The letter to friends, family, and professional contacts (who need to know, at least) has gone out; the awkward personal conversations have, for the most part, taken place. That was by no means an easy thing to do, but the hard part, I've just realized, lies ahead of me.
See, the hardest part of leaving Christianity wasn't telling my closest friends and my family. Truth be told, I'm coming to see how challenging it is to discovering a new normal. My relationships with friends and family members now has to find a new center of gravity. If it's not our shared faith and worldview, then what is it? I've only had a few chats with friends and family who know, and I could feel the strangeness of it all. The camaraderie of being co-religionists ran much deeper than I realized. No longer can we absent-mindedly maintain our common assumptions about what's important in life. It's only just becoming clear how often faith and church life came up in conversations, and now that this is gone, what then?
Sure, over the next few weeks and months, I'll probably still talk a good deal with folks about my deconversion. Eventually, though, it will become an issue with which both my friends and family grow weary of discussing—and, no doubt, I will too. And that's the rub: what then? How will we understand our relationship? What things will people choose to share or withhold from me? What will I decide to talk about?
Add on top of this all the fact that, major changes aside, I'm still working hard to figure myself out. I'm trying to process through a wide range of my own insecurities and dysfunctions, while trying to become more aware of those of others (so I can better understand people). Plus, there's the whole business of rearranging my metaphysics and a priori assumptions from the ground up, which, I gather, will take a bit of time.
I never imagined, though, that the long-term effects of coming out would require so much mental energy. The challenging part, it seems, is still to come.