And the story goes on, to this day. My relationship with my family has greatly improved, but it is still bad. I remain very bad at handling myself with them, something I feel very guilty about. I have many painful stories to tell that have happened since, I have a lot of funny stories and I have some heart warming tales that I will always remember and share. I cannot say how grateful I am to my friends.
The pain, it does not end
When I say the story goes on, I do mean it. This, what I shared, was only the beginning. So much has happened since in the years following this. I look back sometimes and I cannot believe how much my life has changed. I have gone through so many painful experiences; I think the most painful thing was losing my identity to my family. I was once previous talented, gifted and a treasure. I had a long list of achievements to put besides my name. But in an instant, I went from being a shinning star to an absolute disappointment. To this day, I am still that disappointment, and they have told me as such, literally. In their eyes, the only things that matter are:
- My well-being
- The fact that I am a non-Adventist and have left the church.
I so desperately want to go back to being their darling. I so desperately want them to be proud of me. Until I had these things and I lost them, I did not realise how much I needed it. Instead of kind-hearted, I am now viewed as cold, angry and a whore (their words, not mine). I have begged them to tell me good things about myself; they struggle each time.
Why didn’t I just walk away? Why do I care?
What haunts me to this day, as I have sat here and written my account down, is the confusion at myself. Why didn’t I just shut off, and not care about their words? Why did I just not “come out”, and then ignored the words they would say to me? Why did I care so much? It strikes me so because I am otherwise a very strong individual and am hard to crack. But it was like I had invisible rope around me, tying me to the chair that was the church. When they surrounded me in their intervention meeting, why did I not just say “it is true”? What could they do to me? Yet I was absolutely frozen with fear. Somehow, the environment, the culture, it had me psychologically tied down with terror, guilt and shame. I still feel guilty for all that has happened, as though it was my fault. After all, did not my family do a lot for me growing up? I had everything and they supported me in so much. Do I have the right to throw that away, in-light of my experiences with this?
What do I owe them?
While I don’t know the answer to this question, I do know something; I wished for more information when I decided to leave the church. I know that I am not alone in my experience in leaving the church. I know of several people who have either left or are still involved, many which had much worse experiences than me.
Why I made this website
When I deconverted, I tried to find information from people that had left. I wanted to find out how they had done it. Unfortunately, I could not find a lot of information on leaving the SDA church. I speculate that this for two reasons:
- The church has greatly improved over the years, and less and less people are having the sorts of experiences that I had when I left the church. Because the “mainstream” church is no longer a cult, it isn’t talked about.
- Not a lot of people involved in the conservative sides of the church deconvert completely. They either get stuck in the exclusive culture and can never bring themselves to leave, or else they will deconvert to “liberal” Adventism. They will never share their stories of their time involved in the dangerous, cult-like aspects of the church.
Because of reason 2, I suspect that there a lot of stories unheard and untold. And even if there aren’t, I don’t care at all. I don’t need to hear them. But if this website helps just 1 person, I will be happy.
This website is my inner thoughts, my attempts to grapple with this strange world I was once apart of. I try to break it down, to analyse what goes on. Not just what goes on in plain sight, but what the undercurrent is, what Adventists really mean when they do and say things. As much as I try to talk about it, I know my explanations will fall short. But ultimately, that is OK. This website was not created for gawkers (though you are welcome to look around). It was created for ex-Adventists, who will inherently understand what I talk about. It is here so that they can see they are not crazy, that they are not alone, and if I help just 1 person, my mission will be complete.