The Difficult Process of Integration, The Reward of Deep Healing

14

Few deconverts from Christianity sail through their recovery with relative ease – no sense of loss, no healing needed, no residual ghosts that continue to haunt their present lives. But for most of us, deconversion is a long and painful rehabilitation process. Only other deconverts know the anguish initiated by that first disillusionment. Then the long-sustained heartbreak of no satisfying resolution provided by the deity we had for so long trusted and worshipped. And finally, the painful process of deprogramming deeply ingrained patterns of thinking and behavior. The list of difficulties is much more extensive, but you know what I mean.

The purpose of this blog is to nurture further our healing and recovery. Like recovery from physical or mental illness, parts of our journey involve milestones of progress and others, painful recuperation. This post in particular focuses on a less pleasant, but critically necessary, step to wholeness. This can be quite difficult, but most often produces the greatest benefit. It requires courageous authenticity.

Following are some questions from my heart. They are not intended to resurrect unresolved pain for no purpose, but to face that which holds us back from full healing. Until then, our deconversion is incomplete. I don’t intend to live the rest of my life plagued by ghosts of brainwashing, still tormenting me in the back of my mind and affecting my current wellness. I won’t settle for being less than whole and I won’t be utterly defined by my deconversion. Facing our “demons,” answering these questions and bringing their true answers to light allows a tremendous amount of perspective… and restoration to a state better than before our deconversion began… So here goes:

What are you still experiencing as the aftermath of your deconversion?

Do you ever have doubts about whether you’ve chosen the best path for you? If so, what are they? If not, what makes your certainty now different from your certainty as a believer?

Do you ever fear apostasy and biblical punishment for it? Why do you think that is?

Is there anything positive you take away from your Christian experience? Any lessons or wisdom you still find applicable? Any values you adopted still relevant?

Honor your authentic truth. Examine your answers in light of your current knowledge and values. Integrate the former with the latter and you’ve found a path to wholeness.

The Joy of Deconversion – A Greater Purpose

12

One of the things that has been difficult for me since deconversion is the loss of foundation for my life. I’ve felt unstable, like I was floating without meaning, longing for that sense of support I used to feel. In recovery, I’ve done inward and outward searches looking for some form of spirituality to replace it. Both searches have been insightful in their own way, but have ultimately left me in the same position I was before I started. Confounded and aching.

I started with journaling an authentic search of myself – identifying my values, what I would desire from spirituality if I could have anything I wanted, what I can’t tolerate. At the same time I was exploring different perspectives – deism, atheism, Buddhism, Hinduism, humanism, New Age and anything else I came across. I found aspects of many perspectives appealing, but nothing that satisfied. And I couldn’t go backwards. That bridge had burned and I couldn’t rebuild it even if I wanted. Back to square one.

Then, the other morning it drifted through my mind and kissed my perspective. Something so transcendent it supersedes a need for spirituality, mysticism or the supernatural. A thing so self-sufficient, it needs no foundation. Not enshrouded by dogma. Bound by neither rules nor religion. So simple and obvious I felt embarrassed I hadn’t realized it before. This is what everyone has been talking about. Something I thought I knew of which I had little comprehension.

Love. Just simple and practical and pure love. Seriously – I’m so damn moved I’m waxin’ philosophical!

A new vision of love is forming in my mind and with it, a new sense of meaning and purpose. Understanding shared, empathy expressed, connection felt. Childlike laughter, delight in another’s self-expression, treasure of the magic in each moment. Sacrifice. Self-acceptance, communication of respectful boundaries, pain experienced with authenticity and care – How realistically achievable is all this? – That’s   beside the point. I am not discouraged by the disparate distance between me and this ideal. I’m inspired to pursue it.

It is enough, more than enough. Maybe I’ll find peace after all.

The Pain of Deconversion, Part V – Backlash of Previous Bias

11

I’m just going to talk about where I am and hope someone can identify with it.

I see confirmation bias in myself. What initiated my deconversion from Christianity was thinking critically and it keeps me from being able to believe in anything else. I look at things from every possible angle. This is supposed to be a good thing, keeping one open-minded. In its extreme, it keeps one from coming to any conclusion due to seeing the logic in each perspective. I feel the need for some kind of foundation for my life, some kind of belief regarding spirituality whether it involves believing in something supernatural or not. However, every time I’m drawn to any perspective, I notice my own confirmation bias, the inclination to believe what I want. I’m dissatisfied. I’m rambling. And aching for resolve…

I want to believe there is something more than the natural can explain. Part of the reason is because of all the senseless, intense suffering in the world. Some are able to find meaning from their suffering – I’m not speaking of that. I’m referring to all the terrible and meaningless suffering. Refugees being displaced, children being raped, physical maladies suffered for lifetimes. Masses of lives cut short through murder and genocide. How long the list goes. I want to believe there will be some cosmic remedy or even just balance for all of it. There’s too much. Another part is my own selfish desire…

I miss the coping skill of being able to turn to a personal God in prayer whom I believed was attentive, had my best interests at heart and accepted me unconditionally (yes, despite contrary illustrations of God in the Bible, I believed that). It was a blissful ignorance of my bias. I’m now suspect of anything that satisfies my desires for spirituality because of my history of confirmation bias. And yet…

I’m still inclined to suspect there is something more. This is because I’m unable to attribute all the sychronicities, answered prayer and the impression of things always working for my good for so many years to mere confirmation bias and coincidence. Still, there is enough doubt in me to disallow me an acceptance of any alternate spiritual explanation for such occurrences because…

I see confirmation bias everywhere. I’ve explored other spiritual explanations for my impressions of something supernatural operating in my life. There may be aspects that would satisfy my intellect, but most of what I see in those who believe such things is a tendency to believe in other absurd and fantastical supernatural phenomenon. It seems some are willing to check their brain to believe what they want. In trying to be objective, I’ve even I turned to atheist views…

Atheists assert the universe has just always been. Christians say God has always been. Christianity has already been debunked for me in a myriad of ways and it’s no more preposterous to believe the universe has always been than God has. I get that. What I don’t get is that fundamental question – how? If the universe has always been (an idea inconceivable to my finite mind), why is it so farfetched to suspect there’s something more to account for existence than mere science can explain? From what I understand, strict atheists (as opposed to agnostic atheists) reject this possibility. Perhaps they entertain bias like me. Maybe there are things about the atheist perspective that suit what they want to believe.

Learning to depend on myself for explanations of life and solutions to life’s problems has been a tough road. I know it’s a necessity of emotional maturity (about time at my age), but I also know of healthy-minded, intelligent people who have some sort of spirituality. Why is it so complicated for me?