I grew up in a "normal" family. I had a psychotic mother and a dad that ignored her behaviors.
My brother who is 10 years older was chronically stoned and often alcohol laden. My sister 12 years older suffered her own extreme guilt becoming pregnant prior to graduation. She lost her premature daughter at 1 month of age due to heart defects.
I was 7 years old when I got to hold my niece and 7 years old when I went to her funeral. I still remember my mother telling me before the service not to "make a scene". In my mothers view, that meant if you cried no one was to see or hear you. I never understood why Jesus would take my sister's baby away. I learned at that point that there were questions that neither the pastors nor god were going to answer.
My dad's family was Seventh Day Adventist. We would attend the week long "events" that were set up to "enlighten" us with "just discovered" information from the book of Daniel or Revelations. I was absolutely TERRIFIED! There was a consensus in the congregation that the Pope was the Antichrist. Any person you met could be possessed by the devil and out to drag you into the devil's servitude. I learned what I was supposed to do and how I was supposed to live my life.
I wasn't very good at following directions but I had enough guilt to hang on to my greatest "lessons". I knew I was supposed to get married and have babies. I knew some of the things I was feeling were "of the Devil" so I spent an enormous amount of time crying, often convulsively. If you happened upon the video of the minister "casting out demons" I'm certain I could have been held up as evidence. When I was so racked with guilt, crying it out was truly cathartic.....for about 15 minutes. Still, I got married and had a baby.
After my son was born, I unraveled fairly quickly. I was becoming suicidal. I still didn't know how to be myself without the acceptance of god so I searched. I finally found a church that accepted gays. Along with that, I began to read everything I could get my hands on the subject. So much of it dug into the origins of the bible and the cultures it was written in. I began to question again. At the same time, I found people who accepted me for who I was. I became more involved with the church by becoming a board member and treasurer.
I stayed with the church until its demise. The congregation dropped off severely after a new gay bar opened in town. With the loss of the location, I realized my greatest comfort had not come from the religious aspects but from the people and the sense of community.
By gaining enough knowledge, I realized the bible was one big contradiction. I checked out other religions and knew I didn't have a desire to adhere to any teachings.
I have picked up on the things that give me comfort and a certain level of control. They aren't things that come out of a religion. I know if I watch a flame flicker I can calm my mind. I listen to peaceful music; I find peace. I pet my dog and I relax. I do yoga and feel refreshed. I eat shitty or get too lazy and I pay the price.
I didn't just wake up one day and decide I didn't believe in god. It has been a process. I believe the process continues.
There is much more I could add but the bedtime story is sufficient.