Why Religion Makes Me Miserable

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

I used to write a lot about leaving Christianity, about not holding to a religion, and about the freedom of secular thought. The subject has worn on me over time, to the point where I get uncomfortable bringing it up. There are people I know and respect who are very religious, whose faith doesn’t inherently trouble me. The problem for me, I think, is the baggage that I’ve carried with me out of believing in deities. I feel miserable about the subject when it gets brought up because there’s a minefield I know that has to get navigated.

Every time.

What I’m talking about.
It frustrates me that I could tell some people I don’t believe in deities, and I’d get a litany of stupid questions in response. It pains me that I can’t ask close family to be less vocal about their eccentric religious beliefs for fear that they will react in terrible, unpredictable ways. It hurts me that I can’t mention my lack of faith to people for fear that it’s going to terrorize them. It disgusts me that religious people where I live are more interested in using their faith as an excuse to hurt people than befriend them. It saddens me when I remember that people I care about are having their emotions held hostage against them.

These are just a few things that I came up with. There’s many more. At its core is this resentment that I’m the one having to navigate this territory mostly on my own. I tried a support group a while back, but it was mostly about sounding off against a former faith than finding a way forward. Part of this is because the group actively tries to walk that fine line of saying it’s not actively trying to encourage people to leave their faith. While this pacifies Christians in my part of the world (barely – they’d complain if given the chance), it does no service to people who need encouragement to leave their toxic beliefs behind them.

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

This has been a theme for me for a while, too.
I have nowhere to turn to where I can figure out how to finally get free of the last trappings of my old faith. My conscience is genuinely worried about that. Will I have to become unfeeling in order to get rid of the consequences of Christianity? Must I become slightly unhealthy in one regard to become healthier in another?

This rails against intuition. One of the things I am happy about secular morality is the notion of having any reason to find common cause with people. Of course, this makes me a little frustrated. I get this feeling like I’d be able to enjoy the company of people who are religious more often if they’d just let some of their baggage go. But that isn’t always healthy, and it’s unreasonable to base my own happiness on the conditions of others.

I really don’t want to be miserable anymore, at least with regards to belief in invisible sky wizards. There has to be a way forward. My current situation is untenable.

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Is there a way out?
Part of me thinks that maybe there needs to be a scab that I can form around all of it. Time spent away from iconography and religious ravings and the subject and the debates will give me a chance to heal and get perspective. The problem here is that I don’t know what that would look like. If it has happened for me recently, I am unaware of it.

Something else is this idea of a better support group, although I have no training or expertise in running one. I’m talking about a group that at least has the courage to acknowledge and act accordingly with the precept that religion can wreck a person’s life. There are real conflicts that can blow out of proportion, and many former Christians know this. Even making an irreverent joke could send a Christian into orbit.

Barring all of that, I need to have thought dedicated to this problem. Life is this beautiful thing I have trouble recognizing. My life needs to get simplified, and recovering from my former religion would be a big start.

I get that mileage may vary.
Some people can dip their toe into Christianity and come out unscathed. Others jump off the deep end and come out with all sorts of personal problems. It scars people without leaving marks (sometimes). Even if I can’t find happiness or some reasonable facsimile, I’d hope that people can see this and get some traction on their own journey out of a harmful faith.

I think that might be a root concern of mine. Society at large sees religion as being entirely benign. But like taking too much of a drug or harmful substance, faith can alter a mental landscape. Because it doesn’t leave a physical reminder, victims are often told what they suffer from doesn’t exist. The irony of made-up problems versus a totally real personal wish-granter isn’t lost on people like me.

So yeah, the problem is real. People who say otherwise are lying or uninformed. I cannot change their perspective or attempts to perpetuate myth over fact, but I don’t have to. Everyone has a choice to admit facts or pretend they don’t exist. I have made my choice.

3 thoughts on “Why Religion Makes Me Miserable

  1. I read this piece (What’s the Harm? https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/14557) just yesterday and it answers some of the questions you mention above.

    Part of the problem is culture signally that is programmed into us. I saw a snack of a documentary/news piece on a mobile dental serve serving poor people in the Eastern US. A poor woman got a very troublesome tooth extracted by this service and her first response was “Thank you, Jesus!” She went on to copiously thank all who were involved, but Jesus got top billing. This behavior is taught to the young in areas that are suffused with Christianity. It reinforces the position of belonging to the culture of the area. It also reinforces the programming of the religion.

    If you live in the area, you cannot escape that. I was in such an area recently and leaving a hotel in the early AM, while pulling a cup of coffee for the road, a cheerful staff member asked how I was. I replied blearily that I “was alive.” And she responded “Thank God for that.” Obviously I didn’t respond to her comment as that would have been unkind, But such comments are unavoidable in many areas of this country. So, either you deal with them or move elsewhere.

    I don’t expect this behavior will go away (I remember responding in such ways. People leaving the hospital with a cured disease will continue to thank Jesus and sometimes forget to thank the professionals that were responsible for their care, like the anti-semite who shot up that temple recently, who didn’t realize that the EMT treating him was Jewish. The true source of our good luck is being grabbed by religions to bolster their donations, rather than given to the correct sources. (We thank God for miracles, when what actually happened depended more on doctors, nurses, and health insurers that supernatural beings.)

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  2. I think I suffer a little from what ails you. I was brought up Catholic but this seems to mean more to me that others I know who blithely shook off their religious upbringing without looking back. I still feel that my life’s path has displeased God and my parents, – and I’m nearly 50! On a more positive note, a sense of social justice & of the connectedness of living things is part of what I think I learned from Catholicism. But it’s a cult – and if you’ve spent your childhood in a cult the exiting process is long and bitter.


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