One of the things I like about an end of a relationship is it forces me to look inward for strength, self-definition, how to build a community, and to think of myself as whole and  complete.

Years ago, as I tried to figure out how to solve some bad problems, I turned to my religious community. They offered what I now call the "Passive Gospel", yield, pray, obey, turn the other cheek, crucify myself daily, rejoice in my crucifixion in imitation of the crucified Christ. I also heard that I was like an egg; I represent the center and my husband represented the surrounding layer. To be whole, I had to be part of someone else. 

In reality, all these imperatives turned out to be faulty because they are based on notions of self-denial, delusions, and dominionism. Imbedded in these beliefs exist the seeds of self-destruction.

The "Active Gospel" would have been far more healthy: I exist and therefore I am perfectly imperfect, I have work to do if I want food, shelter, and whatever else that is necessary for survival, I am a human being and therefore part of a great tree of evolution with many common roots with other being on Earth, I have the capacity to think and reason, and solve problems and resolve conflicts, I am connected to the Earth and to the universe and I have all that I need to be fully me. I need to love and to be loved, and to be with those who empower me to flourish to my full capabilities and to be with those who seek to flourish to their full capabilities. 
Atheism provides a status of no god or gods. No hell or heaven, no sin and grace. We have within us the ability to recognize that which is good and healthy, and empowers flourishing. 

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Thank you Joan for your discussion. It is wonderful that now you can educate others in that some relationships are not healthy. Being free of religion is the right step to becoming a more whole and complete person. I totally agree with you there. With religion you cannot flourish - only wither and die. It's good to break free from the shackles of religion. I am so glad that I am free. I can flourish.

To me, Joan, you are in a better place mentally, than you were, or than your religious community wanted you to be. However, as captain of your own metaphorical ship, you have learn all the skills of the seas and navigation etc., because you are in charge of your course through life. I think you are now making your way through life based on a realistic appreciation of how things really are.

I accept that some people find they need the religious path, and the captaincy by others, including "God", and using certain so-called holy texts, to be able to cope with navigating their way through life.

Oh yes, Gila, I am in a far better place. In fact, I can't even remember how long it took me to sort it all out and I did so much work here and with friends on Atheist Nexus. This has been a great support group for me; I am eternally grateful for all the wisdom and humor that springs from this fine community. 

I told each of my family and friends they are welcome to block me if they don't want to read my stuff, and so far, no one has. In fact, I find I am in closer contact now than ever before. This surprises me. Yes, some people believe they "need the religious path"; however, those who do seem to be the ones reporting high levels of stress and anxiety. They seem to be holding tightly to a cloud of beliefs that supply them no comfort, peace or joy. 

I appreciate your feedback. 

Joan, thank you for this post.  You have a great deal of wisdom, and love and caring.  

For me, atheist took away both my safety net (that there would be another life if this one didn't work out, that there was a loving god) and my shackles and prison (that god would punish me for my human failings and desires and thinking for myself, that I had to live a life decided by other people with their own agenda, that I had to settle for living in a community of restriction and hate and hypocrisy and demonization.

Atheism allowed me to shed racism, so now I have my partner, and my closest friends and coworkers, and wisdom from books and history.  It allowed me to discard wasted time reading the bible and religious works, so I can use time and resources learning about nature and science and humanity and biology.  It allowed me to give up toxic relationships, and form new ones with interesting caring thoughtful intelligent experienced freethinking people.   Atheist opened doors and windows.

I liken atheist to pulling aside thick dusty curtains and letting in the light.

I've made plenty of mistakes in life.  Thought stupid things, acted on unwise impulses, and made bad decisions.  That has all been part of the process of learning how to live.   At least, I'm not wasting precious life following a fantasy god, living according to rules of evil false prophets,  faking myself in community of religious fanatics and overbearing thought-control puritans.  

Thank you for being there Joan!  

And my thanks to you, Daniel. You staid with me on the crazy trail as I fought off ghosts and dragons. Your words and wisdom have sustained me these many months. I think we are both on  much healthier, happier more productive lives. 

Your new legal aspect of your relationship, being on paths that intermingle your lives in ways that could not be before, and hopefully public opinion changing to rejoicing for you will feel really good and allow positive outcomes. 

Now, at the darkest time of the year, a time for contemplation, imagining, remembering, creating new images gets you ready for new shoots, both in your garden and in your home.

I know you aren't into rituals, but I stand, facing north, 1. remembering of all that I have learned and grown to understand this past year, 2. realizing I have work to do that enriches me and causes less harm to the planet, 3. I have a community of family and friends I love and who love me, and 4. I have the ability to think, reason, dream, and aspire, 5. knowing all of this while being connected to the earth and to the universe. 
My thoughts are with you and your partner, and looking forward to that newly planted tree springing to life as the wheel of the year continues on its splendid path. 




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