How do you escape a cult when it is all around you?

Sent in by Layla

Like many others here I was raised in the way that Christianity wasn't presented to you as a choice; it was a lifestyle. It just... was. Even if you didn't go to church. It wasn't that you weren't a Christian, you were just a backslid Christian, in need of a little prodding, belittling, but all in the name of God's good works, you see. We weren't really church goers, my sister, brothers and myself might go every now and then but that was mostly just to hang out with the other kids. I never "felt" what I was "supposed" to. If anything I was always a little weirded out by church, everything about it vaguely resembled a sideshow if that makes sense. Old ladies in their best flowery dresses, a loud round man shouting from the stage about hellfire and damnation. People shouting left and right agreeing with everything the pastor says. I felt sick inside sometimes, I still do when I think of it. Still even with every nagging doubt in me , I never let myself question that Jesus was my savior and he alone could deliver me from damnation. Saying that now is so laughable to me, yet sad at the same time...

How long has it been since I lost the faith? Hard to tell, I image it was a lot longer ago then I let myself know. Maybe I never had any faith to begin with. I now know no religion, but I can't help feeling like the connections I made in this life are tied to something, something greater I don't know about, could never hope to know about. Then again, maybe that is a way of making myself feel important, feel good about death. I do not know, and I will never know, and I'm okay with that now.

Now that I feel I am deprogrammed, I fear the worst part is the years ahead. It is not acceptable to think as I think and believe as I believe. I find solace in my immediate family, we have all opened our eyes around the same time. But the fact remains I live in a Christian society through and through. How do you escape a cult when it is all around you? There is no escaping my Christian past. Only holding my head up in the Christian world as high as I can, while deflecting the zombies constantly trying to "save me". My boyfriend and I feel as thought we are dedicated to one another the same as marriage, and do not feel a ceremony under someone else's God and written in ink by the State is necessary to seal this. We have a beautiful little girl. Also we have deeply religious in-laws. They love their granddaughter but every time I see them I can see the contempt for me- the scarlet harlot that has stolen their baby boy away from the ways of God and coerced into having a bastard-child.

So thats my story. I don't even mind the years of life wasted fearing a "loving" God. I feel proud that I was strong enough to explore my doubts, examine the evidence and make a decision on my own despite being indoctrinated from birth. My greatest sadness is the years ahead for me, and possibly for my baby girl should she choose any belief other than Christianity. It doesn't matter that I give my baby all the love a mother could, or that I am devoted to my partner in every way, or that I am eternally loyal to my family and friends. I am and always will be, in the eyes of the people around me, a sinner worthy of pity and contempt. I am going to hell. So how do I escape what is everywhere? Well, I'll let you in on a little secret. If not being judgmental, self serving, and pious is sending me there, then Hell I embrace you with open arms.

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