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Back in the Closet. Again.


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I'm not really sure where to begin. I'm typing this on a computer at a public library next to a dude blasting heavy metal on his headphones. I hate heavy metal with every cell of my being. I'm enduring it because I just need to talk.

I was very active on this site back in 2014-ish. I spent the years between 2001 and 2013 as a hardcore evangelical. I think I always had the roots of doubts. But I managed to suppress them for many years. They kicked in hardcore around the beginning of 2012. I spent about a year and a half in the deconversion process. I fought it with all my strength, but I lost. Upon that final thin thread breaking over New Year's weekend of 13/14, I felt relief.

Mentally and emotionally, I was very happy. Socially, things were a mess. My marriage was extremely tested to say the least (DH remained, and still remains, quite fundamentalist.) My social circle dissolved. (My entire social circle had been comprised of church friends... each of these relationships suffered... anywhere on the spectrum from becoming awkward to dying outright). My kids, who were 14 and 11 at the time, suffered. This was the price I paid for coming out of the closet and being authentic with those closest to me.

I realized within six months or so that I was not, and probably never will be, a pure atheist or materialist. I do believe in a spiritual realm. My longing to connect with said realm led me back through a convoluted searching process that began with paganism and ended with the Catholicism of my youth. In the meantime I was dealing with my "monkey on my back", AKA life-altering anxiety disorder which occasionally wandered into the realm of depression. One day in April of 2017, after a particularly bad emotional time, I rode the waves all the way back to evangelicalism. I "got saved" with my husband at my side.

For a few months, I believed it. I remember reloading all the Christian music I had kicked off my ipod, putting on my headphones, and simultaneously playing Hillsong over and over; studying Scripture; and weeping. I started telling people I was a Christian again. I explained it theologically by saying that I had probably not really been saved before.

Well, you can guess what comes next. Just over a year later and I'm back where I was in 2013, but without the emotional turmoil. 

I'm at where I'm at because I started learning about my anxiety from an amazing online resource that explains anxiety disorder in a way I had never heard before. For the first time in almost two decades, I am learning tools and strategies to help kick this anxiety to the curb. But at the same time it is becoming so obvious that it's my anxiety that has always made me turn to Christianity. Without the fear, what motive remains to believe? 

Scriptures like Deuteronomy 13, which tells the Israelites to murder their family and close friends who stop wanting to worship Yahweh, have begun to pop back out. The ethical and moral horror of the hell for unbelievers has again struck me as unacceptable. The way Christians talk has started to seem weird again. But this time I am not really in a hurry to come out of the closet. And I'm ashamed, to tell the truth. But it is what it is. I tell myself that I'll remain closeted to protect my younger kids and keep my husband happy. And I suppose, in part, those are noble reasons. But I know the other side of the coin is not wanting to deal with the repercussions. I have moved since I last deconverted; from liberal, live-and-let-live Seattle, to a tiny town 45 minutes from the Idaho border (which isn't the Bible belt but might as well be). So it's not only the fam and the church fam this time; it's the entire freaking region who will label and judge me.

Maybe someday. I tell myself that I'll stay closeted for ten years and then announce, "Surprise!", and folks will be so amazed at how I could have been so nice and morally upstanding without religion. (They won't, of course). The hardest thing is not being open with my husband. I wish I could really open my heart and be real with him. I hate lying and/or faking so much... it goes against everything I stand for. Part of me wishes he'd undergo his own deconversion, but "be careful what you wish for" amirite?

All right. I typed long enough that the heavy metal dude got off the computer. Oh, one more thing... I'm still struggling with the little "signs"... YKWIM? The little things people will say, or whatever other tiny things happen throughout the day, that make you go "Is that a sign? Is God giving me these last little chances before he "gives me over"? I'm sure someone here understands.

Thanks for listening.

 

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Been where you are, @Aiyana

 

I came out in Summer of 2014 after hanging around Ex-C for about a year. I ducked back into the closet after a very near divorce that sent me on an emotional tailspin.  (Divorce was not due to my coming out) I was on fire for jebus again...for about...3 days. After 2 weeks I began to search the Interwebs for support to stay in the fold and, you guessed it, I bumped into Ex-C again. Re-signed up, read several posts, took the advice of several and began to read Hitchens, Carrier, Dawkins et al. And the rest is history.

 

I stayed in the closet because it seemed the smoothest path. Boy was I wrong!

 

I cannot speak to your exact predicament and how you respond to external stimuli but, for me, I simply could not go along with the superstition. I felt so creeped out each time the fundies would pray or sing or state those self deluding phrases like ...

 

"I Prayed and jebus found me a front-row parking place at the mall!" 

"This world has become unbearable because we are turning away from the lord!"

"Isn't this just a WONDERFUL day that the lord has given us?"  (It's frigid and RAINING outside, pinhead)

 

So I just stopped going to church and began pushing back. Then Mrs. MOHO confronted me a couple months ago and I admitted to my atheism. I received the usual "baby murderer" flood of accusations but I stood my ground and am so much happier today. Wifypooh stated, quite flatly, that the whole closet thing was worse for her than my beliefs ... or lack thereof. We are fine now and just don't talk about it. 

 

Like I said I don't know about your particular situation or how painful coming out would be for you but I strongly urge you to think things through and be really sure of your plan. Don't just assume that things will be worse if you come out.  Fear of the unknown and the fact that your mind chews on things and frequently makes them seem worse should be taken into consideration. 

 

Please feel free to reach out...

    - MOHO (Mind Of His Own)

 

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Sorry, I can't understand the benefit of lying to loved ones and being content with them loving a fake you. Why do they deserve your lies? They are being deceived and so are you if you think they love YOU. They love their idea of you. To live dishonestly is not to live. Sorry I'm so blunt, but at my age I find I don't want to waste time beating around the bush. I hope you take it in the spirit it's given. Good luck.

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Have you shared your ethical concerns about the Bible with your husband? Do you think you could get him to, if not agree with you, at least understand your perspective on a couple critical issues? I see nothing wrong with taking your good old time. You already know the consequences so it's reasonable give yourself time to prepare and perhaps ease your loved ones into it.

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You are in a real difficult situation. Leaving religion is rarely easy and experiencing a total destruction of your social circle is common. Your situation seems to be even more difficult than most people have to experience. 

 

Leaving your faith twice makes it even more difficult. Keeping a low profile is probably your best option until you figure out a long term solution. I wish you the best in your efforts to resolve your conflicts.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Aiyana said:

I realized within six months or so that I was not, and probably never will be, a pure atheist or materialist. I do believe in a spiritual realm. My longing to connect with said realm led me back through a convoluted searching process that began with paganism and ended with the Catholicism of my youth.

 

Why do you believe in a spiritual realm? 

 

Just for the fun of it, or do you have something more substantial to go on? 

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I am so sorry. I sent you a PM @Aiyana. We have some definite similarities in our stories. If I can be of any help, I will. Or, if you just want to talk -- I'm here.

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My fundy brother lived in a small town in Idaho. Not sure why small towns become so infested with fundamentalism, but it is often true. Maybe because there is nothing there to counter their cult, so it feels like it is more normal instead of superimposed over reality. Imaginary things always feel more real when other people share the fantasy.

 

I hope you find the peace you need. Any chance of getting out of the boonies?

 

 

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Hi Aiyana!

I definitely remember you from that time period.  You commented on some of my posts when I was going through some really difficult times. You were always encouraging and affirming.

 

It is really good to hear from you. Thank you for giving us all an update on how you've been.

 

I don't really have anything profound to add. But I am very sorry that your life is structured in such a way that prohibits you from being your authentic self with those around you. That must be really frustrating and isolating. We're here for you!

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I can relate to the part about wondering if little things were signs from God. I suspect they were just the leftovers from my long standing habit of attributing things to God through the lens of confirmation bias. That is, I attributed a few things to God but ignored the many other things that didn't fit the narrative. 

I don't envy your situation, but hang in there. You have good reasons for staying in the closet. If the reasons to come out ever outweigh the reasons to stay in, then come out. But no one else can judge your reasons or the weight you give them. There is no god upset with you for doing what you might think is not approved. Do what is best for you and your family.

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Aiyana, I have no new practical advice to offer.  I wish I did.  I do have this to share:

 

No belief set, religious or otherwise, is more valuable than the mental health of my children, my spouse, or anyone else I deeply care about. You have the right to expect the same level of respect, love, and care from your family. 

 

Your spouse and the extended family, and your church friends are telling you they do not value your mental health.  They are not there for you.  It is only about what you add to their lives.  Does any one of these folks listen to you with empathy and compassion?  Is anyone 100% on "team Aiyana"?  Because, from what I see, team Aiyana deserve 100% support.

 

You need to move forward, and make the decisions as needed.  But, please, going forward,when facing with a difficult choice or dilemma, please, please be 100% on team Aiyana, and choose what fills her sense of well being and happiness.

 

 

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Thanks for everyone's answers. I talked with my husband this weekend and it actually went quite well. I think it was lacking in the shock that last time brought.

 

To answer specific people's questions: 

Fuego: We actually just moved to the area in January. I honestly wanted to get out of Seattle. I'm politically conservative, so I'm fine with that aspect, and I also really like the peace and easy breathing of a small town. So we probably won't be going anywhere soon. :) Now that I had the convo with my husband, I feel freer to be honest with folks I meet.

Insightful: I'm so glad I was able to help you out a bit "back in the day"! Good to see you again.

Joshpantera: I just do. No real reason. Although, yes, it's fun. But it's just the way my mind has pretty much always worked. I toyed around with atheism super briefly but it didn't stick. My problem isn't with the idea of a spiritual realm, it's with the idea that "we're right, and the rest of you are going to hell".

Eowynesque: I have, yeah. Usually we end up arguing. This last time we both stayed calm, so that was progress.

Florduh: I'm glad I was able to be honest with the DH this weekend. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
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On 6/4/2018 at 5:21 PM, Aiyana said:

Joshpantera: I just do. No real reason. Although, yes, it's fun. But it's just the way my mind has pretty much always worked. I toyed around with atheism super briefly but it didn't stick. My problem isn't with the idea of a spiritual realm, it's with the idea that "we're right, and the rest of you are going to hell".

 

It can all start there. The doubting. The 'we're right the rest of the world is wrong' thing led me into some pretty heavy skepticism. And eventually into learning what the other religious actually teach, rather than straw men held by christians to knock down as foolish and second rate. Comparing religions in my christian school bible class was a joke. I didn't know what a straw man was back then, but what they were teaching in class amounts to some of the biggest straw men you've ever seen. Under the guise of open minded exploration of other beliefs. Odd times, very odd times back then. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Welcome back, Aiyana! I'm sorry to hear about your struggles, but I'm glad to hear you found some great tools to combat Anxiety along the way. As for the spirituality thing - I don't think there's anything wrong with developing or maintaining a kind of spirituality separate from Xianity (just make sure that it's a spirituality that respects people's boundaries and does not indulge in grandiose self-glorification or self-hate), and I believe there are others on this forum that would agree. 

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