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I’ve been wanting to post my story for over a year now.  I start and then never finish.  I don’t want to bore everyone with all of my details, but it’s hard to boil everything down - well, here goes  

My deconversion started about 3 years ago, I think.  My belief system was ultra conservative Catholic.  So much so that other Catholics didn’t necessarily know where I was coming from.  I had what I believed to be a “born again moment” back in 2000. Prior to that, I was a run of the mill Catholic, checking my boxes of following the faith and trying to be a “good person”.  The interesting twist is that my husband is not Catholic and does not identify with any religion.  But when you’re young and in love, you think that love will conquer all and I was convinced, that given time, he would become Catholic (spoiler alert:  he still does not identify with any religion).

After my born again moment, I became very close with a group of Catholic women.  We did everything together and they were my support system.  My parents lived 4 hours from me and I had no family near me.  I raised my kids in a fairly strict Catholic way and for almost 2 decades my main focuses in life were serving my family and serving the Church.

With the advent of social media, I began to be exposed to many different viewpoints.  Interestingly, I think it was me delving deeper into my Catholic faith that lead me to see that it wasn’t “true”.  For many years I even had a “spiritual director”.  I still have a high opinion of him.  He is a very smart man, but when I allowed myself to explore outside the bounds of the Magesterium (the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church), I came up against things that could not be explained away any more – or at least I could not accept the explanations.  

My brother had stopped being a believer sometime in his 20’s.  He never made fun of me for believing the way I did, and as my mind began to open up, we had some great conversations.  Sadly, he passed away last year and I no longer have a place to ground myself with my evolving understanding of life. 

I know there are many influences that caused my belief system to unravel.  I think what sealed the deal for me was when I came to accept that the Judeo/Christian story has been one of many stories that explains human existence.  I always had a hard time accepting that there was true authority in the Bible.  I was never satisfied with the fact that a bunch of people decided that everything in this book is God-inspired and holds the keys to all that we need to know. 

There’s a lot more I’d like to say about my deconversion and will certainly post more when it seems appropriate. What is more of a concern at the moment is that I am really struggling with staying afloat mentally.  I had been trying to re-boot my life prior to the pandemic.  I had previously been a stay at home mom and for the last 5 or so years had dabbled in finding a new career or at least something productive to call my own.  So that has been put on hold and I am still struggling to find a direction for myself.

I have also not come to terms with being “public” about not being a believer.  There are about 4 people in my life who I have been able to share this with.  My husband and oldest son know.  I have not told my two younger sons.  The youngest is a freshman at a Catholic high school.  Before he started school there (having been in Catholic school since he was 3) I casually asked him about going to public school and he did not want to explore that option.  So for the next 3 years, I will most likely have to keep this a secret because I fear how awkward it will be if my deconversion is public. 

And in the meantime, because of the pandemic, my Catholic friends are inviting me to Zoom prayer meetings and the like and I am just having to ignore their requests.  I don’t know what else to do.  So far, no one has confronted me about my lack of involvement in religious activities, but I would guess that they suspect something is going on with me.

I have not figured out a way to connect with people in person who have similar stories as mine.  Prior to the pandemic, I actually went to a Meet Up group of Secular people.  It was ok, but obviously Meet Ups will not be the way to go for the near future.  I have been reading many of the posts on this site for the last year and have found many of them helpful.  I guess I’m finally ready to be part of a virtual community.  I had hesitating about joining because I was hoping to find something in person to help me on this journey.  Thanks to those who have taken the time to read this and I look forward to getting to know you better.

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Welcome to the forum. We're here to listen to your frustrations and concerns so don't be the least inhibited about posting them. This is a good place during these difficult days. We hope you'll stick around and contribute to all the discussions. And don't forget to visit the clubs section, which is a little hard to find (upper right of the screen).

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5 hours ago, IAM4TRUTH said:

 I had hesitating about joining because I was hoping to find something in person to help me on this journey.  

 

 

WELCOME!   I looked for something in person for years and never found it. The closest thing I found was the Unitarian Universalist church, but I never really felt comfortable there, and have slowly became somewhat of a loner.  This is a great forum, but it's simply not the same as person to person.  Our extended families tolerate me now, and my sister, and one daughter are the only ones I can talk openly with.  We all 3 became agnostics after growing up fundamentalists. My wife has quit going to church, but still claims to be Christian, and somewhat resents my nonbelief. 

 

I can see how the situation with your son in Catholic school could get "sticky".  Best wishes on dealing with that.  My grandson goes to public school, but even some kids there treated him badly when they found out his parents were nonbelievers. 

 

You will find a lot of support here.  If you get bored and want something to read, see my testimonial in that section.  There is a section in my story about the Catholic church's role in christianity.  HANG IN THERE!

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Welcome aboard...nice to meet you :)

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I went to a few secular humanist meet-up groups and found them to be about as echo-chambered as the church.  Not saying they are all like that; but the ones I went to were.

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Welcome to Ex-C, @IAM4TRUTH.

 

Those Zoom prayer meetings (Mrs. MOHO has signed up for one which starts on Monday) are a strong indication of churches not wanting folks to drift away due to quarantining as that would significantly impact their money and power base.

 

Anyway, it's good to question and have regular conversations with those outside of the sphere of indoctrination. I'm sorry about your brother and I know this forum cannot replace him but we're here for those wanting to connect with others who question xanity and faith based religions.

 

    - MOHO (Mind Of His Own)

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Thank you all for your comments.  I will have to get busy reading posts on this site.  My biggest challenge at the moment is figuring out how I fit into the life I currently have.  My life had been all about being a Catholic Christian. I feel like I will have to live in both world's for a while, but I guess there are worse things I could have to endure.  

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15 hours ago, IAM4TRUTH said:

I think what sealed the deal for me was when I came to accept that the Judeo/Christian story has been one of many stories that explains human existence.  I always had a hard time accepting that there was true authority in the Bible.

   Welcome IAM4TRUTH. I was 60 something when I found this site and officially deconverted at 15 but nevertheless lurked for at least a year and still had this odd feeling of joining an underworld when I signed up. Yes the other beliefs are a massive problem. It's been a couple of thousand years since god unleashed the incredible force of the holy spirit on the earth and while christianity does hold a plurality of 1/3 of the worlds population Islam is fast gaining ground and on pace to equal christianity's head count by 2050. It does look like geography is a more powerful force than the one generated by having the creator god actually inhabit you being.

   I too am sorry to hear that you lost your brother and all the support he offered. For many of us our christian beliefs allowed us to kind of deflect some of the responsibility for our actions along with giving life a specific purpose so losing that puts a heavy load of responsibility on ourselves that can make for a hard adjustment. I think that in our minds we blow up the necessary consequences of what will take place if\when believing family members discovering that we no longer believe. First of all christian loved ones can't help but notice changes that will immediately set them to wondering. The amen and I'm praying about that and the god will find a way type responses start to disappear. Christianity teaches the double standard well so if they don't want to know they will be very careful not to ask the wrong question. So If you are asked by even your son you can give a short honest answer and then say you love him just as much and something about how much the relationship and the future of the relationship means to you. The danger is more in feeling like you need to give a convincing explanation for your change of heart. Christians don't really want that at all. Just say that you understand how meaningful you son's beliefs are to him and how you respect his beliefs even though you can't share those beliefs. So the point is if you're are careful not to rock your son's belief boat the outing will only confirm what he already knew or suspected anyway. I don't mean to suggest you tell loved ones who give no indication that they want to know I just want to give you some comfort the if the wrong person finds out it doesn't necessarily have to become a tragedy. In fact outcomes are always a mystery and after the initial rough spot in your relationship you could actually find that things improve now that everything is out in the open. It does really take two parties to have a real confrontation so when you are one of those parties you hold all the cards.

   I love your writing and hope you're here for a good long while.     

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1 hour ago, IAM4TRUTH said:

  My biggest challenge at the moment is figuring out how I fit into the life I currently have.  My life had been all about being a Catholic Christian. I feel like I will have to live in both world's for a while, but I guess there are worse things I could have to endure.  

Assuming that we are correct about christianity being a man made invention then all those higher god purposes christianity made us feel like we were part of never existed either. Not only were we not serving a high purpose we were roll modeling a lifestyle of illusion. In this sense at least your life has never had so much meaning and purpose because now you are roll modeling a life that says honesty, integrity, courage and a commitment to be true to yourself are the most important purposes that a person can have. Additionally, that living with eyes open is essential even if we do not like what we see and also that we do have the ability to change if we discover that we are heading in the wrong direction. This is clearly a big step up from your Catholic identity in terms living responsibility as a human being. I am convinced that we just blow by many of the greatest moments in out lives struggling for more and greater things. We never have more than the present moment and sometimes when we are not expecting it our minds will flood us with a sense of rightness and belonging that is as powerful as we will ever have ("God's in his heaven all's right with the world", Robert Browning). We can be on the lookout for those moments and cherish them or barely notice them at all. Other moments present special opportinities to help another person out (like on this site) and if we recognize those moments for the potential they have and are lucky enough to make that connection there is no greater purpose. I sometimes share what seem to be very meaningful exchanges I have on this site with my family and once I asked my daughter what she thought of me posting here. She replied, "You save people's lives. Who wouldn't like that".

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3 hours ago, DanForsman said:

So If you are asked by even your son you can give a short honest answer and then say you love him just as much and something about how much the relationship and the future of the relationship means to you. The danger is more in feeling like you need to give a convincing explanation for your change of heart. Christians don't really want that at all. Just say that you understand how meaningful you son's beliefs are to him and how you respect his beliefs even though you can't share those beliefs. So the point is if you're are careful not to rock your son's belief boat the outing will only confirm what he already knew or suspected anyway. I don't mean to suggest you tell loved ones who give no indication that they want to know I just want to give you some comfort the if the wrong person finds out it doesn't necessarily have to become a tragedy. In fact outcomes are always a mystery and after the initial rough spot in your relationship you could actually find that things improve now that everything is out in the open. It does really take two parties to have a real confrontation so when you are one of those parties you hold all the cards.

   I love your writing and hope you're here for a good long while.     

DanForsman, Thanks for all of the pearls of wisdom.  The funny thing is that my son who is in Catholic School is not bothered in the least by not going to Church.  At one point, I decided that we should at least go once a month so that he didn't feel like he was living a lie.  When I told him that we were going to Church on a particular Sunday, he said he didn't want to go.  My two younger boys are not good at sharing feelings and so I am just letting things play out as they will.  As it is, our Catholic high school allows non-Catholics in the school.  They just have to go along with whatever is taught at school and attend at-school services, but they are not bound to become Catholic.  That being said, this is the third child to go to this school and when the first two were there I was all in, -- part of a weekly prayer group that met at the school chapel once a week, part of a group of women that did another special weekly devotion at the school, I organized a women's retreat during Advent (and on and on and on).  So other parents, as well as the priest who is the principal know that I am an A+ disciple of the Catholic Church.  Which is maybe why no one is brave enough to ask me why I've been avoiding them - because me leaving the faith is the last thing they would suspect.

I also have not told my 85 yr old mother, although I think she suspects.  I think she might be able to handle me not going to Church, but would have a hard time with me not believing in God.  

I appreciate your thoughts about not stressing about what I will tell people.  I have no intentions of trying to convince anyone that what I believe is right/true.  I took in so much information to get to where I am today and there is no way I could impart it all to anyone.  But as I try to rehearse certain scenarios, I think I feel most comfortable telling people that I am the same person that they have always known and that Christianity did shape who I am today.  But I just don't believe in it the same way I used to.  

2 hours ago, DanForsman said:

In this sense at least your life has never had so much meaning and purpose because now you are roll modeling a life that says honesty, integrity, courage and a commitment to be true to yourself are the most important purposes that a person can have.

I'm going to write that on a piece of paper and carry it around with me :)

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Welcome! I’m new to the site, too. I haven’t told most people I know, either. It’s good to have you here. 😄

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8 hours ago, IAM4TRUTH said:

Thank you all for your comments.  I will have to get busy reading posts on this site.  My biggest challenge at the moment is figuring out how I fit into the life I currently have.  My life had been all about being a Catholic Christian. I feel like I will have to live in both world's for a while, but I guess there are worse things I could have to endure.  


Leaving your faith is a journey not an event. It’s often a long and sometimes treacherous road. And it’s not unusual for it to takes years to complete your travels and explorations. Perseverance and education are the key’s to extricating yourself from the grasps of religion. 
 

 

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3 hours ago, SarahJaneSmith said:

Welcome! I’m new to the site, too. I haven’t told most people I know, either. It’s good to have you here. 😄

Thanks Sarah!

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Hello IAM4TRUTH, hello from a fellow ex-conservative Catholic. Much about my story is different from yours, but probably much is the same. The night I realized I could not go on with the Church anymore, I wept for realizing I couldn't pray the Rosary anymore. How far away that seems now, and how not cool actually to pray the Rosary. One thing one Catholic aspiring priest told me, that I never forgot: "I am just trying to learn how to be a human being." And from the movie, The Devil's Playground, about seminarians: "A whole life is a long time to be unhappy."

 

Rock on, all best for your relation (in love) with your son, and hope to hear more from you.

 

Best, Ficino

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5 hours ago, IAM4TRUTH said:

Which is maybe why no one is brave enough to ask me why I've been avoiding them

  

Perhaps they haven't noticed. My wife quit and was worried that she'd get calls from church members and that they would pressure her to return. Guess how many calls she got? Zero.

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43 minutes ago, older said:

  

Perhaps they haven't noticed. My wife quit and was worried that she'd get calls from church members and that they would pressure her to return. Guess how many calls she got? Zero.

I meant to comment on this prt of your post, @IAM4TRUTH and got distracted. What Older said was my experience, too. It was 5 months before anyone contacted me and then the only reason they were contacting me was to see if I was going to the family retreat weekend. The guy threw in a “haven’t seen you in a while, how’ve you been” for good measure but it didn’t feel sincere at all. The lack of anyone contacting me was the strangest part about leaving! With all the talk about being family and “doing life together,” how odd it is that no one reached out to me afterwards. I found it strange at the time but I was also relieved. 

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6 hours ago, IAM4TRUTH said:

 

I think I feel most comfortable telling people that I am the same person that they have always known and that Christianity did shape who I am today.  But I just don't believe in it the same way I used to.  

 

An excelent response.  I learned the hard way that most people don't want a detailed explanation.   And I was surprised that most haven't even ask why I stopped church.  My daughter and sister have had very good luck (when someone asks about their beliefs) with saying something like, "that gets pretty complicated, and I would rather not talk about it right now."    

 

It sounds like your son is not going to have much of a problem with your lack of participation or belief.  My daughter recently told our 10 year old grandson (when he ask about God) that different people have different beliefs, and each person has to examine religious beliefs for themselves, and decide what they believe.   That it is kinda like marriage.  A decision best left to adults that have had time to look at different options, and make a choice.  And that some choose not to get married.  LOL, he hasn't ask any more questions.

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15 hours ago, ficino said:

The night I realized I could not go on with the Church anymore, I wept for realizing I couldn't pray the Rosary anymore.

Thanks ficino!  It's great to also connect with someone who knows about the subtleties of having been a conservative Catholic.  I know that all former Christians have a lot to sort through after walking away, but each denomination has their defining elements.  And as you said in your post, you and I probably have things in common and things not in common with our exit experiences.  When I sensed in my being that I was most likely getting close to the point of no return, I started quietly removing myself from positions of responsibility.  I had been heavily involved with a Christian ministry called The Alpha Course.  I was a small group discussion facilitator, I prayer over people during retreats,  was pretty sure I had the gift of tongues.... So I quietly stopped volunteering with that ministry.  Since I had gone back to work on a part time basis, I used that as an excuse.  I had also been a lector at Church for many years.  I actually continued being a lector, even when I knew I didn't believe it any more.  I just looked at it as public speaking practice.  But eventually knew it was time to excuse myself from that activity as well. I guess what I'm getting at is that there were many activities that I was involved with that gave me meaning and purpose in my life.  I miss being a part of something , but I actually have more of a feeling of contempt for the faith at the moment.  I know that religion has served a purpose in human history but I'm angry that people made up a lot of stuff and passed it off as something that actually happened -- and they continue to do it to this day.  I guess I'm impatient about filling the void that has been left in my life.  There are still churches in every town, and each one would welcome you if you walked in the door.  It seems like more of a challenge to find the feeling of community outside of the church.  Sorry I went on so long 😔

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15 hours ago, SarahJaneSmith said:

The lack of anyone contacting me was the strangest part about leaving!

SarahJane, It's funny, one of the ways the Catholic churches can tell if you attend services on a regular basis is by whether you give a weekly donation.  But the churches have also modernized and you can now do regular electronic donations.  We decided to do that a little while ago.  We continue to do so because the local churches contribute a certain amount of money to the schools and since my son still attends Catholic school,  I still contribute.  In general, I feel my church is a very good steward of the money they receive from the congregation.  They do a lot to serve the community, so I am ok with still supporting it to an extent.  But to your point, no one has been brave enough to ask me why they haven't seen me.  Still not sure what I will do if someone does.  I have a few responses lined up, but it will probably depend on where my mind is when it actually happens.  The annoying part is that I am fairly certain that at least 1/2 of the people who consider themselves regular church goers DO NOT believe everything about Christianity and Catholicism.  It is often just a club that they belong to.  With the current pandemic. it is becoming more apparent that many people have difficulty thinking for themselves.  (Sorry if that comes across as arrogant)

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3 minutes ago, IAM4TRUTH said:

The annoying part is that I am fairly certain that at least 1/2 of the people who consider themselves regular church goers DO NOT believe everything about Christianity and Catholicism.  It is often just a club that they belong to.

I didn’t realize this until a few months ago looking at various atheist podcasts & YouTube videos and I felt enraged because I’d given up so much of myself for “biblical” Christianity (whatever that means). But you’re right that it could be others are only going through the motions which could be another reason people don’t bother reaching out. Again, I find myself even more angry about this part because I experienced such pain from what I went through. It’s so confusing!

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15 hours ago, Weezer said:

It sounds like your son is not going to have much of a problem with your lack of participation or belief.  My daughter recently told our 10 year old grandson (when he ask about God) that different people have different beliefs, and each person has to examine religious beliefs for themselves, and decide what they believe.   That it is kinda like marriage.  A decision best left to adults that have had time to look at different options, and make a choice.  And that some choose not to get married.  LOL, he hasn't ask any more questions

Thanks Weezer !  There might be a genetic component, lol !  My father always identified as an agnostic.  Don't know if my kids ever saw him in church.  My husband tolerated my religion for over 25 yrs, but I could never convince him that it was real.  I was always the spiritual head of the household.  But I've let the older two to their own decisions about religion and the younger one would much rather sleep in on Sunday mornings.  So day to day life is actually quite fine, it's just my anxious, people-pleasing personality that is dreading having to tell people and have to experience people rejecting me.  I know, I'm trying to work on not punishing myself for this

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31 minutes ago, IAM4TRUTH said:

 With the current pandemic. it is becoming more apparent that many people have difficulty thinking for themselves.  (Sorry if that comes across as arrogant)

 

Arrogant or not, in my way of thinking it is the truth.

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2 hours ago, IAM4TRUTH said:

I had been heavily involved with a Christian ministry called The Alpha Course.  I was a small group discussion facilitator, I prayer over people during retreats,  was pretty sure I had the gift of tongues.... So I quietly stopped volunteering with that ministry.  Since I had gone back to work on a part time basis, I used that as an excuse.  I had also been a lector at Church for many years.  I actually continued being a lector, even when I knew I didn't believe it any more. 

Yes, boy do I relate! I never heard of The Alpha Course, but I taught CCD, often served at mass, was often called on to be a lector... I was starting the process of joining a religious order. Good thing I didn't, lol. But like you, there was much I loved even just in the ritual. I loved the way time is structured - the liturgical year, the Hours of the Divine Office, the sense of arcs of nature and history and the mystery beyond those. From my perspective now, I agree with the former head of the Board of the school where I used to teach, who, being lapsed Russian Orthodox, said, "I don't believe in God, but I believe in ritual." I don't miss that sort of ritual now, though, despite how much I thought I would.

 

And don't get me started on the political stances taken by the RCC, which I think are immoral.

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I took a step back from very conservative Orthodox so maybe they have some similarity with their focus on lithurgy/ hierarchy/ ancient clothes and whatnot.

      I understand completely your point about finding a new identity, a new inner map of the world.

      As with you, the more I delved into religion, the more contradictions ans unanswered or poorly answered questions came up. My problem, I feel now, is that the image of God they hold is so contradictory I could even try to have a relationship with him. Who is this God? One but three. Ok. Human but divine. Again ok. Cannot suffer but does suffer cannot die but dies...what now? Ok maybe a mystery. Knows all but creates beings knowing they will go to hell. What? You have free will but controls everything. Suffering is payment for your sins but Jesus s sacrificed payed for them. Death conquers death. You are the worst sinner and deserve hell, you are the pinnacle of creation and deserve love. The devil is my enemy, the devil is god s instrument of salvation. The feeling of absurdity just crept in more and more.

     And the top was when I went to some psychotherapy sessions, first christian therapist, then a secular one,  then to a buddhist mindfulness course and saw how deep intense and subtle inner exp and realizatiins I could have in a non Orthodox area. So what is that I asked? My answer was then and now that I do not have the capacity to discern and people whom I asked in the Church do not because they just made unfounded claims usually false about what I felt.

      So why not believe in Islam, in Hinduism or the tooth fairy. I once made an observation that if you replace God with Tooth fairy, many of the arguments and practices can stay virtually the same. So it is not the content, but just a potent narrative structure you can fill with whatever.

     My quest now is reading psychology and philosophy and science. I just have a great thirst for knowledge in all area. More than my energy actually.

 

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