Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

What’s in a non-belief?

My friend Kent sent me this NPR article by Penn Jillette, who’s like the funniest atheist out there.  He’s also pretty poignant and I gotta give him credit for this one.   When you don’t believe in god, there is no one to alleviate your sins, no one to forgive you but the people you’ve wronged and no one to shoulder the guilt you feel but you.

I’ve been having a bit of a time with this recently.  My parents, my step-mother and my father, recently allowed me to move into a townhome they own while I pursue my master’s degree.  I’m responsible for utilities and any living expenses and they will waive my rent.  This is a fantastic opportunity for me and my son and really, even for my mother who’s been ready for me to get out for a while.

It’s also opened up a lot of really deep wounds, wounds that are barely scabbed over and quite honestly, wounds that have probably been weeping with infection for the better part of five years, maybe even longer.

This is not the first time this offer has been made to me.  The last time, I lived in a family rental for four years.  It had been renovated after an elderly family member (who was a hoarder) died so that it would be habitable again.

When I moved out, it needed a second renovation.

It’s taken me all these five years of sobriety to even begin to look back on my drug use with any type of reality.  I try to leave excuses by the wayside and own up to the decisions I made, but that’s hard.  It’s hard to admit that we’ve taken advantage of those we love.  It’s hard to admit that you lived in filth, of your own doing, even though an alternative was clearly provided.  It’s hard to admit that we’ve stolen, that we have been liars, that we were not a person of integrity.

Who wants to admit those things about themselves?  No one, but we have to.  We have to first be honest with ourselves to begin the path of forgiveness.

Here’s where the non-belief kicks in.  God is not going to forgive me these things I have done.  The only person, who can forgive me, is me…and each individual that I have wronged.  That’s probably the only one of the 12 steps I agree with, making amends.

I had dinner with my step-mother last night.  I was really nervous, but glad we were taking steps towards healing our relationship.  She was honest with me and I tried to be honest with her.  Sometimes that is really difficult, the honesty.  Admitting the whole of who you are to someone can be really scary.  I came out as an atheist and that felt really good.  I made a promise to live up to a new commitment and I really felt like I received a level of forgiveness that was wholly undeserved, but truly appreciated.

Without god, there is no one but me.  Me and who I am, for better or worse, and how I approach my relationships.

We made a commitment to honor the word honesty in our relationship.  That’s all I’ve got for the New Year.  I think that will be quite enough.

Written by thelittlepecan

January 5, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Posted in addiction, atheism

Tagged with , ,

6 Responses

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  1. Jim — possibly because personal responsibility is of Teh Debil. Change only counts if it’s through Jeebus. Just my experience talking there.

    I admit my filth all the time. People constantly tell me it can’t be that bad. But then if I am at someone’s home, they start talking about how sorry they are the place is such a mess, and you look around and nothing it out of place. Amateurs. They have no idea.

    Which is probably a good thing.

    Marie

    January 16, 2011 at 8:35 pm

  2. Honestly, this sound sad.

    Perhaps, belief does not depend on willpower. Probably, it’s just a gift.

    Since when did you become an atheist? Was it perhaps something that happened in your life or it’s just part of who you are?

    Guillermina

    January 5, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    • If you would like to know more about my journey, I would offer up previous posts. In short, I identified as Christian/believer (though at times eclectic) until my early 20s. I came to atheism through education and not through any negative event. Religion is the concentration I focus on in my discipline.

      thelittlepecan

      January 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    • Why sad? It’s a pretty significant recognition of personal responsibility paired with a very sweet anecdote of how observance of that is healing a relationship.

      Jim

      January 6, 2011 at 11:09 am

  3. Like 😉

    Jim

    January 5, 2011 at 5:21 pm


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