I'm wondering something...
So for those of you who have previously believed (I mean really believed) in God, how long does the guilt last after you no longer do? You know what I mean right? That guilt feeling that the decisions you are making are suddenly "against God's will..."
I have an example in my own life that I'm willing to share as a jumping off point but don't let this derail the thread into something else...I want to know about "GUILT" specifically...there are TONS of other examples but this one is perhaps the one that's driving me nuts the most...
My example: I got a divorce. I left my marriage that was already broken. I'm moving on with my life...
I have a lot of internal thoughts about things like, "God hates divorce..." or "If he decides he wants to reconcile it is God's will to do so." or "marriage is a commitment before God."
These guilty feelings have not prevented me from starting a new life. I am attending a support group, and I'm taking really really good care of myself for a change instead of catering to the needs of a person who does not respect me. Now that he sees how well I'm doing by myself I can see that HIS abusive tactics are changing and he's trying to reel me in to go back to him. I'm not stupid. If I were stupid enough to go back to his ass he would be "nice" for about a week until the next abusive go-around. So NO I'm not going back to my ex-husband. But I feel guilty because of the internal conflict that I've recently figured out goes back to my former views on marriage, commitment, and how the Bible says that if a spouse wants to reconcile you should do so...when research clearly indicates that an abusive person doesn't change overnight if ever at all unless there is professional and intense intervention. So I'm choosing between the research, vs. the Bible...the research wins. But my guilty conscience is driving me fucking NUTS!!! Those crazy voices inside my head are not going away and I want it to just STOP already!! It's frustrating!!!!! Not to mention confusing.
I think I'm doing everything right to be able to move on. My heart has moved on and I am no longer the same person I was when I was married to him. But the guilt I have towards "God" for becoming a divorcee is driving me fucking crazy.
When does it get better? How long?
Make it stop please!!!! I wish somebody could.
@Tom - thank you for asking for an explanation.
I'm just guessing at a plausible justification for saying "strong people try to control themselves, weak people try to control others". I haven't had any specific incidents in mind.
I don't think the "divided country" metaphor is good enough.
Self-control is one of an interconnected suite of behaviours which are necessary in order to do the right thing, all of which require strength. - humility; clear observation; admitting vulnerability and faults; self-discipline; facing up to difficult feelings; effort; etc.
Over-controlling of others, on the other hand, is different. People who are not able to do all the things which go along with self-control often turn to trying to control others instead, in an attempt to achieve the same result: happiness.
We also tend to imagine that we can control the outcome of our little schemes and plans, when we cannot control results. We can only control our actions.
There are other various ways in which our desire for control may manifest itself symbolically in areas other than the directly relevant, practical one. [i.e. the proper one.]
All of these types of control are different states of the same system: the "control" function of the ego.
If we think about it, we are only truly capable of controlling ourselves. We cannot truly control others, and we cannot truly control the results of our actions.
So any attempt to exercise control over anything other than ourselves, is ineffectual and a trap, and thereby renders us weak.
We need to feel we have some control over our environment, otherwise we feel stressed.
How much control we need to exercise in a certain situation, will vary on a case by case basis. Sometimes we need to act in a bold and decisive manner, and other times, just let things unfold. Certainly, it would seem that "less is more", considering the unpredictable train of events which we inevitably trigger every time we act.
I think the "divided country" is good too: a person with self-control is like a united, well-disciplined army. Someone with poor self-control is like a lazy, disorganized army. Someone who tries to control others is just trying to control the wrong thing. - unless they're a manager or something.
From reading "Sane New World - taming the mind" by Ruby Wax, it seems that mindfulness meditation training produces good results in the area of "self-control". Briefly, here are some of the benefits, as given in the book:
Connection to feelings, self-control, counteracting high anxiety, quietening the mind, regulating emotions, regulating thoughts, curbing addictive behaviour, curbing OCD, a quicker brain, inner strength, increased ability to respond to difficult life events in a positive way, more connections throughout the brain... the list goes on and on.
I was supposed to start mindfulness meditation training last week, but I forgot, which speaks volumes.
I never felt guilty, because I lost my faith as a product of my depression. I would spend entire nights praying to god to relieve me, and then finally, I lost all hope of redemption. After a few days of walking around saying that there is no god, that god doesn't exist, I began reasoning out how things worked. Within only a few short months, I was having significantly fewer down periods, and generally had a much better mood and temperament. Things no longer upset me the way they used to, because at the time it didn't matter, it was just a dice roll. This was before my insatiable hunger for knowledge really set in, and so my mind was much clearer and I couldn't be bated into arguments, and it didn't bother me when things that were beyond my control happened. To be honest, God was one of the contributing factors of my depression. I was trying to live like god wanted me to live, and it was killing me. Now I am myself, and God knows where the eggs he can suck are.
H3xx, I too was trying to live like Catholicism's god wanted me to live. Growing up in a sometimes violent home, I hated the future I saw.
My mom and dad always agreed and when my mom told me I was going to college because I was too lazy to get a job, I knew my dad agreed. I threw them and their god out of my life.
It was traumatic but after 12 years in Catholic schools I needed a blow to my head to break free.
Everything in my life improved and I too never felt guilty. What religion does to kids' minds angers me.
I grew up in a primitive baptist home. It's like a poorer version of catholicism, all the guilt and fear, non of the pomp, and they're young earth creationists too.
Belle, I'm no expert on OT times but I've heard of the goddess religions the OT writers had to destroy.
Decades have passed since I read When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone and knew a few SF Bay Area pagans. I liked their concern for the environment.
What would a goddess tell you?
You're up against a lifetime of indoctrination, so don't be too hard on yourself. Give yourself time and tell yourself it's okay that you're not 100% free from thinking like the old you. It's sounds like you are doing everything right. Keep moving forward by focusing on why you have done the best thing.
I will second this. Belle is blossoming quite well into an independant woman.
You're talking about someone who said they would fly to Mars and not come back, just for the thrill.
@Belle, I think one of the hard things for many to understand about religion, even those who claim to practice it, is that primarily its purpose is to instruct people on what should be, and not necessarily on what is or what to do in a particular case.
What should be is that two people who come to care deeply about each other take the somewhat scary step of making a long-term commitment to each other, to family, to the myriad possibilities that will come of truly sharing life together. Life can be hard; there can be richer and poorer, there can be better and worse. Sometimes I think that only deep respect for that commitment is what gets us through some of those hard times.
Societally we know that divorce has serious long-term impacts on kids. Any divorce lawyer can speak to the often horrible economic and personal impacts. All of us who have supported friends through such things have seen how much divorce hurts all those around. Even as an atheist, I expect that you recognize the religions have this notion right in terms of the general rule. "Until death do us part" is the right idea to teach people, even if we're only looking at socioeconomic effects. It's what should be.
That's what can lead to the guilt, and that's normal and healthy. It says you care about the general rule, about society and others, about your own commitments. Perhaps even about God and your faith community. I'm not sure you want it to go away completely, because that desire for love and care and commitment is a very good thing.
The challenge with teaching what should be is that in individual cases what should be is sometimes not possible. God gave us a brain, and He does not expect us to be stupid. One spouse can make a true commitment, while their abusive partner really does not. He may say the words and come to the party, but he never really understood or intended the real meaning of those words of commitment. In civil law we'd say there was no "meeting of the minds", and therefore no contract. In my religion, we would say that while one partner had genuine commitment, the other partner did not, and therefore the marriage is "annulled". We even have a whole bureaucratic procedure for certifying that, not because it matters to God but because it can help some people to move on.
That seems to be where you're at, as far as an old professor can tell from afar. So I'd say keep to the ideal; keep believing in what marriage should be. Stay rational as well, and recognize that through no fault of your own what you had wasn't it. That's a regret to be acknowledged, to make you wiser, but not to diminish what should be, or what can be in your future.
Societally we know that divorce has serious long-term impacts on kids.
I'd broaden the word "divorce" to "marital failure", to also cover the abusive relationships that continue far too long.