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For Those Who Used To Be Fundie. Did You Like Yourself?


debrand

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For a period of three years, I wore dresses and tried to be submissive to my husband. My time as a Protestant fundie was exchanged for being a hardcore Catholic fundie. During that period, I did not really like myself. It was a dark time and yet, outwardly I was sweet and smiling. I'm sure that I was judgmental and an all around asshole. :(

For those of you who used to be fundies, did you like yourselves during that period of your lives? Sometimes I think that fundies must really dislike themselves and that is why they are so hateful.

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I had very low self-esteem. It made easier to hate everyone, and to feel powerful by putting people down and telling them that they were going to hell because they didn't believe in God or my brand of Catholicism. It's a sad part of my life being a self-righteous twat, and I'm thankful I have grown away from that. It's amazing what lack of religion has done for my self-esteem because I am nicer to people(not just to their face) and more respectful, and I'm much happier(truly happy). I feel like a strong woman, who can do anything she wants. That in itself has been powerful for my self-esteem. I think I just went off on a small digression but the short answer is no I didn't like myself.

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For a period of three years, I wore dresses and tried to be submissive to my husband. My time as a Protestant fundie was exchanged for being a hardcore Catholic fundie. During that period, I did not really like myself. It was a dark time and yet, outwardly I was sweet and smiling. I'm sure that I was judgmental and an all around asshole. :(

For those of you who used to be fundies, did you like yourselves during that period of your lives? Sometimes I think that fundies must really dislike themselves and that is why they are so hateful.

If I'd had any self esteem, I'd never have gone the fundie route. I look back now and still ask myself what on earth were you thinking??? A divorce made life better...not being part of a controlling patriarchal group.

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Growing up in a fundie-lite household I can truthfully say I did not like myself. I was unhappy, had low self esteem and confused often. Mom couldn't stay to home school me as she had to work. I got made fun of at school for looking and acting differently than the other kids.

After getting out of that it took me a long while to be able to come to terms with myself and even like myself. I am definately glad to be out of it.

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I was angry at myself for not being good enough while at the same time knowing it was bullshit on some level. I hated that I didn't fit in in the fundie world or the real world.

I was born into it, so that may be why I was never as convinced as someone who becomes fundie later.

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I disliked myself, sure. But not so much as I disliked everyone else. I was a very, very angry kid and i'm only slightly less angry as an adult. But then, my parents were fundie-lite til I hit puberty. When my mom died, my dad took us full steam ahead into fundietown. I was old enough to know that this wasn't a desirable way to live. I am pretty bitter, try as I might not to be. Unfortunately, I don't like myself much more now than I did then.

I still struggle with this. I have virtually no empathy for other people, and I struggle with being fake. I was always really good at putting on a mask and pretending like I gave a toss about anyone other than myself. This made me very passive-aggressive (maybe that's not the word I am looking for, but it seems correct) Which I think is pretty common among people who are expected to "stuff" their negative feelings.

I'm still not 100% out of fundiedom. My husband and I are kind of going through some weird transition as we become less and less connected to our parents and as we struggle to find a church that makes some sort of sense to us. It's very strange to me to see all the folks on this board, who seem to be genuinely happy, and for the most part find more value in humanity than I ever did. It induces a lot of jealousy in me, for sure.

Sorry, this post turned into a bit of a ramble. That wasn't intended. The question posed by the OP just got me thinking.

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Nope. There are so many demands and expectations and it's all quite impossible to live up to, but you don't realize it's impossible, so you just hate yourself for not being perfect. Life outside is so much better!

SomewhatFundy: If you are bitter, it can help to just let yourself feel the bitterness at times, wallow in it. I did that for a couple years - wrote a bunch of nasty letters that I never sent and basically let myself have set times to be angry and ticked off over everything that was stolen from me. Sometimes you've gotta go through something in order to get to the other side - and it really can get a lot better. Warning, you may have to withdraw from life quite a bit and sleep a lot more during the process, but you really can process things. A lot of my anger is gone and life is looking pretty good most of the time, so much so that I feel like a completely different person. Empathy doesn't really come with telling yourself pretty stories about why you should love people/overlook their faults, it comes as you learn compassion for yourself and learn how to be good to yourself. At least, that's what happened for me. Good luck to you and your husband.

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I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to like yourself. How is that even possible when you're being fed a steady diet of what a miserable sinner you are, how totally unworthy in the eyes of God, singing songs with lyrics like "Would He devote that sacred head, For such a worm as I?"

No, after leaving fundie-dom it took years of therapy (which followed even more years of self-destructive behavior) before I learned to like myself.

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No--like others said, liking one's self is definitely against the rules. It's right up there with loving one's self, and we all know where that leads. :shock:

I grew up in a fundie-lite home in a solidly-fundie community. On top of the spiritual self-loathing, I disliked myself just as much because I knew I was a hypocrite who was playing a part to fit in with my friends. I couldn't be one, and I didn't want to be one (but still tried). Hatred on all fronts. :dance:

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No. Liking yourself is prideful which is a sin. I'm an introvert with low self esteem. I did well in the lifestyle. After 20 years I left it behind. I'm happier in general and I feel better about myself. I can't say that I like myself yet. That will take more time.

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I was only "in" for about 4 years, and I hadn't really thought about if I liked myself or not...I kept myself so busy with marriage, children, conferences, church, bible studies, events...I don't think there was much time for critical thought about anything nonetheless self esteem. I will say that the most evil part of it to me was the manipulation of the Mother, my children are very young, I myself am very young, and I was vulnerable to these "older Titus 2" women telling me that "me time" was selfish and that once you become a Mom you don't think about yourself. (same with being a wife, since all you do is emphasize and praise your husband's manliness) Sure, I don't expect to be out partying 7 days a week, but an hour of just me time a day? (more like 2 nowadays lol, 3 kiddos under 3 calls for that most days.) The guilt I feel sometimes from just wanting a small break is immense, and when you add on the ridiculous "modesty" standards, the not causing anyone ELSE to sin mentality...there is no room to like yourself.

I'm recovering still in that department these days, I have incredibly low self esteem and still struggle with confidence daily, but I recently bought a pair of bright red skinny jeans that make my butt look FABULOUS- and didn't feel guilty about it...so I think I am making steps in the right direction. ;)

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I was suffering from untreated depression and tried the faux jew thing while attending the Catholic church which made me even weirder. Having no one to "celebrate" the Sabbath with made me feel lonely minus the few friends who would stop by for dinner. This led to me having a break down and trying to commit suicide. I came home and with time was finally able to get my head on straight. The reason I was attracted to fundie life because I was suffering from depression and felt I didn't belong anywhere or had a purpose.

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I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to like yourself. How is that even possible when you're being fed a steady diet of what a miserable sinner you are, how totally unworthy in the eyes of God, singing songs with lyrics like "Would He devote that sacred head, For such a worm as I?"

No, after leaving fundie-dom it took years of therapy (which followed even more years of self-destructive behavior) before I learned to like myself.

I had a Doh moment after reading your post. Fundamentalism teaches that we are all worthless without god. Our best efforts don't count. The pastor used to come to our house for personal bible study with us. He made a point to tell us that being good didn't matter. Good people didn't get to heaven because a human could never be good enough for a perfect god. God demanded perfection and the only way for him to overlook humans' lack of perfection was by accepting Jesus.

My natural inclination to have low self esteem was reinforced by fundamentalism

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Being raised IFB, Gothard and then SB, no, I didn't have an ounce of self-esteem. I always felt guilty for something. I remember sitting there listening to pastors go on about how the fundie life was one filled with the joy of Christ and wondering why I could never get that joy. Looking back, I don't think that most of them had that joy either, I think it was just something they said because they were suppose to say it.

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Your stories are heartbreaking :( I imagine Sarah Maxwell feeling like this and it is easy to see why she has not run. Yet you all did, in one way or another - I really admire the strength you all found.

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I grew up in an strict, religious household, but did not seriously follow church until I was in my 20s. After my mother (who was super religious) died, I was extremely depressed. I did not like myself & church helped to reinforce my negative thoughts. When I quit the church, they made sure to let me know, that God wasn't happy with my decision & I was going down the wrong path. I spent a few years feeling 'not good enough'. I actually used to have nightmares! I went to therapy for a totally unrelated issue, & started realizing how much legalistic living/religion had an impact on my self worth. Once I stopped fearing hell, I actually started being happy & making positive choices in life. I think I'm rambling a bit, but the answer to the question is NO. I was a moody, angry, bitter bitch during the time I was involved in fundamentalism. Now, I'm just a happy bitch.

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I was only fundy for a little while... about a year or so when I was 14. I honestly can not remember a time in my life when I did NOT hate myself. My earliest memories about me involve loads of self hatred. So, I didn't like myself when I was fundy, but then, I never have liked myself anyway, so I couldn't say for sure if I hated myself more when I was fundy or not.

Looking back on that period in my life, I shudder. However, I was young enough back then that I can chalk it up to adolescent whatever and move on without too much regret.

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I was angry at myself for not being good enough while at the same time knowing it was bullshit on some level. I hated that I didn't fit in in the fundie world or the real world.

I was born into it, so that may be why I was never as convinced as someone who becomes fundie later.

This pretty much describes what it was like for me, too. I struggled with depression, perfectionism, irrational fears, unrealistic expectations, emotional issues, and attachment/commitment/relationship issues for years until I started coming out of fundieism at age 18. That was the beginning of what is looking like is STILL a long process, but I've made some improvement. Didn't even realize I had all the above issues until I started coming out of it and thinking for myself.

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Being raised IFB, Gothard and then SB, no, I didn't have an ounce of self-esteem. I always felt guilty for something. I remember sitting there listening to pastors go on about how the fundie life was one filled with the joy of Christ and wondering why I could never get that joy. Looking back, I don't think that most of them had that joy either, I think it was just something they said because they were suppose to say it.

I almost got sucked into fundiedom. But I had been a mainstream Christian for about 15 years prior, and I can tell you that "only a life in Christ is joyful" is preached in mainstream Christianity. I have NEVER felt that joy. I always thought I was doing it wrong, and that is a devastating thing for someone, like me, with a propensity for depression. Religion never made me feel secure. The farther I get away from Christianity, the happier and more secure I feel.

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Appreciate all of you for sharing your stories.

I went through a period in my teens where I became more "religious" following a week at church camp that was pretty much a week-long revival meeting. I wasn't really happy and spent a lot of time berating myself for my sins and I never totally got the "joy" I was supposed to feel. I chucked it all after a few months.

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I'm going to have to go against the grain and say that I did like myself.

I remember feeling like the "good" son in the prodigal son story (full story here: http://freejinger.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=14724) and actually telling a few people about it. They were horrified! I mean, how could I feel like I was a faithful servant? What the heck was I thinking? Other people may do "bad" things, but we are all filthy sinners before the LORD, blah blah, blah.

So, I stopped sharing my disappointment with people, but I also never stopped identifying with the "good" son.

Looking back, I think this means that the fundie message never really took with me, so maybe that's why the self love never suffered.

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I was raised IFB and pretty much went along with it until I was about 13 and started to think for myself. I spent my teenage years trying to differentiate myself from my parents' belief system, but to answer the question, no, I did not like myself. I was tormented with low self esteem all throughout childhood. IFB is a guilt-based religion, and never a week went by when I wasn't berated from the pulpit about what a sinner I was, not good enough, etc. I used to lie awake in bed at night as a kid trying to remember every single sin I had committed throughout the day so that I could confess it by name to God, otherwise I'd not be in good standing with the Lord, or so I was told. Once I started breaking away from all that, I never looked back. By the time I was in my late teens, I'd slouch down in the pews in church and listen to music through my ear phones to block out what they were saying, and eventually I refused to go to church. As soon as I graduated high school, I moved out of my parents' house to live with my lesbian partner, much to my parents' chagrin. I spent my 20's figuring out whether religion held a place in my life at all, finally determined that it didn't, and have been the happiest I've ever been in my life as a result. My fiance was raised Episcopalian, but her church is one that is accepting of ALL people, and she doesn't have a problem with my lack of religion, nor does she face condemnation from her congregation, so I don't have a problem with her faith, which is honestly more of a tradition for her than a lifestyle. Haven't yet reached the point where I'd call myself atheist, but definitely agnostic. No longer afraid of spending eternity in the flames of hell. I accept myself in all my humanity, and am so thankful to be free of the guilt and resulting low self esteem that my parents are still mired within. Fundamentalism is a sick cult, and a blight on human history.

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I never was fundie, but married someone who was raised as what I would consider fundie lite. Funny thing he still has his religion and I am agnostic leaning. He gets all upset about me not wanting to be religious and says I'll be happier. I keep telling him I tried it as a teenager after my dad died and after awhile I went this stuff is not for me. Also I tell him the reason he wants me to be religious is so he can be happier, not the other way around. I notice religious people always pump the you'll be happy bit. As this post more aptly proves the quote "misery loves company."

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Thank you to everyone who has shared their stories in this thread.

It's saddening to see one person after another describe the struggles and pressures they were subjected too.

Every day I try to remember that I don't know what's beneath the surface 'face' of the people I meet, to remember that no-one knows what goes on behind the closed doors of other homes. Threads like this keep me alert and, I hope, keep me human. So, thank you.

And this post comes with vibes of goodwill to everyone who has posted so far and to everyone who continues to contribute.

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