Slowly Coming Out, Part 5 Old Roomate

Our camping trip was actually organized by my old roommate.  He had his hands full all weekend, and was also busy trying to get laid (he’s going through a divorce).  Despite his promiscuous activities, he’s the most “Christian” friend I know from when we all went to church together.  I wasn’t planning on telling him that I’m an atheist until after I’ve secured secular employment.

Apparently when I drunk told my second friend, a lady nearby heard us.  She’s a coworker of my old roommate.  She told him that he needs to talk to me about what’s going on in my life.

So he called me on Monday.

Damn it.

Old Roomie (OR): “So Liz told me that there was something you should talk to me about.  You know, something you should probably talk about with one of your best friends.”

Me: “Really, like what?”

OR: “I think you know what.”

Me: “I’ll have to call you back tomorrow.  My wife is here and now is not a good time to talk about this.”

Tuesday, after the wife leaves to go talk to one of her closest friends I call OR back.

Me: “So, I’m kinda an atheist”

Why do I keep saying this.  “Kinda an atheist”, wtf does that even mean? That’s like being kinda pregnant.

OR: “Really what do you mean?”

Me: “I just lost the ability to believe.  It wasn’t a choice, I just lost it.  I don’t believe God exists”

OR: “Huh.”

I go on to talk about the fears and concerns I have about becoming an atheist.  I talk about the utter shock of my wife.  I talk about the drive to the airport talk I had with our other friend

Me: “I’m really worried that I have no transferable job skills.”

OR: “Hold up, that’s not true.  You’ve got skills and no doubt you of all people can get a good job.”

My old roomie seems to be very successful career wise.  He did have one small business fail, but he’s been consistently employed in his career field since I met him when he was 19.  He’s an IT guy.

OR: “I don’t understand why you think you’re an atheist.”

Me: “Umm, what? Cuz I don’t believe in God or any spiritual/supernatural explanation of reality.  Doesn’t that qualify?”

OR: “So what do you believe?”

Me: “Nothing.  I believe in nothing.  I have, like no beliefs.  Hence a-theism, without theology/god.”

WTF?

WTF?

OR: “I don’t think you’re an atheist.  I just think you’re burned out.  I think you’re tired of stupid people, and your life is hard, and you are wondering what’s the deal with God.  I’ve been there, in the midst of my dissolving marriage, in so much pain, I’ve had a hard time believing in God, but I can’t possibly believe there is no God.  Listen I don’t say this because I know you or your situation, I say this because I’ve listened to what you’ve said.  I don’t think you’re an atheist.  You’re just burned out.”

Me: “Uh, Ok…?”

We move to what it feels like to lose faith

Me: “Listen, I’m not saying it’s the same as divorce, but it feels like it’s similar. I feel like I’m getting divorced from God.  I trusted him, I loved him, and he let me down by…you know… not being there when I needed him.  Of course its kinda not his fault since he never existed.  But the pain of a dissolving relationship is real even if God is not.  This feels like a divorce.”

OR: “You know, listening to you, I get that.  Yeah, this sounds a lot like divorce.  And divorce hurts, it hurts a lot.”

Me: “Yes, and this hurts. It hurts a lot. And I wish I was wrong. I wish I was… wrong. I want to be wrong. I don’t want to be an atheist. My life would 100% easier if I just believed.  My wife wouldn’t worry about me, I can keep my job… I would know that God is there to take care of me and family. I want to be wrong.”

“I want to be wrong, I’m just… not.”

“And I don’t want to be the person everyone is ‘praying for’.  I don’t want people to treat me like there’s something wrong with me or I’m just not trying hard enough.  I just want to be me.  I want to be accepted for who I am.  I want to be friends with people.  And I want…(tears)…and I want my wife to like me.  I don’t want her to resent me.  I don’t want her to think i’m going to hell.  I just want her to love me, and stay with me.  There’s nothing wrong with me, I just don’t believe because I can’t.  I didn’t choose this, it just happened to me.”

Finally OR moves to be more empathetic.

OR: “Well, I know you weren’t eager to tell me, but don’t worry, I don’t think less of you. You’re still my friend and I still support you.  I think your wrong, but that’s not important.  I think you and your wife will be ok. And I know you said you don’t want to be the person everyone prays for, but…I’ll be praying for you and your wife.

Me: “I know.  It’s doesn’t offend me that you’re praying for me.  If the roles were reversed, I’d be praying for you.”

After we hang up he sends a text to my wife expressing sympathy.  They later end up talking, it was a good talk.

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12 thoughts on “Slowly Coming Out, Part 5 Old Roomate

  1. My heart aches for you after reading your post. To me loosing faith is like experiencing the death of someone very close. It is a grief no one would choose to go through . But once you no longer believe I don’t know how you could ever go back. Sending you much love. Hope you soon find a job you love doing and that you and your wife and family can resolve all the problems ahead on your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Seriously, Pastor No Faith, this is great stuff. Well, ‘great’ in a really hard and completely undesirable way. Each of these accounts are so raw and penetrating and filled with emotion. I’m right there with you and feeling the intensity of each interaction. And it brings me back to my unending list of coming-out conversations. I’m so glad to have discovered this blog, and I have a feeling I will be returning regularly. Thank you for your transparency…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is what you call *slowly* coming out? I mean absolutely no disrespect, because I admire the bravery it takes to be so open, but it seems like you’re taking this so fast! My hope is that you’re writing about something that happened weeks ago and you’ve already had time to process all of this.

    You’re going to start getting more attention on other blogs, and it could snowball quickly. Even if you’re able to maintain your anonymity, just the vicious comments you’ll get are something you may not need when you’re re-evaluating your whole world view.

    Go easy on yourself, man. You seem like this is something you need to do now (coming out), but take care of yourself in the process, okay? I wish you the best, no matter where you end up.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I intended on only telling one person. Broke down and told someone else. Then was overheard. Then the 3 of them encouraged me to tell my wife. 4 people total seems slow to me, no?

      Like

  4. You’ve been mentioned on “The Friendly Atheist”. Just though I’d come over and give you some encouragement. I was an accidental deconvertion, also. Started researching why atheists believed what they did so that I could more fully demonstrate Christ’s love to them. Well that backfired 😉

    [shrug] It’s pretty traumatic to lose your belief in God and there’s nothing to do but ride it out. Eventually it normalizes and you realize that nothing really changes at least about you. You stay you. I struggle with anxiety more now that I realize it’s all up to me but that’s it. Oh, and I fear death! But I’m thinking at some some point I’ll probably make peace with it. I’ve been an atheist for three years or so and I’m still a work in process.

    Good luck with your wife. My husband was never really religious so when I lost my faith he didn’t have too much to adjust to since my devout faith was a pain in his ass anyway. He really hated giving money to the church 🙂 I will say this though. I was your wife for the first decade of my marriage and I went to church without him, had Bible studies with my kids without him, and it can be done if she wants to and loves you. That unequally yolked verse is bullcrap for a lot of different reasons. Marriages can work well with people of different worldviews. It’s simply a challenge like any other challenge in a marriage.

    Oh and I noticed someone already mentioned this to you in a comment but definitely check out the clergy project. It’s make for people who are exactly in your situation. And good luck! BTW if you don’t want to come out to everyone, don’t. I’m not out to anyone really except a few close friends. No one’s business and I don’t feel guilty about it at all. In fact that’s the nicest thing about being an atheist 🙂 I’m in charge and as long as my decision doesn’t hurt me or others no guilt. Christians love to talk about Christ freeing you from the chains of sin but the chain of guilt belief in Christ gives? THAT was the biggest chain of all and good riddance. Tons of well wishes being sent your way…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • These posts really are compelling reading. Congrats on your courage.
      When I lost my faith it was easier because I’d moved away from my church and most of my friends weren’t believers. Also I’m in the UK which is so much less religious than the US.
      To have to come out as atheist while immersed in a believing society must be incredibly hard. But the only way any religions thrive is through ‘groupthink’ where the herd is led to believe and any individuals who have doubts are whipped in line by threats of Hell etc.
      If more people like you spoke out openly about their (lack of) beliefs then the whole fragile house of cards will come down.
      So kudos to you. As has been said, you’ll not notice much difference in yourself apart from a sense of being freed from wasting time worshipping a God who doesn’t exist. I wish you well in coping with the reactions of friends and family. Your reverse-Damascene conversion will make them question everything they’ve been taught to believe in since they were children. This is a truly great thing because unquestioning minds are driving with the handbrake on. Some people you tell will see that you’ve hit the nail on the head.
      But most will be scared and will probably take it out on you. I hope it doesn’t hurt you. And I hope your wife comes around and realises you’re still the same man she married. Just… freer.
      As for a career change, write this as a book. You have a real talent for emotive storytelling and even if others have written of their experiences, the market is nowhere near saturated. In fact, I’d go as far as to say the USA needs as many stories like yours out there and heard.
      Best wishes from the UK.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. As a person who has been an atheist for most of his life, your story really pulled at my heartstrings. I can tell that for you, your faith wasn’t just a guiding principle for your life, it was linchpin that kept you connected to your family, friends, and community. Though I have no religion, I can completely empathize with wanting to hold onto it for the sake of staying connected with the people you love. I sincerely hope that your loved ones will be accepting of your choices and come to understand that you’re still the same person they’ve always known.

    One thing that I’ve found helpful in explaining my atheism to those around me is to instead label myself as a humanist. I don’t like the idea of calling myself an atheist, because it defines me by what I am not (my lack of religion) rather than what I am (my love of humanity and this life we all share). By labeling myself as a humanist, I’m able to emphasize that I prioritize people over religious belief without implying that I am rejecting those people along with their faith. Perhaps instead of simply saying that you’re an atheist, you might tell people what *does* matter to you, that you still love them most of all, and emphasize that you have no intentions of rejecting them along with your faith. Rejecting God doesn’t mean that you must reject your wonderful community as well.

    There are support groups available, such as the clergy project, that you might find very helpful for finding support through these hard times. I wish you the best of luck in coming out in the future.

    Liked by 2 people

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