I’ve been in several abusive relationships before, but my first was also probably my worst. It lasted the longest and affects me the deepest. Years after the severance I still think about if frequently, getting that pang of guilt for leaving a lot of ends untied.
It was a not so subtle meeting at their house with an initial phase of intense love bombing that started it all. They told me I meant everything to them. They said that they felt like they had known me forever, and that they would even die for me if the opportunity presented itself. It was the first time I was ever spoken to that way. I was enraptured. I was captivated at the depth of affection that they held for me, and for years I dedicated my life to the reciprocation of those feelings.
The relationship seemed like something that could last a lifetime. I worried about their opinion ceaselessly because I was terrified of the implications of them leaving. The abuse had already begun. The funny thing about abusers is the understanding that the only thing worse than them leaving is them staying around. Abusers are fueled by dedication. It makes gaslighting so much easier.
The love bombing ended at an unidentifiable time, and the more obvious abuse began. By that time, I was already hooked on the idea that I wasn’t self sustainable. My family loved them. My friends did as well, and I was utterly alone, simultaneously feeling the pain of manipulation and the guilt of not trusting the person who supposedly loved me the most.
After a while, my partner’s intentions became increasingly violent. Threats of literal torture were brought up. They spoke of themselves in strings of grandiose superlatives: the smartest, the strongest. Oh, did I mention that they were also the supposedly all powerful, omniscient, omnipresent, deity of Christian lore who exists outside of time and space?
Sorry, that detail must have slipped my mind.
I wholeheartedly believe my susceptibility to narcissists and egomaniacs was a product of my religious upbringing. Whether you do or do not believe in a god, just think about it. When is it ever okay for anyone to threaten you with death or torture? When is it okay for someone to command you to love them under coercive terms? When is it ever okay for an authority figure to use their power to physically, emotionally, or sexually abuse the people that they are in charge of?
Its never okay, ya goof! Yet for some reason we make an exception for God (or god (or gods)). What’s even worse is that not only does this deity expect to abuse his followers and get away with it, he also demands to be viewed as the north star for our moral and ethical orientation. He commands us to not kill, rape, lie, steal, and destroy… then he does all those things or makes special exceptions to his “unchanging” will for the convenience of special devotees and demagogues.
I found the glorious freedom of atheism after running the gauntlet of Christian doctrine for nearly two decades. Whatever that guy is pedaling as love, it meets absolutely no reasonable standards of mine, not even close. Teaching children from a young age that it is okay if someone abuses you as long as they are more authoritarian or if they say they know better is absolutely monstrous. Human sacrifices and the literal consumption of children is all in this “god” guy’s wheelhouse! I just can’t personally support fear tactics as a means to get people to believe in any type of dogma. The ends do not inherently justify the means. Even the most rudimentary standards of morality would acknowledge that.
That being said, I support anyone believing whatever they would like, but those beliefs are not above the scrutiny or honest evaluation that would be normally dedicated to any other belief. From my estimation, the actions supported by the literal interpretation of The Goat Herder’s Guide to the Universe are some of the most chaotic, destructive admonitions this world has ever seen.
I want to make this explicitly clear. I’m not mad at God. I’m no more angry at God than I am at Darth Vader, and if there is anyone who loves a good fairy tale, it’s me. Talking animals, fire breathing dragons, resurrections from the dead, magic, spells, curses: I love that shit, and it is all found in the Bible. It is also in light of all those aspects (and more) that I base my reality off of that fairy tale book as much as I would off of, say, Alice in Wonderland. That is, not at all.
Fairy tales do, however, provide an incredible window into the human mind. They exemplify the worst and best parts of our experience and our psychology. Myths and legends are the strata by which we muse on fantasies of a better world, but fantasies are inherently irrational and most often less satisfying when they are actualized. On the stage of the theater of the mind, we find heroes and villains. We can explore metaphysical concepts by means of analogy and metaphor.
Most importantly, we can explore the philosophies of death.
With that in mind, the substrate of religion is not necessary for us to venture into our anxiety concerning death. There are, believe it or not, cultures completely devoid of religion, and studies, time and time again, prove that societies that move away from religion evidently find a higher overall quality of life. That, dear readers, is a linchpin.
How do we kill god? We accept our own death. We accept the responsibility for the gift of every waking moment. We accept that there is finality to everything, and that we are the orchestrator of our own symphonies. Our lives rise in crescendo before dropping to into the existential and infinite silence of our own demise.
We have been duped, though. We have been lead to believe that the myth of the soul is some type of resolution to our death fears. This can’t be further from the truth. Even if we were to have a soul, we still die, and once we die, we have no idea to reliably determine what the nature of the soul is. We have no idea where it will go, if it can go anywhere, or if there even anywhere for it to go to! When there are so many books and prophets preaching messages of conflicting views of the afterlife, how on earth are we supposed to determine which one/ones is/are correct when none of them have any reliable evidence for their truth claims? It’s absurd.
Believe what you like, but if there is a concept presented to you as fact yet there is no way to prove it wrong, you don’t have to believe it. I have just as much reason to believe in the flying spaghetti monster as I do the Abrahamic god, pagan gods, Greek pantheon, Santa Claus, etc. The admission that something is inexplicable does not logically justify a belief in the supernatural. If I pray to the ghost of Abraham Lincoln to help me roll all 4’s in Yahtzee, and it happens, I have no reason to believe my prayer evoked the spirit of a long dead president to help me win at a game of chance. Abraham Lincoln’s specter may actually be influencing my rolls, but how do I falsify that claim? How do I reliably test for a ghost? Even if I could test for the presence of a ghost, how do I test that it was actually doing anything? How do you differentiate coincidence from the supernatural?
We do it based on evidence. We have a near infinite amount of examples of coincidence, yet not a single supernatural claim in the history of man kind has ever been proven. I say that I am a Ghost all the time, yet no one reading this actually believes that I am a spirit. Why? Really. Ask yourself why you don’t think I am literally a ghost. Could it be because that is implausible? Could it be because you have no evidence?
The same goes for god(s).
When men kill god, we find truth. We find the truth that we don’t need dusty books and crooked heirophants to tell us how to be moral, ethical, and prosperous. We find that the prophecy of smoke-and-mirror divination is only as reliable as it is vague. We find that we are god, and that one day, we will die as well. In that long rests, we find the comfort of a life well lived.
I get that this may polarize my readers. I get that this single post may repulse you from ever coming back, but your voice is free here as well, even if you disagree. If you would like to comment on this, please do! You can even contact me directly with anything via my contact page.
I end with a Sufi poem, a string of verses that my brother and I are especially fond of:
Be Melting Snow
by Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi
Totally conscious, and apropos of nothing, you come to see me.
Is someone here? I ask.
The moon. The full moon is inside your house.
My friends and I go running out into the street.
I’m in here, comes a voice from the house, but we aren’t listening.
We’re looking up at the sky.
My pet nightingale sobs like a drunk in the garden.
Ringdoves scatter with small cries, Where, Where.
It’s midnight. The whole neighborhood is up and out
in the street thinking, The cat burglar has come back.
The actual thief is there too, saying out loud,
Yes, the cat burglar is somewhere in this crowd.
No one pays attention.
Lo, I am with you always means when you look for God,
God is in the look of your eyes,
in the thought of looking, nearer to you than your self,
or things that have happened to you
There’s no need to go outside.
Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.
A white flower grows in quietness.
Let your tongue become that flower.