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#Spiritual abuse #Religious Trauma #ChildAbuse #PTSD #cultsurvivor

I struggle with shaking the feeling that I am evil. My whole life I was told that I was bad, evil, crazy, demonic, possessed, seductive, a liar, a dirty girl/woman, gold digger and I was going to hell.

(I will not argue with anyone in self defense of these accusations, if you believe I deserved/deserve this abuse because of something I did, said, or wore; you are part of that dysfunctional system.)

These are things my parents told me from childhood. My spouses, society, the church, and my siblings have either explicitly or implicitly said these things to me and have influenced my children. It was so bad that I even agreed and had a psychotic episode where I believed I was possessed. Several times I tried to get accepted by my parents, by confessing my sins and admitting to demonic influence they tried to exorcise demons out of me, but I was still an evil old devil who couldn’t be saved on my own, no matter how much I believed or how devoted I was, or how much work or preaching I did myself I was still the evil one. I was outcast and rejected by my family, community and the church. I have severe psychological damage due to this abuse. I have no family, not even my children. I have no community because I’m an outcast and even though I moved and lived in a new town, I can not make friends, because it’s the same religious dogma. I will never be good enough for the church or their deity. I used to care about being accepted by them. Now, I am grateful I am no longer involved in that cult. I am free, yet I am sensitive to being judged as evil, or bad, or a sinner. I don’t even believe in evil as a cosmic moral concept. There is no battle of good and evil. Just some seriously disturbed human beings persecuting other humans in the name of their beliefs and religious values, believing they are doing good. I am grieved though, for the life that was stolen from, the loss of my children and never having a loving family and lack of support and the lack of self esteem and fear of rejection I was left with. So, after 40 years of suffering I became an atheist, then a pagan. I don’t need to be saved and I don’t want to hear about the J man and I don’t need any thoughts and prayers. Empathy, accountability, responsibility and respect of my humanity and boundaries is a good start. That’s what everyone wants, needs, and deserves. Empathy is my religion and love is my passion.

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There is life after fundamentalism I'm only really beginning to understand that now after years of therapy, counselling, reflection but those of us who grew up in fundamentalism faiths it was our whole world, our introduction to life, it gave us a rigid set of rules by which to abide. There is a sense of comfort in that. For those of us who leave, we lose that sense of security. We have to challenge everything that we have ever been taught, everything that we have learned. The entire lens through which we view the world shatters like glass.

5 years ago I had postpartum depression. PPD is not easy to contend with in normal circumstances but in a fundamentalist religious context, experiencing a mental illness of any kind is devastating. When I first started to talk about some of the symptoms I was experiencing and how I was feeling, rather than being met with understanding with support I was met with entirely the opposite. I was shamed, I was gaslit, I was told to stay silent I was shunned by my own family.

This led me down some very dark paths. I became suicidal. I believed I was bad because I had been told I was selfish, I needed to pray more, and draw closer to God, this was why I was ill. I went even deeper into a dark place of depression all my self-esteem was gone, the pain was so heavy.

I married outside of fundamentalism and my husband had seen postnatal depression before. He stood alongside me and without pushing me, when I was ready, supported me to go and see a doctor and begin the long process of treatment.

Over 2 years ago now I made the very difficult decision to say goodbye to my family to cut ties completely. the guilt that I live with impossible to describe each day I feel bad for what I did. Society really values familial relationships and particularly places the maternal role in a place of reverence. To break with one family therefore is something that's stigmatised sometimes in society. However, if a relationship is deeply toxic and damaging you have to walk away. You have to honour and protect yourself .

So here I am five years on from my shunning. Still living with mental illness , depression, anxiety, PTSD, but still here. I'm so thankful to have survived and had the courage to walk away.

And yes, there is life after fundamentalism. #PostnatalDepression #PTSD #fundamentalism #cultsurvivor

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