The Journey (my first blog, not a sappy love song band)

This isn't my first blog...and it probably won't be my last.
I admit that I've had dalliances in other places. There was even a long term affair with myspace, but as my life progressed past what I wanted family members to browse, the entries there became less and less sincere.
There is an anonymity to the internet. A sense of honesty that can be scrutinized by a thousand people (and as long as none of them are blood related, it's perfectly free.) There isn't much of a chance of running into any family members here. My mother's side is vaguely Baptist, though only the younger children attend church. My stepfather's clan (and barely spelled with a C) are LDS, and live only a few hundred miles from Salt Lake City. In combination, these teachings have better armed me for a life of atheism than any Folsum Street Fair or San Francisco Gay Pride event.
My family are right wing Christian wackos that live in the same Nevada desert that is home to coyotes, vultures, sand and card carrying members of the NRA that have refurbished old fall out shelters and military aerial storage facilities to make room for their stock of food, water and weapons for "when the end comes." I'm also a card carrying member of the NRA, but it has to do with a love of outdoor sports, fresh, organic food and marksmanship. I do not plan on succeeding from the union or overthrowing the government. In fact, I don't even live in the desert anymore. I live in Thailand, where it is illegal for non-citizens to own a firearm. My rifles are locked away in a fingerprint locked gun safe that had to be moved by a crane because not only is it inaccessible to children, but apparently it is to the Elko Police Department as well. At home on my little island I did buy my British boyfriend an air gun. Before he was allowed to chase off stray cats with it, he had to shoot me first, and then himself. I didn't want any animal, even a nasty, vicious one to be injured to the point of continued suffering. Once I was assured that the plastic pellets would not break the skin of a furred trespasser, Colin was set free to terrorize the violent strays, the palm trees and anything else that makes a fuss in my garden. (He also shot me twice on accident, but it's his first handgun. We are learning safety in a controlled environment.)
I've come to ThinkAtheist because I like feedback. I've always enjoyed receiving suggestions on any one of my many life's dilemmas that don't involve the words "Just pray" "The will of god" or a listed inventory of how I'm sinning.
I've come to the conclusion that the only sin in life is hurting another person or hurting yourself, especially to the point that you vicariously hurt another. (Spot the cycle, kids!) It seems like a simple equation to me. Molesting young boys = bad. A consensual relationship between two adults of any gender=good. That which produces love or gladness creates happiness as a ripple. Of all things, doesn't the world need more happiness?
I didn't leave Christianity because my cousin was told he was going to hell for having a boyfriend. I didn't leave it because of the many blatant contradictions. I didn't even leave it because of all the violence, hatred, bigotry, or even discrimination. Those are all good reasons, but when it comes down to the line, anything can be rationalized if you have faith. That is the real basis of religion. Even if I could accept all these things, there was still something missing from my life, and that was belief. As a young child I can remember sitting through Bible study thinking how wrong it all was, but pushing myself to pray and "love" because the prospect of burning in eternal agony just wasn't a consequence I wanted to risk. This came from the mind of a six year old. As I got older I realized that forced love wasn't love. It was rape. I was coerced into agreeing with ideals that went so far against my logic, against my reason, against my HEART that I grew strong enough to put it all aside. If there is a God of the Bible, he has created me as a fair, flawed, beautiful, elitist, determined individual. If I ever find myself standing at some pearly gates, I will be the first to point out why I could not follow.. and then I will take my punishment with head held high. These things I cannot accept I'm told to obey on faith. Faith, it seems is an inborn trait. I am without it and have been my entire life. Isn't that mistake of an omnipotent deity? Doesn't my existence create a paradox? I know I'm here. I can see my hands as a type. What rational person would doubt their own reality as opposed to an invisible, inaudible magic giant that supposedly created and loves Christians, Muslims and Jews all equally, yet divides them by dogma?
That is how I got to be here. Now that we've made introductions, I don't mind telling you a bit more about me personally.
I turn 26 this week. I work as a freelance writer and professional scuba diver. I specialize in deep sea extended air and trimix diving. I am one of the few women to be certified on the Megaladon Rebreather Unit, and my love has always been wrecks and caves. I'm also married, still close friends with my soon-to-be-ex-husband and have been in a loving relationship with my Scottish boyfriend for nearly a year. My husband and I separated on friendly terms long before I ever met Colin, but I can say without shame I have happily been in open relationships where that wouldn't have been a problem. Love is an infinite commodity. Sex isn't a bargaining chip. I'm in a monogamous relationship now, but that hasn't always been the case, and it might not always be. I don't believe this makes me immoral. I respect myself, I respect my partners and I respect my body. I enjoy the connection that comes from sex, so you won't find me having any one-night stands, though you also won't find me judging people that do. I have high standards when it comes to intimate encounters, and because of that I've probably had less participants than most. I can remember every name. I could call two thirds of those people and ask for help tomorrow if the necessity arose.
I have the same fears that most people do. His parents are coming next month. Will they like me? Will they like my cooking? How should I address them; Mr &Mrs? First names? What if I can't understand them? (North Scotland accents are a language of their own) What if I don't measure up to his past relationships? What if I say or do something embarrassing?
Normality is based on familiarity. This is new territory for me.
Marriage has been on my mind a lot lately. Probably because I'm dissolving one. My lack of religious beliefs make me feel like marriage is an infringement. It seems like a stranger is laying down the law as to how to lead my life. I want to put my name on a petition saying that I stand firm in my belief that I will never marry (again) until every couple of all genders have that right.
I also want to show the world that I'm more than a girlfriend. I'd like people to understand that we are in a long term, committed relationship that I put a lot of energy and time into creating and maintaining. A nice sparkly ring wouldn't be bad, either. Nor would the citizenship and visa benefits. I think somewhere deep down I am also offended by the thought that someone-anyone couldn't want to marry me! I AM a prize, you know! Alright, so maybe it isn't that "deep down" after all.
He's 12 years older than I am. What about children? Neither of us want them, especially not now, but if that changes, is it worth standing by my virtues to raise a child at a disadvantage? Hell, IS it a disadvantage to have children out of wedlock anymore?
There is a lot of conflict on the table. Intellect, ego, habit, insane-unnecessary-worry.
I am human.
It's to be expected.

Tune in next week(ish) when I tell you all what I did for my birthday, how I'm going to make up for leaving Colin's two thousand dollar camera at the bottom of the ocean and if the new exercise regime is standing up to ingrained laziness.
Until then!

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