Dearest Person Who Is Leaving the Religion They Grew Up With,
I don’t know you, but I wish I could give you a hug. Though you also don’t know me well enough to find a hug particularly comforting.
I think the desire to provide with you a hug is to just let your nervous system breathe and take in a moment of peace.
Leaving the world you were raised in is deeply, deeply disrupting - on every level. It impacts how you spend your time (no more church meetings, social functions etc.), your relationships (you may not be able to maintain them not that you’re not part of the fold), what you wear, how you eat, how you conceptualize the world, your relationship with yourself, and so much more.
Religion provides us rules, guidelines, and expectations of how to be in the world.
When you leave that, it can be disorienting. What are your rules now? What are appropriate expectations for yourself and your life, if any? It can be hard to trust yourself, for you were never given much practice in trusting solely yourself and being your own guidepost.
It will take time. But you will get there.
It will feel lonely. But you will develop a profound understanding of yourself so that you can enjoy solitude and develop friendships that honor you.
It will take work to dismantle the beliefs and patterns instilled across a lifetime. But you will come to know yourself and trust yourself through doing that work.
The space between here and there, between your present and your hoped-for-future, may be vast.
And this is why I wish to give you a hug. To fill you with energy for the road ahead.
My heart both breaks for you (for I know the pain of this particular journey), and is elated for you (for I know the self-understanding and peace the journey brings).
You are yours now.
Do whatever you need to fill yourself with the support and encouragement you need. Read the books. Listen to the podcasts. Seek out the therapy. Find people who can relate. This is necessary. Take care of you.
And remember, you have left the world of right/wrong. You may feel you’re doing it all “wrong” as you stumble into the unknown future, but there is no longer a “wrong.” There’s you, doing your best to figure it out.
And that is enough.
You are enough. Whatever weird and delightful compilation of things you are - you are enough.
With Love, Jackie