Leaving and grieving (sorry, long)
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28-01-2015, 03:49 PM
Leaving and grieving (sorry, long)
Hi all,

I introduced myself a couple weeks ago, but it's taken me a little while to post something. My atheism is pretty new, although it's been coming for a very long time.

My ancient history is Christian fundamentalism, including two years at Bible college, but I've been out of the evangelical church for going on two decades. However, I still hung on to some basic Christian tenets for a long time. About seven years ago, I joined a Quaker meeting and steadily became open to more and more liberal Christian and then just not-really-Christian-but-still-theist beliefs (i.e., the only thing I really believed was that there was a God). And then a few weeks ago, I was sitting in Quaker meeting and realized that I hadn't really believed in God in quite a while, so I got up and walked out because it seemed pointless to wait to hear from a non-existent being, which is the whole point of Quaker worship.

I've been feeling resistant to being at meeting for quite a while, and I guess I just wasn't ready to admit that I was an atheist until that moment. I'm sure many of you will be familiar with the pull that old fundamentalist indoctrination can have on you, even many years later. I felt it with every belief I gave up -- the inerrancy of the Bible, the divinity (or perhaps existence) of Jesus, the existence of an afterlife -- but none of those felt like going off the cliff in the way that not believing in God did. But I couldn't fight it, and the more reading I did, especially by others who left Christianity, the more I realized that I had already made my mind up on this a long time ago.

I have yet to tell anyone at my Quaker meeting. The thing is, there are atheists that go to meeting -- I'm sure they get something out of it, but it doesn't feel good to me to think about staying without believing.

Right now, there are two things that have kept me from disengaging entirely. One is that I currently am the Assistant Treasurer for meeting, and I feel bad leaving them in the lurch because it's my job to deposit all the donations and because it's not an easy position to fill. My plan at the moment is just to be honest and tell the Treasurer and the rest of the finance committee that I won't be attending meeting, but that I will be willing to help them handle the deposits for a while until they can find someone to do that. I need to do that pretty soon because I feel weird about handling the money of a meeting that I have pretty much already left.

The second thing is that I've really been grieving this loss more than I expected. It helped to read Jim Mulholland's book, Leaving Your Religion. It was so much easier to leave the fundamentalist church because I actively hated them, but it's not so black and white now. I have been really involved with a singing group at the meeting and decided to go back one last time this past Sunday, and it was pretty painful. Painful to sing those words about a God who I find repellent, and painful at the same time to lose this opportunity to sing with them, and to lose the hymns that were the music of my childhood. It was good to leave and cry for a while afterwards, but still just hard.

In reality, I don't think I'll miss being a part of meeting. There are people I'll miss, but I can try to keep in touch. I have lots of places to make music, which helps. I won't miss the endless committee obligations at all, or feeling guilty when I don't make it to meeting.

I do sort of miss God, which is weird. I was always such a mystic and felt like I had this intense personal relationship. I can't believe that now, but it sort of feels like I just broke up with someone who I thought was great but turned out to be a serial killer. And was imaginary. So I guess I miss the bizarre fake comfort of believing in God, but I don't miss trying to contort my brain to believe all of that. And I don't miss all of the horrible Christian baggage.

Anyway, I just found myself feeling sad today and needed to say this somewhere that I could be understood. I don't really have any atheist friends (although a few who are more deists than anything), so it's hard to be really honest in other places in my life.

It does help a bit to remember that, if God isn't real, that relationship I was having was just with me, and I'm still here, so that relationship isn't really ending at all.

Thanks to anyone who's reading this...

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28-01-2015, 04:44 PM
RE: Leaving and grieving (sorry, long)
If the Quaker group accepts atheists at meeting, perhaps you could stick around for the community aspect?

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28-01-2015, 04:55 PM
RE: Leaving and grieving (sorry, long)
Your journey does rather echo mine and probably many of us who deconverted as adults.

I have no real advice to offer you.


Welcome to our community.

But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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28-01-2015, 04:59 PM
RE: Leaving and grieving (sorry, long)
Welcome back Andy. I understand your sense of loss.

As I read your story it occurs to me that soon enough you should be able to fill some of those gaps by joining a secular singing group and staying in touch those that don’t have an issue with your atheism.

As for the treasury thing, I think your solution seems perfectly rational, help them out until the find a replacement.

As for missing God...well, for me that was replaced by the urgency and enormity of knowing that I had this one chance at life to do it all, see it all and help and love as much as possible. This has left me no time to miss the mystical.

Stick around, you are with a large group of people with similar stories and a wicked sense of humor.

“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
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28-01-2015, 05:00 PM
RE: Leaving and grieving (sorry, long)
sending you hugs. Hug

deconversion is a process, it takes time to understand all the ways it is in your life, to recognize, to work thru letting those things go, to finding a replacement for whatever need it was filling, understanding the whole of it, and then accepting where things are now and where you want them to be.

so many people figure out the logical problems with religion, but the ways church influences our social life, our emotions, our security and insecurity, and more, each of these need to be figured out, and it simply just takes time to process it all.

If there is an out & open atheist in the Quaker group, ask if you can call or grab a coffee together, that you had a few questions.

I found a great local atheist group (which someday I hope to make it to a meeting), but we chat frequently in a private facebook group.

You don't need to be lonely, or not involved with a group just because you are losing your belief in a god.

keep posting here, it really does help to get it out .

"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
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29-01-2015, 07:37 AM
RE: Leaving and grieving (sorry, long)
Since coming to "the dark side" hehe....i actually feel more connected and a sense of community with people i talk to now. .. maybe it's because i was such a fundy that i discounted EVERYONE. But i understand your pain i get sad too sometimes and miss the "feelings" that religion brings. Empathy..... more than knowledge. .. led me away fron religion. Hang in there!
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29-01-2015, 01:57 PM
RE: Leaving and grieving (sorry, long)
Thanks so much to all of you for your kind and helpful responses so far! It really helped just to write my feelings out somewhere that I knew they would be understood.

Feeling a little less sad today, although I have been having some anxiety about work and kept finding myself wanting to pray, but stopping. Just an old habit, I'm sure, since I haven't actually believed praying was effective for a very long time.

I have a meeting with my finance committee next week, so it will make sense for me to talk to them about the treasurer situation soon. I don't know if I have the guts to talk about it face to face at the committee meeting, so it might be via email afterwards.

I'm getting together with some secular musical friends tonight to rehearse for a show we have coming up in May, one of whom is an atheist who has been open to talking about some of this as I've been going through it. He also suggested we sing "And When I Die" (Peter, Paul, and Mary song), which is such a perfect song for me right now, as it's essentially about dying without believing in an afterlife. Not sure if it will make the final cut for the show, but fun anyway.

Thanks again for your support!
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29-01-2015, 02:52 PM
RE: Leaving and grieving (sorry, long)
It's perfectly normal for you to grieve for the god you lost.

Grieving is all about the loss of part of one's life - and the bigger the part, the more serious the grieving.

If god has been such an integral part of your life (you mention having a relationship), then there will be grieving when that part is gone.

It will just disappear in time - now you still have "triggers" that bring up the memory of how it was with god. Each of those triggers will disappear after having been encountered a certain number of times.

So, it's normal, and it's your brain slowly erasing the old thinking paths.

[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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29-01-2015, 03:02 PM
RE: Leaving and grieving (sorry, long)
I wish you the best. This is a difficult process that many here have gone through and can relate to. The good news is that there is a community here that cares and you should eventually be able to find a community at home. I think one of the most empowering things of leaving religion, is that you are now free to create your own meaning and purpose in life. If there is a thing or things that you feel passionate about, embrace them and pursue them.
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29-01-2015, 06:44 PM
RE: Leaving and grieving (sorry, long)
I might also recommend this book.


It was written is a respectful manner and is the account of Kenneth Daniels gradual deconversion from a missionary to atheist.

I was brought up as an atheist, or at least we were allowed the freedom to discover religion if we wanted, though religion and god was never discussed.

Oddly enough, Kenneth Daniels' book is what brought me here to the Thinking Atheist Forum, more so than being an atheist.

After reading his book I was dumbstruck by the turmoil believers go through when they deconvert. I had no idea not believing in a god was so difficult since this was the norm for me.

At any rate, this is a wonderful book. I think you would find his situation very familiar. Take care.

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He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
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Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
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