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Breaking Free of My Fear

By Night Wanderer ~

I was raised in a Christian home, that of the fundamentalist variety. You know the kid in class, who does well in classes but is incredibly shy? I was that type. Unfortunately, I also had poor self-esteem, and when you combine this with a religion like Christianity, you have a recipe for disaster.

I had an alcoholic father, and his treatment of us wasn’t exactly kind (there were several occasions where our lives were threatened). What made my life easier was the rest of my family: my mother and sisters loved me to the point of spoiling, and a few years later my nephew became a good friend of mine.

We went to church regularly, prayed now and then, and I attended Christian schools. The latter became a norm for my before-college years. When I was little, I didn’t really care too much for Christianity or really understood it. I was more interested in the world around me: I loved nature and nothing made me happier than hiking or going to the zoo.

But things went further downhill. As I entered my pre-teens, I began to actually listen to sermons and the Bible classes at my school and started exploring Christianity. I fell into the trap the majority of children raised in Christianity fall into. I realized I wasn’t saved and became terrified, and so I prayed to Jesus to wash my sins away.

I felt joyful to be part of the “chosen”: I focused more of my time on Bible reading, watching religious shows and movies, and so on. I told myself god loved me, and I was a part of a group that I belonged to. It inflated my pride, made me feel special, and led me to think I was in possession of truth and goodness. It was like a drug.

And just like a drug, the pleasant effects wore out with the passing of time yet I was taking more of it to feel high but instead I was becoming depressed. I kept coming across passages I didn’t agree with: I knew I was pansexual, and when I came across the anti-gay parts of scripture, I was not too happy. But I made excuses for it and just tried to ignore my feelings.

Then came other parts that continued to disturb me: the numerous passages of god demanding (and committing)genocide, women being told to be slaves to their husbands, children and babies being slaughtered, and how god loves sacrifices, both human and animal (I loved animals ever since I was little, so you can imagine how I felt). All of this bloodshed and bigotry tugged at my insides.

Still, I was roped in by the fear of hell, and the anxiety and depression I had grew worse. My father was gone and out of our lives at this point, yet that relief could not erase my misery. I had grown in a sheltered environment and had pathetic social skills, with no one to talk to (even my distant relatives are Christians). I hated my fear, myself for being so weak, and thought I was being punished by god for my doubts. I ended up becoming suicidal, taking to drinking and drugs, and trying to escape reality. I ran away from home with the intention of killing myself (I did come back home), and after that I still tried to die.

After my last attempt and ending up in the ER, I was forced to go to counseling- now that I had someone to talk to, I felt better. I also went to the university (public, thankfully!), and I visited the library frequently. I began to read up on subjects I had avoided when I was a Christian: evolution, philosophy, about other religions, books about why the Bible is wrong and false, and actual biology. I also went online and found a wealth of knowledge, plus deconversion and freethinking sites (like this one).

All of this sealed the final nail in the coffin. I fully rejected all of my previous convictions with Christianity: I am not a sinner, just a regular human being who wants to live and find actual truth and understanding. There is no hell, no psychotic eye in the sky watching my every move and waiting to punish me. I took all my Christian items (except for one Bible which I keep for reference in order to refute something) and tossed them into the trash.

I feel like I have removed a heavy weight that had been suffocating me for so many years. Life no longer looks so dim, I no longer despise myself, and I now understand what it means to be truly free. The only regrets I have now are the wasted years I spent chasing a book (Bible) of lies, bigotry, and false promises, the damage I did to my health during that time, and the trauma I caused to the people who loved me.

I’ll always remember what one of my college professors said: Always ask questions and never lie to yourself. I will never lie to myself again.