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Did you guys feel empty and depressed after leaving Christianity? Like life has no meaning and there’s this hole inside? If so, how did the you overcome this?

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12 minutes ago, fluffyapple said:

Did you guys feel empty and depressed after leaving Christianity? Like life has no meaning and there’s this hole inside? If so, how did the you overcome this?

There are people I miss associating with and some moments I look back on fondly, but I haven't felt that life has no meaning. I think there are two ways to think about "emptiness": 1.) as a feeling of something lost, and 2.) as a freedom to be filled with something new and better.

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Instead of someone lying to you and providing a story about the meaning of life, you get to make your own meaning. Not invent another fantasy, but you get to choose what you want to learn, with whom you want to be friends, what pastimes you want to have, what you want to accomplish. For me when the blinders came off, the whole world that I previously had interpreted as demonic was now a wonderful place full of music, culture, foods, languages, beauty, puzzles, technology, dancing, and a load of new insights into my own family upbringing and what makes me tick. I took voice lessons, language lessons, dance lessons, started performing, met new friends, and (because of COVID) just sang in public for the first time in a year this week. So much to learn about so many things. 

 

Generally, the world and its interesting stuff won't just come to you. Recognize what draws you, what resonates with you, and go learn about those things and you'll find life opening up to your choices. 

 

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1 hour ago, fluffyapple said:

Did you guys feel empty and depressed after leaving Christianity? Like life has no meaning and there’s this hole inside? If so, how did the you overcome this?

 

Yes I did actually. It goes deep. Not only did it fulfill your need for a group or collective of like minded individuals or a "tribe." But it also gave us a sense of serving something greater than ourselves. It gave us a sense of purpose. 

 

Now when we deconvert it leaves a hole. All of that is gone. Maybe even the friends or even family might not want as much to do with you. So we feel alone. I know that feeling well. 

 

Losing faith is a lot like losing someone you love. You'll probably go through all the stages of grief just as you would a lost loved one in your family. It sounds like you are getting close to acceptance.  Once you reach acceptance it gets easier. Keep studying and reaffirming your convictions and the reasons you left. It will help you get past this hump. 

 

Once you accept it you can then move on. Just because you feel empty now doesn't mean you will stay that way. Eventually you will find other things that give your life meaning and purpose. Remember. You are the only one that can leave your mark on this world. And now that you are deconverting you can truly leave YOUR MARK and not that of a false God. Focus on the good things. Hobbies and interests. Meet new people, make new friends that accept you for you. Be an influence on them and leave your mark. Dont let the absence of Christianity keep you down. They are the ones living a lie. You are living in truth. Real, provable, tangible truth. If you haven't already, eventually you may want kids. And you will be the light in those children's eyes. My children are my purpose now. I love my dogs, my hobbies, and I love life in general. Soon enough it may just be me sometimes. And even then I look forward to taking a hike on my own and getting "in tune with nature" if you will.  

 

Life after deconversion is great. No more walking on egg shells worrying if your pleasing an overbearing God and his son. No more fear of hell. No more wasted time at church. Only use I have for church now is every once in awhile I like to go to a good pot luck dinner at one. An hour or so of fairy tales is a pretty cheap price for an all you can eat buffet. 😉

 

DB

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15 hours ago, fluffyapple said:

Did you guys feel empty and depressed after leaving Christianity? Like life has no meaning and there’s this hole inside? If so, how did the you overcome this?

Life doesn't have any inherent meaning.  It never has; it never will.  Your life will have whatever meaning you give it.  

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16 hours ago, fluffyapple said:

Did you guys feel empty and depressed after leaving Christianity? Like life has no meaning and there’s this hole inside? If so, how did the you overcome this?

 

I was brought up with the idea that you make your own meaning of life. Life doesnt begin when you die and go to heaven. It has meaning right now. 

 

Maybe ask yourself why dying, going to heaven and singing God's praises forever like a robot seems fulfilling. Put your own negative spin on Christianity. Consider the reasons why you left Christianity. It would seem that the meaning of life for Christians is to make sure they dont enjoy any of it, but worry and stress about what happens afterward. 

 

Put your own positive spin on whatever you are doing. Enjoy the present moment. There doesnt have to be a meaning to life. Just live it. The 'hole inside' is a place where a group of false ideas once lived. You have purged them and are ready to fill that place with whatever you like. 

 

What do you have an interest in? Go ahead and do it. Go ahead and have fun with it. 

 

 

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15 hours ago, DarkBishop said:

 

Life after deconversion is great. No more walking on egg shells worrying if your pleasing an overbearing God and his son. No more fear of hell. No more wasted time at church. Only use I have for church now is every once in awhile I like to go to a good pot luck dinner at one. An hour or so of fairy tales is a pretty cheap price for an all you can eat buffet. 😉

 

DB

 

The potlucks were good. 

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I don't know why "church life" is seen as something unique. Look at all the people who go off to college, join fraternities and sororities, graduate, move across country to a new job or go into the military. All familiar activities, friends and associations are pretty much gone and replaced by other things. Life goes on, if you let it.

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On 2/27/2021 at 7:25 PM, fluffyapple said:

Did you guys feel empty and depressed after leaving Christianity? Like life has no meaning and there’s this hole inside? If so, how did the you overcome this?

 

It was a very long time ago for me, but I can tell you what it's like to be around 3 decades past that phase.

 

I've replaced any meanings that I may have once had as a christian, basically. I don't feel the least bit meaningless now and haven't for a long, long time. Even though I don't think there's a particular meaning of life. You bring whatever meaning to life. 

 

There's things I want to do, so I set out to do them. I keep busy. That's what this is. We're alive and experiencing so we ought to be out living it up, in my opinion. Not sulking around depressed about shit all the time. I'm working hard and applying myself. When I'm not working I'm fishing, boating, or surfing. Hanging with family. Playing music. Trying to enjoy myself as much as possible and trying to not get hung up on bullshit as much as possible. If I do, I pull myself out of it and keep moving forward. 

 

And that's how life has been for about 30 years now.  

 

None of the crap about the church or people from church means jack squat. Ancient history. No hole. No void. None of that. It's all completely gone. 

 

You stick to your guns day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, and decade after decade, and this is where you will be too. 

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I missed the sense of community with some of the members, but was so fed up with the doctrine, preachers and church politics, I was glad to get away.

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I understand the feeling all to well. Deconverting was not easy, it had its own challenges and ideas I had to face. Getting used to the idea that I was probably not going to live forever was a major hangup for me. I was really bothered by the idea for a couple of years. I cannot say exactly how I got over it, but generally speaking, I realized there is nothing I want to do forever. Right now, the idea of living forever sounds dreadful. Anyways, on to what you are speaking to, I think you should take time to think and focus on what exactly is bothering you, not just focus on the feelings. The feelings are coming from a thought, and until you address that thought or idea, you will have these lingering feelings; and honestly, it is perfectly normal. What always helped me was to investigate what I was thinking about and the associated feeling, then try to uncover why that thought bothers me. Once I was able pin down that specific thought, and the principle behind it, I was able to deal with it and grow.

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Yes, in a way.

     Well, the word empty is used to mean that in a space that was filled, it is no longer so. Or at least at that density. So, your psychological and maybe even practical space was filled with Christianity,  now it is not so much. Feeling that emptiness sounds like a normal response. Like feeling cold in winter above the 45 latitude.

        Depressed is more of a tricky term. But if you mean sadness in a large measure, loss of dear things produces sadness. So another natural response to losing so much of your life ( identity, meaning, family, etc)

      About meaning. This could get confusing. Meaning in life usually means that people have a general worldview - let us say roman catholicism, and their particular place in that - believer,  priest, servant of God, etc. You seem to have lost both.  So a rebuild is necessary. A starting point would be philosophy, religions and foundational physics. These seem to be the domains that deal with general worldviews and places within them. So from the general to the particular and back again.

      This is only a brief summary because the subject is of course wider and deeper than this. I cannot tell where to go exactly.

 

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Sure did.

 

I took some time to go off alone somewhere and really contemplate on precisely what I wanted my life to look like. This was a completely self-centered fantasy. I only took ME into account. This kept me from coming up with a life that made someone else happy.

 

Some parts of this projected future life surprised me when I wrote it down. Other parts had been inside me for a long time, but I'd been too afraid to admit because it went against the Christian lifestyle.

 

Include everything. How much money you want to have? What's your health like? What kind of friends do you want? What do your relationships look like?

 

Don't let societal norms get in the way either. If you honestly don't want a wife, two kids, and a house, don't include it in your plan. If you have a girlfriend who wants those things, well, then this exercise is telling you something...

 

After I had this future vision of my life all mapped out and completely honest, I set some goals and got to work.

 

My bet is that you do this and get to work building this new vision, you'll discover meaning along the way.

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Regarding that "empty feeling," I had a mini-epiphany this afternoon:  What if it's actually anxiety that underlies that particular feeling?

 

I can't remember my exact thoughts at the time, but was feeling a dull, empty sensation in my gut.  It was sufficiently unpleasant to dig down a bit into my thoughts, and I had a "Waaaait a second..." moment when I saw what was driving it:  Concerns about things in the near future.

 

(Just my two cents' worth - this may or may not be applicable to post-deconversion emotions.)

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On 2/27/2021 at 7:25 PM, fluffyapple said:

Did you guys feel empty and depressed after leaving Christianity? Like life has no meaning and there’s this hole inside? If so, how did the you overcome this?

Have you gone to the airport yet?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Honestly for me the biggest source of depression is failure to do things. Basically not being Christian anymore opened up a smorgasbord of philosophical inquiries that lead to lots of interesting rabbit holes. My biggest problem was actually work. The hardest thing for me to wrap my head around is "I'm doing this for the rest of my life... And I don't really think it's doing much good in the world." In some ways, I think the work of Cioran and Camus is helpful in the sense of Sisyphus.

 

But then other times I feel great about my work, and how hard it can be, and the long hours, etc. I live a great life and have a great wife, so I really am in no position to complain and shouldn't be saying anything. The other problem is I always run into "the grass is always greener..." I think the past or the future will be better, when in reality it will likely be about the same, or worse.

 

The concept of the hedonic treadmill helped me realize that getting more stuff or having more luxuries won't really help me in my journey. Instead, scaling back, focusing on my wife, my life, and my work, and also doing things to build community, get closer to family, and go on "small adventures" or day trips, that helped me to find enjoyment. I think that I'll always reflect darkly on certain days, and other times I'll be happy and content with whatever would happen that day.

 

The scariest thing is realizing my mortality, and feeling it if only for a moment. Then I meditate and think along the lines of trying to expand my conscious experience, and daydream to a bigger world. Coming back to reality, I feel like I balanced the good with the bad to the point I can move on and take a quick nap. The intersection with Christianity for me was actually really depressing, personally. I kind of felt like "we" (humans) were being forced to hate, lie, and get worked up and angry about stuff that shouldn't be do black and white, cut and dry.

 

The big aha moment for me came when I felt that the pastors were telling me to give everything to the church (and they had nice shoes, houses, private colleges, etc.) and volunteer all my free time, the politicians wanted me to hate others so I can vote for them (them being completely nonpartisan - just a crass oversimplification of the USA political system from my perspective), and business owners (not all, but the idea of the ideal business owner/conglomerate - think Ayn Rand) wanted us to work as many hours as we can for as little pay as possible - only to be automated out of existence as soon as possible. Basically at the end of the day, I felt like I - and everyone else - was being used by clever people to hate each other, fear our lives, and give our money and time and well-being to them as a sacrificial offering. 

 

Ironically enough, the LOTR movies (including Hobbit trilogy) rekindled my hope - not in the world - but in the people I knew who were good, basic, humble, and decent. The goal of my life after going through that turmoil was to do everything I could to find my own shire with the people I wanted to be with, and do everything I needed to in order to escape the fires of Mordor I saw all around me (except in a non-religious way). The one thing I think Christianity gave me, that I think other folks can get elsewhere, is the outlook that wealth is good in as much as you can use it to bring smiles and good memories to others - obviously take care of yourself and your family, but do everything you can to share your fortune with loved ones. That helped me not be so depressed after feeling like the church was a sham to get money.

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