Friday, January 22, 2010

Religious Freedom

I haven't posted anything about couples counseling in over a year, but E and I have continued to see Dr. S just about every week.  I suppose an observer might think, "If you haven't figured it out by now, you're just stalling."  But it has been both liberating and helpful to deconstruct our 30 year relationship.

Compare it to the process of clearing land mines in an former war zone.

Eighteen months: learning to talk about things too difficult to discuss in the past.  And throughout, two dreaded subjects largely avoided: my disillusionment with Christianity and my extra-marital affair.  Again, I imagine the observer's surprise.  "Eighteen months and you haven't even discussed the affair?!"  It's true.  But if until now we've been learning to remove land mines, imagine these subjects as 1000 lb bombs embedded in the basement of the Children's Hospital -- it's better to defuse them than blow them up.

This week we explored my "loss of faith."

I was unable to attend last week's session -- E did it solo and I suspect she expressed frustration with our slow pace.  I'm guessing so, because this week Dr. S started with a bang and moved right along.  He began by asking me some pretty direct questions about my family history and how it has shaped my values.  This was not uncomfortable in itself -- we've touched on it before -- except for my feeling that I was being cross-examined.  But perhaps it was intended as a distraction because we pretty quickly moved out of my comfort zone to questions about church: when did my feelings change?  What were my beliefs 10 years ago?  20 years?  How did I feel about being a church worship musician with an eroding faith?  Was I deeply conflicted?

And I felt that I had good, thoughtful answers at hand.  I surprised myself: I really am not conflicted at all when it comes to my rejection of religion and dogma.  Good riddance.  And it was liberating to talk about it so openly with E, to disarm this particular bomb.  I know it's painful for her, but it's better than leaving the matter buried -- a lurking destruction.  In this I feel no ambivalence or regret, no longing to "go back".  I can see that this has been a process of change reaching back at least 25 years, bringing me to where I am now.

Not that I want to camp out here -- let the journey continue.  But I'll continue without prophets, messiahs, sacred texts, and the industries which exploit them.  God, save us from religion.