It might seem odd to someone who doesn’t know me as a person, why my blog seems to be this odd mix of my celebrating my new-found atheism and….personal issues like depression, aging, stuff like that. I’m sure there will be more than just these two themes as I go, but these two are currently very much what I’m juggling in my life.
First I learned some really hard things about what had been my reality. When you start to mistrust the very ground you used to always take for granted would be solid, you start mistrusting everything, and searching for new solid ground. That’s where I am now.
I didn’t learn until about 6 years ago that the one parent who raised me had done so mentally ill. She was the one i was always scrambling to win points with. My brother was her golden boy . He could do no wrong. I, on the other hand, from the day I stood at the cemetery at my first and last visit to my daddy’s grave and as a six-year-old asked my mom if my daddy was really under ground and got slapped for it, until this very day, my mom has viewed me with suspicion. At that point or shortly after she suffered her first break, though I didn’t know it, and neither did my brother. Our house became haunted. I believed it because my mother did, and she took us kids away for a week fleeing these dark entities that chased us from hotel to hotel.
Anyway, it’s a very long story. She’s always known about the voices in her head, but never told anyone until six years ago when she really started unraveling after chemotherapy. I always wondered why she didn’t like me telling other kids about our haunted house. I think we moved out here from Wisconsin because my mom was afraid of losing us kids. My Uncle had the police out looking for us that week we were fleeing those demons my mother saw. I believe she feared he questioned her ability to raise two little kids.
So fast forwarding… I married the first guy who said he loved me back. There were lots of signs during my marriage that I chose to ignore, but in the end I was made to realize my husband didn’t love me and according to him he possibly never did. That was after 16 years of marriage and the last six of them with me trying to save my marriage because I still loved him very much, but he didn’t love me, nor did I feel any love from him those six years we didn’t touch, and he couldn’t even tell me if he loved me, he just said “I don’t know.”
The only way I could get away from that marriage was switch my focus, and I did. I found another person who was in pain as much as me, and I focused on cheering him up and along the way I fell in love with him. He found out and then proceeded to stay at my apartment and then my condo with me letting me care for him because he developed a life-threatening illness and none of his other friends were stepping up to the plate.
Long story short again, three years later after he got better he said “thanks, but I don’t need you anymore” and then proceeded to convince his friends whom I also had grown to like very much, that I had smothered him, when in fact his illness had prevented him from leaving a situation that apparently had grown wearisome to him–and yet it was nice for him not having to pay rent or contribute very little and have everything pretty much paid for him, including transportation.
So I turned to other friends for solace, and one of them was a head bartender at a popular restaurant all my theatre cohorts loved to go, and that bartender let me believe we were friends like he was friends with these other guys I had gotten to know. Long story short again, he too was pretending all so he could win my trust. And in the meantime he learned how lonely I was, how unloved and unlovable I felt–he took advantage of me. Then after that there were several years of head games from him–with me trying to believe he was my friend when in fact I guess or at least I have been told by another friend, I was just a big joke to him all along.
You have three men pretend with you, three men seem like they’re one thing and then they turn out to be something else altogether, you start having doubts about everything you thought was real about the world. Between that and the fact I learned my mother was a schizophrenic–suddenly I had to reevaluate everything I grew up to believe about myself, and all the things I just assumed were true.
I became very earnest about protecting myself from further hurt. I had always questioned the parts about my faith that I questioned and tried to ignore or shrug off. If I asked any pastor about them, I was given pat answers too, that never satisfied me. I’m sorry but “God works in mysterious ways” is not an answer.
Religion had taught me that I was a bad person. It reinforced everything my mother drummed into me. I could never be good enough. Oh, I was a Christian, yes. But I was always a very bad Christian because I didn’t go to church, or read my bible enough, or walk the walk enough, or whatever. It was never enough. I was never enough. A few times I would try to get back into going to church…
One time I started regularly attending the Westgate Chapel in Edmonds WA. They had a fabulous music program and I loved to sing, so it was enjoyable there for me. But I was also an amateur paleontologist volunteering for the Burke Museum in the U-District. Every year we had our little Dino-Days at the Burke, and I and my husband (I was still married then) would volunteer). I loved digging for fossils, cracking open rocks and seeing evidence of live no human eyes had ever seen. It fascinated me. It awed me. It put things into perspective re. how very OLD the planet is and how fleeting our little moment on this world is.
Then one Sunday service at Westgate the head minister stood up and told about taking his children to Dino-Days at the Burke. He ridiculed us, those of us who ran the event, as acting so sure about our belief that the planet was old, and the age of the fossils, and evolution itself. He made it sound like paleontology itself was the devil’s work.
After the service I approached this pastor because his words had me rather upset. I was in disbelief because the man had implied my favorite thing was against God. So I asked him, straight out, if it was wrong of me to dig for fossils. I told him I worked at the Burke and contributed like the rest of my group, NW Paleontologists, to the Burke. He looked at me and said “Do you think it glorifies God?” I looked him straight in the eye and said “yes, I do.” He gave me a look, and turned to talk to someone else and I felt completely snubbed.
So. I am put on this earth to glorify God. Writing this note, if it doesn’t glorify God, I guess I shouldn’t do it. Raising Canaries–if it doesn’t glorify God, I shouldn’t do it. This was the beginning of the end of my faith for me. That one day even before the ending of my marriage I walked away with a very sour taste in my mouth, and I was angry. I was angry that this man would judge me the way he did. Yes, I think science would glorify God, if a god existed. But I don’t believe one does because as far back as recorded history, religion has feared science, or has discouraged against it, or even called it a sin. Once upon a time people were afraid to look at the stars because “star-gazing” was banned by the church–it was devil’s work. We once knew as a species the world was round–our ancient forbears had compasses and knew how to navigate on the sea. Then along came religion to warn about there being an edge where boats just fall off and horrible monsters beneath the waves, inciting fear in people’s hearts. Fear to explore. Fear to discover. Fear to learn and fear to question. We were dumbed down as a species, and it was all so we could believe in fantastical explanations and live and exist the way the church wanted us to.
If there really is a God, science would not be a threat to any true religion that followed him. Science would be uncovering more and proofs for his existence, and would be welcomed, rather than feared.
I have always just wanted my life to be true, and what I am led to believe about the world, to be true. Most of my life has been one false belief after another. First belief in my mother. Then my husband. Then this man I thought was my friend who let me care for him thinking he was. Then the bartender who I confided all my insecurities to, who then used that knowledge to exploit and then slander me. And religion–that was one of the last dominos to fall, and the biggest. But have I regretted for a moment the loss of the delusion? No. No more than I regretted not getting to believe in Santa anymore. Do I want to live thinking everything I do has to glorify god? Like growing up, everything I did had to be about pleasing my mother, and during my marriage everything I did had to be about getting my husband to love me again, and then that friendship where I cared for that man who I thought was my friend and I thought if I did enough good and supportive things for him he’d appreciate me as the good friend I was…
No. This is the pattern in my life that has only caused me harm. I am living to glorify myself and I am living for myself and to find myself, who I am, and to live for me.