Image by Sinsong via FlickrSent in by Celeste
I have been an ex-Christian for about six years now. Mine is a long strange story. I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school for nine years. I was born in Maine in a community of mostly French Canadian descent, uneducated, and 99% Catholic in my home town. I was taught mostly by nuns who really messed with my head and caused me so much torment. I believed I was a good student, but the nuns treated me like I was stupid and caused me to have low self-esteem.
Anyway, I did go to a public High School from 1975-1979. I was a good Catholic girl, still a virgin at the age of 18, unlike my peers who I found out lost their virginity while in middle Catholic school. Approaching graduation in 1979 I was determined that I wanted to be wild, drink, and have sex -- and I did.
I got married in 1982 to a guy in the Navy at the age of 20, and really wasn't a "practicing Catholic" at the time, but we got married in the Catholic Church to make my parents happy. My husband was Southern Baptist and I remember the priest meeting with us for premarital counseling, telling me that the odds of our marriage lasting were not good as he (my husband) was not Catholic. Regardless, the Catholic Church still married us anyway.
In 1983 I gave birth to our first child, and when she was about two years old, my then husband started to feel guilty that he had not been attending church -- i.e., a Southern Baptist church. So, one Sunday after watching a church service on TV, we visited the First Baptist Church of Orlando and several weeks later I became "born again."
From February 24, 1985, I then became an ultra-conservative fundamentalist Southern Baptist Christian. My life from that point would change tremendously. I stopped watching "soaps," stopped drinking, dressed more conservatively, stopped listening to secular music, read the Bible every day... I can go on and on but I think you get the picture.
My husband got out of the Navy in 1988 and took a job at First Baptist Church of Orlando (FBCO)as the manager of the graphic arts department. FBCO had a membership back then of over 5,000 people, and is still considered one of the largest SB churches in the US. He was also responsible for the church's bookstore. We had a copy of every Bible version made as well as Christian books in our home. I was forced to home-school my daughter for three years and home school our son for one year. Then I was diagnosed with cancer in 1994 (while homeschooling my kindergarten son). Around this same time we became involved in an ultra-conservative movement that believed in no birth control, using the scripture to support the teaching. (I'm paraphrasing here: "Blessed is the one who has a quiver full.")
At that time I had a daughter and a son and did not want to have any more children. I was on the pill, but that we were embracing this new way of thinking, I got off the pill. Eight months later I became pregnant with our third child -- a boy. Later, that child was diagnosed with autism. During the period from 1983 to 1997 I was basically raising my children alone because my husband was devoted to his job and attending an almost full college class schedule (FBCO from 1988-1995 then from 1995 working as a manager in a Christian Bookstore up until 2000). He lived, breathed, and ate everything Christian. I was not allowed to watch certain TV shows during this period, out of a fear I would become a liberal woman. For example, I was not allowed to watch "Murphy Brown".
I didn't work outside of the home as my youngest son having autism took most of my time with doctors, tests, therapies and so on. My husband yelled at me a lot and had a terrible temper. He was a strict disciplinarian with our children, and treated me like his child too. Finally, in 1999, I had had enough and separated from him. I left him and told him I did not love him and probably never did. I wanted my freedom. I walked out on him and my kids. At the time my daughter was a senior in high school.
To the outside world it looked like I was a terrible mother for walking out on my husband and my kids, but I felt I had no choice. In March of 2001 our divorce was final. Living alone was very difficult for me after being in a home with three kids. I was able to get a job working for a lawyer, finally making my own money.
It was tough, financially. My daughter hated me for leaving. I still maintained a good relationship with my two sons and spent time with them as much as I could. I was finally free, but yet very lonely. I even went back to the church where we were attending right before we divorced, but church just did not do it for me. I did still believe in basic Christianity -- the Bible and so on.
Then in December of 2001 I met my current partner "Steve." I felt like I had met the right man for me, but he was not looking for a longterm relationship at the time. After one and a half years of dating him, he would say things suggesting he was not Christian. At one point I questioned whether I should continue dating him, thinking that if I stayed with him we would not be in heaven together when we died. Crazy thinking I know! But at that time I still believed, but did not want anything to do with church.
Steve made Christianity sound like a fairytale, and I listened. I don't have a specific date, but I began to understand how Christianity is a lie and that there is no God. Steve describes it as killing of the head vampire and his followers wake up. That is how it felt to me. I was finally awake!
Flashback to today, January 4, 2009. I am an ex-Christian, and so is my middle son, by his own realization. He is also gay. My ex-husband does not accept the fact that he is gay and that has caused a lot of hurt for my son. So now I am a proud ex-Christian, and an advocate for gays, and proud of my son. My ex-husband lives in Alabama with his new wife and our youngest son. My daughter does not hate me anymore and has two beautiful girls of her own. My life with Steve is wonderful, and we are so happy and I am not living under the threatening umbrella of Christianity any longer. It feels good!
I would love to hear from others who have a similar story. We live in the buckle of Bible Belt so finding others like ourselves is few and far between.
Thanks for letting me ramble!