What a loaded topic. I'm not sure if there's a way to put into words the all-encompassing nature of religious trauma or its pervasiveness in life.
I tried to write about it at the beginning of my deconstruction, and I couldn't really come up with anything besides rants about incongruence and hypocrisy in Christian circles. It's more than observations, though. It's not just about behavior. It's more than ranting. Religious trauma affects your nervous system, and it's not something that the average person understands or can completely validate. It's not easy to put words to, and it's not one size fits all.
Here are some signs of religious trauma:
1. It's hard to be in a group setting.
2. Words don't do justice to your experience.
3. Authority is a problem.
4. You feel behind in certain areas where your peers are comfortable.
5. Masking (I'm fine, you're fine, everything's fine)
6. Feeling incongruent in different roles or areas of your life
7. Overthinking the possibility that you've done something wrong
8. "What if they find out" and other imposter syndrome thoughts
9. Heart racing, stomach dropping at certain times and you don't know why
10. Living in intense fear
11. Not feeling heard—especially when it comes to authority or those who have wronged you
12. Feeling like you're too much
13. Spiritual Bypassing (This is a form of gaslighting your emotions by trying to pray away or pave over "negative" emotions with Scripture or Biblical concepts).
14. Feeling mistrustful of others
15. Avoidance of social situations
16. Second guessing your instincts
17. Unfounded or inappropriate guilt
18. Purity culture remnants loom on the horizon in your intimate relationship(s).
19. Putting people or ideas into categories of good and bad
20. Feeling immature in your circles
21. Adherence to financial principles that you don't agree with
22. You worry that stuff can be taken from you without your consent.
23. You feel like people are watching you
24. You have dreams about shame, loss, and authority
25. All the shame.
26. Grieving what could have been
27. Perfectionism and people pleasing
28. Setting the bar impossibly high
29. Recoiling at religious language and imagery
30. Intruding verses, phrases, voices, or teachings that surface throughout the day.
31. Feeling rushed to figure things out
32. Holding the belief that your ideas have to be approved by someone "higher up" than you.
33. Looking for your next guru—or someone that has it all figured out who can give you all the answers (If you are looking for this in a therapist, be prepared for disappointment).
It wasn't hard to come up with 30 plus symptoms, and there are many more. This isn't a one size fits all thing. It manifests differently for each person, and trauma therapy looks different for each person, too.
Self compassion is a good starting point. Complex stuff can't be figured out in a day. Even though you might have been taught that our time on earth is just a speck of dust and that life is fleeting, we have time to explore—and find relief— from the past.