When Christmas approaches, Christian paraphernalia can be spotted almost anywhere and anywhere. However, when the season arises, I always want Christmas to come and go quickly.
As someone who was raised Catholic, I understand why religion can be relieving for some people — it’s comforting knowing that there’s someone watching over you all the time, that there’s some entity protecting you.
But as I slowly detached myself from my upbringing, I came to realize that religion was not a comfort for me, but rather a major contribution to my anxiety.
In my experience, religion instilled fear…
From the moment I was old enough to comprehend it, the concept of Hell and burning forever if you didn’t follow Christ was forced on me. I knew how to be Catholic before I could write.
I was always afraid — afraid of doing something, anything, even something minuscule, that would piss God off and not allow me to get into Heaven after death. It controlled me and every little decision I made. I was like a puppet.
I was afraid to question anything I was taught, which is why it took me so long to detach myself from it. I was afraid to ask my parents questions that would then raise questions from them such as, “Why are you asking?”
Religion made me feel like I wasn’t good enough…
In order to get into Heaven, you have to follow God’s word — the Bible, the 10 commandments, etc. Yet I was taught you’re still a sinner. You are a sinner from the moment you are born, and this made me feel like I wasn’t truly pure enough. You’re never worthy enough for God. You’re never truly “good enough” for Heaven.
Religion slaughtered my self-esteem. It made me feel absolutely worthless, like the lowest of the low. I didn’t have a shred of self-love. I saw myself as this ugly, disgusting, low-life piece of human trash, unworthy of love and kindness and friendship. But I was taught that how I felt didn’t mean shit because (despite not truly ever being good enough for Heaven) God saw me as perfect.
I never really realized how much it truly slaughtered my self-esteem until I was having a conversation with my best friend, probably something along the lines of how I felt like this disgusting piece of human trash, and he said “That sounds like the religion talking” and I broke down sobbing.
When a family member came out as transgender, my very Catholic parents were completely beside themselves. They were coming from left and right saying things like, “God doesn’t make mistakes” and that he’s going against God by doing this. They have little contact with him now. I’m slowly watching my family, who has always placed such an emphasis on staying a family and staying together no matter what happens, be torn apart by religion, and there isn’t a thing I can do to stop it.
Since beginning the journey of leaving my previous self in the dust, I’ve gained a better understanding of my anxiety, began seeing a therapist and developed self-love.
As I said, I do understand that religion is certainly a comfort for some people. Good for you, do what is best for your mental health. But it was worse for mine.
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