Going Dark

dark_on_social_mceoIt’s that time of year again—the holidays. It’s the time of year when loved ones, or not so loved ones, get together. It seems that many families, even ones that have major disagreements, or issues, still find a way to bury the hatchet, so to speak and enjoy one another’s company. You know how it is, the uncle that gets drunk and the police have to be called or the bipolar son who stands up and decides now is the time to let everyone know just how unsupported he feels. In the end though, everyone forgives and forgets and loves one another and when the next holiday rolls around, you are all back together. It’s not like that for all of us though.

For many who have left the faith,  what we have done is the one thing that simply can’t be forgiven.

I have not heard my sister’s voice in over five years and I think it’s been longer since I talked with my mother. Sometimes, like this time of year, I find myself wondering how they can be without me, because even with all their rejection and abusive behavior I endured before saying enough is enough, I find it so, so hard to be without them. I think that is why this is the time of year I go dark. I know that others do too.

The good news is, things get better. Like waves, I go down and then come back up and crest and for me, I don’t go down as far anymore. Once this time of year is over, I’ll be fine.

You know, it really is their loss (I know I’ve said that before) but it is. I was a good daughter and a good sister–a super fun and loyal friend, but they’ll never let themselves see that, because now I’m an atheist and how can an atheist be good, be moral, love anything really? They don’t trust me and in some ways I understand. I was one of them once.

So tonight and tomorrow, I will be with my beautiful kids, whom I love with a vengeance and they love me the same.  I have My Man, who is amazing and his awesome kids, who think I’m pretty cool, and we will all drink and laugh and the darkness will lift. I wonder if it ever will for my mother, my sister, my old friends.

I hope so, but I’ve stopped holding my breath.  I had to.

 

It’s Not Me, It’s You

familySince my last post, I’ve thought a lot about how atheists are spoken of, how we are treated, how demonized we all are. I don’t have a persecution complex or anything like that. As much as I would like to say it’s not all that bad, I know that it is. The reality is, we are so maligned that even the people closest to us can rationalize turning their backs on us. I believe they feel righteous in some way.

Today I’m going to share a letter my sister wrote to me soon after I had started doubting my belief in god and while I was going through one of the most difficult times in my life.I do this because I want others, who have had their families turn their backs on them, to know it’s not them and they are not alone.

I’ll spare you the background for now, except to say that our relationship had been extremely close up until I shared my doubts about god. I think the letter speaks for itself. Here it is:

I don’t want to hurt you with my words, but I have to speak the truth. I’m tired. You’ve never made it easy to talk with you about my feelings regarding our relationship. I send you these words from my heart. I can no longer hide from the truth of my feelings and I want to be up front and honest with you from now on. I’m tired of being ‘fake’ due to fear and I certainly no longer want to patronize you. That isn’t fair to you.

I love you very much because you are my sister. I forgive you. I have no ill will towards you, just deep sadness for many reasons, most of which we’ve discussed already. I am deeply sad because I have developed a wall between you and I that I cannot seem to break down. I have trust issues with you that hopefully will one day go away. That in no way means that I don’t love you deeply and cherish you as my sister. That will never change. Also, I love you with a deep love that can only come from Christ.   My heart breaks over hearing what you have to say about our Savior, but that is not why I am choosing to distance my self from you. Hopefully you will search your heart and discover what you need to do to repair our relationship.

Just so you know, the reason why I have never questioned your beliefs, and this may sound harsh, but over one year ago I was advised by several trusted people who know me and are familiar with our relationship, not to speak with you about why you have hardened your heart towards God because you’ve had such a strong influence on me over the years and it is dangerous to speak with you about the ‘earthly wisdom’ that you claim that you’ve been enlightened by. I can’t put it any other way. I have to be open and honest with you.

I will continue to pray that you find Jesus Christ in the midst of your pain.

As a follower of Christ I would be doing you an injustice if I did not give you this verse: John 15:5 – ‘I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.’ I have attached John 15 that I am praying you will read.

All my love, Brenda”

So there it is. Retyping it is like reading it for the first time–painful. When people you love reject you for being an atheist, it’s the most helpless feeling in the world, but like they say on The Sopranos, “Whad’ya gonna do?” Nothing, but know it’s not you; it’s them. The truth is, although I miss my sister, I would not give up the freedom I have in the hopes that one day, she will consider me once again worthy of her love. I tried that a for so long and all it did was leave me broken.

My advice, move on. Stop trying to get loved ones to stop rejecting you.  If they truly love you, they will find you.  Instead surround yourself with people who love you for who you are, and you in turn love others for who they are.  There is nothing like it–I promise.

 

Why So Angry?

angry atheist

“Why are atheists so angry?” It’s the age-old question that Christians like to ask. I’ve thought a lot about it and that question doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m an atheist and I’m not angry. I get angry sometimes, like when my cat throws up on my kitchen counter. Seriously, of all the places. There? Jesus! I wouldn’t say I’m excessively angry though.  I certainly don’t walk around in perpetual state of anger–not even close. I have to say the same for all the atheists I know and I know  a lot of them these days.

It seems to me that Christians take comfort in labeling us atheists angry. Maybe so they can say, “See what people are like when they don’t have god and Jesus?”

Anyway, I was reminded of this, when I saw that very question asked over and over again on a recent social media thread. I thought, why do they keep asking that question? How could they not see the answer that is right in front of their faces? “Read your comments,” I suggested. They didn’t seem to like that, what with it coming from one of those angry atheists and all.

You see, if they read the comments with an open heart and mind, the answer they would find would not really put them in a good light, you know, the WWJD kind of light. It would make them look, let’s see, how to I put this…not Christlike?

I could include all the pertinent comments in their entirety here, but instead I’m going to summarize them. That’s because there were so many–literally hundreds(And this is on just one thread). Some were very protracted and it would have taken too long to correct the spelling and grammatical errors. Seriously, I’m not trying to be mean or anything, just honest. I’m thinking they were just so very “passionate,” that they stopped worrying about being literate. I mean, who needs grammar when you’re spewing the sweet, sweet love of Jesus? Am I right?

So, Christians, why do we seem angry?

Maybe it’s because you said we:

  • Should go to Hell, or Islam, Syria, and/or Isis.
  • Are messed up in the head, alone, miserable, unhappy, possessed of        demons, children of Satan, cowardly, ridiculous, ungrateful, spoiled, liberal and raised by single parents (I’m surprised they did’t say wolves).
  • Should shut up, leave the country, or be deported to Iraq.
  • Should commit suicide, or die, and some said they would be more than willing to help us accomplish that.

The last quote I read, not that it was the last one there, but the last one I could stand reading, was this:

“Merry Christmas and may you go to hell and die.”

So, dear Christians, we atheists aren’t really angry people, you just catch us at our worst moments. It’s kind of like when you walk up and punch someone in the head and after they hit you back, you say, “Why are you so angry?”

Yeah, it’s like that.

One thing I’ve learned since I started calling myself an atheist, is that Christians can be as mean and hateful (righteous anger) as they want to, but we atheists just better keep our heathen mouths shut.

Jesus said it best when he spoke of atheists: “Snakes! You offspring of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?” Oh, wait, he was talking to the religious leaders there…never mind.

 

 

 

I’ll Take The Wheel, Thank You

jesustakethewheelThis morning, I was watching The Voice and one of the contestants chose “Jesus Take The Wheel” for her song. I was disappointed. I thought, “lame.” Then she started singing. She’s good and at first I thought I was just moved by her voice, but then as the lyrics unfolded, I began to cry. It freaked me out, because I thought “What the hell? What’s wrong with me? Jesus isn’t real.” Jesus isn’t real. The realization came to me, as it had so many times before and I was grieving. That’s all it was.  It’s kind of like when someone you love more than anything passes away. There will be something that just pops up that reminds you of them and then you grieve all over again. That’s how it was for me when she started singing.

This is something only an ex-Christian can understand. From the time I was 3 or 4, I really believed there was a man named Jesus that loved me no matter what and loved me so much that he suffered and died so that I could live. He heard my prayers and always did what was best for me. I loved him, and then he was gone. When I felt the tears start, part of me was pissed because I had been spoon-fed a lie. A lie that affected my whole life, to the point that when years later I hear a song, I grieve all over again. But, also, part of me was relieved, because my grief is okay—expected. It’s okay for me to grieve loss and that’s what that was.

I think at the beginning of my de-conversion, I didn’t allow myself tears because that could mean I still believe, or that I’m going to get sucked back in. Now though, I realize it’s just the affirmation that there was someone in my life (albeit a myth) that I loved and depended on, more than anyone else and now he is gone—dead and when something reminds me of him, I grieve. To be honest, I miss him.

What I think Christians don’t understand about many ex-Christians is that we wanted to believe that the Jesus/God of the Bible was real. We never wished him dead—quite the opposite, but desiring something to be true or real, doesn’t make it so. Does it?  The truth is, there was never anyone there to “take the wheel” for me when I felt out of control. It was always just me and although I may shed tears over the loss, I’ve never felt more whole.  I’ve never felt more in control.  So Jesus, I’ll keep my hands on the wheel.  I’m doing just fine, thank you.

Better Than Sex

Too-Faced-Better-Than-Sex-Amazing-Eyes-SetSo, I’m not sure why it happens, but every time I try to move away from writing about religion, all I do is write about religion in my head.  So, hmmmm, I’m not sure if I can move away from it.  It’s in me and when it’s in me, I have to let it out some how, but for today, no religious commentary, only this:

I was in Sephora the other day, looking for mascara.  There are a gazillion different types, but the one that caught my eye, was “Better Than Sex” mascara.  I picked it up and thought, that’s not really saying much.   If they really wanted to sell mascara to a woman my age, it should be entitled, “Better Than Estrogen,” or “Better Than Botox,” or “Better Than Being Able To See Without Glasses,” because at this stage of the game, there is a whole lot of things better than sex!

Cool Change

Winds-of-Change-1When I named my blog “Blinders Off,” I was thinking mostly about taking my blinders off when it came to religion. My tag line says: Changing my views on religion and life. I think it’s time to start blogging about the life part more–aging life.  Talk about changing my views!  (I will also be changing my blog name and tagline soon) As an older woman, full of life,  I’m just out here trying to figure it all out and I think there are a lot of you out there trying to do the same. Sometimes it’s hilarious.  Sometimes it’s heartbreaking, and sometimes it’s just plain hard. Let’s commiserrate together.  I’m going to do my best to be as honest as  possible and sometimes that can be messy, but life as we all know, is messy.

I look forward to this new focus, not only because I’ll begin to start thinking like a writer again, but I really feel like there is a need for truth-telling about growing old in this era and culture. I’ll try to avoid being gender specific, but to be honest, I really don’t know what aging men have to deal with as much.  To my male readership: If you have an older woman in your life, you may benefit from a peek into the inner sanctum of womanness.  Does that idea scare you?  Let me close with this then:

“Menopause kicks your ass.”

More tomorrow

It’s Time

It’s time to move on– move on from the anger, the heartache, the uncertainty and the loss that comes from rejecting one’s belief in a god.  There was a time when I hoped for the day when I would come clean about my rejection of Christianity–be open and honest.  It seemed like a crazy fantasy, but that fantasy finally became a reality.   There also was a time when I hoped for understanding and reconciliation with my Christian family and friends.  That remains in the fantasy category.   Oh well, you can’t have everything.   For a while now, though,  I have found myself hoping for the day when I could be chill about the whole god thing, where a someone could bring up religion, god, Jesus, Christianity and I would just be like, whatever.  I didn’t think that could ever happen, but oh so very slowly and bit by tiny bit, I believe that that has become a reality for me in many ways.

Sometimes I feel like I wasted a lot of time trying to gain understanding, trying to get Christians to understand how destructive and ridiculous their beliefs are.   Whether the time was wasted or not, I can’t get it back, but what’s  done is done and I have no regrets.  I did what I needed to do to get through it.  Now, even when I try to get angry at Christians I can’t.  Where I once would get pissed off, now I find myself kind of shaking my head and saying, “Oh you silly Christians.”  There are things that matter, things that deserve the energy it takes to get angry, the Christian religion is just not one of those things.  It feels very healthy to me.

Anyway, I wanted to share the following video.  The first time I heard this song, it got me.  I won’t give a lot of commentary on it.  Let it speak to you in the way you need it to, but the first line just nailed how I felt when I could no longer believe, but was still going to church I yearned to “go to the hills where the outlines are clear.”   I’ve made it to the hills, the outlines are quite clear and I can again see the stars.  I feel like I’ve caught up to myself now, or at least very close to it.

Bring on the wonder–bring it on.

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