Does anyone else struggle with this?  Logically I KNOW that such thoughts are just plain wrong, but I'm 33 years old- I was raised in a Christian home and that fear of hell kept me going back to religion time and again so I'd feel better and be 'at one with god' and all that B.S.
My parents were abused when they were children, my mother and her sisters were made to feel ashamed of being female.  My mom constantly gave me messages (vocal or not) about how I should be ashamed of my body, of bodily functions, etc.  She really taught me to be afraid of everything, and I'm just realizing that I still am.  I've been an atheist for about 2 years now, and really what caused me to face the fact that I just don't believe any of that crap was my daughter coming to me and telling me she doesn't really believe any of it. 
My mother didn't want me to feel any disappointment, so she always prepared me for rejection and basically always told me that although she thought I was beautiful and smart and perfect, that no one else ever would so I should just accept that fact and not expect people to like me or think good things about me. 
She was pretty isolated during her childhood, she had 9 siblings and all but the oldest lived on top of a hill with their parents and no close neighbors.  They were poor, didn't have shoes in the summer, etc.  Their parents were alcoholics who were mentally ill.  When you add that type of childhood situation with the religious teachings that women are worthless- that giving birth to a girl is more 'unclean' than giving birth to a boy, etc., that really causes a person to feel completely worthless.
As an adult, she has always put her parents and siblings first- she still does this- she's the one who drives her dad to all his dr. appointments, to get a haircut, to the bank, to go shopping, etc.  It's really sad, her sister still lives at home with their dad- she NEVER moved out- she's basically lived there as a slave her whole life because doing slave labor is what makes her 'worthy' of their affection and the money it takes to take care of her.  She's never been to a doctor since she was a kid- she's in her fifties now. 
This is so fucking depressing.

Anyway, even though I don't believe in god or hell any more I still find myself waiting for something 'bad' to happen as a result of my choices.  Like karma or something.  I know logically it's wrong, but it's just something embedded in my brain that I haven't been able to shake.  I realize this now, and they say realizing you have a problem is the first step toward recovery.
How do you get over this crap though?  As an adult, I still don't trust that people can/will like me.  This is too painful, it's affecting me life in a huge way and I need to start getting over this.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for any input.

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Replies to This Discussion

You know, I really feel like just being able to say these things here and know that I am not being judged by anyone for it, and I don't have to hide anything has been a huge help.
It's very encouraging, I think it's really helping me heal.
Hi Gin, I was fortunate to not be indoctrinated into fundamentalism until my teens when I lived with a foster family. So I didn't have its oppression over me in my early development. I think that's the only reason I've been able recover as well I have. It still took years to get past and grow out of a fear of hell that had become so real to me.

For me it just required time and a slew of self-help books. I would especially highly recommend anything by Melonie Beatty. She writes extensively on co-dependence and I found her books enormously helpful to get past the guilt, and more objectively see the dysfunctional psychological mechanisms I had adopted. She says she is a Christian, but the books aren't about religion, they are about getting healthy mentally after emotional abuse by family and loved ones.

Reading her books really got me on the road to recovery, but there are many more out there. Reading is what helped me the most, and in fact helped convince me to go into psychology as I go back to finish my bachelor's and go forward for a Ph.D.

I wish you the best. As Nick said, you aren't alone, so many of us have walked this path. And it's do-able, many of the people on here are proof.

Take care,
Gen, I'm curious, what do you think when something good happens to you? Even if it us just a little thing?
Well, I am happy about it and just think 'that's great' and that someone loves me (who helped the good thing to happen). Depending on how 'good' the thing that happens is, I might have a ridiculous amount of anxiety anticipating what could happen next- something wonderful 'could' be followed by devastating tragedy, and sometimes I can't enjoy 'good' things fully because of that fear. But, I realize it now, just discovered it this week actually, so I am working on talking myself through things rationally so I can completely overcome such fear/anxiety.
I get like that sometimes too but I don't think it's is bad as what you are going through. I'm proud of you that you seem to be taking steps in a postive direction. Keep up the good work and remember to come here if you want to talk.
Gin, not to be dogmatic--but pragmatic, have you seen a counselor or psychiatrist about Generalized Anxiety Disorder and/or Depression? They are treatable medicinally, at least to a degree that gives you some space from symptoms. Effexor is one of the first meds often tried when GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), fear (generally of life's interactions but of anything unspecific that you can't name), and depression co-present. I try to avoid getting too personally revelatory in this forum, but I started taking it several months ago and it has really helped. There are other meds available for different combinations of problems which your physician or a psychiatrist can discuss with you. And they can REALLY help. Like taking an aspirin, yes it helps the pain, but it also relaxes the effected pain sites and allows them to relax somewhat while you and they heal.

I didn't even know what "GAD" was before a few months ago. I just knew I was sometimes immobilized in doing things, sometimes novel things like getting together with people I didn't know for a meeting or dinner party, but more often, and more debilitating, every day things... filling out paperwork for school, calling people at financial assistance, contacting people I didn't know at service agencies in the state for assistance while I, a non-traditional student with no other support, look for assistance in order to put myself through college, all (I now know) due to a late development of GAD.

Have you spoken with your physician about possible interim medicinal assistance while you work through this?

I knew little about it before I began seeing a counselor last year who immediately, after our second meeting sent me to a psychiatric nurse to look at effective medicinal interventions to help me get through--the anxiety, fear, and subsequent depression of dealing with a lay-off, going on unemployment, loss of home, splitting of family, etc., while my counselor and I worked on more pragmatic behaviors and attitudes. On meeting my Psychiatric Nurse, this was exacerbated by the subsequent (also immediate) diagnosis that I am additionally adult ADD. But the medicines I started on six months ago have made all the difference in the world. And with the exception of the ADD meds, I hope to have worked my way off of the rest within the next year. My hope is t have had the space I needed to heal from the life traumas I've dealt with, which unfortunately go way back, and it took forty years to finally break me, but unfortunately the breaking was then pretty severe. I'm extremely optimistic. But it also involves behavioral things (CBT of course), like organizing my living area, because I can be a slob when I lack motivation or care, but live optimally and most happily when everything is in order; and putting a stop on procrastination, which is a huge incite to my already extant (for now) base anxiety.

Again, more TMI than I wish to share generally, but if you are feeling anxiety throughout the day there are interventions that can really help as you work through it cognitively. If you are not, you have to see a counselor. If you are, you need to discuss with them medicinal interventions if anxiety, fear, or depression are having an effect that you can see or sense, on your life. It doesn't have to be permanent. Just help to clear you up while you figure things out.

Your doctor of course is the judge, I'm just passing on some of the things that have really had an impact for me.

Wish you the best,
I took Zoloft last year for a few months, then the side effects started and they were worse than dealing with the anxiety symptoms. I haven't taken anything else since.
Please don't let the effects of one medication detour you. There are so many others out there, and between you and your physician you can find something that can really make a difference while you work through things. It took two tries for me, and for a small few, it can take three or four. But the payoff is really worth it. The reduction in anxiety allowed me to get back into my life, which then snowballed into many good things that allowed me to be less dependent on the meds.

Don't give up.
I really relate.

Esp. to being ashamed of being female.

What forced me to look at reality as "born-again" atheist was dealing with my own afflictions. I realize now I cannot believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful, loving God, who also allows my pain.

However, the brainwashing is still there.

I still feel like my pain is some kind of punishment or "cleansing" because of my "sins".


You have nothing to be ashamed of, as you know. The problem is, getting that fact from your head, into your emotional state. One thing that helps is to practice telling yourself you are good. Think of something you do well, or that you like about yourself, and then look at yourself in the mirror and say it. It may be embarrassing at first, but keep it up. Whenever that negative self talk creeps in, interrupt by saying, NO! That is not true! I am wonderful!~
It takes practice. It is only one simple thing to do.
You just need tools, My Dear~!
It is not hopeless.
Gads, I remember as a child telling everybody I was a boy. I wore boy's clothes to play and a straw hat and said my name was Tommy. Being female in a fundamentalist world was not good, and I saw this even at that young age.
You are wise to recognize what is happening. You are brave to seek out a solution.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy also helped me, and I was on some medication for several years before I was able to rewire my brain connections to more healthy thoughts and actions. There is also a movie which speaks to this type of brain interaction. Although there is some woo woo in it, the premise is basically sound. This movie is "what the bleep do we know" and you can get it at the library or blockbuster.
Seek out a good counselor, some places are on a sliding fee scale.
Remember, you are definitely doing something right, just judging by your daughter's attitude about religion. Good for you!
I wish you the best, Gin. You seem like a very nice person. You deserve better!~


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