When you realized that you were an atheist, did you feel relief, fear, happiness? What emotion, exactly?
Letting go of religion took me over a decade. But there was a moment where, even though I kind of knew, when I said to myself, "I am an atheist." I felt exhilarated and relieved, like when I leave really good roller-coaster ride. Why actually saying it caused these feelings, I'm not sure. I guess it was because, since I had been indoctrinated with these beliefs, I felt like if I said the words, that was it: I could never go back. If there were a God, and I said "I am an atheist," I would surely go to hell. If I said the phrase, I was taking a big risk that could be my doom.
Have you ever taken a big risk like that, one you knew was important? How did you feel afterwards? about yourself? The only other risk I took that felt that important to me was when I lept into my relationship with my now husband. It was deifnitely a risk. I already knew that he was very likely to be a serious person in my life. If I decided to love him, I would change my life drastically. It would probably mean leaving not only my home, and town, but the country I lived in. It was a giant leap that might screw me up big time, or it would be one of the best things that ever happened to me.
Luckily for me, it was the latter. I can laugh now, but I felt the same way about saying "I am an atheist." And how did these situations make me feel? Exhilarated. Relieved, and extremely proud. Both of these situations took a great deal of courage for me. They made me a better person. I recognized my intelligence, my skill at risk-assessment, and my ability to make judgements. And especially, my ability to be honest with myself and others. This is not the way I felt about myself when I was a Christian. I'm glad I grew out of it.
Thanks for listening, diary.