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Jose last won the day on April 4 2013

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About Jose

  • Birthday 08/30/1974

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    Jacksonville, FL
  • Interests
    Gaming, hanging out with and banging my wife, reading, writing, making stuff out of wood, being an asshole, drinking, lions, christians, and how to get those last two together in an arena somewhere without going to jail.
  • More About Me
    It will be ten years in August 2012 since my deconversion from Catholicism. I’m looking back at the last decade and thinking a lot about what’s gotten me to this place. Not Ex-Christian.net, although it certainly played a part many years ago, but everything… I guess this is just a retrospective.

    When I first deconverted, the most difficult transition for me was losing that rock-hard certainty. I had always been so very certain of my place in the universe and losing what I saw as my anchor was terrifying. I spent several weeks walking around in a dazed depression. I felt like I was adrift, all alone in the universe, completely at the mercy of random chance, and there was a very real sense of doom and dread that permeated my every thought. I was inconsolable and depressed; I immediately sought to regain my faith… without success. It was as if having seen behind the curtain, I could no longer enjoy the show. I was crushed, isolated, denying the reality of what I now knew to be true.

    About two months in, the feeling of horror began to metamorphose into anger. How dare my family and friends lie to me all this time? I confronted my parents with my atheism in a harsh and ugly way. I railed against them for lying to me, I accused them of knowing the truth and hiding it from me, I lashed out in every way possible, and subsequently, ten years later, I’m still putting my relationship with them back together. With the benefit of hindsight, I would have handled this much differently. I know now that they did, in fact, believe what they were telling me.

    As an aside - In the last year or so, my mother has confided in me that my crisis of faith in 2002 shook hers to the point of no return as well, since she was unable to get satisfactory answers to the questions I posed to her about her faith from anyone at the church she attended, up to and including a two-hour conversation with the bishop in this area. She no longer identifies as religious at all, but refuses to give up the concept of a wishy-washy, feel-good afterlife belief. She recognizes this as fear of non-existence, and readily admits that she will most likely simply cease to be, but still hopes and wishes for an afterlife. I guess I can’t blame her since she is almost seventy years old and she has to live with my dad, who she has not come out to about her loss of faith and who is still very, very religious.

    The blind rage brought about by the loss of my faith lasted about two years. I destroyed a significant number of friendships during that time and completely isolated myself from the religious people in my life.

    After the anger eventually fizzled, I was left with a severe drug addiction to opiates and benzodiazepines (Lortab and Ativan) as well as having gained almost 100 pounds in three years. I was melancholic for my faith and began asking god to make himself known to me if he was real… what a depressing sack of shit I was during this time in my life! I feel like I had to go through it to get where I’m at, but I don’t miss being mopey and stupid, crying for my imaginary friend and wanting to be a child again.

    My bout with depression lasted until about four years ago. I was cautiously optimistic about my life and capable of going a whole day without either ranting about god not being real or starting a religious argument with someone who didn’t deserve the utter scorn I heaped upon them. It was once I decided not to be depressed about what I now see was an adult version of Santa Claus anymore that my relationship of seventeen years with my wife-like girlfriend imploded due to some drug-abuse issues on her part which propelled her into a psychotic break on September 3, 2011. She refused treatment and when I started fearing for my safety in late November, I got the hell out of the relationship.

    During the time my girlfriend was basically going completely crazy, I had been confiding in a good friend of mine who was (and still is) a moderate christian. After the relationship with my crazy ex was well and truly dead, my friend and I discussed religion, politics, current events, music, and had a really great time with each other. We started dating in January… I lost about fifty pounds, started eating healthier, weaned myself off Ativan first, and then Lortab (been clean from Ativan since February and my last Lortab was in May). She convinced me that not all christians are insane and stupid. We got married in April in the courthouse (although she wanted to get married in a church, she thinks my lack of faith is more important than any beliefs she has, as I’m an activist type atheist and she’s a non-practicing, generic, brought-up-that-way-and-never-really-thought-about-it christian) and we’ve been having a great time.

    So there you have it, I was happy as a believer, and then went through what was basically the five stages of grief over the past decade. I’m sure some people do it faster, and some slower, the important part is recognizing that living by reason is ultimately more fulfilling. It makes me feel responsible for my life and the lives and happiness of those around me. I can’t place my problems on god anymore; I have to fix them myself. The responsibility feels good, honestly. I’m in control. I don’t know everything and I’m very rarely certain anymore, but my ignorance is easily remedied and doesn’t need a special set of rules to explain. I’m excited about living the one life I’m sure I have instead of hoping for paradise in one that will never come.

    I still identify as a weak atheist, because, well… shit, I don’t know for sure. It’s not like I have evidence that god definitely doesn’t exist, but I wouldn’t worship the god of the bible even if I knew for sure that he did. Since there’s no evidence for any kind of personal deity at all, I’m happy just living my life and loving the people who love me. I enjoy sunsets, the beach, and nature without thinking of it as “creation.” I love looking at my wife and thinking about our how great our life together is without it being a “blessing.” I like smoking a cigarette and drinking rum without feeling like I should go to confession. I like sleeping in on Sundays and still getting seated at a nice restaurant before the church crowd gets there.

    I still get angry at deliberate ignorance, but I’m getting better about keeping my emotions in check during arguments about religion or belief. I still lose the occasional friend who can’t handle the fact that I won’t let them make blanket, unsupported statements without calling them out on their bullshit, but it’s not just about religion anymore. I find myself a skeptic of just about everything now. Aliens, ghosts, homeopathy, whatever doesn’t have any evidence… I’ve found it is generally safe to disregard all such ridiculous things unless the belief is harmful.

    For the record, I do believe religion is harmful. I’m very tired of religious morality being legislated in the United States of America, but I also believe it’s getting better lately. There are enough stories about people supporting the separation of Church and State that I’m hopeful about the coming generation. I am cautiously optimistic about religion losing its stranglehold on the nation in my lifetime, but even if it takes a hundred years… I truly do believe that rationality and reason will win in the long run.

    If you're just going through your deconversion right now, or recently lost your faith, I hope this helps you in some way. It gets easier and eventually, you won't be able to imagine yourself any other way.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
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  1. I went to Ben's Celebration of Life (read: Nontraditional Funeral) yesterday. I was struck by how little of his life was represented... maybe it was because his extended family was going to be there, or not to offend those who didn't know him better, or for some other reason I can't fathom. The fact is, Ben's life wasn't just running and biking and bass guitar and playing with kids. Ben's life, for a long time, was darkness and pain and drugs and brutal music played loud and lyrics for songs that scared people and hatred and prejudice and alienating people and a constant struggle to matter, to be important, to be alive. Ben was my best friend for a long time. He was the person who knew me best in the whole world. He knew me better than my parents, he knew me better than any girl I was ever with, he knew who I was at my core and while he didn't always like who I was, he always accepted me because he knew I accepted him. We had our troubles, like any friends, sometimes we'd just avoid each other for a few days and then pretend whatever it was didn't happen, sometimes it would be a few weeks and we'd have to shake hands, forgive each other, and then pretend it didn't happen. The one thing we never did was talk about our feelings, we knew we were important to each other, but it never had to be a "thing." Even our last falling out wasn't complete... we'd still see other on message boards that we both frequented. We talked like nothing was wrong, but it was better online than in person and we both knew it. When we decided to form a band while we were working together we were pretty signing off on being crammed up each others' asses for 12 to 16 hours a day six days a week and neither one of us minded. Disembodied Voices never went anywhere professionally, but we made a CD and played shows - Hell, we headlined a show at the Eclipse in 2006 and it was fucking awesome and still one of my best memories. I got my first tattoo because of a DV song and after he was done making fun of me, Ben admitted that it looked cool. I can feel myself starting to ramble, but I guess what I want to say is this: All those things that made parts of Ben's life verboten at a family gathering are the things I miss about him. Whether we were sitting around writing music or just shooting the shit after practice, whether we were out at a club dancing or homeless in New Orleans sleeping on park benches, we were friends. That's what I'll miss the most. Having someone there, or even just out in the world somewhere else, that could be my touchstone. Someone who knew me. Someone who accepted the fact that I was never going to be like him or, hell... even listen to his advice. I miss you, Ben. I wish you could know how much. Sleep well, my friend.
  2. Never thought I'd see the day Mule would be on Ex-Christian. I'll follow you over to the other board, brother. Thanks for looking for me and I'm glad you found me.
  3. Benjamin Matthew Wright WRIGHT Benjamin Wright, 38, passed away on February 22, 2014 in Jacksonville, FL. He was born on October 6, 1975 to Mark and Joan Wright in Terre Haute, Indiana. Benjamin grew up in Orange Park, Florida and attended Orange Park High School. He went on to earn a degree in Information Technology from The University of Phoenix. He worked as a Senior Communications Technician for JEA. Ben is survived by his parents Mark and Joan Russell Wright of Orange Park, sisters Christine Wright and Renee Wright, his fiancé Amy and her daughter Mia Sumerlin, and a very large, loving extended family. A Celebration of Life will be held at Club Continental, 2143 Astor Street, Orange Park, FL 32073, on Friday February 28, 2014 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
  4. Just this. This is helping a lot. Thanks, Margee.
  5. Rationally, I know that. And I'm not trying to make this about me. A lot of people on this board were friends with him. It's a group loss, not just mine. I guess I'm still just shocked. It changes the way you see the world... there's NOT always time to say the things you want to say to someone. I knew that before, but fuck...
  6. I wish we had. I kind of kept up with what was going on with him through mutual friends and reading his blog and I was glad to see him finally getting his life together (or so it seemed). I had been giving serious thought to reaching out, but you'd have to really know how Ben and I interacted to understand why I didn't. I never wished bad things on him though and I'm not ashamed to say that this hit me really hard despite having not spoken with him in a while. We worked together at multiple jobs, we were homeless vagrants together, we ran websites together, we got thrown out of nice places together, we were in bands, we toured together, we got banned from this very board together (lol, Nivek)... I mean, I knew Ben as well as I've ever known anyone and I don't think there's anyone alive right now, including my family, that knows me as well as Ben did once upon a time. It's hard losing a touchstone like this. Even though I hadn't talked to him in a while, he was still out there, somewhere, and I figured (wrongly), that one day I'd see him out somewhere, we'd shake hands, have a beer, and catch up with each other. It's rough knowing that that's never going to happen now. And the worst part is, I can't help but feeling like I abandoned him, like if I had just sent him a message a few weeks ago when I first wrote one (and then deleted it), that this wouldn't have happened. This sucks. I'm crying and feel like a pussy.
  7. We had a falling out in 2008, mostly due to that dark side of his. I have very few regrets, but today I added another one - that I didn't try to reconcile with him sooner. Cheers, Ben.
  8. Our old board friend, and my high school best friend, Foxy Methoxy (Benjamin M. Wright), committed suicide late Saturday night/ early Sunday morning. He struggled with depression his whole life and it finally got the better of him this weekend. He had recently completed his degree, gotten engaged, and had a new job that he loved, so it doesn't make sense from the outside, but those of you who knew him knew about his darker side and it seems that it finally got to be too much for him despite his life seeming to finally be on track. If you never got a chance to speak with him while he was on the board, take a look at his old posts. He had a lot of things to say and he said them very well. The world is dimmer for his absence. Jose Valdes
  9. “She would have been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” from A Good Man is Hard to Find, by Flannery O'Connor Probably one of my favorite quotes in the world.
  10. Well, it took them about the same amount of time it would take to carry a baby to full term, but I have an official response. The response is, "Fuck you, no."
  11. Jose

    Grow Up.

    It's weird to sit there and talk to someone about dying with dignity when they keep saying that the reason they won't actually suicide is because they're afraid of hell. I figure it's way too late to have the "there is no hell" talk with her, so I've kept my mouth shut, but I'm about 20% of the way to asking her if I should bring her a bottle of pain pills and hold her hand while she goes.
  12. Jose

    Grow Up.

    So, I figured I'd post this here as an update... My mother is on her way out. I went by the hospital and saw her for the first time since I originally posted this topic. She broke her arm, hip, and clavicle in a bad fall and has had several bad reactions to medications they gave her for pain and swelling. She is completely bedridden, which prompted her to be all melodramatic (like she does) and she mentioned suicide. They prompted restrained her and now she has been involuntarily committed a Behavioral Health Center. I figured it was a cry for attention, but I'm guessing she really has just given up and is about to check out. I'm not sure how I feel about this yet. I do get to drive her giant luxury car while she's in the hospital, so bonus on that front.
  13. My experience crossing into Canada... of course, this was back a'ways... "What is the purpose of your visit, ya hoser?" "Work." "What company, eh?" "AT&T." "Aboot how long do you plan to stay?" "Three months. Here's my passport." "I don't need that, ya silly yank. Enjoy your stay, right?"
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