loneliness

May 21, 2009 at 12:20 pm 17 comments

lonelyHere’s another piece of my jrnl.txt file last year. Again, things are not so hard now, October 2008 seems like a long time ago, mercifully. I am still unclear where my life is heading relationally, what moving on from relationships in the church means. I’m quite a social person, not too happy drifting through a solitary life. The solitary period has been helpful in allowing a needed measure of introspection and re-evaluation. But at the same time my thinking gets pretty convoluted and confused working through things on my own.

10/16/08
Loneliness has probably been my biggest struggle since deconverting. I am sure losing trust in a divine and omnipresent friend has something to do with that, but I really don’t think that is the case much. Because I haven’t really had that trust for a long time, I don’t know how much I ever did, and never felt lonely in the way I do now.

The sudden and recent loss has been in regard to human friendships. My friendships have turned from mutual care and respect to helping me. And not just helping me, but helping to *fix* me, to return me to someone who I am not. That has been a real loss to me.

Why does that affect me so much during the day, when I wouldn’t see or talk to friends anyway? Maybe in feelings about friendships, anticipating getting together, or remembering recent times together. That’s a surprise to me, that friends not present have such an impact on my emotional well being. Not their physical presence, but thoughts about them. I have a lot of work to do, either getting comfortable being alone (not my preference), or rebuilding friendships if possible. Making new ones of course too, but that prospect never heartens me, such a hard thing to do. I want to get a weblog going some time soon.

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Entry filed under: leaving, life.

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17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lorena  |  May 21, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    That was a sad journal entry, ATTR.

    It’s hard, isn’t it? When people we like and enjoy hanging out with look at us condescendingly, as their new project that needs repair.

    I could still go with DH to BBQ’s & potlucks, but I can’t stand the sad look on their faces & their sincere desire to have me back, as if it was about some social offense their good behaviour can make me forget.

    Glad that you’re at a better place today.

  • 2. Temaskian  |  May 21, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    You might have to get used to the loneliness. There are no atheist churches around, the last time I checked.

  • 3. atimetorend  |  May 21, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Thanks for the sympathy Lorena, it sure helps knowing you’re not alone in the experience, doesn’t it? It’s too bad when even those social events are opportunities for others to feel gloomy (or uncomfortable?) around you.

    Temaskian, I agree partly, because the church can provide such a large group of built-in friendships. But then I have to think, even in the church, there were only a relatively small group of people with whom I was close. I’m finding friendships out there, but a little harder to come by (as I think I remember commenting on your blog a while back). Hoping you find some diamonds in the rough as well.

    attr

  • 4. isnessie  |  May 22, 2009 at 1:33 am

    Yesterday I received one of the most sanctimonious emails from a friend who said he was ‘supporting’ me through this change in my life. For speaking truth, and expressing my frustration in a sarcastic but honest manner, I am apparently a bigot and close-minded. This was supposed to be the most understanding friend from the lot.

    Just over a month ago, I found out that though none of them have spoken to me about leaving the church since I told them I was, they’re convinced that I left because of something nasty the church inflicted on someone else – in other words, they’re all convinced, and have practically scolded this other friend for ‘corrupting/driving me away’. It’s so condescending, to assume that is the reason for my leaving, instead of thinking that maybe I have a mind of my own and have a different reason for leaving.

    Yet I still see these people when I go out – they’re kind and friendly but there’s this wall up, knowing what is said behind closed doors. This is what I find ridiculous – that they seem to forget that there was a time, not so long ago – in fact, only 3 months ago, when I sat behind those doors with them and heard everything they had to say about those on the outside, for 3 years.
    How do you keep up relationships with those you love when you’re all pretending there isn’t an elephant in the room?
    I think this is the most painful time in my deconversion so far. Thanks for posting these entries, and thanks to those who comment. It’s comforting knowing this is just a part of the process.
    I’m already beginning to get used to spending more time alone.

  • 5. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  May 22, 2009 at 7:32 am

    I can relate.

    Sometimes I miss the camaraderie I had with fellow Christians, but I’ve only had maybe one friend try to “fix” me, and a few seem to ignore me. The closest friends are still in the closest, and quite a few of them are devout Christians.

    Oddly enough, another blog I read also posted about loneliness on the 21st.

    http://peacefulturmoil.blogspot.com/2009/05/my-profound-thought-of-week-loneliness.html

  • 6. atimetorend  |  May 22, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Sorry to hear that Nessie. It is bad enough not to get the support and friendship we would like, but the hostility plain hurts. I sure don’t know how to keep up those relationships with the elephant of faith in the room. It is possible to work on it with those close to you, where you need the relationships, or see them all the time. But the more peripheral the relationship, the more impossible it is to work through those things, to try to correct misconceptions or whatever.

  • 7. mmmarty  |  May 23, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    I can also relate to what you’re saying, ATTR, and I find it so frustrating, because aren’t these the people who should be accepting everyone,loving everyone??

    I’m not at all saying that an atheist is a prostitute or whatever, but if in the Bible, Jesus himself hung out with people like prostitutes, then why is it such a big deal for his followers to hang out with people who, after all, are just people, but with different beliefs?? It’s so hypocritical.

    Often when I’ve been to church I’ve also felt this pressure to preach to non-Christian friends. It’s not spoken of, but you almost feel that if you do have a friend who doesn’t come to church, you SHOULD be bringing them, you should be preaching to them etc etc. Because they should be fixed. The idea of just having a friend of a different religion..just being friends because you dig them, not because you have a secret agenda.. it doesn’t seem to sit well with most Christians I’ve met.

    I know how hard it is to make new friends, but rather than wallowing in fake, irrepairable relationships, it might be better to invest your energy in forming new ones. Good luck :)

  • 8. OneSmallStep  |  May 23, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    You’ve probably seen me post on this in other places, but I’m not sure there’s a way to avoid that loneliness. Given how much of Christianity is presented, I never see it coming across as God accepting humanity without conditions. Rather, if you go the route that Jesus had to die to pay the price of God’s wrath so that God’s justice was satisfied, and that God can only accept perfection into Heaven — thus precluding humanity by default — then God has a lot of conditions that must be met before He can accept you.

    And I think we see this in quite a few Christians — it’s their job to evangelize, and make the non-believers into believers. The problem is that I don’t think they can have it both ways. They can’t say that they love you without conditions, and then try to make you exactly like them. It’s a contradiction.

    I would lean more towards the idea of finding new friends — but I know that is a difficult thing to do. And maybe you could find yourself being able to be comfortable around your old friends. But if it were me, I’d never feel comfortable sharing anything deep, or anything that would matter. I’d always wonder if they’d just listen, or if they’d use what was happening as a way to try and get me back to a believer.

  • 9. atimetorend  |  May 23, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    OSS, I would like to interact with your comment more but don’t have time right now. When Nessie posted above I was thinking of some of your posts about Christians relating to non-believers and wanted to link to one of them, but didn’t have time to look one up. So very glad you showed up here, thanks.

  • 10. atimetorend  |  May 24, 2009 at 12:08 am

    RE: couple of comments above: I very much agree about the need to make new friendships, ultimately in dealing with Christians, you are going to have to be fixed if you don’t believe something similar to what they believe. I also realize that friendships typically change through different seasons of our lives.

    Now I have lately experienced fairly rich friendships with new friends who are Christians but to a measure are able to live in the mystery of their faith, and really listen and engage with me. But down the road, I would not be at all surprised if they are ready to move on, if I don’t get fixed that is. Either way, the friends I have in conservative evangelicalism are not able to engage the hard questions, period.

  • 11. OneSmallStep  |  May 24, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Atimetorend,

    I’m just glad my post didn’t come across as a ‘shout-out’ to my blog or something. I’ve just seen you on a couple different blogs I’ve posted on, as well as comment on my blog, so I wasn’t sure if you had come across those statements before.

  • 12. isnessie  |  May 25, 2009 at 2:05 am

    ATTR and OSS > Thanks for the thoughts, really appreciated. I exactly agree with OSS – it’s really difficult discussing anything meaningful now because I never know whether they’re listening to me the way they would, or coming up with issues and problems in their heads that they think need to be ‘fixed’ by God. It’s more difficult knowing the way they do think (having been privy to that way of thinking and to individual’s thinking throughout the last 3 years) since I can’t be oblivious to it as I might if I’d never been in that circle. There are only one or two friends from that entire group who I’m able to speak openly with, and not often, but I’m glad for them.

  • 13. atimetorend  |  May 25, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    OSS, you would have been welcome to post a reference to your blog, but I understand your reluctance. I can do it with impunity though:
    http://wonderingwanderingthoughts.blogspot.com/2008/10/who-do-you-trust.html

  • 14. OneSmallStep  |  May 27, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Isnessie,

    What makes those particular friends different from all the others? How are you able to tell the difference? I sometimes toy with discussing these issues with my evangelical friends … but even if they told me they didn’t behave that way, I’m not sure I’d believe them.

  • 15. isnessie  |  May 28, 2009 at 2:07 am

    @ OSS – I really don’t know what makes them particularly different! In fact, I was trying to figure out what it was with one of those friends just a couple of days ago. If I look at what is different about this friend from the others, it’s that he understands the intellectual dilemmas without feeling particularly threatened or the urge to counteract. He only ever counteracts something I say when it’s a social thing that I could be looking at from a different perspective than he does > minus the religion. It also just never comes across as religious pity when we discuss difficult life stuff. I don’t even think he does any of it actively, when I asked him, he said it just doesn’t matter to him. It’s not 100% comfortable/open but it’s damn close. Like I said to another friend, if ever I were to believe in God on the basis of someone representing that god, this friend would be it. I think he’s just laid-back in general, and he’s never gushing about church or God or what ‘God is doing in his life’. Maybe the rest of the Christians we know would be skeptical of his own belief…

  • 16. isnessie  |  May 28, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Oh – and he doesn’t seem threatened, but neither is it a puffed-up kind of confidence – that probably helps a lot. Nothing worse than talking with someone you can see is either struggling with doubt but determined to put up a good face, or willing to listen because ‘nothing you say can change what they believe’.

  • 17. Janus Grayden  |  June 1, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Isn’t this always the way.

    I’m in the same boat you are, ATTR. I’m finally feeling okay and validated after suffering for so long by myself, mentally agonizing about what my life was all about without everything I’ve known.

    It’s not easy to lose that along with the people who you used to rely on.

    Isnessie hit the nail on the head: “Yesterday I received one of the most sanctimonious emails from a friend who said he was ’supporting’ me through this change in my life.”

    I’ve heard this so often from so many people who I used to be so close with that I eventually had to just cut myself off from everyone.

    Putting myself into isolation was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But, like you, ATTR, I came out on the other side okay.

    I don’t want to plug, but this does seem appropriate. I just recently created a blog, Extheist, to help people in that transitional state or for people, such as ourselves, to reflect without people telling us that they’re praying for us to return to what had made us so miserable (in my case, anyway).

    Like Temaskian mentioned, there are no atheist churches, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be support for people who have no other choice but to suffer in silence.

    Again, I don’t mean to plug for the sake of plugging, I just realize more and more that there are a lot of people like me out there.

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