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The Long Journey Home


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Inspired by all of you, I wanted to tell my story. So here it goes...

 

I was born in 1968 to two very fundamental Christian parents. They didn’t know they were fundamental then. My parents came together from very emotional void families. Our family would be emotionally void as well, but not from a lack of effort.

 

My parents both lacked a sense of self and embrace Christianity to fill the painful voids they both had. Christianity would be the script, the rules, the life blood of every aspect of their lives.

 

My first Christian experience was when I was six months old. I don’t remember the details, but the effect was paramount. My mother was putting me down for a nap. She said my little body turned bright red and I screamed. Mother had just learned that even small infants could sin. My sin was rebellion. I was angry with her for putting me down. She pulled off my diaper and hit me on the buttocks until I gave her a broken cry. She put me down and I rebelled again. She spanked me two more times until I stopped my rebelling and went to sleep. I would endure these spankings (or beatings is more correct) until I reached 13 years of age. Some days I’d get two or three and other days I might go without any. It depended upon my ability to remember what I was and wasn’t supposed to do. It depended upon my ability to show a joyous attitude.

 

I was a happy child. Any other emotion was intolerable. I learned to be happy or even joyful when I was sick or hurt. Oh, I could cry for a short amount of time, but I was to have joy in all things.

 

I have written about the corporal punishment experience in this open letter: http://www.geocities.com/cddugan/RoyLessinOpenLetter.html

 

As I stated in my letter, my happiness was really a shell. Inside my shell, I was scared, lonely, and very anxious. But I was skilled at keeping a joyous face and radiated happiness.

 

My dad help start Dayspring. This small card company would grow to become a large publishing company and a Church called Outreach. We were with Outreach from the time I was very small until I was 11 years old.

 

God was a terrifying presence in my life. I grew up in the shadow of dread wondering when my next sin would land me in hell. I became an anxious Christian at five years old. There was no time to lose because Jesus was coming back soon. As a child, I had endless dreams of Jesus returning to take everyone but me. I would be aimlessly walking around the house wondering who would take care of me now?

 

Jesus didn’t come and my parents grew weary of the “christian food” they were getting from the church. They thought there had to be more. My parent’s Christian beliefs penetrated every aspect of my life. We ate only natural foods because God wanted us in the best of health. We weren’t allowed to decorate a Christmas tree because these trees were idols. Politics were the front line in the war between Christians and nonChristians. Our bodies were sinful vessels to be under the eye of constant scrutiny.

 

I loved God, Jesus, and my parents. Love and fear were interchangeable terms for me. I remember at night being afraid. My father would come in and ask me to get back into bed. I’d be afraid so he beat me. I was sinning because I wasn’t doing what I was told. I wasn’t trusting.

 

God moved my family from Southern California to Northern California. Well, my parents moved but not before God spoke to them. The story of the Israelites moving into the promise land was really our story or the story God used to communicate his plans to my parents. God never seemed to say much to me, but I figured it was because I had such little faith. After all, I couldn’t gather enough faith to cure my colds or illnesses. According to my mother, I was never sick because of all the healthy food God had directed her to give us.

 

We moved and lived in tents, travel trailers, and half built homes. We had no bathroom, very little kitchen utilities, and no electricity. The promise land was teaching us to rely on God. I failed to find home in the promise land. We took sponge baths and we stank. All joyous opportunities to love God and the land he brought us to.

 

My childhood and teen years will filled with the drama of God. Because this promise land was in the middle of nowhere, I had no friends. God had told my parents that during the end times, which we’d need to live through, we’d be better in the middle of no where. So, my mother home schooled us with Christian materials. I did a lot of reading so I excelled at reading comprehension. I failed at math, science, and had very little history.

 

You see, there were the “humanist.” The humanist were brainwashing the masses. They were taking over and rewriting history. I feared the humanists. I remember when I was sixteen, going to special church gatherings in town. On one occasion, the pastor spoke of scientists that took unwanted babies detached their heads and kept them alive. That’s what the humanists did. I would fight. I would fight for God! I wouldn’t let the humanists get me. Christians were at war. My parents were the few that were chosen to fight. Baby Christians went to church to get baby food preaching. My parents knew better and I was lucky to be with them. (Or so they told me.)

 

What was really strange about my childhood was this voice I heard. It was a still small voice that I figured was God. But it was gentle and comforting. It sounded very unlike the voice I heard from the God of my parents. It was this voice that kept me from going, literally, insane. I experienced dissociation. I had my internal personality that I kept a secret. I had my external personality that strived for perfection to please my parents and their God. I had two very different personalities even though I knew I was one person.

 

My first best friend was when I was 25 years old. I was so anxious and felt so unlovable that I had a hard time making friends. From the time I was 18 until about 30, I just struggled to survive. I clung to that still small voice that I called God. It gave me peace at times my parent’s god wouldn’t.

 

A miracle happened when I was 26, I went to college. College wasn’t in my future, but I wanted to go so bad. My dad’s mother died and left me some money. I took it and went to school. No one, including my husband, knew how important it was for me to find some value in myself. I was worthless. I was unable to find love in my parent’s God and I was a poor performer. I was depressed.

 

Before college, I had left church. I left after my second suicide planning. I told someone after service that I no longer wanted to live. I was around 24 years old. They told me they’d pray for me. I had failed so God no longer protected me. Everything around me at church seemed cold, fake, and useless. Besides sitting in the pews reminded me of all the times our parents took us out of church to beat us for not sitting still. Even years later, I still remembered the screams of children.

 

I remember one night; I was going to slice my wrists. I thought I knew how to do it right. I just needed a sharp knife. A friend called and heard past my cheerful voice. He knew I was in trouble. I had just moved so he couldn’t come to where I was. I wouldn’t tell him where I lived. He asked me to just hang on one more night. I wasn’t in a hurry to cut myself. I just wanted the pain to stop. The emotional pain that only I could feel. Not like a broken arm that everyone gives you sympathy for. That night I knew that I was a living/dead person. I had so many accidents that I was just wanting God to take me. I was dead inside. I didn’t know how to be alive. My parents didn’t teach me how to live. I didn’t know how I would learn, but if I were going to keep alive then I would learn how to live.

 

I fulfilled that promise when I went to college. I finally found a psychologist who really helped me during this time. The first time I experience agnostic thinking was during a literature class. We were reading Milton’s Paradise Lost. After discussing Adam and Eve, one of my classmates said that she thought the whole thing was bullshit. I leaned away for fear the “lightening” would hit me too. I waited for my professor to explain where she was wrong. He actually agreed with her. I learned then and there that I could question anything and everything.

 

I loved college. I asked so many questions and drank up all the new knowledge as fast as I could. I wrote papers that recorded my inquires. I embraced new perspectives shedding those that I didn’t like. For the first time in my life, I was the center of my own universe. My husband and I put our marriage back together again. (I was a very submissive wife and he couldn’t stand it.) I became his partner and best friend.

 

When I graduated, I became agnostic and a democrat. I was no longer on the front lines of war for God.

 

I’m 37 now. I’m learning how to live with the mental affects of my childhood. I struggle with Post Traumatic Stress disorder and an anxiety disorder. Killing myself is no longer a viable option for coping. I’m making great friends and am totally in love with my husband. I’m learning how important it is to reach out to others.

 

I’m learning to love my body something I’ve hated my whole life. I’ve just recently lost 20 lbs. I see a woman who is a Buddhist. I love learning new Buddhist principles, but I don’t want to belong to any more religions. I find truth in all sorts of places without becoming part of the “place.”

 

After reading parts of this website, I no longer believe in a hell. What a fairy tale! I don’t know how I couldn’t see past it all. I don’t want to become an atheist because I still love listening to that still small voice. I tell myself that it will probably be just some quirk within my own brain. Wouldn’t that be crazy? I comfort myself with my own “god” voice? I still love new ideas. In fact, I hope to meet an atheist in person so I can ask questions! (As long as they’d let me.)

 

I feel myself traveling through phases yet I have no idea what they’d be formally called. I can’t get enough information about why the Bible is wrong or why Christianity is a fairy tale. Peace is out there for me. I can feel it. But it won’t be in religion!

 

The biggest find for me is discovering that there are ex-christians out there with stories so much like my own. I have felt so sad over the years. I’ve felt so alone. Now that I see the new ex-christian perspective—I’m no longer alone. Thanks to all of you for your testimonies.

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I had to smile when you said you became "an agnostic and a democrat." For me also, creating distance between myself and "the church" turned out to involve more than just religion... it involved my whole worldview. You've endured more mind-bending crap than any human should have to. Whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger, I can vouch for that personally. Welcome... you'll find this a friendly place.

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Whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger, I can vouch for that personally. Welcome... you'll find this a friendly place.

In what ways have you become stronger. You're absolutely right about this!

 

I was wondering if others went through phases during the ex-christian process. I feel kind of sad when I meditate. Who am I meditating to I wonder? I enjoy the quiet and the peace during this time. Maybe that's all there is to it. Finding solitude.

 

If I now believe that christianity is a fairy tale, then what do I do with the empty space it once filled. I'm NOT going backwards!

 

I also miss connecting with folks. Going to church was a social event. I wish I could meet people who liked to openly and honestly talk about issues without all the "control mechanisms." (The think like we tell you stuff.)

 

I'm struggling with the "now what?" Any thoughts.

 

 

A really warm welcome Seabusicut! ((((hugs))))

 

Thank you very, very much. I appreciate your warm welcome and "hugs."

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God was a terrifying presence in my life. I grew up in the shadow of dread wondering when my next sin would land me in hell. I became an anxious Christian at five years old. There was no time to lose because Jesus was coming back soon. As a child, I had endless dreams of Jesus returning to take everyone but me. I would be aimlessly walking around the house wondering who would take care of me now?

 

And they have the nerve to call this good news. Suffer the children indeed.

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Welcome, Seabiscuit! I can't believe how severely you were beaten... how could they justify all that with the defense of a proverb?

 

So glad to hear you finally found your way out and that you didn't off yourself. I am still struggling the "now whats' too... it takes time to figure out to handle life when you no longer have someone telling you how to think and feel.

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I am still struggling the "now whats' too... it takes time to figure out to handle life when you no longer have someone telling you how to think and feel.

 

Don't get me wrong. I've never felt truly as free as I do now. Hey, if you figure out the "now whats' too..." will you let me know. I'm pretty open minded except for religions you have to swallow hook, line, and sinker.

 

:dumbo:

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Seabusicut,

 

I am so glad you found this site.

 

((((((HUGS)))))))

 

I go to a Unitarian church for the social connection. It may help you in finding community and the social atmosphere of church you miss without any religion.

 

Here's a link to find a congregation in your area.

Unitarian Universalist Association

 

Taph

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Wow....you sure went through a lot, Seabiscuit. Glad you

are finding your way out of the mess your parents created for

you. Since I left christianity, I've made a lot of friends either

through work, classes, or organizations that share similar

interests to mine. I find I don't need the social connections at

church any more....you might want to try the same things for

yourself.

 

Anyway, welcome aboard!

 

:clap:

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....I was wondering if others went through phases during the ex-christian process. I feel kind of sad when I meditate. Who am I meditating to I wonder? I enjoy the quiet and the peace during this time. Maybe that's all there is to it. Finding solitude. ....

 

I'm struggling with the "now what?" Any thoughts.

 

I was really touched by your story. You've really come out of an abusive situation. I admire your resilience and emotional survival. Just wow.

 

For me there have been phases Post-god. I was fascinated by hinduism and paganism for years, but have found that their explanations of suffering and the after life are just as screwed up as christianity or islam. But it helped to think differently, and not be just obsessed with christianity's explanation.

 

Almost like learning a new language: you learn to think in different categories and (I think at least) become more imaginative and thoughtful about other possibilities to philosophical problems.

 

Meditation is a great tool, as is self hypnosis. These are skills that I've found to calm my thoughts, take a deep breath, and consider that the panic feelings will indeed pass. :happy_old:

 

Good luck in your journey, and I look forward to reading some of your future thoughts on the myriad of topics hashed out here.

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  • 1 month later...
But it helped to think differently, and not be just obsessed with christianity's explanation.

 

Almost like learning a new language: you learn to think in different categories and (I think at least) become more imaginative and thoughtful about other possibilities to philosophical problems.

Seabiscuit, thank you for trusting us with your story. I just got around to reading it. I can see that you have been made to suffer more than most of us, because of Christianity. I wish you well on your journey. Curtdude's comment reminded me of one of my most beloved quotes, The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. -Marcel Proust

 

See, sometimes one's travels won't really take her all that many miles down the road, but imagine how the scene, the landscape can change when one can view it all with entirely new eyes.

 

I wish for you one beautiful life, a life of high quality that might help make up for a part of the tragedy of the past. Welcome to freedom and the privilege to build the kind of person you want to make of yourself. I celebrate your victory over the deception. We welcome you to Ex-C with open arms.

 

Welcome home,

-Reach

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Dear Seabiscuit, it is amazing what the human person can go through and come out stronger. It's so wonderful that you and your husband have found each other. It sounds as though the finding part happened, really, after you started finding yourself. It's exciting how literature played a role in your discovery. I remember weeping over Satan in Paradise Lost, imagining Satan just wishing God would love him. I think people help each other by sharing deep stuff, because everyone else understands themselves better. So thank you for sharing your story, including the down parts. It's great to have you on here now, Seabiscuit.

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But it helped to think differently, and not be just obsessed with christianity's explanation.

Curtdude's comment reminded me of one of my most beloved quotes, The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. -Marcel Proust

 

See, sometimes one's travels won't really take her all that many miles down the road, but imagine how the scene, the landscape can change when one can view it all with entirely new eyes.

 

I wish for you one beautiful life, a life of high quality that might help make up for a part of the tragedy of the past. Welcome to freedom and the privilege to build the kind of person you want to make of yourself. I celebrate your victory over the deception. We welcome you to Ex-C with open arms.

 

Welcome home,

-Reach

 

Thanks for the quote, Reach! It is very helpful in my current "self-building" project. Its amazing to me how much of a choice I have for the kind of person I want to be. Xianity was always about "choice." It didn't occur to me until now that xianity choices was really just one. Now with so many options, friends, and support--the sky is the limit :thanks:

 

Ficino, Yes, art has played a huge role in my life. It seems that humans turn to stories and pictures when our every day language doesn't seem to work. There are experiences we can have or places we can go that language can't. Art is, for me, a place of healing, trying on new ideas, or just a place to express myself. I keep a journal that I got serious about last May. I not only write in it but draw too. I have found that type of journeling to be the most helpful and comforting. Expression is what being human is all about.

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