How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?
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01-02-2017, 06:26 PM
RE: How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?
(31-01-2017 04:53 PM)mordant Wrote:  
(29-01-2017 08:31 AM)hannaskywalker Wrote:  
Hanna, if I am understanding you correctly, you have not "come out" as unbelieving to your parents but this is causing problems of its own, yes?

There are a lot of variables here. I grew up in fundamentalism but my parents moderated that by providing unconditional love and acceptance, and once I was on my own in the world, by having really good boundaries and not meddling. I never had the slightest fear that they would reject, shame or abandon me even if they found out about my faith. At the same time, while they made it clear I could always talk to them about anything, they did not probe or control in any way around my beliefs or other aspects of my personal life. They were really, REALLY good that way.

The result was that I did not ever tell them, and they didn't ever ask, and there was no "wall" necessary because they respected my personal privacy. Plus I lived far from them for most of my adult life so we weren't involved in each other's daily existence.

By the time I self-identified fully as atheist, they were both dead, and I felt it was for the best. I didn't even feel bad that this part of my life was opaque to them. To me, it was just a thing that was not particularly their business. I wouldn't discuss my sex life with my parents, for example, so why should I feel it important to discuss my existential beliefs, especially when I knew they probably could not understand them anyway?

But if they were still alive, and the subject came up organically, I would admit to it and they would probably have expressed some concern, but it would not have been a Big Deal. If they had not been very elderly and infirm (I was born when Mom was 39) it also would probably have ended up being discussed at some point.

A few years ago my oldest surviving brother asked me point blank, "you don't believe in god anymore, do you?" I said yes, and he said, "That's too bad". And that was the end of it. We have continued to have a good relationship. It impacted nothing. If I lived in the same city there would probably be some low level hints or invitations to his church or something but like my parents they would mostly mind their own business.

I guess I'm not helping because it appears this isn't your situation and I know it's not the situation of a lot of deconverts. But I think it's helpful to know how things like this SHOULD go down, and CAN, even in a fundamentalist household.

From there you can reason your way to the realization that if things DON'T go down that way, it is family dysfunction and not your fault. Fundamentalist parents often operate out of fear and misplaced concern for the child's welfare, as well as worry about how your apostasy will impact them. In some cases, it can cause them to be shamed, ostracized or disrespected, too. It can also cause them to judge themselves or to fear god's disapproval.

It is too bad that religion often tends to cut off children from the unconditional love of their parents, and/or to encourage their parents to love conditionally. When that happens I can only offer second-hand advice. My wife comes from a very dysfunctional family and has had quite the needle to thread. In her case it's not about religion, but the general principles are the same.

The first one I can offer is, don't spend your entire life casting about for ways to be "good enough" or to be heard or listened to, to earn the validation and approval you never or seldom got or which was withheld when you didn't tow some party line. You're most likely never going to get it, and the sooner you accept that unfortunate fact of your reality, the more time you'll save, and the more frustrating interactions you'll avoid, the fewer pointless fantasies of your parent "seeing the light" you'll engage in.

Secondly, let go of your own ego, engage kindly, gently and in an understanding way with your parents at whatever level they (and you) can handle. For my wife, it is literally a text message 2 or 3 times a year, about superficial matters, if that. This is what her father can handle, and be appropriate around. And frankly it's all he wants. Beyond that, have firm boundaries, up to and including shutting them out of your life if they are abusive and toxic and intrusive, and destroy your peace of mind. Take care of yourself. You can't help others if you don't take care of yourself first, and have some overflow of time, energy and strength to offer them.

I know that's not very specific but it's the best I can do. Every situation is different and unfortunately, "it depends". You don't get to pick your family and sometimes family is a weird mixture of wonderfulness and suckage, and sometimes more of the latter. Here's a virtual ((hug)) for you and my sincere wishes for your family relationships to head in healthier directions for you, and to the extent possible, all concerned.

It seems like you have hit the nail on the head for my situation! Thank you for all of this, it actually gives me a lot to think about in my situation, as I live far away from them and there is a lot of family 'suckage' right now. I am learning about boundaries now, and asserting them for the first time with my parents has been like you say a 'Big Deal,' (I think it should be all caps 'BIG DEAL')! I have not told my parents I am atheist, as it is none of their business (and another thing they'd want to control). Stating my boundaries led to a major fallout, hence 'BIG DEAL,' and has led to no contact for months now. I don't think it's completely because of religion, I'm pretty sure it's from generations of family dysfunction, too.

I feel so much happier now, outside of religion and outside of the family dysfunction. It's just sad when they can't see the good in me. Yikes.
Virtual ((Hugs)) to you too!

If the pope went to Zumba class, then he may be eligible to spend eternity in my special unicorn mountain kingdom. Cool
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01-02-2017, 06:45 PM
RE: How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?
(31-01-2017 03:55 PM)TheInquisition Wrote:  When I finally realized- IT WAS NOT REAL! None of it was real, I could finally stop my mental torment of feeling guilty about everything, it almost felt like a prisoner walking out of his dark cell and looking at the bright blue sky again, the freedom from this guilt was a freedom from an oppressive belief system where I judged others and judged myself constantly.

FER SURE!! I am with you on the whole guilt ritualism thing. I remember attending revivals as a teen and seeing a bunch of kids go up in tears at the alter call, babbling about their sins. There's this one time that is just stuck in my memory where I felt a bit lucid or detached from the whole process. I don't know how to describe it, but I was standing there watching all these kids experience some sort of existential crisis for their sins, and I was thinking, "I bet this is all just the adults' way of trying to control their teenagers and keep them from doing drugs and having sex." And I actually didn't feel guilt at this point, I was just really intrigued with the process of it. I think this might have been my first step towards atheism. It certainly sparked my curiosity for social psychology, no doubt!

If the pope went to Zumba class, then he may be eligible to spend eternity in my special unicorn mountain kingdom. Cool
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01-02-2017, 09:28 PM
RE: How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?
(01-02-2017 06:26 PM)hannaskywalker Wrote:  I am learning about boundaries now, and asserting them for the first time with my parents has been like you say a 'Big Deal,' (I think it should be all caps 'BIG DEAL')! I have not told my parents I am atheist, as it is none of their business (and another thing they'd want to control). Stating my boundaries led to a major fallout, hence 'BIG DEAL,' and has led to no contact for months now. I don't think it's completely because of religion, I'm pretty sure it's from generations of family dysfunction, too.
There is a pretty good book about boundaries that I would suggest sharing with your parents if you were closer. They would accept it because it is written by a couple of Christian psychologists and published by Zondervans. If they ever want to know why you are not a pushover anymore you could mention it and they could not accuse of of ruining your mind with godless drivel at least in this instance ;-)

If you can ignore all the god-talk (about half the book -- justifying the need for boundaries to believers whose boundaries have often been destroyed by their authoritarian overlords) the core principles are sound. It's palatable to Christians and relatable to ex-Christians. I believe this is the one.

Healthy personal boundaries are one of the more overlooked concepts in personal growth and they are in my experience more needed by us deconverts than even most others. You do well to work on that. People who haven't been in fundamentalism don't understand how much people like us need permission just to be human and to have the right to say "no".
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03-02-2017, 12:08 AM
RE: How has your life changed since becoming an atheist?

Thank you, mordant. Truly. I will look into that book. Heart

If the pope went to Zumba class, then he may be eligible to spend eternity in my special unicorn mountain kingdom. Cool
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