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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Where It All Begins

I've struggled with where to begin. Do I introduce myself? Do I tell you where I was born and follow it with a synopsis of my childhood? Do I tell you about my parents and the manner in which I was raised? Do I outline my current state of affairs, marital status, children, career details, etc.? There is so much information and I've become a bit overwhelmed with how to go about my introduction. All of the preceding questions will be answered in due time. I don't think any of them are overly pertinent at the moment, and that leads me to where I think I should begin. Here goes...

This blog is about me. It's for me. It's for my healing. I so desperately need to heal. I'm 37 years old. I've officially been an atheist for 6 years. I spent the better part of 8 years on a journey which eventually lead to my deconversion. I was raised in a pentecostal home. Pentecostals are the sort of folks who believe in speaking in tongues, lurching on the floor, faith healing, literal hell, demon possession, and a host of other nutty things. The 8 year peregrination to my deconversion was lengthy and arduous, filled with ups and downs, sleepless nights, and a lot of time spent wondering if I was going to burn forever for questioning the Almighty. 

At 31 years old, the birth of my son would be the catalyst that would seal the deal, officially branding me an atheist. At some point in my blogging future, I'll tell that story. Up to this point in life, things had been rocky for me with my parents and immediate family (excluding my wife who was a non-believer). Once I came out as an official atheist, things rapidly worsened. Over the course of the next several years, an already rocky relationship with my mother and father ceased altogether. Family members refused to speak to me. Friends and co-workers suddenly refused to talk to me. I became that guy.

Now, at 37 years old, I'm dealing with the aftermath of deconversion. No one told me what that would be like. Reading the bible, putting the pieces together, and figuring out how ridiculous Christianity's claims are...well that's easy. Coming to terms with the aftermath of it all...that's the difficult part.

After years of a very rocky and strained relationship, the loss of my parents dealt a blow that has finally taken it's toll. They refuse to acknowledge an atheist son. This has eaten away at me...slowly...day by day. The sense of loss accompanied by a deep sense of sadness was overwhelming. Initially I was able to compartmentalize all of it. But as time went by it became more difficult to contain the onslaught of emotions. At some point the sadness and emotional pain turned to anger and hate and rage to the point that I became consumed by these emotions. For some number of years now I have lived a life fueled by anger and hate. There is a problem though. My anger and hate are of such magnitude that I fear it will soon, if not already, begin to spill over to my son, my wife, and the very few close friends and family members I have left. I have seen the writing on the wall. I'm not willing to continue this perpetuating self-destruct, and my family doesn't deserve to have to deal with the fallout.

So this blog is for me. It's a part of my healing process. It's my way of reaching out to others, those that have gone before me and those who understand what I am going through. I have also decided (arbitrarily) that I can not be the only person facing this sort of crisis. I am convinced there are others who find themselves in a similar situation, and perhaps this blog will offer them hope, a place to talk, and reassurance that they are not alone.

Chris,
The Atheist Nurse
The Atheist Nurse on Facebook



11 comments:

  1. I look forward to following your blog.
    Another Atheist Nurse

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    1. Could not be happier that a fellow nurse is the first to leave a comment! :-) By all means, feel free to comment and provide input when you feel it's warranted. I feel sure this is going to be an interesting endeavor moving forward. I hope you enjoy the posts, discussion, etc. in the days to come as I learn to live again.

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  2. I'm here to take the journey with you, Chris. Look forward to adding my two cents to the conversation.

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    1. The more the merrier. Welcome aboard, Jesse.

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  3. On the journey to decoversion also...I'm a Hospice Nurse with a Christian Fundamentalist ex-wife and two kids in a Christian school. Looking foward to what you have to share.

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    1. I was raised in a Christian fundamentalist home, specifically pentecostal fundamentalism. I believe it is difficult (and for most, impossible) to escape a fundamentalist indoctrination that begins and is carried through one's early formative years. When it goes beyond that the problems are compounded. The fear of consequences/repercussion that goes along with questioning one's faith is often times crippling. I wish you well. I know the pain of the struggle. It isn't easy. I hope you and others like you are able to gain something, some bit of help, some amount of comfort in some way from this blog.

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  4. I'm so happy to have found this blog and your FB page. I wish you luck in your endeavor. I too am an atheist nurse and to my knowledge the only one I know. I'm sure there are more but we tend to stay in the closet at the workplace. I wish there was some kind of secret password. I have found nursing to be extremely isolating as an atheist. When I got into it, I imagined being intellectually stimulated by scientifically minded, evidence based types but have been very disappointed and dissatisfied. Almost to the point of considering another profession. If I hear another nurse tell a patient that they must have a special purpose then I may lose it.

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    1. Amber, I'm glad you found this blog and the FB page as well. There are more atheists in healthcare, and most certainly more atheist nurses. I know how difficult it can be to be an atheist in nursing. I'm hoping my FB page will continue to grow; there are a number of atheist nurses there, as well as a number of paramedics. For the same reasons you tend to stay in the closet at work, a lot of atheist nurses do the same. I am sad to say we would be viewed differently by our co-workers and definitely by patients. I foresee the day when that will not be the case in U.S.A., but for now we are stuck. There is no easy way to deal with the frustrations you have described. Personally I avoid religious and political discussions at work, COMPLETE AVOIDANCE. I also withhold my opinion on *most* matters I hear being discussed around me. This makes me a "mystery" at work...and intrigues people. For me, knowing that everyone around me is guessing and trying to figure out my political opinions, my religious subscription (so far NO ONE has ever considered I may have zero religion...hahaha!) and my opinions about various other "hot topics," it keeps me satisfied being "secretive." In the mean time, I keep myself in check, act in the most professional manner possible, show my patients and co-workers how compassionate I am and how much I value human life so that when the day comes they find out I am an atheist (eventually it is bound to happen) their minds will be blown. At that point, I'd like to think they will most likely carry on like they always have. And even when they find out...I will still refuse to have political or religious discussions in the workplace. I think that is my "saving grace." I've been a nurse for 12 years. I don't regret my choice of profession on single bit. I know beyond any doubt I've made a difference in a LOT of people's lives. Religion aside, I've made people smile when they felt their worst, I've helped grieving families in the WORST possible moment of their lives (who else has a job where they are able to hold someone in their arms and be their only source of comfort while that person's husband or wife or child dies?!?!)...I've made a difference in this world. THAT is why I chose to be a nurse. And THAT is exactly why people's minds will be blown if/when they find out I'm an atheist. I'm trying to break their misconceptions of what atheists are. You can do the same. You will make a difference in a lot of people's lives. Never take that for granted. ;-)

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  5. I was lucky enough to not have been indoctrinated as a child and honestly I can't think of a better gift that my parents gave me. They are not atheists but the "spiritual but not religious" type. My brother is also an atheist. I dabbled in atheism lite also known as agnosticism for most of my adult life. I finally stopped being afraid and embraced the atheist label when I was about 30. I'm 36 now and finally just accepting that I am an non believer and that's ok has finally brought me some peace about it. I also started reading blogs and listening to podcasts about skepticism which really expanded my worldview. Personally things are a little rough. My partner is a believer but he's not traditional Christian. My best friend is a Gnostic priest and he goes to his church. Other friends of mine and my dad are into paranormal stuff which is also not my bag. I don't have many people to talk to about this except my brother and we are not close which is a shame. My one true partner in crime is my 13 year old daughter who is a whip smart and confident atheist. I'm so proud of her. Enough about me, good luck with the blog and I will continue to follow!

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  6. I will definitely be following along with your blog. Luckily my childhood was no where near as severe as yours but I do relate, and I am bringing up my children the same way, without religion. I however have not "come out" to co workers or family members for fear of persecution.

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    1. Josy, I'm honored that you would follow my blog. :-) Not sure what your profession is, but chance it being in health care or any public service field, read my reply to Amber above. Coming out to co-workers, family members and friends can result in varying results. I'd suggest you do what you feel like is in your best interest. My friends know I'm an atheist and they still love me. My family knows and they disowned me a few years ago. They want absolutely nothing to do with me. I've had past co-workers who found out and things did not go well. My current co-workers have no idea...and it will stay that way until they discover the truth on their own. I'd suggest not "coming out" until you are prepared to deal with whatever consequences might come your way, particularly in a profession where your interaction with the public is paramount and/or if your job requires a close working relationship with co-workers. So glad you found the blog and hope you will hang around. ;-)

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