For many apostates living a double life is necessary to maintain relationships, personal safety and do the things that make them happy. Sometimes it’s the little thing: having a beer on a hot day, dating someone that your parents would not approve of, still wearing a hijab long after you have left the belief in God behind, going to your weekly church services.
Often people who have left their faith feel very guilty for doing this, and there is more than one reason why they may feel this way:
They may see themselves as weak as they are unable to tell family and friends about their ‘true’ selves.
They may feel bad for having to lie because they cannot tell most people about how they feel.
The longer that one keeps their own beliefs a secret, the more they may worry about the consequence of coming out as an apostate. This can cause anxiety, depression and in some cases anorexia or self-harming behaviours to maintain some feeling of control. There can also be a sadness that comes with the belief that if their families or friends found out who they are, they will not love them anymore. The fear of rejection and abandonment is what usually keeps apostates in the closet. Some people remain there for years or even their whole lives.
There is never any pressure to come out, but we would recommend reading our “I’m thinking of coming out” section just to get an idea of the different levels one can “come out”.
Finally, the most important thing you can do when you are living in the closet is to find people that accept you. This could be other apostates from your faith, apostates from other religions or people who do not judge you (this could include people from your faith background, but make sure you can trust them!).