Several years ago, I had a friend who had begun to drift from the fold. He started dating a woman who *gasp* had a child out of wedlock AND wasn't religious. The relationship wasn't meant to be, but when said friend (we'll call him M) announced he was atheist a few short months later, the blame was shifted to this woman. Her brother said, "I warned him that she was bad news." The woman wasn't exactly the most stable person, but from what I can tell, her brother thought she was bad news because she was not a Christian. A mutual friend said she just knew something was "off" about the relationship. Rumors swirled and R began to distance himself from his Christian friends. A lot of newly deconverted do this as being preached at isn't exactly what one wants to hear from people who are supposed to love you unconditionally. My only request to M was that he not treat me like I was an idiot for still believing in God. Even as a Christian, I had given up so many of my fundy beliefs and considered myself to be fairly rational, so although I was very accepting of his atheism, my only fear was that he would have some kind of intellectual superiority complex. What I didn't know, what none of us bothered to ask, was whether he was okay. His deconversion process was rather quick and it left him in a very dark place. Depressed and suicidal, he had to start going to counseling over the loss of his faith. It was really rough for him because he had wrapped up much of his identity in his religion. The loss of which threw his entire being into question. Although, I could certainly have been a better friend at this point, I wasn't a bad friend as I never tried to preach to him nor was I accusatory. My thought process was, this is my friend, Christian or not.
But M needed distance and Christians were no longer a part of his in-group. He began attending atheist meet-up groups, something I am a bit jealous of now since my husband would be very non-supportive of this. He found a woman who shared similar views. They got married. We talked every now and then via instance messenger and whatnot, but it was at best, an old friend turned acquaintance. Then I deconverted. And he was my ONLY friend that I knew who was an actual atheist. None of this agnostic, kind of spiritual, not really sure bullshit that half my friends have. So I told him. He listened. And confessed that he really had just cut ties with me because he assumed that he already knew how I felt and what I believed. I confessed to him that by the time he deconverted, I had already moved into a very liberal form of Christianity and believed more than half of the Bible had been mythologized. It's also why I was so understanding of his atheism, because I too had doubts. We chatted a bit more.
Today I was in my hometown visiting with friends and asked if he wanted to catch up over lunch. He agreed. Unknown to me, his wife is one of the jealous types who freaks out about men and women being friends so he showed up super tired because wife had kept him up until 1 in the morning fighting with him about going to lunch with me. The only way she "allowed" is was for him to reassure her that my husband was coming. Unknown to him, my husband needed a break and had no intention of leaving our couch that day. Folks, if you are reading this and you are the type who gets jealous, then I'm telling you right now that you have some control and trust issues and you should get some help for that. I can understand if your spouse has cheated on you, but if they have been friends for a long time, you're just being an asshole for trying to control that situation. I have known this guy since I was 17. I was never interested in him romantically and if I had been, I had plenty of opportunities to pursue that option had I wanted to. I did not. M is a nice guy, but not my kind of guy. Contrary to some people's opinions, men and women can be platonic friends simply because you enjoy each others company. I have several male friends who I have maintained a decades long friendship with and all of us are now happily married to other people and also quite comfortable hanging out alone without those spouses.
Anyway, this is the first time since my deconversion that I have spoken face-to-face with someone who is an avowed atheist. Like I stated before, most of my friends are at best "spiritual" (whatever that means) and so I do find myself tiptoeing around the subject of religion in order to not offend. My parents say bullshit and I just let it go. It's like walking on eggshells with my husband because anytime I bring up anything remotely religious, he gets defensive. But here was someplace I could let my guard down and it was fan-FUCKING-tastic. It felt so good to laugh at the ridiculous things the people in my life have said. My dad had just brought something up earlier that day that I shared and M laughed so hard he snorted. And it felt good. It felt so good to know that I am not alone and that yes this is ridiculous and to know that no one was going to be offended by it.
We caught up. We shared our deconversion processes. We laughed some more. Talked about mutual friends. He's planning on divorcing his wife, an imminent thing that she has no clue about it. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it since I know I am only getting part of the story, but it doesn't matter. I'll be a good friend. I'll listen like I should have done years ago. I won't judge. I won't make it about me or get defensive. This chat only reiterated how much I am in need of an atheist friend who lives nearby. I'm not sure where to find such people, but I need just one friend where I am not either a) hiding my atheism or b) walking on eggshells.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.