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Attending Church Just To Desensitize?


daxjansen
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Has anyone here ever gone to a church AFTER deconverting to try to create some sort of exposure therapy situation? I come from a cult-ish church and even seeing church stuff in movies is difficult. Nearly puked the other day when I heard part of a familiar worship song. I am wondering if going to a nice, mellow, accepting, non-judgmental church in town will help temper that reaction, because I hate having reactions like that. Maybe if I hear these songs sung by nice people I know are not controlling and abusive, it will shift those memories and triggers, for instance. It would be large enough that I can sit in the back with little-to-no interaction with others, and a place where I can go and then quit with no pressure or guilt from the church people. 

 

I am wondering, too, if it might be useful to come out gradually to my christian friends while I am still in church. It will eliminate the whole argument saying that I only left God because my old church was shitty. 

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Has anyone here ever gone to a church AFTER deconverting to try to create some sort of exposure therapy situation? I come from a cult-ish church and even seeing church stuff in movies is difficult. Nearly puked the other day when I heard part of a familiar worship song. I am wondering if going to a nice, mellow, accepting, non-judgmental church in town will help temper that reaction, because I hate having reactions like that. Maybe if I hear these songs sung by nice people I know are not controlling and abusive, it will shift those memories and triggers, for instance. It would be large enough that I can sit in the back with little-to-no interaction with others, and a place where I can go and then quit with no pressure or guilt from the church people. 

 

I am wondering, too, if it might be useful to come out gradually to my christian friends while I am still in church. It will eliminate the whole argument saying that I only left God because my old church was shitty. 

 

Hi daxjansen. Welcome to Ex-c. The very last church I attended (I was trying to give 'my all' to wanting so much to keep believing) was a 100% 'grace filled' church. You could do anything in this church compared to the Pentecostal church I got 'saved' in.  You could smoke, drink alcohol, toke, dance....pretty well sleep with the pastor and it would be forgiven.They thought and believed that atheists were saved!! Now this certainly makes jesus look better, I agree. It was just another circus to me. Yes, the people meant well but I was already knowing in my heart that all the christian churches are very cult like. I felt as if I belonged to a 'white witches' group. It was there, that I could not go up to the front of the church to ''drink the blood or eat the flesh'' anymore. I knew that day it was over for me.

 

Glad you are here with us!

 

(hug)

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I wouldn't recommend doing that until you've been out of church for a while. I had a while where I thought I'd read the bible from a secular perspective to see what it said, instead of what I'd always been told it said, but I found myself shaking and upset every time I'd try. But after a few years of being deconverted, that calmed down on its own. I don't feel such an urge to read the bible now, because I don't have as much to prove to myself, but I can read bits of it on occasion without it being traumatic.

 

I did spend a while reading a blog from a progressive liberal christian, the kind who thinks that Jesus cared more about feeding the hungry than about spreading dogma, who thinks gays are quite ok with God, etc. It was nice to see the terminology I'd grown up with used by someone who wasn't an asshole. But seeing it through a blog meant that I didn't have to interact with any people while processing those emotions.

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You have suffered a legitimate trauma and mental abuse. It will take you time to recover. I am reading a book called 'leaving the fold' and it is a workbook helping to heal psychologically. Maybe try that to help work through your trauma.

 

You wouldn't expect someone who had been mauled at a Zoo to go back there for a picnic the following month. Just because church seen innocuous does not mean you did not suffer real harm so be gentle with yourself.

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Thanks for the warm welcome, the good points, and the kind words! 

 

I have been out of church for a year and a half, and fully deconverted for more than six months. I live in a small enough city and work at a job that means I run into people from my old church on a regular basis. I just saw one of the elders (who I want NOTHING to do with) for a millisecond this afternoon at work, even. I almost feel like the longer I put this stuff off, the more the tension is building... rather than just getting it over with. But, maybe I'm wrong. 

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I couldn't do that, it was hard for me to leave church and I stayed much longer than I should have. I was at the end of my rope with all of it by the time I found the courage to leave and these days I can't handle hearing preaching. I wouldn't sit through another service if someone offered to pay me.

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I don't think I could do it. I'm not sure it would help you, it may just make the feelings worse.

 

I think therapy, or talking about these things with non christian friends is probably the way to go.

 

But it could just be that I'm just coming from my " I still can't cope with anything that reminds me of church 10 yrs on" position?

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I have watched some videos from my old Pente church, and the emptiness of it is so obvious now, those smiles glued to their faces.

 

There have been some disturbing vids that made me push the stop button though. But the good thing is that the guys didn't know I was watching in the first place, you know?

 

I haven't set foot in a church after deconverting though. Not even a nicer, calmer one. Unless you count a bit of sight seeing outside service.

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daxjansen:

 

You mention coming out. While this is an individual choice, personally I'm hesitant about this. I would just not mention it unless someone pins you down. Your beliefs or lack thereof are your private business and I see no need to put the issue out there in an assertive fashion.

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older: I agree that in many cases it would be pointless and perhaps harmful to be out. But I've spent so much of my life hiding behind masks as a Christian. I want to be able to engage honestly in conversations. And, unlike people who live down South, my city is mostly unchurched. I have enough secular people in my life (which includes a large percentage of family) that if all the Christians I know decided to disown me, I would still have a terrific support network in my life. 

 

I also feel like I will be eventually forced to out myself and I would rather do it at my own speed and own terms. 

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Has anyone here ever gone to a church AFTER deconverting to try to create some sort of exposure therapy situation? I come from a cult-ish church and even seeing church stuff in movies is difficult. Nearly puked the other day when I heard part of a familiar worship song. I am wondering if going to a nice, mellow, accepting, non-judgmental church in town will help temper that reaction, because I hate having reactions like that. Maybe if I hear these songs sung by nice people I know are not controlling and abusive, it will shift those memories and triggers, for instance. It would be large enough that I can sit in the back with little-to-no interaction with others, and a place where I can go and then quit with no pressure or guilt from the church people.

 

I am wondering, too, if it might be useful to come out gradually to my christian friends while I am still in church. It will eliminate the whole argument saying that I only left God because my old church was shitty.

Ever since I converted, I go to churches just to look at its architecture. Some churches are beautifully made. I also go into churches to remind myself why I converted in the first place.

 

My suggestion to you is take your time, Deconvertion could take a long time to get used to, especially if you where in a somewhat cultist church. One thing that helped me through my convertion into A helghanist (which is a different type of atheism) was reading Carl Sagans Cosmos, pale blue dot. Neil Degrasse Tysons Death by Blackhole, origins, space chronicles. Steven Hawkings On the shoulders of giants. Richard Dawkins, the Ancestors Tale, The God Delusion and The Greatest Show on Earth. There are plenty more books that will definitely help you on your track to true enlightenment and peace of mind.

 

I think you should decide when you tell your Christian friends.

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