Feeling Angry That You Were Brainwashed is Valid
Last summer, I realized my faith was never coming back, and holding out for any hope for that to happen would only continue to exasperate the traumatic situation. It had been seven months since my entire identity disappeared when my faith shifted 180 degrees in what seemed to be overnight...
I opened my eyes one morning last January (2019) to the realization that I literally was not capable of a relationship with the Christian god anymore.
I wasn’t capable because I could not find him anywhere. And while evangelical Christians will argue against this until they're out of breath, I KNOW I wasn't the one who left. Truth is, they will argue it until it happens to them personally...because it's one of the scripted lines they are given as a way to respond in a moment of crisis like this...
I was born into Christianity. I don’t remember a day not knowing god.
I served him with all my heart all my life. When all this happened and everything disappeared while I was seeking God with all my heart, loving him, worshiping him, etc... I was accused of being angry and hostile about god.
But I wasn't angry. And I wasn't hostile. I was broken, hurt, desperately searching, and confused.
I felt a calm emptiness about me when it first happened...with a side of intense panic over the loss of my entire world and identity. Ya I don't really know how to adequately describe that, but that's what it was. But back to the anger accusations... How could I be angry at something that I don’t even believe exists anymore? At the time, I genuinely was not angry. Especially not at "God."
Fast forward one year later...through some journaling and processing...
NOW I AM ANGRY!!!
I’m angry that I was brainwashed. I’m angry that I was traumatized by religion as a toddler. I’m angry that I have been afraid of hell since I was 2 or 3. I’m angry that I lived in fear all my life and those repetitive traumatic events of fear and control that religion placed in my life over and over have been stored in my body because I didn’t feel safe or know what to do to make sure I was okay with god...and I feel the effects of the trauma stored in my body all the time. I'm angry that my body still holds on to the fear it used to keep me safe when I was a toddler. I don't know how to let my body know that it's safe now to let go.
Don't confuse me being angry with me being miserable.
A person can be angry and not miserable. I am channeling my anger into understanding the impact of the traumatic events of my past, and I am EXTREMELY passionate about healing and growing and helping others do the same.
We were taught it’s not okay to be angry.
We were taught to not even go to bed angry. It was preached, "Do not let the sun go down on your wrath...that gives place to the Devil." Anger was always a sin unless you were Jesus and could have righteous anger. But human anger was rarely, if ever, righteous.
When I was transitioning my social media gradually from legalistic Christian to progressive Christian to agnostic/atheist, my husband assumed I was angry and hostile. (He is awesome and has apologized since then, admitting that he was making assumptions and I wasn't acting that way). He kept telling me that I was, because to him, that's how my posts appeared. I do know that at that time I was not angry OR hostile. I was simply easing my way into telling my community that I was no longer a part of their belief system in the most gradual, gentle, subtle way possible. It was painfully slow. But I knew no other way to do it, than to use more progressive memes and work my way "down the ladder."
What made me feel angry and hostile...was his constantly accusing me of being angry and hostile. Because I didn't feel that way at all inside. And he kept insisting that I was! Why wouldn't he stop doing that? I couldn't understand. And even more so, why was it bothering me so much?
As I thought about it, I realized that it bothered me for people to think that I was angry because (1)...I was not angry. And (2)...I still believed the old like that it was not OKAY to be angry...I still held on tightly to my old belief that anger was WRONG.
HOWEVER...I've given it more thought...and...
YOU AND I ARE ALLOWED TO BE ANGRY!
I have EVERY FUCKING RIGHT to be ANGRY over what hurt me!
And it's VERY healthy to express that. Is it healthy to stay there and constantly ruminate on it? No - but I'm not, so quit judging me and quit taking it upon yourself to determine how long or how often I'm allowed to be angry, and worry about yourself. (That wasn't directed at anybody unless you needed it - lol).
Anger is simply an emotion.
For many, it's a very intense, uncomfortable emotion, but it's not right or wrong. It just is. Anger is how we feel as a result of something happening to us that violates the way we believe things are supposed to be in one way or another.
If we stuff our anger and pretend it's not there, it can build and really hurt us. It's important to find ways that are healthy to release and work through our anger. Venting to a friend, screaming into a pillow, punching something soft, exercise, deep breathing, therapy, journaling/writing...are all great ideas to help channel our anger in a healthy direction.
Hear me now...
IT is COMPLETELY OKAY TO FEEL ANGRY!
YOU ARE COMPLETELY ALLOWED TO BE AND FEEL ANGRY.
You do not have to sweep it under a rug. You do not have to hide it. You do not have to pretend it doesn't exist. It's there. It's there to help you. It's there to alert you. It's there to move you to action to DO SOMETHING.
It's up to you to figure out what that something is. Maybe it's to take some sort of action. Maybe it's to release an expectation. Maybe it's to just be with it and feel it for the time being. To accept that it's there. To acknowledge that it's okay to feel angry - that your anger is valid. Only you can know what needs to be done.
But there are no "wrong" answers. Your path is yours.
Your journey can't be rushed. Sometimes we just need to flow with whatever is going on at the moment...with whatever we are feeling. Take a mental step back and be the observer. Realize you FEEL angry, but you are NOT your anger. It may reside in you at the moment, but it doesn't DEFINE you.
Give yourself permission to feel the anger resulting from all the hurt, the pain, the sadness, the frustration, the depression, the hate, the misunderstanding, the regret, the loss, the confusion, the wrong, the betrayal, the neglect...whatever you are facing and have faced in the time you that you feel you have lost to a legalistic religion or cult.
We are wired to FEEL. It is okay - FEEL IT. You are human. You are seen. You are going to be okay.
But for now, if you don't feel okay, know that it's okay to not feel okay.
But be gentle with yourself. Be safe. And don't let yourself stay there forever. Because when you get out of this mess, if you choose to be, you're going to be a powerful force to lead others out of this shit too.
You are strong. You are powerful. You can do this!
Don't forget to "like" my launch page to keep updated on my new book coming out this spring about my journey out of evangelicalism! For the link and more information, check out the "book" tab here on my website!