I am curious to hear everyone else's experience with "coming out". Did you have to work up to it and cut a few people from the herd to break the news to? Did you go straight for the family blabbermouth and let nature take its course? Social media? Or, did you just grab the megaphone and blurt it out?
A little back story:
I am a 39 year old, married, father of two young boys. A confused skeptic since about 10, a confident and confirmed non-believer for the last few years.
I live in a VERY Catholic part of Cincinnati, my wife's family is Catholic, as is mine, though mine tend to be skeptics, and there are a couple like me thrown in.
I sat my wife down a couple years ago, swallowed hard, and spit it out. i was completely honest about the way I felt, and apologized for not telling her sooner. To her credit, she handled it pretty well. She is a little disappointed that I wouldn't be attending church any more, but just between you and me I think she harbors a little skepticism of her own.
Friends and (wife's) family were much more difficult. I DID NOT want to have the same conversation over and over, and I really didn't want to have to justify my decision.
I just went for it.
I found posting on another site that really spoke to me and posted it to my Facebook page, followed by comments from me. I know this is definitely not the recommended course of action, but it was if nothing else, VERY effective in getting the initial word out. The problem is, there is no real way to know who has read the posting and who hasn't unless they say something to me. This has made some conversations a little hairy :-).
Friends turned out to be a non-issue. Even the ones I thought might be hurt or angered by my coming out were extremely supportive. I feel a little bad for doubting them, but it has definitely reaffirmed our friendships.
Family was as expected, the ones that have similar beliefs were right there with me, and the ones that do not throw an easily ignored comment my way on occasion, that really is about it. My wife tells me she has gotten lots of messages from her family telling her that they are praying for her as if she just found out I was an axe murderer. (why do I find that so funny!?)
If I take one thing from my experience it is this: coming out and being honest is absolutely and completely worth the initial headaches!! You may think that the world is going to fold in around you, but i'm here to tell you it won't. When you are ready, go for it.
If I may, below is a copy/paste of my exact post to FB a few months back, starting with the posting from another site and followed with my comments. (My words are in blue)
I'd love to hear your experiences!
Do you see a light at the end of the tunnel?
Is it a metaphorical or a literal light -
or would you not care to ask yourself that question?
I came out about seven years ago after I had open heart surgery to replace my aortic valve. I told my family first. They all say they believe in god and I'm wrong. Some have stopped talking to me unless it's absolutely necessary. I really don't care about whether or not anyone else agrees with me, it feels great to be honest about my belief that there is no god or devil. I could easily point out the many reasons god isn't real but I leave it up to each person to decide one way or another for themselves. I'm fine with being ignored by the people that are really dumb enough to believe in supernatural beings. What hurts is that they think they are smarter than I am. Oh well, I can't let that bother me either.
As for the rest of the world, I don't discuss it unless someone asks me directly. If they have the nerve to ask, I have the nerve to answer. Otherwise they just assume that because I live in the south I must believe in god, jesus, and the devil.
I know I haven't met any atheist around here.
I had heard similar stories from friends that moved to Nashville, TN for the summer one year. They were actually Catholic but when Halloween rolled around they were the ONLY family in the apartment complex sending kids out trick or treating. The explanation was that it was "satan's holiday :-) I am fortunate to have a few like minded people here locally to talk to. Have you checked to see if there are any Atheist or Recovering from Religion groups in your area?
P.S. I am glad that you recovered from your surgery!
Where would I find any atheist groups in my area? Churches are a dime a dozen around here.
I hear you Linda. Hope you're feeling better.
I was raised catholic but it was always hard for me to take it seriously so I was an agnostic for a while up until I read Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, when all started to make sense. I had many talks with my wife and my brother and they know where I stand for a while but social media made all the difference to spread the word.
I know I have lost some friends over this but like they say " I rather hang around with people that accept me for who I am than for who I can pretend to be"
I was raised Baptist and started to doubt at age 14 when I was told that I had to stop asking questions and just believe. I have been an atheist for over thirty years and have always been open about it if asked.
I don't know of a specific time when I came out. I do know that for as long as I can remember I refused to say "under god" as part of the Pledge of Allegiance". I believe other students noticed but they did not ask. I used to hide it or not discuss it at all. For myself, it has always been normal. My family has never been religious.
While I don't meet people and say "Hi, I'm Wendy and I'm an athiest!" I do tell people if asked. It is on my facebook profile, but how many people actually look at profiles? My closest friends know, as they have known for a long time. My 12 year old daughter also does not believe in god. She has been harrassed at school for it and I believe it is one of the reasons she is treated differently by other students.
But I won't lie about it. I will tell the truth because it's a good way to find out who you can trust.
I have never imagined that it is so difficult to come out of religion, I admire your courage
As an born atheist, I have never gone throught that difficulty that confusion, which are so important for this
I am a member of a couple of atheist sites and I find that the stories about 'coming out' are frequent and most stories follow some similar patters. I did not have such experiences but I feel extremely sorry, sometimes even concerned and helpless too. I belong to an orthodox, less educated and a developing country and I can't expect better that what I got but I am surprised how the same kind of experiences are repeated in so called advanced countries among well educated people.
That is a very interesting observation, Madhukar. I guess people really are the same everywhere you go. Scary the power religious dogma wields even in, as you say, "so called advanced countries".
I "came out" on my blog, which was at the time automatically posted to my Facebook page for friends and family to see. I'm guessing my sister saw it first, since she's the most active online, and she then showed it to everyone else. I titled it, "The God question: My testimony," which I thought was clever at the time, but it probably only made the blow more shocking because when believers mention the word, "testimony," they are usually about say something positive about their faith, which may have been what my evangelical family thought I was going to do when they saw it. So in that sense, I kind of regret the title. I came out in July 2009, and it was rough facing my family for the first time in person after that post. They will occasionally mention something to me - my dad tried the Pascal's wager bit on me a couple months ago - but I try to steer clear of the topic if at all possible, although prayers before meals are sometimes awkward.