April 17, 2019 at 4:09 pm #25962
(This is going to be pretty long)
My name is Anth, (short for Anthony) and I have been an Atheist since I was about 9 years old but have not come out until about the age of 30. The issue I was facing was being raised with such a religious background (Christianity) and I was even in a Christian school as I was such a free spirit in public school. Being around so many brainwashed people my whole life it is quite insane that I didn’t drink the kool-aid. Being black or African American or whatever society calls us now I guess I was expected to be a religious nut bag and victim but I never saw it that way.
I remember going to so many different churches my whole life and I was always asking questions that got me in more trouble more times than not. After awhile I just became one hell of an actor. Leading prayer, singing, dancing, leading youth ministries but in the back of my head I just knew it wasn’t right. As I got older, I began meeting with pastors and asking those deep questions only to be told that I was mental and had brain damage or something. I can remember when the guilt set in and I felt so unworthy of ever breathing. The therapy, the money wasted, and there was nothing wrong with me. It wasn’t until I decided to end my life that I realize that it was all bullshit. I wasted like 75% of my life feeling unworthy, feeling guilty, denying myself everything. It was like being human was a sin, and I was incapable of anything.
Anyway, I tried to drown myself in soapy dish water one evening putting a heavy board on top of my head to prevent me from trying to pull my head up. Being underwater was (as crazy as it sounds) liberating. I screamed and choked then used my teeth to pull the drain plug draining the water. With what little strength, I removed the board and sat on the kitchen floor laughing like the joker in a weird batman episode. I think the sad part of it all was that no one contacted me for like a week, so I know if I did died no one would know.
My life may not mean much to others but it means more now to me than anything in the world. I realize how important it is to have others in our lives whether it be friends, family, complete strangers, whoever. After confessing, I literally lost everyone. I was officially the black sheep of the family. It shows that the phrase, blood is thicker than water has nothing on religion is thicker than everything. I love my family and friends but religion can have them.
For the last five years, I have had no friends or even been invited to visit family. Although it sucks, I can honestly say, I learned more about myself than ever and for the first time in my life, I am happy. I am really happy. It is such an amazing feeling after being depressed and feeling guilty for decades. I finally feel free, and actually love myself and want to show that love to others. I know that I have helped and changed more people than I have with religion. I can honestly say that Atheism saved my life.
Whether you read the above or not, just know that I appreciate each and everyone of you and the strength you all had to get through it. I wish nothing but the best for each and everyone of you. Enjoy this great life 🙂April 17, 2019 at 7:47 pm #25978
Welcome Anth. It’s painful to hear about your difficult experiences. I’m glad you’re doing better now. Religious people can be unspeakably cruel to apostates.
It’s been easy for me to be an atheist because I always have been (since age 5), my family isn’t officially religious, and the UK is not a very religious country compared with others. I recognise what it’s like to be depressed for a long time, I was like that for 25 years, and I know the big difference between then and now. When it was lifted, I didn’t stop laughing for about 3 years.April 17, 2019 at 10:12 pm #25981
Hi Anth, welcome to Atheist Zone! Thanks for posting your thoughtful story. I’m delighted you are now in such a happy space though.April 17, 2019 at 11:38 pm #25982
Not too long a story at all, Anth. Welcome!
Shaming and intolerance is even worse in autocracies, theocracies, and in cultures clinging to strong tradition for its own, intolerant-mindedness. I don’t mean to bad-mouth anyone but the leaders claiming authority. As in your case, the cultural peer-pressure overwhelms free thinking and choice. I contend that each being’s need “to fit in” was selected for in our early evolution, and then cultural evolution (for better and for worse) only amplified that need, spawning (e.g.) patriarchies and other institutions to focus and drive the masses.
I grew up not even knowing my parents were atheists until I asked them, late in my teenhood. So I experienced religious pressures the most while vulnerable to powerful middle school peer pressures from classmates and teachers. Those (and younger) formative years require our vigilance if we want to make a difference in USA, at least, but imo the bigger battle in other parts of the world requires some kind of reformation in religion, mitigation in systems of inherited or perpetually incumbent authority, and so on.
I’ve only recently begun to open up (in face-to face encounters) about my atheism, and have been pleasantly surprised at times by positive responses coming from people I wouldn’t have expected. Always remember that they’re more of us out there, and it’s sometimes worth the risk to “come out”. This has also been the story recently for other, marginalized groups.
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