My “coming out” story September 17, 2007Posted by Teen Atheist in backstory, family, school, teen angst.
Tags: atheism, Dream College, Pete, religion
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:
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.