Reflection: Leaving the Church

[I’ve had something on my mind a lot, so I’m gonna write it down in hopes of flushing that buffer to disk, as it were.]

Leaving the church was a hard experience. The Baptist church was the only world I’d ever known my entire life, and when it was gone, it created a giant hole.

When I was in my dark days, dealing with coming to terms with being transsexual, I was seeing a very good therapist (as I encourage everyone to do). To start I was seeing him three times a week, then twice, then once a week, and finally we got down to once every two weeks. A good therapist never tells you what to believe, they simply encourage you to think about things in a different way and let you discover for yourself what you actually do believe. This was very valuable to me.

I had been dealing with a lot of guilt and shame over feeling the way I did. (That is, that I was born in the wrong body.) My therapist helped me to dig into this and I discovered what the root cause of it was – I had let the church define my inner core foundation, and I was at conflict with what I had been taught.

It seems obvious now, but what I learned about myself was telling. I let the bible be the foundation for all of my worldview. I still think about how I view things as something like the OSI model (sorry for the tech reference), where everything is built on everything else. I had let the church be my layer one – the facts on which I had based everything else. Why did I feel guilty about being transsexual? Because it conflicts with the foundation of my core – that is, that God doesn’t make mistakes.

I remember very clearly when this worldview shattered. I had just finished up a very rough therapy session and was sitting in the parking lot in my car trying to regain my composure. I started driving off, and a light went off in my head that said “the bible is just a book.”

That was earth shattering to me. The book that I had based all of my beliefs on at my core, was just a book. It had no power over me. It only had power because I let it.

Miss BunnyI got super emotional on the drive back to the office… so much so, that I stopped at a small store, got a Coke Zero, and texted my manager and told him I was going to be late getting back to the office. Instead of going to the office I went home, grabbed Miss Bunny, and laid in the bed and cried for a while.

I started reeling for a while as I tried to put the pieces back together again of what was my life. I started questioning everything. It was a rough few weeks. I was very thankful to have a good therapist helping me with this dark time.

I was left with a giant hole. I’d just proven to myself that the thing I left be my core, I shouldn’t have.

Instead, I’ve replaced that core with what I should have been believing in the entire time anyhow, science and technology.

With science at my core, being transsexual is just fine. It’s “just a weird birth defect” as I like to say. I have a female brain, but (had) a male body. It’s a birth defect with horrible social and physical implications, but one that medical science is getting better at fixing every day. The deep inner conflict is now gone.

Once I started realizing that I’m not going to hell for being transsexual (because hell isn’t even a thing), things started making a lot more sense. I’m a lot happier now, for sure.

The months following this epiphany were kinda rough. It happened late in the fall. On Christmas Eve that year I drove by a large Baptist church in Texas and saw that it was overflowing with people, and it made me quite angry. I’m not sure why I got so upset, but it did.

I’m still struggling. It’s hard to overcome so many years of programming.

For example, the church tried really hard to instill homophobia in me. It never really took (thankfully), but there are still times when a little bit of it reaches the surface. Luckily I’ve gotten very good at catching it and I quickly remind myself “that’s what you were taught, but it’s not what you actually believe,” and stamp it out, but fighting against that is hard. Very hard. 😦

Things are, of course, getting better. It takes a long time to overcome having your core foundation shaken up, but I’m recovering. I’m a heck of a lot happier now. Things make a lot more sense because I base it on science, not just blind faith in something that never really clicked anyhow.

Thanks for listening! I feel better after writing all of this down. 🙂

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