on the Mount, and C S Lewis. I also spent more time on other websites, reading but not participating in threads and following links to more information which shook me. All of which lead me to where I am now, in a world without a god in it

 

It’s not easy by any means, my family are disappointed, shocked, unhappy (and not all of them know yet.)

I’ve also lost my outside activities and more importantly, my ways of coping have been pulled from under my feet.

And if I was to be 100% honest now, if I could go back and put my blinkers on, I think I might still do so, because I feel like I’m in hell most of the time.

But I know I cannot. And I knew this might be a consequence of my search and I still went forwards, because once you know, there’s no other choice.

I’m working on my coping styles and on my life and I hope that soon this feeling of horror and sorrow and despair will go and I’ll be left with something more like normality. I'm following some good advice I've received elswhere and every now and then get a day or two where things aren't so bad. Each time I tell someone and face their reaction though, it gets a bit precarious, my parents being the latest ones. My hubbie is far better than he was at first and is now supporting me as I tell people, which is more than I hoped for.

So that's it so far. Hoping it gets better soon...

 

Cat

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So that's it so far. Hoping it gets better soon...

 

I think it will get better. When I read your story I see a strong person trying to learn, and to do her best. You will have good days and bad days, but every day that you have off of your knees and standing on your own two feet with dignity are on a more solid foundation of happiness than those times when you were a believer, trying to make sense out of nonsense.

I have had similar conflicts in my family. Following the death of my mother last year, I had renewed contacts with some family members who I haven't spoken with in some years at any great length. I welcomed this, and thrived on a sense of family healing me through a dark and desperate time. But then the e-mails started from them, all of christian messages. At first, of course, I realized that these were their best wishes and felt good about hearing from them, even while not sharing their faith. But over time they got very persistant, and I held back feelings of being annoyed, thinking they were unjustified at these obviously positive sentiments. Then one day, I realized that I was justified in being very annoyed, because they never once asked me how I felt or what I thought about all of this religious stuff. That is essentially disrespectful. So, during christmas, when I got some of the usual religious e-mails, I shot back some of my own, which included some quotes (sorry, don't have them on hand) from famous and eloquent atheists on the joys of being godless and defining ones own meaning in life, and finding assurance and peace inside, rather than seeking benedictions from without. Well....that didn't set well. And that's okay, it doesn't have to. What has to be done is for me to be true to myself, just as you have done. So I support you 100%.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome Cat! I thank you for your moving ex-testimony, and I hope things work out for you and your relationships.

 

So how did I loose god if I was so wrapped up in belief that I was unable to see all the things I see so clearly now?

Excellent question, and one that has gotten me thinking and writing again. With your permission, I'm probably going to begin a new thread featuring this question. I would continue my thoughts here, but I don't like derailing people's threads. This is YOUR story, and not my own soap box.

 

Again, thanks for your thoughts, and welcome to the forum. :grin::thanks:

 

Grinch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do not fear the truth. It's unsettling to realize your foundation is got at first, but after a while, it's exhilarating - YOU are in charge of your life.

 

I found it very interesting that you focused on reading in your time of questioning. Could you share with us which books you found most helpful? I've been looking to do some reading myself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do not fear the truth. It's unsettling to realize your foundation is got at first, but after a while, it's exhilarating - YOU are in charge of your life.

 

Exactly. Welcome aboard, Cat - don't be afraid to continue to set your own boundaries, and don't let the boogeyman scare you back into the pew. You're on the right track.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to the board Cat. Thank you for sharing your story. Every de-conversion story is different, yet they all share many common themes. We have a few board members here that also have children that were born with problems, and they too eventually found the same path that you did. I am sure you will be hearing from them.

 

Cat, it is tempting to put the “blinders” back on and go back to where life was more comfortable. I have been posting here for nearly three years and have seen a few people try this approach. Most of us here are supportive of people’s decisions to return to Christianity if that is what they want. We may disagree personally, but would not deny a person that freedom of choice. The only warning I can give you is that your blinders are now worn thin and are not as effective as they once were. The light of reason is far brighter than that of delusion. It has a way of making it through that now worn fabric and disrupting the comfort you seek.

 

IBF

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Cat, your account of your inner journey is amazing. Thanks for sharing it with us.I think you've received great responses above on this thread. I too am an ex-Catholic. You can read mine if you want on the regular "testimonies" part of this site, 9-15-04. Like you, God's absence in situations where another human would try to help pushed me to look at what the basis of the religion really is. Unlike what christians may say, it sounds to me as though you left, not because you felt hurt, but because you realized you had to go with what you understood to be true - the hurt being a stimulus to take truth seriously.

 

Also like you I felt the pull back to the security of what I experienced in the best parts of Christianity. I guess a caged bird may hesitate to fly free and sometimes might remember the security of the cage. Or a person in an abusive relationship stays in it partly because they keep hoping he really does love me, maybe if I just say or do something different then he won't hit me again, he was so nice to me last Tuesday, etc. etc. I think religion is in many ways like that - esp. when the deity is as selfish, childish, narcissistic and mean as God is in the Bible.

 

I am amazed at how you were asked to be a mod on a christian forum and wound up in the apologetics section and then came to confront the issues people were talking about rather than just regurgitate party line. I respect your honesty. I wish many others would have your experience. Maybe we could imagine there's no heaven, no hell below us...

 

Welcome and keep visiting here. BTW do you have a cat, by any chance? Is that where you got your screen name?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome Cat!

 

That's a pretty amazing story, and congrats on your liberation!

 

Regarding coping skills, one thing to consider is all the credit you used to attribute to god. It was really you all along! We are all much stronger and more capable than the church wants us to believe, and I think you're proof of that.

 

Keeping us on our knees and dependent on god is how the xtian religion operates. Giving god the credit for everything positive and blaming yourself for everything negative is a great way to destroy self-esteem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Cat,

 

your story is moving and I see many links with my own life and experience. I really relate to those feelings of wanting to go back sometimes - but knowing that the truth makes this impossible. I have really missed the sense of community and belonging that were part of my christian life - but I am getting there.

 

I love Karen Armstrong's books - have you read her autobiography - the spiral staircase?

 

Anyway - welcome. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks all.

In terms of what I've found helpful reading, I guess there's pre and post my deconversion. Before I read stacks of stuff as I mentioned, Geza Vermes, Dead Sea scrolls and The Authentic Gospel of Jesus; Elaine Pagel, Beyond belief & Gnostic Gospels; Dead Sea Scrolls & Essene stuff by Alvar Ellegard, Jonathan Campbell & CP Thiede; Begining of the Christian Church by Hans Leitzmann and the Gospels themselves, especially a meditation and study of the Sermon on the Mount. Since I've read George Smith's Atheism, The Case against God, Dawkins, Russell, Nietzsche- a crash course in fact of stuff I'd never looked at before. I found Dawkins quite helpful, if somewhat dogmatic at times and George Smith's book summed up for me the way I had been thinking over the previous few months.

Of all the books, it was Karen Armstrong's Short History of Myth, though, that was the turning point, as I suddenly had a vision of Christianity as being just one of many ways humanity has used to try and make sense of the world about them. I'd read her account of leaving the convent many years ago and was fascinated to see where she had got to, though I've not yet read her autobiography.

As for my name, it's part of my real life name, but I also have a cat. I wish I was one at the moment, their lives seem so much less complicated. Eat, sleep, eat, sleep...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bravo, cat! Thanks for the testimony (and thanks for the reading suggestions).

 

If things get rough for you, just remember that you don't need god, you need real people who will support you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cat is a caterpiller turned butterfly :)

 

Welcome to ex-C

 

:HappyCry:

I like that...

Thanks, and thanks cathuria too. Just don't have many people outside computerland who aren't Christian I can talk to about this, so the replies are gratefully received and thought upon.

And Grinch- don't mind about the thread- just wish I'd spelt lose right.

And blasphemy

 

:grin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cat is a caterpiller turned butterfly :)

 

Welcome to ex-C

 

:HappyCry:

I like that...

Thanks, and thanks cathuria too. Just don't have many people outside computerland who aren't Christian I can talk to about this, so the replies are gratefully received and thought upon.

 

 

:grin:

 

This place is a "godsend" :) LOL

 

This isn't just Ex-C.net, it's good for Ex-CF.net

 

I'm trying to break away from CF but it's like a train wreck. Can't seem to stop going there. It really got to me tonight though, too much negativity at once. I thought no human was unreachable, I was wrong. Severe dillusion can't be fixed, it can only be self-discovered.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fascinating post Cat. I didn't think arguments of reason and logic got through to those not really looking at xtianity with a critical eye. Your experience seems to say otherwise.

 

I wish I could give you words of wisdom, a pat on the back and a "it's going to get better," but I don't know your life well enough to make any such statements. My own process of waking up took place over quite a long period of time so I didn't get smacked between the eyes like you did. I do know it's impossible to go back. Christians are right, it takes the faith of a small child to believe. We are adults now and we cannot return to our youth. I hope you find the support you need here or elsewhere and I hope things get easier for you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Cat,

Your story sounds much like my own. My anti-epiphany was barely a month ago, I too was Catholic and deeply involved in my faith, I too was driven to doubt through suffering and unanswered prayers.

 

I am so sorry for your son, it must be completely heartbreaking to watch him suffer so much and be unable to help. During the last week or so of my faith, I would go to an "Adoration Chaple" and silently rage at God's "real presence" for my own suffering and all the suffering He supposedly allows in the world. I hated Him with such fury that I could barely function. When the light went on in my head and I realized there was no Yaweh, it was honestly a relief. I could let go of rage and feel the equilibrium of reason. I hope you can feel that soon too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome Cat! Your story moved me. I'm motivated again to live life to its fullest! What the heck! We took the red pill. Confronted with ourselves out of the matrix. It's like is written in this essay:

Why is the choice between what you believe you know and an unknown 'real' truth so fascinating? How could a choice possibly be made? On the one hand everyone you love and everything that you have built your life upon. On the other the promise only of truth.

How do I pursue truth!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome Cat.

 

I can strongly relate to your story.

 

I'm not going to sugarcoat what you will go through, because there might be some time of readjustments. It took me awhile to get balanced again after my shock-deconversion. And I haven't told everyone in my family either. So I know that feeling. Luckily my wife was pretty much deconverted (in secret to me) before it happened to me, so when I told her, she pretty much said "so what?" Which was a great relief.

 

My motion away from the fantasy-land-religion started several years ago, and I must say, I'm more content and feel more in control of my life and future than before. No one to blame for my own mistakes, and no one to ask for any impossible (and never-arriving) answers to those same mistakes. What's broken, I have to fix, but it's better, because now it gets done, instead of waiting for years for a no-answer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks all so much

Charley- I take your point about Christian messages.

I encouraged these initially, partly because of wanting to put the blinkers back on. It's interesting that many of you mentioned this- Artur, Wolfheart, ficino, Vigile_del_fuoco1 and I Broke Free- I can see what you all mean about wanting to go back. The emotional tie is so strong, it hurts, but the further I get into this the more I realise that returning is not an option nor do I want it to. I made the mistake of starting a blog and letting my Christian friends have the address. In the end I deleted it (and started a new one for myself, because it helps me to write.) I still hang round on CF, there are some there who I find helpful to read, even though there is a lot of negativity and hostility there too a lot of the time, as MQTA says. But some there are very wise and I am trying to be discerning in what I read. With my insomnia being bad at the moment, surfing at night stops me from the ruminations that drive it, so I may not sleep but at least I'm not winding myself up so much.

 

SoulinCrisis- I used to go to Adoration too and sit and think and pray. But the last few times, it just seemed so unreal, so fake. But I’ve not had that sense of relief you describe yet, perhaps because life is quite stressful at the moment and I’ve lost my “crutch” before finding something to replace it with.

 

SaviourMachine- you’re the second person who has quoted the Matrix at me in the last couple of days. Perhaps I better get round to seeing it…

 

HansSolo- I am aware this will take time. Taking a long term perspective, 40 years as a Christian is a long time and 6 weeks short, so I expect feelings to ebb and flow as they are. But what I feel is not reality, and it is reality I have to live with. I have no choice. But I have had periods of contentment and I’m sure once this phase of breaking away from church and telling family is over, things will begin to settle more.

 

Thanks everyone else, I’ve read all the messages and they are all much appreciated and helpful at the moment.

Cat

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cat,

 

The purpose for this website is to help people that goes through the transistion that you do. So feel free to talk about the subjects and questions that you have, just be aware there are even some Christians on this site, and sometimes the debates can get really heated.

 

I also felt that I wanted to get my faith back, and I missed it for a long time, but I couldn't get it back. To start believing again, it had to be against reality (as you said) and reason, and it was impossible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cat,

Your story is very touching. I can't even begin to say that I understand for I do not have children of my own. The questions you raise about a god who allows suffering is one I've had for a long time.

 

My deconversioning has happened slowly over a long period of time—approximately 18 years. Each phase took me a little further from my christian beliefs and the god I once thought I had a relationship with.

 

Karen Armstrong's The Spiral Staircase was very helpful for me too.

 

I could very well relate to what you said about not being able to go back. You said, "But the things that had been awoken in my mind wouldn’t go away." Funny, but the Da Vinci Code did that for me. Christianity was already dissolving for me, but that book undid the stuffing of the whole belief system.

 

What do you think about C.S. Lewis now? I'm having a tough time thinking about a life with no god, but the hell thing going away has been a HUGE relief.

 

I'm new to this site and really am glad to have read your story.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks both.

I must get hold of The Spiral Staircase...

As for C S Lewis, I think he is a fine writer of beautiful fables in the Narnia series, but that is all that they are. His other works all depend on the god I no longer believe in and his solutions for dealing with pain and suffering ones that do not work for me in a world with no god.

The hell thing rears its head for me still, my mother is quite disapproving (we've been there today for sister's birthday) and doesn't lose a chance to get a dig in. It's hard, even though cognitively I know what is truth and what is fiction, to shake the emotion contained within her words. She cannot understand me not taking up Pascal's wager and in her eyes, I am doomed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.