Church is supposed to be a place where you can go to find comfort, peace, community, and healing. But what happens when the Church is the one causing the harm?
That was the case for me. I started going to church when I was in Junior High. It started off as something I did with my friends but because of my childhood trauma I latched onto it like a baby to their security blanket.
You see, growing up my parents didn’t know how to meet my emotional needs. It wasn’t something they grew up with, many in their generation didn’t. So, when they started having kids, they tried to make life better than what they had, and for the most part they did. Unfortunately, because of their own upbringing and traumas meeting the emotional needs of mine and my siblings, just wasn’t in their toolbox.
This left me vulnerable and seeking attention, validation, and belonging anywhere I could get it. *Que Jesus entering my life.
This was exactly what I thought I needed. Someone to comfort me, someone to show me love and acceptance. Someone to come in and wipe away all the tears.
But in reality, all I got was a life full of never feeling good enough, constantly feeling as if I always fell short, berating myself for not being a better Christian, and also years of being manipulated and controlled by narcissistic pastors who preyed on my vulnerability to fulfil their own egotistical God complex.
Every day I felt pulled in opposite directions. Part of me was consumed by the fear of walking away because not only did my eternal salvation hang in the balance, so did my families. (If you don’t know this already, I tried to escape the cult 1 time and the pastor said to me, “If you leave your family will never experience salvation and it will be your fault.”)
The other part of me longed for a life of freedom. A life where I could travel and experience new cultures. A life where I could make friends outside of the cult. A life where every day wasn’t consumed by overwhelming shame and fear. A life where I felt that just being me was enough. A life where I could explore and find my authentic self.
Now I may have escaped the cult 11 years ago, but I wasn’t actually free from the church until I walked away completely in 2020. For those 11 years I still went to church after church after church searching for belonging only to still be met with the constant feeling of shame, fear, and like I wasn’t good enough. Add on top of that becoming a mom and realizing that being a mom wasn’t as fulfilling as the church made it out to be.
That’s when I experienced more and more guilt and it didn’t stop. It felt like at every turn I was a failure in motherhood. I hated pregnancy and birth. I had a successful home birth, but it traumatized me so much I chose hospital births after that. I wasn’t cut out for the “ideal” homebirth, and it made me feel like a failure as a woman and mom. I hated pretend play and then shamed myself for hating it. I was adamant that I would homeschool only to realize that I was not cut out for it.
Failure, after failure, after failure and every time I felt like I was disappointing God.
When I left the church and started my deconstruction journey little did I know it was the thing that would save my life.
Now don’t get me wrong, leaving wasn’t easy. I spent night after night crying myself to sleep. It got so bad that I was diagnosed with depression by 2 different doctors in a span of just 4 days. Friends turned their back on me. Relationships with loved ones crumbled in the blink of an eye and I started to feel like the black sheep.
But I also started to experience freedom in a way I had never felt before. I was able to have open and honest conversations with my parents and siblings. Something we hadn’t been able to do for years. I was able to explore my sexuality with all the support and love from my husband during the process. I started to not only find my voice but use it.
I found me, and for that it was all worth it.
So, leaving the church actually saved me.
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