For the longest time, I’ve been wanting to write about one of the most important changes I’ve made in my life.
Today I want to tell you about my journey from being a follower of the New Age teachings to becoming an atheist – although I don’t like saying I became an atheist as I just removed the beliefs I had about god and other supernatural claims.
I didn’t grow up in a religious family. My parents didn’t believe in anything and I don’t remember ever hearing them mention God or religion. If they did, it was purely because my mother made fun of Jehovah Witnesses – she once dragged me to a meeting and we sat in the back laughing at them.
She was mean and made fun of everyone, but because of her strong need to be around people all the time, she would take me to these places.
We spent quite a lot of time at the church in Koper, just walking around and looking at everything. As we lived on the Coast of Slovenia, summers were very hot and the church was the place you went to for a little cold and quiet.
My mother talked to the priest and donated money, but not because she believed in god (if she did, she was very good at hiding it), but rather because she wanted to help and be kind.
I remember taking home pamphlets and short books about Jesus and God. I would read them sometimes but it was just a nice story, not something I believed was the truth. I guess the good thing about growing up around the church and religion without being told what both actually meant, was that I was free to explore it on my own.
I was 6 when this was happening so I don’t think I would necessarily understand who God was supposed to be, and not having my parents indoctrinate me into anything gave me the freedom to just read fiction books – like stories about Jesus you know.
Around that time we moved from Koper to Ankaran (about 30 minutes away from where I was born), and there weren’t any churches that I knew about. What I did have were class-mates that were going to Sunday school and learning the Lord’s Prayer.
Because I wasn’t told that I had to attend these classes as my parents raised me without any spiritual beliefs, I was kind of jealous of them. I thought it was cool how they all knew this long prayer and I tried to learn it on my way to school. I never did.
But something changed as I got a bit older.
I started praying to angels and asking them to help me. I’ve been witnessing domestic violence since I was like 3 years old and my mother tried to kill my dad on a regular basis, so I decided to pray to God to kill me.
My mother was a very violent alcoholic.
She beat me every day, left me in the park at 2 am so she could go fuck a truck driver, locked me outside at night and went to sleep, sent me to the neighbours to ask for money so I could go buy wine for her at the store, called me all kinds of disturbing names, and did I say she beat me with various tools every day just for asking her if we could leave the bar at 3 am because I have to go to school in 4 hours?
Becoming suicidal at such an early age was pretty much destined to happen.
I don’t know if I truly believed in God when I prayed. It was more of desperation I felt as a kid because I couldn’t escape her neglect and abuse. Every minute of the day I was prepared to lay down and cover my head because I never knew when she would turn into a monster. I needed someone to help me and it wouldn’t hurt me to try and ask God for help, right?
My mother’s abuse stopped once my dad got the custody and moved us away from her – I was 11.
I wish I could say that things were about to change but that would be a lie as things pretty much stayed the same (minus the regular beatings) it was just the perpetrators that were different.
I’m going to skip a few years and just go to the year that changed how I looked at life.
It was around 2006/2007 when my dad brought home a copy of a DVD titled The Secret. He was very excited about whatever was in that documentary so we tried watching it immediately… but then he fell asleep because he was bored. I didn’t and what I saw in the movie changed.my.life.
I got so excited when I found out that I can get whatever I want if I just ask for it. All the suffering and abuse was happening because I didn’t ask for something better, so of course, I will take responsibility for it now (I am being sarcastic if you can’t tell).
Suddenly I got addicted to learning about this thing called the Law of Attraction that everyone talked about and I decided to study it. Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra were just a few of the spiritual teachers I listened to on a daily basis.
Audio, video, books, seminars, workshops, workbooks, courses… I was all over that shit.
I was wearing yellow-tinted sunglasses that made the world brighter and sunnier, and I couldn’t care less for anything else. The thought of a loving God (which is often referred to as the Universe because they want to avoid sounding religious) that is guiding me in the direction of my dream life was so appealing.
I was so fucking brainwashed, man!
Every day I got told by my beloved teachers that God will help me once I removed the negativity. If I wanted him to save me from suffering and pain, I had to vibrate on his level. I had to be positive and believe that he will help me.
Believe, believe, believe.
I was taught that prayer is the time when I ask God a question and when I meditate he responds. So I prayed every day and then I meditated, and when that didn’t feel enough I borrowed and bought tons of books that told me about other ways that will help me communicate with angels and God.
Everything I did was for God and because I wanted him to help me.
I rejected medicine and didn’t trust doctors, I was convinced that one can cure cancer just by praying and going to nature, and I didn’t even know that with every day I was deeper and deeper in the unknown.
When people think of New Age, they probably think of crystals and essential oils, but there are things that are hiding so deep within this so-called movement that would surprise you. There are actual cult leaders, people who talk about alien hybrids and individuals who claim they can talk to elves and fairies!
And I was there!
I didn’t necessarily believe in elves and fairies, but I couldn’t disprove their claims so I thought to myself: Who says that they cannot be real, too? So I went on and wondered how often I stood next to an alien hybrid that, of course, is here to elevate humanity to the next level.
I even thought for a hot minute that I was going to be abducted by aliens so when I was coming home from my acting classes I ran through the cornfield to avoid getting abducted.
I know you are shaking your head now because you can’t believe I could be so stupid, but I really, really was. My childhood trauma was getting worse but the more I pushed it behind a wall I created, the more I had to replace my pain with something different.
I chose to replace pain with God.
But after all these years he still didn’t talk to me, and I was becoming more and more frustrated. Sadly, expressing doubt to your fellow believers doesn’t get you any sympathy, just another: But Tanja, you know that God only helps when you don’t doubt him.
It’s so strange to think of all the harmful things I used to believe in because I was desperate to belong to something bigger than myself. I was actually told multiple times that I signed a contract in heaven and that everything bad that happens to me (neglect, abuse, bullying, suicide attempts) is because I chose to experience it in this life.
But then I went vegan and the door opened forever.
I like to compare the minute I decided to go vegan to the phone call that informed me of my mother’s death. One minute you live in one reality, then 60 seconds later the reality is forever changed and you cannot go back.
Although it took me 11 months to transition, I knew I was vegan from the second I saw that photo of a cow having her throat slit. I couldn’t go back, even if I wanted to. Nothing will ever be the same.
So I started asking around why God allowed these beautiful beings to be slaughtered every second of the day (because they signed a contract in heaven to serve us), why gurus preach about compassion but eat other animals (because they thank the chicken for /giving them/ her body), why some people channel angels who say God doesn’t support animal agriculture and others channel angels who say God supports it… I never got the answer to that one.
I continued believing in the big man until I found Richard Dawkins and watched one of his debates. In it, he said something about how everyone thinks their God is different (better, you know). The first two times I heard him say that I laughed and thought that of course, my God is better than the Christian one.
But when I heard myself deny that my God is the same for the third time, that’s when my belief in him completely fell apart. I had no evidence to prove he was real; I had no evidence to prove that he was better either.
Through Richard Dawkins, I then learnt about Ricky Gervais and Sam Harris. These three men are pretty much responsible for me rejecting the God I used to believe in, and all other supernatural claims (including essential oils and crystals).
In 2017, in February, I felt comfortable for the first time saying that I am an atheist.
It was hard learning to love science and trust studies that completely debunked what I thought was real. But as much as I hated not having a meaning and purpose, and living in a world that was so chaotic and dangerous, I actually fell in love with things I never thought were interesting.
Through Richard Dawkins, I learnt to love evolution (and became kind of obsessed with reminding everyone around me that we’re all animals) and Sam Harris reminded me that meditation is not a practice to hear God but a practice to hear myself.
The worst thing was seeing everyone as human beings who are far from perfect. I had to stop thinking of people as souls that are doing bad things to learn valuable lessons before they move on but as people who do very bad things because they want to or simply because they were born a certain way (can we skip talking about the lack of free-will this time please).
I wasn’t God’s creation anymore, filled with purpose and a destiny to fulfil, now I was just a normal human that had to accept that coincidences happen and no one is protecting me.
Also, I had to face my trauma, depression and suicidal tendencies. Now it was just me and medicine, and if I wanted to get better I had to change my views on modern medicine and accept that I probably do need pills to survive.
Hey, we made it.
I wrote so much yet I know I didn’t mention 99% of things that are important to understand the whole story. But that’s good enough for now.
I will talk to you soon and until then you can find me on Instagram,