Ok, where was I?
Ah, yes. So, this whole time I had been struggling with the a fore mentioned things there was something else that I struggled with, but mostly subconsciously. In conversation and in my head, being raped by my youth pastor made me stronger as a person and as a Christian. That was half true. It did make me stronger as a person. It forced me to figure out who I was by throwing me into situations I never would have encountered in my sheltered life. I didn't automatically trust anyone, and I didn't trust anyone who automatically trusted just anyone. . . I suppose it made me jaded and cynical, but that look works on me, ok? The fact that I never took anyone at face value anymore made me question pastors, teachers, and ultimately Christianity. I honestly believed that my rapist had a connection with Jesus, yet he did awful things. This led me to believe that Christians are more likely than anyone to be screwed up because they want all their other Christian friends to think that they're good Christians and holy and all that shiznit. So, by that logic, most if not all Christians harbored some secret life that they needed to hide to keep up their current life, but most non-Christians didn't give a shit what people thought about them and "sins" weren't sins to them, so they were free to show their real self to people. I realize this is some major all or none thinking, but I still believe it's true, just to a lesser scale.
To clarify, I know lots of religious people that I respect. Some are Mormons, others are Christians and a few are Catholic. The thing that sets these people apart from most religious people I have met is that they're real and outsiders in their own religion. They're the first to admit their lives are not perfect, they indulge in things like cigarettes or alcohol or craaaazy unorthodox thinking. They're normal people. They're not Christian or Mormon with a shot of regular human, they're humans that believe in something bigger than themselves.
That was the big deal breaker for me. And who can blame me? You get fucked over by someone you trust, you hate everything they believed in (pun intended). That's the way it goes. If anyone looks down on me for not being a Christian anymore, I seriously think I have the best "excuse" ever.
So, I knew I didn't want what I had but I didn't know what I did want. That all changed when I started going to college. I saw so many happy, well adjusted people that were different religions or no religion at all. They weren't mentally whipping themselves for every sin they committed like a bulimic for every calorie she consumed. They were happy being themselves, warts and sins and all, and for once, I wanted to just be happy. Not asking for forgiveness for things that were natural and made me happy.
I was still going to church for the semester before I moved to Jacksonville and I felt myself getting even more disenchanted with that whole system. It seemed more and more to be a business that had deviated from the only good things it had in the first place. Jesus was a pretty cool guy according to all accounts in the Bible. Church for the early Christians was getting together at a friend's house, doing some hippie style singing, reading a bit from a few books they all enjoyed, eating and sitting around on throw pillows. Most modern day churches are totally different. They're awkward and forced. You walk into a giant room where you face one man and listen to him give his interpretation of part of a book that doesn't make much sense. There is no discussion. You can't ask him to clarify. You can't holla back at the man.
When I moved away I had a chance to do my own thing without the scrutiny of my parents, which opened me up to a lot of new experiences. I had a chance to go to a party and get shitfaced, and realize the next morning that that was not something I enjoyed. I tried sex, and decided I liked it. I wondered why something completely natural is bad. Why would god put a sex drive in his creation before they supposed to have sex other than to tempt them? What was marriage other than just a piece of paper and a promise?
So that's about it, I think. There's been other little things, but mostly this stuff. Since all this happened I've come up with my own hybrid form of religion that makes me happy. It offers me a sense of comfort and if I don't go to heaven or whatever, at least I didn't spend the 70 or so years I had here on earth miserable and always apologizing for doing things that make me happy. Now, I focus on nature, and take from Wiccan tradition, Native American spiritualism, Buddhism, and a few religions and philosophies. I'm happy. I'm not ashamed of what I believe or who I am or having sex out of wedlock or any of that stuff. I celebrate nature and all it brings with it.