Need some help: Existential crisis in full swing

by Freeandclear 28 Replies latest jw friends

  • Freeandclear

    So is anyone else having an existential crisis after becoming fully awake? I sure am.

    Let me explain. About 2 years ago I read CoC, still believed and tried to get back in da troof. Got DF'd instead and then found jwfacts and that really made me see reality. That was about a year and a half ago now. Since that time I've been reading here regularly and also elsewhere and in my own reasonings have come to conclude that 1. there is no god at all, or 2. if there is a god he/she/it does not care at all about us or how we worship. I am mainly leaning about 90% towards 1. I really don't think a creator or god exists at all.

    Since this realization I have been having an existential crisis. I went from having a purpose and meaning in life and a very bright future to the stark reality that nothing I do matters in the end. Nothing is coming but worm food. The end. Lights out. Forever. Granted no one, NO ONE knows for sure what may be the true reality or what might happen after we depart but damn it sure seems to me like the answer is nothing.

    So with this new found belief I have come to the conclusion that the best thing I can do is enjoy every day and to treat others as well as I can without compromising my own happiness, and I really do try to do this.

    I see god and religion now in a new light; to me it's nothing more than a feeble attempt by ALL humans to dispell their own existential crisis. After all if you truly believe as I do I think most if not all humans will feel this same way. I mean, if this life is all we have and nothing follows and in the end nothing you do/say/think matters and is eventually forgotten (and it will be given enough time) then what the hell is the point of living at all? Just to enjoy some brief moments of happiness while the vast majority of life is full of pain? I don't know how much longer I can go on. Everyone involved in religion has a purpose. They are all fighting for something and have a deep belief in it. I totally get it. And I was very much there once myself. I was always fighting to be good enough for the Paradise, it was shit but at least it was something, some hope to cling to, that one day, one day I would truly be happy, etc.....

    I'm NOT throwing a pity party for myself here, that is absolutely not the intent of this post. I am reaching out to you all, and especially those who have come through this phase of awakening successfully and have found a way to deal with it and to be happy.

    Currently I'm dealing with it in the worst way possible. I drink. Every single night for the past two years more or less I've been drinking heavily. I'm really not trying to sound like a "told ya so" story..... ie. leave Jehovah and end up a miserable drunk. It's not Jehovah, or the JW religion that's done this to me, it's my own inability to find meaning in life now that ALL religion and all idea of God is gone from my consciousness. I am miserable all day at work. I come home and I'm miserable there too. I'm with friends and family and for a while I might forget the misery but deep down....still miserable. The only time I'm anything close to happy is when I'm drinking. Instant happiness for a while. Or having sex.....that makes anyone happy. But these things are not a healthy way to be happy because they are harmful (liver damage/unwanted pregnancy/stds/emotional distress) and fleeting. For now however it's all I've got and I'm making the most of it. But I don't want to live out my remaining years like this. I want to find real happiness and meaning in my life and I just can't seem to figure this out.

    So if anyone of you has any helpful experiences of your own or advice please please share those with me. I really need help before I damage myself in some what that's irreparable.

    Sincerely and with thanks.

  • steve2

    Seize this as an opportunity to grow into adulthood and take firm responsibility for your life. You have been conditioned to believe in "happy ever afters" (with very strict conditions, that is) and the prospect of there being no Santa Claus or Big Guy in the sky watching over you is hard to face. Developmentally, you have been kept in a child-like or adolescent phase when life expects you to be an adult.

    I would recommend looking at the vast literature on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which has some very helpful books on coming to terms with the normal, everyday pain of life. A google search will give you plenty of material to ready and reflect upon.

    Welcome to adulthood. It is damn hard - but well worth it!

  • PaintedToeNail

    Freeandclear-I get where you are coming from, as I had the same feelings of 'everything is worthless, why are we here', going through my head for quite awhile after waking up. Yet, when you really think about it, according to the WTBTS, the ONLY purpose in life for the 6 or 7 billion people on this planet was to worship god. Why? That purpose is very, very limiting and discounts everything else anyone who ever lived did.

    You can only affect people in the now. They can feel your love in the present...or your neglect. As an active JW, you were never supposed to live in the now, instead giving up your present for some imaginary future.

    Maybe if you try giving more of yourself to others you can feel the satisfaction of now.

  • Daniel1555

    First of all congratulations that you managed your exit of this cult.

    You are free now, free to embrace life and live a life with all its joys, pleasures, problems, doubts according to your conscience and without a set of manmade religious rules.

    Now concerning spirituality or belief in god:

    You don't need to jump to quick answers or solutions. And if you don't know something (if god exists or not) you might leave it open for the moment. It is also good not to know everything and leave it open and meanwhile use your energy for a good cause.

    After leaving the JWs I lost my belief in organised religion, the bible and the god of the bible.

    I can understand when someone sees himself as an atheist or agnostic.

    However I still believe there is a higher force who is behind the natural laws of this universe (or many more) and I tend to believe this force or god is personal too.

    Why do I believe that? My view of the world, life, love and a looking at near death experiences bring me to this conclusion.

    I wish you all the best in your life.

  • OneEyedJoe

    It can be tricky, can't it? I tend to agree with most everything you've said about religion - mostly a way to make the weak feel somehow empowered, those without control to feel things are being controlled. It has been accurately described as the opium of the people. So what is one to do when one kicks the opium habit?

    I was lucky, my mind has the tendency to wander and I always spent a lot of time (even while in the cult, and I suspect this was a big part of my eventual departure from it) contemplating hypotheticals - including things like "if god doesn't exist is there still any value to morality" or "if there's no afterlife, is life worth living." Things like that. So by the time that I actually realized I was an atheist, I'd already pretty much come to terms with all that entails.

    One thing in your post stood out - the characterization of life as pain punctuated by happiness. I think a lot of life is about your outlook. If you really think your life is mostly pain, then you need to start looking at the reasons why and addressing them as best you can. Maybe your life does suck, but maybe it's just that you're focusing on the wrong things. If, as you pointed out, all there really is to this life is trying to enjoy it and not be too much of a dick to everyone else, then there's no time like the present to start trying to make your life look like you want it to. Also, while you're taking action to that end, you'll have less time to ponder the meaning of it all which would probably be beneficial for you at the moment.

    I also would like to state that I wholly reject the notion that the brevity of life makes it somehow not worthwhile at all. When I buy a brand new car that I optioned just the way I wanted it and I'm inhaling that new car smell, I know somewhere in my mind that this car will one day be in a junkyard crushed and shredded for recycling. Should I not have bought the car? Is the car completely valueless because of that knowledge? Chicks love it when you give them flowers, even though they will be in the trash in a few days. I can enjoy a meal even though I won't be eating forever. Brevity may limit the value that something has (i.e. a car that will die tomorrow is worth less than one that will last 10 years) but it doesn't make things completely valueless.

    Regarding the notion of "nothing you do matters, so what's the point?" - this is largely up to you. IMO we all have the freedom to define the meaning of our lives. You don't have to pick one thing. You can devote your life to a family, to having new experiences, to developing some skill or talent, to learning new things, or any combination of any number of things. You don't have to look to anyone else to tell you the meaning of your life. If the purpose you chose isn't doing the trick, pick something else. Just keep going as long as it's fun, then when it stops being fun figure out why and find a way to make life fun again.

    Also, I would like to point out that a little bit of nihilism can actually make life a lot easier. When you screw something up, just remember that nothing really matters anyway. When you get something right, maybe it doesn't matter but it still makes you feel good, so who cares if it doesn't matter?

    I would definitely encourage you to try to ease off the drinking and find some hobbies or something that keep you interested. Remember that there's no rush, and you don't have to figure out this existential stuff right now, and it's probably not super helpful if that's what you devote all your time to. Find some things to put some energy towards and you may find that the existential crisis resolves itself as you realize that every day is worth living on its own merits.

    And for some levity:

  • TheWonderofYou

    Hi, what concerns me, I concentrated to stay with my partner, because it was difficult for me to stay alone and I began to work fulltime again, then there were a new appartment, many distractions.

    I dont remember if I thought so much about the new freedom and clearity like you, in the beginning I was not really free and even today I like to hum the kingdom melodies sometimes. It raises sometimes. With the new freedom and clearity should be principially everything possible.

    You will find out what are your "trooths" in your life, what is a value for you, and than reinvent your life and do what is good for you, i wish this for you. Perhaps you like to visit your grandpa or uncle, or paint your rooms for the begin.

    You will find new friends or nice people if you give something of yourself, help others and you will find recognition and meaning.

    Think of how many millions are not believing in a god at all and are happy though because they love and live a meaningful life. As you know, even those dont believe in a personal god can be good people because they like to watch the sunset or sunrise with awefulness and because they hold to some values like honor, responsibilty, loyalty, mercy and love.

  • slimboyfat

    Narkisoss recommended that I read The Outsider by Albert Camus and Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse. Which was good. See also this thread.

  • Xanthippe

    I understand the existential crisis, I've been where you are but I also wonder if your mind has been a little screwed up by the cult if you are finding no pleasure in life other than drinking and sex and see no purpose in anything. It could be your brain's become conditioned to everything being deep, meaningful and having purpose. Like you said you were always fighting to be good enough for the paradise.

    How did we fight to be good enough? Generally it was by denying ourself pleasure and happiness in life and forcing ourselves to do boring stuff every week. So now you need to retrain your brain to enjoy what humans love. Wake up and smell the coffee, literally. Smell coffee and relish the taste, cook food you love, try new foods. Do things every day that make you happy and stop looking for big meaningful stuff while you get your brain's pathways to enjoy pleasure, every day pleasures. Sunsets, starry skies, newly mown grass, the ocean, the dawn chorus, the smell of roses, music, art, poetry, travelling to new places.

    You may then find you are more content with getting up each day and enjoying life as a human being on a planet, living one day at a time and letting eternity take care of itself.

  • DJS


    I know this sounds trite, and I'm not meaning to minimize your present situation, but it really is a matter of perspective, isn't it.

    You have chosen to dwell on the realization that there is no truth, no god, no paradise. It dominates your thoughts and controls your mood, your health, your life.

    I suggest going to a counselor.

    But you need to stop drinking now. If you don't you will have another problem to deal with, and it will make your present malaise even more profound.

    Sometimes the way we respond to things is due to our DNA; sometimes it is due to our conditioning. Sometimes both. Whatever the root causes, you need to take a self assessment and realize that the balance sheet is extremely positive. There are many, many items or potential items in the column that represents life after the cult. There are very few items in the column that represents life in the cult, and if you have no family ties or none that would concern you if you lost them, that column is blank.

    Either way you have nearly a blank slate to start over and experience life. A blank slate. Think about that and what it means. When I was in your situation, the very second i realized the DarkTower was nonsense I laughed at myself and felt a sense of relief.

    My life was now my own, and I set my engines on warp factor 4 and never looked back. Your life is now your own. It will be what you want it to be, but you must stop anesthetizing yourself with alcohol and you need to talk to a therapist.

    Good luck.

  • steve2

    If you are currently drinking heavily and have done so for several months, suddenly stopping it can be unwise and put you at risk medically. It may be extremely helpful for you to get professional advice on how to address your alcohol consumption so that it can be addressed in a safe and sustainable way.

    There's that lovely phrase, "First things first" - which means, even though you are beset with lots of reactive thoughts about life and death, you need to first attend to what is right in front of you. I get the impression that alcohol both soothes you in the short term and endangers your mental health in the longer term (i.e., alcohol is a depressant - which is why its consumption is associated with the emergence of depressive disorders).

Share this