Hi. My name is Monica(as stated on my profile). I was a Fundamentalist Christian for 20 years, give or take times that I "backslid". My family was a hodgepodge of Christian faiths: my mother was baptist while my father was raised as a "good catholic".

 

At age 7, I had what many would call a conversion. The preacher had just finished his sermon, and I felt the impressed need to become a Christian. So I, of my own volition, converted. My faith was simple: Jesus loved everyone and people of other faiths were okay. My faith had not become toxic until I hit my preteens. At that time, I joined a Full Gospel Baptist Church which leaned heavily on talking in tongues and appearing "reasonable" to outside folks. I took to it like a duck to water, as that I wanted to do what God wanted me to.

 

By age 13 I was a Nondenominationalist. I had read many(too many?) books on the Christian faith, and believed that if only we set aside our petty denomination stuff and just accepted the whole thing(tongues, casting out demons, God raising folks from the dead). I adhered to the belief that anything not of God(aka Christian) was tainted and therefore should not come into my life. That included people. I still shudder that I told people with complete sincerity that they were going to hell unless they accepted Christ/stopped being Gay. But at that time, I really believed it was the right thing.

 

By my late teens, I started wondering if because of how I came about, and the things that happened to me in my own life tainted every good thing I tried to do. So, I began overcompensating even more. Giving more, working in the church more, and trying as hard as I could to save myself for the Christian Prince God had for me. Yes, I did believe in the lie that women were made for the home(even if they had a job) and men were to work.

All througout this time, my personality began to fracture. I would have moments of not remembering what I was doing. I'd split during conversations(as in body there brain def not there). I started obsessing over my sins and trying my hardest to be perfect like God commanded me to.

As for church protocol, I was to NEVER be alone with a person of the opposite sex. The reasoning was that if a man was alone with me, he would want to do something. As that men are weak and must be exhorted to holiness by their spiritually stronger sisters. I was to GUARD his purity as well as my own. So it was no small surprise that when a leader at the church attempted to rape me in my own home, I was told that I brought it on myself(by my cell leader, the leader himself, and my own mother). There was a bit of a coverup and we never spoke of it again.

The tipping point for my fall, and then my attempt at a life of reason occured around my 21st birthday. The summer before, I had a complete nervous breakdown: I was fasting more than eatting, reading my bible for hours, and praying for hours without relief. I honestly thought God had rejected me. Found me not worthy and wanted to blot me out from the family. The church I went to did NOT help. They demanded that I either speak to the pastor or one of the smaller pastors of the church and NOT seek psychological help outside of the church. I was told by various people to just read the psalms and "rest in god's love".

 

By this time I felt so unloveable that the only option was to remove myself. So, on Christmas Day, I attempted suicide by hanging. As obvious by the fact I'm typing, I failed. My mother, once verbally attacking me for my self-injurous behavior, put me in the hospital. I was miserable. But I talked to a psychatrist and two psychologists who gave me the diagnosis of depression. That, and they told me to NEVER go back to that church again, because it appears that it is a bit of an agitator of my depression and very well may be cult like. Since I was unable to really make the descision to not go(I had no car at the moment) the psychatrist and psychology both talked to my mother and tried their best to inform her that me plus that church equals possible dead me. She smiled and said she'd keep me away.

 

She lied. Long story short(too late), I began to question the church, it's methods, and christianity in general. Because I dared to question the method of leadership and some scriptures, I was kicked out of my cell group and blacklisted. Yes, I was shunned. Rumors were spread. It's still kinda raw, actually. But, after having the veil lifted, so to speak, I began to read. I first got my hands on God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens. It literally became my tome(I'm a writer so I understood him far more than Dawkins).

 

It's 2011 and now, I'm making the move from who I used to be. The repercussions still occur(I get glares when I don't agree with scripture,dissent on gay/lesbian issues, etc). I know I'm pretty darn lucky to have gotten out with just a mood disorder, anxiety problems, and ptsd. Folks around my age in the same youth group I was in, weren't so lucky.

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Replies to This Discussion

I'm so glad you checked it out!  Yeah, there's no problem with just reading through others' postings to see what it's all about first.  It can definitely be hard to open up.

 

That really stinks that your mom is making you go back to the church!  Yeah, the "trauma cabin" sounds like a good name for it.  I hope your mom realizes that she is contributing to your heightened post-traumatic-stress symptoms by forcing you to do something against your will, and that she is re-traumatizing you by bringing you to those horrid people.  You definitely have rights.  You have the right to not go back.  You have the right to stay away from danger.  If your mom will buy you a pepper spray then somewhere somehow she does recognize there is a danger.  Maybe try seeing if you can bargain with her some how, like you'll do this if you can get out of going.  Or see if she'll let you take a break while you recover from this.  She's noticed you are panicking, so perhaps you can get a mental health professional involved to explain to her that panic attacks are not good, and can be *prevented* by not forcing you to be around potential attackers.  If all else fails, play sick, and if she makes you go anyway, sneeze up a storm :)

 

It's commendable that you want to learn things that are scary for you!  That takes guts!  I hope you do learn to drive, it will make you feel so independent :-)  There's nothing like just jumping in the car and driving off on a random road trip to get away from everything.  You'll have control, freedom, adventure and independence all wrapped up together. 

 

And just another reminder...it's definitely not your fault.  It never was, it never will be.

 

 

 

 

Time will help with the rawness of it all. Find a community of supportive, like-minded people either in person or online. Finding your way here was a good start.

That is what I am definately trying to do! My boyfriend was the person who actually told me to seek help for it. His thought was that it's great I'm looking for healing in my life for depression,ptsd and so on..but they really did a number on me. And that I needed to own up to it.

 

He was so right, but you know it's just so easy to fall into that pattern of self blame. Which leads to either loathing or pity. Bother are pretty darn bad. I really do believe that coming here will help. From here I can possibly find some places outside of the computer so I can get the help I need/want.

 

Maybe I could make a support group when I feel strong enough. Who knows?

 

http://www.meetup.com/ has all kinds of local groups--including atheist, agnostic, freethinkers, etc. I've found it a great way to meet like-minded people in person. Also, I'm assuming you know about http://recoveringreligionists.com/ because you've posted in their forums but on the off-chance that you didn't, there's the URL. 

 

I know about the self-blame pattern too but eventually, it will lessen with time and/or therapy (even self-therapy may help if you can't find a suitable therapist). 

You've been through a lot but I'm glad you made it out and could join us. Welcome.
Wow!  I just can't imagine how hard all of that must've been for you.  Just remember to never blame yourself for being a victim.  It's not your fault at all.  The perpetrators and the ones who protect them are the bad guys.  It is hard to find out that people you used to look up to and trust turn out to be nothing more that self-righteous zealots, and even monsters.  Just remember, though, there are still some good people out there that truly care.  You just have to find them.  I'm so glad you made it this far and was strong enough, brave enough, and smart enough to ask questions, think for yourself, take a stand and say no more!  This is wrong!  That is the first, biggest, and most crucial step to recovery.  We'll be here when you need someone to talk to.  Take care and best wishes!     
Does the feeling of being stupid ever go away?  I know these things were ingrained in me as a young, people pleaser of a child...and that I am not to blame, (how does a child have a true choice in that situation?) but how do you get over feeling so incredibly dumb?  I feel I have to babystep everything I was so "sure of" and even the things I wasn't.  I always had the feelings God didn't exist, but Jesus was a real person....that if you were going to pray why not to the moon as you could actually see it (age 11ish).  I worry about my children and try to have meaningful discussions and want them to be able to research and figure it out for themselves--to trust themselves--but I am having a tough time doing just that. :(  Anyone else feel like damaged goods wondering what things would have been like if I could have broken the chain sooner?  Maybe I will always have the conflicting sides warring in my head...but at least I can give my children a better chance--right?  Everyone here at least seems to think it gets better.  I like to think it will.
There are so many things I wish I could have done sooner. Identifying as an atheist is one of them. And when I have thoughts that are silly, or against what I believe, I try to recognize them for what they are, which is the product of socialization in the cultures I have been a part of (some by choice, some not). I look back, like you, and see there were questions and skepticism in there, but I pushed them to the side. All I can do today is say, I choose reality. It's hard!
I think it's a day by day thing? I don't have kids yet, but I do worry about it. I'm just hoping I don't relaspe by then.
It's always a day by day thing, isn't it? I think if you are genuinely searching for truth, "relapse" is probably not a concern. I know there are people who are atheists and go back to religion or some sort of supernatural spirituality, but I don't understand it. If it's just fear, there are ways to deal with that, but even so, I can't imagine being convinced of the existence of God or the truth of some religious doctrine without evidence.
This is an amazing story and I'm glad you shared it. Those of us who have been around less cult-ish forms of religion need to understand what is actually going on in there. I think it's a huge testament to your strength and intelligence that you made a break and will be interested on hearing how things go in the future. I'm probably older than you and I'm just now coming around. I believe you will be fine and you definitely have a chance to make a difference for other victims of religious abuse.

The rape thing just pisses me off beyond belief. Men are responsible for their actions, and it's actually insulting to them to suggest otherwise. Those ideas you were raised with were, of course, horribly insulting to women. Go forth, work if you want to, make your voice heard, be alone with men who are nice and not crazy...
Yeah, I still have troubles from time to time being around guys. Doubly so if they mention how Jesus is the lord of their life. I literally feel ice in my veins and attempt to haul tail.

I'm hoping with my psychology degree(my major) that I'd be able to help folks who have gone through stuff like that. One thing I can say my upbringing has given me is the large amount of info that I can kinda throw out when it comes to charismatic christianity.

My boyfriend made a somewhat serious/somewhat jokey comment that I should use all that info and write children's books. I never laughed so hard.

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