My Journey

My Journey Away From Faith: The Epilogue: Part 5

For part 4 of the epilogue, click here.
To start at the beginning of my journey, click here.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
-Oscar Wilde

The day of my second appointment I was far less worried. The drive there still bothered me greatly as I hate long drives. We reached the office about a half an hour early and I sat down in the waiting room. Thoughts of my life passed through my mind.

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I remembered how hard childhood had been, never knowing what to say or how to take the things that others said to me. Making friends is difficult when you don’t recognize the difference between sarcasm and actual anger, or realize that you should offer comfort to someone who is sad. I remembered my teenage years, spent in part trying to do everything I could in order to be seen as “normal” and then spending the second part of those years doing everything I could to not be seen as anything close to normal.

AnarchyI remembered the first time Jennifer and I had been together, how much love I had felt for her in those early moments and how much deeper my love for her is now that weTexas have reconnected. I felt the pain of losing her go through my mind and the struggles I faced trying to put my life back together. All the times that I wanted to give up and yet still pushed forward regardless of the circumstances.

FightingI thought about my second marriage, how I had tried finding someone who was the exact opposite of Jennifer, somehow thinking that this would lead to happiness. Remembered all the pain I went through but all of the joy as well spending time with my two-step children from that marriage. Watching them grow has been one of the favorite parts of my life and it still is.

Storm cloudsI thought of my cousin, who had lived a parallel life as me. Had he been autistic? Were the struggles that he faced caused by the same source as my own battles in life? He had always seemed to be more outgoing but hearing stories from others around him, he was always distant, cold, and preferred to be alone. Would he still be here today if he had sought out the help of a psychologist instead of the dogmatic dog whistles of his cousins ministry?

autismI thought about my nephew, that small bundle of joy that had cleared the path to my own mental health and stability.  If he hadn’t existed would I ever have known the name to my own struggled? I know he has many struggles to face in life and it won’t be easy, but he is smart and loving, an absolute joy to be around, especially for the uncle who understands him so well. He is and always will be my hero.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, the psychologist came and took me to a small room beside the reception area. I sat down behind a laptop computer and was explained the testing that I would be taking, a simple quiz of around 500 true/false questions. He told me that through the take home quiz and this one, he would be able to gauge exactly where on the spectrum I was.

I started taking the quiz and after about 100 questions the program crashed.  He restarted it and I had to restart from the beginning, about 100 questions in the program crashed once more. He started it up again and the same thing happened. Contacting the IT department, he found out that the virus scan software was what was crashing the program. He disabled that and asked me if I was willing to try it once more, if not I could return in two weeks and try it again.

Thinking about the trip it takes to get there, I decided to give it another shot. After about 120 questions it acted as if it was going to crash, an icon appeared on the screen and simply spun for a few seconds. I yelled at the top of my lungs, “GOD DAMN IT!” The program then went on to the next question and I realized the ass that I had just made of myself. No one came in but I’m sure the receptionist got a bit of a scare from my loud outburst.

I finished the quiz, which continued to act as if it was going to crash every 20 questions or so, and went back to the waiting room. A few minutes later the psychologist asked me to come into his office to talk just a bit more. I sat on his couch and he asked me about a couple of the answers on the quiz. I explained the answers and he then said that he thought he had enough to come up with a complete diagnosis. He told me that since I had brought him all the information about the struggles throughout my life, it had been easy to see that I had been correct. He said he was impressed by all the research that I had done before even approaching a psychiatrist and that i had made his job very easy. It would be a couple of weeks before I got my copy of his report but there would be no surprises in there for me to worry about.

I drove home happy to be done with the long trips to the psychologists office. I had been right. I have ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder. All the times that I had felt different from the outside world made sense to me now. All that I had been through in childhood and life in general were now clear. I wasn’t a failed human being, I was a whole human being, just one that happens to have ASD. My brain works in a wild and wonderful way that could never truly be understood by someone who does not also have autism.  I am perfect, just the way I am.


 

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If you’ve followed me throughout my entire journey and the epilogue, thank you. It might come as a shock to know this but outside of a few people close to me, you, the readers, are some of the first people to know about my journey towards a diagnosis with autism. Thank you so much for the kindness you have shown me.

My journey away from faith is fairly well-known in my community. I still live in the same area as I did when I was a minister. Initially, I had considered moving to a more suitable area for someone who lacks a faith. In the town where I live sits a gigantic mormon church, just on the outskirts of town there is a Jehovah’s Witness Temple, as well as several other churches. My own former church is just over 5 miles away from where i currently live. Moving away might have been an easy solution for me.

However, I want people to have that uncomfortable feeling they get when they avoid me in public. I want the former members of my church to see me, happy and healthy, while a growing sickness builds within their gut. I want their cognitive dissonance to be hit as hard as possible, they need to see that I am still the same person I was, just happier, not filled with hate, living a good life in their midst. It isn’t that these things bring me joy, in fact a lot of times they hurt, but I do think they serve a purpose.

Life experience led me away from faith, finding that faith lacked everything which I had believed it to hold. No comfort was found within the pages of the bible once my eyes had been opened. No strength was found in my faith to get me through the hardships I had to face. Religion is nothing more than a vast build-up of lies. We lie to ourselves enough that one day we find we believe those lies to be true, however, in many cases it doesn’t take much to tear that wall of lies down.

I love my life now. So much wonder and joy is found in the natural world that I question why I ever sought out a supernatural one to begin with. My indoctrination though had started long before I had actually reached an age to make my own decisions for me. I was taught that the world was a deeply sinful, scary and cold place; filled with evil does waiting to bring me down to their abyss. What I have found since leaving is that life is a wonderful thing, something that we only get to experience once. Religion had mad me hate this world and wish for the next…

As Christopher Hitchens is so famous for saying, “Religion poisons everything.”

 

11 thoughts on “My Journey Away From Faith: The Epilogue: Part 5

      1. Yes, I remember your mentioning it.
        Its not easy, but not all bad either. I had excellent care & follow up. Most of my chemo nurses were good for a laugh, & my family dr. was terrific.
        He asked me if I was a religious person, & I almost guffawed & said religion is a man made superstition, out for control of people & their money. He agreed, & admitted atheism himself. We had many visits with lots of discussion about how idiotic religions are.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. What an awesome and riveting story. Couldn’t stop reading it. My daughter is an undiagnosed high functioning Aspie but was diagnosed with sensory integration issues and a coordination disorder. While reading your story about your hating sticky stuff, noise and having coordination problem, I thought you may have the same thing. Glad you got diagnosed.

    I’ve been a semi closet atheist for past 2.5 years. I’m afraid to come all out due to how it would/could affect my livelihood. Your story gave me strength since you had to abandon your livelihood altogether. Also, I thought I may have to move too cause I’m in the Bible Belt and it is hard to escape the mentality here. Your story gave me strength and encouragement and was soooo interesting to read. Thanks for being so open and vulnerable! I wrote down some of the books and authors you mentioned and am going to start reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Becky, this is exactly why I wrote this blog for people like you who are having concerns about coming out as an atheist. Currently I am writing to expose some of the lies that I was taught growing up as well as in an effort to remove the stigma of atheism. I’ve lived in the Bible belt in the past and know how hard that choice must be for you. Thank you for your kind comments and thank you so much for reading.

      As far as autism goes, I am also trying to remove some of the stigma of that as well in this blog. I’ve come to form several friendships over the time of writing this blog and it has hopefully helped several people.

      Once again, thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I look forward to reading more of what you’re writing! Glad you have connected with others through this blog :). You still have a “ministry ” going 🙂

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  2. I love your final paragraph. Losing religion can feel quite frightening, but in reality it’s a comfort blanket with spikes all over it, and the release of being able to make decisions outside an absurd religious framework is amazing.

    As for autism, we’re all on a spectrum, and I suspect a higher proportion of those further along get into blogging. I’m somewhere there but I can’t separate how much if it is environmental (from a family with Aspies). It’s great that it’s so much more understood and out in the open now, and people can contextualise the differences they experience in life.

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Leaving religion has been very good for me.

      As far as all of us being on the spectrum, that’s in effect like saying since we all have melanin in our skin that we are all black in a way. I know it wasn’t meant as an insult though.

      I guess the best way to put it would be that while 90% of the population might show some sign that could be referred to as Autistic in nature, only a small proportion are affected by a prevalence of traits that make life much more difficult. I think you would find my other blogs that deal specifically with my autism to be very interesting in that respect.

      Liked by 1 person

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