I am brand new to this forum, though I read WWGHA years ago and loved it! Although not by any means new to atheism, this is the first time I have posted on a forum that discusses this aspect of my life.
I raised my 2 sons as a single parent for the past 20 years…I was very close with my sons, who were just small when I left their father. My marriage was very abusive emotionally, mentally, and, eventually, physically. I was raised Free Methodist and, although I was never overly religious, and it all seemed so fairy-tale-ish to me, the indoctrination I received as a child was instrumental in keeping me in a marriage should have ended. My ex used religion to manipulate me (you know…turn the other cheek, forgive 70 X 7, loyalty and submission to hubby, if something is going bad – pray harder). I was sworn to secrecy and was denied therapy because, my ex, as the bread-winner, would tell me that our problems were my fault and if I would just do everything he wanted, like a good Christian wife should, there would BE no problems. I stepped back, just to keep my sanity, and began to question EVERYTHING that I believed. And I slowly realized how my ingrained religious beliefs were keeping me in a situation that only I had the ability to escape. When I finally crawled out of that mess I was a different person ….but, in retrospect, not in a bad way.
What I came out as was a full atheist. I needed NO ONE to tell me how I should think or feel. I needed NO ONE to tell me that I was sinning by not being able to try to keep my family together anymore. I was responsible for my own choices, just as my ex was responsible for his. I don’t regret my religious upbringing, I learned a lot about myself in rejecting it…and I was determined NOT to raise my sons to fear and feel guilt over religious doctrines. I put myself through college, a bio major, and raised my sons to be independent thinkers.
My son, Joe, died 2 months ago. He was a brilliant, loving, giving person, who also was atheistic, like me. Now, I may be biased, but he had the potential to change the world (he was a semi- evil computer genius). He was diagnosed with brain cancer shortly after he turned 24. This cancer was so aggressive that he was given no chance of survival.
I was very fortunate that I was able to take time off from my career to care for Joe half way across the country, but it was the most painful time of my life. Over an 8 month period, I watched him lose his newly-won independence, I watched his brilliant brain slowly shut down, I watched his natural curiosity and quirky sense of humor disappear. My mom, my only remaining parent, was diagnosed with liver cancer at the same time Joe was diagnosed; she died one day before I could get my son back from TX to PA to see her. My son’s fiancée decided, a few months before his death, to pop a handful of his pain pills and slit her wrists in our front yard…she survived but I had to commit her to a mental health facility. Afterwards, she needed to break away from my son for her own health…it was destroying her. Joe ended up in a full-care facility, unable to say more than a few simple words.
My first-born son died in my arms on a bright, beautiful October day, and I am still processing this ridiculous tragedy. I am at peace with my decisions… I did everything that I could for him, and I have no regrets or second-guesses as to whether I could have done more. My family, who are all very religious, have been very supportive throughout…but their idea of what s comforting simply doesn’t work for me. I tried not to take offense… I think prayer helps them feel more in control, like they are DOING something. But there is no “unknowable plan”, no “things happen for a reason”, no “god will not give you more than you can handle”. I will admit that I am looking for answers, but I also know that I will not find them in religion….that childlike belief, like the belief in Santa Clause, is just not there in me. Reality is what it is … and sometimes it just bites.
It has been one f’n rough year.
I am strongly atheistic, so I thought I would join this forum to keep my mind busy. And I could use a good laugh every now and again...and this forum seems like a good fit for my humor.
Hope to talk to you all soon.