New member here. Only recently have I confessed by unbelief, although I have doubted for much of my life. I've thought about some time what I would write here as a testimonial, and I've struggled with how to explain my life as a so-called believer. I just don't think I can. I've lost so many friends, isolated myself from the "evil" world, hurt so many people by my belief in this mystical notion of god that I'm still coming to terms with it, and still struggling to find out what it is I truly believe in, if anything.
I'll start with who I am now. I'm a 37 year old dad and husband. I struggle with what I have done with my life, and feel like I have wasted almost 30 years of it as a believer. Other than that.... well... I'm still trying to figure that out.
As for who I was.... I'll give you the condensed version. I was brought up Presbyterian, where I learned to hate myself and how I could never be happy because I was a sinner. I don't know that I truly believed growing up, but all through high school dated a fundie and went to youth group and such at a Baptist church. This is where I learned to hate everyone that didn't believe what I did. Around 16 years old I was diagnosed with depression, something I struggle with even now (although strangely enough, I have found some relief as I acknowledged my disbelief recently). I believe now the hatred and self-loathing the Christian church made be feel was the cause of.
But I digress.... During this time I went to an event called "Creation" with my high school girlfriend - a Christian music festival - and was fundamentalized (completely brainwashed). Imagine the horror on my older sister's face when I came home from that with a horrific anti-abortion t-shirt and tried to tell her the evils caused by women. I can't tell you how many friends in high school I pushed away, how many people I hurt, how much of a douchebag I was all in the name of "going forth and spreading the word of Christ." I followed my high school girlfriend to a "Christian" college, and was further indoctrinated of radical interpretations of theology by being forced to attend chapel three times a week and force fed this crap in every class. When I started to have doubts, swarms of Christian "friends" would try to "help" by making be feel guilty and fear eternal damnation to sway me back into the fold. Eventually I was kicked out of the college - my depression had gotten so bad I couldn't bring myself to get out of bed to go to classes, study, or do homework.
My life since then had been a struggle, although I did eventually meet my wife and in her found someone who would love me and have the same struggles I have had with trying to believe. Of course, she was a Christian, and her fundie parents would guilt us in to trying to find a church for years. My mother-in-law would control her with fear and guilt trips, we went from church to church trying to find some palce that didn't make us feel shamed and depressed after every Sunday service.
It wasn't until both my parents had died, and my wife's father died that we were able to start our journey in to reality. Soon after my wife's father did, apparently Jesus told her to find another man on the internet and marry him. It turns out this man was a con-artist who physically abused his own child, and long story short, she found out about it, left him because she prayed and herd the voice of Jesus told her to. She then prayed harder, and apparently heard Jesus tell her that no, really, she should take him back and win him for Christ or some bullshit. This was the end of it for my wife and I, and my wife disowned her. We wanted our kids to have no part in it.
We stopped trying to find a church - after 15 years we never did find one we could stomach - and 3 years later here we are, trying to reconcile years of struggles with a god that isn't there in to first place.
This is barely the tip of the iceberg of everything I wanted to say, there is so much I want to get off my chest, but wanted to try to keep this fairly short. To all those out there that are confused and struggling - you're not alone. For me, it's a daily struggle. I've had some days where I just have felt such relief and freedom having given up a futile struggle to believe in a god, but days like today, I have been confused about the decision I made to move on with my life. There are days guilt overcomes me, of all the horrible things I said and did to people in the name of "Christ". I hope in the coming weeks to share more, to contribute to the excellent discussions, and hopefully be able to forgive myself for wasting so much my life on a god who isn't there.
Thanks for letting me write and get some things out, and thanks for taking the time to read.