“I thought I had ‘got over’ the church, I had told myself that my upbringing was ‘not that bad’, I had told myself that ‘although I had been abused as a child this could happen in any walk of life’…”

Hi, not sure if this is of any use to you, I wrote this partly to try and help me understand my own feelings and to remind myself to carry on and not try to hide from it all again, as I find myself wanting to.
Then I thought that if it does that for me then it might do it for others too.
Feel free to use it or not as you wish, I would like to remain anonymous at present though if you do use it.

Why am I doing this?

I left the church 20 years ago, at the time I had no idea who I was, but I knew that I was being a hypocrite staying involved in a system that I truly did not believe in.
I had been born into the church and I knew nothing else, but I knew that it did not have the answers that I was looking for, all that I could see was people striving to be something they are not and doing anything they could to please the rule makers.
People strutting around thinking that they were better than everyone else because they knew the one true way to live and that everyone else had it wrong.
The thing is that I met many more genuine people outside of the church environment than I met inside it, how could this be the case? I had been told from birth that everything outside the church was evil and yet here I was meeting people that were far more real than a lot of the people involved with the church.
I had been struggling with this for a while feeling so alone, being involved in the church but more because I feared what I would do without it than really believing in the teachings.
There were a couple of things that contributed to me making the decision to leave:
I found myself sat in an underpass popping pills trying to bring an end to the loneliness, how was this possible I was supposed to be part of this big ‘family’ but here I was on my own trying to end it all?
Once I had decided that I wanted to get out I found that I was starting to get completely cut off from everyone I knew, ‘its fine if you follow the rules, but if you don’t it is as if you are dead to us’ ‘You’re on your own, good luck with that’
I guess in the end I just decided ‘you’re on your own, get on with it’ no point moaning about it just live with it.
So that is what I did.

I have a large family who have all been brought up in the church, naturally these would be the people you would hope to fall back on in this situation, however that did not really happen.
Although you would think that having the same background, would give us something in common, it in fact helped to drive us apart.
Initially I had tried to fit in with the church because as all kids we strive to get approval from our parents, however at this time I realised that my parents were never going to be happy, I felt dirty, I felt I was a black sheep, I felt a failure, I did not want to jeopardise the chance of my siblings finding happiness so drew away from them.
Don’t get me wrong my parents never really cut me off, but you could see the hurt and disappointment in their eyes because you were not following what they believed to be right. That look cuts right through to the heart and it still appears now 20 years on, like they are still hoping that you will ‘see the light’ and come back.

I cut everyone and everything to do with the church out of my life and have existed fine since.
In the last 20 years I have been able to build a life with the help of my wife and kids, I am not sure where I would be without them.
I thought I had ‘got over’ the church, I had told myself that my upbringing was ‘not that bad’, I had told myself that ‘although I had been abused as a child this could happen in any walk of life’.
I thought that the reason our family never spoke to each other was because that was our nature, and that I should just get on with it. (Never really thinking that they have all had very similar and possibly worse experiences).
I believe we all kept our distance for fear of disappointing our parents even more, or to stop our sins rubbing off on the others as we had been taught from birth.
I had (I thought successfully) managed to completely cut off my life now, from that of my upbringing, I may have no friends, no close family, and no social skills but at least I was as far away as I could be, from the church, that was good enough for me.

Unfortunately, a few things shook this believe to the core and made me realise I had not dealt with any of the issues, I had simply swept them under the carpet,
My wife had started encountering members of the church through work and I suddenly found myself petrified that she would get ‘sucked in to their systems’
Someone showed me an article about what it was like growing up in the church, at first, I tried to dismiss it as over exaggerated hype, but the more I read and thought, I realised I could not actually disagree with it.
I went to an event where there were people from the church in attendance and I was not ready for the pure hate I felt welling up inside me, these people represented the organisation that I felt had robbed me of a family.
The church apology, when I read this it was just an excuse of an apology from people that still did not really believe that they had gotten anything wrong.
I had turned my childhood into a big black hole and thrown everything in there, hoping it would disappear, but it hadn’t.

So where am I now?
I am trying to unpack all these feelings, it is not easy. (with the help of therapy paid for by the church and I am grateful for this).
Trying to unpack the loneliness, pain and rejection that has been a constant throughout my childhood and the impact it still has today.
Trying to unpack the abuse suffered as a small child.
Trying to unpack the feelings that you are an alien in this world, trying to do this without adversely impacting on current day life, but knowing that I must do this to move on.
Maybe I will never have the close family and parental approval that I so desperately crave but I guess at least I am not hiding from it any more.

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