Whew. When I wrote my first post, I thought that I was really on a path to truly finding peace in my life after religion. I mean, I think I am continually on that journey, but I thought the hard part was behind me.
I thought I was ready to check my anger at the door and move forward. Turns out grieving is a process and sometimes that process includes anger. It isn’t always a straightforward path. Because is life ever really a straightforward path? Sometimes I feel like I’m moving forward, sometimes I feel like I went backwards and get stuck in the anger.
Honestly, I find myself a bundle of emotions most of the time. Sometimes I can’t even figure out what I’m feeling or what is going on inside.
I read a couple books by Exvangelicals about their stories and started listening to the Life After Podcast and felt like I was moving forward. But the last several weeks, I’ve felt the anger surface again.
I think the vitriol surrounding the abortion debate on social media really triggered it, along with some other personal events, and probably just politics in general. It is so hard to watch American Evangelical Christianity have such a hold and power over what happens in America, to watch it cause so much harm and be mostly unchecked.
The thing that makes me the most angry is that the harm caused is mostly based in fear, hate, and just plain false information. How can I, how can we just let that go? How do I move on? How do I not be angry about that?
Most importantly, how do I change it?
I honestly don’t know how to grieve anymore. My biggest trigger is hearing worship music and sometimes even just reading the lyrics. Recently, I thought that maybe part of my process would be to slowly expose myself to things from my past again. To face it head on in order to come to terms with the loss.
For example, make myself listen to a full worship song and let myself feel the feelings instead of shutting it out right away to avoid it all. (Though sometimes that is absolutely necessary for self-care/survival.) Or go back to my old church without anyone there and just grieve the loss of that space that meant so much to me for 25 years of life.
I think those could be important steps, done carefully. I’ve envisioned doing the worship music exercise in a therapy session so that I had a safe space to process everything.
But when will I be ready for something like that?
Every once in a while a worship song will pop up on my newsfeed and sometimes I’m tempted to listen and it usually never goes well. Just a couple hours ago this happened and I was curious to hear the song, but maybe more curious how I would react. (I think sometimes I tell myself it’s not that bad, that I’m just making up my reaction because I think it’s bad. So I click play and find out that that immediate reaction is still there.)
It took the first line of the song for me to start crying and I shut it off because I couldn’t face all the feelings that were surfacing.
I knew the song well and continued to sing it in my head and even out loud and continued to cry and I’m tearing up now just thinking about it again.
The first line of the song was, “Seated above, enthroned in the Father’s love” and I just don’t know how to grieve losing that love I thought I had. And on top of the loss, knowing the manipulation that was involved and not knowing if it even exists at all or, if it does, that it looks so much different than I believed and was taught my whole life.
All this to say, I thought I was ready to move forward and make peace and establish my “life after”. I guess I’m learning that grieving is not a neat, tidy process. It is messy, it is hard, and doesn’t always feel like progress. Sometimes you take a few steps back before you take steps forward. I think when I finally get myself back into therapy, my focus is going to be grieving this loss, because I need help.