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Hey! I posted here a couple of months ago, (feels like so much longer) and I just wanted to give an update and ask some questions. 
 

First off, I’ll give a small disclaimer here that I know you guys are not licensed mental health professionals and I am currently still in therapy. It’s helped a lot and I’ll try not to overshare too much here. 
 

I’m still not out on being bisexual or leaving Christianity to where I would like to be, but it’s getting to the point where I would like to tell a couple of people before they all just find out. It’s hard coming out on both fronts, but they’re so closely connected for me. If I tell a close friend (especially close Christian friend) that I’m bisexual they will probably say “but what about the Bible and how can you do this when...”

It’s hard for me to say one without explaining the other. And it complicates things. 
I’m trying to leave the state I’m in and get a different job somewhere else so I can have some distance between everything. I think that will help a lot. I just have some anxiety about it, because college was a damn mess and the jobs I’ve been working and looking for aren’t my major. Which is fine, I’m making it, it’s just kind of a point of anxiety for me. 
 

I know the truth about all of this and my unbelief will come out eventually, people talk and I know even if I’m not there hearing it or seeing it, it will probably still happen. This has been such a big part of my life though, my friends, my family, everything. I don’t miss a lot of things about church but I do miss the community. I miss the feeling that we had a common goal and hope. 
But I also know how people in the church talk about those who leave. Those of us who had “weak faith”. I remember in youth group in high school before we graduated my youth pastor drilled us with facts about how many young people will leave the church in college and fall away from faith. I remember thinking, “I wonder who it will be? I mean I know it won’t be me, but who here will it be?” 
I was at a small engagement party (with masks) last night for a close friend I haven’t told yet and it hurt, because I want to. I don’t want to make her uncomfortable, we’re good friends, I mean we’ve shared a bed before. I don’t want the knowledge that I’m bisexual to make her uncomfortable with that. I was never attracted to her and it was never like that. But I’m scared of how she will react. I didn’t anticipate how much some of this would hurt. Because it does. And I know a lot of it is just reactions that haven’t even happened yet, but I’m 24. I’ve been fully out of belief for less than a year. Most if not all of my friends and family are still in it. I know it’s going to hurt my relationships, it already has been. 
How do I do this with my friends? I guess I’m not responsible for their reactions, all I can do is tell them and see what they say. The rest isn’t my problem I guess. 
I just feel like I’m living a little bit of a double life. It’s killing me inside a little bit. I can’t do it much longer. But some of these people have known me for so long. We grew up together. How do I tell them that our foundation was a lie? 
How did it go with you guys when you left? With your relationships? Friends, significant others, family?  I can take the hard answers, I know eventually I’ll find people who understand, a community who understands, it’s just hard right now. 

I’ve been reading more of Bart D. Ehrman, and it’s helped a lot. Especially his book on Heaven and Hell. I don't really have a fear of hell, not anymore. Doing research on it and its history, particularly in Christianity has helped a lot. I still have small moments where I wonder if I'm wrong and I'll be in hell forever, but I have to remind myself that if I was wrong about my unbelief then Christianity could be wrong about eternity anyway. But I know Christians would never acknowledge that another religion could be right and they could be wrong. Pascal’s Wager bullshit and all that. 
 

I think one of the hardest learning curves for me so far though has been the erasing of “God’s plan for my life”. Not that it actually did anything for me in the first place, but the idea that all of this suffering was for something, that God could use it for something, sometimes it was nice. Sometimes it got me through, you know? And I know it doesn’t make sense, because why would he help me find the right college but not cure someone else’s cancer? Why would he let my parents abuse my siblings and me but help me find a good parking spot? I know that it’s shit. But still, maybe because it’s still so fresh and I feel like I’m actively rewiring my brain, it’s hard. It’s hard when I get worship songs stuck in my head. It’s hard when I get the urge to pray. It’s hard when I can’t share in the community I grew up in anymore. What helped you guys when first left and still had the urge to pray? I guess time will help, and I want to try more meditation. Sometimes this deconversion process just feels agonizingly slow. I’ve said before that I’ve gone through all five stages of grief with this, and I’m still cycling through them sometimes. I still feel irrational anger at this God who I don’t even really believe in anymore sometimes. Although maybe it’s anger at the system and the people that allow all the manipulation and started it in the first place. Maybe it’s anger at myself for believing it this long. I don’t know. I guess my mind is still reeling and kind of confused by all this. 
Also keep in mind I got a concussion at work a month ago so if this doesn’t make sense I’ll blame it on that. 
 

I’m just having a little bit of a hard time overall and I just wanted to reach out and say hi again. I’ve been diagnosed with Anxiety and Depression before and I think I also have ADHD, so I’m going to see if I can get a diagnosis for that. It would make a lot of sense for me. 
Anyway, I appreciate you guys and the community here and any advice or experiences you have all had that would be relevant would be appreciated. Thanks! 

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Hi FairlySunny, 

I remember when I first reconverted, one of my first thoughts was "How do I make new friends/connections without going to church?"... Apart from school and uni, it's all I ever knew.

I was lucky, an old friend invited me to go take salsa dancing lessons, and well that became a huge part of my life for several years.. I made some really good friends, and got me out several nights a week.

Then later down the track I took up rowing... That has completely taken over my life, in a good way.. I have an amazing circle of friends and am part of a great rowing community...

AND it's WAY better than church... People are friendly, non judgemental and come from all walks of life...

So my advice is, immerse yourself in some new hobbies, I find it's the best way to meet new people and find a community outside the church 😁

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9 hours ago, FairlySunny said:

How did it go with you guys when you left? With your relationships? Friends, significant others, family?

Most of our circle of friends were because of the church, and for the most part those interactions stopped. Occasionally one of the families would contact us and invite us to things, but one of the uncles always looks at us like we are demons so there really isn't any point. His fear spread to a couple of others who used to be nice, and now they look like we might cut their throats (fear). So we just stay away. Family mostly went quiet until recently (that's about 12 years later). 

 

9 hours ago, FairlySunny said:

But still, maybe because it’s still so fresh and I feel like I’m actively rewiring my brain, it’s hard. It’s hard when I get worship songs stuck in my head. It’s hard when I get the urge to pray. It’s hard when I can’t share in the community I grew up in anymore. What helped you guys when first left and still had the urge to pray?

It takes time. We left the church prior to deconverting (due to control and money issues with the pastor), so it wasn't a huge social change to leave the faith. I still have Christian songs play in my head, because I spent years listening to them on endless repeat, because I believed wholeheartedly what the words said. And since I didn't listen to secular music, that was all I had. But after deconversion I took voice lessons and began singing, then got involved in the local jazz community and singing at a retro supperclub. That is our new circle of friends and "family". I have a lot of other songs to move me. But I still get the old songs occasionally. Instrumentals are fine, but when the words crop up I nix the song and find another. As far as prayer, I still occasionally throw out a "help me" when anxiety begins to eat my emotions. I'm not convinced that we are just flesh, due to experiences I've had. But I don't know what to make of the experiences either. So I leave things a bit open, even while keeping a firm grip on logic and evidence. There's no shame in that approach. But I also know there is no guy on a throne handing out judgments and requiring blood to make him happy, so I'm not appealing to any such psycho when I'm asking for help. 

 

It's great that you are taking steps to change your life. The cult is a powerful influence and it takes a lot of effort to see through the programming and emotional ruts. But as you get away from the influence, it will lose the dominant place in your thoughts and emotions and you'll see the world without those filters. Then you get to choose what you want to be, what you want to do for fun and work, who you want to love and lust, and live out your life exploring the world and your unique self. 

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Trying to understanding the christ cult has gone a long way in helping me deal how it destroyed my family in more ways than one. I also ignored what they said, all the perfect this and praise that, and looked at what they do - and that still helps me.

 

So I studied more and talked a lot with my best friend that was never indoctrinated as a christian, even though he and his family lived in the bible belt. The cult-ure of his home town was one of racism ruled by christ, so it was impossible for him not to pick up christian cult-ure which helped in our discussions, but I was able to tell he thinks a lot like a christian though he never once went to church. That's how cults work. It's like osmosis.
 

So your parents are christians and they abused you? That's because christianity was started by torture and killing, and I don't just mean the story of you-know-who. It's what rome did to people, even children. Christians are conquered people, just as all the Africans those good christian folks captured and brought to the Americas. Africans were conquered once, then conquered again when they were forced to convert and worship christ.

 

The book "The Construction of Homosexuality" by David F. Greenberg might be something you could look into. I ran into that book when christians started whining how they are persecuted by gays. Christians seem to always have an enemy to destroy - something that comes from you-know-who going to war with his adversary. Ya gotta ask, if he won that battle, why are Christians still fighting it?

 

Take your time and follow your heart.

 

 

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Thank you guys so much, that helps a lot! I get kind of nervous to post on here sometimes because I’m so new to it, but your responses are always encouraging and helpful. I know a lot of this just takes time, and I would really like to begin hobbies and join communities that I can meet new people in. I want to start learning Martial Arts, I want to learn more and do more. I will check out that book! Thanks! 

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On 4/24/2021 at 11:22 PM, FairlySunny said:

I’m still not out on being bisexual or leaving Christianity to where I would like to be, but it’s getting to the point where I would like to tell a couple of people before they all just find out. It’s hard coming out on both fronts, but they’re so closely connected for me. If I tell a close friend (especially close Christian friend) that I’m bisexual they will probably say “but what about the Bible and how can you do this when...”

It’s hard for me to say one without explaining the other. And it complicates things. 
I’m trying to leave the state I’m in and get a different job somewhere else so I can have some distance between everything. I think that will help a lot. I just have some anxiety about it, because college was a damn mess and the jobs I’ve been working and looking for aren’t my major. Which is fine, I’m making it, it’s just kind of a point of anxiety for me. 

 

That may be best. Go somewhere else if you can. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

     You could feel many, intense, and contradictory emotions. That is normal. It is a process. 

      About sexuality. Well, I was basically taught that all sexual desire is bad, and marriage is a kind of compromise. Which will dissapear in Heaven. Like Paul said. Orthodoxy does have a heavy monastic element. So, for me, I never really regarded sexuality as normal, or identified with it, etc. Any sexual inclinations were temptation one had to fight. Homosexuality or homosexual desires were often talked about in monastic literature as demonic stuff one had to resist. So this idea if BEING gay or straight was a foreign framework to me. If a friend told me he had homosexual desires I would just tell him to fight it. It wasn't something like an "orientation" or "identity". And it was assumed 1. This life is suffering 2.Temptation will come, in various different ways. Sexuality was just one, and different desires. I mean it would be the same if a friend told me he had strong desires to become rich. Or famous. Or to steal. Idk how your denomination views it. If that friend told me he thought the desire was good and wanted to fulfill it I would tell him he is deluded and planning to sin. 

      What you should do depends on the details of you and your situation. Will you become financially instable? Wait, if possible, for a stable situation? Is there physical abuse? Is the church a fire and brimstome type or come to Jesus and be forgiven type?

    I second finding nice hobby groups. Could help.a lot.

 

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PS. It is possible that will do things that will, with hindsight, regret. That is unfortunately, the nature of the beast. Messy comolicated situations, are, well, messy. :)

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