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By Motheatendame ~

I was raised from the cradle in a fundamental Baptist Church. I remember how proud my mother was of our association with the Southern Baptist. My father was a deacon and Sunday school teacher and my mother was a Sunday school teacher also. They socialized almost exclusively within our church family.

I went to church several times a week and attended church camp. I was expected to be obedient and as perfect as was humanly possible from my behavior to my dress. When I was three I was put on medication for my nerves. I remember being aware of shame because of the way my parents dealt with it, as though I was a defective product. I also became aware of the concerned look in my doctors eyes, and that raised alarm bells in the back of my mind. Maybe that's when my hypochondriasis started.

As I grew, I remember worrying a lot about what the bible said. We would have messages tinged with fear, almost weekly. Do you give your all to God? You don't want to be like Ananias and Sapphira who lied about their tithing and were struck dead on the spot. You didn't want to be like Lot's wife and turn back to look on a beloved possession, or you would turn into a pillar of salt. You had to be careful of every thought and make sure you were right with God before taking communion. I even heard an abundance of horror stories about folk who didn't heed the altar call and left the church and were struck by a train.

My parents had a coffee table book with the body of a dead missionary who was killed by a remote Amazon tribe. I remember thinking, it didn't matter if you were good or bad; if God wanted you dead, you were dead.

I carried great shame and fear with me for the rest of my childhood. I spent my 13th year being overly obsessed with demons, whom I had been told were FOR REAL. When I started standing up and questioning things, I was three times called in before the deacons (all men), and disciplined. The last time when I was 16 my membership was taken from me.

I ran away from home and joined a rock band. Haha, all those years of being a church musician paid off. Unfortunately I paid the price of my freedom with severe bouts of anxiety. I still believed in God and knew there was going to be a price to pay.

When my son was born, I remember a sharp thought coming to me. "So this is how he's going to get me." My fears for myself hadn't been enough to keep me in church, but my fears for my children were. I started attending my childhood church again, but as the years passed I progressively worked into more liberal churches.

The problem is, that I live with a deep seated fear of authority and illness that may never go away. I am always able to override my crazy thoughts, but that first response is always there. I have de-converted in the last year and now see my chance to live out the rest of my life without feeling like the other shoe is going to drop. Can I forgive? Probably. Can I forget? My indoctrinated brain won't ever let me.