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Man

Coping with the void

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Hello everyone,

 

I was wondering if there were people who also had difficulties with leaving Xtiannity, I feel empty ever since I left the faith.

 

I was born Catholic, always believed in god, but was not practicing the faith on a daily basis (as many Catholics in my country). I became born again at the age of 18, stayed 7 years, left a year ago after studying the discrepancies of the bible. But I have an emptiness inside of me now... Christianity gave me a purpose in life, a hope, answers to questions about life (why are we here? What happens after death? Etc...). Now that I know that it is not true, all those questions came back, but even stronger than before being a born again Xtian. Does this emptiness leave after a good amount of time? If you lived the same feelings that I have now, how did you get out of it?

 

Thank you very much. 

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This is the fundamental question of the human condition.  There isn’t a perfect answer.  In religion, there are doors to open, but they don’t lead anywhere.  Outside of it, there’s only the sky above your head, but you’re free to find your own purpose.

 

Time helps.  Relationships help, but it can be hard to find the same sense of community outside of faith which is more self-organizing.  What satisfies you is going to be individual.  It may be an intellectual pursuit or just a set of comforts and distractions.  It’s okay, because it’s yours, and that growing, unapologetic identity will become one of your biggest anchors.  Looking back, you’ll realize ways that your old worldview was small, and there’s just no going to it even if the new perspective is more challenging.

 

If you’re still working free of the wreckage of your old life, definitely give it time.  Work on living for this life instead of in spite of it.

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I've found that purpose is what I make of it. There are character qualities I want to embody, and some that I don't. Sometimes I have to choose moment by moment, but it is something that I want to do, not to please some bloodthirsty deity, or to make a church-goer happy with my conformity. Helping other humans is approved by all faiths, so kindness is a good thing to embody. Self-direction can be hard at first because we were used to being given "answers". And part of self-direction is also cutting yourself slack when you aren't 100% going after your goals of being. 

 

What do you enjoy doing? I like to sing, so I regularly meet with singer friends of mine to listen to them, and they come to hear me also. That helps to form community, and friendships. Joining with others makes us feel like part of something bigger, especially if there are noble goals added to the mix. If travel is your thing, learning languages can be a way to meet up and practice. 

 

Most animals don't seem to ponder meaning in being, they find their food, try to get a mate, feed their young, squabble with each other, and eventually die. Humans make a big deal out of there needing to be some overarching meaning. But I think that finding meaning and making meaning is what works best, rather than knowingly embracing myths and insisting that they are true. 

 

And it does take time to change old habits of thinking, and especially the programming of faith and religion. They get hooks into our brain's survival software, and that makes the malware harder to remove. It's taken 12 years for me to get over some of it, and there are days where songs from the past pop into my head. I enjoyed those songs at the time, but now I see how they were part of my old programming, and contain false information. 

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Hi @Man welcome to Ex-C

 

The first thing to realise is that everyone is different in how they handle deconversion. Some feel a great sense of elation and freedom, others feel lost and empty.

 

Christianity (And many other religions) do indeed provide a person will the complete life if you will. It gives you community, meaning, and the way of how to live. You don't have to worry about building your own life. But its all built on false hopes, bad evidence, and wishful thinking. However I think this is a poor way to live. As Carl Sagan said, "better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable".

 

I went through a gut wrenching stage as I realised that my entire worldview was based on bad reasons and unsupported assumptions. But I fairly quickly got over this as I realised it was important to live the one life we have. I think generally the feelings do leave if one works on building a community and interests in life around them.

 

All the best

LF

 

 

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The thing I found helped the most with depression was to keep my mind active. Negative thoughts only surface when you sit and dwell on them, but a busy brain doesn't have the time to focus on anything thats not right in front of it. 

Find things that you love (or new things to try), anything will do from sports, hobbies, games or fitness. I took up martial arts, learnt a language, wrote a book, joined a gym and I've always been an avid gamer. 

Find your joy and embrace life. 

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9 hours ago, LogicalFallacy said:

Hi @Man welcome to Ex-C

 

The first thing to realise is that everyone is different in how they handle deconversion. Some feel a great sense of elation and freedom, others feel lost and empty.

 

Yes, and some of us have both elation and a sense of loss.🤨

For me, and I guess for many others, the feelings are complicated or mixed because I have a partner who is still in the system. I want to support that. That's probably why I call myself a non-theist which allows me to reject the concept of god whilst acknowledging that others create their gods from their imaginations and these gods are real for them - which is ok so long as they respect my beliefs. My partner fully understands and supports my position. So, my attendance occasionally at church has two purposes: support for my partner and touching base with old friends. It works for me although it is sometimes a bit stressful to have to sit and listen to stuff I have rejected.

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To be honest, I never felt a void, as such...I was a little overwhelmed at the prospect of having more freedom than I had in the church. Freedom from the fear of burning in hell for some stupid little transgression...freedom from the dreary ritual that is the cult...freedom from a bloodthirsty, tyrannical god-figure that says "love me or die"...just freedom. :)

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Hey @Man.

 

Welcome to Ex-C!

Glad you found us.

 

Losing your religion can be compared to losing a loved one so yes, there's a void and some emptiness. Like any other loss it gets better by giving yourself time to morn then getting out there and living life. You will find that replacing the false comfort of religion and an imaginary friend with reality and real friends will enrich your life in ways you never though possible while you were under the influence of the cult.

    - MOHO (Mind Of His Own)

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Good advise above.  It takes time.  I held on to the humanity found in Jesus (and others before him, if he actually existed) teaching about loving neighbor as self, golden rule, etc.  Promoting the wellbeing of mankind more or less became my purpose, and I joined American Humanist Association, and support some other humanitarian efforts.  If you miss being part of a group you might try the Unitarian Universalist "church" (in quotes because it is using the word loosly). And in some metropolitan areas there are humanist, agnostic, and atheists groups. Congratulations on diving into making your own way!

P.S.

The thing I miss the most is the distance it created with some family members.

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8 minutes ago, Weezer said:

The thing I miss the most is the distance it created with some family members.

This part was of immense value to this dime-store cowboy!

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3 minutes ago, MOHO said:

This part was of immense value to this dime-store cowboy!

 

I will admit, it taught me who my real friends are.

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I also had a social life within the church. Additionally, my best times were with the great friends and activities in school. I was also very tight with my bowling team. I have moved on from all these and there is no void, just new adventures.

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Look on the bright side, you now no longer have to worry about "sin" and "going to hell" .  When you die, you are just gone, no big deal. I imagine it will be just like before you ever existed. 

You no longer have to carry guilt around with you about anything.   As long as you obey the laws of the land  ( or if not, don't get caught), you are good!  There is no hidden superpower watching every move you make.  I find this part of being an exCh.  very liberating to be honest.  I no longer feel the instant eye upon me when I watch some violent movie, cuss, drink too much , lie about something, wish something bad to happen to someone I dislike, and so on.   I no longer have to worry about stuff like my kids turning out gay or trans or whatever ( they are not, but when they were teenagers I worried about what I would do if they were, pointless worry) .   I no longer am required to give a portion of my income away , nor am I required to "do good works' . I can help whoever and whenever I chose, or not.   

 

 

 

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On 8/14/2019 at 6:50 PM, Man said:

Christianity gave me a purpose in life, a hope, answers to questions about life (why are we here? What happens after death? Etc...). Now that I know that it is not true, all those questions came back, but even stronger than before being a born again Xtian. Does this emptiness leave after a good amount of time? If you lived the same feelings that I have now, how did you get out of it?

 

Thank you very much. 

 

Welcome, Man!

 

If you step back for a minute, I'm sure you can see that this would be true of just about anything. If you belonged to any given cult think group and then saw holes and left, I'm sure there would be a group membership and participation void left behind. Especially any group involving strong belief. It just so happens for us that these groups were of christian varieties. I did live the same feelings you're living with now after parting ways with my church group. And it did leave with time. 

 

All I can say is that I kept pushing forward looking for answers. I went back and forth between the arguments of materialist science and secular scholarship and religious opposition. I weighed the arguments out for myself. I went off exploring the claims of exoteric writers in edition, as a third view. I basically just explored any interests or questions that popped up. After a while I was so consumed with learning and truth seeking that there wasn't any room to feel empty. As I learned about philosophy and the big questions and how uncertainty plays a fundamental role in existence, I didn't worry so much about questions that have no absolute answers in the first place. Making a close friend of uncertainty went a long way in my case. And some of these things may or may not appeal to you. But I'm just putting my own experience out there in case it may. 

 

Stick around. Have fun. Welcome again!

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On 8/14/2019 at 3:50 PM, Man said:

Hello everyone,

 

I was wondering if there were people who also had difficulties with leaving Xtiannity, I feel empty ever since I left the faith.

 

I was born Catholic, always believed in god, but was not practicing the faith on a daily basis (as many Catholics in my country). I became born again at the age of 18, stayed 7 years, left a year ago after studying the discrepancies of the bible. But I have an emptiness inside of me now... Christianity gave me a purpose in life, a hope, answers to questions about life (why are we here? What happens after death? Etc...). Now that I know that it is not true, all those questions came back, but even stronger than before being a born again Xtian. Does this emptiness leave after a good amount of time? If you lived the same feelings that I have now, how did you get out of it?

 

Thank you very much. 

 

The emptiness will leave after you begin to fill it with other stuff. 

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It took me awhile.  And I still study religion and philosophy to see what people have come up with down through the ages.  The people who I think had it together the most were the stoics; Seneca and Epictetus were more devout than most christians.  (At least in words; Seneca talked the talk but did not always walk the walk.)  The trouble is that stoic philosophy is ultimately grounded in theism; the gods rule the universe and we are to be devout because we are part of their plan.

 

On a more modern secular level, nihilism and existentialism are two sides of the same coin; there is no inherent purpose in life, so you are free to make your own.  Some people evidently have the ability to find true satisfaction in a life like this; others live more like they are just playing solitaire in a prison cell.  I can’t decide from one minute to the next.  When all else fails, I just ask myself, does a tree need a reason to exist?

 

Of course, all this is probably intellectualization as a defense mechanism on my part.  Another kind of person might just plunge into life and enjoy it without thinking so much about it.  There is even such a thing as atheist christianity; one can still go to church, fellowship with family and friends, and enjoy things like christmas and some of the teachings in the bible that are not so horrible, without the whole belief thing.  (I have a dirty little secret:  I still love christmas music, especially large choirs.)  As Weezer said, there may be churches or other groups that you may feel comfortable in.

 

On 8/17/2019 at 5:52 PM, midniterider said:

 

The emptiness will leave after you begin to fill it with other stuff. 

 

When an unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and doesn’t find it.  Then he says, ‘I will return into my house from which I came out,’ and when he has come back, he finds it EMPTY, swept, and put in order.  Then he goes, and takes with himself seven other spirits more evil than he is, and they enter in and dwell there.  The last state of that man becomes worse than the first.
—Matthew 12:43-45

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2 hours ago, TEG said:

When an unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and doesn’t find it.  

 

I've been in Nevada 30 years. It's a waterless place...but I decided to stay. :) 

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9 hours ago, TEG said:

When an unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and doesn’t find it.  Then he says, ‘I will return into my house from which I came out,’ and when he has come back, he finds it EMPTY, swept, and put in order.  Then he goes, and takes with himself seven other spirits more evil than he is, and they enter in and dwell there.  The last state of that man becomes worse than the first.
—Matthew 12:43-45

 

LOL, that sounds like the writing of a 2nd or 3rd century Catholic.

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Be careful or I will excommunicate you.  That means you will have to go to church.

Actually I have always loved this passage; it sound so bizarre, the author must have gotten it from someplace interesting.  I take it to mean that it is not enough to get rid of something bad, you have to replace it with good.

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