Hi, my name is monica (hi monica) and I am a recovering charismatic christian fundamentalist(try and say that ten times fast). I put up my intro in recovering religionists, but I felt like I could get away with saying the same thing since it got me to the same place. I'll try to not write a book:
I was a Fundamentalist Christian for 20 years, give or take times that I "backslid".
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).
After some time, I started at the bottom. I had little to no reasoning skills outside of "fire hot" and "walking infront of cars is a very bad idea". I began to just question things again, and through trial and error, figure out why I believed one thing and disbelieved another.I'm to the point now that I can reasonably talk to a FC and not go nuts like I did at the beginning. But I'm not at "perfect". I still hold alot of anger from the things that occured...and as family and former cell leaders state, that I allowed to occur.
No, not really. The town of New Roads is pretty small(and VERY catholic) so any small instance of me even attempting to cast atheism in a good light is reason enough for them to try and make my life miserable.
So I'm making the move to Texas. The folks there appear to be alot nicer, and aren't so nosey. Yes, there are bible thumpers but so far I've been shielded from them :D
Wow, Monica. It sounds like you've been through a lot. Welcome to a new world. It really is better out here. I really resonate with your story, especially the over-the-top devotion, fasting, the spiritual crisis & depression.
I hope you're finding a safe place & that you can find like minded people and get your community back.
You have been through so much and it is obvious that religion played a huge role in it all. I commend you on your new found freedom of thought and life. I make the analogy that leaving religion is like its like a toddler who can stand up for the first time by him/herself.
The new found freedom to think, act, walk and talk for yourself can be overwhelming at first, but you get used to it. After a while you will think "How could I have believed such silly myths and thought such ridiculous things?"
I actually have that book! If you can believe it, my mother bought it because I was like "Come on, you say I should read more(lol)". I haven't finished it yet, but I also haven't finished that Dan Barker book Godless yet either. Have you read God is not Great? It's beautiful(I'm a fan of flowery words, what can I say?).
Thank you! I thought I responded but alas my ADD kicked in(lol). I've been a lot more vocal about my background lately, and so far only one person was stupid enough to tell me that I just needed a different church.
To love yourself, and not have any rules or regulations placed on that love, is living life to it's fullest. You are going to be fine. I believe this: I believe in YOU and I believe in ME. That's it. It's beautiful and so uncomplicated. I grew up in the Catholic Church, and I'm still undoing the ... I won't call it damage...harm. Be good to yourself, and everything else will fall in place. I would give up on proving yourself to your family because that's filled with too much contension. Nobody needs that. Do your own thing.
~ much love to you...Kat
I love it when I read a story like this. Monica you are stronger than all those christian apologists put together. I got over a ten year affair with christianity and have likened it to recovering from a car crash...in that for years I have been picking peices of glass out of my hair as the various mind sets have given way to more logical ways of seeing things. But it is a process and recently I joined Nexus and so have been encouraged by examples like yours...keep up the good work.
You can read my story on F/B The Atheist Experience in discussions/ de-converted christian