Hi, my name is Sarah. I am 18 years old, and I am an English and Linguistics student from Scotland. I told my parents that I was an atheist in May 2014, and they didn’t exactly take it very well — they threatened to disown me. They had also been abusing me for most of my childhood, but this was definitely the point where it was at its worst. My parents forced me to go to church after they found out about my atheism, and around halfway through December 2014, I began to realise that I literally couldn’t go into any church without passing out, because I now associate churches with the abuse that I faced from my parents during my childhood and teenage years. Not planned, of course; I would give anything to stop it. My parents saw this, but continued to drag me to church anyway, no matter how much I begged them to stop, because it was triggering me. They continued to do this for three months, until one of the youth leaders finally found out and got the whole story out of me. He contacted the pastor of the church, and I was finally allowed to stay at home while the rest of my family went to church every Sunday evening.
I’m so glad that it’s over now, but I do still get triggered by random everyday things that sometimes remind me of the church or my parents. Even hearing hymns or carols on the radio can trigger me. And it also occurred to me a few months ago that this will stop me from doing a lot of things that most people take for granted: for example, if I ever get invited to a wedding that just happens to be held in a church, I can’t go to it. I also won’t be able to go to christenings, funerals, Christmas services, Easter services, etc. Basically, as long as it’s in a church, I can’t go to it, because I’ll end up passed out on the floor within a matter of minutes.
I also just wanted to say how thankful I am that a blog like yours exists. So many people that I have met just assume that I have no problems with my family because I’m not religious, but it could not be further from the truth. Your blog allows people to bring this issue to light, and I am extremely thankful for that.
Hi Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your story with the Tumblr community. While I’m certainly not a professional in this realm, is it possible that you could speak to a therapist about the issue and get coached through some of your troubles so you can attend events that happen in churches? I’m sure you’ve already considered this; I just hate that you’d be missing out on some of these things you mentioned (like weddings) because of the abuse of your parents. Keeping you in my thoughts and sending nothing but positive vibes your way. <3