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    28 Times People Who Grew Up Religious Felt Major Religious Guilt In Adulthood

    "Even though I don’t have any religion, religion still controls parts of my life."

    Recently, I remembered a time a few years ago when I thought God was punishing me for listening to metal music. I felt so guilty that I rarely even listen to the genre now, even though I really enjoy it.

    This got me thinking about other times in my life where I felt my Catholic guilt creeping up on me just for doing normal, everyday activities.

    So of course, I wanted to know if other people have similar experiences. Last week, I asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell me about a time when they felt religious guilt. Here's what they had to say.

    1. "I’m not even joking here: saying, 'Oh my God.' (I still capitalize the 'G' out of guilt decades later). It was considered using the Lord’s name in vain. I still feel guilty typing 'OMG.'"


    "I remember, vividly, the fear I felt when 'Oh my God' slipped out the first time; I was a kid and thought divine punishment would be swift. Even decades later as an adult atheist, I'm very aware every time a 'God' or 'Jesus' slips out."


    2. "Sharing an office with my boss, who’s the opposite gender. I was taught that you shouldn’t be alone with anyone of the opposite gender because it will either lead to the two of you having sex, or everyone will think something’s happening, which is just as bad. I know it’s 100% BS, but there are still some days where I wonder if people are judging me when I leave the office."


    3. "Drinking coffee. I grew up Mormon, and drinking coffee (or anything caffeinated) breaks the Word of Wisdom. At this point, I've been out of the church for longer than I was in it, but I still get a little twinge every time I grab a cup of coffee."


    a cup of coffee

    4. "Wanting things — small things, big things. I was taught that I was supposed to love God and be detached from all else but God. When life disappoints me, I worry it was my fault for wanting things in the first place and that this is my punishment."

    "I've tried to combat this by taking more time to figure out my own wants before making decisions, and also buying myself childish things that I don't need but make me really happy."


    5. "I feel guilty if I open my eyes when someone is saying a prayer."


    6. "Getting rid of a bible. Once, while working at a pharmacy, a patient left a bible behind. No one on staff wanted it, but no one had the guts to get rid of it either. Every time someone new picked it up, they would ask, 'Why do you have a bible in here?' We’d all say we’ve been meaning to toss it, or leave it outside for someone to find. The newbie even offered to do it, but ended up putting it back down."

    "That bible was in our office for years — useless and unread — but the religious guilt stayed in everyone’s hand. It just felt so wrong."


    "I won’t throw away any of my crucifixes. I was raised very Catholic and stayed in the church until my mid-20s. It was then I saw the light and realized religion is nothing but hatred disguised as a tax-free business. Every time I clean out my closet, I’m tempted to toss out the crucifix my grandmother gave me or the one I wore around my neck for most of my life. I can barely bring myself to touch or look at them without feeling sick to my stomach, but I also can’t throw them away. It feels like bad juju."


    a bible on a table

    7. "I still struggle with wearing certain outfits. I developed breasts early, and would wear oversized shirts. But still, women at church would scold me and pull me aside to tighten and yank at my bra to try to get me to look more modest. At 19, when I decided to get a breast reduction, the same women berated me for throwing away a 'blessing' from God (my breasts). I'm happy with my smaller size but only feel comfortable wearing clothes that show a little cleavage around people I feel comfortable with. If I’m uncomfortable around someone, I find myself trying to cover myself up even though I dress modestly."


    "I was made to feel guilty for being an adolescent girl. I was taught that even though our dress code was extremely conservative (google 'apostolic'), I was responsible for men’s lust. My body was policed so much, I had low self-esteem into adulthood. I even wore a sports bra over my regular bra to make my breasts less visible — until I was almost 30 and well beyond attending services."


    "Clothing is still a huge issue for me. I spent the first 18 years of my life raising my arms to check for skin showing. Growing up, I couldn't wear anything that could distract men/boys from God. I’m still uncomfortable wearing shorts around my grandparents and uncles because it makes me feel trashy."


    "I feel shame even wearing a full-length maxi dress. I worry that the curve of my body shows through. I have to wear a cumbersome scarf on top of the dress, especially in front of relatives."


    8. "Wearing a tank top. It’s something so small and simple, but I remember when we first talked about sex in fifth grade, my teacher said that girls dress up to turn guys on — like wearing a tank top and/or shorts. Every time I choose to wear either of those things, I’m worried I’m doing it to turn a guy on, therefore disappointing God. In reality, it’s just so damn hot I can’t wear anything else."


    "I grew up Mormon. I can't wear tank tops without feeling guilt and discomfort, so much so that I can't wear anything 'immodest' around my family. It sucks when it's 104 degrees here in the summer."


    people wearing tank tops in yoga class

    9. "I grew up Christian and went to seminary. I struggle with feeling like sometimes I’m going to hell because I’m not living 'a good Christian life' anymore, or that my soul's in eternal jeopardy. Sometimes I feel like deep down I made the choice to go to hell by coming out as gay. I have a constant fear of dying because now I'm so unsure of what will happen or where I’ll be, and I get panic attacks every night."


    "After years of repressing, I recently realized I’m bisexual. Even after coming to love that part of me, I still have moments of guilt when I notice an attraction to a girl."


    10. "I was raised Catholic, and literally everything that a human basically needs is treated as a sin or shameful. Even reading Harry Potter books (because of the 'sorcery!') is literally a sin! So my moral compass is pretty messed up. I basically hide anything I do that's considered shameful in Catholicism."


    11. "I didn’t start masturbating until I was 29, and then the first bad thing that happened in my life afterward, I assumed was a direct result of my depravity. Like, in my brain I know that’s silly, but it was still the first thing that came to mind."


    "I’m 27 years old, and I still feel guilt after I masturbate. When I first discovered masturbation, I got so scared that I would count up all my sins for the day and try to determine if I would go to hell or heaven."


    a woman looking dejected

    12. "Because of my Catholic upbringing, I apologize when I shouldn't apologize."


    "My therapist realized how often I bring up Catholic guilt even though I left the church years ago. It’s almost just a part of my personality now. I’m constantly convinced I've done something wrong and someone will punish me for it. Because of this, I find myself apologizing for everything all the time. Everything is my fault, and if I don’t say the right words, then I'll be punished for the horrible person I am."


    13. "It's totally silly, but I can't put things on top of my bible. Wherever my bible sits, it has to be on the top of the pile. I've even yelled at my husband for placing his books on top of my bible."


    14. "Not saying grace before every meal."


    people saying grace at dinner

    15. "The first time I had a sexual experience (I was 18), the guilt got to me to the point that I got physically sick and almost vomited. I thought, What if my parents know?

    "It took YEARS to rid myself of that. Even just a couple years ago, the first time I had my boyfriend sleep over, I was afraid that SOMETHING would happen and my parents would somehow resurface to ruin my night with him even though I was 34, and my parents had long since retired to the Caribbean."


    "I'm in my 30s, and I still find myself having trouble recognizing that sex can be a part of love. I was raised on purity culture and the idea that sex was only for married couples. I was also raised to believe that girls needed to be pure and chaste and modest, and that sex before marriage was generally dirty and demeaning to women. Sometimes I'll be reading a romance novel, and when a sex scene happens, my first reaction is a fleeting moment of disappointment, because if this man is having sex with this woman without being married first, he obviously doesn't love and respect her. It still takes a bit of work for me to deconstruct that thought."


    16. "My religion was all about not being part of the world, meaning I could only hang out with people from our religion. Now that I'm older, I still don't like to tell my parents who I'm hanging out with or where I'm going because I think God will be mad at me for 'being a part of the world!'"


    17. "I'm basically a sex educator in my community, and yet I can't fathom stepping into a store and buying a pregnancy test, because that means acknowledging I might be pregnant out of wedlock, which means I have failed as a human being. The mental paradox is insane."


    a woman looking at products at a pharmacy

    18. I grew up Catholic, with much more liberal parents. But still, Catholic school and the diagnosed anxiety still work together to give me bad dreams about hell or not getting into heaven, even though I’m agnostic/borderline atheist. And I even couch it as 'agnostic/borderline atheist' just in case."


    19. "I feel guilty whenever I drink. I was raised Baptist, so I was taught it was awful and horrible to drink. I started drinking in college at my Christian school and felt horrible shame. My classmates did not drink, and I felt very alone. When I opened up to a friend about these feelings, she reported me to the school, and I became an outcast."


    20. "When I was 7, I bought these little South American Worry Dolls on a field trip. You tell these dolls all your worries before bed, and they’ll hold them for you. I got home and was so excited to show my parents, but my mom immediately yelled at me, made me throw them away, and grounded me for a week."

    "My parents told me that it was a sin when I bought the dolls because God is the only one I should talk to about my problems. I then had to pray and ask for forgiveness. This affected me for years, as I was scared to talk to anyone about my worries! Now I’m a therapist, and I specialize in helping people who have experienced spiritual abuse. And yet, to this day, I still feel guilt sometimes. I felt like a bad person just last week when I bought my niece a unicorn charm that said it would help her see her own strength."


    worry dolls

    21. "I’ve never been fully kosher, but I still feel so bad about eating pork and regular bread during Passover."


    22. "Lots of Catholics cross themselves when passing a Catholic church. It took me a long time to not do this and not feel guilty about it. Except, I still do it when I pass a Catholic church and there's a funeral. It's more about sending well wishes for the family though than for the church, I think."


    23. "Enjoying the occult. I'd say 95% of the guilt is undone, but I still find myself hesitating at liking certain things. I've always been attracted to the occult. I find it fascinating, and I love practicing, reading, and watching anything on it. I love collecting pentagrams and crystals, and wearing Celtic protection knots and witchy jewelry. But even after leaving the Mormon church over 20 years ago, I still feel a *twinge* of guilt."


    a person with crystals

    24. "I'm still active LDS, but if I don't watch General Conference (two weekends a year, six months apart), I have to convince myself God doesn't really mind."


    25. "My husband puts chicken in his eggs, and it makes me cringe every time! We are Jewish and keep loosely kosher, which includes not mixing dairy and meat. As I think most people know, this stems from 'don't boil a kid in its mother's milk.' Eggs aren't dairy (they are neutral), but c'mon. I personally tell my husband that the only reason eggs and chicken isn't prohibited is because God didn't think that anyone, in their right mind, would think it was OK to boil the mother in its kid's milk."


    26. "Holding hands/kissing publicly and spending time alone in a room with my S.O., despite us being very much grown adults. In our religious community, an adult man and an adult woman (obviously there's no acknowledgement of other genders and sexualities) can’t be in a room alone together, can't touch/show any physical intimacy, or, of course, can't live together, prior to marriage."

    "I constantly feel guilty and very much avoid doing any of these things with my S.O., particularly if we are at each other’s parents’ homes, because it feels like we’re doing something so wrong even though it’s so normal!"


    two people holding hands in public

    27. "I was raised in a *scary* Southern Baptist church, and there are a few things that still get to me, like going to hell for wearing pants."


    28. "Drinking, eating pork, and sex. It’s hard for me to enjoy any of these things because I have this irrational fear that I’m going to 'get caught' and 'punished' by my family. Consciously I know that I’m an adult and I have the right to do whatever I want, but extreme anxiety kicks in whenever I’m drinking, eating pork, or having sex. I’m an atheist, but my family is super religious, so even though I don’t have any religion, religion still controls parts of my life."


    a woman eating in a diner and looking off into the distance

    Do you ever feel religious guilt? Let us know in the comments.