Today’s submission comes from fellow FTBer (and friend) Stephanie Zvan of Almost Diamonds:
…I am alive. That sounds hyperbolic, but bear with me.
There is much about my life now that I love–being able to write for (a small amount of) money, having the kind of love life that most people will never even strive for because they don’t believe it’s possible, having excellent friends and challenging work both as an employee and as a volunteer–but I had to survive long enough to get here. There have been plenty of times when that was in doubt.
I was physically and emotionally abused at home. I was pathologically shy. I was scared of everything. I was a year younger than everyone else in my class in school. I was serious and brainy. I didn’t wear the same clothes or haircuts as other kids. I attended six different elementary schools in three states. I wasn’t uncoordinated, but I had very little interest in competitive sports. I was poor in the exurbs in the 80s. I was targeted by one sexual predator when I was about nine and another (more successfully) when I was fifteen. I dated more than one guy who blamed me for his inability to act like a decent human being.
In short, lots about my life sucked. The first time I remember seriously contemplating suicide, I must have been about thirteen. That has never stopped entirely.
The one thing I’ve never had to deal with, through all of that, is the notion that life must somehow be fair. “Why me?” has never meant any more than “Can’t this just stop already?” Individuals had certainly told me why I was so worthless as to deserve what was happening to me, but they could be argued with, even if weakly.
No one ever told me that what was happening to me was God’s plan for me. No one ever told me that it made sense in a way I was simply inadequate to understand. No one ever told me to be grateful.
They do that, you know. They tell people to be grateful for their trials because they come from God. They really say that to people who are in unbelievable pain.
I didn’t know a lot about gratitude then. What I knew was that I wanted it to stop. I lived in a little fantasy world where someone or something would make it stop because I couldn’t. If I’d been told then that it wouldn’t stop because it was The Plan, if I’d been told someone I could not defy wanted things this way, I would have had only one thing I could do.
I would have died.
Because I am an atheist, because I was an atheist then even though I didn’t really know the word, I lived. I defied a lot of people to become who and what I am today.
Also because I am an atheist, I know that the pain I see in those around me is not inevitable. It is not part of some Plan that we cannot defy. So where I once fought for myself, I know it is possible to fight–and win–for others. I do that too. But I never would have made it to the point where I could if I were not an atheist.
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