Say you’ve realized you no longer believe, gone through some of the typical stages of deconversion, and are ready to move on with your life, when, Whammo! You’re blindsided by some old feeling from your previous life.
“Why do I still fear Hell?” “Why am I still afraid of being Left Behind?” “Why do I still feel guilty when I stay home from church?” “Why do I still feel guilt around sex? I’m a grown-up, for crying out loud.”
This is one of the hardest things I’ve found day-to-day about being deconverted. I don’t believe any more, but my body doesn’t seem to have got the message.
There’s a lot I can say on this topic, but number one is this:
It takes time.
It takes time to deprogram what took decades to program in the first place. It takes time to get used to who you are today and who you are becoming. It takes time to figure out how to navigate a world where you don’t have a book (or a publishing industry, church, etc.) telling you how to think. It takes time to find new art, new music, new friends, new habits, and new…everything.
I don’t say these things to be overwhelming, though I know from experience it can be. For now, I hope you can be patient with yourself. Be kind. You’ve been through a lot, and it’ll take time.
It’s been several years since I realized I no longer believed, and I can tell you: it gets better. There’s a wide, wonderful world of truly incredible people, experiences, places, ideas. This whole world is now open to you.