Jumping in with both feet
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07-12-2014, 07:17 PM
Jumping in with both feet
I don't know who to talk to and this has turned into an insanely long intro.
I'm a 25 year old guy, and this post covers a lot of my background but the TLDR version is: I was brainwashed, I'm recovering, I have a question.

I never thought I would be here, but at the same time I keep coming back to one of my first memories and thinking maybe I've just been on a long detour from logic all along.
I was sitting in front of my Grandma's TV sometime in early 1993 watching something about the story of Moses, and the narrator posed a question to the viewer about it being a myth or truth, and I replied to the TV emphatically that it was a myth (I still am not sure if I entirely understood exactly what a myth was at this point)
It was about this time my mom came around the corner and saw this and I was spanked and told it was truth. I was 3.

I was raised in a family that scared away even a lot of fundamentalist Christians. Picture the movie Jesus camp, and then if you can, imagine a house where that sort of event would be too liberal and potentially "worldly"
The TV I was allowed to watch was Kent Hovind videotapes and pretty much the entire library of things produced by Answers in Genesis, and being homeschooled this was essentially the extent of my "science" education/indoctrination, except for trips to national parks to look at beautiful things and laugh at the stupid atheists who were too mad at God to see how obvious it was that this was all created.

My parents were always extreme about their beliefs, but always changing.
Early on it was Messianic Judaism (Inspired by the year we lived in Israel because "God told them to") and then it morphed into something there was no church for, so they started hosting what they called church.
This was a time of worship, followed by my father teaching from the bible for about 2-4 hours. I have many memories of frantically looking through the bible for the right thing to read out loud that "God had put in my heart", because I knew if I didn't it would mean a long talking to and a spanking later for being rebellious and not listening to God.
After one of those nights when I was about around 8 years old I remember being up until 3 in the morning because my parents decided it was time for me to "receive the holy spirit" and I was just sobbing because I didn't know how to speak in tongues and they weren't going to stop until I did. I would try, and they would pray and pray and pray, and then I would try again. I just wanted it to stop.
At any one time there was normally 2-6 families attending these gatherings, and I made a few friends, but usually after a short time people would leave because they couldn't handle the changes and mental/emotional abuse anymore, or in one case when my dad spanked someone's young child without their permission they left.
For awhile it was a sin if the women didn't wear skirts and head coverings, and kosher food was the only option.
Over time there stopped being new people willing to participate in this, and it died out, but by that point my sister was almost 18 and engaged to a guy from a very similar family, so my parents had a new focus, and things started to change.
I don't know all the reasons my parents started to change, maybe it was growing older or having no friends, but for whatever reason, things calmed down.

I started going to a different church around 16, which was about as much of a break as I could manage to make, and there I started to learn how to make some friends and I decided I wanted to go to college.
In two years I taught myself enough to score a 26 on my ACTs and was able to get into college.
College, as you might expect after that childhood, was like being on a glorious alien planet full of new and exciting things, which I was more than eager to find out about. Of course, having never been unsupervised before it didn't take long for me to discover that I really liked girls, alcohol, and drugs. It didn't take much longer to almost kill myself with a combination of those things.
I didn't talk to my parents during that year, but I got many angry letters, one 10 page message I won't forget was just written prayers and then a letter from my mom stating that I was making God want to vomit, But in spite of that I was out of money for college or partying, burnt out from my drinking and drug use, and didn't know where to go.
At this point my thought process was that maybe my parents had it right all along and I had strayed away and deserved to be told I was bad and wrong, so I cleaned myself up and went home, the perfect prodigal son asking for forgiveness and acceptance.
They were thrilled, and I really tried for a few months, but it didn't take long before I had to get out again. And this time the only option I could make work was the military.

I wanted to do something cool so I decided to go into a special warfare job, and it turns out years of mental abuse made me perfect for it. I never felt like like I was being beat down, it felt like I was a kid again. It was comfortable and familiar, it felt like what I thought love was.

It's a few years later now and I'm still in the military, although I'm on the way out with other plans for the future, I met a nice girl and got married, and I've been happy, but I never once really questioned there was a God. I just thought my parents had taken it way too far and that I could be happy being a normal Christian who goes to church on Sundays and eats pork once in awhile without getting struck by lightning.

And then I read the bible.

Things aren't making sense... Uh oh. doubt. instant guilt. the old memorized verses start repeating through my head nonstop. lean not on your own understanding. lean not on your own understanding. lean not on your own understanding. I'm a bad person. I'm panicking. I'm going to hell. lean not on your own understanding. STOP THINKING.
And then like getting hit in the face I heard myself tell myself to stop thinking, and something inside me snapped. I didn't believe in a God who doesn't want me to think, my parents did but I don't. My God was loving and progressive, so why was I suddenly so filled with guilt?
I decided to start researching my problems with the bible. Somehow I ended up on The Bible Reloaded youtube channel, and that was the beginning of the end.
I watched every one of their videos, and things were making sense, they were saying things I was thinking, I started finding more things that made sense. I watched hundreds of videos, science, bible, deconversions, and started ripping through books (A history of God was a huge help) lots of things were making sense now. I laughed at things that used to offend me, I cried from shame and the feeling of loss for the years I spent just thinking evolution was stupid because someone told me so.
I have so much freedom and happiness right now. I feel like a different person. The world is amazing and I get to be part of it. There's just one more thing...

I don't know how to tell my wife.
I'm on the other side of the world right now and will be for awhile, but eventually when I get home I will have to say something. Faith has been an important part of her life and even though she had a much more normal life than me this is huge and I know it will hurt her.

What do I do?

-J
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07-12-2014, 10:42 PM
RE: Jumping in with both feet
Wow!

The trick, I can't help thinking, is to slowly demonstrate that you (the person she loves) has changed your beliefs.

Not... that the belief has changed you.

Take it slowly. And good luck.

Thumbsup

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07-12-2014, 10:53 PM
RE: Jumping in with both feet
Hello.

Hug
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07-12-2014, 10:55 PM
RE: Jumping in with both feet
Wow is right.

Welcome to reality. Do you not think your wife would understand how you got to where you are now?

“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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07-12-2014, 11:21 PM
RE: Jumping in with both feet
Jack, you were not only brainwashed, you were abused.
Like DLJ said, take it slow with your wife. Let her ease into your new ideals. No need to drop everything on her at once.
Welcome and stick around, there are good people with great advice here.
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08-12-2014, 12:57 AM
RE: Jumping in with both feet
I read the first bit and stopped when I read...
(07-12-2014 07:17 PM)JackX Wrote:  ---
I was 3.
Undecided

Ugh... and I figured it wouldn't get much better.
Jumping ahead, this caught my eye ...
(07-12-2014 07:17 PM)JackX Wrote:  ---
And then I read the bible.

Encouraging. Thumbsup

And then ...
(07-12-2014 07:17 PM)JackX Wrote:  I don't know how to tell my wife.
---
What do I do?

Oops. Shy
***

Honesty is always the best policy... but one need not use it as a bludgeon.

Take it easy - Angry don't overdo it Dodgy - just demonstrate a more secular side of the person you've found yourself to be. Remember, you are still becoming comfortable with this new perspective, yourself. Give yourself and your wife, time.

If she voices any observations that something is "different" with you, that might be a good time to begin a positive discussion about what's been going on with you since you were three. Listen to her feedback and let her know that nothing in your relationship is different. Except of course, there is no god to actually bless your union and you're both going to hell and stuff Be positive about how you see your future together. Shy


Welcome to godlessness, Jax and welcome to the forum. Smile

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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08-12-2014, 03:54 AM
RE: Jumping in with both feet
Yes, wow. And yes, you were abused. Your dad even spanked someone else's kid?

Easy does it. You may be all full up now with your newly found perspective, but, it is not what defines you. Religion used to define you, atheism does not. Atheism merely frees you from religion, nothing else.

Take it very, very slowly. It took you a long time to arrive where you are now, doubts must have been brewing deep down for some time. You don't know where she is with that. She may have some doubts herself, or she may have none. You can't just tear down her self definition, it's like pulling the rug out from under her feet and she will only cling to it.

Stay in touch with us, let us know what happens and maybe we can help with the small steps then...

[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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08-12-2014, 04:26 AM
Re: Jumping in with both feet
Quite a story. I admire that you've reached where you are now and wish you all the best for your discussion with the wife.

Reading stories like yours both saddens and encourages. I'm fairly oblivious to religious indoctrination where I come from and sometimes forget how severe the abuse of children to make them follow their parents beliefs can be. I'm also greatly encouraged that people like you manage to break free so that the cycle is stopped.

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08-12-2014, 06:37 AM
RE: Jumping in with both feet
Hi and welcome.

You have been through a lot.

It's not unusual for people to change while away on military deployments. I would say get back home and settle in to life again. There doesn't need to be a big announcement that you have lost your faith in a god. If you lead with that it will probably be seen as a result of your military situation and something that is temporary.

Get back home safely, love your wife, and let the rest unfold naturally. Show her you are the same person she loves then over time broach the subject of changes in your worldview.

Hopping off the the transport and announcing you are atheist is not the way to move into this new part of your life. For now, read and study and get comfortable with the new you.

Best of luck to you and stay safe.

See here they are the bruises some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. - JF
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08-12-2014, 07:05 AM
RE: Jumping in with both feet
I don't know how to tell my wife.
I'm on the other side of the world right now and will be for awhile, but eventually when I get home I will have to say something. Faith has been an important part of her life and even though she had a much more normal life than me this is huge and I know it will hurt her.

What do I do?


My wife is also pretty religious (she's a missionary's kid). For >20 years we went to church together and I tried to believe for her sake. I may even have really believed for a while. But I'm a born scientist. Belief just isn't part of the whole gig, and I quit going to church with her. BUT I didn't really talk about why. We went on like that for a few years until she finally asked me if I believed. She was hurt and our marriage has suffered because of this. But we're still together. My advice, such as it is, is to not shock her with a sudden declaration of your atheism. Just quit going to church. Don't volunteer to pray. Make excuses if you have to. Blame what you saw in the military. Whatever. Basically, show her that you're still the same guy she fell in love with, even without all the god talk. Then, eventually, when she asks, she won't be surprised at the answer.
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