Hi, I'm Eric, and I'm 21-years-old.
I am an atheist.
And it isn't surprising that I am, considering how religion has fundamentally ruined my life from the get-go.
I was born in a Conservative Republican, Presbyterian-Christian household. From the start, I was home schooled. For some people, this means gathering in a community of like-minded people, sharing ideas, resources, etc... but not for me. Basically what home schooling amounted to, for me, was unschooling. Which is basically the concept that you learn from your experiences.
Anyway, my parents basically locked my brother and me in our rooms all day with the same toys year after year. We rarely went out, and when we did, it was during the day to the store (usually a health food store) when no kids were around. There were no kids in my neighborhood, when we went to church we'd leave immediately after, so essentially I had no real friends for the first 16 or so years of my life.
Fast forward to now. I should be in college, I should be knee-deep in relationships, and I should be driving to work every day. I should be living. But, I'm not. I am completely at their mercy to this day. I have tried many times to talk to them seriously, but they always turn it into a victim thing on their end and it never gets anywhere. So now, I feel alone, and kind of scared that my life can't get anywhere... I never really had a chance, in retrospect.
So now you can see why I am an atheist (emotionally, anyway)--I never went to real school, never had friends as a kid and was home all day, because of a book written 2,000 years ago that tells you to worship a cosmic jewish zombie, and right-wing conspiracy theories spouted by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the like. Thanks, Christianity! You're the best!
P.S. Any advice would be nice.
Have you tried a gluten-free diet?
Your life so far has been difficult, but hopefully it's nowhere near over, there is still a lot of it left for you to enjoy or ruin as you see fit ;-).
Public school isn't so great either - and you have no way to know if maybe in that environment, that stifles creativity and humanity, you might have been *more* susceptible to religious brainwashing. My girl is only 6 and already she has faced religious bullying, that the supposedly caring and liberal teachers can't manage to do jack crap about. You are doing GREAT to be atheist at 21, loads of people manage to get to young adulthood just cruising along as part of the heard, and never challenge the BS they are fed, never really butt heads with it, and swallow that lie - then need to "uninstall" all that programming. Not a fun task I have heard.
I personally would lean more towards the suggestions of telling "white lies" - spinning the situation to you folks, keeping the peace and getting the heck out of there, try to get a job, move out. Either the military or college / trade school can be a little drastic first step, as they both involve making commitments that will endure for years - to either the military or for student loans. First you really need to experience the joys of freedom, & the difficulty of fending for yourself and making your OWN mistakes. After suffering under the screwed up delusions of religious folks, your own struggles might seem refreshing and fun. Mine did, for the most part. Embrace the role of broke, struggling young adult and you will probably find friendship with people in the same situation, who will appreciate your atheistic nature.
Keep sharing and reaching out, vent all you like. Seriously, I congratulate you on being atheist at 21, there are loads of folks here who took much longer to make that leap, and who regret wasting years of their life living under a delusion. You don't have to face that, you're better off than you think, years from now you will probably look back and have more pride over the person you were despite the weirdness of your upbringing than anything. Religion IS hideous, but don't let it get you down, we're all in the same boat in a way, resisting together. For every one of us who "comes out" and manages to live a decent secular life, we all benefit, our culture grows stronger, more vibrant and wholesome. Try not to forget that you are young, healthy, and relatively free - religion tries to beat you down, to tame and hobble you, but you have resisted that, which speaks well for your strength of mind and of character. It is very likely that you do in fact have the strength and skills to leave and manage on your own - not easily, but you are in a much better position than many folks. You can do it! Find inspiration where ever you need to, and make the leap.
Thanks! I actually became an atheist when I was 16 or 17... my friends all thought I was weird. lol
I appreciate the words of inspiration. ;)
I'm so sorry for you, religion aside that's just plain horrible. I know it might be difficult, but try and get out. Heck, if you can wait a few years you can crash at my place. But on the bright side, you found this place, I haven't been here for long, but it's already helped me so much. So i just hope you the best man.
Yeah, your parents fucked you up. Try to save up as much as you possibly can so you can escape. My first year of college was one of the best times of my life. I could drink COFFEE! I could stay out late! I could swear! I could make an atheist club! I didn't have to explain every facet of my life to my mother! I was raised Mormon and it wasn't nearly as strict, especially since I have awesome parents but I did blame it for a lot of things in my life too that I didn't feel I had to go through.
Your schooling experience seems especially distressing and that's abuse if you ask me. Your parents had no business going about it that way. As far as things like math are concerned, your experience will depend a lot on who is teaching you, and it is very difficult for most of us to learn it on our own. But you can get there. I hear Khan academy is quite good, so if you google that and give it a try you might have some luck. It will take a while to get anywhere and you should expect that. It's normal. Learning curves are weird that way.
Also I have a friend whose parents play the victim card to the extreme. They're very manipulative. We convinced her to move out and they still email her trying to get her to come home. But her parents are religious zealots from Saudi Arabia. She grew up in a place where women couldn't even drive themselves places without a man. And she's a feminist atheist lesbian. Her home was not a safe place for her. And she's much better off on her own. Don't let your parents guilt you to death. It's your life. You've got to take it back by force.
Getting out may be easier if you can find some roommates. Even if you're all sharing a room in a tiny apartment, it beats living with crazy people...
This is only the beginning! Your mind is free. You are 21. You are truly free! That victim trip your parents may use, you have named it. Now it isn't quite as powerful.
Most especially, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You're here with us!
I don't know what deficiencies your home schooling may have had. I do know, as a former English teacher, writer, and editor, that you are an excellent writer. You are far more literate than most posters, whose writing you will read here.
It is scary to plan your whole future. That you were just locked in your room all day raises my hackles. Ironically, your forthrightness in admitting you are afraid, shows an admirable courage. I'm glad to meet you, Eric.
My only advice: research on your search engine where the nearest Atheist, Humanist, Skeptics, or Freethinkers groups are anywhere near where you live. Make contact as you did here. Any group would be happy and lucky to have you!
This is only the beginning!
Astaroth, The good new is you are 21 years old, you have a brain, and I assume a healthy body. You have yearnings that are normal, natural, and necessary to make the transition from boy to man. What are your options?
1. Do nothing.
2. Moan, cry, shout, blame, criticize, terrorize, become a sacrificial lamb upon the throne of someone else's god.
3. Find a trustworthy friend who is not religious. perhaps at your local mental health clinic, or physician, boys' club, to get some ideas.
4. Get a job and move out.
All of these sound daunting when looking at them from your perspective. Don't expect to be stress free or certain of your next action; just know you are right in taking some dramatic action. Take some risks and expect failure. No one grows up without going through some failures. If you have a mind that can think at all you will figure out something to attempt.
Let me assure you, you are not alone. I am 76 years old and had a terrible time freeing myself from the religious and their mind control ... and I was just a Presbyterian ... no cult or crazy group.
Your rant is appropriate and healthy. So, lick your wounds, pick yourself up, start moving.