I finally stopped praying, begging and pleading and said, “Fuck you God!” and it literally saved my life.
Growing up, I was subtly aware the way in which I observed the world was somehow off. Everything was just too loud or frightening or difficult. My daily life was filled with intangible despair and angst and the most mundane activities became an existential nightmare: Keirkegaard for kids. I was often too intimidated or lethargic to go outside, the thought of tomorrow was unnerving enough to deprive me of meaningful sleep, and what should have been good times were filled with internalized anguish that often brought me to tears. Looking back I can say that it felt like I was living in a dank subterranean realm looking up at the world, slowly being buried alive and dismembered while everyone else managed their lives and left me behind. But this was alright because I was praying to “God” and asking for “His” help and I knew eventually if I kept at it, I’d be saved.
Begging for help is a more apt description; day after day, year after year. I thought if I went to church I would be saved or at least not be punished more. I sought help from a truly compassionate, yet misguided priest and counselor who indicated I should seek solace in faith. Years went by and my symptoms ebbed and flowed. My high school years of debilitating apathy and fear were spent with very high doses self-medication (i.e., vodka for breakfast). My feigned attempt at college was met with truancy, very real suicide attempts and hospitalizations. And yet, I prayed.
At this point however, the cognitive dissonance was becoming all too apparent. So much of my life had been spent seeking help in this invisible being, yet to no avail and to the persistence of very tangible pain. Finally, after years of delusion, something clicked and I punched myself with some brutal honesty and the fear turned into anger. A subservient to this “God” is what I had been, begging and fearing for a life that was barely worth living. That night, the “Fuck you God!” night, shed my life of the false safety net that was actually enslaving me. It was perhaps the most liberating experience of my life. While still trepidatious, it gave me the kick in the ass necessary to save me. I sought professionals who based their conclusions on the rigors of scientific process. Meeting the criteria for multiple, severe mental illnesses and after years of fine-tuning management techniques, my life is virtually asymptomatic.
Even though it took me seven tumultuous years to finish my Bachelor’s, I have worked four years professionally with success I never thought possible. I’ve even started a part-time Master’s in Earth Science due to my unbounded love for anything scientific; a direct result of my deconversion and the inspiration instilled from the science-based doctors who helped save my life. When I think of the countless, cumulative, backbreaking hours spent in labs and pouring over data, hours that define entire lives that were only seeking the truth, truth that ultimately saved my life… I cry… I am so grateful. I am not of great mind and I’m not going to be known in the scientific community, but in some form, no matter how small, I’d like to contribute to the science that saved me.
I no longer direct my anger toward God because 1) I’m no longer angry and 2) there is no God. I am an atheist because in one sense it was my only choice, but it goes much deeper than that. I am an atheist because I am a truth seeker. I am an atheist because living a finite life allows me to create motivation, meaning and love – through the help of my amazing wife and family – in such a way that isn’t constrained by a “safety net.” At any rate, for old times’ sake, “Fuck you God!”