Confessions: when will my deconversion be complete?
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10-11-2014, 07:58 AM
Confessions: when will my deconversion be complete?
I wrote this blog and posted it on another site, but wanted to share with you guys. Just going through some things these past few months, one of them being...this.

[Image: grief-quote-3l.jpg]


When I was a Christian, I read the book ''A Grief Observed,'' by C.S. Lewis. C.S. Lewis was once a self-proclaimed atheist, but as his life took many turns, he was drawn to Christianity. He is often quoted by many Christians, as being a poignant voice for them. Frankly, he still is one of my favorite authors. He has a way with words that is not only convicting, but also comforting.


In ''A Grief Observed,'' C.S. Lewis talks about loss, pain, suffering, and the process of grieving.


"Nothing will shake a man -- or at any rate a man like me -- out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself." ~ C.S. Lewis


What is this truth that he's talking about? For him, it must have been Christianity. It must have been a belief in the supernatural, and a god...and somehow, this helped him grieve the gut-wrenching loss of his wife. This 'truth' as he calls it, must have been pretty damn comforting, during a time of great sorrow and pain. Truth with a capital 'T.'


I once accepted C.S. Lewis' truth, as my truth. Prayers and supplication were my truths. Suffering once had redemptive value, as that too was another one of my truths. But, a few years ago, I embarked on a journey away from this truth, and traveled down a stark, lonely path towards a new one. When I discovered what it meant to call myself an atheist, it felt like someone had given me a great gift that had been sitting in front of me all of my life, waiting to be opened. Also known as ''reality,'' this gift provided me the keys to freedom, to living my life authentically, and learning to trust my own intuition. When practicing religion, especially one of the Abrahamic versions, you need to realize and accept that you are no longer in charge of your own life. This 'god' that you've agreed to follow, is going to guide you, comfort you, and shelter you from every frightening storm imaginable. But, in return, you will be obligated to 'serve' this god, and that can be the tricky part. I was indoctrinated at a young age, into Christianity, and children are human sponges, as they say. I was a good girl, all of my life...followed the rules, and all of my choices, were based on how I could put others' needs above my own. (to a fault, at times)


I've talked to lifelong atheists both here, and in my offline life, who have a somewhat dark opinion of Christianity - that it is steeped in deception, fear and depravity. As an atheist now, I can identify with them, but having been a zealous Christian, I remember making excuses for those things. We are only deceived, because evil is present in the world. We fear that which we don't fully understand, and how can we ever fully understand the mystery of faith? And, depravity is part of the sin complex. Religion isn't depraved, it is mankind that rejected God's gift...and thus, depravity exists.


See? One can make up a lot of seemingly convincing and viable excuses to stick with religion. The brain is an amazing organ, and it will find a way to process that which is unfathomable. (How can one fathom lies? Call it religion. lol)


So, today, is one of those days that I thought blogging about all of these thoughts, might be cathartic for me. I'm an atheist, but there is something that I can't quite fully let go of, when it comes to my former self as a theist. I don't quite know anymore what that something is, even though I've done much self reflection.


Bur, then it dawned on me today, that maybe I will never know what that something is, and I must find a way to accept that I was duped by religion, nothing more or less. Perhaps, this is what C.S. Lewis meant by suffering, and how it will lead you to truth. The road has been illuminated for me, and if I dare to look over my shoulder at how far I've come, there is still this part of me that wishes to run back over all that trampled ground, back into the waiting arms of theism. The comfort of nothingness, as compared to the vast potential that awaits me. I know what I've left behind, so why do I still look back?


Therein lies the process of grieving. It is a push-pull paradigm that one must go through, in order to grow, learn and emerge a butterfly. I'm not there, yet. I'm still grieving. As futile as it seems on some days, I cannot move forward until I allow myself to grieve the loss of my faith, fully and deliberately. My deconversion will be complete, when I've fully processed and made peace with the fact that religion was never my friend. Never my saving grace. Never my Comforter. I'm almost there, but not quite yet.


I sometimes think it would be easier, if it were all true.

Be true to yourself. Heart
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10-11-2014, 08:27 AM
RE: Confessions: when will my deconversion be complete?
Having never been through this all I can say D is Hug

" Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous."
David Hume
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10-11-2014, 08:52 AM
RE: Confessions: when will my deconversion be complete?
Many people have heard of angry and militant atheists, many of those people, who are so fierce in their criticism of religion, are those that were once "true" believers. They realized that were duped, lied to, coerced, brainwashed and now they are pissed. Many people go thru that 'stage' in their deconversion. Its like the rose colored glasses come all the way off. You begin to see not only was this god idea false, but you see the insiduous ways it has wormed into peoples lives. You see all of it.

If you listen to any of Seth's podcasts, have you heard the one on the good news club, it talks about the way they prey on children, and how they know if you make it to age 14-16 without being indoctrinated then you probably wont ever be a believer. What they do to children is child abuse, and I am sorry someone did that to you. Heart

Hug


"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
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10-11-2014, 08:58 AM
RE: Confessions: when will my deconversion be complete?
Beautifully written! I've been through some of this stuff too. I know how it feels to think it might be easier if it were true. Most people place everything- their life and who they are- on religion. I was very religious. I loved Jesus and wanted to live how I thought god wanted me to live. So, when my faith crumbled, it understandably felt like I was grieving. The tough thing for me was that, even if I wanted to and even though, in some ways, it would be easier, I simply couldn't go back to faith knowing what I know now.

I got through the grief fairly quickly. I think I dealt with more fear of hell after that.

"Most people are other people.
Their thoughts are someone else's opinions,
their lives a mimicry,
their passions a quotation."
-Oscar Wilde
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10-11-2014, 09:03 AM
RE: Confessions: when will my deconversion be complete?
You are right on comparing de-conversion to grieving.

Grieving happens when something or someone that/who has been a large part of your life, and hence your thoughts, has been removed and is no more. It creates a void, and every time you hit one of the empty slots one of the components of grieving sets in - sadness, anger, denial....

Those of us who never were religious or who de-converted at a very young age are the lucky ones. The longer you have believed and the more frequently you thought of your god, the more you grieve.

And you are totally correct, there is no time limit on grieving, many factors play into it.

I do understand, even though when it comes to religion I got away unscathed...

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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10-11-2014, 09:09 AM
RE: Confessions: when will my deconversion be complete?
Hi D, thanks for sharing. I have struggled with many of the same things you are struggling with, although in a very different way. I have discovered that, for all things in life in general, you can't control how you feel, but you can try and find out why you feel that way. Sometimes understanding can put things in context and help you to find peace.

For myself, it is a constant struggle to go up against everything you used to be and were brought up to believe. It can be very difficult to face your new identity every day, especially if the person you have become is exactly the kind of person you would have been very critical of not so long ago. There is freedom and enlightenment in idealism, but there is no comfort. Just remember, it took your whole life to build up the person you where, it is going to take a long time to build up the person you will become. There will be a lot of growing pains, but you will settle into your "new self" eventually.
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10-11-2014, 09:18 AM
RE: Confessions: when will my deconversion be complete?
I'm right here with you on this. Hug It's been a really painful experience.

Sometimes, I go back to what if I'm wrong... And then I have to remind myself about how I figured out Christianity was wrong in the first place.

The terror from my fear of hell has been the hardest part to move past. During part of my deconversion I told myself that if god exists and he is just and loving, surely he wouldn't send me to hell for my lack of faith in a highly contradictory book written 2000 years ago. Why would he give me a brain if he didn't want me to use it? Some days are a circle with that thought process. What if I'm wrong? Why am I not wrong? Ok, I'm not wrong.....
I don't know if I'm making sense with this. It's just part of the cycle of abuse inflicted from religion. It is a VERY real fear, especially for those from a fundamental background.

I can't equate a loving god with our world and the bible. I just can't. I can almost equate an evil god with the world. While I would love to believe in an almighty god who loves me and that there's a heaven waiting for me when I die, I can't believe it anymore. That fruit of the tree of knowledge? Now that I've eaten from it there's no going back.

I think it would be easier for me if I didn't have to pretend all the time that I'm a Christian, if I didn't have to listen to it, if I could have a calm discussion about religion with my husband, and if I didn't have to witness the indoctrination of my son taking place. Hopefully, I can move past this once I get my feet on the ground and can be outspoken about my lack of belief - but I'm not going to hold my breath.

"If there's a single thing that life teaches us, it's that wishing doesn't make it so." - Lev Grossman
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10-11-2014, 09:43 AM
RE: Confessions: when will my deconversion be complete?
@Nurse, I've also thought about that but then I think: There are thousands upon thousands of Gods, isn't it silly to worry about one hell, only because I was born in a place where that happens to be one of the major religions, if not the major one?

Besides, like you said if God exists and he's really all-loving, then I can trust his decision. Hell, (pun intended) I'm not all-loving and I wouldn't send anyone to hell!

@Deidre, there are some things I miss about believing, like the fact that death was not the end. I liked the idea that I would still continue to exist, somehow. But even if life is unfair, it's not comforting, and so on, I prefer to know that I'm being honest to myself. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe there's an afterlife, but I have to apply my skepticism.

Many people apply skepticism to everything, except their religion.

I hope you'll find that peace you're looking for.

孤独 - The Out Crowd
Life is a flash of light between two eternities of darkness.
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10-11-2014, 11:38 AM
RE: Confessions: when will my deconversion be complete?
(10-11-2014 08:27 AM)KidCharlemagne1962 Wrote:  Having never been through this all I can say D is Hug
aw, thank you Kid! can always use those. Hug
Heart

(10-11-2014 08:52 AM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  Many people have heard of angry and militant atheists, many of those people, who are so fierce in their criticism of religion, are those that were once "true" believers. They realized that were duped, lied to, coerced, brainwashed and now they are pissed. Many people go thru that 'stage' in their deconversion. Its like the rose colored glasses come all the way off. You begin to see not only was this god idea false, but you see the insiduous ways it has wormed into peoples lives. You see all of it.

If you listen to any of Seth's podcasts, have you heard the one on the good news club, it talks about the way they prey on children, and how they know if you make it to age 14-16 without being indoctrinated then you probably wont ever be a believer. What they do to children is child abuse, and I am sorry someone did that to you. Heart

Hug
I have not heard that particular podcast, no. I will have a listen to it, thank you for telling me about it Bows! Your words here ring true, yes...I went through an angry phase for a time, and then sadness...and now, I'd say, I still consider myself an atheist, but in terms of the emotional piece, that is where I struggle. My head knows the truth, but my heart needs to catch up. Thank you for your thoughts to this!

(10-11-2014 08:58 AM)LadyWallFlower Wrote:  Beautifully written! I've been through some of this stuff too. I know how it feels to think it might be easier if it were true. Most people place everything- their life and who they are- on religion. I was very religious. I loved Jesus and wanted to live how I thought god wanted me to live. So, when my faith crumbled, it understandably felt like I was grieving. The tough thing for me was that, even if I wanted to and even though, in some ways, it would be easier, I simply couldn't go back to faith knowing what I know now.

I got through the grief fairly quickly. I think I dealt with more fear of hell after that.
It's so interesting to share this here, and with other atheists, who were once theists, because the aftermath is different for us all. Some have no issues with leaving the faith, while others...hang on, like me. Hang on to a ghost of nothingness. Blush

I never feared hell, even as a Christian. I didn't really believe such a ''place'' existed. Nor heaven. And the 'version' shared in the Bible, why...it sounds dreadful, anyways. I'm glad to see I'm not alone, although I hate to see anyone struggle with this stuff. Hug

(10-11-2014 09:03 AM)Dom Wrote:  You are right on comparing de-conversion to grieving.

Grieving happens when something or someone that/who has been a large part of your life, and hence your thoughts, has been removed and is no more. It creates a void, and every time you hit one of the empty slots one of the components of grieving sets in - sadness, anger, denial....

Those of us who never were religious or who de-converted at a very young age are the lucky ones. The longer you have believed and the more frequently you thought of your god, the more you grieve.

And you are totally correct, there is no time limit on grieving, many factors play into it.

I do understand, even though when it comes to religion I got away unscathed...
You are so fortunate to feel unscathed. I agree with you--I deeply envy those who were able to break away from the shackles of religion and not look back. What is often not talked about when it comes to deconverting, is that when you have spent a large part of your life clinging to religion, you don't know who you are without it. When I talk about looking back, I do that with many things, thanks to religion. Always doubting my choices, my decisions, fearing I'm going to make the wrong choices. Much of my life has been spent in fear, not making choices at all, and letting choices just ''happen'' to me. I woke up today with a different resolve, and grief goes like this. You have these down days, and then bam...a moment of 'truth' pops into your mind, and you take a few more steps forward, unafraid.

Religion and my own volatile childhood, caused me to live much of my life, even now...in fear. Fear of reality. Sad

Thank you so much for your reply, Dom!


At the risk of an endlessly long post with everyone's quotes lol, I'll come back to the others. I'm so grateful for your insights, and to know I'm not alone.

Be true to yourself. Heart
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10-11-2014, 01:33 PM
RE: Confessions: when will my deconversion be complete?
Indoctrination as a child is a very powerful and lasting thing.

You are not alone in how you feel. I have suffered greatly because of the psychological trauma perpetrated by my well meaning parents. So much so that even at my age, I went looking to find like-minded people to talk to and in some ways both to celebrate and commiserate the experience of deconversion, that's why I ended up here and why I stay.

I'm still angry and will probably remain so the rest of my life but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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