Healing Beyond Belief

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All of us deserve healing. We may go about it different ways and take different paths. For some, relying on their faith is what pulls them through. This may not be so for others. I fall into the “others” category. I don’t mean to bring this up to debate about religion or faith but rather shed some light on people like myself and to encourage those that don’t have religious beliefs to rely on. When I first came out about my abuse and cut off my parents, I looked for autobiographies and memoirs to read regarding the subject. I came across one on Amazon that seemed to fit the bill. The first half was great! I felt that I could relate to many of the stories that were told and felt encouraged that I had done the right thing and had quite a road of healing and discovery ahead of me. The second half of the book kind of pissed me off.

The author changed her tune and ended the book with five chapters of preaching her Christian faith. Now, I don’t have a problem with anyone who is a Christian or wishes to profess their faith. What I had a problem with was that readers were being told that they absolutely cannot heal from their past without a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” This angered me and made me sad at the same time. A person does not need to convert to any religion in order to find peace or healing. Take it from me. I’m an atheist. I identify more as a humanist, though, because I see the good in the world and believe that all humans are equal and equally as important. Being and atheist does not mean that I eat babies or worship the devil. I just simply don’t believe in a higher power or an afterlife. I used to. I was an evangelical, pentecostal, washed in the blood, Holy Ghost-filled, on fire Christian for about 9 years. I was saved (converted) when I was 17 and left when I was 26. I don’t want to get into all the reasons why I came to terms with that because it isn’t my goal to deconvert any one or cause a debate. I will just simply say that I cannot force myself to believe something that I just don’t. I believe that it’s better to live an honest life than to live a lie. I hope my readers understand that I don’t want to be fake.

I have a dear friend that has gone through similar heartache as myself and has also had to make similar decisions in her life. She was a confidant for me when deciding if it was time to let my mother go. My dear friend was explaining to me that there are programs for recovery out there that are similar to the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step program. A big part of that program is believing in a higher power and learning to cast worries and cares to that higher power. That’s all fine and dandy for those that worship something greater than themselves. I understand that some people need that to get through their day and to be a better person. It’s just not for me. I do get worried and I do get overwhelmed with my emotions and thoughts at times. For me, however, I feel that just letting them go into the unknown isn’t owning them and dealing with them head-on.

I, personally, felt that if I wanted to get to the good places in life then I would have to directly deal with my problems. I cannot pray or wish them away. I believe that most of the steps of the AA program do have some usefulness to victims of sexual abuse. Overcoming denial and accepting your past is a huge step. Once I stopped denying that things weren’t dysfunctional and accepted what happened to me, only then was I able to begin to take responsibility for my thoughts and emotions. Until then, I really felt out of sorts and almost out of control. I kept trying to paint a facade to the world that everything was A-okay when it wasn’t. I had to take responsibility for that soon because I had my own family that I didn’t want to drag through the mud any more than they already had been.

If your faith has seen you through and you rely on it for peace and healing, then I don’t blame you! I’m happy for you that you have found what works and what sustains you everyday. Some people leave their faith as a result of abuse or remembering childhood abuse. These people might feel a little lost because they are wondering why or how God could allow this to happen to them. I think we all could agree that this is not something worth beating yourself up over or pondering night after night. This question will never be answered. In the simplest way that I can think is that we cannot control the actions of others… not even God can. People chose their actions even if they are bad and hurt others. I’m so sorry that it happened to you too. I have had to find peace with the fact that my stepfather and mother made their choices and I cannot change that. I cannot change the past or fix them. It is what it is and what happened, happened. What I can do is try to move forward out of negative thinking.

If you have found yourself in what feels like a chasm of confusion over what to believe, trust me when I say to just relax. You will figure it out eventually or maybe never. You may end up like me and not believe in anything and find the most peaceful place in that non-belief. I did! You don’t need to suffer any more than you already have. Try to channel the hurt and confusion into something healthy. Find a healthy place be it spiritually, physically, mentally or socially. Yes, you can be spiritual and a non-believer! Sort of. It’s all about feeling connected to the world around you and gleaning the good things from the people and experiences in your life and expelling those that are toxic and harmful. Meditate, pray, run, exercise, create… I write and cook. I made two batches of muffins today. They were delicious and therapeutic!

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4 responses »

  1. Great post. I’m also an atheist and tend to avoid mentions of religion/spirituality in my healing reading when they come up. I’m actually very glad that I don’t feel somehow bound by those old religious laws that have little to do with freedom and healing–such as that everyone has to forgive, that anger is bad and we’re “wrong” for hating our abusers, etc. I also dislike the 12 steps programs–I don’t believe in most of those steps and there are no outside rules in my healing path dictated by someone else. This is a good article which describes a lot of what I find is wrong with 12 steps: http://www.screamsfromchildhood.com/spirituality_cements_childhood_blindness.html

    • It’s good to know that we aren’t alone in our journeys. Sure, we can all relate as fellow survivors but so many programs and tactics are faith based which can leave people like us left out. I hesitated really bringing it up as a regular post but it’s been on my mind. I feel like there are people out there that don’t reach out for any kind of help because of the intimidation that religious organizations bring along with them. So much of the help out there is faith based to some degree or another. The big thing for me was forgiveness. He asked me to forgive him and I wouldn’t have been a “good Christian” if I didn’t hand that to him. It let him off scott-free and I still had to carry that shame around with me. I love that you said that the shame belongs to our abusers. Those are good words!
      Thanks for the link, I will check that out more tomorrow. It looks like an interesting site.
      Take care.

  2. Good post, and so true! I’m planning on writing a long post about some of the abuse I experienced as a child sometime this week. So much of it was rooted in Christianity.

    I had just gone through some things while both my boys were home from school for the summer, but didn’t quite understand what it was until they started school at the beginning of this month. I know you understand how our dealings with our own kids force us to look at specifics of our childhood.

    I find peace in a non-belief system. Atheism simplifies my life and helps me to understand things more quickly and clearly than what I had before. However, like you, I’m for whatever works to help someone to get through the day, as long as it truly helps him or her personally.

    Thank you, Julie. I really did like this post. I often can relate to what you write, even when I don’t comment, I’m still reading. Things have just been crazy around here, but are about to slow down a bit.

    Take care.

    • Hi Charity! We have been busy too. I probably won’t be tending to my blog as much after I go back to school. Thanks for commenting! I can’t wait to read that post. I do check in on you too 😉 Take care!

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