My Feelings – MINE!

“You’re just angry at god.”
“You have hate in your heart.”
“You sound bitter.”
“You’re mentally ill.”

It’s amazing the plethora of options at a person’s disposal, should they wish to ignore what you are saying. I’ve had multiple occassions where someone tried to dismiss what I was saying on the basis of the emotions I had (or the person imagines I had) when I was saying it. This is similar to the Tone Argument (hey oppressed minority, use a nicer tone of voice when you complain about being fucked over!) but there’s more to it than that. This translates almost to “What you have to say doesn’t matter. You have feelings, and that’s not permitted.”

Let me give you a for-instance. Suppose I am talking with a Christian about my atheism, and I begin to rant and rave a little bit about the contents of the Bible, or some atrocities committed by people following the Bible. Now suppose that Christian ignores every word I’ve said, every point I’ve made, and every conclusion I’ve drawn by simply saying, “Gee, it sounds like you’re just mad at god. Maybe you should fix your anger.” This person is being a rude asswipe, and they are furthermore ignoring the cause of my anger to complain about the presence of the symptom.

Atheists and nonbelievers can be just as guilty of this, even on the religion angle. An atheist who is proud of seeing through the holes in religion at an early age for good logical reasons may have a hard time identifying with an atheist who deconverted during an emotional time or following an emotional experience; aren’t emotional experiences what make people join religions in the first place?

I’ve got a pet peeve when it comes to feelings. As some of you may recall, I wasn’t allowed the full spectrum of emotions as a child. Fear was a sin. Pride a sin. Anger a sin. Despair a sin. So, I get protective of my feelings now, even the “bad” ones. And I think there are few things more presumptuous than supposing you know another person’s feelings better than they do.

There is no “You should feel ____.” That crap isn’t helpful. Telling a person with depression, “You should feel happy!” won’t make them happy, but it might make them angry, annoyed or guilt-ridden. Telling a person who is angry “You should get over it” won’t make them stop feeling anger, but it might stop them from expressing that anger in healthy ways (say like non-abusive verbal venting.)

When I was a believer, I really and truly did believe. I thought Jesus was my best friend and I felt genuinely emotionally close to him. Gods not being real doesn’t make those emotional experiences unreal, just my interpretation of them. Now that I’m an atheist, I really and truly don’t believe. I feel sadness, anger, bitterness, disappointment, betrayal, skittishness, hurt, abandoned – I feel so many things now, looking back on my faith. It does not help me to heal or to grow or to be a better person to have someone ask me to deny those feelings because they cause discomfort in others. I need to feel my feelings, and you need to feel yours.

We’re emotional creatures, and pretending that we are purely logical or rational is foolish.

On a related topic, an old vlog on my anger. (Video contains f-bombs and other swear words, so listener discretion is advised. Some of the youtubers mentioned in this video have moved channels or no longer make videos.)