Living With Atheists and Stuff

The stuff: I’m an agnostic spiritually open minded Buddhist with a hint of “I believe what I want, when I want, and it might change tomorrow.”

I believe in aliens, interdimensional beings, 5D ascension, karma, psychic phenomena, premonitions, higher self, hauntings, astral projections, the Loch Ness Monster… and this list is starting to sound like a 1984 Ghostbusters resume. I don’t actually believe in the Loch Ness Monster. 

I do believe fundamental Christianity and atheism can be very one dimensional and I have a hard time living in one dimension. Do I think all Christianity is wrong? No. Do I think atheists are wrong? No. I do think both groups put those of us spiritually open minded folks into the weird and whacky category. Seems like there’s not a lot of middle ground. Christians think we’re going to hell and atheists think we’re brain damaged. We do just as much research, read as many books, attempt to prove/disprove theories, discuss with like minded individuals, share opposing opinions, agree that cults and organized religion can be a bad thing- but we’re willing to investigate and research what some consider the fantastical and just plain odd.

I’ve lived with fundamental Christians, my Dad was a full time minister into my teens. I traveled with a Church of Christ splinter cult for a month at 11 years old. I’ve tried to write about it without success, it’s too painful to recount and there are things my parents didn’t and still don’t know, stuff I haven’t dealt with in therapy. I returned from that trip asking more questions about Christianity, doubting the “grace” of God, but it took a while. 

I fell in love with an atheist at 18. I was long past my one dimensional Christian belief and was easily able to overlook his atheism to see a true, loving heart. I knew when he did something kind it wasn’t so he’d be rewarded with crystal palaces and streets of gold after death- he was kind and loving because it’s the best way to live your life. When he screwed up he was sorry because he knew he’d hurt someone and you hurt yourself when you see those you love hurting. He was and is one of the most genuine people I’ve ever known. It makes me love him more each time I see his atheistic acts of kindness and understanding in action. 

“There’s nothing so pure as the kindness of an atheist

A simple act of unselfishness that never has to be repaid “

– Freakwater, Gone to Stay

He came home this week and told me he’d been asked several times what he was doing this weekend and kept answering,  “nothing…why?” I kind of just looked at him blankly and asked, “what’s this weekend?” He reminded me it’s Easter. I responded with, “Oh cool, the day I get my Cadbury Egg.” That’s pretty much all it means to me (other than being a reminder of the day I got pregnant my Senior Year of high school, a subject I’ve already written about, but thanks for the reminder brain).

So what’s missing? We get along, we’ve been in love with each other for 25 years, we have great philosophical and theosophical discussions, but when those discussions turn “woo-woo” I see a little twinkle in his eye. He’s known me long enough to know my belief system roams all over the place including some remnants of Christianity, but tends to settle on new age du jour. I don’t know if there’s an afterlife, I don’t believe I’ll know until I die and then I may never know. I do wish my husband was a little more open minded and wasn’t so damn good at shooting down my ideas, but I do appreciate that he listens and doesn’t immediately dismiss what I have to say. 

Raising a child as a spiritual person with an atheist results in a strong, questioning, creative individual. He’s a free thinker. He never expected the usual holiday rituals or question why we didn’t go to church, he’s formed his own belief system and knows right from wrong. He practices kindness, love, and generosity. He has a good heart like his dad, just as I expected he would. He’s an imperfect human like his parents with an open mind and an open heart. 

He’s an atheist. He sees some of my beliefs as plausible and we also have great discussions about aliens, the acension, energy, and Buddhism. He wears his mala beads every day. I gave him my first strand of beads and when he passed them on I made sure he had another strand within a few days. Each day I see him wearing them my heart swells.

We don’t need a God to love each other, we don’t need to agree on everything, we can respect and question beliefs and facts without argument, disrespect, or violence. Living with a couple atheists as a spiritual nutball is pretty harmonious. 

I recommend love and respect no matter what you believe. We don’t live in a world where love can or should be taken for granted. We live in a world where everything we know or think we know is in question and I believe things will be much worse before they’re better. 

Balance is important and it’s coming, soon. 

I’m not interested in being saved, I’ve done that. I do respect the beliefs of others and hope others will respect mine as well. 


24 Years…How’d That Happen?¬†

24 Years together. Everything was against us (statistically speaking). We started dating at 18, married at 19, experienced the untimely death of a parent, went through a horrific car accident together, had a baby at 20, ruined our credit, lost jobs, borrowed money from a generous parent to stay off of food stamps, witnessed the brutal divorce of parents right after our son was born, went through a sibling’s suicide a year later, worked our asses off to buy a house at 34 with the help of a generous parent and grandparent, and one of us tried very hard to pursue a career in music while the other acted as president of the fan club.

Sometimes I suspect we’re held together with spit and a prayer (metaphorically because he’s an atheist and I’m agnostic), but I really think we’re held together with crazy glue. Crazy. Glue.

He lets me use Snapchat filters on him. The poor man.

*I don’t know how we did it, not really. I have some theories, and by no means is the following an exhaustive list. 

  • We are true friends. There’s no one I would rather have a conversation with. No one I’d rather debate with. No one I’d rather quiz with random food trivia. No one I’d rather prove me wrong. No one I’d rather seek advice from. He’s who I go to first. 
  • We’re comfortable with silence. We’re doing it right now. He’s on his phone. I’m writing this blog, both completely comfortable. 
  • He lets me do most of the talking (unless he’s been drinking scotch). If you’ve met me, you know it’s critical to let me keep talking until I’m out of breath. It’s like letting the air out of the balloon. 
  • We rarely fight. When we do its about the important things  (the all ighty ollar mostly). I know some people feel less fighting equals less communication, but when did you last fight with your best friend? It feels horrible. 
  • We learn together. I’m often self conscious, insecure, and Co-dependent. As a result I tend to compensate with vanity, exhibitionism, secret keeping, and general nonsense. Then I over correct by running away or hiding. He’s learned to recognize the signs that I’m diving down that rabbit hole and I’ve learned to communicate before it ever happens. He’s learned to talk to me, to show emotion, to tell me what he needs.
  • We laugh together. Generally about extremely inappropriate things and each other. We laugh a lot with each other. Like the awkward situations he causes with wait staff in restaurants  (oh the stories) or my “math face” or when I forgot most of everything I said for 72 hours after surgery. I’ll admit, we often laugh with our son and if others were privy to those conversations we’d get some very confused, possibly concerned reactions. We’re not a family that holds back.
  • He protects me. Yes, I’m aware that this completely goes against any feminist philosophy. I literally mean he protects me. He’s a giant.
Courtesy Avenue 8 Photography
Did I mention his forearms? (Photo by Avenue 8 Photography)
  • I’m good with my hands. 
  • He’s also handy. I’ve watched him fix more cars than I can count. 
  • I can hold my own with his friends. 
  • He cooks. Well. Extremely well. 
  • We listen to each other and when one of us isn’t listening we’re sure to catch the attention of the other and hold it. 
  • We anticipate each other’s needs. 
  • We keep routine as often as possible. 
  • We still don’t totally understand each other. I know that sounds bad, but it’s not. Sometimes he’ll have a look on his face or won’t react to something or uses a tone that confuses me and it allows me the opportunity to say hey- what does that mean and get some insight into his inner workings that I never had before. Behaviors don’t stay the same for 24 years. 
  • I take care of him (when he lets me), he takes care of me. Sick? Here’s a tissue, Tylenol, something to drink. Sad? Do you need a hug or need me to stay away for a while?
  • We make life easy whenever we can. Complicated is hard to maintain. 
  • He surface cleans. I detail. 
  • We make sure we both have creative outlets, encourage each other, back each other all the way.
  • We compromise. Sometimes he doesn’t like to make decisions about what to eat, what to watch, where we go- he likes to be along for the ride. I don’t like to stick to a budget but I make sure he finds the best deals because he enjoys the hunt. He never wanted a dog, but he knows how much I love them and he learned to love our dog too (and picked up more poo than I ever did).
  • He brings me coffee and breakfast in bed on the weekend and I do things I’m not going to mention here- and not just on the weekends or birthdays or anniversaries. It’s often. It’s quality. 
  • We know what’s important to each other. Art, music, food, movies- we know each other’s favorites and are excited for new favorites. We share the same taste in most things, although I’ll never enjoy Neil Hamburger. 
  • I get excited when he gets excited! It’s so cute (and rare)! Like going to see his favorite band or our upcoming dinner with a celebrity chef. He puts up with my over excitement, often resulting in squealing exclamations only dogs can detect. He’s also an expert giver of presents- I could never rise to that level with him, but I’m pretty sure I had a lot to do with how well and often he surprises me. 
  • He lets me have the remote. For 24 years I’ve had the remote. 

2017 Valentine’s day pressies! Also, we love Adidas.

It’s not like everyday is perfect. Everyday is usually just another day of work, sitting on the couch, food, bed. But when those days are spent together they’re much more pleasant than when we’re apart.

We’ve both made mistakes- some truly monumental, but we forgive, we forget, we move on. Nothing and no one is worth breaking such a strong bond or letting go of so much history. We’ve triumphed over adversity and we’ll do it again and again. 

It’s not luck or fate that keeps us together. It’s skill. And love.

I love you, Joe! 

*Edited to clarify intent:

External assistance (which was and is appreciated), support of friends and family, wonderful examples of successful marriages from his parents and friends, therapy and constant communication- all certainly qualify as part and parcel to our successful marriage thus far; but this list and blog entry is solely dedicated to the internal workings of our relationship as a couple and is in no way intended to diminish the positive external forces that are part of our marital dynamic. We end each day with each other and look inward and to one another for ultimate support and strength as it should be. 

Happiness and Stuff

I want Joe and I to naturally hold hands as we travel through life.

About a month ago a I was driving back to our house with a much younger friend who told me that my husband (Joe) and I are very fortunate. He listed some specific ways in which we’re fortunate and it hit me hard. He was so right! Normally I wouldn’t even mention age. I’m a true believer that when it comes to friendship age just isn’t a factor, but in the context of that conversation youth was important. 

I remember being his age, Joe and I starting out like he is with his girlfriend. We didn’t have a lot, but we were working hard to build on what we did have. I remember being in awe of those whose accomplishments I felt I’d never achieve. I remember making goals based on the lives of one couple in particular. 

They had it so together (still do as far as I’m concerned). Great house, careers, kids, a dog, stability, talent, love for each other. Everything I wanted for Joe and I. I could see that their life wasn’t idyllic, their marriage wasn’t perfect and yet it was the imperfection that made their life together enviable. It seemed they weathered whatever storm came their way. Granted, I watched from the outside, idolizing and trying to emulate a wife I truly wanted to be. She treated her kids like humans who were capable of rational thought, not babies. She’s always been outspoken, never not sharing her opinion. She scared me, still does a little because I know she’d never hold back in telling me I’m being an idiot. I still feel like I’m only able to say the most ridiculous vapid shit around her, not because she makes me feel that way, because she’s so much cooler than me. I seriously adore her. I adore both of them, I adore their relationship. Had Joe and I not been able to look to them during some very rough times (generally me being selfish and imbalanced) I’m not sure we’d still be together. I’d often tell myself, if they can make marriage work so can we. 

And now we have it. A working marriage. Joe and I have that life we wanted. We have a great home, careers,  a kid, a dog, stability, talent, and love for each other. We have a life where the things that make us worry most are miniscule in comparison to what our parents dealt with at our age. We worked hard, we achieved what we set out to do, we made a happy life for ourselves. 

Happy. Not something I say very often. Although not always, I’m generally happy. I can only hope that maybe Joe and I have encouraged someone else. Someone just starting their lives together. My friend certainly woke me up that day, telling me how lucky we are to have so much, especially when I was taking things for granted. He made me step outside myself and realize how much I now have that I always wanted. That conversation was tremendously valuable and I’ve thought of it often. Thanks Eric! 

Last spring I had the pleasure of spending some time with the couple I’ve looked up to since I was 18 (23 years!!) I always savor that time because I don’t see them very often. After one of these meetings something very small, yet profound happened. I watched the two of them walk away down the street together. They grabbed hands at the exact same moment and continued walking down the street holding hands, talking, oblivious to anything but each other. I punched Joe in the arm and said “oh my God look” pointing. He smiled and went back to whatever it was he was doing, but I continued to watch and felt a couple of tears try to escape down my cheeks. It was so dammed sweet, not just aw cute sweet, sweetness that makes your heart soar. I quickly rubbed the tears away, in case they turned around. I couldn’t stop grinning.  

I want another 22 years of happiness. I want Joe and I to naturally hold hands as we travel through life. I still smile and tear up when I think about that moment because two people I love are still so much in love and it gives me joy and hope that the love I feel for Joe now will continue to grow, blossom, and mature.

I want that for every couple, at every age.