If I were a christian I could pick whatever kind of beliefs I wanted and then choose a church and jump in. I'd have plenty to do. There'd be friends to spend time with.
If I were a christian I could be eccentric or different and still find a niche where I belong.
If i were a christian our house would often be filled with guests, people showing up just to talk, people hanging around when there's trouble, people to listen when I need someone to talk to.
If I were a christian this town would not be such a hostile place. I could move about and be a part of the activities without knowing in my gut that if I shared what I really thought I'd be immediately disliked or rejected, or worse.
If I were a christian I'd have someone in the deep, dark night I could talk with too, a god who is supposed to listen and care.
If I were a christian I'd have hope for myself beyond the day I die.
If I were a christian...
...but I'm not.
I am not a christian so there's no option to find this or that group where I can fit in and belong.
I am not a christian so there's nobody to invite over for drinks and conversation.
I am not a christian so this town is a hostile place. Maybe not on the surface, but the hostility is there, waiting, ready to pounce the minute I declare my disbelief.
I am not a christian because I can't believe in fairy tales. I can't ignore reality and focus on fantasy. I can't live in a world that is fake and dishonest. I can't tolerate the hatred and bigotry that goes along with religious belief.
I cannot simply choose to believe something that is not real. I can't believe in something that obviously does not exist. I cannot believe in a god.
I am not an atheist because of all the foolish, hateful, ugly things that religion does. I am not an atheist because I did the research and proved that the bible is a bunch of fables designed to be confusing and manipulative by horrible men who wanted to control people. I am not an atheist because religion is obviously and ultimately useless.
I am not an atheist by choice. I am a reluctant atheist.
I am an atheist because I am awake and aware. I am an atheist because I must live as close to reality as I possibly can. I am an atheist because I recognize the value of life, of human life, and of our planet and no greater force has ever done more damage to the planet, to humanity, to the human psyche, than religion. I am an atheist because I cannot turn off that part of my brain that hungers for truth. I am an atheist because I am cursed with the absolute necessity to live in this moment, in this reality, in this day.
There are often times when I wish very much that I did not know things that I know. There are times I envy people who can escape into a fantasy world and live there in their head. There are times I miss the friendship and fellowship I once had when I was deluded and ignorant of reality.
There are times when I am totally pissed at myself for not seeing past the bullshit when I was young. There are times when I would like to reclaim the life I wasted being a religious zealot, charging at windmills and bashing my head against rocks. I have wasted so much fucking time!
There are times in the night when I stare into the darkness and miss the idea that there's a god who listens.
There are times I struggle with the thought that when I die that will be it. There are times I am infuriated that I was indoctrinated with the idea that there is life after death. There are times when my gut twists because of all the beliefs I ever had the hardest one to let go of is the one that said I was more than the man in the mirror.
There are times when I feel very, very alone.
I sit back and observe people. I see that they, almost all of them, live in some kind of fantasy world with a reality defined by their own beliefs, a reality of their choice. It's confusing, frustrating, maddening, not being able to take part in that fantasy.
...but I can't. I am who I am, things are what they are, and I am merely an observer, apart and alone, watching humanity self destruct and destroy the planet and rape the future because of their cowardly fear of reality and their choice to live in a religious fantasy.
And I can't do a godless-damn thing about any of it.
And that sucks.