“Finding Atheism” – One Reader’s Story of Abuse & Drugs… & the Secular Life that Saved Her

A while back I requested that people share some of their Atheist “coming out stories.”  (If you would like to share yours please click on the link above and scroll to the bottom and fill out the Google form.) And, I got some good ones.  But, I have been remiss in that I have not shared any…

 

Here’s a reader story that I think is similar to many others, and I appreciate that the author was honest and shared her story so openly. I have left her anonymous here in case she should prefer privacy.

 

My earliest recollection of religion was Sunday School at a Methodist Church in our town. I was proud of that church because my fathers construction company built it. We weren’t a super religious family. We didn’t pray at meals and God wasn’t a subject that came up a lot. But we all believed in God. My mother was the one who brought it up the most and my father never really mentioned it at all (I honestly think he was an atheist but he would never say it because of my mother). My brother & I were forced to go to Sunday School. My mother felt that “it was good for us” and that it would “help our lives go in the right direction”. So every Sunday, I reluctantly got in the car and went, my mother dropping us off and then going in to the church service. My father never went. The only time my father went to a service was at 5:00 in the morning on Easter Sunday’s. My mother made us all go. That was a “special” day and she would say, “I don’t care if it’s early or you don’t want to go. You’ll go whether you like it or not”. Well, I didn’t like it and neither did my dad, because he was missing the early tee-off time at his favorite golf course. Eventually, I started skipping Sunday school because the “teacher” said that I was being rude and causing problems. She spoke with my mother who told me to “just be quiet and listen”. I was rude because I asked questions. I was confused about some things and didn’t understand why the teacher would get so annoyed with me. I wondered, “why does God pick some people to help and not others”? I wondered why the things I was learning in science weren’t the same as what I was being taught in Sunday school? How come God killed all the people he made, in his image, in a huge flood? Where IS heaven…because we can see really far now and yet no one has seen it?” When the teacher said that only God knows those answers I asked her, “why didn’t he want us to know? That way it would be easier to know he was there.” Well, that was the last straw. My mother was called and I had to “just sit there & shut up”. So I did. But it didn’t stop me from thinking about it. I was around 8-9 years old at that point. The doubt had started. With all that stuff to “help my life go in the right direction”, the next 30 years of my life was anything but “god-like”! I ran with the wrong crowd & got into drugs and alcohol. Not regularly, at first. I married around 23 to a man who liked the same lifestyle. It was a flashy, wealthy life with amazing cars, houses, clothes…everything money could buy. But he was abusive. So after many years of being beat, shot at and almost stabbed, I left him. Then a quick decline into drug addiction which led me to recovery in 12-step programs. Very, VERY heavy on God. They make it sound good by saying “higher power” and “it can be anything more powerful than yourself”. But the Lords Prayer is said at every meeting & so is the “Serenity Prayer”. The 12 steps are full of “God” and they don’t mean a door knob (inside joke – A. A.) I pretended and actually had myself almost convinced that I believed in God because I was told that without God I wouldn’t get clean & sober. And …everyone else was doing it. I got 2 yrs clean…relapse. 6 yrs clean…relapse. 2 & 1/2 yrs clean…relapse. During that time I was having a difficult time with the whole God concept. Science, to me, took God out of the equation. There was no need for him. Science showed the stories in the bible to be false and with science, I saw proof. I liked that. Proof was good. There it was. Right in front of me…facts…science…and my nagging gut, that for years had been screaming, “THERE IS NO GOD, IT’S NOT TRUE, IT’S A LIE!! A lie. That did it. Now I was angry. Angry at my parents, my Sunday school teacher, society…everybody. It took quite some time for my anger to subside a little. I felt that most of the people involved in my indoctrination were probably doing what they thought was right for me and what they had been taught & believed in. But it had taken me such a long time to get to the point that I realized I didn’t believe, that I felt they had stolen that time from me. So I found some atheist meetings for those in recovery. What a difference that made! It put the responsibility of my recovery on ME! I no longer had the God crutch to use. “Oh well…another relapse. Obviously god’s not ready for me to get clean yet.” I’ve been clean ever since. That was 20 years ago. My whole family believes in God except for my 17 year old daughter and I. She is a very outspoken atheist and started The Secular Student Alliance (SSA) club in her High School. In raising her, I gave her information. Information about ALL religions. I told her to research them and she could choose to believe or not to believe, it was up to her. She chose not to believe. I have to admit, I was nervous. She went to youth group with her friends when she was younger and all I could think was, “NOOO! Please don’t get her.” Haha! Fortunately, I raised her to QUESTION EVERYTHING and not to just accept what she is told. She decided, on her own. For that, I am very proud. I have two things that are important to me. That I fight for every day. They are 1) stopping childhood indoctrination and 2) the separation of church and state. My hero is Christopher Hitchens. He was instrumental in my becoming a non-believer by ridiculing religion right out of me. His “in your face” delivery and his mocking of religion is exactly what I needed. THAT is what I responded to & I’m glad I had someone like him to look to for the answers I was seeking. Life is good. It has it’s ups & downs but there is nothing driving those ups and downs from “the heavens”. It’s just life. That’s all. And I deal with it by thinking as rationally & as logically as I can. I don’t have a ton of money but I’m comfortable and living a life in reality is absolutely amazing. I create my own purpose in my life and my own meaning. God doesn’t exist…and that’s a good thing!

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