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What has been the hardest part of your deconversion from Christianity?


Faeryn
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Just curious about what the most difficult part of deconversion is for everyone, and what you've been doing to recover from that?

 

The hardest part for me has been trying to erase Christian ideas of shame and guilt - the sense that I'm constantly doing something bad, even though I'm not. Intermingled with this is shame about my sexuality. 

I'm still new to recovering from my Christian past so I'm trying to work this out in psychotherapy. 

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That I'm on my own. No one is looking out for me, orchestrating coincidences, talking to me in my dreams or thoughts. 

 

I also have carried and still carry a lot of shame, slowly working through it - but I don't think it's all from religion. 

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@Faeryn,

 

At first the toughest part was realizing that, when we leave this world, that's it. Then I realized hey, it's just like taking a nap.

 

Then it was the fear of what if the jebus freaks are right and there is a hell. But tons of reading the works of folks who are much much smarter than me dispelled that fear. Religion in general is largely fear based and xianity takes the lead there I think.

 

Thirdly it was telling Mrs. MOHO. I know. I know. There I go again with the Mrs. MOHO diatribe.

But she really is a "my way or the highway" kind of person. And she is currently setting up social events involving me and the critty bitties. Next week is a din din party in that environment and my plan is to lay it on with the Dawkins, Hitchens, FitzGerald et al.

 

Maybe this approach will put an end to the attempts at re-indoctrination. :P

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Loss of social structure was probably the most unpleasant aspect & consequence of leaving the church, but I knew that would happen. The loss of our best friends was a little surprising. I didn't realize our friendship was dependent on where we went to church, but as it turned out it was. 

 

Fundamentalists versions of Christianity tend to exhibit cult like traits so walking away from them is very similar to leaving a cult. That often includes clearing your mind from the indoctrination of their beliefs & teachings, and that usually takes time & effort to accomplish.

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For me the worst part was the depression I went through as I realized that the worldview I'd believed all my life, which I'd built my whole world on, which had consumed every ounce of my being, was actually a big, fat lie. I felt like the ground had been yanked out from under me and I was in a free-fall with nowhere to get a foothold. 

 

It basically just took time to deal with it and move on. I still wish I'd known the truth and made better, more informed choices for my life when I was younger, but I'm trying to make the best of where I'm at in life now and I no longer get depressed with it.

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The first two years.  Anger.  At them and their lies.  At myself for taking so long to totally figure it out.  So many years lost.

 

The next three years.  Mental annoyance.  Every day, exposed to 100s of religious buildings, signs, speech in the media, friends, social media.  They were all memory trigger, being back bad memories, diverting me from truly enjoying the rest of my life.

 

The last two years.  Mostly at full recovery.  The anger has mostly past, the triggers are not triggering.  I go out and live and enjoy every day.  I live in full confidence, and not "meekness"  I speak with clarity. I deal, with ease, with those who I used to be.  Happy. At ease.  Zero anxiety.  I have so much gratitude for my life now.  It is a blast.

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I am IN the worst part of my deconversion, right now. I'm angry, depressed, confused, anxious. I feel like I'm having an out-of-body experience every day. We still haven't said anything to our kids, so I feel like I'm living a double life. Thanksgiving with family made my brain feel like mush. I'm becoming disconnected from everything. I have always adored and been slightly obsessive about my kids. Right now, I feel myself becoming emotionally detached from them, from EVERYONE. I just want to crawl in a hole and be left alone. I don't want to talk to anyone, deal with anyone else's crap. I'm selfish, self-absorbed and losing anything that once resembled compassion. I want to go back in time 40 years & just NOT BE BORN. Life feels like a joke...a cruel, awful joke. I actually started out, the first few months after opening my eyes, feeling freedom and relief. But I have slowly slipped into despair. I feel like Cypher from The Matrix..."Why, oh why, didn't I take the BLUE pill." Having the plug pulled, finding out the truth, I'm almost wishing I hadn't. I'm starting to think I'd have been better off staying brain-washed. At least I had a false sense of comfort, security, hope. Now, I have...nothing? I don't know how to live like this. I hope I find myself coming back here in the future, telling everyone how I USED to feel like this, but now life is so yippy skippy. But, for now...it sucks. I hate it.

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7 hours ago, NowWhat said:

I am IN the worst part of my deconversion, right now. I'm angry, depressed, confused, anxious. I feel like I'm having an out-of-body experience every day. We still haven't said anything to our kids, so I feel like I'm living a double life. Thanksgiving with family made my brain feel like mush. I'm becoming disconnected from everything. I have always adored and been slightly obsessive about my kids. Right now, I feel myself becoming emotionally detached from them, from EVERYONE. I just want to crawl in a hole and be left alone. I don't want to talk to anyone, deal with anyone else's crap. I'm selfish, self-absorbed and losing anything that once resembled compassion. I want to go back in time 40 years & just NOT BE BORN. Life feels like a joke...a cruel, awful joke. I actually started out, the first few months after opening my eyes, feeling freedom and relief. But I have slowly slipped into despair. I feel like Cypher from The Matrix..."Why, oh why, didn't I take the BLUE pill." Having the plug pulled, finding out the truth, I'm almost wishing I hadn't. I'm starting to think I'd have been better off staying brain-washed. At least I had a false sense of comfort, security, hope. Now, I have...nothing? I don't know how to live like this. I hope I find myself coming back here in the future, telling everyone how I USED to feel like this, but now life is so yippy skippy. But, for now...it sucks. I hate it.

@NowWhat said. Hang in there sweetie. Deconverting was a mind fuck for me also. You're going to be OK in time. Keep posting and reading. Your brain is all confused with cognitive dissonance. As you read and post, your brain will start to think more linear thoughts again.. There won't be so many confusing thoughts. Read this that I wrote 7 years ago. I didn't care if I ever woke up in the morning, I was so depressed. You are not alone hun. Deconverting is not fun for many people. We're here for you. Big (hug)

 

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12 hours ago, NowWhat said:

I am IN the worst part of my deconversion, right now. I'm angry, depressed, confused, anxious. I feel like I'm having an out-of-body experience every day. We still haven't said anything to our kids, so I feel like I'm living a double life. Thanksgiving with family made my brain feel like mush. I'm becoming disconnected from everything. I have always adored and been slightly obsessive about my kids. Right now, I feel myself becoming emotionally detached from them, from EVERYONE. I just want to crawl in a hole and be left alone.

I recognize myself here. I had a lot of these feelings, and I still do, they surface when I'm in touch with those in my family who are still believers. I have thought there's something awfully wrong with me that the feelings I usually hold for these people just aren't there. I feel emotionally numb. I'm a person who usually holds a lot of empathy for others, sometimes so much that it has felt like a burden to me, and it has bothered me immensely that I feel so emotionally numb. But I think it's just part of going through this whole process, it does such a number on you in so many ways and exhausts you to your core to the extent that there's no energy left over for others in some ways. I know I present a put together picture to the world, to my friends even, but inside I sometimes feel like I'm coming apart at the seems. This forum and the friends I have made here have helped me pull through, and they can be there for you too. Seek therapy if you need it. I go regularly and it has helped and is helping in processing all of this change. ((hugs)) -TruthSeeker

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8 hours ago, TrueScotsman said:

 

Here, here.  I am pretty dysfunctional around Thanksgiving and Christmas ever since I have gone through Depression and PTSD, this reaction is normal to these kinds of holidays and their expectations.  

 

Yes, hear hear. We are a month away from Christmas and the thought of spending it with my family feels like it's going to give me panic attacks. I am seriously considering not going "home" for the holidays at all this year, its my first since deconverting and I'm expecting a lot of triggers :/

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For me, letting go of the idea of an afterlife and also the aesthetics (there was some beauty in the mystery of it all).  I am actually making progress in those areas after decades of work, and the farther I go, the happier I am! 

 

What helped me was immersing myself in other religions and philosophies so that I knew on a deep level that there were different ways of viewing the world - radically different than the Christian Fundamentalism I was raised with, and getting some books on church history, textural criticism of the Bible and evolution. There were whole areas of life of which I knew absolutely nothing.  I honestly think the one thing that pushed me over the edge was visiting my elderly parents and seeing how they are so brainwashed with Christian stuff all the time, not willing to look at any other points of view or any information that might challenge them.  I realized that this selective blinding, or unwillingness to look, was simply impossible for me.

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The hardest part for me is decolonizing my brain. It's like cognitive housekeeping but it's taking me years. Just when I think I've gotten rid of all of the loony ideas of Xianity, I find another dust bunny of stupid.

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On 2017-11-25 at 7:14 AM, NowWhat said:

I am IN the worst part of my deconversion, right now. I'm angry, depressed, confused, anxious. I feel like I'm having an out-of-body experience every day. ....I want to go back in time 40 years & just NOT BE BORN. Life feels like a joke...a cruel, awful joke. I actually started out, the first few months after opening my eyes, feeling freedom and relief. But I have slowly slipped into despair....it sucks. I hate it.

Hey NowWhat

I am SO GLAD you've joined us in this ex-Christian online community!! Yes, it can be terribly destabilizing leaving religion. For me, this ex-Christian.net site and forums were an absolute lifesaver during my deconversion process. There is so much crap to sort through as we leave religion--What is real? What is fake?--and find our own way.

 

Please stay in touch with us here. I'm happy to connect or help out where I can.

 

(((Hugs)))

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NowWhat: "I am IN the worst part of my deconversion, right now. I'm angry, depressed, confused, anxious."

 

Lots of folks, including me, know what you are going through. Soon after my deconversion (which I call "Enlightenment") I heard the following parody of John 8:32

 

"The truth will make you free, but first, it may make you miserable". 

 

That helped me. I hope this helps you. 

 

LIFE DOES GET BETTER after enlightenment. Just keep at it. (Also, giving yourself some "alone time", to think, would probably be a good idea, if you can.)

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Well, I think I am facing what for me is going to be one of the hardest parts of leaving fundamentalism behind, and that's starting all over again and trying to get some close friends, as well as getting over my fear that people will look askance at my ignorance. The measure of my isolation from "the world" has resulted in a lot of anxiety over just interacting with people on an everyday level, and possibly having to explain why I'm so ignorant about pop culture, music, TV and movies etc. This is doubly hard as an introvert and an HSP with social anxiety, but I have decided to jump in at the deep end socially, whether that's the right choice, I don't know. I realize my religious heritage will always be with me, it will always be part of my identity to some extent, and right now I deeply resent that as it feels like such a disadvantage. Right now it feels like there will always be some barrier between myself and "normal" people. I have spent my life hiding my beliefs from people because I haven't wanted to be judged, and that fear is still holding me back. Many times I have thought I'm over the worst of the see-sawing emotions in this process, anger, grief, pain, frustration, anxiety and then alternating relief. But no, I'm not, which is why I'm up at this ungodly hour (ha ha) writing about them here. 

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Not being able to have an open, honest conversation about it with family or friends.  Recently realized that the main reason I am uncomfortable discussing it is the anxiety I get if the other person is unfamiliar with textual criticism. 

 

Another thing is the inability to truly be myself, while feeling the need to do certain things I do not necessarily want/need to anymore. 

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On 12/2/2017 at 2:07 AM, TruthSeeker0 said:

The measure of my isolation from "the world" has resulted in a lot of anxiety over just interacting with people on an everyday level, and possibly having to explain why I'm so ignorant about pop culture, music, TV and movies etc.

 

That is an understandable concern, so if you want to keep up with it, then possibly the easiest way would be to watch something like Entertainment Tonight. However, I would say that pursuing what interests you personally is more important than trying to keep up with what pop culture says you should be interested in. If it interests you, then you'll pick up on details over time. If you don't find yourself getting into it, then it's no big deal. You don't really need to make excuses; you can simply say that all that stuff isn't really your thing. Most of it isn't really my thing, either.

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On 2017-12-02 at 12:07 AM, TruthSeeker0 said:

I'm so ignorant about pop culture, music, TV and movies etc. This is doubly hard as an introvert and an HSP with social anxiety....

 

I realize my religious heritage will always be with me, it will always be part of my identity to some extent.......

 

Right now it feels like there will always be some barrier between myself and "normal" people. I have spent my life hiding my beliefs from people because I haven't wanted to be judged, and that fear is still holding me back. 

You and I have very similar journeys and dispositions. I found it helped me to laugh with other ex-Christians about the lunatic ideas we held. I’m more honest with people now than I ever was as a Xian. Now I tell people (as I feel necessary and if it comes up) “I was a religious nut case” or “I drank a shitload of Koolaid”. Laughing about it helps!!

 

Our stories make us who we are. Our stories also make us interesting and unique. 

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38 minutes ago, Positivist said:

Our stories make us who we are. Our stories also make us interesting and unique. 

I have been told this by people that I have told my story to, that it makes me unique and interesting, not less of a person. That's the social anxiety part doing that to me, but I'm working on it. Sometimes it helps just to remind myself I've come through a shitload of stuff and survived, and that's what's important, not other people's opinions. And yes I also laugh at it, that makes it easier. "I grew up in a hole" is an apt description.

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10 hours ago, TruthSeeker0 said:

I have been told this by people that I have told my story to, that it makes me unique and interesting, not less of a person. That's the social anxiety part doing that to me, but I'm working on it. ....And yes I also laugh at it, that makes it easier. 

Yes, me too! I struggle with social anxiety and introversion. Peopling drains me.

 

I'm learning to laugh at myself and readily admit to people, when the topic arises and after the inevitable "YOU USED TO BE RELIGIOUS?!?!?!?, that "Yes. I was a real nut job for Jeeziz!" 

 

Own it! :jesus:

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On 11/30/2017 at 2:16 PM, Positivist said:

The hardest part for me is decolonizing my brain. It's like cognitive housekeeping but it's taking me years. Just when I think I've gotten rid of all of the loony ideas of Xianity, I find another dust bunny of stupid.

 

This made me smile. xD

 

As for the OP, my answer changes depending on the day. My life was a lie? Knowing everyone I love is still mired in it? Missing my sense of purpose and that no one is keeping an eye on me and taking care of me? How intensely fucked up my idea of morality is now that I've accepted I'm a species of primate.....I guess the worst is realizing deep down in my soul what my parents and other believer loved ones think of me when I didn't want it to be this way and that I didn't ask for it to go down like this. Knowing how many of my tears have been wasted on this bullshit, my endless prayers and fears and anger and pleading.... I know what they think, I used to think it. Knowing how brainwashed they are, that my freedom is causing them mental anguish (even though I can't control that)....having to come to terms with the fact that I never thought I'd be here over a year ago. This is my first Christmas in the Bible Belt area as a "mostly out" agnostic (at least with my family). I still haven't had the sit down with my parents where I just said, yep it's over. But they are being huge assholes about any comment I make. My dad asks me, in front of my entire family, if I'm comfortable with them praying for the meal in a restaurant. He makes this huge deal about me agreeing to go to a christmas eve service with my in-laws to keep the peace with everyone "YOU? Going to...CHURCH?" ....it's so annoying. How about, after that service, we go to @LogicalFallacy's annual celebration of the virgin birth of the Invisible Pink Unicorn. No? Anyone? Didn't think so, fam, fuck off lol. 

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13 hours ago, ag_NO_stic said:

 

This made me smile. xD

 

As for the OP, my answer changes depending on the day. My life was a lie? Knowing everyone I love is still mired in it? Missing my sense of purpose and that no one is keeping an eye on me and taking care of me? How intensely fucked up my idea of morality is now that I've accepted I'm a species of primate.....I guess the worst is realizing deep down in my soul what my parents and other believer loved ones think of me when I didn't want it to be this way and that I didn't ask for it to go down like this. Knowing how many of my tears have been wasted on this bullshit, my endless prayers and fears and anger and pleading.... I know what they think, I used to think it. Knowing how brainwashed they are, that my freedom is causing them mental anguish (even though I can't control that)....having to come to terms with the fact that I never thought I'd be here over a year ago. This is my first Christmas in the Bible Belt area as a "mostly out" agnostic (at least with my family). I still haven't had the sit down with my parents where I just said, yep it's over. But they are being huge assholes about any comment I make. My dad asks me, in front of my entire family, if I'm comfortable with them praying for the meal in a restaurant. He makes this huge deal about me agreeing to go to a christmas eve service with my in-laws to keep the peace with everyone "YOU? Going to...CHURCH?" ....it's so annoying. How about, after that service, we go to @LogicalFallacy's annual celebration of the virgin birth of the Invisible Pink Unicorn. No? Anyone? Didn't think so, fam, fuck off lol. 

Hang in there Ag. You are exactly where I am in so many ways. I am still on the fence about being with the family for Christmas. I have come to terms somewhat and stopped feeling guilty for the hurt their beliefs cause them (it's not us, it's their beliefs). And Ag come back to lounge, we miss you there. ((Hugs)) -TS

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8 hours ago, TruthSeeker0 said:

Hang in there Ag. You are exactly where I am in so many ways. I am still on the fence about being with the family for Christmas. I have come to terms somewhat and stopped feeling guilty for the hurt their beliefs cause them (it's not us, it's their beliefs). And Ag come back to lounge, we miss you there. ((Hugs)) -TS

 

I'll stop in for a hello. <3 And thanks for your encouragement, you're awesome. If my parents weren't 5 minutes away, it might have gotten easier by now but they're RIGHT HERE gaaaahh.

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