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.
That's totally understandable. It's so hard to figure out who to trust because so many times people seem trustworthy and are not. Then you get people pushing you to trust again and override your own feelings of apprehension. I think a person should only do what they're comfortable with, and only if/when they're ready to do it. Don't worry about what others say about it because they're not the ones who have to live your life.
Yeah, I agree, if someone said Jesus is lord to me, I wouldn't want to hang out with them much less date them.
That's really cool that you want to help others. Perhaps some of us can be your clients one day.
Interesting comment. I've been told that writing is a good outlet for trauma - although it can be very painful to "go there." You can write for whatever age you think is appropriate. Although, there ought to be more books for children about good choicemaking - there's the "Maybe Yes, Maybe No" book and the "How Do You Know It's True?" book, but there really isn't much for kids dealing with trauma, cults, safety, atheism, etc.
Hi Monica! Sorry I didn't see this reply! I know what you mean and I'm sorry that you are feeling that way. Yeah, doing the journalling is rough. I can't stand it either but sometimes it is just necessary because it's the only way I can get out those feelings, yup, crying, screaming, feeling panic or unsafe, or just overwhelmed with everything.
I really like that idea about the secular virtues for kids. That sounds really awesome
:-) and I look forward to reading it one day!
This is the first time I've seen your blog. It's good and appreciated.
I also went through very complex circumstances culminating in a nervous breakdown. It is over ten years ago now and it took me many years to recover. I won.
I think you will win too.
I agree with you on it being a life long mission. I made a joke about since I know so much about Charismatic Christianity that I could write a book on it.
One thing I can say, you never know how young you are emotionally and socially until you get out of that grip. I think that some of the younger folks will move on pass it, but I also think that it will mutate into something else entirely. Let's hope it becomes defanged..
I'm glad you survived all of that. I feel lucky that I haven't ever faced that sort of abuse and mental cruelity. But there you are surviving it all. Good for you.