I left religion behind after many years of study and thought.
It wasn't an over night decision. Yet many in my family refused to believe I was no longer part of the fold. My father even said I was just lying to myself. The problem is that for the first time in my life -- at 25 -- I decided not to lie to myself anymore and face the fact that I've had a bullshit meter on red alert for most of my life.
My grandfather was a preacher so when it was made public knowledge I lost my entire maternal side of my family. My grandmother disowned me and struck my name out of the will with a vengeance. The thing is, I'm glad I knew how she felt before wasting any more of my time and efforts going home for the holidays to see people who were mean for most of my formative years anyway. I have always been the black sheep but in the end I stood up for myself and my non-belief and finally accepted the fact that the live and acceptance I wanted from them would never come.
That acceptance finally came from myself and my new family that I married into. Most women may hate their mothers in law but I love mine to death because she is genuine and has never judged me. My husband shares my ideas in religion and we are both atheists who are proud that we question everything and enjoy deep discussions on religion and belief. For those out there who are questioning what to do, you may be hurt in the process but for me freedom of thought and acceptance of myself was far more loving than the family who left me behind. (For those in college on the family dime it may behiove you to stay quiet if you still need help.) I was able to scrape by on my own but it wasn't easy and many today find it hard to be on their own at such a young age.
I left home at 15. Moved to another state at 21. Went to college at 23 and married when I was 28. I came out as a non believer when I was 25. All I can say is having a full time job and college at the same time was rough but I did it, so can you!
Robin, Former Free Will Baptist