I have a confession: I am obsessed with personality typing.
It never occurred to me until just recently to ask Why? without any judgment. In the last year and a half I’ve spend an exorbitant amount of time and energy trying to “type” myself and then beating myself up for spending so much time and energy on it. The answer as to the why is pretty obvious: I’m trying to figure out what “me” means.
In November of 2014 I began blogging, which I now see was the beginning of my personality change. I guess “change” is not the right word for it, “growth” is the better word. What was really happening was that I had been dying inside and decided I wanted to live.
I had become an wounded, shameful, agoraphobic shut-in and something in me decided (mostly due to my motivation to be okay for my children), “Enough!” I needed contact with the outside world and I needed to express myself in order to remain alive. I started blogging because I realized that writing was the way I best expressed myself and that I wasn’t too bad at it either.
I begin blogging fearfully. Ashamed to even assert my presence in the world in any way, even by blogging. I wanted to apologize for even being alive and for many months I had to remind myself that I had every right to make whatever impact I wanted to on the world and that to do so was actually a responsibility of being alive. Every post I’d think,
“[Quixie], don’t apologize for existing. If someone doesn’t want to read what you have to say they will just not read it and move on.”
I started making contact with other people through WordPress and it had been years since I had made contact with others outside the small group of my immediate family, in-laws, health providers, and my best friend. I found as I did so validation for my feelings, hopes, and concerns (which I had never before received). It made me feel alive and gave me the permission to explore the ideas that I had for many years shoved down out of guilt and shame.
The two ideas that became impossible to ignore were:
- I married the wrong person AND
- There is no “true” Christianity as I believe it because there isn’t evidence of it
To provide context I married my husband for two reasons: he was decent to me and I had a dream that God told me to marry him. I have now been trying to separate from him for a year, but haven’t been able to yet due to logistical reasons.
The second bit of context is that I used to be an charismatic Evangelical Christian. I was not raised that way, I had converted as an adolescent in response to the shame I felt through my childhood emotional neglect and clinical depression. It was the perfect solution because I had accepted that there was something intrinsically wrong with me and that I could be saved from it.
Additionally, it promised me something that I’ve always valued: continuing personal growth. Some of the other values of Christianity were in line with my values but, on the whole, I would discover that they are, in fact, not. I began to realize through interacting with non-believers (which I hadn’t really done since my conversion) that my values had always actually been humanist values, not religious ones.
I never blindly accepted anything that I heard or was taught as a Christian because it’s part of my nature to constantly evaluate and challenge possibilities and values. Additionally, part of my personality enables me to be able to be very adept at understanding social psychology and human dynamics as an actual science.
As a side, if you have the time please education yourself with these social psychology terms, which are so nicely defined in this person’s flash cards, and tell me that they are not found in religion and do not explain religious people’s beliefs and behaviors:
attitude inoculation, behavior confirmation, cognitive dissonance theory, collectivism, confirmation bias, cult behavior, de-individuation, discrimination, false uniqueness effect, foot-in-the door technique, fundamental attribution error, group polarization, group-think, illusion of control, illusionary correlation, learned helplessness, low-ball technique, mere-exposure effect, overconfidence in phenomenon, peripheral route to persuasion, prejudice, sexism, sleeper effect, social loafing, and transformational leadership
The so-very-many questions that would come up I’d learn to suppress by beating this into my brain, over and over:
“People suck (because they are sinners) and this doesn’t have to make sense because God is God and God is good. Just trust Him.”
After I started blogging I began to get a sense of identity and where I fit in inside the Body of Christ, and became increasingly frustrated that my role was not accepted by Christians. My out-of-the-box and empirical thinking was not appreciated and I found other Christians interactions with me to be at dismissive at best or emotionally manipulative at worse. My motives were ascribed as not being submissive.
“But don’t know you – God just wants me to be me. The Church needs me the way God made me!”
I suppose it’s more accurate to say that this had been happening for years and part of why I had become a shut-in is that because I had not felt I had a place in the Church, and thus had not felt like I had a place in the world. I had been out of church for many years and I felt like I’d never be able to connect with my people then what was the point?
I wondered how it was that as I was becoming psychologically healthier, and gaining a sense of what I could contribute to the world, I was finding that I fit in even less with the Church. This made no sense with me and I spent months tearfully pleading with God to change me to whatever He wanted me to be so that I could do His will.
“God, why is it that the healthier I become the more I move away from the Church?”
It’s not like I was intentionally trying to be rebellious. The god I worshiped, if he was indeed an interventionist god who heard my prayers, had to have known my willingness and desire to be a faithful follower of Christ.
After many prayers and pleading it came to my mind, and deep in my gut, there came a revelation (ala Occam’s Razor style) and answer to all my questions over the past 20 years and I did not like it: the doctrines of Christianity were not true.
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no…”
Without the doctrine of sin the shame I’d been battling with for 20 years just left me. Just like that, “Poof!” A miracle. Something that had been promised me as a Christian, if I only believed and submitted myself to God enough. I knew that if God existed he’d see the purity of my heart and my desire to live righteously and this was not just some excuse to sin.
Despite this incredible burden of shame being lifted I realized my faith was sinking and I tried desperately to grasp onto it. Many more pleading and tears. Wailing.
If you ever wondered how it feels to lose your faith this is how it feels (at least how it felt to me):
This was different than the doubts I’d have before. I was questioning the very existence of God, and not just in a small way. I knew my belief was leaving me. My belief in the supernatural was going because suddenly the natural made me more sense.
This losing of faith happened in May of 2015, so it’s just been over a year. As this post has gotten extremely long I will share in my post tomorrow about my search to find my new identity and how this relates to my personality typing obsession.