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Friday, June 13, 2014

Rambling about Atheism

The thing I find most attractive about Atheism is the lack of an afterlife. (I’m only speaking of my own experience with Christianity here…..I know that my case is most likely not the norm, it’s just…mine) As a Christian my mind was always focused on Heaven. I lived my life believing that there was something amazing ahead of me, that all I had to do was wait for this life to be over. My family and church taught me that my purpose in life was to worship God and lead others to Him too.

I went to church camp every summer. I remember this skit that the camp counselors did. It blew my mind and freaked me out. The gist is this: Two guys have been friends for a few years. One is a Christian, the other is not. They are both in a car accident, both die. In Heaven, they have to split ways. The non-believer looks at his Christian friend with tears in his eyes and asks him WHY he never told him about Jesus. Then he's pushed off (the stage) into hell. The Christian is filled with guilt and regret and goes to Heaven without his friend.

This is a LOT of responsibility for Christians, especially Christian kids. The idea that the fate of another person was in MY hands was overwhelming. After that, I was relentless with my friends. (I say friends…..they were actually just acquaintances. My parents didn’t allow me to get too close to non believers) I was at the forefront of every Christian cause or club at school. I’m an idea person, so I was always dreaming up some amazing new way to bring Jesus into my school. Living in the Bible Belt, there were always teachers and other kids to take my ideas and run with them. :) Thinking back, it was a lot of fun. My favorite was our prayer outreach. We had several teams of two (always 1 boy, 1 girl….Christians have gender accountability issues. Since prayer is so intimate we wanted to have both genders present). Each team was posted in a different spot in the school. Anybody who needed prayer or just wanted to talk was welcome.

As an Atheist, I think back to those times and shudder. Just before I left the church completely I attempted to visit a few churches (seeking both God and the safety of anonymity). I still believed in God but I pretended not to, just to see how people would react. (cruel, I know!) It was eye-opening. I found myself on the other end, hearing the “Roman Road” to salvation. I was asked if I knew where I was going when I died. I was asked if I had ever heard who Jesus was. (as if ANY American has not heard about Jesus…..come on!!!) It’s hard to explain how I felt about those conversations. I felt alienated. I felt put on the spot….like there was pressure to respond. A lot of those conversations reminded me of things I had said to people in my past. I wonder if I had made them feel alienated or pressured.

Anyway. I mentioned that as an Atheist I feel free. Part of this, is the freedom to NOT focus on making sure everybody else makes it to Heaven with me. My life no longer consists of “biding my time” until I get to Heaven. I have to make this life count, because here and now is all I’m going to get. As an Atheist I have hobbies. I love cycling. (my bike may as well be an appendage) I love to backpack and camp. I love art……especially controversial art (bring on the nudity!). And OMG I absolutely love gaming. There is no room for any of this in the Christianity that I was living.

Christianity was filled with shame and guilt for me. (I realize that’s the opposite of what it’s supposed to be) Religion and my eating disorder go hand in hand, I think. The last few days I’ve been really trying to analyze why I’ve relapsed so badly. I know in my head that true Christianity does not involve works. I just can’t make that connection in my heart and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just the way I was raised?

As a Christian I found the rules downright suffocating. (or was it just overbearing parents?) The more I think about it, the more I think that it was a combination of both.

I was not allowed to listen to any secular music. All secular books had to be parent-approved. No smoking. No drinking. TV was highly regulated. I couldn’t even read the newspaper because they published a horoscope and that was witchcraft, it was also not good to read local news that had to do with crime (they had a verse that backed that up but I can’t remember it now). No dancing. No makeup until courting age (16). The church building is “God’s House” therefore no running, no loud talking, no bad attitudes, attendance is mandatory. Modesty was HUGE for my family. Never show anything above the knee. No exposed shoulders or anything low cut. I was taught that men/boys were weak and incapable of resisting women, therefore I had to do my part to prevent them from falling into sin. Respect for your elders was also a big deal. Whenever we visited Mennonite family, the kids were not allowed to speak at the table unless given permission. My parents were more lenient with that rule at home. They encouraged my sister and I to talk during meals. Meals with my grandparents often left me shaking with rage because I wanted so badly to add to the adult conversation.

Growing up I had little freedom. My personality was stifled. My parents think creativity is a gateway to evil. They hate questions. I was a merciless kid. We spent a lot of time on the road traveling to visit my mom’s Mennonite family. I took advantage of the captive audience and would poke my head into the front seat between them and proceed to debate everything under the sun. On a few occasions I was actually punished for this. That usually happened when I got overbearing and refused to listen when they wanted to shut down the conversation. My mom still laughs about how hard it was to punish me because I always tried to negotiate my punishment.

Atheism has given me a reason to not check out. I was often suicidal as a Christian. Life sucked and death would just get me to Heaven quicker. With Atheism, that isn’t an option. I’m more driven to figure this shit out and improve my life rather than end it.

Atheism removes my need for punishment. (The idea that Jesus accepted my punishment has never been easy for me. I need to think more about that before I try to explain it) As a Christian, my eating disorder filled the need for punishment. Bulimia is total violence against the body. Purging is usually a last resort. When I do engage…..it’s extreme. I don’t want to stop until I see blood…..until there is pain. Anorexia is punishment by denial and neglect. It consumes my mind….so I didn’t have to think. That might be part of this relapse too. Questioning Atheism and exploring Christianity again is bringing up a lot of issues and it is SO much easier to just immerse myself in the world of calories and weight loss.

Accepting love is not easy. I don’t know how to respond. It’s terrifying. In a way, it kind of hurts. In my head, the only response to love is to become a raging, snarling beast.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Feeling crazy today

I woke up at 6:00 this morning. I laid there for three hours listening to my heart pound and analyzing all of my food options for the day. This is the part of an eating disorder that I do NOT like. I hate obsessing like this. Last night I ate 1/4 cup of potato salad and found myself dissecting each cube of potato into four pieces. It seemed absurd to me, but there was some sort of satisfaction in it. This morning I opened a can of mandarin oranges and counted them out into two equal portions. One for breakfast, one for later. Now I can’t decide if I want to have coffee. I hate drinking it black, but creamer has calories.

Today my husband is out on a cabling job. He’ll likely be gone for most of the day. Solitude is NOT good for a bulimic. At least not this one. I’m so scared that I’ll get out of control today. I don’t want to deal with the guilt and anxiety right now. I’d much rather stay in my anorexic mode and just deal with the obsessing.

Urgh. I actually started this blog intending to talk about Atheism and questions about Christianity. I think I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been e-mailing back and forth with a pastor at this church that has been doing a series on doubt. He wants to know more about the freedom that I’ve found in Atheism. I was kind of excited that he asked me that. In fact, this whole conversation has been really thought provoking.

Anyway. I think I’ll go work on my response now…..and get my mind off of food for awhile. :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rage Running, Tattoos, Restricting

I often call my parents on my way home from work. It’s a half hour drive so it’s a great way to keep a time boundary on the conversation. Once I get home I tell them I have to make dinner, feed the dogs, or whatever.

Today I talked to my mom. It was an enraging conversation. My mom and dad raised me to believe that tattoos were wrong. I distinctly remember both of them telling me that they were not pleasing to God and they used an old testament bible verse that specifically speaks against “marking your body for the dead” and they used the classic one from Corinthians about your body being a temple of the Holy Spirit.

A cousin came to visit them and my mom could hardly recognize her. She was in town to get a tattoo worked on and she proudly showed it off to them. She told them that her sisters have really looked down on her for getting tattoos at all (and she has a ton of them). My dad told her that he didn’t care about tattoos, it’s what’s underneath them that’s important.

AAARRRGGGHHHHH!!!!! I immediately did a double take and asked mom how they really felt about tattoos. She said that it didn’t matter. So I asked her why she had always told me that they were wrong. She says… Well, they ARE wrong…..for US. **more inner screaming** I asked her why they were wrong for us and not wrong for our cousin. She said that it would be wrong to put something so ugly on your skin and that the “pain would be horrible”. I then asked her if she thought it was a sin…..she said YES, it’s a sin for us. *sigh* I tried to reason with her and get her to see that her objection to tattoos didn’t seem to be a sin issue, but more of a personal preference….something she would never want to do to herself. She didn’t agree. She still thinks tattoos are a sin. I asked her what she’d think if I got a tattoo and she said she would always love me no matter what I did. That kind of implies to me that she still thinks it would be a sin for me too…..with that whole loving me no matter what I did type of deal.

The conversation was going nowhere so I let it fizzle out and talked about something else.

I honestly don’t think either of them knows how judgmental they can be sometimes. Growing up I often remember both of them looking at people with tattoos and piercings with disgust and making rude comments about how it just looks so nasty. *sigh* So, not only did I grow up believing it was a sin. I felt conflicted because I could see the beauty in it, yet I was supposed to view it as ugly. It almost seems like they hold me to higher standards than they do other people. I know for a fact that if I had gone out and gotten a tattoo at 18 years old they would have been horrified and very angry. I personally find all types of body modification beautiful!

So after that I had some steam to vent so I went for a “rage run” on my treadmill. LOL! It felt great!

What also feels kinda great is the amount of restricting I’m doing…..and seeing my weight go down. It’s wrong, but I like it. It wouldn’t be an addiction if I didn’t get any pleasure from it, right?

So I had 20 calories of almond milk for breakfast. A 50 calorie metamucil wafer for lunch. Then I had about 90 calories of a pork chop after my run. I had planned on having nothing tonight but after my run I was ravenous. Besides, I don’t want to keep myself too deprived, lest I fall back into a binge phase. I really don’t want that right now. I have in my mind a certain weight that I want to get to by Sunday and I’m just a tick away from it right now. :)