Even if you can’t relate to my challenges, perhaps you might relate to the struggle.

I'm still here!I haven’t written a real blog post in over six months. It isn’t that there hasn’t been anything going on with me. It isn’t that I don’t have things to say. Figuring out how to say it, however, has been a challenge that I’m only just now even attempting to meet.

I recently wrote something for another venue where I talked about my passion for creating safe space for others to share their personal challenges and triumphs. While I think that this safe space is often something very intimate – one-on-one conversations with a friend – I also believe that sharing my own imperfect journey via social media is a way of opening up some safe space, albeit in a far less intimate way. Even if you can’t relate to my specific challenges, perhaps you might be able to relate to the idea of struggle.

After having to say goodbye to the most amazing therapist (due to her move to another state), I am happy to say that I have found another, similarly wonderful person with whom I can continue to learn. With her, I am addressing two of my personal addictions – shopping and food – in a way that I have never done before, and quite frankly, with mixed success. Now very conscious of my previously unconscious thoughts, I find myself putting an extraordinary amount of energy into recognizing, acknowledging and redirecting my thoughts. It is exhausting and has made me more irritable and difficult than normal. But I’m noticing changes in my thought patterns already, which is just enough to keep me going forward.

I am also trying to understand and address some lost relationships that I’ve experienced over the past year. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t understand why these ties dissolved, but what I don’t understand is why I allowed it to happen. Some of the most important relationships in my life have been frozen this year, and I have not taken the steps that would be necessary to restore them. It’s a failure that I am deeply ashamed of, but I do still feel stuck in inactivity.

And while those things are addressing the negative energy, there is a lot of positive, as well.   I believe that I’ve finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I’m pursuing a path that feels right in a way that nothing really has before. And while I’m not yet ready to discuss the details, I will be sharing more in months to come.

I swore I would never move again.

I swore I would never move again.

With all of that happening, I am also preparing to sell my house and buy a house with my parents. I am certain that this will spawn many blog posts to come, as preparing to live together again is challenging, exciting and a tiny bit terrifying. We’re still six months away from any actual move, but preparing two houses for sale, planning to consolidate into a single house again, and mentally preparing for everything involved in selling, buying and moving… The stress of such a move starts early.

I do plan and hope to return to blogging more often in the months to come. I suspect that my posts may become more personal—more about myself and less about the world at large. I have no doubt that I will return to social activism from time to time, and hopefully in a bigger way in the future, but for now, I am giving myself permission to focus on my own world.

If I could have been an altar girl, maybe this never would have happened.

My best friend from high school asked me in the comments on the Faitheist post about the catalyst that moved a former Catholic to atheism.  I haven’t really told that story yet – so I thought I’d bring it out of the comments and make it a separate post.

I wish I could point to something specific, but to be honest there isn’t one thing. I questioned the Catholic dogma pretty early on, and no one was willing to take on my questions. The Catholic Church is not exactly a great place to argue whether animals are capable of love (the Catholics say no), whether it is important to memorize the Ten Commandments in order (I refuse to believe that matters), why girls can’t serve on the altar during Mass (a practice that has changed in some parishes) or whether homosexuality is really wrong. And yes, as a kid I found all of those discrepancies between my own beliefs and the Catholic church to be equally important.

The truth is that I don’t think I’ve ever really believed in God, as much as I wanted to at times. There is a lot that I love about religion and spirituality as a matter of ceremony, structure and discipline – but as much as I tried, I always felt like I was just playing along.

Within the past ten years or so, I have gone through this period of being really angry at “religion” for the hate and rhetoric that tears our country apart. Interestingly, I never blamed Islam for terrorism – but I blamed Christianity for homophobia, racism and misogyny. And in the end, it’s all just misplaced blame.

The word “atheist” scared me for a long time – because it scares so many other people. But one day I just decided that I was tired of dancing around the word. It was true, so I was going to own it. (I have a few very close friends who are atheists, and they owned it first.) But I knew that if I was going to use that word, I needed to be educated and articulate about why. So I started to read a lot about religion. (The Evolution of God is a fantastic book. The author, Robert Wright, is not an atheist, but it’s a wonderful historical view of God. I have a list of other resources that are great, if you are interested in reading more on the history of religion.) The more I read, the less I blamed religion for all that is wrong with the world, and realized that it might just be religion that will ultimately be able to repair some of the wrongs.

Where am I now? I love thinking about God and religion from a historical and social perspective. I can’t deny the impact that the idea of God has had and continues to have on society. More importantly, I have no desire to change anyone else’s mind about their belief in God. If that belief is something that helps you to structure your life, educate your children to be wonderful people and gives you a stable, strong community – go for it. I’m just not going to be playing along.