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How Do You Escape The Fear?


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Hi, all. This is my first post here.

 

So first off, I should clarify that while I've recently left the Catholic Church, I had left Hinduism (in which I was raised) prior to that, and while the former separation was painful, the latter was a terrified flight, and the terror still remains. Please, please, please do not think that it's any less destructive or any more acceptable or PC somehow to preach at me that Hinduism is OK than to preach at me that Christianity is OK. My experience with both of these religions was frankly nightmarish. Contrary to the assertions of some, misogyny, bigotry, and hate are not limited to the West. Sorry if this comes across as overly emotional or whatever, but I've had people spout ignorant misinformation or even chastise me for telling the truth about Hinduism, even when they accepted the truth about my experience with the church.

 

This is just a sampling:

http://hinduismmisogyny.blogspot.com/

http://www.thinkatheist.com/profiles/blogs/apartheid-and-racism-in

 

The crippling fear that both of these religions left me with is incredible. I'm only now realizing just how crippling an effect they've had on my life. I was taught as a little girl that I had no free will, no chance of bettering my life, no agency, basically. There was only "god's will," Hindu-style. This "god" is even worse, I firmly believe even today, than the Catholic one, because it doesn't even claim it's god is good, much less love. There isn't even a fantasy to turn to for warmth, compassion, etc. You must submit, surrender, become detached from your own desires to achieve "nirvana." I was taught that "god's will" would prevail no matter what I did, believed, thought, or how I felt about it. Its god didn't care. This had a weirdly rapacious psychological effect, which is impossible for me to go into in the space of one post, especially as I don't want to upset myself any further right now. But the whole idea - which was incessantly hammered into me, especially when I dared voice denials - was terrifying. Horror cannot encompass it. I was raised in the US, but the monsters I grew up with (and they were that, for reasons I won't go into), were Brahmins. Priestly caste, usually considered the highest caste. They looked down on everyone and everything Western, Indian, and anything else.

 

Anyway, this idea haunted me my entire life. I was always really sensitive, impressionable, and had a really active mind from a young age. However, my intelligence was not encouraged. They were really fucked up. Despite being Indian (Asians are usually quite ambitious, even more for their children than themselves), they did nothing to encourage me in any way. Part of this was because I was a girl, but most Indians are not like this, especially not the professionals who emigrate to the West. I was actually denied permission when my elementary school wanted to put me in gifted classes! They told me I'd never graduate from college, and I ended up dropping out of high school because I was so fucked up. Anyway, at 25, I did finally make it to college. I got my Associate of Arts in 2014, and will get my BA in May 2016. Next fall, I'm going to grad school. (Yeah, so fuck them!)

 

But I threw myself headfirst into Christianity in order to escape the terrors of Hinduism that still haunted me. It's a profoundly superstitious religion. The evangelicals have really got nothing on them. So, even though I didn't care much for organized religion, I still tried to be a Christian. And then Catholicism got a hold of me. It's a long, strange story how this happened, but I was at an ultimate low-point in my life, trapped in a terrible relationship that had effectively cut me off from the outside world for 2-3 years. There were massive quantities of alcohol involved, and later, drugs. I was not myself. I fell in with this traditional Catholic group that was, at the time, excommunicated. But I saw in it an escape, and I guess you could say it did eventually lead to my getting out of that relationship, which was good. I was then in the peculiar position of being a college student associated with a nutjob cult (because that's basically what this group was).

 

The Thomistic theology, reasoned and impressive to someone in my state, felt reassuring to me. But the structure ultimately made its damage worse. I'm not sure I have the energy to explain this right now. It's been a strange and thoroughly taxing day that brought me here to finally post. But being with this group hobbled me. Even though it promised protection from the Hindu devil I so feared, I'm not sure what the cost was. I'm still trying to figure out how so much went wrong. I can't even believe that I was with such a backward group voluntarily. (I always spurned Hinduism, rebelling against it every way I knew how.) It's hard to forgive myself sometimes, even though I know I was just not myself, reeling from recent and childhood traumas, fears, and chemicals. Well, I repeatedly tried to break away, but fear always dragged me back.

 

I now understand that it was largely the effect of isolation. Being bombarded with viewpoints so drastically alien to yours, and isolated from all alternative (and sane) voices, one begins to doubt oneself. The very insanity of the ideas blitzing you makes you think No one can really be this crazy; there must be some merit to this, as nuts as it seems to me. Isn't that incredible? The very sanity of the sane makes them question themselves; the insane never question themselves. Cut off from the world of sane, thinking people, I started to think I was the one who was crazy, when surrounded by lunatics.

 

I've clung to Catholicism as a shield. But it's maddening, and the misogyny, and anti-human sentiments I hear so often, the coldness, the cruel platitudes spouted in the face of suffering...it breaks my heart. The pain I feel in churches is beyond expression. I wish I could, but I think it's just too fresh. Anyway, though, I was so scared of leaving because I felt (even when I didn't really think) that it was extremely dangerous to leave, because there were hordes of devils out to wreck my life because they were angry I left Hinduism. I know this sounds nuts, or that I should know better than to believe this. But the psychological havoc that's been wreaked on me and my life is impossible to convey in this short (!) summary. Fear is powerful, even when it isn't rational. I'm still not an out-and-out atheist, but an agnostic of sorts. I believe in a God who is Love, but I don't believe any human religion could ever possibly fully understand, know, or communicate this Spirit. I'm just slowly recovering and rediscovering myself out of the wreckage. But the fear. My life did get comparably better when I became a traditional Catholic, so how do I know it won't get worse again now? My experiences on this earth have been horrific enough that it felt like some unfathomably malevolent being must be warring against me. That he's salivating to do worse than ever to me. And I'm afraid of losing the protection of the only one who can stop him. (Though why he didn't stop him before, and why he hasn't delivered me completely out of the pit, I cannot imagine. I've had mind-numbingly terrible things happen since I became a Catholic, too.)

 

I don't want to live by superstitions anymore. That's what I was raised with! I don't know how to remove horrible childhood lies I was taught. How do you "unlearn" destructive ways of thinking? It's an overwhelmingly terrifying thought that "god's" will cannot be changed, that "god" is omnipotent, and that if "he" has "chosen" you, there's nothing you can do about it, you'll get dragged around wherever "he" feels like, and there's not a damn thing you can do to ever truly change your lot. You cannot imagine how crippling, how horrifying, this is unless you've experienced it.

 

I've been down in the pits of despair much of my life because of this fear. I want to jettison it more than most of you can, I believe, imagine. I believed I couldn't escape. How the hell do I get out of this?

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Welcome Frozen.  Personally I don't talk about Hinduism much simply because I know so little about it.  I take you at your word.

 

When I left Christianity I suffered terrible fear for about five months.  What I discovered was that my fear was not based on academic knowledge or facts.  So studying didn't do anything for my fear.  Eventually I turned to comedy.  I watched youtube videos that mocked Christianity and the humor eventually conquered my fear.

 

I could not say if the same thing would work for you but I offer it up just in case.

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Welcome here Frozen. You will find this a place of support where you can express your fears and eventually heal from the mental wounds and abuse you have suffered.

 

I suppose it is easy to say 'see how ridiculous it is' but when you have been brought up with that truth it is not so easy. Our pastor used to

mock Hinduism from the pulpit saying 'what kind of gods are limited only to India and Indian people' and we would laugh but I know it is not easy and it has taken me a long time to get to the point where I see how stupid some Christian things are and I'm not past all of them . Again, welcome and be well.

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Fear*, losing that was... I'm not entirely sure what it was, a journey? One I wasn't entirely aware of, during most of it.

 

I guess to summarize, once you realize exactly what these tales of gods are, you can realize something important. There is nothing more powerful in fiction then your own imagination. Not even the gods themselves can hold a candle to it, and you are literally the biggest monster in the universe, as far as they are concerned. Outside of our imaginations the gods have no power, beyond what we personally can accomplish, and what influence we allow them to have over that. At some point I also embraced the one thing Christianity wields as a weapon, Hell itself. It's just another fictional concept, after all.

 

I've always had a taste for dark subject matter in fiction, and once I finally made the realization that the gods are simply fictional beings, and finally accepted it, I cut loose on the only one I had no choice in being exposed to, the only one presented as undeniably real. It's just imaginary, but it's also cathartic.

 

Also, welcome. I hope your gods meet a similarly cathartic fate, or you otherwise figure out an effective solution.

Oh, and sorry if I got a little dark there, kinda been in the Halloween mood lately.

 

Edit: *At least of god/s and their myths.

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Welcome to the forum Frozen.

 

That's quite a story, and I'm really glad you're now getting the education you want and also escaping religion.

 

What I found calming was the realisation that I have not had any significant bad things happen to me after becoming agnostic. No dying relatives, no inexplicable failures or losses, nothing interesting at all. One dental problem that I'd been trying to pray away for years escalated, but a good dentist fixed it for good in less than an hour and cured my dentist phobia! So that hardly counts as godly wrath either.

 

I too was raised to think I was better off not dreaming of getting a high education. Well I am in university now and my grades aren't bad. Every time I talk about it with my mom (which is not often, I avoid her if possible) she says, laughing, "I never thought you could do that!". I reply, "I know, and I'm not laughing."

 

Keep reading, keep writing, and keep asking questions. This is a very helpful community with lots of people who are ready to listen and offer support.

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Welcome to the forum, Frozen.  smile.png

 

I hope that I'm not being too forward, but there's a member of this forum (called Bhim) whom I think you might be able to relate to very well.

He was an evangelical Christian, but prior to that he came from a Hindu background.  His experience of Christianity left a nasty taste in his mouth and now he makes no bones about loathing it!  

He's made something of return to his Hindu roots, but more as a celebration of his cultural traditions and ethnic identity, rather than having a deep belief and commitment to it.  

Bhim's an astrophysicist specializing in galactic astronomy and since I'm an amateur astronomer, we've had some very fruitful discussions about the Big Bang, cosmology and the origin of the universe.

 

This is his Profile Page.

 

http://www.ex-christian.net/user/20773-bhim/#.VjNnerfhBD8

 

Because you're new here you probably won't be able to use the Private Messaging service between members until you've got a certain number of posts credited to your account.

Therefore, if you want to establish contact with Bhim now, I'm afraid you won't be able to do it that way.  However, what you can do right now is to click on the, 'Find Content' button, just above the large green reputation counter, on the right-hand side of his profile page.  Doing that will bring a list of the threads he's been active in.  That way, you can read Bhim's comments at your leisure and see for yourself if you have much in common.   

 

Frozen, I hope I'm doing the right thing by letting you know about Bhim.

There's no onus or pressure on you to do anything in this forum that you don't want to.  

You're a free agent and your own person and are already on an equal status with everyone else here.  

So how you treat this message is entirely up to you.  

 

 

 

With best wishes and kind regards, BAA.

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I think knowledge is the best cure. Study the religious roots, the histories of "holy" books, the god concept itself. When you not just intellectually but emotionally grasp that men have made up all the ideas we have about gods, spirits, souls and religions, you will finally take a free breath. It takes time to free yourself from brainwashing and some people need help doing that, so cut yourself some slack and see what a little time accomplishes. We'll be here.

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Welcome to the forum, Frozen.  To unlearn "destructive ways of thinking", you have to reprogramme your mind by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

 

The way religion programs people is through repetition.  We have actually been conditioned at church, with much of the programming at an unconscious level.

 

It takes conscious effort to undo the programming and to reprogramme yourself.  Good luck!

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Welcome to Ex-c Frozen. I am so happy you found us. Take your time hon and breath slowly. This journey might take a while. I was so overwhelmed  and depressed when I joined Ex-c and had 100's of questions. We're here for you darlin'. We totally understand what you are going through.

 

I just wanted to give you 2 things for today. First, completely study the book of Genesis. I mean study it right from the first words. You will soon see that the god of the old testament is a complete dummy and did not know what the hell he was doing with all his so-called powers. Once you realize that the book of Genesis is completely made up by man...the rest of the whole bible falls apart. The whole house of cards comes tumbling down. You will soon see that there was no need for a blood sacrifice such as jesus because there wasn't any 'original sin' in the first place. Also, there would be no need for a place called hell. But you will soon learn all these things by staying connected to this site. The members of EX-c taught me all these things.

 

The second is an article about 'Deprogramming your own mind' that helped me a lot when I first came here. I've given the link to many people. When you are breathing nice and slow and ready for it, give it  some attention and read slowly. It shows you how easily it is for humans to get brainwashed. I hope this helps. You're going to be alright. It's just a bit of a bumpy road at first. You will eventually be able to put it all together and form your very own new 'world view'. We're here for you.

 

http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-deprogram.html

 

 

I give you the biggest ((hug))

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Thank you all so much. I can't tell you how much your kindness (and sanity!) mean to me, or how relieved I was when I came back on here and found so many kind, warm, understanding replies. You make a lot of really great suggestions from what I can see. I'm just starting out, so it will take time for me to try them and figure things out as I progress down this road, but the journey so far is a mix of ups and downs. Well, I had a really hard day today. I couldn't respond this morning because I had no less than FIVE assignments due today! My last year as an undergrad is proving to be rough. So, I had that pressure on me all day, along with this fear that's taken hold of me that I won't be able to finance grad school. But I think that's really just another manifestation of the old religious phobias, this fear that there's an all-powerful goblin out to get me, or to crush me because it's part of his "loving" will, etc. I don't understand how everyone doesn't just go crazy believing such nonsense. (Then again, looking around at the world...maybe they do...) What else can come of trying to reconcile an all-knowing god with an all-powerful one - and then claiming he's all-good to boot. I think this is why so many religious people are so fantastically insensitive and lacking in empathy when faced with real human suffering; they can't square it with their god, so they try to cover it up with platitudes.

 

Anyway. It's been a long day, but I've managed not to cave to the fears or to let them take me over. I did better than I've done before, under similar pressure from multiple directions. And writing this out helps diffuse the old phobias, helps me see through them. I'm not "there yet" by a long shot, I know. My progress still feels fragile. I'm very grateful to have this place. It feels like a lifeline. I wish I could find more social support around me; that's part of my drive to get away from here to grad school. I live in a very conservative place. Even at my university, many of the students, and even quite a few of the professors, are either religious or friendly to religion. It's not that there's no place for criticism, but I know I need to be very careful who I open up to about something like this. I'd like to get somewhere bluer. Saner. I know I don't belong here, in this milieu, and I'm dying to get out. To be free, where I can be me again. Or for the first time, ever. Where I can remember and recover myself, and build a life according to who I really am. Based on reality, without other people's imaginary monsters haunting me. I think I mentioned that I've always been really sensitive and impressionable. I can't handle being pummeled with other people's alien worldviews all the time, especially a worldview that's so oppressive to me and associated with such trauma. I know I really need to get somewhere that's healthier for me, in terms of a good school as well as a more open and conducive overall environment. The right people have always made all the difference in the world to me. I need to get to a culture that's right for me.

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Others here will help you through the process. Just know that there are many of us like myself here who had once experienced the fear you speak of and came out the other side clean. I have been fear free for over 20 years now. There is hope, it just takes time away from the indoctrination.  It all seems rather ridiculous to me now.

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Education is the pathway to freedom.

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I just gave an interview for a graduate research study about people who left the Catholic Church. The psychological effects, why the left, what contracts they felt were violated or not fulfilled, etc. The researcher told me I contributed greatly to the study. I'm really glad to have been able to participate, and especially now, so soon. I think I needed it, to have someone listen to me like that.

 

And then I went on a (non-religious!) forum, and found someone was again trying to hijack my longstanding thread by showing how (a completely different, presumably evangelical) church had helped them (so I must be wrong or mean-spirited or something). Why do religionists act like this? Don't they have any sense of how it hurts the religious image and just hurts people who are already suffering badly (due to people like themselves)?

 

I'm not going to let that person interfere with my mood. I've been doing really well today. Much better than yesterday. I know I still have so much to offer the world. There's so much I want to do. I'm feeling much better about my chances of getting into a good graduate program. My grades are excellent, after all - a 4.0 cumulative GPA, 3.71 in my major, I graduated with honors from my community college, and I just had a paper accepted and read at an academic conference for crying out loud. Plus, I've done student-teaching with AmeriCorps, and taken two service-learning classes. I'm also getting a clearer and clearer idea of the research I want to do, and I think it's something that most people in my field would find valuable and interesting. It's just so hard for me to take seriously anything good that I've done or am. When I was so systematically devalued all my life for one reason or another, based on one reason or another. I'm trying to clear all false and superstitious ideas out of my head, but I think I'm making good progress. I really want to press my advantage, so to speak.

 

This study was the first time I've spoken with anyone in person at length about what happened, and I wish I hadn't felt so on the spot, but he told me afterward in no uncertain terms that I did great, and that I've been a huge help. I hope the whole thing goes to some good end. I'd love to be able to talk about this at length with someone. I think I'm going to look up clubs on my campus, to see if there's anything in a safely secular sphere that I can find nearby. This place is great, especially as I know there are no religious trolls waiting to pounce, or at least that they wouldn't be allowed to blitz dissenters. But I'm someone who really thrives on face-to-face contact, even though it's hard for me to get my thoughts together in front of people sometimes.

 

Another day on the right path...

 

You know, as I stop looking for fantasies to save the day, I'm finding that there actually is a lot of help around. That there is hope, after all, that many things are possible that I once would've never dared hope for. I really feel that religion in some ways can trap people into reliving extremely unhealthy childhood dynamics, except that the insufficient caregiver-figure gets blown up exponentially into a terrifying monster (in my case, both the original example and the phantom were monstrous) whose mercy we constantly feel we must win in order to have anything in life. If we're not in its good graces at any given moment...well, everything depends on its favor and on its whims. On surrendering in way or another to its "will," which we cannot change. What a nightmare! I want to stop feeding "energy" (not in any woo-woo, New Age way, but just psychological and emotional energy) into this nightmare. To starve it, as it were. I don't want anything to do with any spirits anymore. Only evil ever comes of it. Even if anything is out there, it's just not for me.

 

You know, I just remembered, I tried to do this once before. When I was quite young, 12. It was possibly the happiest and most hopeful time of my life. It lasted almost a year, and I was getting on as well as I could manage on my own at that age, until a horrible experience, along with the built-up strain of struggling unseen and unacknowledged, derailed me. But I'm 30 now, things are different, I know a lot more, I'm not completely isolated as I've very gratefully found some support online, and...I think I can manage. I wasn't an atheist then, and I neither struggled against god nor had anything much to do with it. I didn't want to have anything to do with the question, and I could see that religious people didn't seem quite right. They were not, and did not have, what I wanted to be and have. So I let them alone. I went my way.

 

I've found my way again.

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Leaving one religion is tough. I can't imagine what leaving two extreme forms of religion must be like. Very sorry to hear about your predicament. I would suggest you do some reading into general skepticism(Carl Sagan or James Randi). Adopting some of the general principles of skepticism will prevent you from falling for religions and other ideologies that will try to trap your mind in their dogma, take advantage of you, and leave you traumatized.

 

Learn to lean on your own intellect and wisdom. Take advice sparingly. Don't put to much stock into what other people say you should do. They don't have a clue what they're doing either.

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Welcome.

 

One tool I would recommend - anger.

 

Assert your own right to freedom, and let rip at those who would deny it.  You may find it cathartic.

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Hi frozen.  You're already making big steps towards emotional and intellectual freedom.

 

Sometimes you learn as much here by writing as by reading.  That's the magic of this place.

 

Congrats.  

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One thing I've discovered about all demons, if you tell them to fuck off enough times, they get bored and go bother someone else.woohoo.gif

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Thanks, all. I've been busy making things happen for myself all week, instead of begging an obstinate god. I've made so much progress on so many fronts it's almost unbelievable to me. I'm relearning how to live.

 

But one thing that worries me now: I have a health issue, from a head injury years ago. I've noticed my neurological functioning has not been as good. I remember this happening before during times of apostasy. This fear comes up. It's not that I'm afraid I'm being punished per se, but more that the actual state of being "in communion" had salutary effects on my brain. I've read about this, too, and I think it actually seems to be true. Even if it was a placebo effect. But I do NOT want to "open myself up" to anything again. I think, psychologically, I could not handle it, the same old unhealthy dynamic would be created again, even if it would be with a figment of my imagination. It's impossible for me really to trust and "believe in" a god (in the good sense, beyond believing in something's existence even), given my own past as well as the behavior of "Christians" I've seen over so many years. What I wrote in my last post still stands. Yet, I'm afraid of my brain getting worse...yet, the last significant stretch of time where I did get worse by "being away," I got out of a horrendous situation, and made SO many healthful, positive changes it was almost unbelievable. I'd rather die than go back. I think I'd actually rather suffer getting worse, in terms of neurological functioning, than go backward in my overall life. There's so much I'm reaching for, and having better neurological health if I'm going to be trapped in a self-destructive vortex is useless, anyway. I want what I'm reaching for, even if that does mean I get worse.

 

Wow. That does say a lot, doesn't it? Besides, I realize just how much I want it, and I know it's within reach now, if I push. I'm not turning back for anything, and I'm not letting it slip away. Never again. Not for anything. And you know what? There are other things that I know could help with this health issue, too. Certain foods, certain activities, positivity, exercise, human interaction, and even maybe meditation and other healthful things that I could control in such a way as not to create a monster of my own imagining. I think Eastern (Tibetan?) monks who meditate in certain ways seem to enjoy similar benefits. I don't know much about that kind of meditation, but what I've tried of it I've enjoyed. I'm not venturing into the realm of beliefs and religion, though. I don't know. I'm going to have to look into this. And try other things. But I know I'm going forward on this path to freedom and...everything I've ever wanted and cared about.

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The fear, I hope, will eventually pass, Most of us, I suspect have been through something similar.

 

Religion , really when you get down to its basics, is just very old books. No one has seen a god, no one. No prayers seem to be answered in a supernatural way. Islam , Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism , etc, all make claims and counter claims, many of which simply do not conform to reality, at all.

 

It is, I think, fair to assume , that even if there is one true religion (which is doubtful), we can never know which one is the real one, and therefore it is quite sensible to reject them all.

 

Even in Christianity, there are literally thousands of different sects, each quite certain that they alone have the truth, while their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are committing some sort of heresy...

 

Try not to trouble yourself too much by books written by manics a very long time ago  

 

 As you have already noted, exercise  is a positive. I myself walk on average around 60-70 miles per week, which helps me. 

 

All the best 

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