So, why do I consider myself an atheist (part 1)

The reasons I’m going to give are not necessarily philosophical although I’ve encountered the “problem of evil” “the problem of hell” essentially on my own. Rather, my OCD latched on to these problems and caused a great deal of pain in trying to resolve them. Let’s start at the beginning.

I was raised Roman Catholic (RCC) on my mother’s side. I have been baptized, and confirmed. I used to go to church and confession. I used to enjoy reading the homilies on my own as I did find them interesting as stories and narratives of some type of truth. I looked to these stories as how is God trying to help me understand them. I used to pray quite a bit. I would even venture a guess that it may have been a compulsion, but I didn’t always pray out of guilt or anxiety. For the most part, I thought of God as my authority figure; a source of meaning in my life. I believed that I would ultimately have to answer to God or Jesus for sins and any salvation I had was thanks to Jesus dying on the cross for me. On my father’s side, I had been taught from a 7th Day Adventist (SDA) angle. I was encouraged to look at the bible for myself and to look at Catholicism with a great deal of suspicion. For example I was exposed to an interpretation of The Book of Revelation from the SDA camp that says the beast is the papacy of the RCC. As one can very well anticipate, this created a certain urgency to be correct and therefore saved. These two competing views caused an intense amount of cognitive dissonance.

This was the backdrop to verbal and physical abuse that I had to deal with as well. Some of the worst experiences I remember was  being stripped down naked, beaten and thrown out of the apartment we had lived in and had to beg to be let back inside(around 9 yo). Another time, I remember being beaten so bad that my dad wouldn’t let me go to school the next day for fear of child services (at around the age of 5) (ironically I was beaten because my dad believed I had hurt my recently born brother. It turned out my father’s friend’s son had made my brother cry. After that was straightened out, I was told that I was beaten for the times I wasn’t caught doing something wrong – go figure).   I was also beaten for the possibility of being gay: I’m not, but that didn’t matter. My “soft” nature was a problem and I “needed to be toughened up.” I was also beaten for losing fights at school. I’ve always been somewhat of a nerd and was an easy target for bullies at school. But since I lost most fights, I knew a beating was awaiting me when I got home. My dad was definitely a proponent of “spare the rod, spoil the child.” I was beaten with belts, had objects thrown at me, had a knife to my throat, threatened with death. I was pretty scared shit-less at this point.

Needless to say, I had emotional problems. I was suffering mild depression and isolation. I was a truly damnable thing. But at least, God had my back. He knew what I was going through. To say that I only had God would be overstating it, but God was my strength. I had few friends. I wasn’t understood by others for the most part. I didn’t understand myself either. I did want to die, though. I was too much of a coward to take my own life, so I prayed for death…. a lot. I asked for some sort of deliverance. I personally would prefer to check out, I would tell God, but still left it in his hands. Since God, at least in my mind, was a reality that had kept me sane, I strongly felt that becoming a clergyman of some type would be in my future. Anyway, one day very close to Christmas, during prayer, the scariest thought I had entered my mind. “What if I was just praying to myself?” This thought elicited my first panic attack and I thought I was being punished by God in the most literal sense. I thought that God was telling me to know my place and that I should never question my faith. For those unfamiliar with OCD, OCD is like flypaper of the brain. Certain thoughts, especially thoughts that offend or that elicit fear are harped on. I thought I was going to become an atheist if I kept thinking this way. According to what I had learned to believe, atheists were most assuredly going to hell. I stepped up my prayers for death and asked with all sincerity to God to please take me before I lose my faith. I would rather die one death than spend an eternity in hell. As my mood darkened and my prospects for eternal life slipping through my fingers I somehow became convinced that I was so vile a thing that I must be the anti-Christ. I would not have been opposed to being exorcised or put to death, after all my mind’s imperative was to remain faithful to God. I believed, and I know that many OCD-ers would understand, I HAD to protect the world from me. This sense of extreme responsibility clouded my judgement and mood for about a year till I couldn’t get out of bed.

My mother and my dad were both concerned as they saw that I was withdrawing more than usual. My mother kept asking me what was wrong, but I didn’t know how to express the self-loathing. I finally confessed to my mother that I wanted to die. From that point on things weren’t the same…..

Part 2

A great series that mirrors many of my experiences.

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