By Valerie Rice | December 21, 2020
Welcome to my new series regarding religious trauma. If you are happily engaged in a religious life this series is not for you. However, if you are a survivor of a toxic indoctrination policy, this may be something you want to read. If you are questioning whether you are or not, give it a scan. I am not picking a fight, so please know that all nasty comments will not be allowed. We good? Excellent.
Religious trauma is a bit difficult to describe to someone who is still experiencing it, so let’s unpack it a little at a time. If you were raised in a religion that controlled all aspects of your life, such as what you wear, eat, think, how you should feel, and manipulated you into who you should talk to under threat, you are probably living with religious trauma. What type of threat? Well, loss of family and community is an effective threat. Existential punishment is another. Now, most people will tell you that all religions have a form of punishment for misbehavior. Like, hell, and stuff. Okay, cool. Cool, cool, cool. Cool. Did that threat haunt your dreams as a child determining which friends you had and did it shape your entire self concept?
Have you ever believed that people outside of your religion can’t possibly love their children like you love yours because they don’t accept your beliefs? If you have, know that that is not actually normal. How about the belief that men are naturally more powerful than women because they are closer to God, and women are not allowed to refuse their demands? Also, this is not normal or okay. Do you find yourself walking on eggshells because your very existence could offend the almighty somehow because of human nature? This is NOT normal, people, and there are a lot more out there than you may realize. Being riddled with anxiety and guilt, belief that suffering is appropriate and mandatory, constantly apologizing, being filled with self loathing, and constantly thinking that all the problems in your life are because you are not “faithful,” is a dangerous mindset. We have so many adults who are now leaving their religious upbringings to try and heal from these ingrained mindsets, but are being vilified and cut off from their families, only to find out that they don’t actually know how to function like the rest of society because they were never taught how.
Unfortunately there is no way to tell what normal is without outside help. So I have started this series on unpacking religious trauma to help those recognize the symptoms and work through them. Thanks to Covid, there is very little in the way of normal right now anyway, but the mindset of normal and the healing process is possible in isolation. The online community is HUGE for those in recovery, and it might take some individual counseling on your part as well. The drawback is that the counseling community is taught to incorporate religious beliefs into treatment, and it can cause a hang-up, especially if you go to a counselor who advertises religious counseling. So check out your provider before going, this is not a journey for the ill informed.
I am truly grateful to the pandemic for one reason: It allowed me to open my eyes to issues that grad school never approached. I have been able to actually explore and talk to people about what is going on as the entire world has had time to reflect. When I said we were turning feral, I meant we were shaking off the toxic societal bonds that controlled us, and that makes me happy. Our society, especially here in the states, is damn near a cult mentality designed to keep us poor and submissive and believing that it is appropriate. So too is deep religion. But for years people have been trying to improve their mental health, and now, we are rapidly exploding out of this mindset thanks to these devices being cut off. So if you are shackled, now is the time to break free and scream your feral cry, I am here to listen. Fel free to email if you have a topic, and as always, Be Well!