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Anniversary

By True Anathema ~

It has been one year now since I let go of my religious beliefs. I realized that the God I worshipped since I was less than three was not real, that he was a figment of my parents' imagination and that I had believed that he was real, but was deceived. At first, I was elated because of the new found freedom. Then came the grief and anger. Next came the anxiety and depression, then an ever present despair.

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Image by geirt.com via Flickr
Since I have attended many churches over the years, breaking with a particular group was not really a problem, but now there is no social construct for me in which to gain a sense of worth or purpose. I continually have to remind myself that my worth comes from within, not from without. The interaction I get now is from a group of freethinkers that is more than one hour away. With a full time job, family, and the price of gas, I obviously don't get to interact with them very much.

My husband and I were joking the other day that we don't have any friends. He has a large family and we interact with two of them. I have yet to meet any one in my area that is not a fundamentalist Christian and have no idea how to. And if I did, our town is so small, there is no way I could be sure that being open with them would not cause me harm with my family and my job.

I have always had problems with OCD and bi-polar disorder with depression, but now have to take anxiety medicine at night and more frequently during the day to function. I have just read an article on Religious Trauma Syndrome and understand this somewhat, but still have a hard time understanding how letting go of an unhealthy belief system could have such negative effects.

My husband knows I have "doubts" and we just don't really talk about it. Neither of us go to church and that's just fine. He has issues with organized religion and we do have that in common.

I am learning to take it slow and read everything I can get my hands on. I can read the bible again for the first time in a year and read from a scholarly and not a devotional perspective. I can watch the Family Guy and not be afraid that I will go to hell for laughing at some extremely blasphemous, but hellishly funny story lines.

This is an anniversary that I am celebrating by myself and for myself. There will be no cards and no cake. No congratulations. No hugs or pats on the back. Just silence. But silence is good. There used to voices in my head.

"You're deceived."

"You can run, but you can't hide from God, that hound of heaven."

"Worldly wisdom is foolishness, hence you're a fool."

"You were created for better things."

Now there's just silence, but silence really is golden. I hope to find peace. Not the peace that passes understanding that the bible promises, but a peace that comes from understanding. Understanding that I'm human. Understanding that I don't have to be perfect. Understanding that I don't need the approval of my family. I can just love them for who they are and that I don't need to confess everything about who I am to them.

I do have one person that knows what this anniversary means to me. He keeps me in good books and mixed drinks. Three cheers for freedom, no matter how slowly it comes.


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