Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
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18-01-2013, 09:28 AM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
(17-01-2013 11:22 AM)Impulse Wrote:  
(30-12-2012 11:51 AM)Full Circle Wrote:  I feel like I could have been the author of your response Azaraith as it so mirrors my thoughts and situation. I am in daily tumoil with the rift between my parents and I. Somedays I'm ambivelent about the whole situation but on others a I feel depressed and sometimes even anger. I'm looking for a coping mechanism, one of the reasons I came to this site, in the hope of finding like-minded people in a similar situation that will share a liitle wisdom and some insight that has proven helpful to them. So my question to you is what do you do to help quiet the inner turmoil? I will appreciate thoughtful and sincere input.
Sorry for the delayed reply Full Circle, I didn't see your post until now.

It is sometimes difficult to quiet the inner turmoil. However, it is made easier for me in part because I live in a different state than my parents and siblings. So my interactions are mostly by telephone which has much less impact than more frequent in-person interactions. Still, the conversations aren't ever easy when they turn to religion and the lingering thoughts afterward can be difficult to quiet. As time has gone on, however, I have been able to move beyond those lingering thoughts more easily because it amounts to more of the same that has gone on for years now (more than 20 for me).

It's important to do your best to depersonalize the whole matter. Realize it is them that has "the problem" and not you. It's too easy to think that you are the one who walked away from religion and therefore you caused their grief. However, that logic is like a group of bigoted comrades where one walks away realizing the bigotry was wrong and then feels guilty that he let the others down and internalizes their expressions of disappointment. In reality, you did what you had to do; what you know is right. It isn't your fault that your family members haven't arrived at the same understanding. If you can truly internalize that realization, then it removes the guilt portion and cuts the inner turmoil in half. What remains is the discomfort about the family conflict because you love them and they love you. I think that's something you just have to learn to live with, unfortunately.

Personally, I also feel grief in the opposite direction. I have a family member who is dedicating her life to studying and learning about Catholicism. It bothers me greatly to see her wasting her life away like that and I think my atheism has solidified her resolve to continue doing so. Part of the way that I cope is by coming here and by reading and learning about religion and atheism in a variety of places. Doing so reinforces for me that I was right to give up religion. It also gives me material for my discussions with her. Hopefully, I can help her to open her eyes or at least to recognize that some aspects of religion are seriously questionable.

But I'd be lying if I said I am able to completely quiet the inner turmoil. Even after over 20 years, there is rarely a day that goes by where the family religion differences aren't on my mind.
@Impulse - thank you for your thoughts.
Your last statement where you say "hardly a day goes by..." resounds with me. While my family is within a few hours of driving time most of the communication is by telephone or e-mail. The phone conversations go on without the topic of religion being discussed (oral détente if you will) however the e-mails were a very different animal. Hardly a week went by that I didn't receive a forwarded, forwarded, forwarded pithy, made-up, feel-good, inane religious e-mail. I used to ignore and delete, then I asked them to please refrain from sending me anything that wasn't authored by them but that didn't stop them. Then I started replying with some *reasonable* responses designed to begin a serious dialogue about beliefs and those also were met with deafening silence. Finally I sent out a notice of de-friending them from Facebook and informing them that all their e-mails would be blocked. You would think that would cause them to start a dialogue but after months the topic has been ignored. Occasionaly on the phone they'll ask "did you receive the note asking how you were feeling" and I remind them that they lost the privilage to contact me in that way and this reply is also met without challenge or discussion. There exists a palpable tension that permeates all our interactions, perhaps both sides are bracing for the first salvos to be fired, that's how it feels to me.
I think when you say that unfortunately this is something I'll just have to live with I get that, I already do and I know this will probably go on until their deaths, they are getting up there in age. Perhaps I'm searching for a silver bullet that doesn't exist.
I'm sorry to hear about your Catholic family member. I was indoctrinated a Catholic. When you write that you think your own atheism is strenghtening her resolve I'm reminded of this: "The backfire effect predicts that if you present some people with evidence that contradicts their strongly held beliefs it will reinforce
their existing opinions, rather than changing them." Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler
Some of this may be off-topic and rambling but I appreciate the opportunity to discuss.





“I suppose our capacity for self-delusion is boundless."
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's." - Mark Twain in Eruption
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18-01-2013, 10:09 AM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
Maybe people should point out to their family members the pain that their continued delusion is causing.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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18-01-2013, 05:32 PM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
Chas, that's so reasonable it's ludicrous Big Grin Incredibly enough of all the things I have considered saying or doing I had not thought of turning the table by telling them this. I'll tuck it into my mental file of responses and use when appropriate.

“I suppose our capacity for self-delusion is boundless."
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's." - Mark Twain in Eruption
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24-01-2013, 12:10 AM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
Quote: Maybe people should point out to their family members the pain that their continued delusion is causing.
That's really a good point, Chas. And I think it's the reason why my folks have, for the most part, let the issue be. Mom has been particularly understanding.

Almost 5 years ago, I had a conflict with Dad. He was blaming me for my younger brother turning away from "The Truth" (Jehovah's Witness doctrine). He made a comment about my beard, among other things. *lol* I reminded him that the bible's heroes had beards. He said something about that being a different time. I gave some fool smart-ass reply like, "So, when Moses is resurrected, he'll need a shave, then?" He said yes. In another brilliant smart-ass sass I said, "Oh, so God was wrong to design men to grow beards or can he just not make up his mind?" Dad got to his feet and shoved me. I asked him what he thought he was doing. I reminded him, with great emotion, that I am his son.

I left their house and went back to mine.

Mom showed up. She sat on the porch with me and we talked and wept. I asked her-- does she see what this doing? Does she see why ALL SIX of their children (Danny, Julie, Chris, Donny, Weston, and I) have been alienated from them? That it's not right that this has torn our family apart. That I have an uncle living in North Carolina with whom I'd never spoken because of the beliefs I was raised with? And, to her credit, in this privacy with me, she admitted it. She knows how harmful this is. She still believes what she believes, but she is willing to let it go to preserve the peace of the family. Dad, also, has been infinitely less strident since this happened.

"The problem with faith is that it really is a conversation stopper. Faith is a declaration of immunity to the powers of conversation. It is a reason why you do not have to give reasons for what you believe." - Sam Harris
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24-01-2013, 09:05 AM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
(24-01-2013 12:10 AM)SingingBear Wrote:  
Quote: Maybe people should point out to their family members the pain that their continued delusion is causing.
That's really a good point, Chas. And I think it's the reason why my folks have, for the most part, let the issue be. Mom has been particularly understanding.

Almost 5 years ago, I had a conflict with Dad. He was blaming me for my younger brother turning away from "The Truth" (Jehovah's Witness doctrine). He made a comment about my beard, among other things. *lol* I reminded him that the bible's heroes had beards. He said something about that being a different time. I gave some fool smart-ass reply like, "So, when Moses is resurrected, he'll need a shave, then?" He said yes. In another brilliant smart-ass sass I said, "Oh, so God was wrong to design men to grow beards or can he just not make up his mind?" Dad got to his feet and shoved me. I asked him what he thought he was doing. I reminded him, with great emotion, that I am his son.

I left their house and went back to mine.

Mom showed up. She sat on the porch with me and we talked and wept. I asked her-- does she see what this doing? Does she see why ALL SIX of their children (Danny, Julie, Chris, Donny, Weston, and I) have been alienated from them? That it's not right that this has torn our family apart. That I have an uncle living in North Carolina with whom I'd never spoken because of the beliefs I was raised with? And, to her credit, in this privacy with me, she admitted it. She knows how harmful this is. She still believes what she believes, but she is willing to let it go to preserve the peace of the family. Dad, also, has been infinitely less strident since this happened.
I am sorry to hear this. I can tell you is that you are not alone in your struggles. I used to daydream of having a calm, clear and respectful conversation with my parents about religion that is until some years ago when the topic of my unbelief was broached (I don't even recall why or how) and to this day I cannot forget my mother's cries of anguish and all out wailing. It was as if I had died. As I have written here before what we have now is a détente where both sides avoid discussing the subject.

I entertained the thought of Chas' recommendation but I don't see any upside at the moment. When I play it out in my mind I can only hear my parent's laments that it is me that is causing all the pain.

“I suppose our capacity for self-delusion is boundless."
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's." - Mark Twain in Eruption
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25-01-2013, 02:11 AM (This post was last modified: 25-01-2013 02:15 AM by SingingBear.)
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
I hear you. And what you say is true: it's not like telling them will make them feel any responsibility. That depends on their own heart. If I'd said to my Dad what I said to my Mom about this religion tearing us apart, I know he would not have reacted well. I may have felt his fists. Who knows? But it so happened that Mom felt my pain and must have already known some truth of the matter before I spoke it, because it hit home.

Personally, I'll take peace over a debate where no one wins. After all, I only want to be loved by my parents, to have a semblance of a normal relationship with them, and be on speaking terms. If that's what my goal is, I am winning. Big Grin

Is it wrong of me to hold back and leave ignorance unchecked? Some might say yes. But Mom and Dad are in their 60s and comfortable with their congregation. The fellowship they have there at the Kingdom Hall satisfies something they desire. Their dogma, in many ways, is comforting to them.

Losing your religion (especially in a cult) is like placing dynamite in the foundations of your own home and pushing the plunger down. I wouldn't try to force them to do this. The pain is excruciating. If they want to try to persuade me-- so what? If it cuts them that I don't comply, I feel sorry for them, but I'm not the one holding the knife.

If they try to indoctrinate my son, that's when the line is crossed and I must take a stand. I will not stand for that sabotage. When he is old enough, he can make his own decisions, but I will not allow anyone to fill my 4-year-old's head with such nonsense. Children are not born theists. They are made that way by their delusional parents.

The cycle stops here.

"The problem with faith is that it really is a conversation stopper. Faith is a declaration of immunity to the powers of conversation. It is a reason why you do not have to give reasons for what you believe." - Sam Harris
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25-01-2013, 08:37 AM (This post was last modified: 25-01-2013 05:44 PM by Full Circle.)
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
(25-01-2013 02:11 AM)SingingBear Wrote:  I hear you. And what you say is true: it's not like telling them will make them feel any responsibility. That depends on their own heart. If I'd said to my Dad what I said to my Mom about this religion tearing us apart, I know he would not have reacted well. I may have felt his fists. Who knows? But it so happened that Mom felt my pain and must have already known some truth of the matter before I spoke it, because it hit home.

Personally, I'll take peace over a debate where no one wins. After all, I only want to be loved by my parents, to have a semblance of a normal relationship with them, and be on speaking terms. If that's what my goal is, I am winning. Big Grin

Is it wrong of me to hold back and leave ignorance unchecked? Some might say yes. But Mom and Dad are in their 60s and comfortable with their congregation. The fellowship they have there at the Kingdom Hall satisfies something they desire. Their dogma, in many ways, is comforting to them.

Losing your religion (especially in a cult) is like placing dynamite in the foundations of your own home and pushing the plunger down. I wouldn't try to force them to do this. The pain is excruciating. If they want to try to persuade me-- so what? If it cuts them that I don't comply, I feel sorry for them, but I'm not the one holding the knife.

If they try to indoctrinate my son, that's when the line is crossed and I must take a stand. I will not stand for that sabotage. When he is old enough, he can make his own decisions, but I will not allow anyone to fill my 4-year-old's head with such nonsense. Children are not born theists. They are made that way by their delusional parents.

The cycle stops here.
I'm in your camp. Your last paragraph about your son hit close to home. I don't have children but my youngest brother stopped taking his kids to our parent's home for babysitting when they would come home only talking about baby Jesus and the like. This was a very painful episode for both sides. Stick to your guns, the kids can always make up their own minds when the reach adulthood.

“I suppose our capacity for self-delusion is boundless."
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's." - Mark Twain in Eruption
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