Existential Trauma and Religious Trauma Syndrome – Why “Feelings” aren’t Truth
Except from my diary: May 13, 2016 (Camano Island, WA)
When I left Mormonism, for the first several years, it was difficult in so many ways – but it was also exhilarating to throw off the beliefs that never felt right to me, and decide for myself what “felt” right. In the process of trying to undo years of programming, EVERY belief and cultural more had to be examined for veracity. Once I questioned Joseph Smith, I questioned every “prophet” – one I questioned the truthfulness of Mormon scripture, I saw the same flaws in all scripture… once I questioned the historical accuracy of the Mormon church’s “history,” I saw the same flaws in every religious history… and on and on it goes, until I no longer know if I even believe in any kind of higher power, or the continuation of life after this.
So here is my dilemma…. How the hell does one “know” anything? I had a long conversation with my mom last week, where she was telling me how she “knows” the LDS church is true because she feels it. But feelings are obviously a poor basis for determining truth. I pointed out that mothers in the middle east who send their children out on suicide bomb missions must feel to the depth of their soul that what they are doing is right, to be willing to make that sacrifice… but that feeling doesn’t make it so.
So now what? How do I determine the truthfulness of anything – does “truth” even exist, or only our individual perspectives? If I can’t trust my feelings… and I can’t trust my intellect, as it’s quite clear that as humans, we understand very little about the universe at large… what’s left?
The rational explanation would be that humans are animals, that we are born, and live, and procreate, and die, and the circle of life continues. But the thought of it is so … bleak. When I was LDS, I did have an inherent belief in some kind of afterlife. Now that it’s gone, the road ahead looks like a downhill spiral toward old-age, illness, and eventually, doom.
Yikes, that is depressing.
I have other friends who have left the church who are now atheist, and I totally understand why. In fact, I have heard that the great majority of people who have left the church become either atheist or agnostic, at least. I think it’s because once we understand how deeply we were deceived, we can’t trust anything anymore. But really, atheism isn’t working for me, personally – life seems so inconsequential and sad in that framework.
I want to keep a light of happiness inside… a path, some joy in my life. I really want to create that for myself, somehow, and I don’t know how to go about it. How did you do it? I want to feel at peace, but it seems so elusive.