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How Religion Poisoned My Life

By RickRay ~

Some would say I was exaggerating things with my title, “How Religion Poisoned My Life”. I've read a lot of stories from and most of them come from people in the U.S. Those stories really have shown how religion poisons people's lives. So, my story could be quite insignificant to a lot of people compared to some of those horror stories. As a Canadian I never thought people in my country were quite as crazy religious as fundamentalists in America.

I grew up around French Catholics who weren't much on church going, except for my grandmother who was probably the most religious of the bunch. My mom didn't have much use for the Catholic educational system and its religion as I remember her telling me horror stories about how the nuns treated her in school. She sent me to go to a public school system so I wouldn't be exposed to that kind of abuse. Glad she did! I remember my grandmother taking me to church a few times, but since it was all in French and mom sent me to an English school, I didn't really know what was going on, nor did I care. Granny had me say prayers whenever I stayed over at her place but it was more like memory work that had no real meaning to it. I said them just to please her because she was a wonderful lady who loved me and was there for me. My mom and step-dad were always fighting and I remember leaving in the middle of the night walking down the street playing my harmonica on my way to stay over at my grandmother's house, it was sanctuary for me.

As I got older religion didn't play a serious part of my life. I remember having been baptized and going for my communion and foolishness like that. My grandmother was the one who suggested I become a teacher after I graduated high school and I thought that was a good idea since I did like children. I married my first wife at age 25, she was atheist and things were great. I worked tremendously hard to try and make her happy and create a good life for us. But, you know how things go, she just wasn't happy! I was very much in love with her and tried to commit suicide by taking an overdose of pills but I guess it wasn't my time, or I just fucked up and was looking for attention. You know, the old self-pity story.

Along comes the second wife who was a single mother with a little boy who was 5 years old. He was really spoiled and I tried to get him to behave better, but you know mothers, their children can do no wrong. Funny, I also came from a single mother and the same attitude prevailed in that situation. I was bilingual but was more English than French whereas she was really French. Somehow, French culture and English culture worldviews just don't mix. She had never really shown any interest in religion, even though her mother was super religious. It wasn't til about 7 or 8 years into the marriage that she started showing interest in going to church and following the Catholic religion. I played along thinking that she'd get it out of her system after awhile. Wrong! She was on her way to some holy spirited life. She was getting kind of psychotic and nothing I ever did was good enough for her. I told her if she wanted to go to college and university to become a teacher I would pay for it and support her through it.

The summer she graduated from a French Teacher's College, she told me to get lost. At the time we had her son who I had adopted and given my name to who was now 16, and my younger biological son who was 8. She decided that spring that she, her sister, our kids and her sisters 2 kids would go for a trip out east and be back in 3 weeks. She told me she wanted me out of the house when she got back. Go figure, after everything I did for her!

When they returned from the trip I had found an apartment a block away from the house so I could be close to the kids and maybe she would have thought about getting back together. She told me she had planned this and didn't want me around. I'm sure her sister helped make that decision.

She wanted a divorce and didn't want to go to counseling that I had suggested. She just kept putting me down and saying nasty things. Anyway, not long after I moved to a place of my own I discovered she was having all kinds of mental problems. She was ripe for the picking! Along came the evangelicals. They snagged her, hook, line and sinker, and that's where she's at today, 17 years later.

I became very bitter and just wanted my biological son with me who eventually came to live with me when he started high school. She kind of lost it after that and would pop over to my place every once in awhile proselytizing and telling me god was the most important thing in her life. I asked why the kids were not the most important thing in her life. But, she kept on blabbing about how god would take care of everything. On one hand she would say she missed going to the cottage and on the other hand turn around and tell me she was going to go after my pension but it would cost her $15000 to get out of our divorce agreement. She was definitely going through a rough time but couldn't bring herself around to asking me if I wanted to get back with her. I wouldn't have anyway, because she had already persuaded me one summer to go and live with my brother for a couple months so she could have some alone time. That should have been a signal to me back then.

I did manage to get back into a relationship with my adopted son, but he had decided to go back to taking her last name. I always wondered what kind of horrible things she must have told him to make him want to do that. Weird, but that's exactly what my mother did to me with my step-dad. Gave me his name then when I was 16 she changed my name back to hers! Weird, coincidental , or what? I know my mother was a mental case from the way she treated my step-dad with disrespect and disdain but I knew she loved me and wanted the best for me, but at least she stuck it out with him, although I don't know how he did it. They both died about 4 months apart from each other from lung cancer as they were both heavy smokers. Somehow age 59 and 62 don't seem to be very old. But I digress.

My younger son got married to a wonderful Canadian Sikh girl whose a teacher and they're both moving to Australia for awhile. By the way, they're both freethinkers. My adopted son is still closer to his mom and is somewhat religious but not extreme like his mother. I'm 63, living alone with my cat, belong to a Humanist group and have a freethinking, humanist, atheist best friend. I've been retired from teaching for 10 years and I'm at a point in my life where I don't think I can live with anyone as we tend to get set in our ways. As long as we have special friends who accept you for who you are and share most of the same worldview, then life isn't so bad. The biggest regret is the effect that divorce has on children and the long term effects. With a 40% to 50% divorce rate I could not stand having to go through that kind of pain and monetary suffering ever again Perhaps some of us are destined to live alone. With all the atheist blogs and documentaries that show the damage religion does to society and what it's done in the past, it still boggles my mind that people don't take the time to scrutinize the religion they believe in. I say, “Question everything.” “Accept nothing without evidence.” “Use every atom of critical thinking skills you have to disprove ancient dogmas” and be the best person you can by simply following “The Golden Rule”.