I created a Twitter account this weekend and I’m already thinking about deleting it. I have eschewed Twitter over the years, believing it to be evil incarnate. Really, Quix? Evil in the flesh. ::shrug:: I don’t know, friends I just like the way that phrase sounds.
The truth of the matter is that Twitter is a mixed “blessing.” During Hurricane Florence I was able to get real time updates and images from local residents on what was going on in my area when I couldn’t get into my city for a couple weeks due to flooding. On the other hand, I don’t believe you can fully express a thought in so few words and believe it contributes to the increasingly addiction to electronic devices, fragmented thought and inability to focus (the opposite of what I need).
I wanted a place to quickly store my rapid-fire thoughts. I’m tired of my brain in constant motion. I have made significant progress in reeling in the rumination over the past couple of years (Rumination is going over the same thoughts again and again in my mind) but not so much the split attention and various tangents. I have been thinking about wanting to be able to focus so I can pursue creative endeavors however, I have so much trouble with focusing on one single thing at a time that it has been maddening me.
As I wrote in my last post I know the answer to peace and focus is mindfulness. There are practices that you can do on a regular basis that help with this and the times I’ve used them they’ve been remarkably effective. Yet, I don’t want to use them because when I do I have to face my incredible sadness.
Which, I feel the need to be clear (and I’m not sure why) that it is not depression. In a word, it is grief. I do not currently have the words to express, nor do I want to, share the details of this most private pain. Though I do know that is is so deep and wide my brain is telling me there is no end to it. Though the other side of my brain is telling me that may not be true.
Back to Twitter, I did nothing all weekend but spend time on my phone, most of it on Twitter. Why? Well, I wanted to escape my grief of course. But instead I found things that forced me to confront my grief and that was not pleasant, nor do I think it was helpful.
Part of this was that I very quickly found people who had left evangelical Christianity. Where did all these people come from? Tens of thousands! Wow. I even watched a documentary on CBS that came out last night called “Deconstructing My Religion.” It was really good.
I noticed that people are leaving evangelical Christianity in droves. I presume is largely from two factors 1. White evangelicalism associated with the political Right and Trumpism and 2. The failings of the Purity culture and harmful attitudes towards sexuality, particularly for the LGBTQIA community.
It’s mostly made up of Millennials who have had enough. They even have their own buzzwords like “deconstruct” and the Twitter hashtag “exvangelical.”
This is amazing in one front, but also it doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe part of it is that it feels a little too late for me. Why was this not a thing 10 years ago when I needed it the most? Isn’t it a good thing that people are waking up to the harms for evangelical Christianity?
Well, last night I listened to the Exvangelical podcast, by a Christian guy who is now Episcopalian. I only listened to one episode, which was the one where he interviews Jennifer Knapp, former CCM artist who came out as gay about 8 years ago. She was one of my favorite Christian artists and her music profoundly moved me and shaped me in my late teens/early 20s.
I enjoyed hearing from her perspective, however the way that she communicated was very confusing to me. Her engagement in double-speak threw my brain into a cognition spaz, is the only way I can really describe it. And then as I researched it further I realized that much of the exvanglical movement is made up of progressive Christians. Not only does my brain have trouble computing progressive Christianity, but I see it as antithetical to rationality.
Following the exvangelical posts and articles clarified to me the fact that I’m actually anti-theist. I am not against general spirituality in the sense of personal identity and finding one’s place in the world, however the whole spiritual-but-not religious is a non sequitur.
I wonder if part of this has to do with the fact that I live in the South in the United States. While I am politically liberal in many ways I do not think I am culturally, in the sense that I actually do feel way more comfortable with people who are “religious.” Exvangelicals who are still Christians are throwing off their harmful evangelical ways of thinking, but still how do they deal with the cognitive dissonance?
Still, just because I don’t understand it or it’s not for me doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate that people are trying to heal from their former religious ways that have left them with PTSD-like symptoms. Haven’t I been there? I am far more comfortable in the atheist community. The reason being that there are no mind games or mental gymnastics involved.
To follow the exvangelical Twitter feed made me equally thankful and yet like I had entered crazy town. I ended up defending a pastor on YouTube when an evangelical Christian accused him of never having been a real Christian aka never saved and the evangelical Christian response was (whether knownst or beknownst to him) extreme gaslighting. What the hell? I thought, This guy is insane. There was obviously no rational exchange of ideas to be had.
Well, Quix, what did you expect? To be honest, I have finally developed a toughness to be able to discuss these issues. I realized this after an evangelical Christian recently posted on my blog a comment that was 3x the length of my post (and you all know how long my posts can be) that was a tone-deaf effort to convert me. I found it amusing and called them out on their bad behavior. I don’t feel personally attacked anymore and I do have a desire to engage the enemy, so to speak. Be a warrior against bad ideas. No, not bad ideas, against the lack of Critical Thinking. I tried to use logic but that didn’t work. Duh.
It worked on me, well…eventually.
I realized this weekend I need to process my deconversion very slowly. VERY slowly. I cannot cope with it all at once. It’s too big of a trauma. I had such a dramatic shift in thoughts, beliefs, perspectives that you might say was even more dramatic than my conversion itself.
NOW. IS. NOT. THE. TIME. to process this. Woah, it’s way bigger than I realized.
I cannot currently expose myself to irrational thought. I cannot expose myself to the damage in the sense that I can not bash and berate and chide and make fun of my former self or way of thinking. It is really grieving that I need to do, and as I am already grieving other things in my life this grief cannot have any place right now.
What else am I grieving? I simply cannot write about it as it’s too painful and private, but suffice it to say it has to do with my family life and the fact that next month my life is going to dramatically change. As I look at reality I realize that while I will be living more authentically things will get more difficult and my ideal life and self is not attainable.
I do not know how not to sink into despondency. The thought is that if you don’t like your life then change it. Sure, that’s a good sentiment. But what if what you want is unrealistic? Well, then you need to make some adjustments. But what if you discover that you’ve decided for many many years to live in misery because you’d rather have stayed in that place and hope for an idealistic life rather than take the chance where you might possibly be happy but you’d have to face some hard realities and work your tail off for the slight possibility that you might be able to make it work?
Idealism is easier. The somewhere-out-there or the grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side is so much easier. It’s not out there and it’s not greener but I still have to do it. But what’s the point? Well, the truth is that what the fuck am I even doing life for if I can’t at least try to live authentically and by my value system? Isn’t that worth a sacrifice? I don’t know. But isn’t it between that and continuing rumination of an ideal situation that will never happen? An actual shot of genuine happiness might be possible if I live in reality and not in my head.
It feels like I’m gambling and I believe the odds of winning are slim. On the plus side if I continue to take action on my life (which I’ve been doing) it’s likely that my neurosis and rumination will continue to decline (which I’ve seen evidence of).