Regret…Part One

erasing-regretThe details of her death were relayed to me after she was gone.  I wasn’t there—wasn’t welcome.

“Dad just kept saying, over and over to her, “Forgive me! Forgive me!  It was awful,” my sister said.

It wasn’t the first time he had asked our mother for forgiveness, but it would be his last and his words fell to the ground, unheard.  All those years of regret must have flooded over him and through him with no remedy.  I suppose his ever-increasing dementia will be his only mercy.  In some ways, I envy him.

Regret.  We all have it, some of us more than others, and regret does not die with the one we harmed or were harmed by.  It lingers, and leaves us broken in a way that feels excruciating.  There will be no making things right, or talking things out.  There will be no chance of asking for or receiving of forgiveness–no reconciliation.  What was done, or not done remains that way, for good.

When my mother died, I had only spoken to her once in about 8 years.  The reasons for that remain a bit of a mystery to me really.   I do have some ideas, but I’m unsure of the true reasons because she would not talk with me about it, only to say, in a facebook message, that I had “moved away” from what I had always believed, to “just go live your new life” and “Can’t we just agree to disagree?” That was about it.  When I pushed back and said that if we couldn’t talk then she would be out of my life, because the pain of being rejected and ignored was too much for me, said she had “wounds that had healed and she didn’t want to open them up again.” I begged her to have a conversation with me, so that we could possibly have relationship again, but she would not.

There were things I wanted to know. Had I caused those wounds? What were we agreeing to disagree about?  There were things I wanted her to know too, like why I no longer believed, what the price for that was and how scared I was, but she refused to discuss those things with me and the cost was our relationship. So, for about eight years, there would be the occasional private message from her on facebook, telling me she loved me or happy birthday.  When I needed my mother more than anything in the world, she was not there.  My brother said she had been praying for me—there’s absolutely no comfort in that.

Herein lies the devastation for me:  I will never have the opportunity to have that conversation with her now.  She has no regrets, she’s dead, but I’m here and the regret I feel is overwhelming at times.  I regret I didn’t just go to Arizona and make her talk with me or swallow my wounded pride and pick up the phone.  I regret the words I wrote back to her in anger, anger born of hurt, but anger none-the-less.  I regret that when I did talk to her, after almost 8 years, right before she got sick, that I didn’t say more.  I regret that we talked about nothing, but surface stuff, as if we were strangers.  I regret I didn’t tell her that I had missed her every day.

What does one do with regret like that?  Well, we need to find a way to move on from it at some point–if we want to remain mentally healthy anyway, but as with most emotional pain, there are lesson to be learned. I’ve been thinking a lot about it and I feel, very strongly, that I need to make sure that I don’t leave words unsaid—forgiveness unasked for and forgiveness not given.  I need to know that when I close my eyes for the last time, my regrets will be few, and the people around me that I love will feel the same. I need to do this while there is still time.

I have my work cut out for me.

 

 

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What’s the Harm?

babyjake

As soon as the news of the miracle went out on facebook, the thanks and praise began: “God is so good, so merciful, the answerer of prayers, the performer of miracles.

The Christian community had been praying for days after young Jacob was found unresponsive in the family pool. The doctors said that it would take a miracle to save him and it appeared that God had performed one.

Even though for years after leaving Christianity I consistently said that believing in a god is damaging, I found myself wondering, what’s the harm in believing such a thing? Jacob is alive, conscious and out of ICU, off the breathing machine and on the mend. Who cares if people prayed to an imaginary person for a miracle. Is it harmful to believe in something that isn’t real if gives people a common hope or if it brings comfort?

The answer became clear to me in the following days.  Without much warning, Jacob crashed, waking off and on in pain, panic and fear. It was absolutely horrible for his parents. They sedated him, put him back on the breathing tube, ran tests, but he was never to regain consciousness again. Evidently, god is not so good after all, but was it harmful for them to believe he was?

After all the prayers and praise, and now that their supposed miracle had been stripped from them, I knew the comments would take  a turn and I cringed at the thought.  Here is a couple of examples:

“Your beautiful son is with Jesus now, so run to Jesus. He will fill you with PEACE that passes all understanding, wrap His COMFORT around you, and hold you tight in those moments you feel like you’re not going to make it. He’ll give you STRENGTH to continue on when you want to quit, and allow you to experience the JOY that comes from knowing Him, our savior, and the PROMISE that one day, you’ll all be together again.”

What the holy f*ck? Let’s see, this Jesus did the worst possible thing he could do to a mother an act of cruelty beyond compare and now, NOW, she is to run to him, bending and scraping for his comfort. If an abused woman, runs back to her abuser people thinks she’s crazy, but when it comes to Jesus, well, he loves her and knows what’s best for her so…

Here’s another:

“May you find joy that little Jake is now bright-eyed with wonder at the sights of Heaven, and he is full of joy to be right there with Jesus….better than any Candy Shoppe or Toy Store full of Leggos & balloons & bubbles & MatchBox Cars. Take joy for him…and may God’s Grace shower down on each of you.”

It’s like telling someone that yes, your child has been stolen, but he’s going to have so much fun there! Be happy!

Not only do these people appear delusional, they sound crazy!  Beyond that, what they are saying is cruel and extremely damaging to this young mother who just lost her baby boy.

After watching this whole thing unfold via social media, this much I know:  To believe in a personal god, one that can answer your prayers and perform miracles is beyond harmful for so many reasons, but in this case most destructive to Jacob’s  mother. She is ruined, of course. Her life will never be the same. Statistically speaking her marriage may very well end and her little girls have forever lost the mother they once had.   On top of all that, because of the “supportive words” of her Christian community, she now she has to contend with the idea that she is to thank her god and find comfort from him, believe that he loves her and knows what’s best for her.  As a good Christian, she is to find joy that her baby is gone forever, because he is now with the god that let him die, let his mother beg for his life, give it back to her and then take it away and not just quickly. She had to watch him suffer unbelievably before he finally died.  Way to go god.

Without even realizing it, her “supportive” Christian community has added grief upon grief and when she is tempted to shake her fist at their god,  question his existence, or even just want to ask why,( which is a normal response) she will feel guilty and think that she doesn’t have enough faith or belief. Think of the emotional toll it’s going to take on her trying to convince herself that losing Jacob in the way she did was all just part of god’s loving plan for her. What plan might that be anyway?  I grieve for her and even though those Christian’s delusional motives may be pure, or whatever.  Their words are disgusting.

If I could talk freely to this mother I would tell her that horrible things happen in life. I would tell her what happened to her and her family is unbearable and I’m with her in her pain.  I would put my arms around her and tell her it’s okay to be mad and to turn her back on the supposed god that abused her so and that there is not lesson to be learned or something she did to deserve this tragedy.  I would tell her to embrace her grief and yell and scream at whomever she chooses and do her best to heal.  I can’t do that though, because her Christian family and friends would call me a monster.  I’m no monster. Their god is.

Dear Christians, if your god is real, he is monstrous, cruel and immoral.  Is this the god you want to praise and worship?  Suit yourself; I’d rather go to hell.

 

 

 

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.

 

Shoot me down, but I won’t Fall

I was trying to decide which song I wanted to post first and decided on this one.  I prefer the EDM version, but for this post, I think this video is better. It’s not really on the unrequited love theme, but definitely love lost—friend and family love.

Listening to this song made me think of all the friends I’d lost and how my mother and sister treated me.  In my early posts I wrote of  the suffering I went through from the loss. At times it was almost unbearable. I ran and hid. I was always on the offensive and always feeling like I had to be the one to mend those relationships, because I was the bad one—the one who no longer believed.

Of course, at some point I realized that it didn’t matter what I did, I was no longer a Christian and so I no longer had a place at the table—figuratively and literally.  They were done with me, but not before they did their “Christian duty.” I love the one line in the song: “Stone hard, machine gun, firing at the ones who run, stone-hard as bulletproof glass.”  They do fire at the ones who run, don’t they?  Thankfully, I kept running–in a zigzag pattern, of course, as to survive.

Most importantly the song continues to remind me of just how far I’ve come.  I’m stronger now—Titanium.  Those people can’t hurt me anymore.  They may pity me, but they are the ones who should be pitied.  They are the ones who now no longer have a place at my table and you know what?  It’s their loss.

I’m bullet proof, nothing to lose.

 

Say Something

If I could sing a song to the god I had believed in for so long, the god I loved and trusted in—my first real love—it would be the song I have attached below. As my anger toward Christians, and God and religion began to dissipate, I was looking forward to moving on, having all that stuff not matter any more.  I had no idea that my anger and angst would be replaced with incredible pain before it was all said and done.  It all came to the surface one day as I listened to this song for the first time.

All those nights I begged god to reveal himself to me, and all those prayers I prayed on my knees in the dark, and nothing.  Anger would be easier for me at this point, but that is not what I’m left with right now.  So be it.  I feel a little closer to being completely healed.  I kind of always knew that I would have to confront the sorrow at some point, and now I am.  So be it.  Enjoy the song.  I believe it will touch you as well.  (Sorry about the ad on the video.  It’s worth the wait though)

@%&#*!

anger-enjoyIt’s been such a busy time.  School’s out now. There was graduation, then college orientation, and to top it off I am selling my house.  I’ve thought about my blog every day, but just had no time to write.  Not that there hasn’t been lots of things to write about and when I am unable to put down in writing my thoughts, they race through my mind like a whirling dervish and I have little peace.  Thankfully, as I was confronted with some mind numbing stuff this morning, I made myself sit down and open my laptop.  It was either that or have my head explode.

As I watched the news this morning and saw that 19 firefighters lost their lives in a wild fire in Arizona—a special elite group of firefighters that all died together when the fire turned back on them–I was deeply saddened.  How very tragic.  As an atheist, I think about how nature sucks sometimes and there’s just no making sense of why.  It happens—bad stuff happens and there’s no god causing it or able to stop it.  Knowing this feels so much better than trying to do mental gymnastics to make sense of a “loving, all-knowing, all powerful god,” allowing or causing such a tragedy to happen.  My heart goes out to the families and I hope they have loved ones around them to comfort them in a time when there really is no comfort, just grief.

Unfortunately, I logged on to facebook and was immediately confronted with all the prayer posts.  I knew I would be, but it’s all good; “Let them pray,” I thought.  Then there was post from one of my facebook friends that sent me over the top. She had lost her ferret on Saturday and then this morning, she found him.  She posted, “I found my ferret.  Thank you Jesus.”  THANK YOU JESUS?! WTF?  You simply can’t make this stuff up. First I laughed, then I got angry and the anger grew.  It took everything in me not to comment on her post, “Oh, now I know why those firefighters died, God was busy looking for your effing ferret. Jesus must really think you are special.”  Why didn’t I?  As an atheist I have to think about everything I say.  Do they?

Do Christians even think about what they say?  As a non-believer it is so upsetting to see and hear Christians say mindless, imbecilic, and insensitive things like what the ferret owner said.  Sadly, as an atheist, I cannot say anything back, because suddenly I am a hater.  I’m trying to steal people’s faith away.  I want to ask her, since she seems to believe that God found her ferret, why he didn’t save those brave young men who were fighting to save others?  Of course there would be no answer, unless you count, “It’s just a mystery, or who are we to question god, or our finite minds just can’t comprehend the workings of god.”  What a bunch of ignorant BS!  If I did ask that question, she would think, “There she goes again.  She’s so mean.”  You know what?  She’s mean–mean,ignorant and delusional!  There, I said it.

Christians wonder why atheists seem so angry, and to be honest, we are sometimes, but we don’t start off angry; we honestly don’t.  We just want to have the same rights that Christians have when it comes to voicing our opinion, but we don’t and it gets frustrating.  When we say something they think is mean, or offensive, they point their fingers at us and say, “See? See?  Look how angry and bitter atheists are without God,” but let them say something so utterly ignorant and stupid as “Thank you Jesus for helping me find my ferret, while young fathers, brothers, and husbands burned to death,” and we had just better respect their faith.  We just need to be nice, fold our hands and nod our heads with a smile, so they will see we really are nice, caring people.  Fuck that.  Fuck them.

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