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My “coming out” story September 17, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in backstory, family, school, teen angst.
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The first person I told was my (very religious) brother, Pete*.

We were in a bookstore, and I can’t remember what triggered the discussion, but I just lay it out on the line:

“I’m atheist.”

And without batting an eyelash, Pete went, “Eww,” which sent me into a long tirade on how bigoted he was being about it. I doubt anything I said made an impact, though — he was all “fine, whatever you say.”

Fast-forwarding a couple of months into the future, Pete and I are in the middle of a huge fight. It’s always serious when money is involved, because my brother is a greedy, materialistic bitch. At that point, however, the money didn’t matter anymore. What did matter were the words exchanged in our altercation. Through our argument, his true feelings towards me were revealed: he hated the fact that I was an atheist. He called me a “rotten-heart Satanist” and pretty much cursed God for sticking him with a horrible, evil sister. I, in turn, retorted that he was being a sanctimonious fuck who hid his selfish nature behind his religion.

The sad thing is, this whole argument, which was the biggest fight of our lives seeing as we’re still not speaking to each other (and I have no intention of forgiving that ungrateful prick), took place entirely over text messaging.

In any case, my parents got to read the whole thing on my brother’s cellphone, and one of the text messages I sent said something along the lines of I may be an atheist, but I do follow a moral code!” (I have a feeling he showed it to my parents because he knew they would side with him once they found out that I was no longer a Catholic like the rest of them.)

This was brought up by the parental units themselves as the three of us had a serious talk in the dining room. (Note that I’m on bad terms with both my verbally abusive father and my elitist, self-absorbed mother, so yeah, I’ve got nobody on my side. I hate this family.) They asked me about it.

“Yes,” I replied. “I am an atheist.”

My statement was met by a derisive sneer and exchanged looks of incredulity between them. Look, despite my utter resentment for the both of them, I am trying my best to avoid villainizing them and to narrate as truthfully as I can, and I’m telling you, that’s how they reacted.

Anyway, Father brought up my Dream College and, while still laughing at me like I was some idiot, asked how the hell I expected to fit in when Dream College has a great emphasis on religion and is headed by Fr. So-and-So. I had no answers for him; I was crying too hard to say anything. (For what it’s worth: I’m probably going to pretend that I’m a Catholic. Doesn’t matter, I really think Dream College is worth the trouble. And from what I’ve heard, they’re actually pretty liberal at Dream College, so I’ve got my fingers crossed.)

Let me tell you a little bit more about my college situation. My country has three major colleges: College That My Mother Wants for Me, which is pretty much everyone else’s dream college since only the smartest ones get in, and everyone there is on scholarship. Second is my Dream College, which has competent students as well. The students of Dream College are more upwardly mobile than the students of College That My Mother Wants for Me. Third choice is Other College, which is known for having rich but incompetent students.

I based my decision on the kind of people who graduate from these colleges. College That My Mother Wants for Me churns out brilliant people; however, these people tend to be douchey intellectual snobs who think they’re better than everybody else. (Like my mother, who is a graduate of that college.) Dream College, on the other hand, produces smart, competent people who are not only intelligent but are kind and polite as well. These are the kind of people I want to be like, and if I have to fake a religion to get into this school, then god damn it (oopsies) I’m going to do it. I don’t want to turn into an elitist like my mother!

Before I veer way too off-topic, let’s return to the story. My father told me that I’m an atheist because I have little faith, which is typical of him. This is, after all, the man who thinks I hate him because I don’t have enough God in my life, not because he had verbally and physically abused me for most of my 17 years. I had to bite back my laughter when he said, “If I were to meet my Maker right now, I could honestly tell Him that I have done nothing to deserve banishment from Heaven.” Asshole.

To their credit, they didn’t punish me or send me to Sunday school for being an atheist. However, I can feel the disdain in their eyes when they look at me and see that I’m even further removed from the kind of daughter they long to have. They think even less of me, and favor my greedy, sycophantic brother because at least he’s still Catholic.

None of this matters to me in the least, though, because I’d decided long ago that I am done trying to be who they want me to be.

* “Pete” is not my brother’s real name.

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Comments»

1. sluggabohn - September 17, 2007

Bravo for you!
Not for being an atheist, you simply are what you are.
But bravo for having the courage to admit it to others and more importantly to yourself.
I think I know the country you are from (island chain in the South Pacific?–Edit this as you see fit) based upon the religious demographic and the divorce stigma you described.
You have nothing to be ashamed of by being an atheist, however you should also feel no shame in “pretending” to be Catholic for convenience.
Realize that your current circumstance is inordinately suppressive to your belief system, and do what you must do to survive.
When you are older and have the financial and legal means to support yourself, or perhaps move to another area or country that is more open-minded to alternative beliefs you will be able to proclaim proudly that you do not believe in ghosts and goblins and unlucky ’13’.
Good Luck!
And God Bless you! (tee-hee)

2. teenatheist - September 17, 2007

I do allow guesses on what my home country is. If I were that paranoid about it, I wouldn’t have mentioned the divorce statistic since there are currently only two countries left where divorce isn’t legal (one is in Europe, the other is in Asia). Now, island chain in the South Pacific? You’ll have to forgive my sucky geographic skills, but as far as Wikipedia tells me…yes, you are correct. 😀

I’m still on the fence on whether or not I have to “pretend” to be Catholic in my future college, but your comment did make me feel a little better about it. Thanks, sluggabohn!

3. benj - September 18, 2007

you’re one demanding kid, huh? ;p

Well at least you’re honest. Thank you for visiting my blog. If you would like to be hosted at atheista.net, I will be more than happy to assist you. 🙂

4. teenatheist - September 18, 2007

“Demanding,” Benj? Hee, I guess I am a bit of a complainer. (If I weren’t, this site wouldn’t be half as interesting, now, would it?)

Thanks for visiting, too!

5. benj - September 20, 2007

so… would you like to be at TeenAtheist.Atheista.net? 😉

6. Teen Atheist - September 20, 2007

It’s okay, Benj, I’m already listed as Teen Atheist @ WordPress on the Atheist blogroll (see column). And also, while I don’t mind whether or not people find out my real nationality, I don’t want it to be what determines my identity in the blogosphere. But thanks for the offer! 😀

I’m not sure you understood my email, but I was just looking to share my essay with you and see if you wanted to write something on the presence of religious practices in my high school. I’ll send the essay to you sometime soon to see what you think.

Also, thanks for adding me to your links! I’ll have you on my blogroll once I sort it out (damn WordPress doesn’t allow scripts, *grumble grumble*).

7. benj - September 20, 2007

I understood the email, I just wanted to extend a hand and help you out as far as getting a more unorthodox URL was concerned. :p

Use the BLOGROLL function. 🙂 You have it there, right?

8. benj - September 20, 2007

email me when you’re ready. 🙂

9. Teen Atheist - September 20, 2007

Oh good LOL, for a while I thought you might have misconstrued it as a webhosting request or something because you didn’t email me back. 😀 Yup, you’re on the blogroll already — it’s been wonky for a couple of days, somehow only Bill Maher’s blog was showing up. But it’s working now. 😀

10. Noir - September 21, 2007

You remind me of a friend I have. Kudos to you!

11. Teen Atheist - September 21, 2007

That’s probably for a good reason, Noir. Hello. 😀

12. King Aardvark - September 21, 2007

Re: pretending to be catholic – I went to a catholic highschool and I’m atheist. There was a difference, though. My whole family is nontheist and it was intentionally decided that me and my brother would go there because the school was really that much better than the local public highschool (smelled like urine, full of loser punk/hick kids). Hell, even my grade 8 public school teacher said we should go to the catholic school. We were lucky; the very next year the Catholic highschool changed the rules so you had to come from a catholic elementary school to enroll.

Do you have any idea how much pretending you will have to do if you go? Are there required religion classes, daily prayers, etc, that could make your life difficult?

13. Teen Atheist - September 21, 2007

I’m not quite sure, King Aardvark, but I definitely won’t go around proclaiming “Hey, I’m atheist!” to everyone. (Or, well, I haven’t decided yet. 😛 )

14. adoh! - September 26, 2007

I’m pretty sure that they have Theology classes in Dream College but I do not think it’s as hardcore as the “Oldest College/University”(not one of the 3 you mentioned).

Most of the graduates from the College Your Mother Wants For You are normal and not elitist but can be difficult to approach especially the one approaching doesn’t make sense. Additionally, it is highly probable that THEY are slightly better than everyone else(in their field of study). I find it sad that your mother(an alumna of that school) is very narrow-minded when the curricula in that school is actually designed to produce liberal-minded individuals.

15. Teen Atheist - September 26, 2007

Oh, I’m aware that College My Mother Wants for Me produces graduates that are smarter than everybody else, and I do know a few who aren’t as elitist as either of my parents, but I’m really falling in love with everything about Dream College. (Well, almost everything.) 😀 It’s no knock on CMMWFM, I just believe that DC is the one for me.

16. Gab - September 27, 2007

ENTIRELY in text? A fight as big as that, and it’s in the form of 1’s and 0’s? How gloriously convenient. 😄

And about your Dream College? Malay mo, there are a lot more like you there than you think. 😛

17. Teen Atheist - September 27, 2007

I know! Isn’t technology awesome? 😛 I think it hits harder, though, because when texting you have time to consider what to say that’ll really drive a stake through the heart. And you can choose to keep and re-read all the text messages to make yourself angry again, so yeah. Hehe.

I just discovered the blog of this atheist from Dream College, actually! He recommends a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, so that’s what I’ll be going by. 😀

18. DaFatalGigabyte - October 31, 2007

What are the chances. I look for something that specific on the net and I get nada. You’re lucky.

Like the Republican presidential candidates say in the US, “The system is fine where it is.” on “Dont’ ask, don’t tell” homosexuality in the army. Personally I don’t think it’s fine where it is in the army, but I digress. In your situation, the system might be fine depending on who you are.
But that system is for someone who’s ashamed, or is afraid of or doesn’t want to hear the words of proselytizer and naysayers. That’s not a trait of the atheists I’ve met, but everyone’s different.

It’s actually always best to say it to your friends if you want friends that like you for who you are. Would you lie? You’re going to see those folks at college for 4 years and leave the sight and ‘area of effect’ of their blaspheming eyes and mouths.

Besides, you said they aren’t as bad of Christians as those from College Your Mother Wants For You. When it comes to the college, if you have friends outside of it who you are secure with, you can go to the ‘higher’ college, that is the one your mother wants for you, and do well and come out very successful, while still being a good person.
Go in and learn bigotry in atheism hahaha. You know, if it’s “hostile” to atheists you’ll learn to be steadfast.

“retorted that he was being a sanctimonious fuck who hid his selfish nature behind his religion.” Couldn’t have said anything more eloquently :D.

19. The hard part « Diary of a Teenage Atheist - November 19, 2007

[…] I have a rich smorgasbord of expletives and negative adjectives with which to describe my brother Pete. You see, swearing is a way for me to release my anger, and God knows I have a lot of anger when it […]

20. Idetrorce - December 16, 2007

very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
Idetrorce

21. Alicia - December 3, 2009

Teen Atheist – good to know I’m not alone! I, too, am an 18-year-old atheist, living in a town considered to be one of the most known Christianity in my state. I’m gong to a Christian college, to boot. My parents don’t know yet, but I told my sister last month (after 9 years of doubt, and 4 years of acceptance of the fact that there’s no god), and she actually responded just like ‘Pete’ did! It confused me at the time, but now I’m a little scared.

22. Teen Atheist - December 5, 2009

Thanks for dropping by, Alicia! Sorry to hear about your sister’s prejudice, that’s really awful. 😦 Don’t worry, though: I survived. You will too. 🙂

23. muhamad fadel - July 31, 2010

things are better when you think about the whole universe.
if you can think of the world outside the world itself then you are getting the hint..the result is a mind with too many questions about the beginning and end,about the good and evil struggle,though not very obvious .we all must think of permanent existence in this life.
great philosophers,scientists,……etc. accepted this line of being after death the problem is how can we face it with hope or with nothing.
we determine our being!!


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