I can’t honesty believe that I am going to even try to write a post about religion. Stepping on some toes is probably inevitable but please try to understand that this is a HUGE area of confusion for so many people with PTSD. I think it affects others greatly too but I have watched struggle after struggle amongst my friends with PTSD and it seem to be an area of near total confusion.
My own background… I was born and raised Catholic and saw the religion ignored, then flaunted and also used as a weapon from my mother but watched my grandmother use it for love, light and personal peace.
I will not go in to detail about the abuses I suffered because of the Church but by the age of 18, I left for good and never went back.
I wandered in to a Pentecostal Church at 18 and felt very much at home. I’ve seen some Pentecostal Churches on TV that seem quite extreme. This church was not like that at all. I raised my 3 children in that Church and felt a great deal of comfort there.
I walked in to church one day after more than a decade at that church and suddenly nothing felt right. I recall a nice woman saying “God Bless You” and I cringed. I have no way of explaining this sudden shift except to say that this was the same time that my PTSD began to rear its ugly head.
The words that had comforted me for almost 3 decades were suddenly triggering. My ability to accept many ideas began to get tested. Nothing made sense any more. I started to see all the negative that is done in the name or organized religion and could no longer separate it as I had before. The worst part of it all was to lose the feeling of comfort that I always felt in church. Now I felt threatened.
I felt VERY alone for a long time. I was worried that admitting how I felt would make people assume I was suddenly rooting for the devil or that I was possessed. I never really discussed it much at all until sitting with 28 others with Complex PTSD and hearing them one by one admit that they felt the same way. There were a few who went to Church regularly even while in the program but I kept in touch with 2 of them and they have since left their churches as well.
The weird this was that none of us were happy about this shift. We missed that feeling of comfort. We missed the community. We miss the easy answers where everything makes sense because of a special book.
PTSD messes with a lot of things but I do not feel that many of us expect it to mess with our beliefs. It does not ALWAYS happen but there is a huge percentage of the PTSD community that struggle terribly with this.
I do not really feel that the problem is religion or a church itself but needing to find a way to fulfill our need for a spiritual connection in a way that does not trigger us. A need to remove people in our lives who make religion feel threatening. Those who choose to condemn us for wavering also need to be weeded out.
Spirituality is a really important part of most people’s lives. That should not mean that they need to go sit in a church if that is not a comfort to them. Forcing the issue almost always backfires. There are many ways to fulfil that need for spirituality while wading through these messy feelings. So what is the difference between religion and spirituality? I am still in the middle of a puddle of muck regarding all of this so I will give the floor to an opinion that I respect.
I just hope that those of you who thought you were alone will now see that it is not a you thing. It is a C-PTSD thing.
This collection of explanations was written by Kasim Khan whom you can Google and find him almost anywhere including Facebook.
There are no rules to Spirituality.
As opposed to following a specific ideology or a set of rules spirituality simply lets you follow your heart, it encourages you to listen to your intuition and do what is right for yourself and others around you. It truly sets you free to be the best you can be and to be a good person with no promise of punishment or reward. The reward is simply your own inner happiness.
Spirituality is based only on love and not fear.
Dotted throughout religion there is lots of fear. Fear of the consequences of your actions, fear of what might happen after you die if you don’t live your life accordingly. Well, with spirituality there is only Love, it encourages you to focus all of your energy only on the good, and to act only based on love. This is a key point for me as any choice made out of fear will not be good for your soul. Whereas decisions made out of love will empower you, make you braver and feed your soul. It shows you how to stand despite being afraid, how to move on doing what you feel is right despite the consequences that may come.
Religion tells you the truth – Spirituality lets you discover it.
As opposed to telling you in black and white how the universe was created and why we are here Spirituality lets you discover these questions and answers for yourself. It empowers you to find your own truth in all things and sets no limits to how deep you can go in understanding all there is to know.
Religion separates, Spirituality unites.
Through our world there are many religions and they all preach that their story is the right story. Spirituality sees the truth in all of them and unites them because the truth is same for all of us despite our differences and uniqueness. It focuses on the quality of the divine message they share and not on the differences in details of the story they speak.
The difference with Karma and Punishment.
Instead of talking about punishment or the threat of hell Spirituality only talks about Karma. It’s the Law of Attraction, you get what you give. Simple.
Walk your own path.
Instead of ancients stories about angels and Gods, spirituality encourages you to make your own path and create your own stories. This sets you on a journey of enlightenment and self-discovery to which the only limits can be set by yourself. It encourages you to trust your heart and follow it wherever it may lead you.
If you look at religion it all stems from a deep spirituality. Jesus and Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) for example all had deeply profound spiritual journeys before they embarked on their own journeys. So I do believe that all religion has truth in it, and that many people can be both truly beautiful souls and religious at the same time but ultimately anything that separates you or creates division is not good for your soul and definitely not good for the greater good of mankind.
Spirituality reminds us that we are not separate, there are no borders, no races and no cultural divides. All that is true is that we are all one and the only constant is Love.