One thing my former faith taught me quite well was the art of punishing myself for my failings. Early on, I was taught that this was a normal process the Christian deity used to get good people back on the path to righteousness. Because of how my mind doesn’t work, it took these teachings and welcomed them completely, carving out a hole in my psyche for it to take root. Nowadays, I’m trying to cope with inordinate levels of self-doubt and self-loathing, and I can’t tell what the source is.
All of this is the product of faith done correctly.
Faith isn’t supposed to be easy to get rid of, and mine was no exception. It took accepting the divine consequences of contemplating suicide to just crack the surface of it. In other words, I had to go to inordinate and unhealthy extremes just to get a glimpse of an accurate perspective. If I’d not been pushed that far by my mental infirmities and circumstances in life, I’d still be oblivious.
What this also means is that I can’t get rid of my old beliefs in one swoop. That’s frustrating to admit because now I know enough to realize there are parts still hiding in the dark corners of my mind, lurking about for the chance to prey upon my thinking. Although I don’t believe in the divine anymore, the conditioning still remains entrenched.
I feel like I’m being left on the defensive.
Since I’ve rid myself of the obvious false beliefs, the ones that are left are the hardest ones to grapple with. If I knew that a particular bout of self-hatred was an echo of Christianity, it would be easy to dismiss as such. However, if it’s part of my depressive condition, no amount of positive thinking will stop it from happening. Knowing this, I feel like I have to constantly react to things instead of being able to seek out a solution.
The worst thing is that I have this unshakable feeling that this might just be a permanent consequence of my old faith, like how someone who overdosed on LSD might permanently see vapor trails. Despite wanting it gone, I’m left with the urge to see myself in as negative a light as possible, all for reasons that I don’t believe in anymore.
Another concern I have is that my fears might just be playing with my perception, creating things that aren’t necessarily there. This is more of a problem with mental illness than with anything else, because it can be the result of something as simple as a change in dose (which I just underwent). What if all of this is just an extended depressive episode, and my thoughts just mimic my old religious self-punishment?
Being robbed of reality is a terrible thing.
There’s this hole in my thinking, something that invariably leads me to despair. Wanting it gone will not make it go away. I have to do something, but I don’t always know what that is.
So I just get to sit there next to an abyss, wearily staring into it.