You Are Not Alone After Religion

Nov 28, 2022

Leaving the close community of religion can feel like leaving the safety of a warm nest. If part of leaving your religion meant leaving friends, and even family behind, it can feel like you’ve plunged into the deepest, darkest cave. Your voice echoes around you, the chill of isolation brings goosebumps to your arms. You brought yourself to this cave, and yet, when the isolation seems so loud your eardrums may burst, you may want to desperately claw your way back out. We must fight this instinct. This is the instinct of ourselves as young, helpless children.

As Children, We Endured to Survive

As children, to be alone often did mean death. It meant no warmth, food, protection, shelter. We depended on our family or community for all of it. And to pay for such blessings, we tried to be perfect little children. We made ourselves exactly what our parents and community and friends needed. Perhaps we even offered a different version of ourselves to each of these metaphorical “homes.” For our friends, we were funny. For our mothers, helpful. Our fathers, innocent. For our religious community, self-less and compassionate. Whatever they needed, we became. All to avoid isolation. To avoid death.

Yet here we are, having willingly left the once warm embrace of one, or all, of these “homes” with the sole purpose of finding ourselves. Or perhaps finding ourselves was what pushed us into this dark cave, alone, knowing it was the only way we could commit to our new identity. The beauty in this irony is that we forget the very person we left religion, and possibly our families for: ourselves. We left the controlling rules, the dismissive words, the belittling beliefs. We broke free of the gilded cage they put us in for one reason. We knew staying would mean our death.

As Adults, We Walked Away to Survive

Take a moment to let this sink in. We walked away from abusive relationships to survive, when as children, we endured to survive. Recognize this profound shift, and give yourself a moment of self-gratitude. While our helpless, younger selves may creep up into our subconscious, stunned at our choice to leave people, confused on how this means survival, we are the capable, intelligent adult selves who knowingly made this choice. We knew it would mean isolation, and we did it anyway. We knew we would need to find new belonging, and we did it anyway. As women, we especially knew the risk we were taking and the isolation would be much greater than for a man. Yet as adult women it had become crystal clear to us that our religion was offering anything but comfort, security, or happiness. We may have been surrounded by people, but not the people who valued us for our minds, encouraged us to follow dreams, or embraced our authentic selves. What is isolation to being in company with those you cannot be yourself amongst?

We know better as adults and so we chose better. But the sting remains of losing all we thought we had. When thinking back, we imagine the warm, welcoming community, and forget that it shunned our opinions, controlled our actions, and programmed our poor self-worth. We forget that this community, even our families, were to blame for our low self-esteem, decision-making difficulties, people-pleasing mentality, and much more, that we are struggling to deal with. Yet when we walked away, we knew this.

We Are the Love We Seek

And so, the time has come to remember. Remember that we are absolutely not alone. We have our greatest ally, our deepest love, and our biggest cheerleader with us at all times. Yes, it is ourselves. When the inner child cries out, confused about our choices, feeling lonely, it is our adult self who must come to comfort her. We must remind her, and in essence ourselves, that we are never alone. In leaving religion we have come home to the truest form of love. Self-love. We have chosen authenticity, over wearing a mask. To see our bodies and minds as valuable, instead of sinful or worthless things to be controlled by others. To make decisions that are best for us, instead of ones that are best for others. We bravely risked isolation because deep down we know to be isolated and free is a thousand times better than surrounded by people but in chains.

There is Community Waiting for Us

We may feel alone at times, even doubt our decision, and this is normal. While you are your best ally, it’s also good to remember that there are others just like you, sisters, who are looking for you. There is new community to be built, new families to gather. Family is not just blood, and community is not just those in your neighborhood. We get to choose our family and communities now. Consciously. We get to choose those who build us up, let us fall apart, wish us happiness regardless of how it affects them, and encourages us to become our most authentic selves. In building your relationship with self, it may help to seek out these new family members and communities. In a craft you enjoy, a passion you share, in work that inspires. Find those who share something with you and don’t seek to control, manipulate, or shame. You know better now. You know isolation, with self-love, authenticity, and sovereignty, is far and away preferable to connection, with self-hatred, shame, and suppression.

Be Your Own Light in the Dark

Seek connection where you can find it, amongst others who value you, and even better, with yourself as the new, enlightened woman you are. Welcome your younger self’s, your authentic self’s, weaknesses, needs, desires, hopes, dreams, opinions, and feelings as they were never accepted before, and prepare to receive an avalanche of self-love and acceptance that no community or blood family could ever give.

Reclaim Yourself In Circle

Stop struggling! Your Inner child is calling out for some attention. Remember what you enjoyed doing as a child, foods you loved, and places you liked. Then give yourself that enjoyment. Take it to the next level by bringing her out in circle! 

About Me

About Me

I’m Shelby! A proud Ex-Mormon, psychonaut, animal lover, chai drinker, rain dancer, and sacred space facilitator. I hope to see you at the next circle! Contact me if you’d like individual space holding – I’m here for YOU!

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