For those who weren't born with this monkey on your back, "count your blessings." As I read some of the posts of former thumpers on exchristian.net and some of the testimonials here, it is gut-wrenching. What amazes me the most are the hardcore religionists who grew up in the Bible Belt. Their backgrounds are heart breaking. They go through their whole lives promoting and defending these Biblical stories and then one day they wake up not being "in love" with the idea anymore. One great example of this is Matt Dillahunty from Atheist Experience on youtube. I haven't been with this site long enough to see if anybody has ever cited him here. If you haven't he's wonderful, don't miss him. He is a Texan and was a thumper clear until his early 20s when he started to read philosophers like NeeChee and a bunch of other fancy ones (yeah, that's right, I don't read, but you'll have to take my word for it).
It's not so much you have this whole community built around you based on the same, I don't want to say lie because that's such a strong word, ok, lie. Everybody around you spouts the same thing. Family members, neighbors, friends, coffee klatsches. They have all joined the same fantasy club and expect you to be an active life long member, too.
It's a big psychological burden to extricate yourself from this. And sometimes it doesn't happen overnight either. It's a slow painful process. It begins with the gnawing feeling in your gut and then festers over a period of time. It's an agonizing realization where none of the religious logic is adding up. Much like divorce, you divorce yourself from all that is familiar and comfortable.
I remember being a captive audience to my sister not long after her born-again conversion (while she was in college no less. Usually college is where you find God or lose him.) I was in middle school and going through a difficult time (don't we all). This is where religion really comes into play, it's a medicine for those who are vulnerable. I like RiverOtter's likening religion to a disease. On a side note, the Scientologists are good at pumping up recruitment numbers because they have these drug and alcohol recovery programs to get helpless people to come in. So, recruit them when they hit rock bottom, start blowing a lot of smoke into their faces and then they come out religious on the other side.
I followed my sister's instruction and I prayed and read the Bible in attempts to make my situation at school better. Of course, the cure, religion, eventually became worse than the disease. I was going mad trying to live up to this Biblical ideal of being a good person. By exacting Biblical standards, I was a perpetually bad person. I think after much reflection one day I just let go. Biblical restrictions weren't helping my situation in the slightest.
Leaving this life behind is painful and still is. I became member 666 here and truth be told, initially I freaked out. But after some thought and rationalization, I told myself it's just a random number and I was right. I woke up the next day and everything is the same as it was yesterday. I just have to tuck my horns into my hat a little harder but everything is ok. ;o)