My Second *Life

I call this my second life.

So many people want to be born again—to have second life—and I’ve been given that gift. I think I say “gift” now like a mother does after the birth of a child. I don’t have the experience or ability to fully know the feelings of birthing a child, but I know that to bring in life, there must be pain. And eventually the pain is considered worth it. I experienced infidelity, divorce, losing my job, the death of a friend, and on and on, but one thing that my heart keeps going back to is losing my religion. In my first life I used religion to master the skill of hiding and denying my truest self. I was so deep, I couldn’t simply change my views and move on with my life. My brain forged new neuropaths. My future transformed. I lost friends, community, my career, and my relationship with my family will never quite be the same. It’s like a soldier being back from war.

Still, this second life was present, lurking in the shadows of my mind like a ghost in the next room. Watchful, waiting, but dormant (how am I just now seeing how “dormant” looks like “doormat”?). I mean my first life no disrespect because it was valuable, important to who I am now.

This week, I saw someone from my previous life. He seemed friendly, but I still approached him with a unique caution. He knows I’m not a Christian anymore, right? Does he know I’m openly gay? What does he think of me? That last question is the loudest because the first two are just streams feeding it, the big one.

In my first life, when I saw someone who left the religion that was so much a part of me, I pitied them. My belief system told me they were going to go to hell for not persevering in the faith, and that belief upset me. But I felt more than pity, I also felt a deep curiosity. I wanted to know what forbidden things they were enjoying. Was I lying to myself about the pleasures I was forgoing? I wanted a peek into their lives. And I felt judgment. They failed because they were weak. They gave up, and I never would.

But I have. I listened to the faint voice of doubt that spoke to me from time to time. “Everyone has doubts.” I was told, “But you’re just going to have stronger faith in the end.” Their assumptions were wrong because the ghost in the next room never left. It haunted me, and damned my beliefs. They burned away and the ashes were clarity. Blind and then I could see. I didn’t have to deny logic or my truest self anymore. I gained access to my reason and practicing religion felt dishonest.

I don’t completely understand the point of reincarnation if you don’t remember your previous life.That’s how my second life is different. I remember it all, but I can’t perfectly guess what people from my previous life are thinking when they see me. I’m the mysterious religion abandoner now, and I can only imagine what goes through the minds of those who I left behind to live my second life.

18011185_562430897962_4661834944927638266_nBrady Hardin-
Founder of The *Life After

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