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ZenPaladin

Even if my upbringing wasn't the same, I feel you guys and I'm so sorry...

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The title might raise eyebrows but hear me out. I'm not trying to apologize on behalf of fundamentalists or evangelicals as I've never been one and even then don't speak for all of them, but do hear me out.

 


Like many of you on here, I was raised Christian. Unlike many of you, I was not raised Fundie-homeschooled-not-part-of-the-world style. I was raised fairly casually Christian, in that I don't recall much church growing in earlier childhood and that became more of a dedicated habit around middle school. I actually got into religion more on my won, though over time my mom did push me into the youth choir and such but I began to not mind that much and got into some volunteering and trips, etc. Growing up I could watch just about any cartoon or movie(Dad took me to see the horror film Splice on my 10th birthday lol), and thanks to my non-religious uncle got away with watching Adult Swim before and up to early adolescence. I don't say this as a way to mock anyone, as I know unfortunately that many of you had the opposite experience with strict dress codes, feeling shame over sexual feelings/sexuality, homeschooling and isolation from peers, and strict and in alot of cases dysfunctional and abusive parents and famly. And do not get me wrong, having a ''Christian-lite'' upbringing did not mean that was off the table for me.

 


I was a premie(born around 2-3 months early) and while I'm overall pretty healthy, I was born with Asperger's Syndrome. Thus, for me growing up I was very socially awkward, having issues with body language and social cues, being aware of boundaries and appropriate topics of conversation, and basically had far more ''trial and error'' compared to neurotypical kids. And it is kinda embarassing to admit that in middle school I actually would do Legos and stuff with the younger kids in the neighborhood and didn't really have friends my own age and was kinda the weird kid in middle school due to my tendencies. 

 


On top of that, my parents always had problems and middle school was the worst of it, with physical altercations between them,verbal arguments (with insults and profanity that far outdoes the likes of Family Guy and Robot Chicken) being smacked and shoved by my father, told I'm not the son he wanted, accusations of them cheating on each other, and me and my sister having our own altercations similar to my parents. This made youth group actually a safe haven for me in terms of having some sembleance of a social life and an escape of such a dysfunctional environment. Although, my old man(who had once said he was ok with me killing myself at 13) once took me out of youth group(not literally, but came into the room and asked me to step outside) to accuse my mom of carrying condoms in her car(I was like, around 14).

 


My family is mostly African Amercian, so both of my parents were raised religious but more in the black family ''praise the Lord'' kind of way. Despite this, cue the shitty, dysfunctional marriage and the cheating accusations. They are also fairly homophobic, as I remember years ago my dad said he wouldn't really talk to a gay person, talked down about a boyfriend my sister had who was bi, and my mom has said we need to have 4 grandkids just in case some get sick and die or are ''confused'' which is what she uses to refer to a distant LGBT southern cousin. 

 

 

So between all of this, I had more work cut out for me in terms of social development and have come to envy people who ''won the lottery'' in comparison. And I had  my own ''wolf in sheep's clothing'' in the form of Zimba, a kid I had befriended in my neighborhood who's family were the more conservative Christian type(No HP or LOTR, Spongebob or Johnny Test, stay locked in on Halloween) who I did bond with and had common interests, but over time he used and manipulated me more and years later I found out he allegedly assaulted my sister, and it tore me up at the thought of my only real friendship being for nothing and letting that kind of person into my life, especially given my other circumstances. And Christianity, while not a direct cause, was a hindarance in that the whole idea of a God having a plan for you, that you have a special role to play was very appealing to a lonely, autistic teenager and t left me with a sense of complacency when attempts at friendships and goals didn't work out, figuring God had everything under control.

 

 

Point is, even if my experience wasn't exactly the norm on here, I definitely can relate to feeling of wasted time and lost opportunities. While others are moving ahead in life and enjoying things, we have to put in more work as the harsh hand we were dealt left us with emotional scars and trauma that held back or even fully robbed us of a proper childhood and adolescence, leaving only baggage that we must carry into adulthood unlike our peers who were given a better starting point. It definitely sucks, but as more of us learn from our experiences and see the truth, there's hope to break such a twisted cycle.

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Hearing about another person's experience should not "raise eyebrows" as you put it. This place isn't a pity party or a competition for who had it worse. It's a place to help process it and move on. 

 

I've been out three years and I realize I'm relatively lucky in that I've been quite resilient in my recovery from religion. And I have met people with trauma of a different type which I can relate to, such as yours. You don't need to worry about reactions to fitting in here so to speak, at least I hope not. And I wish you well in your journey of recovery. 

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Hey man, we all have issues we are dealing with from it, whether it was life long or not. It doesn't change the fact that we are all attempting to be free. Thank you for your story. 

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