It was Christmas night, 2009, when I finally decided that my threshold for bullshit had gotten clogged, and so help me I would clean it out with my bare hands.
I laid in my sister’s bed – the only bed in the house – underneath three duvets, as my sister couldn’t afford to heat the house much above 50°, the absolute minimum. From the living room, I could hear the sobs of my sister (who slept on the couch) as well – she had received a very offensive gift from our father. Tears slid down my face, and I absolutely wept, feeling that I was responsible for the whole predicament. Actually, I kind of was.
What the hell, world.
After a long, harrowing spiral, I had finally crashed with a bang on the floor of a bottomless pit. Months ago, I had lived in a fancy, middle class house with my father, complete with a plasma TV, a grand piano, and a mother-fucking chandelier. Now I lived in a three room apartment with my sister – a bedroom, a bathroom, and a living room / kitchen. We’ve subsided on rice, ramen noodles, and extremely salty canned food. Exclusively.
I was scared shitless about the future. So, I did something very instinctual, and, well, rather hypocritical.
That’s right, I, Isaac Wolfe, atheist and sexy teen extraordinaire, prayed. It was a funny sight, really. Wearing nothing more than my boxers, I was just a curled-up lump on a mattress. Enjoy:
I’m pretty sure you don’t exist, but hey, there’s no harm trying, right? It’s me. Yeah, that kid who got caught skinny dipping in the creek that one time – but seriously, you don’t expect families to have picnics that far upstream! But, that’s besides the point.
The reason I’m here tonight, is, well, because I’m kind of in a predicament right now. A suckish one. I've heard you're omnipotent and all, so I suppose you know the details. Wanna, uh, help me out? If it's no trouble?
…Are you still there? I said bye. Get off the line.
So how did I end up in this sticky situation? Well, let’s start at the beginning.
For most of my life, I lived with my mother. We loved each other, absolutely and irrevocably. So, when an opportunity came up in Florida, which involved a lifestyle she had always dreamed of but didn’t include me, I severed ties with her in the only way that would work: telling her that I couldn’t stand living with her, that I was moving to my father’s house and she was leaving to Florida, that’s that. I followed through, and so did she.
Unfortunately, there was a problem. My father was – is – a fundamentalist, conservative Christian with anger problems to match. That was all fine and dandy at the time – my mom was a casual Catholic, and I supposed that I loosely believed in God as well, so it wasn’t too different. The only contrasting thing was that now I had to go to church every Sunday, instead perhaps a couple time a year. That was fine with me – Christianity was fascinating, especially the reactions it invoked. I was content for a time, and so was my father.
Until I figured out that my attraction to other men wasn’t just a phase.
Until, at the local library, I picked up a book called The God Delusion in passive interest.
Until my father, after installing spyware on my laptop, found out what these two things had resulted in.
And that was that. After enduring screaming and threats, a forced encounter with a ‘re-orientation therapist’ who tried to tell me that my sexuality was to be feared and hated, and finally a physical encounter, I was out on the cold October streets, with nothing more than a duffel bag full of clothes and a backpack full of textbooks.
I had basically nowhere to go – my mom was essentially excised from my life, and telling any of my friends about the whole ordeal would likely culminate with an investigation by child services, destroying any chance of me seeing my father again. However, in a burst of intuition, I walked to a café on the other side of town, where I waited for my sister to arrive at her shift. Without even requiring an explanation, she took me in.
We survived, barely, my sister working overtime, paying not for only one mouth but two. In school, contrary to intuitive thought, my grades skyrocketed as I put on a fake cheerful mien to erase any suspicion that something in my home life was awry.
Which, eventually, brings us back to Christmas night, and my adventure praying to a non-existent sugar daddy. Gift-wise, that night, I received a journal and some shabby books of my sister’s that I could have borrowed any time I wanted. My sister, from our father, received a five dollar bill taped to a piece of paper that condemned her for harboring me and told her that she was going to Hell.
As you may have guessed, after my plea for help, I waited.
And I waited.
And you know what happened, babycakes? Absolutely nothing.
So, after crying some more and waiting for my sister’s sobs to turn into snores, I put on some clothes and walked across town to my father’s house, where I snuck in through the window (unlocked, just as I had left it) and took the laptop from my room (which I had left there, for some stupid reason). And then, when I got back to my sister’s apartment, I opened the laptop, connected to the Wi-Fi of the nearby McDonalds, and sent off about ten e–mails to the first businesses I had come across online, telling them that their websites were dull and that I wanted to rewrite them for a small price.
None of them responded. Except for one.
Within a week, I was two-hundred dollars richer. I surprised my sister by whisking her out to a fancy Italian restaurant, and telling her to order anything her little heart desired, except for the mushroom raviolis because god, seriously, they’re disgusting. And then from there, everything got awesome. Web copywriting became an actual source of income, and my sister and I stopped living like weird Asian hobos.
Now, you’re probably wondering: what the hell is the moral of this story?
A while ago, I received an e-mail from a man, who compared me to an odd bunny rabbit that liked to jump up and down and point out that the tooth fairy wasn’t real. I’m an atheist too, he wrote, but I don’t understand why you’re trying to take away religion from people. It might not be your cup of tea, but why try to get rid of it for the people it means something to?
That’s where my story comes in handy. We atheist bloggers are not trying to exterminate religion as a whole (usually), we’re trying to exterminate the kind that causes people to attack their children, the kind