My former faith is a constant source of conflict for my recovery efforts. It used to be an integral part to how I tried self-treating my growing problems with anxiety and depression. I could promise myself that my invisible savior would help out with the heavy lifting. I depended on this like most people would depend on their car starting.
Reminders of the promises my faith made – ones that an invisible, omnipotent deity never made good on – are all around me. I’ve learned a little bit over the years to deal with that, but sometimes the knife gets twisted a bit. Sometimes, I’ll go to therapy and I’ll get to look at some biblical quote or religious platitude. Because my therapist is at least somewhat religious, this is part of my recovery I can’t talk about.
It can be a lonely road out of faith.
Even in the company of other people who don’t believe, the journey is isolating. Talking with many people who deconverted, there’s that point where people discuss what thing finally was the thought that stopped the mental gymnastics. Everyone’s process is different; nobody heard the same message and got out.
Inherent in this process is the fact that it gets done alone. Some people are fortunate enough that they have spouses or partners that are right there with them, understanding and welcoming. Too many times, there are people who don’t have anyone to turn to. I’m one of those people. There’s nobody I have who I can physically turn to and get help with.
If that’s not bad enough, I get reminded constantly on how people have a crowd of congregants ready to welcome someone to the new church. Deconverts don’t have a strip mall dedicated to those who have abandoned Christianity, or a renovated building to house those not wanting to go to Sunday school anymore. Where I live, such a place might be in physical danger. Hell, it might get picketed more often than the abortion clinic.
How is someone to cope in isolation?
Just like with my coping strategies for anxiety and depression, I’m having to apply those lessons on my own to the matter of recovering from Christianity. This is something that I’ve probably needed to write down for a while, if for no other reason than letting other people take what they can from it. At any rate, I think I’m at a point where I need to figure out how to accelerate the process.
My main goal with this is to get rid of the ongoing problems I have faced with regards to seeing religious messages. That is, I want to get to a point where religious iconography and platitudes will not precipitate depressed thinking or anxiety. This is going to involve unlearning all the triggers I developed over my almost three decades of faith, from my earliest memories to when I was 32. I’m going to need to discover what those triggers are, and defuse them.
Even with this brief synopsis, the task always seems daunting. There is a part of me that thinks I might not ever be able to complete this. It’s an ugly part of me, and it most likely will be painful. The fact remains that it’s still a cancer, and to get on with my life, it must be removed.
My ultimate goal will be to not care about anything religious that people try to inflict on or around me. To some degree, I’ve already had minor successes here and there. Such small victories let me know that the greater goal might be attainable.
In the short term, I want to expand my indifference towards the negative runoff of behavior that my former religion encourages. I hope I will be at least moderately successful.