My second attempt at coming out of my atheist closet was years later after I got married. Like the first time it was an epic fail as well and it nearly ruined my marriage.
After high school I married my high school sweetheart, a hard working Baptist boy with strong morals and down home values. During our marriage we switched through a few different churches trying to find the one that worked best for us. Eventually we ended up joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or more commonly known as "the mormon church" or LDS Church. How we got from a simple Baptist church to becoming Mormons and then ex-mormons is a story in itself, which I will share with you all another time.
So there we were, happily married and living as temple worthy mormons with church callings and the whole shabang. Once we decided to leave the LDS church my conscience started up once again urging me to admit to my family that I was actually an atheist. I just felt like I was lying to them by not telling them. My husband knew I was researching religious history "stuff" for a book I was planning on writing but I don't think he ever realized just how all my research had solidified my atheism in my heart. I would give him little hints here and there, carefully judging his reception to each idea I threw out there and for the most part it was all positive. I thought he was ready, I even thought he would embrace the notion of being atheist himself. I was sorely mistaken.
It was Christmas eve and my husband and I were eating at a local steak house since we now live too far away to celebrate with our extended family. We were talking about some friends of ours who had been in a minor car accident the week before. I mentioned to my husband that the wife of this couple had told me that she felt they had the wreck because God was punishing them for not going to temple that week. My husband rolled his eyes and said "Oh sure God has his hand in everything and causes all things but it was not punish them for not going to temple, hahahaha!" I guess it was the look in my eyes that gave me away because then he looked across the table at me and said "What? You believe God causes all things right?" I guess I felt this was the opportunity I had been looking for so I took a deep breath and staring down at my plate replied
"Um, well actually, I am not so sure about that.....I am not so sure....."
My husbands eyes got huge and I could see fear fill his face and he replied back "Well you do believe in God don't you!?" All I could do was shrug my shoulders but that was pretty much all I needed to say and he knew my secret.
The rest of our meal was quiet and my husband could barely look at me. I could feel the rage eminnating off of him like steam and it made me sweat and squirm in my seat. We paid for our dinner and on our way out to the truck my husband walked right past me, climbed in and slammed the door. I got in and off we went, no words coming between us. After several blocks I managed to squeeze out through scared lips "Do you hate me?" His reply still stings when I remember it. He flatly answered "I don't know."
My world shattered and tumbled into a heap at my feet. The man I loved just said he didn't know if hated me or not, how could this be!? The drive home was terrifying as well as my husband sped and slipped around on the icey roads driving with fury. I became frightened and asked him to please slow down and he yelled "Why!?, are you scared to die!? Because without God it doesn't matter don't you know!?"
I sat in fear and silence the rest of the drive home. Once we pulled up to the house my husband leaped from the truck and stormed inside the house. I had barely gathered my coat and purse from the truck when I looked up and saw my him coming back out of the house, face enraged and carrying a pistol!
I was frozen, unable to move, time and space stopped completely...I have never been so gripped with fear in my life. My husband gave me one hard, long, hate filled look and turned and headed into the backyard where he began firing rounds of ammo into the air one after another. I ran inside unsure what to do but shortly he joined me and we were face to face. Even to this day I can see his expression and it causes tears to spring to my eyes. All his expression held was pure hate where only hours before love and adoration shone bright. Truthfully I think feeling and seeing the hate for me in eyes somewhat traumatized me, its hard to explain. This man whom I loved dearly and whom I thought loved me, despised me. My entire world shifted, I became desperate, unable to deal with feeling this sudden loss of love. It was like being by a warm fire for years and then suddenly being thrust into cold and icy darkness. It was just too much.
My head began to feel dizzy as my husband began calling me names like Devil Worshiper and yelling at me about believing in evolution and just too much that really I can't even recall it all. The gist of it however was that I was the lowest of the low, not worthy of love or compassion, a terrible person and no wife to him at all any longer. My heart broke over and over during his speil. It was like dying a thousands deaths and I became desperate and once again I retracted my hint at being an atheist. I started telling him he must have misunderstood what I meant and that of course I believe in God and for him to please stop. After a while he calmed down a bit and told me "Look, I may have jumped the gun and assumed you meant that you didn't believe in God, but know this, if you ever don't believe in God I can't be with you, I will never be married to an atheist!"
And so I retreated back to my closet once more.
That was two years ago roughly, and we are once more a happily married couple and have never spoken of that day that nearly ended it all. Our marriage for now is safe within the dark walls of my closet, where I hid all my true feelings about God and life in general. I greatly desire to bring this part of me out, into the light but I fear my marriage won't survive if I do. The overwhelmly fear of being alone and not having the man I love keeps it hidden. The memory of the hate filled eyes haunts me daily. The truth and sad realization that my husband's love for me is quiet conditional, is always in the back of my head. I was stupid enough to think that a mans love for his wife was unconditional.
So there you have it, my 2nd Coming Out Attempt....epic fail. So will there be a third attempt? Only time will tell. I know for now I will remain the closet atheist, safe from judgement and being the target of so much hate within my own home. I am not strong enough to come out yet.....but I am hoping that one day I will be.
You can read about my first coming attempt here.