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I have been wanting to write my ex-timonial for a while now, but it's been a matter of taking the time to sit down and write it. This will probably be a long post, so I apologize in advance. Also, trigger warning: post includes topics of mental illness and suicide.

 

Where to begin? 

 

I would say that I was raised in an almost cult-like environment, meaning no outside influences really allowed. My parents were Christian, and I went to a private Christian school up until 9th grade. My grandfather on my father's side has been a pastor at different churches all my life (still is). I don't remember any trauma growing up until 7th grade when my parents got divorced, however I remember always feeling sad. And always feeling like something was wrong with me, like I didn't fit in. In middle school I got called "witch" a lot because I always wore black (I was one of the chubbiest kids in my grade, and my mom told me black made me look slimmer). My teachers thought I was a depressed goth child and pulled me out of class to pray for me.

 

 For almost as long as I can remember, I have had negative thoughts invade my mind constantly. Where do these thoughts come from? Why have I always thought of myself as inferior to everyone else, to the point of becoming a willing doormat because I was so afraid that people wouldn’t like me anymore? Looking back on it now, I really do think that these feelings stemmed from my extreme religious upbringing. I am sure many of you can relate. As young children we are told we are born sinners, and there is nothing we can do about it except to accept Jesus as our lord and saviour. But even so, we still have to strive for perfection. When I hit puberty it got worse, because I was made to feel ashamed of myself and my body because any little thing could give some man "impure thoughts," and we all know impure thoughts lead to impure actions, therefore it would be my fault (a young girl who hit puberty way too early).

 

I struggled with this all growing up. I went through so many phases trying to find myself. I always thought growing up that I wanted to go to culinary school. When I was 15, my very devout grandparents (mentioned above) took me on a mission trip to India. It was an amazing experience, although when people would ask me what my plans were for the future my grandparents would act like they were ashamed of me because I wanted to go to culinary school. In their eyes, you're not successful until you go into medicine or IT.

 

I felt so ashamed, I decided not to go to college at all and instead join The Navy. When my grandparents found out, they called me, EXTREMELY upset because supposedly if I joined the Navy, I would "never go to college, turn into a lesbian and get raped." Just.. I don't even know what to say to that.

 

So I joined. I thought I was doing the right thing. And being raised in such a closed-off environment, I naturally assumed everyone else joins the military for the same reasons I did - to honourably serve our country and protect our brothers and sisters. Boy, was I wrong. My first 'A' school, my classmates, brothers and sisters I graduated boot camp with, among others, decided that I was to be the class punching bag because I was quiet and vulnerable. People started telling me I should kill myself, that I don't belong here and no one wants me here. I tried to go along with it and tell myself they were just joking, but it was happening almost daily. It ended up affecting me so badly I flunked out of 'A' school and had to pick another rate.

 

Things went well at my second 'A' school. I graduated as a Master at Arms and went into the fleet to my first duty station. But, still being shy and vulnerable, other things started to happen. I don't need to go into too much detail, but I will say this - I was sexually taken advantage of (a few times, remember I felt like I was a doormat and couldn't say no to anyone), rumours were started about me, my roommate tried to get me into A LOT of trouble, and by A LOT I mean A LOT (fortunately I didn't). There were other things too, but needless to say, I was pretty depressed. 

 

Being stationed in Europe meant I could drink even though I was 19, because the military goes by the laws of the country you're stationed. So, I started drinking with my fellow shipmates. And then I started mixing in sleeping pills, because I heard somewhere it would really mess you up. And all those thoughts of my former classmates telling me to kill myself started to come back. I truly felt like I didn't have a place in this world. I tried to end my life a few times, and was medically discharged from the Navy a few months later.

 

I don't think I ever really questioned my faith until this point. Mostly I went along with it because my entire family is Christian and I wasn't allowed to have non-Christian friends even when I transferred to public school in 9th grade. But at that point in my life, my faith was shattered. I was a broken person.

 

When I came back home to live with my dad, his idea of "helping me" was forcing me to reach out to the youth pastor of his church. When I tried to do so, the pastor basically shrugged me off and told me to talk to someone else (who happened to be a girl I went to private school with, no way in hell was I going to try and talk to her so I waked off). Then, my dad switched churches and made me go to a college age bible study. I reluctantly went, albeit I was all high from taking too many sleeping pills. I decided to be brave and tell these people my story. When I was done, all they could say to me was, "God loves you, don't you want to know what his plan is for you?" None of them could wrap their heads around why I wanted to end my life, and still felt that way as I told them my story. My guess would be because mental illness doesn't really seem to exist in our religion. Growing up my pastor grandfather would tell me depression isn't a real thing, and you "don't need medications" to get healthy. I think this event really started the wheels turning in my head.

 

There were already so many things I didn't understand about our religion. I didn't understand why I couldn't have friends who didn't share our faith. I have always considered myself to be a loving person, and wanted to reach out to people. I couldn't understand why homosexuality was seen as a sin. I came out to my family as bisexual my senior year and that was a complete nightmare. I also couldn't understand why I was made to feel so ashamed about myself and my body. Being taught growing that if you have premarital sex as a women you are basically worthless, therefore you should never even hold hands with a man until your wedding day can do a number on your psyche. 

 

I am truly grateful for my now husband, who came into my life not long after getting out of the military. I still considered myself Christian when we first got together. A few times we would tell my dad we were going to bible study and then go for a drive or go out to dinner. He questioned every apologetic answer I was brainwashed to give when people question our faith. He gave me a different perspective that helped me figure out how to think for myself. I stopped going to church when I moved out of my dad's house into my first apartment with him, and haven't gone back since. That was four years ago.

 

In between then and now, many things happened. When we got engaged I insisted on getting married on Halloween, mostly because I love Halloween and studying the occult, and I have always had a soft spot for Samhain and witches, because a witch was apparently the worst thing kids could think of calling me growing up. They're outcasts, and so was I. It was also partially to piss my family off. My grandfather asked me if he could pray at my wedding and I said no. This is the point I think where I felt I was absolutely done with religion.

 

If anyone were to ask me what I believe in now, I would say that I truly believe in the power of love. Love and kindness will change the world, and it starts with the individual. The god the Christians believe in is not a god of love. A god of love wouldn't condemn people for being gay, for being of a different religion, for asking questions, for having sex. In my opinion, if god was real, they would WANT us to ask questions and know more. I look at the story of Adam and Eve now, and I get upset. Adam and Eve were living a delusion, and the serpent gave them the opportunity to know the truth. The story doesn't add up. God gave them the "free will" to choose, but didn't want them to and knew they would go against his order anyway. Why then, even offer a choice, if you expect your creations to submit to your will blindly? "You went against my commandment and now you will suffer, but I still love you! Obey my every command without question and worship me." Yeah.. I don't think so.

 

I think that going from one form of brainwashing (Christianity) to another (the military) is what broke me. But I wonder if I had never gone through these things, where would I be now? Perhaps these things had to happen because otherwise I wouldn't be free. Free of shame, free from horrible, intrusive thoughts of never feeling good enough in the eyes of god and my family. I think that now I have become an even MORE loving and accepting person. Who knew an apostate would be capable of such things? I have always and still do like the idea of Jesus, but I see him as a MAN who wanted to spread a message of love and light into the world, and that's all.

 

Now, at 25, these experiences have led me to follow a path I never would have imagined. In the last few years I have spent the majority of my free time reading about cults, new religious movements, abusive religious practices and so on. I have so many questions burning in my brain, I have come to the conclusion that I will now go to school to study psychology, as well as comparative religion and philosophy, so I can TRY in this lifetime to understand the concept of belief, and how it can control and manipulate our minds. My grandparents caught wind of this and out of the blue two weeks ago, invited me out to dinner. It felt like an intervention. It was awful! I was told by them my ideas of unconditional love are NOT god's ideas of unconditional love. It's like they see me as a lost soul in need of redemption, like I will never truly be happy unless I love their god and follow his rules.

 

But you know what? I AM happy. I have never felt so much joy in my life as I do now. I am no longer ashamed to be myself. I am free to love and accept everyone. I am free to be kind and stand up for the good of all. And I am so much stronger and braver than my younger self. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read this. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my chest for finally getting this out.

 

 

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Welcome to ExC! I'm glad you found your way out, and that you are happier now.

 

It's good that you are going back to school. Keep reading, learning, and asking questions. At the end of the day, we're all still looking for answers.

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Welcome! I saw so many girls being shamed and brainwashed at all ages, even adult women. Pastors always thought the females were up to some sexual sin, which really only tells us something about the pastors!

 

No gods, never were. Enjoy your freedom.

 

 

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Religions main tools are fear & indoctrination. You're lucky you escaped many don't. Welcome, I hope you find this site helpful. 

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Thank you for sharing your story and happiness with us, and congrats to you for getting out!

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On 5/20/2018 at 6:48 PM, Meowmix106 said:

I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my chest for finally getting this out.

Isn't it a relief? Once you realize that it's all bogus, there is a great feeling of freedom and a sense of calm. Enjoy! 

 

And welcome. Please stick around and contribute to all our forums.

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Thank you for sharing your story! I have not posted my ex-timonial yet, but am getting close. It's helpful to come here and read others experiences. Thank you. I hope your growth towards wholeness and freedom continues!

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  • Moderator
3 hours ago, Riven said:

Thank you for sharing your story! I have not posted my ex-timonial yet, but am getting close. It's helpful to come here and read others experiences. Thank you. I hope your growth towards wholeness and freedom continues!

 

Welcome to you too, Riven. Everyone has their own pace. You'll have nothing but support from us when you decide to post it. There's no stress. 

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2 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

 

Welcome to you too, Riven. Everyone has their own pace. You'll have nothing but support from us when you decide to post it. There's no stress. 

 

Thank you, Joshpantera! I'm getting close... I signed up some time ago, but couldn't even post. So, progress. 🙂

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Quote

There were already so many things I didn't understand about our religion. I didn't understand why I couldn't have friends who didn't share our faith. I have always considered myself to be a loving person, and wanted to reach out to people. I couldn't understand why homosexuality was seen as a sin. I came out to my family as bisexual my senior year and that was a complete nightmare. I also couldn't understand why I was made to feel so ashamed about myself and my body. Being taught growing that if you have premarital sex as a women you are basically worthless, therefore you should never even hold hands with a man until your wedding day can do a number on your psyche. 

Oh boy, tell me about it. The things that us women go through with a very religious upbringing stick around for awhile, and sometimes it's very hard to shake it all off, even after you've left religion behind for good. I couldn't really begin to undo all of this damage until I went to therapy, and did a lot of reading, and learning, and accepted that the past will always be with me, to a certain degree. But it still makes me angry.

 

Quote

 

Now, at 25, these experiences have led me to follow a path I never would have imagined. In the last few years I have spent the majority of my free time reading about cults, new religious movements, abusive religious practices and so on. I have so many questions burning in my brain, I have come to the conclusion that I will now go to school to study psychology, as well as comparative religion and philosophy, so I can TRY in this lifetime to understand the concept of belief, and how it can control and manipulate our minds. My grandparents caught wind of this and out of the blue two weeks ago, invited me out to dinner. It felt like an intervention. It was awful! I was told by them my ideas of unconditional love are NOT god's ideas of unconditional love. It's like they see me as a lost soul in need of redemption, like I will never truly be happy unless I love their god and follow his rules.

 

But you know what? I AM happy. I have never felt so much joy in my life as I do now. I am no longer ashamed to be myself. I am free to love and accept everyone. I am free to be kind and stand up for the good of all. And I am so much stronger and braver than my younger self. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read this. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my chest for finally getting this out.

 

 

There is much in your story that is similar to mine. I still struggle with setting boundaries with religious family. I decided the best thing was honesty, and letting them know what I believed and why I was truly a non-believer. I think if they ever tried an intervention with me, I would tell them firmly, "I love you, but I believe differently, and you should respect that." 

I can really relate to the never having been happier, and being able to love and accept everyone. I gave up important friendships when I was in the church even though it felt wrong, because I thought these friends were 'living in sin.' I've reconnected with a couple of them now, in a way it wasn't possible to before. Religion is pretty toxic in the way it separates people.

 

Thanks for sharing your story, and welcome to ex-c!

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/31/2018 at 6:26 PM, TruthSeeker0 said:

 

Oh boy, tell me about it. The things that us women go through with a very religious upbringing stick around for awhile, and sometimes it's very hard to shake it all off, even after you've left religion behind for good. I couldn't really begin to undo all of this damage until I went to therapy, and did a lot of reading, and learning, and accepted that the past will always be with me, to a certain degree. But it still makes me angry.

 

There is much in your story that is similar to mine. I still struggle with setting boundaries with religious family. I decided the best thing was honesty, and letting them know what I believed and why I was truly a non-believer. I think if they ever tried an intervention with me, I would tell them firmly, "I love you, but I believe differently, and you should respect that." 

I can really relate to the never having been happier, and being able to love and accept everyone. I gave up important friendships when I was in the church even though it felt wrong, because I thought these friends were 'living in sin.' I've reconnected with a couple of them now, in a way it wasn't possible to before. Religion is pretty toxic in the way it separates people.

 

Thanks for sharing your story, and welcome to ex-c!

 

Thank you so much. Would you be willing to possibly share your story with me? After I posted this, my grandparents asked me if I would come to dinner with them again. I told them I wasn't available until July. July isn't that far away now and I could use advice on how to tell them.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Welcome to X-xian Meowmix106! Thank you for your heartfelt testimony. You are courageous and strong and I found the testimony inspirational. You said at one point that the brainwashings broke you, but I don't think you're broken at all (unless you mean "break free"). Broken people are the ones who have no spirit left over to express their individual will or to point out the obvious truths/incongruities about the religion. Anyways, glad you made it!

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  • 5 weeks later...
On 5/20/2018 at 8:48 PM, Meowmix106 said:

But I wonder if I had never gone through these things, where would I be now?

 

Agreed! I always say if I were to wish away something in my life, the further back in life it was, the less of the things I like about my current life I would have. It would be great to have never been a Christian and somehow wind up with the same wife, kids, and grandchildren I have now, but had I never "gone forward" that night when I was 11, my life would be completely different now. Perhaps it would be as good, perhaps better, perhaps worse -- there's no telling -- but the people who are in my life now whom I love would definitely not be there. (I just hope some day a few more of them will realize that their god isn't real.)

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  • 4 months later...

Hello Meowmix! I am also a Navy veteran who joined while running away from an abusive family environment. I was always a total outcast in church as far back as I can remember, while my sisters and brother were in the "cool crowd". I hoped things would be different in the Navy but was let down. I was never bullied because I argued and went Donald Trump on anyone who gave me a hard time so people left me alone. I found few friends however and kept to myself. You are so right in your conclusions and I send you so much love!! 

 

I am so sorry you were bullied, you would have been one of my friends if I had worked with you.

 

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