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.
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.
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.
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.