How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?
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29-01-2017, 08:44 AM
RE: How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?
(29-01-2017 08:35 AM)unfogged Wrote:  
(29-01-2017 08:31 AM)hannaskywalker Wrote:  (I tried to reply earlier, and it posted an empty response! Not sure what's up.)

That happens when the quote and /quote tags don't match up.

Oops! I was trying to simplify the long quotes. Now it seems I've got two of the same comments on here. I don't know what I'm doing!
Huh

If the pope went to Zumba class, then he may be eligible to spend eternity in my special unicorn mountain kingdom. Cool
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29-01-2017, 08:47 AM
RE: How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?
(29-01-2017 08:44 AM)hannaskywalker Wrote:  
(29-01-2017 08:35 AM)unfogged Wrote:  That happens when the quote and /quote tags don't match up.

Oops! I was trying to simplify the long quotes. Now it seems I've got two of the same comments on here. I don't know what I'm doing!
Huh

Don't worry, takes some time to getting used to.

"If you keep trying to better yourself that's enough for me. We don't decide which hand we are dealt in life, but we make the decision to play it or fold it" - Nishi Karano Kaze
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31-01-2017, 12:14 PM
RE: How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?
(26-01-2017 11:29 AM)Heath_Tierney Wrote:  For me personally, dropping theism has given me a sense of clarity that I didn't have when I was a theist.

I no longer have to bend myself in logical knots trying to understand or explain the will of God when I see so much pain, injustice, natural disasters, etc etc etc.

This. All of this. My brain is free. No more trying to reconcile the crap in life with a supposedly all good and benevolent creator. No more reading cool stuff about biology or cosmology or anything else science-y and having to fight the cognitive dissonance to try to fit it all into a biblical perspective.

I realized quite a bit ago (around 18) that Christianity is ridiculous, and wondered why I believed. This past summer (at 36 - I can be a bit slow sometimes, apparently) I finally figured out the reason was fear - of what would happen to me if I didn't believe. Statistically, I'm about halfway-ish through my life, and that's enough time spent in fear, even subconsciously. So now that's gone, as is the guilt that I'm not doing it right or that I don't have enough faith or that I'm not doing enough to 'win people over'. No guilt, no fear, and an open, free mind. Ahhhh.

That said, I do feel a small.. strain, maybe, with the few of my friends who know. I'd quite likely feel a large strain with my family and in-laws, but they don't know yet. Tongue
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31-01-2017, 03:55 PM
RE: How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?
Greatly diminished guilt, the only sense of guilt I have is when I don't make the best decision and only have myself to blame, but that's simply a self-reflective experience, not something I have to ask a deity for forgiveness for.

Being indoctrinated at an early age I developed this image of god as a super tyrant. He could read your mind, he could see everything you do. Every time you knew that you didn't measure up you had to ask forgiveness, a process that repeated itself many times a day.

Even not going to church as much as I thought I should would generate guilt, not giving enough tithes would generate guilt. Watching a movie with nudity in it or bad language, guilt, guilt, guilt and more guilt.

Feel guilty, say a prayer of forgiveness, do this over and over and over throughout the day. It was a ritualistic/religious form of mental torture, I had a long agnostic phase where you relieve yourself of this constant guilt/forgiveness ritual by simply pushing it aside and not thinking about it, but it was always there in the background, I would still engage in the ritualistic prayers when I would think about it from time to time even while I questioned all of it.

When I finally realized- IT WAS NOT REAL! None of it was real, I could finally stop my mental torment of feeling guilty about everything, it almost felt like a prisoner walking out of his dark cell and looking at the bright blue sky again, the freedom from this guilt was a freedom from an oppressive belief system where I judged others and judged myself constantly.

The world changes when you walk out of that, I no longer have to condemn gay people for simply being who they want to be. I no longer have to condemn people that don't live by biblical standards. (whatever that means)

I no longer have to condemn myself for not being perfect by twisted biblical standards.

My life is my life again, I no longer have to live in fear and guilt, I've walked out of my own mental prison.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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31-01-2017, 04:53 PM
RE: How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?
(29-01-2017 08:31 AM)hannaskywalker Wrote:  I consider myself fortunate in that I have not lost many people in my life yet, though I am young. My sister has battled lymphoma (and is cancer free now!). At the same time that she was going through treatment, I was becoming an atheist, and I tried so hard to hide who I was inside. I was scared to only add to my family's suffering, and cause some great shame. But those walls also caused a rift between myself and my parents (not so much my sister). I really struggle with trying to find a way to have relationships with people who are seem to value religion over relationships with family.

You offered some valuable insight about life and relationships. I'd love to know what you would say to someone in my situation.
Hanna, if I am understanding you correctly, you have not "come out" as unbelieving to your parents but this is causing problems of its own, yes?

There are a lot of variables here. I grew up in fundamentalism but my parents moderated that by providing unconditional love and acceptance, and once I was on my own in the world, by having really good boundaries and not meddling. I never had the slightest fear that they would reject, shame or abandon me even if they found out about my faith. At the same time, while they made it clear I could always talk to them about anything, they did not probe or control in any way around my beliefs or other aspects of my personal life. They were really, REALLY good that way.

The result was that I did not ever tell them, and they didn't ever ask, and there was no "wall" necessary because they respected my personal privacy. Plus I lived far from them for most of my adult life so we weren't involved in each other's daily existence.

By the time I self-identified fully as atheist, they were both dead, and I felt it was for the best. I didn't even feel bad that this part of my life was opaque to them. To me, it was just a thing that was not particularly their business. I wouldn't discuss my sex life with my parents, for example, so why should I feel it important to discuss my existential beliefs, especially when I knew they probably could not understand them anyway?

But if they were still alive, and the subject came up organically, I would admit to it and they would probably have expressed some concern, but it would not have been a Big Deal. If they had not been very elderly and infirm (I was born when Mom was 39) it also would probably have ended up being discussed at some point.

A few years ago my oldest surviving brother asked me point blank, "you don't believe in god anymore, do you?" I said yes, and he said, "That's too bad". And that was the end of it. We have continued to have a good relationship. It impacted nothing. If I lived in the same city there would probably be some low level hints or invitations to his church or something but like my parents they would mostly mind their own business.

I guess I'm not helping because it appears this isn't your situation and I know it's not the situation of a lot of deconverts. But I think it's helpful to know how things like this SHOULD go down, and CAN, even in a fundamentalist household.

From there you can reason your way to the realization that if things DON'T go down that way, it is family dysfunction and not your fault. Fundamentalist parents often operate out of fear and misplaced concern for the child's welfare, as well as worry about how your apostasy will impact them. In some cases, it can cause them to be shamed, ostracized or disrespected, too. It can also cause them to judge themselves or to fear god's disapproval.

It is too bad that religion often tends to cut off children from the unconditional love of their parents, and/or to encourage their parents to love conditionally. When that happens I can only offer second-hand advice. My wife comes from a very dysfunctional family and has had quite the needle to thread. In her case it's not about religion, but the general principles are the same.

The first one I can offer is, don't spend your entire life casting about for ways to be "good enough" or to be heard or listened to, to earn the validation and approval you never or seldom got or which was withheld when you didn't tow some party line. You're most likely never going to get it, and the sooner you accept that unfortunate fact of your reality, the more time you'll save, and the more frustrating interactions you'll avoid, the fewer pointless fantasies of your parent "seeing the light" you'll engage in.

Secondly, let go of your own ego, engage kindly, gently and in an understanding way with your parents at whatever level they (and you) can handle. For my wife, it is literally a text message 2 or 3 times a year, about superficial matters, if that. This is what her father can handle, and be appropriate around. And frankly it's all he wants. Beyond that, have firm boundaries, up to and including shutting them out of your life if they are abusive and toxic and intrusive, and destroy your peace of mind. Take care of yourself. You can't help others if you don't take care of yourself first, and have some overflow of time, energy and strength to offer them.

I know that's not very specific but it's the best I can do. Every situation is different and unfortunately, "it depends". You don't get to pick your family and sometimes family is a weird mixture of wonderfulness and suckage, and sometimes more of the latter. Here's a virtual ((hug)) for you and my sincere wishes for your family relationships to head in healthier directions for you, and to the extent possible, all concerned.
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01-02-2017, 04:34 AM
RE: How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?
Parents were nominally Catholic, but really that was to placate my really Catholic grandparents on my dad's side who really fucking cared. Parents divorced, neither side cared much for continuing religion once nobody cared about pleasing grandma. Lived with mom, she remarried, and we moved out of town. Dad had visiting rights, but he remarried to, and my stepmother was a royal cunt. Once I was old enough that I was no longer obliged to visit, I didn't. Later my father got divorced again, and I started to visit again as he was a bachelor. But that didn't last, and he eventually got remarried again. Not only that, but in the interim, he floated around trying on different forms of Christianity after his second divorce. You know how it is, he was at a low point and vulnerable, and wanted something to make it all make sense again. At this point I was living with him while going to college, and even after that fell through, I stayed there with my job. Eventually he got really into Southern Baptism, and living there got really uncomfortable, but I didn't make enough to live on my own. Didn't matter, got kicked out anyways 'for my own good'. Stayed with a girlfriend for a year, until her relatives we were staying with and paying rent too wanted us out for stupid reasons. Crashed with a best friend for a few months, before finally getting a good roommate and a cheap place to stay; rooming with my best friend's younger brother at their old home. Been here well over a year now, and I haven't visited my father even once. I try to visit my mother and my siblings when I can, as they're all still cool, but I give zero fucks about keeping in touch with my dad and second stepmom. They made me feel like a second class citizen while I lived there. The place stopped being a home long before I was kicked out.

So I was never very religious, and I certainly didn't have to deal with a painful deconversion or being a pariah. It was my father finding Jesus, and his subsequent attempt to push it onto me once I was in college, that cause me to explore comparative religion and come out an affirmed atheist. Now I have little communication with my father, which is really just a returning to the status quo that I grew up with most of my life. He always complained about how he felt he was never a large enough part of my life, but when he had the chance, he pushed me away in favor of Jesus. That's fine, I did perfectly fine without him for almost 20 years, I'm sure I'll manage.

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01-02-2017, 09:11 AM
RE: How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?
The amount of relief I felt when I let go of it all was enormous -- especially when realizing that I wasn't alone in this. There were others that left the "one true religion", others who dared to leave Christianity and made it out more alive than ever before.

Unfortunately such relief is still clashing with religious anxiety because there are still so many trying to drag me back in, but honestly, the fact I'm not alone still helps tremendously.
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01-02-2017, 09:27 AM
RE: How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?
"How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?"

When I get called to sub or play for a religious musical thing, I take my Kindle or iPad and read or do my homework, (and get paid to do it), during the boring parts, and they assume I'm praying or reading the Bible. Angel

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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01-02-2017, 05:48 PM
RE: How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?
(31-01-2017 12:14 PM)leigh7911 Wrote:  I finally figured out the reason was fear - of what would happen to me if I didn't believe. Statistically, I'm about halfway-ish through my life, and that's enough time spent in fear, even subconsciously. So now that's gone, as is the guilt that I'm not doing it right or that I don't have enough faith or that I'm not doing enough to 'win people over'. No guilt, no fear, and an open, free mind. Ahhhh.

leigh7911, You said it! I think fear causes us to rationalize all kinds of stupid 'issh' and cling to it even when we know logically it makes no sense. I think that's why some people get really defensive when their beliefs are challenged. Cheers! Yes

If the pope went to Zumba class, then he may be eligible to spend eternity in my special unicorn mountain kingdom. Cool
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01-02-2017, 05:59 PM
RE: How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?
(01-02-2017 04:34 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  Eventually he got really into Southern Baptism, and living there got really uncomfortable, but I didn't make enough to live on my own. Didn't matter, got kicked out anyways 'for my own good'. Stayed with a girlfriend for a year, until her relatives we were staying with and paying rent too wanted us out for stupid reasons. Crashed with a best friend for a few months, before finally getting a good roommate and a cheap place to stay; rooming with my best friend's younger brother at their old home. Been here well over a year now, and I haven't visited my father even once. I try to visit my mother and my siblings when I can, as they're all still cool, but I give zero fucks about keeping in touch with my dad and second stepmom. They made me feel like a second class citizen while I lived there. The place stopped being a home long before I was kicked out.

So I was never very religious, and I certainly didn't have to deal with a painful deconversion or being a pariah. It was my father finding Jesus, and his subsequent attempt to push it onto me once I was in college, that cause me to explore comparative religion and come out an affirmed atheist. Now I have little communication with my father, which is really just a returning to the status quo that I grew up with most of my life. He always complained about how he felt he was never a large enough part of my life, but when he had the chance, he pushed me away in favor of Jesus. That's fine, I did perfectly fine without him for almost 20 years, I'm sure I'll manage.

Word! I studied comparative religions in college, too! And I feel some of the same sentiments towards my dad, who was a Southern Baptist minister. Seriously, eff the Southern Baptist religion. It seems like it causes the most judgmental mindset. I think my life is so much better outside of those circles. Keep rockin' the free world! Clap

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