Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Got a Teen?

I found this online this morning and I had to share!
Thank you to my friend Julianna for posting first.

This piece was written by Gretchen Schmelzer PhD; I hope she doesn't mind that I'm sharing it here. 

About the author: Gretchen Schmelzer, PhD is a licensed psychologist, trained as a Harvard Medical School Fellow. She is a trauma survivor, who has worked for twenty-five years with the complex issues of trauma, integration and behavior change across every level of system from individuals, to groups, to large systems and countries, including her role as the expert consultant Frontline for their documentary on Alaskan survivors of priest sexual abuse (aired April 19, 2011). Gretchen is the Founder & Editor of Emotional Geographic, a web-mag created to support healing from long term trauma. www.emotionalgeographic.com

Saturday, October 7, 2017


This past month is one of those times of the year when our family celebrates many birthdays of many loved ones. Most of the adults are a bit uncomfortable with celebration in their honor while most of the kids dig the moments of being treated as special and given gifts. 

I think human beings love ritual and celebration. Still I find it interesting that we celebrate the day we were born. When I had kids myself I felt the desire to celebrate becoming a mother to each kid, but that's not really the same thing as celebrating them. Although it did become a celebration of them.

What I'm wondering is why be continue those celebrations into adulthood. Why do we almost universally celebrate with cake. Where did the candles come from? Just...what the heck is this all about? I went and read about the history of birthday celebrations; that still doesn't explain why we do it.

My own birthday is coming up soon and people are already asking me what do you want to do on your birthday? What can I buy you?

The truth is, I don't want anything. I never want anything. 
I don't even like cake!

THIS is what I want
for my birthday.
I love the thought of the people who love me. I love the fact that the kids get enthusiastic about showing me their love. I love that they plan special things for me. I used to LOVE the homemade cards and gifts. But they won't do those things anymore. It is no longer about what I want, but what they want to do for me. If it was for me they would each get a piece of paper and write loving things, draw or make something for me, and simply spend the day with me. Time. Time is the ultimate expression of love.

Instead they wish to buy me stuff...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Radio Flyer: Stop Wagon My Heart Around

When the kids were very small my dad bought Elizabeth a Red Radio Flyer wagon. The wagon, the best toy ever. Can be used in a zillion different ways by every single kid. You're only limited by your imagination. Jer and I used to go for fairly long walks pulling that wagon with toddle Elizabeth all wrapped up in padding blankets and warm mittens.

Leave it to my kid.
I remember the day when the kids were quite young, John was maybe 4 and Liz was 7ish. Elizabeth was angry at me for something and had decided to run away. And John was going with her, blindly following her, as he used to do, letting her call the shots.

The two of them loaded up the wagon with their important things, including special stuffed animals, snacks, juice boxes, and coats in case it got cold at night on the road.

Someone else might have tried to talk the kids out of running away. Or followed them on a bike or something. Someone else might have fretted. But I was mightily entertained. They were on an adventure...down the block and around the corner pulling their red Flyer Town and Country model wagon. Laughing.

While preparing to run away together, Elizabeth's anger was gone and John was contributing to the project with his enthusiasm and good ideas. She and John were having conversations about what to take, what they were going to go on their trip, where to go. They were psyched. The kids were in this thing together; they were on an adventure.
They started off down the street as I sat on a seat on the front porch, watching. Of course they came back within a very few minutes. Once they turned the corner on that sparkling, sunny day and lost sight of the house they realized that they were on their own and the fun was reduced quite significantly.

They returned home and unpacked their Radio Flyer.
Today they talk about that adventure like it took hours.

Worth it.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Rediscovering the Love of Homeschool

In the past week or so I've (still) been looking through old boxes and cleaning off my shelves. Many of the boxes contain our homeschool files from 2005 to now. I kept work from all disciplines in nicely organized folders.
*pats self on the back.

It is obvious that I don't need to keep all of these papers, but I have to keep some of them!!!!! The adorable early efforts at sentence writing, paragraphs, essays, stories, artwork, etc. Drawings of self and family and home. Doodles, attitude, and boredom. Some of these papers I would walk through a burning house for because they are a chronicle of the development of my children's identities. It's remarkable to see from this vantage point.

While looking through each file folder and reading page after page of the kids' work and page after page of my own notes, I feel like I've rediscovered a few things that I want to pass along to you if you are still in the early throes of homeschooling.

For example:

Doing lessons with kids is so much fun if you let it be. You truly don't have to struggle and stress about every little thing. You are in the process of teaching your children how to think, NOT what to think. You are teaching them that they may sometimes disagree with you, that they may stand alone at times and there is value in that, that learning/knowing more is FUN and feels amazing, that popular opinions aren't always the only options available, and you are teaching them that they have the ability and the responsibility to learn more, always more. They don't need to memorize state capitols and presidential dates. Learn the facts, yes, but learn the facts within the context of learning and thinking humans.

And there is math and science and art and music in every single day.
And you are teaching them that they can trust in you, trust in logic and reason, and ultimately trust in themselves. I recognize that it was my interactions with my kids that they took away from each lesson, in addition to the content of the lesson.

Did I leave them with:
You can do this, Momma, Dadda. You have the love, willingness, and heart that it takes to see your child as a unique individual with unique skills and challenges. Noone else can do this as well as you can with your child. Have patience with them. Have patience with yourself.

Tomorrow is another day.

Your thoughts on this?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Our Estate

So with Mom's very fast death, I've had alot on my mind. She was so ill and unable to breathe at the end there that her final breath was a real relief for her. It was painful to watch her trying to breath.

With my very pragmatic siblings making the decisions, Mom's house went on the market a few days later. And sold.

Suffice it to say, it has been alot to process in a very short amount of time; our heads are spinning.

In the meantime, as we are all being called on to figure out what to do with Mom's things, I started thinking about the things that Jerry and I own.  
Our estate. We truly have alot of shit. Closets, garage, basement, spare rooms, storage rooms... The thought of our kids going through our boxes of shit, looking at each other with quizzical looks, sniggering, pointing to the trash container, and rightfully pitching our shit has been keeping me up at night. I immediately got busy.

I've already emptied four boxes of papers into recycling.

In going through the many, many folders of homeschooling work from my kids, I've got a few reflections on the kids, their work, homeschooling...the works.

First, and I've been telling my kids this all week, the kids were amazing students! Their work was average, above average, exemplary. I was, again and again, amazed at their ability to do the work in their clever, determined, inimitable ways. Their individuality almost always shined through every page they were asked to write. I will probably never throw away the writings I asked them to do; I love the minds of my kids.

Second, I was a decent homeschooling mom. I devised clever ways to get my son to put pencil to paper. I created pretty cool unit studies that both engaged and informed the kids. When I look back at my work, of which there was ALOT, I'm impressed with myself. It's very clear that I gave their lessons a great deal of thought and generally had a method to my madness.

Third, I am convinced that the kids had a very good, comprehensive, and unique education and that they are both well and prepared for college and for life. 

Fourth, I loved homeschool and the kids have both told me again and again that they were very pleased with their education and with the homeschooling lifestyle. We wouldn't change a thing.

...and that's all quite a gift from one little estate.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

8 Guidelines to Being Bad Ass

Everybody's got goals.
One of mine is to be Bad Ass.
I spent dang near fifty years wanting to be a Good Girl and I've found that pursuit to be completely disappointing and dull and not even the slightest bit rewarding. I've decided to change my entire approach to life and to become Bad Ass!

It's going to be a journey because I still have Good Girl baggage to shed. I still want people to like me. I still want to be considered Nice. I'm not good at voicing dissenting opinions. I can't post things on Facebook that are unpopular or that some might consider bitchy. I definitely can't spout uninformed opinions without doing the research. And I know some people who have very very inaccurate images of me because they have gotten their information from other people and I can not and will not address their misconceptions.

I'm 53 Years Old!!!!!!! I can do this. I can break these milquetoast habi... erm, personality traits and I can take the risks and state my opinions loudly and proudly. I can be unabashedly myself without regard for how certain people will view me...because they misunderstand me no matter what I do anyway, right? Also, because the myself I am presenting to the world is pretty worthy.

Now that I'm on a roll...what IS Bad Ass? Well, I did a little bit of research:

The Urban Dictionary defines a badass as someone who does what he wants, when he wants, where he wants. You won't find him on Facebook because he is probably out being cool somewhere. He might be on a motorcycle, but it's probably not a Harley or a crotch rocket because he won't spend that much money to be accepted. He feels no obligation whatsoever to justify his beliefs, values, convictions, morals, etc., with anyone. He likes his music because it sounds cool to him. You won't find him if you look for him because there is no sure way to identify him. One does not think that he is badass; he KNOWS it, and that's that. Alternatively, a badass is the complete opposite of a douchebag.

I honestly think the Urban dictionary thinks that only male paramilitary douchebags can be bad ass...furthermore I don't think that the person who wrote that definition is bad ass. So I will read some other words on the interweb because, obvs the Urban Dictionary has alot to learn about who and what is bad ass. At some website called Nooga.com I found an article called Eight Traits that make you a Bad Ass. That sounded promising. In brief the suggestions are:

  • They say yes first, then figure out how to deliver
  • They think differently than everyone else
  • They speak up
  • They have a replicable skill that others can learn
  • They live by their own code
  • They have the audacity to do things that others only wish they could do
  • They never, ever, ever give up
  • They don’t listen to the haters

OK, I like that, but something is rubbing me wrong there. I don't think I have it in me to not listen to haters and dissenters. There can be wisdom there at times, at least there can be opportunities for learning...I think. I'll read some more.

Oh GEEEZ...some more ridiculous advise is given to young searchers on a website called LovePanky.com: Your Guide to Better Love and Relationships. Apparently a bad ass requires a person to have a wicked stare, to speak in six word sentences, and to never blink. Or smile. Or show emotion. Good grief, who writes this schlock? And who is the poor young person seeking guidance from these sources? Surely the same people who used to read the ragmag Cosmo when I was younger.  Slowly raises hand with a blush.

Without giving Wiki a single whiff of mojo, an article there called How to be a Bad Ass seems to think that Clint Eastwood and being cocky is the same thing as being a bad ass... CLEARLY my quest is not going to be complete by reading bullshit expected to be consumed by skinny boys in high school who are already bad asses by being themselves but who think that muscles and assholery is bad ass because stupid social media misinforms... UUUGH, those young boys will have tons of mind mush to wade through to get to themselves. How discouraging. This online search is not helpful at all.

And for the love of all things holy, don't read this bullshit.

Looks like, a usual, I will have to figure it out for myself. So what do I mean when I say I want to be a Bad Ass? Because this has been something I've wanted for decades now; seems I would have figured it out by now. I see certain people and I think Man, I want to be like that! They speak their mind and take no names! (Hello Rayven) Or I think She is so smart and cool; I want to be like her! (Hello Mary and Megan) Or I notice my own reticence to say certain things in a public forum and I wonder why I am so wishy-washy...but I also know that words have power and there is consequence to their use...and I care about those things.

Actually, I guess I have figured it out because there are a few qualities that are essential in badassery, in my opinion, qualities that have absolutely nothing to do with black leather, cigarettes hanging out of your mouth, steady stares, preferring scotch over fooffy drinks, or having muscles on muscles. There is no short cut and there are no accessories necessary. Fooffy drinks are delicious. And every skinny person, heavy person, lonely person in the High School of Life can be a fricking Bad Ass according to my Eight rules of Bad Assery. Just remember, when I say rules I mean suggestions. Do your own thing. Because FUCK rules.

  • Embrace your Interests with a Passion.
    Is it the Civil War reenactment? Writing historical fiction? Anime'? Archery? Etymology? Cosplay? Weight lifting? Debate? Chess? Softball? Get into it and enjoy it with gusto. Not everyone can do that and many people don't have the intellect that it takes to enjoy it. So YOU enjoy that, be enlarged by it. Embrace your very own interests.
  • Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable.
    The truth is, people tend to judge and short-cut-think and hide in groups. Having the courage to stand alone, to be misunderstood, to quietly have integrity is SO freaking bad ass. And so is pushing your own envelope. Trying things that are difficult, speaking up with a quivering voice, approaching someone with an introduction and risking rejection...that, My Friend, is bad ass.
  • Fall Five Times, Get up Six.
    Resiliency can be one of the most difficult qualities to develop because you are only called on to be resilient when there is failure, depression, loneliness, discouragement, humiliation, public stuff, and fatigue. And no one else is there to see it, the reboot. No one but you. Being able to get back up and begin again in a very internal and personal decision...and is so so bad ass.
  • Remember that Social Media is Full of Shit.
    Don't be taken in by the artificiality of social media images and claims. No one looks like that. Everyone chooses what they show in public. Everyone has doubts. No one shows their B game. Being human is the same for all of us; some people just have a better ability to flaunt and exhibit their sleight-of-hand image. Everyone. And good looks are both fleeting and insubstantial. Internal beauty always always always means more.
  • Be Your Own Best Friend.
    That's right, talk kindly about yourself. See your own efforts. Recognize your good intentions. Build yourself up instead of focusing on the stuff that didn't work. We all, all of us, have failures and growth areas. We can acknowledge those growth areas and encourage ourselves to be better tomorrow than we are today...that is the way to bad assery. Not perfection. But self improvement.  Self empowerment. I'm not kidding about this. When you build yourself up, when you put your own breathing mask on first, you are able to do for others...
  • Avoid the Kardashians.
    Whoever the hell they are. Unless you like them. Real substance, real information, real education, real knowledge. That is the stuff of the real bad asses. The person walking on the moon didn't get there by learning about who the super stars are dating. They got there by personal growth and integrity, by learning about the sciences, and by looking up. And by being resilient. Because even astronauts puke...only they do it in the presence of other astronauts.
  • Say NO to that which does not Feed you.
    People and activities that drain you emotionally, financially, spiritually, or any other way are generally options in our lives.  Choose what brings you growth, love, goodness. Because being a bad ass means not letting people kick you when you are down. And learning to say No is a real ass kicking thing. Some people never learn it...but you can.
  • No One is Fearless.
    Feel the fear. It often informs us somehow. Then step up to the plate and do it anyway because facing it is Bad Ass AF.

I'm sure there are more, but this is a great start.
And, as it happens, when I use this guide to being a Bad Ass, I see that I am already a bit of a Bad Ass...and getting badder every day.


Are you IN?
Will you be a Bad Ass too?

Friday, September 15, 2017

This One, Meaningless Life of Mine

15 In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: the righteous perishing in their righteousness, and the wicked living long in their wickedness.

16 Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise— why destroy yourself? (Ecclesiastes 7:15-16)
It's an incredibly exciting thing, this one, meaningless life of yours. (Tim Minchin)
Although this bit from Ecclesiastes suggests that our lives are meaningless, unless I'm taking that out of context, it is clear to me that my life is meaningful. I was talking to someone the other day about Life. That's Life with a capital L. We were generally astonished that life exists at all, astonished that the tissue inside of our head can remember, create, maintain a unique personality, direct our physical bodies, feel emotion. If you think about it for a moment, the ability to think about it for a moment is utterly remarkable. And surprising. 

Life. With this extraordinary state of being, alive, we represent something utterly exotic as far as we know in the everythingness of the universe. (I am certain that there is life elsewhere in the cosmos; at this point we have no evidence of that.) But that is not to say that life literally has meaning.

MY life has meaning. Yours does. That meaning is whatever we make of it. When we do good, when we seek knowledge, when we forge connection, when we create, when we dedicate ourselves to a goal, when we recognize our influence on others, when we live with grace, then we are creating meaning in our own lives. Being human brings about the very human experience of existential angst, of distressing over the basic questions of existence, of meaning, and of purpose. I am certain that the majority of thinking people on this planet must come to grips with their own mortality at some point.

A hundred years ago when I was a believer I experienced a good deal of existential angst, angst that no idea of an afterlife could comfort. In fact that afterlife idea made it harder to assign any true meaning to my life, to this life, to my sense of self. It's likely that the angst was a part of that time of my life rather than a result of any Christian belief, but the belief did nothing to comfort it.

I have learned that living this life gives our lives tremendous meaning and joy!
I have learned to embrace this moment. 

To value human connection.
To love the people we love.
To apologize.
To make good.
To do good. 

To do better tomorrow.
To try new things.
To open myself up to experiences.
To take care of myself and to do healthy things.
And most importantly, to feel JOY at every possible moment.

I am going to offer my view on things, a view that might be surprising. 

I notice that people who embrace an afterlife are not, in fact, comforted by it. Just the opposite, really. With this belief of an afterlife, not only are they hopeful of that eternity, they are also dramatically fearful of losing it and wildly overwhelmed with the possibility of being in an eternal, heavenly afterlife without other loved ones. Petrified to their bones of missing out on this eternity. Fearful.

I feel absolute wonder about life, especially about this life of mine.  When I think about the lives I was living fifty years ago, forty years ago, thirty years ago, twenty years ago, ten years ago, it thrills me to see what life will be like in ten years, twenty, thirty...

I want more of it: This one meaningless life spent seeking wisdom, love, hope, goodness, kindness,  humor, creativity, a noble existence, and world peace.
Life, against all odds, it finds a way
Your thoughts?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

There Are No Atheists in Foxholes

There are no theists in foxholes is a saying used to argue that during extreme stress or fear all people will believe in or wish for or hope for a higher power, and as such, there are no real atheists.

Well I beg to differ.

We must realize that sayings of this sort are actually designed by believers to strengthen the believers' stance rather than to truly suggest anything about nonbelievers. It is meant to suggest that there are actually no atheists for nonbelievers would finally accept the deity of choice during times of extreme trauma or stress. While I, on the other hand, find the whole idea truly repugnant. To suggest that a rational being would suddenly embrace religious dogma while under stress is such nonsense. 

This week I am sitting at the death bed of my mother who is dying of stage 4 pancreatic cancer, leukemia, and COPD. It is absolutely horrible.

Mom has so many friends who love her and who have been here visiting all week. Everyone is praying all over the place and Mom keeps saying how the medical interventions are Gifts from God. Today one woman told Mom All in God's time, Vonnie, for he is our strength.

Sometimes I want to just vomit at the empty platitudes. Usually I'm glad that someone is willing to say stuff like that to Mom because I can't bring myself to do it. Sometimes I close my eyes and roll them waaaay back in my head.
But mostly I'm just too exhausted to have any response whatsoever.

Mom does feel comforted when people say this and I'm certain that many people are, in fact, praying for her, raising her up, sending her love and light... I don't know, I'm really too tired to process all of this. Only to say this, not for one single second would I ever take comfort in the religions of the world. Not for a single moment have I thought that, perhaps, there is a higher power watching all of this. And no way do I think that there is a purpose here.

This is progressing SOOOO quickly.
Today Mom can't stand up or breathe.
This is Mom just TWO DAYS ago
Life has its path. All of us come to this life with our many millions of different journeys and every single one of us leaves this life in the same way. Through death.

It is normal.
It is natural.
And I truly hope that, when my time comes I will remember this time with Mom and find myself approaching my own death with dignity.


I have to give a tremendous THANK YOU to the wonderful people at Hospice: Heartland Hospice here in Belleville Illinois, St. Clair County. The people there have been wonderful.

Tell me about your foxholes.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


One of my favorite movies of all time is the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. I'm sure I have watched it at least a hundred times because I tend to put it on on the weekends when I am doing laundry. In fact, any scent of laundry detergent makes me think of P&P.

My sister first introduced me to the movie about twenty years ago. Since then I have watched every other version of the movie and I've read nearly every book associated with it. With the exception of anything to do with zombies. The BBC version is my very favorite above all others.

This blog post is entirely designed to list my top favorite quotes from this movie, not necessarily from the book:

  • Shelves in the closet; happy thought indeed.
  • Mr. Darcy is all politeness.
  • Not at all; they were brightened by the exercise.
  • You have an affectionate mother who will always make the most of it.
  • You have no compassion for my poor nerves.
    They have been my companion for these twenty years.
  • No lace, no lace, Mrs. Bennett, I beg you!
  • Are you in Meryton to subdue the discontented populace, sir, or do you defend Hertfordshire against the French?
  • Very ill,  Edward. No one knows what I suffer with my nerves.
    But then I never complain.
  • Other way, Mr. Collins!
  • And yet I am unmoved.

I do love the classics. I am also a huge fan of the BBC version of North and South with the beautiful Richard Armitage. I wish I could watch both of these series again for the first time.

Do you have a favorite?
Any other recommendations for me now that you know my preferences?

Stages of Losing My Religion

All testimonial excerpts from new.exchristian.net/

This post is an updated encore of a post from several years ago.

Ok, first of all I just want to preface this by saying that these are my personal observations. I am not making any claim towards what the "right" way to deconvert is nor am I laying exclusive claim to the means of deconversion. Not everyone goes through every phase and not every phase is significant to all deconverts. I am just writing what I observe, if you think I'm full of shit, feel free to say so. I've used some quotes from deconversion stories posted on some Facebook boards.

Phases of Deconversion:

Phase 0 - The pre-deconversion

This step really isn't a step at all. This is the generalized time before deconversion. In this phase I was 101% committed to my belief, I called myself a christian, I thought of myself as a christian, I knew all the ways to answer all the questions about my faith. The idea of not being a christian is inconceivable. This phase can be brief or quite lengthy, but it is characterized by the complete lack of questioning one’s faith.

Seeker wrote:
I was personally "saved" when I was 13. I considered myself very lucky: I fell in love with Jesus from a young age. I adored God and felt adored; manna for an insecure and shy teenager. In my 20's, I broke up with my long term boyfriend (5 years) because he was a non-practicing believer and I had realised that I was choosing selfishly and not devoting myself to Jesus enough (and I could certainly not yoke myself unequally).

You may be confronted about your faith by others, and you respond with all the "right" answers, but you yourself have yet to put your belief under the microscope. I remember someone asking me to explain the fossils and I said that God placed them there to test our faith! Some can go their whole lives without ever leaving this state, but we are talking about deconversion here, so on to phase 1.

Phase 1 - Curiosity Killed the Cat

This is what I would consider to be the real first step toward deconversion: the point at which one might first examine one’s own faith. Now, this can come about in many ways. For some questioners, their zeal for discovering more about their religion leads them to examine themselves, ironically enough this quest for a greater faith leads them towards a lesser (or non-existent) one. For others, this questioning process is brought about by the inquiries of others. One particularly poignant question becomes the seed from which reason sprouts. Others still may find that in their increased knowledge of the natural world, they find things in conflict or even contradiction to their previously held beliefs. Sadly, many, far too many, come to this step through tragedy or hardship, when the question isn't about religion per se, but about the nature of god itself. How could god let this happen? or Why would he let this happen to us  or such questions that simply cannot be answered to any satisfaction.

There are many other ways this questioning process can be kicked off, but the point is that at some point the walls around your faith that protected it from introspection begin to yield. I have a suspicion that most believers encounter this phase of deconversion at least once in their life of faith, though most find cause to ignore or suppress it. The Christian Bible itself warns against such questioning. The entire apologetics industry is designed to push phase 1ers back to phase 0, as demonstrated by the fact that anyone well into their deconversion (not to mention anyone of other faiths or non-faiths) find apologetic arguments laughable or downright insulting.

Zelda wrote:
I felt the cognitive dissonance even as a four-year old. One of my earliest memories is of my mom telling me that I had to accept Christ as my savior or I would go to hell. She would constantly remind me that if I died, I would go to a lake of fire if I did not accept Christ as my lord and savior. It sounded so weird to me even at such a young age.

JLB wrote:
It was my knowledge of geology that really started the cracks in my walls of belief. Backpacking in the high Sierra’s in the early 80’s with my closest Christian brother Steve, we found fossil shells at 11,000 feet and eventually concluded they could not have gotten there due to Noah’s flood. And if God created the Earth with the shells in place, then he had built in evidence leading honest and sincere scientists to conclude they were many many millions of years old. This would mean God, not Satan, was the Great Deceiver!

Phase 2 - The Quest for Answers

Ok, so now you've got a mind full of questions... or maybe just one or two particularly persistent ones. Who has the answers? For most early questioners, the first place we look is also the least helpful, religion. We scour the bible, meet with our pastor, call up our strong christian brothers and sisters. We peruse christian message boards and we read christian literature. So careful are we to avoid any secular literature for fear that it may seek to lead us away from our faith. The answer-seekers are convinced that they are still trying to save their faith, to fortify it with godly answers. This phase is characterized by one emotion: Fear.

It is a particular brand of fear, I can liken it most to the feeling of being lost. Like you were hiking in the woods and lose your bearings, all of the sudden you are struck by this sense of "I don't know where I am." Luckily for you, you are surrounded by others and can simply ask for directions. Unfortunately the answers you get are thoroughly unsatisfying. In fact, sometimes your questions aren't answered at all, but rather turned around onto you as some sort of flaw in your faith. You are told to consult the tour guide, but he just tells you to stay with the flock, and go read your guidebook. You check your guidebook but it barely seems to make sense anymore; "What the hell are these guys talking about palm trees for? I'm in the Rocky Mountains!"

SageAtheist wrote: 
It was as if I'd been wearing glasses with colored lenses- beautiful ones- that suddenly shattered. I expressed those thoughts out loud and as I did, I realized that there was nothing to consider or examine- that I already believed them. It was a moment of my life I'll never forget, just as I'll never forget the time I put my faith in Jesus. Both times, I said the words and made it real- and the whole world changed around me as a result. This time, it was literally terrifying. We didn't go to church that morning.

Anony-Mouse wrote: 
I was honestly searching for secular proof of my faith, as all that I had ever known was "evidence" that was taught in the church and within Christian articles. It started with Noah's Ark, then, the Exodus, then, studies of original text dates of the New Testament. The problem was that, other than the typical "faith-based" evidence, there was no actual evidence to speak of. In fact, I found numerous articles and studies DISPROVING those subjects. That's when my "Jenga puzzle of faith" slowly started to come apart. It didn't happen overnight. It took about 3 more years studying to completely fall down.

In your search to find slightly more satisfying answers, you find a secular source. It may be by accident, a non-religious friend or relative, or it may be on purpose under the guise of curiosity, such as stumbling onto exchristians.net, but nonetheless you find someone, somewhere, who will actually answer your questions. However, far from sealing this one tiny leak in your otherwise unsinkable faith-tanic, you are spurred on to new questions, until you inevitably find yourself at "the" question, a question one fears more than any other.

Black Freethought writes:
Maybe I should take a clue from other species on this planet, and stop pondering why I am here and just live. Since there is no god handing out purposes and meanings to life, I can live without the pressure of feeling inadequate since that holy grail does not exist. I used to beat myself up because I have not discovered "the why" for my life. Instead I can experience the moment that I find myself in, knowing that it will soon pass. I can live without preconceived notions of purpose, destiny, fate and the like.

Lauren T wrote:
I hear the ones before me keep praying out loud with their hands raised to God, who can listen now without eavesdroppers. The pastor puts his hand on my forehead. I try to start the Spirit with a good try of my own- bashugana, osh amana, ola gaga… I say it from the throat, too soft. The pastor pushes my head back more, and I think it will start the real thing. When I stop talking, he lets go. “Yes” … “She’s got it,” he says. He moves on. But I still don’t have it.

Tim wrote:
The revelation however was immediate, liberating and indescribable --  a `divine`moment in my life that I will never forget. After viewing many internet sights it dawned on me that what I had been led to believe for all these years was nothing more than blind faith based on a person that never existed historically but only in mythology.The veil of ignorance lifted from my mind and I immediately became a new person without any fear of being struck by lightening for daring to reject jesus and god.

Phase 3 - Do I Believe?

Most people, I find, don't actually ask this question until their deconversion is at such a point that the answer is "No". We skirt around the question, avoiding it for fear of the consequences. This can be a very desperate time for some, especially if your whole life is built on a christian foundation. It isn't just a question of changing perspective, but of giving up everything you've ever known. Desperately, you seek the counsel of your friends and mentors, but to your surprise your hints at a failing faith are met with hostility, condemnation, and rebuke. I suspect that this is because your open questioning of faith sheds light on their private questioning of faith and their aggression is really a defensive maneuver. Either way, this can be a very lonely time, one at which you fell isolated from your normal support group, if not physically isolated, then emotionally isolated. Some are lucky to find others of fading faith for support, others unfortunately face this transition alone.

In some ways, and for some people however, this can be a very liberating process. If you find yourself in a religiously neutral environment, the pursuit of knowledge of the world and yourself can be exciting, filled with new discoveries every day. You can throw off the shackles that bound you to your faith and are free to explore all sorts of new things you may have never heard of before.

Nevertheless, at some point the question is asked, by yourself or by someone else; "Do you believe?" and you answer, "No."

AnonAgno94 wrote:
Christianity programmed my brain to have such a dependence on someone, something, else, that without it, I'm not sure I know how to be fully dependent on myself for once. I mean, I've never had to depend on myself. In fact, religion told me otherwise -- don't trust yourself because you're sinful; don't rely on yourself -- you need to let "god" have full control.

Victor wrote:
After that I became much less religious, almost to the point of agnosticism. I wavered from rejecting God to running back to theism. My church friends were no help, the hypocrites. Praising God in one breath and backstabbing and uttering insults the next. The girls, even worse. They were the more zealous to worship Father God, and yet that didn't stop them from sleeping around or being catty bitches to one another. I began to see just how corrupt the church's followers were. The few good men were outnumbered by dozens of hypocrites, liars, and charlatans. I was disgusted. I stopped going to youth group meetings because of that. Another symptom of my disillusionment.

Cm_christ wrote:
a switch went off in my head,for the first time in my life someone said it was ok not to believe in god, in an unconscious way i had searching for someone to tell me that it was ok, that someone else doubts in their faith. the other incident that finally separated me was one day my friend had made me a cannibal corpse (death metal) t-shirt with sharpie that had a pentagram on the back a typical staple of death metal imagery, a older kid at the school cornered me and told me did i know i was going to hell for wearing that?? i told him casually yes not really caring or believing him, and for the first time i was able to look from the outside in at how ridiculous that sound, a 5-pointed star would curse me to hell??

Phase 4 - Anger

Congratulations! You are now a non-believer. Here is your hat and t-shirt. We're having a bake-sale this Saturday at the park and I'll go ahead and sign you up for our newsletter..."
Well, not exactly.

When you converted, there was all sorts of pomp and circumstance. People were showering you with attention, everyone was your friend and you were instantly tied into a new social group. Your moment of deconversion, the moment you first answer that question "No", by contrast is wholly unsatisfying. The sky doesn't part, lightning doesn't strike your house, demons don't stab you in the ass with pitchforks... In a way you almost wish you did get stabbed in the ass, at least there would be something that happened to signify your deconversion, some sort of moment in time that you could point to as the beginning of a new life. We could all sit around and talk about our deconversion moment: I'd ask, "So when did you get stabbed in the ass with a pitchfork?" and you'd reply, "Oh, it was back in aught-six, I was visiting my parents for christmas. Do you want to see the scar?" at which point I'd reply, "No thanks... You should really pull up your pants now, this is awkward."

Unfortunately for all of us, there is no signifying moment of deconversion. We still live the same life we did, but now we are constantly bombarded with reminders of our old faith. We can feel very rejected, very hurt, insulted, or degraded. You end up feeling embarrassed by your former belief, and you feel so dumb for falling victim to it for so long. You feel betrayed by the people you trusted so much to tell you the truth of the world. Above all things, you begin to feel angry.

And rightfully so! You were lied to, you were kept in fear. You expected love from these people but they were conditional friends. When you needed support while giving up your faith, they told you it was your fault! How dare they! These people called themselves your friends but once you had a little ideological difference they abandoned you, they judged you, they completely ignored you. Oh the hypocrisy! They stole your life from you, you'll never get those years back. UGH, when I think of all the embarrassing things I've said to non-religious co-workers and friends. How could I have been such a fool!

For many, many of us, the anger phase lasts a long time. It manifests itself in all sorts of ways, sometimes overtly, sometimes passively. Don't get me wrong, it's good to feel anger, it is good to get these feelings out, but at some point the anger must give way. The anger feels so good, it is so emotionally satisfying that we sometimes want to hang onto it too long, but we must give it up to move on to phase 5.

FedUp said:
I just am facing the fact that I am still really freekin angry at these suckers and it's not only based upon this woman's lying ass horseshit. It's years of wasted time dealing with control freaks who ain't no better than me but on the flip side are some of the most deceitful lying little pustules I have ever dealt with, and BEEN HARMED BY, in my entire life. And most of them do it with such relish, because of course, they're 'saved' and I ain't so they can feel free to do as they please and harm who they want and all is 'forgiven'. Fuck them. I have tried to bury how I really feel about it all for too long, and repressing it has made me sick, and I mean even feeling physically sick, so pardon me if anyone feels like I've tipped over some line somewhere here.

Kriosa Lysia said:
When I finally left Christianity after many years, I became very, very angry over the manipulation, the fear-based theologies of hell and demons, the suppression of questioning, the guilt, the shame, etc. At the same time I was also still convinced that I was a sinful, horrible, no-good person and the guilt was crushing.

Phase 5 - Acceptance

The ultimate tragedy of being a deconvert is the fact that even though we stop believing, some people won't let it go. Imagine your old faith like a car. For a while you loved it, you took care of it and drove it all the time but one day it breaks down. You get out and try to fix it, but you can't. You ask a mechanic but he just asks for 10% of your income and tells you to fix it yourself. You consult the user manual but it was written for a pedestrian. In desperation, you start kicking the car, swearing at it, throwing rocks at it. You hate it, and somehow punishing it for leaving you stranded makes you feel some amount of relief. You push it home, kicking it and swearing at it the whole way. You get up in the middle of the night just to take a leak in the gas tank. Then you start acting weird.

You start pushing the car wherever you go, breaking out the windows and scratching the paint. You get a new car and tow the old one behind it just so it's available for abuse whenever you need. You may even attack other peoples cars of the same make and model; "Your car's garbage! Throw it away, you can't depend on it!" Admit it, you actually enjoy being mad at your car.

For a time that anger is very therapeutic, it helps you cope with the loss of a major component of your life. Now however, your life is just as consumed with this car as it was when it worked, and you don't even get to drive it anymore! To truly be past it, you need to go ahead and drop it off at the dump. You don't need to rush yourself, have fun tearing the hoop-de hunk-o-junk up, but wouldn't it be nice to live a life that didn't revolve around the old christ-moble anymore?

Stage 6 Anyone? - HAPPINESS

And now it's just easy because life finally makes sense.

What's your story???