Becoming an atheist has been the most painful experience of my life thus far. I had to become an exile in order to reject the delusional beliefs of my youth. I wasn’t forced to leave. Far from it. Most Christians were glad to have me in their company, so long as I didn’t become too confrontational with them. However, there was a lack of any real bonding or kinship between myself and these people. The only thing that brought us together was this common-held belief in a fantasy. Fantasy and wishful thinking is no basis for any human relationship.
So I left the religious community. Now that I’m on the outside, I feel that I never really had a connection with these people to begin with. I wanted so much to love them but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Again, I think the lies and delusion at the core of this normalized cult is what prevented that. Deep down, I think I knew that I was being swindled.
There is one thing I wish I had done differently before I made my exit from Christianity. I should have found another clan, a like-minded group of people, to integrate myself into. This is difficult to accomplish when the only people you know are Christian. Leaving the group is like starting life over from scratch, so I can understand why some people stay and keep their true beliefs secret.
This is my warning to anyone who desires to leave a religious community: Human beings need to be close to other humans. Being completely separated is psychologically destructive. Make solid ties with a like-minded group outside of the church before leaving. This is essential.
As it stands now, I have only one close friend who I can reach in-person. My family is still supportive of me, but we can’t truly connect as our beliefs are so radically different. I’m doing everything I can not to be a burden on my friend. I wish I had more regular contact with guys like him so we could just do stuff together, hang out, go exploring, and so on. I think it will be a long time before I can get to that point as I build a new life.
Depression is a big challenge for me. It has always been this way. Thankfully, I have been dealing with it less frequently since I abandoned the faith. I often had thoughts of hopelessness when I was deep into my religious instruction. Nothing was more painful than trying to believe those stories were true.
I remember what Jesus said to Thomas, the disciple who doubted him: “You believe because you have seen me. How happy are those who believe without seeing me.” In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. There is nothing demonstrable about these claims.
I am embarrassed by how often and earnestly I prayed to the world’s most popular imaginary friend. The things I wrote… I sounded like a fucking fruitcake. All I can gather from these recorded prayers are the feral ramblings of an abused child, desperately pleading for companionship, understanding, and rationality.
Even now that I am almost completely alone, I am happier. Reality more closely resembles what I feel in my gut. I’m not surrounded by lies anymore.