I'm in a very lonely place right now

Sent in by notabarbie

I began my journey of de-conversion a little over a year ago, although I had had many unanswered questions for years and just buried them; mostly because I felt sinful for even considering them. It has been a long and arduous quest that continues and I'm sure will for a long time. If it had not been for caring ex-Christians on the internet, I don't know what I would have done. They have been as encouraging and honest as they could be and it has helped me tremendously. I hope I can do the same for others once I'm through the really tough parts.

I knew what I would lose when I de-converted, but when I was faced with all the evidence I couldn’t continue on. I'm not very good at faking it and just couldn't do it. It was destroying me. My husband knew of my struggles and questions, but it wasn't until I told him I couldn't go to church anymore that he realized the gravity of the situation. He says he understands and that he has his doubts too, but he continues to go without me and take our kids—that is tough.

I haven't really come out to most of my friends, but just the fact that I don't go to church anymore has caused many to avoid me. Even the friends that are still hanging in make me feel like they are here to "bring me back to the fold." There is a lot of pressure. It's not that I don't understand their motives — I do. I've been there myself and that makes me cringe a little. I have to be honest, I'm in a very lonely place right now, but I'm working on finding new friends and a new community, not that the cyber one hasn't been amazing, but I need a little human contact too; someone I can look in the eyes and pour my heart out to, you know?

Some might wonder why I would bring all this upon myself. Why not just quietly continue on attending church, etc., and just keep my beliefs under wraps? I can't do that and be true to myself or my family and despite the hurt and abandonment I feel at times, I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin before or felt more peace or joy and yes even love for my fellow humans. To do things solely out of caring and desire is so freeing. In the process my children are learning to be free thinkers and less judgmental. That is huge. I could never go back.

My internet friends told me things would be hard, but that they would slowly but surely get better and they were right of course. There are really bad days, but there are more and more good ones and I feel myself getting stronger and stronger everyday. I know I will eventually be completely honest with my friends, but I think that will be more gradual and hopefully less traumatic.

I know this was long, but thank you for the opportunity to tell a bit of my story. It has been very therapeutic.

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39 comments:

SpaceMonk said...

Having the courage of your convictions is to be applauded, and the fact that even just your example is helping your kids to think more freely is a great thing.
Maybe your husband is learning too?

Butch said...

That sounds a lot like my story. My wife also still believes but I can’t tell you how lucky people like you and I are that our spouses are willing to stand by us. I’ve seen other marriages get torn up over this. I am thankful (yes, we atheists can still be thankful) every day for my loving, caring, and understanding wife.

I hope you appreciate what a winner you’ve got and that you let him know it.

Kimba said...

Once you know something, you can't un-know it. This can prove to be a curse at times.

At this point, you KNOW that chrisitanity is not something you believe in, you have EVIDENCE that it is not worth even lip service. However, there will probably be days where you wish you were ignorant.

Just hang in there... you WILL find people who share your beliefs. (or non-belifs as the case is) You will also find that these friends tend to be of a higher caliber than the ones that only "loved you" because you were a churchgoing christian. Your athiest friend will love you for the person you actually are.

stronger now said...

I wish I could be more helpful but I am antisocial. May you find all the strength you need in yourself.

Jamie said...

Hang in there. I understand the loneliness, and feel it quite a bit right now. My wife has been sadly/angrily telling me that I've turned my back on God, and it's difficult to say anything back to her. I don't want to destroy her beliefs, because they seem to be keeping her together during a difficult time in our marriage. At the same time, the way she talks, I think it is those very same beliefs that will ultimately drive a permanent wedge between us. I hope not, though.

I hope you find the face to face support that you need during this difficult time.

Huey said...

Try this web site http://www.freethinkermatch.com/. Through it, you should be able to find someone in your area. Thank you for sharing with us!

TheCapetonian said...

Dear notabarbie,

Your post struck a cord with me since it is just about a year ago that we walked away from the Christian faith. The evidence of the whole belief being a fake and made up by desert dwellers became overwhelming. Like you, my wife and I had many unanswered questions. We shoved it under the rug as it were. We even attended Bible classes at Church to help answer some of these questions but, alas, you cannot have absolute true answers to stuff that are either mythical or just made up. We walked away and experienced the hurt, void you're expressing right now. Being ostracized is par for the course. The "loving/caring" friends found us to be a threat to their spiritual well being and they chose not to socialize with us anymore. The isolation can be hard at times. The exchristian website has been an oasis in the seemingly lonely struggle. I read it on a daily basis. I know that a few times I wanted to kick myself for wanting to study and read the bible and investigating the Christian faith since this lead me to the conclusion that it's all fake.

Yes, that human contact is all so important especially just to express your viewpoints. I'd look at the local libraries and community centers for people of similar thoughts. I'm out in Virginia but I listen to the atheist community of Austin Texas just to be connected to what other people are saying.

Let me express, along with others, you WILL get better. It's a process and it takes time. That freedom that you have now will heal the hurt you feel when you 'look back' at the life you had prior to walking away. Congratulations!! Well done. Few people have the courage to walk away from all they have known and the comforts of their social crew.

Best of luck as you continue the de-conversion process.

The Capetonian

Nvrgoingbk said...

Wow, notabarbie,

I was so touched by your post. I relate completely to your feelings about being tormented while trying to maintain your Christian beliefs when you knew you finally had to be true to your conscience. I didn't give much thought to what others would think, though. It all happened gradually, and now I'm completely out of the closet with exception to one of my old Christian friends. We rarely ever talk, so i don't feel I owe her any information at this point regarding my deconversion.

My husband and I were both Christians, but we have both deconverted. I went first, but he followed along soon after. I am the one who began to do the active research, but when I passed along the knowledge that I had, he had no problem agreeing. He had been tormented internally as well, so it was very easy for him to discard. The funny thing is that there was a time when he was breaking up with me, because he didn't think I was godly enough for him, and I was scared to death to marry him, because I was divorced, and I was scared of being guilty of adultery for remarriage while my ex-husband was still alive (the biblical stand on divorce and remarriage is very confusing). I loved and feared the Christian god so much that I was ready to obey him and leave Nick and sacrifice him all in the name of "crucifing my flesh"..."abandoning it all for the sake of the call"...WHATEVER!

We are so much happier now that we have discarded that which was literally making us sick. It was actually affecting our emotional and physical health, and to save our own sanity and our own lives (no exaggeration; I was suicidal at times) we walked away and haven't looked back.

We talk about religion all the time now. We are both regulars here. I started first, but he got addicted a few months later. We have new friends now. My old friends are exactly like yours: they either abandoned us all together or tolerate us all for the sake of sharing their witness and praying for our return...NEVER!

I was very lonely too when I left Christianity, because it was during a time when Nick and I were split up (religion really did drive us apart). I was searching for the answers all alone, independent of my college studies and without my family and friends being made privvy to my research. The more I studied and researched, the brighter the light became in my mind. I knew what I was reading and discovering was right. I was scared, though. I prayed my fair share of gut-wrenching prayers, asking God to hang on to me lest I lose my faith, but ne'er an answer did I recieve - only more confirmation that Christianity was a lie. I too, eventually could no longer lie to myself or anyone else and came out of the closet.

When Nick called me two months after being split up with the hopes of having me back, I told him of my exodus from religion. As I said, I shared what I had found with him, and he couldn't deny the truth.

Now we look back and can't believe we allowed such ridiculousness to torment us. We can't believe we lived in such fear and mental Hell to the point of driving each other away. We are two people that saved ourselves from the grip of religious dogma. Our relationship is completely different now. We just chuckle together when the fundies come on to the site and preach. We get all fired up at religious fraud. We can't wait to get started attending athiest meetings. We both come visit this site for a daily fix.

Things will get better and better for you. It will not be as long as you think. When I first got here in July of last year, I wondered when I would stop fearing the God I knew wasn't there. I wondered when I would stop wishing that eternal life was real....but overall, I knew that I would never go back to a lie.

So here I am reading your post and I can truly say, "I've been there sister. It will get better."

dano said...

notabarbie.
The more you laugh at Bible God and his oddly conceived son, with the weird, born again message, the more you will be convinced that the whole cartoon, called the Christian religion, has no more power to make you feel guilty and afraid.

You can still believe in a higher power if you want, but it's perfectly OK to say with perfect confidence, "I don't know if there is an intelligent force out there that made us, AND NEITHER DOES ONE OTHER PERSON ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH!"
Dan

NateDog said...

Hey Notabarbie

Many of us are in the same boat as you. I still go to church even though I do not believe in Jesus any more. My wife and son also have their doubts and frustrations with christianity. I have 2 close friends in the church, and they are the bad-asses there. Also, I am head of the property committee, and get to work on the building and grounds which brings great personal satisfaction. My son has a close friend of 7 years there too. My wife has had disagreements with several people in the church. She has fairly poor social skills. Someday we will leave that church, but for now it works. Remember to always have an attitude of optimism, and to stay positive.

Jerry said...

I wonder if what you are running from is the hypocrisy of the doctrine of God the church you attend(ed) taught or if you are truly running from a belief in God. What you are expressing is where depression starts.

Apostasy is rampant in the Western church. Too many denominations and churches teach and preach a set of parameters for God. They tell you to say a certain prayer, to act by this or that code of morals, to perform these rites and those rituals. Sometimes the things they teach may even seem spiritual, like speaking in tongues or 'receiving the anointing'.

The trap many churches and denominations fall into is creating rules, rites, and traditions to the point of smothering God out of the congregation. It sounds like your former church did just that.

And now your church friends reach out to bring you back in, because to let you leave challenges their vision of God. They will go away for a time, but one weekend when the preacher preaches revival, they will come back to try and save their prodigal daughter, again to justify their own belief system.

All this is done to stave off depression, because whether you are an Atheist or an Anglican, a Zoroastrian or a member of the Zion Baptist Church, when you discover that your God is not acting the way you expect him/her/it to act, depression sets in.

I hope and pray you come to know the truth about God before you put so much stock in what others have taught you that you shut God out.

Audie said...

Jerry wrote: "I hope and pray you come to know the truth about God before you put so much stock in what others have taught you that you shut God out."

Did you even pay attention while reading the pot? She isn't running from the hypocracy, but becaue of th fact that the evidence hows that your bible-god just does not exist. So your prayers have been answered, she is fiding the REAL truth about god.

Jamie said...

Jerry, may I ask just what is that truth? And how do you know?

DaninPA said...

Notabarbie, things will improve. especially with a husband who didn't automatically shun you for you unbelief.

Jerry, which god are you speaking of? What is your definition of a god?

boomSLANG said...

Jerry: I hope and pray you come to know the truth about God before you put so much stock in what others have taught you that you shut God out.

Let's see----don't put "stock" in what "others" teach us about "God"? You mean, "stock"... as in, what you're saying right now?... about how "Jerry" knows the "truth about God"? 'Deal.

infidel666 said...

Hi notabarbie,
Hang in there and you will find new friends. I went through a simular thing and now a year and a half later I have no friends from any church. Like your friends they were interested in bringing me back to the fold or helping me with my faith. "Fuck that shit" I pretty much blew em off. I found that their friendship with me had created a tension. And without the church thing we really didn't have enough in common anymore.
You may have to leave your comfort zone and reach out to some new people. Just remember we are here for you.

love changes things said...

Its difficult to me too since i'm learning the truth about christianity. I believed in it so much that it pretty much was my life. Getting rid of Jesus in my life isn't something that goes away over night for me either. It has been ingrained in my psyche for years and its difficult to break. I gratefully for sites like these that help me. Hopefully you can make it through these tough times as I am in the same boat. I dont have a wife and kids yet so all I deal with is my immediate family and friends. Good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

Jerry:

Given enough time, and enough ignorance, notabarbie can be just like you: telling people not to define God by any other parameters but YOURS.

notabarbie said...

Wow, thanks so much for all your support. It's amazing how encouragement can make you feel so strong. All your words mean more to me then you could ever know. Well, actually you probably do know. Huey, thanks for the link. I will check that out.

I do hope my husband really is starting to see my point and change his views.
Sometimes I find myself wondering if he just says he understands and then goes to his men's group and prays for my poor lost soul. The things that beleivers do tend to make one paranoid...sheesh, I know, I was one. ;-)

Anyway, you are all so funny and encouraging, even the way you pounced on Jerry for my sake; I look forward to spending more time here.

Lynn said...

Dear notabarbie, my heart goes out to you, this can be a lonely journey at times. I find that as I continue on the journey, I get a lot less crazy and I find a lot more people who accept and love me. In retrospect, I think the loneliest (and certainly crazy-making) times in my life were when I was in the church, trying to make myself believe in and love a god who tortures people. I got to where I just could not lie to myself anymore. It has taken years to unlearn and detoxify myself from those beliefs. It helped me to hang out with the Unitarians in my town, they have opened their hearts and minds to me. There's an old joke about Christians wear crosses and Unitarians wear question marks, and it's true. There are lots of atheists in my church, and agnostics and theists and wiccans and buddhists and whatever other belief flavors people come in. I write this in the hope it will help with your loneliness. Hang in there, we care about you and it will get better. Much. hugs, Lynn

Anonymous said...

notabarbie, there are a lot of us who have been through the pain and loneliness you talk of, especially with our families. We can all send you a big cyber hug.

I'm especially concerned for you because of your marriage and children. It sounds like your husband is being supportive - even if he stays in the fold - I hope he can be strong too. The pressure on him is probably quite great too.

There are no easy answers but I hope everything goes well for you.

BR

Nvrgoingbkeither said...

dear notabarbie
when i first left xianity it was a very hard thing, at times now when things go wrong i have too stop myself from thinking i am under some punishment from a fairy tale.
It will take time but every day you live out from under that xian rock of lies you are a better person.
poeple like that jerry who come on here and try and re-convert do not know how things are.

I sit now and watch all the t.v preachers who are making MILLIONS off of a lie, i mean think on this ,there are 27 some savior stories,who knows how many flood stories and most saviors are older than the jesus account.

Then you have the miracles that went away like a fart in the wind.
That still does not even begin too cover ALL the thousands of sects of religion period.

My wife makes a very good argument she says, "God in all his wisdom could not forsee that there would be a zillion diffrent religions and would confuse and torment thousands of his "beloved children" until they want too say "fuck it".A loving god would never not answer the rpayers of the little boys and girls over in afirca who die daily.

The truth is we just got played by a real good two thousand year old SCAM.

i know all will get better for you as time goes bye you will notice it is a far off thought (XIANITY)
no one has all the answers but we have enough here too help you thru this rough time o.k

p.s. look at all the stories, articles,testimonies etc they will help because their is alot of research along with it all.

have a nice day notabarbie

Lance said...

Notabarbie,
Just one more note of understanding and encouragement. The loneliness part is the hardest. My wife is still in the fold and most of my friends were christians, so it is hard to find someone to talk about this stuff with.

My one close friend that agrees we me on this stuff is not in the same mental or physical place, since he did not come out of christianity like me, and since he lives in another state. So when we chat on the phone he lets me rant now and then, but he would rather talk about other things.

If I was single and had time I would look up some free thinker's group here in Oregon, but that makes my wife a bit uncomfortable and I would rather spend time with her and the kids, so all I've got for now is this web site.

All I think we really need is just for a real human to acknowledge our thoughts and feelings as valid now and then. And a little less confrontation from those that want to bring us back.

Hang in there.

Lance

Lance said...

Jerry:
You said "when you discover that your God is not acting the way you expect him/her/it to act, depression sets in. "

Instead of "not acting in the way you expect," how about "not acting at all."

You don't have a god that does ANYTHING. You simply have a belief system that explains why he/she/it doesn't.

Lorena said...

Jerry wrote:
I hope and pray you come to know the truth about God before you put so much stock in what others have taught you that you shut God out.

Lorena responds:
What you are saying is akin to blaming the schools for incorrect teaching, when it is the curriculum that sucks.

The problem isn't as much the people or the churches as it is the textbook.

That's right. The problem is the Bible, and, of course, the naive people who insist in following outdated wisdom written in the mythical book.

A note to notabarbie
Thank you for your post. I, and many others here, totally understand where you are at. I agree that it will get better, but "better" looks different for everyone.

For me, "better" means that I have stopped yearning for the company of most people. I am now comfortable on my own, in the knowledge that I am different and that it is difficult to find like-minded individuals who have ever dared to be different in any way, shape or form.

Most people, Christian or not, go where they're told and seldom question the establishment. Those of us who have dared to leave religion are likely to question other aspects of society as well. That fact makes us different. And "cool" people enjoy not friendship with the maladjusted rebels such as I.

All the best to you!

Lance said...

Hi Notabarbie,
Huey mentioned http://www.freethinkermatch.com/, but that looks like it was made for matching up singles.

I found this one, which seems to be more for just meeting other like-minded people, without the singles thing.

http://atheists.meetup.com/

I can't say anything about the web site, since I just stumbled on it tonight after your post inspired me to look around for myself.

I hope it helps.

Lance

paul said...

notabarbie,

I'm reading stats these days like: "87% of the U.S population considers itself Christian in some form or other..." and "about 3% of the U.S. population is atheist." Not that you label your self as atheist, just that there is a decided minority and majority. I am struck by the irony. Consider:
the path of deconversion is narrow and hard, and few be there that find it. Deconverting is in many ways like being born again, no?

While it is lonely to be an open deconvert, I think it's lonelier to be a 'closeted' deconvert. Yeah, I'm thankful for the net too otherwise I'd be friendless at a time when friends carry a lot of weight. I think there's something to be said about the alone part of deconversion, though, I think it can make us stronger when we aren't tempted to kowtow for the affirmation of others.
best wishes
paul

notabarbie said...

Lance- Thanks for the heads up on links. There is a group in Sacramento that meets, which is about 45 minutes away. I’m not sure if that’s what I really want to do, but it’s nice to know it’s there.

Having no one to talk to has taught me something in a way —I had completely isolated myself from people other than Christians; fundamentalist Christians more specifically. That’s pretty sad, but today’s a new day, right?

Lorena –Maladjusted rebels; what a great descriptor! I’ve been called many things in my life—lightning rod, catalyst, handful, pain in the butt, but maladjusted rebel is perfect. I’ve always made people nervous because I would keep questioning and you are right most people just go along—that has always bugged me. What bugs me more is that I would too, mostly out of fear. In fundamentalist Christianity there’s just no room for real questioning, as anyone who has been in it knows

I remember being at a “new members” meeting at church and questioning the pastor about why women couldn’t be elders. When I didn’t quietly accept the pat answer, he said, “aw, notabarbie, we just love you.” I knew what that meant—shut the f*** up.

What you said really spoke to me because deep down I know that, for the most part, I will be on my own, but I also know that eventually, that will be okay. Thanks for reminding me of that. As I think about it, I kind of look forward to the day when people from my former church finally wash their hands of me.

Lynn- Thanks for the hugs…you aren’t the first person to suggest a Unitarian church. Right now, the idea of walking into any church at all makes me feel panicky, but who knows where my journey will lead. Thanks so much for your encouragement.

Nvrgoingbkeither – I do find myself thinking god’s out to get me sometimes when things go wrong. We can’t help it though. At least for me I’ve had that stuff drilled into my head from infancy. What your wife said was very wise (of course) I find myself thinking why in the hell couldn’t I see that before? How could I have been so blind? And Christians say “unbelievers” are the blind ones….

Hellbound Alleee said...

My advice would be to make a list of your values. I have found that in making my own list, there is hardly anything on there that can't be gotten as an atheist. If it can't, well, values can be judged whether or not they are rational. That's one of the good things about being an ex-christian: you are free to judge and make moral decisions for yourself.

THE ACE said...

Noteabarbie: Rest assured you are in good company here. More or less, most of us have been through the same thing you're going through now. But I can tell you when you finally see how the
brainwashing of fundamentalist
Christianity has affected your
life, and reject it, the feeling of
freedom is wonderful. You are no
longer a mental and emotional slave
to the fears and hang-ups of a
long dead civilization.

If people are truly your friends,
they'll accept you as you are. If
not, they weren't worth much as
friends to begin with.

Lorena said...

notabarbie said
I remember being at a “new members” meeting at church and questioning the pastor about why women couldn’t be elders. When I didn’t quietly accept the pat answer, he said, “aw, notabarbie, we just love you.” I knew what that meant—shut the f*** up.


Lorena responds

Ha! Here I thought I was the only woman with the nerve to do something like that.

Their condescending attitude was what I hated most.

"Yeah, you are crazy and disturbing but, hey, we are nice people, we love you anyway."

The chances of finding another woman with our "balls" in hundreds of square miles is like 1%. So let's sit tight, enjoy our books, and keep posting here.

Actually, meetup.com is great. People who are lonely enough to seek for friendship by attending a function with strangers are usually as maladjusted as me. I have met some wonderful, intelligent people at some of those.

Bill said...

I have attended two sessions of the Mid Michigan Atheists meet up and will be hitting my third one next week. It's a wonderful experience being surrounded by a couple dozen people who think like yourself. Being an atheist is a very loney existince at times. I am very lucky that my wife really doesn't give a rat's ass about my non belief, but she doesn't much like hearing about it either.

I wish those well meaning folks who are praying for us would just realize that once you cross a certain line of enlightened non belief, there is no turning back without a wee bit of proof. Because the Bible says so just doesn't cut it anymore.

And for folks like Jerry oh Jerry. It's the lack of evidnece Jerry. The lack of evidence. I want to run my head through a wall when someone pops in with that tired old speal. Yes Jerry I realize we should understand that those damn kids who are starvng to death around the world and praying for food, should just realize God knows what's best and if they starve to death, that's what's best for them obviously.

What is really funny about the Mid Michigan Athiest group is the fact that we meet in a Chinesse resturant, and the owners and all the native Chineese help could not give a fuck about a group of atheists taking up half of their place. There is nothing low key about our meetings either. They are wonderful hosts.

xrayman

clair said...

Please don't worry ladies, there are plenty of us. I notice people more now that I'm not in the religious fog anymore. There is usually someone else looking around while someone is praying, and then we can feel comfortable together. It is not nice to make gagging noises or roll your eyes and laugh, just feign illness and leave, go home, say a prayer to yourself, thank yourself for waking up before accidentaly wasting your whole life. Don't forget to pay yourself that ten percent! C

notabarbie said...

Clair and Lorena - you are women after my own heart. We should start a club called "Ballsey Women." You both made me laugh--thanks for that. I have noticed though that there are way more men than women who are questioning--is it that there really are less women or are they keeping quiet? I'm not sure.

poltergoost said...

Jerry Said:

<<< I hope and pray you come to know the truth about God before you put so much stock in what others have taught you that you shut God out. >>>

Well Jerry, your prayers have been answered!

I have learned the truth about God finally!

He does not exist!

Lorena said...

Notabarbie
I have noticed though that there are way more men than women who are questioning--is it that there really are less women or are they keeping quiet? I'm not sure.

Lorena
Society at large encourages men to think for themselves, and it teaches women to be followers.

That's why at this point in history, only the strong-minded, tomboyish women have thought enough as to find out the truth (or lies) of religion.

I was raised by my brothers, and behave a lot like a guy in that I like sports, politics, technology, and the sort. In fact I have NO girlfriends. All my friends are guys, because I have nothing in common with most women. Talk about being different!

Minister D said...

Just came through real quick to encourage you in whatever path you decide. As a christian, I wish you would come back to christ but I see you have already made up your mind. I go back and forth and times with my faith as well and believe me its difficult to make it through but if you already made up you mind that you're not gonna follow christ then just be a blessing to your children and others in whatever you do.

And please dont be like some of these people here and start hating all of us christians and calling us robots and stuff. You know as well as I do that we're human too and face similiar doubts.

Be Blessed,
Minista D

Astreja said...

Thanks for the thoughtful response, Minister D. Your attitude is refreshing indeed..

I agree that it's important to live in a way that makes life better for others as well as ourselves. I've always admired the "feed the hungry, clothe the naked" admonition from Matthew 25. In my opinion, it doesn't really matter who said it; but it is absolutely vital to humanity's future that we practice it.

Anonymous said...

Notabarbie:

I admire your courage in leaving the church. I stayed around for years in church myself just because I was not wanting to be socially isolated, even though I didn't believe any of it. Eventually you will find true friends who are not into Church. Anyway, lonliness is worth the price to be free.

Jerry, apostasy is a word rarely used by modern people. With thousands of denominations, what exactly does the word mean? After all , this is not the 15th century. Your post was confusing and illogical.

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