I've been a non-Christian for about twenty years. During those twenty years, I went from hoping there was a good god (in other words, NOT the one portrayed in the bible) to becoming a full-blown atheist.
Just a few weeks before 9/11 I decided I'd make up my own religion, something that would make me feel better, but didn't carry the emotional baggage of the major religions. After the planes hit the buildings I decided religion was intrinsically evil and divorced it from my life forever. Shortly thereafter I "came out" as an atheist. I'm still weathering the storm, but my relationship with my mother is finally better after many years of weirdosity. I won't go into that right now.
I did get rid of my fear of hell, but even after many years (20-ish) of therapy, group retreats, psychotropic drugs, etc. I am still completely dysfunctional sexually. Most of the time I try to forget about it, but yesterday a guy on the Internet was simply NICE to me and I broke down and cried. Granted, it hasn't been a good week, but still!
I am wondering if there's something I haven't tried yet that will work. None of the dozens of therapists I've gone through (including Marlene Winell) could help me with this problem. I'm only telling you about Marlene Winell because I want you to understand that I feel I've tried everything.
Also, California's budget problems have left me without means to afford a psychologist. Patients can't seek mental health care outside of their county of residence and due to budget cuts, there aren't any decent psychologists or psychiatrists left in my county who take my health insurance. There is one psychologist and two psychiatrists. I'm not pleased with any of them.
For the most part, I've decided this is the way I'm going to be and I just have to learn to live with it, but occasionally I get really upset and wonder if there's some way things could get better.
The main problem is how thoroughly I was indoctrinated: community, family, church AND fundy school for ten years. It was like having Jesus Camp every day.
During the past few years I've adopted a dogged determination to become a stronger person. One thing I've learned is that I shouldn't tell people about this problem because often they will use the information to hurt me. Yet here I am.
God, I hope this doesn't turn into another disaster. :|
Shameless Plug: In the meantime, check out my website: http://www.atheistinfundyland.com
I don't know where you live, but have you also checked out mental health clinics that don't accept insurance at all? I know of a few in Los Angeles that are on sliding scales based on financial needs.
If you are having problems sexually, though, you should be looking into an actual sex therapist. You don't need a partner to see one, either. But they are specifically trained to deal with the emotional and physical issues related to sexuality.
I live in a very small town, hence only 1 psychologist and 2 psychiatrists I could see with my insurance. Doing without is actually better than seeing any of them. I won't go into specifics.
A sex therapist is a good idea, but I'd wager we don't even have one in my county. Even if we did, I couldn't afford it.
Thank you for responding. I am not sure why I posted, though, because I'm fairly certain there is no answer to this problem other than accepting there is no answer to this problem.
My most striking memory of my first Sunday not going to mass was the recognition, as the sun set & I laid myself down to slumber, was that nothing had happened. No lightning. No getting run down by a errant bus driven by a drunken, mutant bus turtle on speed. Nothing. When I woke up the next morning I gave the previous day about six seconds of thought and went on with being a clueless college student. But I didn't tell anyone. It took me three or four more years to let that cat out of the bag.
Standing in line in USN bootcamp to get my dogtags punched, the lady behind the counter asked me my religion. I blurted out "I'm an atheist" (as if I knew what that meant). She snorted and said "Bullshit, son. There're no atheists in foxholes." So I was classed NRP. No Religious Preference.
Forty-three years later, I can look back on giving up on hell, giving up on mumbo-jumbo chants & yoga, aikido meditations, pot & acid & speed. But I'll be standing at the sink washing off the serious choppin' knives my son gave me for -- dare I say it -- Christmas and I'll remember a cat I just buried. I'll think of that animal as if it were still here, suffering from not being able to interact with me physically and then it'll hit me: the cat is dead. It ceased being a cat when the last breath left its lungs. Same thing's gonna happen to me.
I mentioned on another forum that ol' Lev Vygotsky's socialization of self theory is pretty hard to disallow. We grow up -- even non-believers & doubters & in-yer-face atheists -- surrounded by a world that has imaginary friends & all the accouterments of such creations of the mind. I still swear like a sailor, even though I know that a disbeliever shouting "Goddammit!" sounds, well, outright hypocritical. Gets me plenty funny looks, that.
I doubt seriously I'll ever give up outright the mental path between dead cat and cat ghost. It's been in there among those neurons for six decades and some. And the cussin'? Get real. Dammit. And when I go to a church to pipe a shipmate out into what I know is the void of the continuing physics experiment, I know that it's silly to say that this space & time are not our real home, that our home is with some trans-dimensional sky creature who needs constant praise, even if tears fill my eyes and the sound of taps tears at my heart. And yes, I know the term "tears at my heart" displays a recognition of a metaphysical metaphor. But that's what you get for having reflective consciousness & a prodigious memory.
So a big pile of what I do is straight out of the cognitive-behavioral cookbook. That and being in a wonderful family where even the most staunch believer says "I like talking with Nils about this because he doesn't mess around. He gets right to the point."
Maybe that's why you're here: to find that community, that fellowship (for want of a better term). It ain't the easiest row to hoe, disbelief. But it makes plenty more sense to me than spending my life preparing to die, with all the Calvinist mythos or RC mumbo-jumbo thrown in to boot. If the cat is no longer a cat, when it's my turn I will no longer be a reflective consciousness in a skin. I'll be done and gone. I will, to borrow from Monty Python, cease to be.
You get up and start again every day and remember how you got through the last one without the wacked out bus accident or the lightning bolt or the rock from the sky. All that stuff's of the unreal that comes with an interiorized reality (reflective consciousness being not the least of it). The world outside your head, beyond your neural bulb, that's the place the answers and friends and strengths and, yes, weakness are. Being honest about it is the first step, however. You'll get the rest of 'em one at a time and smile. You can do it now, even. Go on and do it.