Feeling Robbed

Photo: Ana Yankova. Courtesy of Stockvault.

Photo: Ana Yankova.
Courtesy of Stockvault.

It was easy when I first stopped believing for me to get angry about things that I once believed. An almost prerequisite realization for me was that I’d been lied to for my entire life. But it’s more than just being lied to; this anger came from knowing I’d been intentionally conditioned to avoid thinking for myself. I underwent a deliberate process to circumvent my reason. This process took my intellect, used whatever parts of it against me that it could, and then locked the rest in a dark hole.

At meetings, I can kind of feel this anger and frustration.
Deconverts look at it differently than other people who never fully got into Christianity. At some of the meetings I’ve gone to, it gets referred to as a seeming oddity. “We talk about leaving Christianity and some of the problems with it when we get a new person who just left the faith,” is something I hear whenever the subject gets brought up. To a certain extent, I understand why this gets thrown out there; it can feel like rehashing something on a fairly consistent basis.

The thing is, these kinds of feelings often have to get repressed as a matter of course. And they’re also on the level of something that requires professional therapy. If I didn’t have access to therapy for mental illness, I wouldn’t be able to use those coping strategies to be able to deal with navigating the turmoil that surrounds no longer believing.

There’s a lot of conflict between deconverts and believers.
Every evening, I hear people talking to their food. There are paintings of Jesus, bible verses, and even a cross in my room. All around me are the trappings and icons of a system of belief that basically tried to kill me. It’s hard to just let that go. While it doesn’t always grab my attention, there have been a few times I’ve seen it and deliberated on why all this stuff has to be around me.

The worst part of it is hearing the lame excuses and knowing that I can’t do anything about it. I see people having their intellects taken from them, and any attempt to help only reinforces their conditioning. Eventually, when I am able to put some distance between myself and all of this, I fear it’s only going to get worse. Christianity has taught my family that people who don’t believe it are evil, which forecloses on a serious discussion.

Sometimes, I think feeling robbed would be more bearable if I didn’t see it happening again and again.
The cruelest realization I’ve had is that Christianity will take some of my family from me. When they find out that I’m an atheist, they will shun me, scold me, and do all kinds of reprehensible behavior in the name of their deity. This happens for no good reason.

That’s why I haven’t told them. I want to enjoy as much of the potentially good times as I can until I’m thrown away.

16 thoughts on “Feeling Robbed

  1. I’m with you. I’m always angry, to differing degrees depending on the day and situation.
    My wife says constantly that I need to move on, move forward. But for 34 years, the last 25 of which were in committed discipleship and ministry of various sorts, Jesus and Christianity was my identity. Lots of people say that, I know. But with me… Jesus was my identity. Leaving Christianity showed me that my real identity was stolen from me. All I could have been, done, lived… All those years dedicated to crap! At the exclusion of normal life.
    All my 20s all my 30s all my 40s… Pissed away on a lie.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As a fellow angry person let me give you a different perspective. I only came out as gay at 21- after having had a good number of heterosexual relationships. Those first relationships weren’t a “lie”, they were part of a process of understanding.
      It took me even more time to finally admit to myself (and to them) that I didn’t really want to have a relationship with my family. I wasn’t lying to them when I went to Christmas, I was following conventional societal norms.
      Our identities (hopefully) evolve, at least they do with a combination of luck and work.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thx for the different perspective. My uncle, 5yrs older than I am, is gay. Family ‘secret’ that I always knew. I had opportunity in February when my grandmother passed to make peace with his identity after my deconversion from years of mentally assigning him, unconsciously, to second class human status. I weep for the family relationship affects by my Christianity

        Liked by 1 person

    • “All my 20s all my 30s all my 40s… Pissed away on a lie.”

      Mike, I was in my 40’s when I broke the spell. it would take me many more years before the dust settled to realize just how much I had lost. At first, there was an overwhelming sense of awe as I seeing the world for the first time without the blinders. I was basking in this for some time. Then it hit me like a stampede of of spooked elephants.

      As a woman, I not only surrender who I was to Jesus, I was required to surrender who I was to my husband. The propaganda that two shall become one — well, that’s just code for losing one’s autonomy. To add insult to injury, I beat myself up for being so effing gullible when I realized it was all BS. This was before I learned about the power of indoctrination. It would take me several more years to allow myself to grieve over the death of “me”.

      George Elliot penned one of my favorite quotes: It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

      Liked by 2 people

  2. SB, it’s heartbreaking that you can’t share with your family the truth. It’s understandable why you haven’t as it doesn’t sound like there would be any benefit to it.😔

    What you said about people going through deconversion needing professional therapy is so true! It’s a very difficult thing, recovering from that mind-fuck. I have a feeling in some ways it’ll take a lifetime.

    The lifelong non-religious just don’t get it. I remember expressing my despair to a couple of lifelong atheists and said I didn’t know how to make friends who weren’t Christians. The reason being that I have (had) like zero experiencing developing relationships that didn’t involve around my “spiritual walk.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. SB, thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I think a lot of deconverts can relate to both the feelings of anger at what was lost during the journey of faith and of your distress with not being accepted as you are in your Christian family.
    I believe I have observed healthy-minded, intelligent people who practice some form of spirituality (they’re not overly fixated with it, have other coping skills, engage in other interests). My hope is that your family will value the connection they have with you over the beliefs that sustain their identity and security. I think that would be the truly “loving” thing for them to do. According to common Christian perspective, it’s not their place to judge.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. SB, I’ve been thinking about your post for several days now, as well as the comments here. I was a Fundamentalist Christian, sold out for God, Bible School, mission field, yadda yadda. It took years for the light to come on and for me to escape. I’ve always been a glass-half-full kind of person, in spite of my deep depression and personality disorder, most likely caused by enslavement to my faith. When I finally broke free, I felt like Charlie after he found the golden ticket; like our neighbor John after a rather unfortunate incident with a pile of scrap wood, a can of gas, and a lit match–my dad asked him why he was laughing ad he said, “I’m just so glad to be alive!”

    I was in my forties when I escaped, and my thought was, I have half my life left to live as a free person! What if I hadn’t discovered the truth until I was 65 or 70? I’m so lucky to have so much life left to think what I want, read what I want, love who I want, be who I am! Like a drowning person pulled from the water, given a second chance at life, we are “born again” (please excuse the biblical term)!

    Your final words made me tear up–“until I’m thrown away.” It’s what religious people do, and it’s so painful. We have an advantage over atheists who didn’t deconvert; we understand how believers think and can pity them for being so very lost in a closed system that has taken their ability to think for themselves. All we can do is love them, Sirius.

    My brother lives with the sadness and the horror that I’m going to suffer and burn in hell for all eternity, and there isn’t anything I can do to relieve the pain he feels. It’s strange being on this side of things. Every time another believer from my old life discovers I’ve left the faith and walks away from me, I’m surprised and hurt. Every time. But there are so many of us out here! Find your tribe. Work hard in therapy and get well. Life is so sweet!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That was a lovely comment, Jodi and I agree – you have so much of life ahead of you as a ‘free’ person. You have the most to offer those who are still stuck on the other side of the rose-coloured glasses, which makes your comments so much more powerful and profound.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “It was easy when I first stopped believing for me to get angry about things that I once believed.”

    It wasn’t easy at first for me to get angry about things that I once believed. It took me years, probably because I had become so deeply conditioned to stay under the radar of reality, thus denying such emotions. SB, I am awed by how quickly you faced up to it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wonder if the difference is because of how men and women are indoctrinated differently in church settings. Men are encouraged to be leaders, and they’re not discouraged from being angry when they see something wrong.

      It might just be another item to add to the list of things that religion does to mess with people.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That could be part of it. My thoughts are that much of it had to do with the teachings that if we were personally inflicted/wounded (whether mentally or physically), we were to turn the other cheek. Also, James 1:19-20 states: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m familiar with that verse. It was used on me a lot growing up, to make me feel like I was being unreasonable for sticking up for myself. But I was also given the mixed message of speaking up if other people were doing wrong by the Lawd.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It most certainly is a one-size-fits-all kind of system. My husband, Mike, is not a leader, and he found it very frustrating to have that role continually pushed on him. He’s still a believer, but he no longer attends church. He seems much happier now that we’re no longer part of that culture.


Comments are closed.