I know that what I am about to talk about may not be pleasant to hear about, and I sincerely hope I don't make any of you angry (although I don't know why I should). But recent events have brought about an upsetting problem that I can't shake, and for reasons that will soon become obvious - but I will outline them below anyway - I can't confide in my theist family about this problem... they would not understand and would most likely gain false hope of me "returning to the fold" - I most certainly will not!
Let me begin this way:
I would have thought that after 7 years after I lost my faith, and after 3 years of being an admitted atheist, that I would have settled all the "adjusting period" emotional and social problems that I had... you know... dealing with the confusion of having the thing that you based your life on (devotion to God) disappear, dealing with confusion and uncertainty about what being an atheist would mean for me and my life (besides lacking belief in God - although that may be the most basic definition - we all know that being an atheist in the United States of America has far more practical issues and implications and hard choices about how you will go forward with your life), dealing with anxiety about who to "come out" to and when (if at all), dealing with confusion and new difficulties over how to live in a society that makes no room for non-believers and - even worse - rejects them and sometimes demonizes them, dealing with the friends and family that don't understand, may try to "win you back", may ask you (with that inevitable look of concern and worry) "What happened? Do you hate god? Did you stop coming to church/ stop believing in God because something bad happened? Are you depressed/ angry? Was it something I did? I REALLY want to know if I did something to hurt you so much that you took out your anger at me on God! Do you need someone to talk to, because I know a pastor/ priest/ rabbi/ etc. that I think you should talk to! He/she can REALLY help you in your time of darkness." (What I was thinking at the time: Ummm... my "time of darkness" is for an entirely different reason than you think! It's not something that anyone did! My faith just collapsed and my world is falling apart around me!), also... you have to deal with the friends and family that reject you because they can't deal with your atheism.
I thought I was through all that... now I'm not so sure.
You see... I have been going through a hard time... and sometimes I desperately wish that God was real and prayer worked so that I could have some relief from my pain... even though I am fully aware that all that is a fantasy.
But something happened last night that really got me to wondering whether I am REALLY over my period of darkness and confusion and made me desperate for some advice from fellow non-theists who wouldn't try to do what my theist friends and family would inevitably do - interpret it as a sign that I wanted/ needed God back.
You see, I had a rather disturbing nightmare that I can't shake. When my Christian mother asked what the dream was about, I couldn't tell her... so I lied and said that I didn't remember. In reality... how could I forget?
The nightmare took place at my old church that I grew up in. I haven't been there in a very long time although, the other day, I passed one of my old friends, a youth pastor, as I was driving down the road. She and her husband both smiled and waved at me.
In the dream, I remember that the old church that I had loved so much was decrepit. It was falling apart at the seams bricks missing, the steeple was gone, and the floors inside were dusty and bare. The main pastor and the rest of the staff was leaving the building through the back entrance with grim, pale, sad faces. Some were crying. The reverend told me that the church had gone bankrupt and that it had been sold to a local atheist group. - I didn't know what to make of that - As soon as they were gone, a group of atheists I had never met before - but that seemed to know me - entered the building and started partying, putting up anti-theistic signs and banners all over the church and leaving popped balloons and confetti on the floor. The place was a mess. Everyone was smiling and laughing and inviting me to join in. But I didn't want to. I remember that I sat on the floor of the sanctuary and cried. I was not crying about God, I was remembering all the friends I had made there, all the various fun activities I had participated in over the years, and all the broken, forlorn faces of my friends that had left in silence after emptying their offices. I felt like a piece of my childhood that I kept close to my heart had been destroyed. I wasn't angry at the atheists, I felt confused and sad. I had no desire to join in on the anti-theist party... I just wanted to cry.
I woke up from the dream feeling disturbed and not knowing what it meant. Can any of you help me figure out what is going on? Have you had similar experiences? How have you dealt with them?
This was just a dream, but it also made me wonder why I would have a dream like that.
On the bacteria scale, we might be considered a whole planet, with about as many nitches.
Its your inner self grieving for the loss. Its just something you have to get through in a grieving manner and except the fact that , that part of your life is gone, Just as we get older we grieve the loss of years and live with only memories of the past. The feelings will pass and you will feel better because you are the one in control not some false God lurking in the clouds.
I'm not an expert by far on human psychology, but I'll toss in my hypothesis for the fun of it.
I reckon that your nightmare was you fully accepting that you've lost a lot of your childhood (I'm assuming that you were raised Christian) because I've notice that of my childhood friends (most of them Christian) their lives really revolved around the church, more than they probably realized, when they were younger. I've noticed this more because they now talk more about how it's "hard to stay close to Christ" in high school and such like that (they tell me all this even though I'm an atheist, I don't get it.)
You said that you thought you had moved past your "period of darkness" but I've heard/read (not saying this is a totally reliable source, mind you, I can't even remember where I got this bit of info) that if something life-changing happens to you, especially at a young(er) age, your mind will block it out until you are ready to deal with it emotionally.
Perhaps this is just your mind finally being ready to deal with things emotionally because you've settle down into your new life, schedule, relationships, etc.
I don't know if that helped you at all, but I certainly hope it did!
If that qualifies as a nightmare, or even disturbing, then you should consider yourself extremely well adjusted. Someone unqualified once told me that you are everyone in your dreams, which makes some amount of sense, I suppose. Dreams are fairly personal.You can find a lot of information about dreaming and lucid dreaming on the web. I would expect that your dream is not nearly so serious as your reaction to it.
I would be inclined to think that the partying atheists are all you rejoicing in the freedom you now feel in a place that used to be confining and false. You feel a sadness for the departure of the friends you made, who are again, you. You have left a world behind, and moved to a new one. Part of you is happy to be in the new place, but part of you misses the comfort of the old. Seems pretty ordinary to me. If you are willing , try to start keeping a dream diary. You can Google how to do that. Over time, you will grow to have a much better appreciation of your dreams and you may well learn to direct them. I now find all of my dreams very very entertaining, even the disturbing ones. haven't had a nightmare in many years, probably because I now think of all of my dreams as entertaining reflections of my inner self. So, own the dream, think about how the people in it are really you, and don't worry, be happy.
When I left the theist camp, I was about 17, but I was noticing the cracks before then. The kids I grew up with were mostly parroting what their parents said and did. I have no idea what happened to that group of kids. I figure that if you stay too long, it starts looking like normal or the way things 'should be'. Over time I noticed that this seems to be true where ever you are, be careful what lesson you learn!
Freud is dead! Dreams mean nothing beyond what your awake mind chooses to make of them. They are nothing more than random, undirected, neuronal firings signifying nothing. Modern psychoanalysts no longer “analyze” dreams, as Freud did; they now analyze what you THINK about those dreams; that is what is revealing.
In your case, it appears that your conscious mind has not yet fully acclimated itself to the loss of the delusional comfort of religion. As long as you remain in this limbo of belief, you will be unhappy. Either go back to your comfortable dogmas or suck it up and depend on your intelligence to tell you that there is no such thing as God.
It’s a friggin’ DREAM!
As to your concerns about fitting in society, I can't help you there, because I am the supreme egoist: I couldn't care less about what people think of me. If I know I'm right, that's all I care about.
But if you should curse your parents, this god who loves you so much, authorizes others to take you out and stone you to death. And should you be a minister's daughter and have pre-marital sex, this warm, fuzzy, loving god authorizes others to take you out and burn you alive - what's not to like about a god who loves you like that?
Sky, he sees your insecurities in your comments, and he's playing on those in an effort to manipulate you - ignore him.
It's even less likely that an invisible sky creature with magical powers will be at your funeral, or anywhere else, for that matter.
Did 'Sinner-Saint' rapture out? I have all these emails, but all map back to 'deleted'.
He proved everyone's point. Not very loving.
What are you talking about? :?