I’m now on day 4/5 of being housebound due to freshers flu, which this time around involves a persistent, banging headache, general achey-ness and an uncharacteristic lack of appetite. Since I’ve been stuck in the house for way too long and had to miss some fun things that I had planned, I turned to my faithful friend YouTube to keep me company.
For some reason, YouTube has been recommending me a lot of atheist content and I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of binge watching a few channels that criticise various other extreme/fundamentalist Christian channels. It’s been a strange mixture of a blast from the past, combined with some (not all) of the views I have now and it’s brought up an unexpected feeling of nostalgia for my days in the church/cult I was part of in my teen years. It’s not that I want to go back and relive those days of oppression and indoctrination, but there was a certain level of community and spiritual exploration that I do really miss.
I’ve wrestled with my own spirituality and beliefs throughout my life; first I was raised Catholic, then rejected religion, then joined a cult, then left, then joined a new church in London when I went to uni, then dropped everything when I saw firsthand what a shit tip the world can be during my year abroad, and proceeded to have a mental breakdown that forced me to leave my studies and move back home. Since the whole breakdown turned my life upside down and ultimately shaped it into one I’m super proud of today, religion and spirituality have very much sat on the back burner.
After getting over my anger at God for all the terrible things I’d seen and experienced, I became too depressed to care for a long time. Then followed a prolonged period of indifference, calling myself “spiritual” and half-heartedly reading into Buddhism and LGBT- friendly Christian churches. I’ve even been to the odd service in search of that old feeling I had, but to no avail.
It’s weird searching for a feeling of belonging in a place that used to feel like home, but now feels hostile to who you are as a person. My time involved with religion during my teenage years was spent fighting people who said homosexuality was wrong, and “love the sinner hate the sin”, and various other doctrines that I simply couldn’t get on board with. Unfortunately, that didn’t change much in my adult life in London either. I’ve argued with pastors, priests, “converted” homosexuals and on and on and on. And yet, I STILL miss that environment?
I’m confused by this. I’d like to think it’s not some hungover brainwashing still clinging on for dear life, making me feel guilty for leaving a place that condemned my (and my loved ones) very existence, but perhaps it is. I think it could also have something to do with the lack of spiritual exploration I have done in recent years and my disconnect with my spiritual side. I don’t describe myself as an atheist, but I’m not a fan of religion either. I’m not agonistic because I definitely believe in something… but I’m really not sure what that something is. I’m hoping at least one person out there can relate??
I don’t really think I have a conclusion to this post, as I think I’m still processing things, but I do find it useful to get my thoughts written down and out of my brain. Sometimes, it helps me to make more sense of them. Maybe let me know if you feel the same? I know leaving a very controlling church environment is something a number of my friends have gone through.