For me deconversion was the most powerful moment of my life.
I was a Christian in the Presbyterian church for 16 years. I was baptised as an infant and when, in May of 2004 I took the vows of my confirmation and became a member of the church, it was the proudest moment of my life [or so I thought]. I thought that the voice of Jesus Christ spoke to me in my head, especially when I took communion. When my best friend revealed to me that she was no longer Christian I left a little prayer written on a slip of paper on the pew bench every Sunday that year. I feared for her for reasons I couldn't understand, because I didn't believe in Hell. But what I didn't know was that the "nagging, disturbing questions" that I had been having for years and suppressing, were popping up more and more often and I was having a harder and harder time suppressing them.
"Where was God during the Holocaust? How could he allow that to happen? He's supposed to be good!"
"Why did I feel during every 'benediction' where we confessed our sins, that I was compelled to search the week obsessively for any sins... even tiny ones [like lying about picking up my room]?"
"Why was it that I had reoccuring nightmares where Jesus was walking away from me and when I called after him he gave me a cold look... and when I screamed that I wouldn't leave him he ignored me?"
"Why was it that I wasn't "able" to understand god?"
"Why did he never answer my questions?"
I was losing my mind and had become that wretched figure fighting something tremendous and inevitable that I could sense, but only at the deepest levels of my subconscious. I was a pitiful creature in a fetal position with the wild, frightened eyes of a tormented animal, silently screaming "NOOOO!" as I tried to shut out the inevitable.
The foundation of my life was built on God, and after a steady and slow disillusionment, suddenly in February of 2005 when I was 16 [less than a year after I took my confirmation of my baptism], the whole of my Christian faith [the biggest part of the foundation of my life] came crashing down so violently that I was left reeling in the dark of confusion and terror of the unknown. God was part of my identity and I had no idea who I was anymore. For four years I tried desperately to find God again, first trying christianity [maybe if I faked it I would "make it?"] but when I found that empty and meaningless I went flying with the speed of the desperate wreck of a human being I had become through every religion [including neopaganism and the occult] that I could find. All of them were empty and my mind found no solace in them.
My "savior" was an atheist in a now long-gone facebook group called "...So Apparently I'm going to Hell..." I had declared agnostic and in a forum thread where members of the group were talking about their [many] religious stances I described my definition of my "agnosticism." An atheist in the group told me that I was actually an atheist... and I refused to respond. I got very angry and tried to force the thought of me being "the evil a-word" out of my mind. Again I fought like an animal against the idea. But this time, it would not go away.
Finally I checked out the website he provided that spring of 2009. [The same spring that I first came to Think Atheist as a lost and confused baby atheist - see my older posts and you will understand]
I found there the definition of atheism and theism, gnosticism and agnosticism... and I was forced to realize the truth, there was no god... I am an atheist.
It was like a mountain had been lifted from my shoulders... I didn't know where I was going, but I had a direction, and I new chance to build a new foundation.
Like many deconverted atheists, I have become a member of the most "solidified" [or "strong" [don't like that word]] group of atheists in the community. I will NEVER go back to faith!!
The foundation I stood on with faith was like the emperors new clothes or that cartoon character that walks off a cliff and doesn't fall until he realizes that he's in midair.
But this foundation of skepticism and reason, critical thinking, and science is real... and stronger than anything I had as a theist.
I realized suddenly the other day that the feeling I was afflicted with for years [that I was a naked beaten prisoner chained in the dark waiting, humiliated and helpless, for a savior] was gone! It had been there since I was a child... and now it was gone.
No prince charming had come on a white horse to rescue the prisoner princess, the princess had banished the monsters in the dark with a wave of the hand of disbelief and torn the shackles from her with skepticism. I am my own savior.
I do not need Jesus.