Jump to content

How Can I Heal From My Christian Upbringing?


Heimir
 Share

Recommended Posts

I remember frequently being afraid of hell, never knowing whether I really was saved and trying desperately to find out whether christianity was true. I remember struggling with evolution, which in my opinion was hard to combine with christianity, but I was also always interested in nature and could have become an ecologist or biologist (perhaps I will one day, I mean I am in my early thirties, plenty of time ahead of me). I remember going to a more fundamentalist and sectarian church, which was warm in a way, but also very serious about finding the true religion, and teaching this to the children as well. And so this fear of hell that I mentioned was transfered to me when I was as young as five and it stayed with me for the next 20 years.

 

My life was going down the drain until five years ago, when I left. My studies was going very badly, and I only managed to finish my BSc after 10 years. Leaving religion was a very important step in that, which I did when I was 8 years in. It allowed me to rediscover life and myself, and to see things more lightly.

 

It's been 5 years now that I left faith. I no longer believe in any gods, heaven, hell, or anything. I do not fear death. I am very happy that a lot healed. However, I had a lot of catching up to do - learning about secular ethics and morality (no longer basing my idea of what's 'good' in religion), science (how the world really works), social things (how people can have different ideas, cultures, sexuality, etc and how I can respond to that), etc. And of course I had my career to build after a long time of trouble. I am happy to say that went well, but the last 5 years was a constant battle.

Now I feel disillusioned and I am not sure what I have been fighting for. I mean I have been trying to grow out of the damage caused by religion (and some bad choices on my part - I am not blaming everything on religion), but I see how I have actually been evading a lot of difficult emotion inside of me. I did not have sex yet (in my early thirties now), or a long relation for that matter, because I feel uncomfortable with the idea of sex (though I am good looking and extremely athletic, I do rock climbing and triathlons), though I really want it as well. I also find it hard to imagine that someone would want someone in her life with such a messy history. I see myself fully filling all my time and all my silent moments, so that I do not have to deal with all the difficult thoughts and emotions that come. I hardly ever cry, but I really want to. I am very focussed on solving problems, my own and others, but not because I care but because I feel obliged.

I have dated with a girl for a few weeks and though it started beautifully, it quickly became a disaster, and what I describe above came to the surface. Now I see what a mess I am inside and I really want to deal with it (not for her, though I still like her (but I think it's too late), but for myself). I have started seeing a psychologist and I have told her all of the above and more, and I am ready to do anything to heal from this.

That is why I am posting this as well - I am looking for ways that I can move forward and actually heal from the rubbish ideas that I have been fed that subconsciously still influence me, and become a healthy, stable and strong individual. What helped you? What would you advice me to do?

  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Heimer and welcome to Ex-C. I can certainly relate to the fear of hell and am also glad to be over that phase of leaving faith. 

 

Just re-reading what you've written, it appears that you are on the way to a healthier you. Recognizing that there are problems is a big step forward. It's good that you are seeking professional help. These things weren't broken overnight and they won't be fixed overnight. 

 

A book that was a great help to me when I left about 8 years ago was "Leaving the Fold" by Marlene Winell. There are three sections to the book: sorting it out, healing, and growth. There are used copies available on Amazon for around $20. 

 

Looking forward to seeing you around on the forums.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Super Moderator

Welcome!

 

It takes varying amounts of time for people to recover from religion. Sometimes a little professional help speeds things along. I'm thinking secular counseling and perhaps a sex surrogate to help you feel comfortable being normal after your brainwashing. Good luck, you'll get there.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In order for me to move on I had to find evidence that Christianity  wasn't true. In other words that it's man made and that the Bible is just a collection of myths. To my surprise that was easy to do. I discovered Bart Ehrman, Robert M.Price,  David Fitzgerald, Hermann Detering, Richard Carrier,  Richard Dawkins, and many other similar scholars.

 

As it turns out there is a huge amount of evidence that the Bible is a collection of myrhical stories and Christianity is just one of many man made religions. Once I discovered that it was easy to walk away and not look back.

 

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Eugene39 said:

Hi Heimer and welcome to Ex-C. I can certainly relate to the fear of hell and am also glad to be over that phase of leaving faith. 

 

Just re-reading what you've written, it appears that you are on the way to a healthier you. Recognizing that there are problems is a big step forward. It's good that you are seeking professional help. These things weren't broken overnight and they won't be fixed overnight. 

 

A book that was a great help to me when I left about 8 years ago was "Leaving the Fold" by Marlene Winell. There are three sections to the book: sorting it out, healing, and growth. There are used copies available on Amazon for around $20. 

 

Looking forward to seeing you around on the forums.

 

 Thanks Eugene! :)

Yeah, glad that fear of hell phase is over (for both of us). For some it lasts for the rest of their lives, so I am grateful that that is not the case for me.

Thanks for reading it even twice, I appreciate that ;). I feel like things are moving in the right direction now. The problems are very visible for me now, and I also am starting to get a vision of what I want my life to be like (in part), and the therapist will help me bridge that gap and further find out what I want my life to be like. Good that you remind me that it won't happen overnight, I am prepared to be in therapy as long as it takes.

I just ordered that book today, such a coincidence! Can't wait to start reading!

Thanks again for the warm welcome, I look forward to reading from you as well!

 

4 hours ago, florduh said:

Welcome!

 

It takes varying amounts of time for people to recover from religion. Sometimes a little professional help speeds things along. I'm thinking secular counseling and perhaps a sex surrogate to help you feel comfortable being normal after your brainwashing. Good luck, you'll get there.

 

I didn't know what a sex surrogate was. Now I know, I think it's not for me but I do think it's cool that it exists, I understand the need for such a profession. I hope to find someone who is patient with me in bed, and I believe that I am a quick learner, and that I can provide some motivation for their patience. I am athletic, in the best shape of my life! I am already one of the best rock climbers in my group (if not the best soon) and I am becoming a top ten percent triathlete, perhaps soon a national champion in one related discipline. I mean many people call their bodies athletic, I guess I just wanted to state that I am not using that term lightly (and that I am an arrogant bragster! :P). 

 

3 hours ago, Burnedout said:

Best way to heal, in my opinion, don't try.  Just have fun going forward.  Per sue YOUR interests.  Don't worry about what other people think.  If they give you any shit, find a way to tell them to fuck off, either straight forward or creatively.  Just don't focus on the negative past, MAKE YOUR OWN FUTURE.  It is now in YOUR hands.  Make the best of it. 

 

That is great advice, I will take that to heart. I will do what you say 80% of the time. For 20% of the time I will allow myself to explore my past and heal, it does bring me a lot of good now. But I won't let myself dwell in it. And I won't let it dominate my conversations with people, I am even getting to a point where I think I will just talk with it with my therapist and with my diary. If a friend asks (I have told a lot of the process that I am in), I will just tell them that I am making progress and that I am learning to enjoy my life. Perhaps I will tell them something positive that has changed. That is all, unless I really find an obstacle that I find hard to cross or if I really need some input from somebody, but that should be very clear. I notice that in 95% of the time I talk about it just to get attention or because I just can't help myself (it occupies my mind). I don't like that conclusion, but it's true. Therefore this new rule to limit that. Talking is useful, but what I really need to learn now is to manage my (negative) emotions by myself, shut up with all this serious talk (because it becomes a self fulfilling prophesy) and to have a lot more fun!


Thanks for this great post! It was what I needed!
 

2 hours ago, Geezer said:

In order for me to move on I had to find evidence that Christianity  wasn't true. In other words that it's man made and that the Bible is just a collection of myths. To my surprise that was easy to do. I discovered Bart Ehrman, Robert M.Price,  David Fitzgerald, Hermann Detering, Richard Carrier,  Richard Dawkins, and many other similar scholars.

 

As it turns out there is a huge amount of evidence that the Bible is a collection of myrhical stories and Christianity is just one of many man made religions. Once I discovered that it was easy to walk away and not look back.

 


Great to read that Geezer! I know many of those people, and they have helped me as well. You know I am pretty thankful for people like this who take time to argue against religion in sophisticated and systematic ways! :)

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Heimir said:

And I won't let it dominate my conversations with people, I am even getting to a point where I think I will just talk with it with my therapist and with my diary. If a friend asks (I have told a lot of the process that I am in), I will just tell them that I am making progress and that I am learning to enjoy my life. Perhaps I will tell them something positive that has changed. That is all, unless I really find an obstacle that I find hard to cross or if I really need some input from somebody, but that should be very clear. I notice that in 95% of the time I talk about it just to get attention or because I just can't help myself (it occupies my mind). I don't like that conclusion, but it's true. Therefore this new rule to limit that. Talking is useful, but what I really need to learn now is to manage my (negative) emotions by myself, shut up with all this serious talk (because it becomes a self fulfilling prophesy) and to have a lot more fun!


Just had a shower, and there I had a new insight, felt like a spiritual experience (does god talk to us through the shower - well yes, evidenced by this experience and all the inspiration that people get from showers!!), seriously. I felt a strong love for my friends and a deep longing to get to know them better. I mean stopping all this talk about my own problems and trying to get accountability or help from them was one difficult step (at least for a while), but I am making progress in that, but then the next question is 'what do you talk about then'?. Well, obviously, many things, and I felt excited while thinking about this under the shower. I can ask about their past. What they enjoyed to do as kids. What their family life was like. What their favorite topics or teachers in high school were, and if there were some particularly funny moments. Their dating blunders and their good dates. The holidays that they've been on. And so many other things of their past that are enjoyable or meaningful to talk about. I can talk with them about their dreams for the future. What's on their bucket lists. Where do they want to travel. What cars do they want to drive. What kind of house. And about their present. What they enjoyed about today. And of course we can tell jokes.

Anyways, I was filled with a love for my friends and a desire to see them happy, in general, and while interacting with me, and I feel inspired to play that role (in an authentic way).

This is quite a new feeling for me, which is why I write it down and share it. Until now I felt very strongly that friendship and caring for my friends meant sharing our struggles with each other and being there for each other in tough times, but I was in that overly serious mode for 80% of the time, which is too much, especially for a life that is actually not that bad. Now I don't just *know* that I should talk less about my or their problems and challenges, I *feel* negative about doing that, and not only that, I also know what I should instead and I feel very good about that. It feels like a breakthrough, but let's see if it actually translates into account tomorrow and in the coming weeks.

Feeling like I am becoming a new Heimir! :)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/13/2018 at 2:26 AM, Heimir said:

That is why I am posting this as well - I am looking for ways that I can move forward and actually heal from the rubbish ideas that I have been fed that subconsciously still influence me, and become a healthy, stable and strong individual. What helped you? What would you advice me to do?

From the sounds of it you are on your way to healing - just give it time. It's been about 10 years for me now and I'm still in the process of healing, although I am much healthier, saner, and happier with myself.

 

One way to look at it is that these emotions are bubbling up because you finally feel safe enough to address them. It's a sign of great progress! It's ok to feel, and it's ok not to be perfect all the time. You are addressing what you're going through and you're reaching out to people in appropriate social contexts (like a psychologist and this website), which I think is exactly the right thing to do.

 

If you want any additional advice from my own chapter I'd say you should try to go outside your comfort zone now and then. Get out of your shell! It may be one of the reasons why my username has to do with turtles...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, DestinyTurtle said:

From the sounds of it you are on your way to healing - just give it time. It's been about 10 years for me now and I'm still in the process of healing, although I am much healthier, saner, and happier with myself.

 

Thanks, that's good to hear! I will be patient. I am prepared to be in therapy for as long as it takes, and I expect that afterwards it will still go on. Good to know that you have made such progress, that gives me hope!

 

7 hours ago, DestinyTurtle said:

One way to look at it is that these emotions are bubbling up because you finally feel safe enough to address them. It's a sign of great progress! It's ok to feel, and it's ok not to be perfect all the time. You are addressing what you're going through and you're reaching out to people in appropriate social contexts (like a psychologist and this website), which I think is exactly the right thing to do.

 

Yes, I do feel much safer now. I have a nice place to live, I have a good job (so I can afford a therapist), I am completely independent from my parents and have a good network of friends. I can afford to face this now.  This forum is also great, it's good to write my thoughts and questions down and to read what you all write, and I find it inspiring. A post such as yours really helps me, so thanks for taking the time to write it! :)

 

7 hours ago, DestinyTurtle said:

If you want any additional advice from my own chapter I'd say you should try to go outside your comfort zone now and then. Get out of your shell! It may be one of the reasons why my username has to do with turtles...

 

I am going pretty far outside of my comfort zone right now, once I see that something is important I can be quite bold and push myself there. But the challenge then is to create a 'habitable order' in the chaos that I confront, to use Jordan Peterson's words, meaning that I find it challenging to actually become comfortable and confident with a new mode of acting. I am the warrior type, always willing to fight for what's good, but never finding rest. My new innovation is actually to carry a comfortable shell to retreat in every now and then! :)

By this I mean that I am learning to take my own needs seriously, and to love and respect myself. Even after 5 years I now discovered that I still viewed myself as worthless and bad, and that my role was to save the world and to make other people's lives better. I am so happy that I let go of that.

 

Perhaps the fighting mode was my comfort zone. I was being busy all the time, which prevented me from feeling and thinking about all of this mess inside of me. Now (thanks to my ex-date; to be honest I am quite grateful for it, even though it is hard) Pandora's box has been opened, all of this mess is out and I no longer can pretend like nothing is wrong. Confronting this is quite painful. I try not to approach this with my warrior mindset, but more in a calm way. It's strange territory to be in, for sure.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi all!

 

This topic is about healing, but I didn't describe the damage of religion in my life in any detail. So, I thought it was interesting to write out how my christian life (between ages 0 and 25) has affected me and how I developed:

1. I have been terrified of hell since I was a kid. Personally, I never knew for sure that I was saved, because of my church (see 2), and I feared the eternal torment that may be waiting for me, my friends, my family and just everyone I encountered. This made me very tense and serious, which are not qualities that I think are the natural me. I see people being fun and relaxed, and I see that I have that in me too, but I often fall back into serious conversation, which is something I'd like to change. I think it is because I never felt really safe and at peace, because doom was waiting for me, and if not for me, then for the people I loved.

2. I was always looking for the "real faith", for the radical, true way of believing (and subsequently, living). My (slightly cultish) church was also like this, and so where my parents (especially my father). Especially because of the fear of hell I describe above. I have been baptised when I was 12 (our church only does 'adult' baptising) but I remember waiting many years for that, because I really wanted to be saved and have confirmation that I was. This same mindset still makes me be very reflective and serious in how I approach life, like I describe above. Now I think it's better to look for my way of living, by (by my own standards) being good for myself and the people I love and by exploring what gives my life meaning in a personal sense (not an absolute/objective one).

3. I have been taught the idea of sin, which always made me very conscious. I asked for forgiveness a lot, part due to my fear of hell. I tried to live perfectly. Now I am no longer striving to live a sinless life, but to live honestly and boldly (striving to live in a way that is good for me and the world, but allowing myself to make mistakes).

4. I have never had sex, and I have been taught all sorts of garbage around this. Been pretty close recently - sleeping and kuddling without clothes together, which was awesome in a way but I was incredibly tense and this was what caused our relationship to end. It was good though that I faced this fear and it this is one of the main reasons that I am going to a therapist. You know, it may sound strange to say about myself, but I am a good looking guy, athletic, intelligent, more and more successful and social, and I get more and more attention from girls (this week a pretty italian girl asked my telephone number, another girl wants to travel with me...), so it's really strange to be a virgin. It feels like this area of my life is forbidden, I just get blocked when I go there. I think I can overcome it, but it will take a patient girl. And some therapy.

5. I have been taught that there are two groups of people: christians and non-christians. Non-christians can still can themselves christians (see 2), and they are probably going to hell (see 1). Christians are the good guys (though still sinful and worthless), we hope to go to heaven together. Better hang out with them, because you don't want 'worldly influences' that corrupt you. That way of thinking now is very fucked up, it is very closed minded because you see the world as just dangerous. Now I love learning about how other people live, listening to their stories without judgement. I often feel very naive, like I am discovering the world right now. But on the other hand it's an exciting journey, I love it when I see something in someone that is unique about that person and that I can admire. And sometimes I don't like something, and in a way I also like that, because in this way I develop my own ideas about what a good and interesting life is for me.

6. Science and religion - I have always been interested in nature, and I think I'd been a biologist or something without christianity, and I actually ended up pretty close so that's good (and still could become one), but my progress has been severely sabotaged by how christianity confused the whole creation and evolution thing. I am glad that I now can be interested in science in an open way (still critical, but that's how you should be, but a young earth is not a viable hypothesis), just like I like to approach people now.

That's it for now, I am sure that I could write more. Glad that I am no longer being fed such fucked up ideas and that these have been eroding a way for the last 5 years, some faster than other though, but now that I am in therapy, writing about this and willing to experiment more I am sure that I can accelerate this process.


Thanks for reading!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderator

Hi Heimir,

 

I’ve read your various posts since you joined us and while there’s no doubt that religion has caused you no small share of problems, I’m confident things will work out well for you.  You’re obviously a smart guy and I like your approach to things.  Being physically active will serve you well.  It’s just a matter of time (probably sooner rather than later) before you meet a girl who will put you at ease and then everything will ‘click’ between the sheets.  Stay around here, keep reading and sharing, and you will make steady progress, I think.

All the best to you man!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Heimir, your story is very familiar to me.  I can relate directly to most of what you've written. I'm afraid I don't really have a lot to add to what others have said, but I wanted to reiterate that it does get better in time.  I don't think it ever gets easy. But it does get easier. Just keep trying to get better,  do the things you want to do,  read,  learn,  and have add much fun as you can. You'll get there.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/20/2018 at 12:03 PM, ThereAndBackAgain said:

Hi Heimir,

 

I’ve read your various posts since you joined us and while there’s no doubt that religion has caused you no small share of problems, I’m confident things will work out well for you.  You’re obviously a smart guy and I like your approach to things.  Being physically active will serve you well.  It’s just a matter of time (probably sooner rather than later) before you meet a girl who will put you at ease and then everything will ‘click’ between the sheets.  Stay around here, keep reading and sharing, and you will make steady progress, I think.

All the best to you man!

 

On 8/20/2018 at 12:52 PM, disillusioned said:

Heimir, your story is very familiar to me.  I can relate directly to most of what you've written. I'm afraid I don't really have a lot to add to what others have said, but I wanted to reiterate that it does get better in time.  I don't think it ever gets easy. But it does get easier. Just keep trying to get better,  do the things you want to do,  read,  learn,  and have add much fun as you can. You'll get there.

Thanks @ThereAndBackAgain and @disillusioned, I appreciate your kind words! I don't plan to go away from here any time soon, nor give up on my process of dealing with my christian past and growing as a person.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.