Hello fellow atheists,
I am a 38 years old Dutchman. I was raised in a Presbyterian (Gereformeerd Vrijgemaakt) family. My parents, three sisters, with two brothers in law are still very fundamentalist Christians and they have at this moment four children with two on the way. My two little brothers and myself are non-believers and I would say humanist. I am very close to my two brothers and to the middle sister. Let’s call her Tina. I am very close to Tina’s children as well, they are both boys, one of 4 and one of 7 years old.
I, myself, had a really hard time growing up. I spent, as my parents expected of me, a lot of time studying who God wanted me to be and how he wanted me to behave. However, I failed miserably and frequently. But instead of accepting God’s gift of Jesus blood, I just became depressed and grew up being totally convinced I was a total failure. Not just to God, but also to my parents, my siblings and the entire social world around me. Once premarital sex entered the mix, I condemned myself to hell and quite literally waited to die for about 10 years…
In that time my God-believe slowly crumbled. And when I was about 25 years old, I would have said, I suspected there was a reasonable chance that there wasn’t a God. My conviction, that I was a total worthless piece of (…), took a lot longer to get over though.
About four years ago I completed a looong cycle of many therapies trying to understand the trauma that had made me the man I was (in this whole process religion was barely mentioned). I concluded (albeit not all that formulated) that my trauma was a complete and utter lack of being allowed to have a self-image. The way in which I saw myself was completely based on all missed expectations of a God, my family members and just about everyone around me. This realization led me to start a cognitive therapy in which I started to shut up all the negative feedback I was constantly bombarding myself with. Feedback that had nothing to do with the way I viewed my do’s and don’ts, but were the condemnations I figured others, including God, would have about my do’s and don’ts. Two and a half years ago I completed that therapy and could finally say, that I was able to leave the past behind me.
All this time my religious upbringing had been a sidenote. But, finally free to have my own thoughts about things, the effects of this upbringing suddenly came to the foreground. Seeing my nieces and nephews being raised in the same religion as I had been, became something that hurt me to the core of my being. Seeing Tina just being so proud when one of her boys does some Jesus-thing correctly, makes me cringe every time. I felt extremely lonely in my worldview. I don’t have many friends, most of the people I love are still Christian and I didn’t really talk about these things with my brothers yet. I ended up listening to a lot of atheist podcasts. Slowly but surely, I became more and more convinced that I had to do something. If I didn’t try anything, I couldn’t justify it to myself. Here are four young children being set up for potentially the same 35 years of utter sh*t I have fought through!
Knowing that speaking to the boys directly is crazy immoral and will surely end badly, I decided to try and start a dialog with Tina. My intention is to write blog-posts about the discussions we have and my thoughts and questions arising from these discussions. My next blog-post will have a summary of my intentions going into these discussions.
Feel free to comment, including on my writing-style (English not being my native language and all). I will react as I see fit. Thank you for spending the time to read this far ;)
PS: I go with the pseudonym ‘Bar Weinig’, meaning ‘barely anything’ in Dutch. This is a nickname I got in my puberty (doing puberty stuff), which I immediately used as the name for ‘me, away from God and parents’. It kind of still is that… I might even say, Bar Weinig, is closer to the my real name, than my real name is.
Edit: This might sound negative, but it isn't. It's a badge of honor to me. See comment below.
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