I Feel Terrible
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11-01-2014, 01:28 AM (This post was last modified: 11-01-2014 01:41 AM by ibseth.)
I Feel Terrible
Hi everyone!

I just needed to get something off my chest. As I talk it will become more self apparent why.

I'm an atheist who is stuck in the hell of an absolutely theistic environment. It's everywhere. The computer is the only place I can go to escape it, and even then I have to look over my shoulder to make sure my mormon family doesn't see me on an atheist website lest I be condemned for my sin of looking at an atheist website. Everyone knows I'm atheist, and no one's particularly mean about it, but EVERYONE I know that I care about is mormon. I'm 17, and this is my last semester in high school (thank goodness). I grew up mormon, and always brushed my doubts to the side until really started to address them, which started my journey to atheism. Ever since I found that, about four month ago, my life has almost been worse.

I've just had this sense of growing emptiness, sadness, and guilt. Now it's grown so heavy it's all I can think about when I don't distract myself with work or games. Even then sometimes it creeps in and destroys my productivity as I'll try and medicate with atheist literature such as works by Hitchens and Dawkins I have secretly purchased on my kindle.

I'm forced to go to church every week. Some of my friends and family are thinking about sacrificing two years of their life to this horrible church, and I'm torn every week between giving them knowledge that may or may not help, that may harm our friendship and bring negative attention to me and my family, and allowing them to go through with it quietly. It makes me feel spineless being quiet every week. And sitting through 3 hours of classes that are absolute bull; listening to what I now see as flawed arguments, ridiculous propositions, and fighting with past feelings about the church that remain is emotionally draining.

People bother my dad about my atheism when we go to church. As if my decisions are his fault. It makes me feel guilty and has been slowly building. I know it's irrational, but I don't know how to fix it.

My family forces me to offer the family prayer every so often. It makes me feel bad, and brings back how I used to feel about the church which has hurt me at such deep a level due to their powerful indoctrination, strict moral code that is highly limiting and sexually repressive. I suppose I've never refused, but that's equally hard. I respect my parents. And if I did, I probably have to sit through it anyways for reasons I'll explain. They also have me going to 5:00 AM "seminary" classes, which present similar issues and damages as the churchgoing.

If I said no to going to church, I would be coerced to go at the cost of everything. I need my parents for my education, transportation, and they would crack down even harder on what I look at (the books I read, the websites I visit, ect.). I probably wouldn't be typing this if I did. I probably need to go even more for my grandparents. Besides the simple reason that I love them, with luck they may be able to help me with my college education where my parents cannot. I can't even visit them without my grandpa incessantly preaching to me, fearing my immortal soul is condemned to a sort of limbo (where people in heaven even have visiting rights).

I just don't know what to do. And it all hurts.

Am I being overdramatic? Do I just need to stop being a wimp and suck it up?
Or am I justified in my pain? Do I need to "grow a pair" and tell them I've had enough of this religion nonsense?

A small part of me still believes. A small irrational part that punishes me every day for my decision and tells me I'm a sinner and I've wronged everyone around me. But I'm afraid to spurn it. My open-mindedness that led me to atheism wants me to keep this lest I lose what led me to my perceived enlightenment.

Well, thats it. Thanks so much for your support and your time, I needed this so much. I thought I could just walk away from religion a month ago. I thought I was free of it the moment I decided to reject 16 years of believing in God. Guess not.

A lot of why I posted this is for the catharsis it provides. But I'm also trying to fix this problem. I really don't want to live in half a year or more of these issues. All suggestions, interpretations, and comments are welcome.

Thanks again!

~ibseth
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11-01-2014, 02:07 AM
RE: I Feel Terrible
Hey ibSeth, ibBucky,
Sorry to hear you're miserable, but guess what ?
It only gets better. I suppose that sounds pretty stupid, but you can plan on escaping, very soon. Are you going to college ? Can you plan on a college FAR AWAY from them ?

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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11-01-2014, 02:22 AM
RE: I Feel Terrible
Yeah, I plan on going to UC Irvine. However I fear my family will not support me financially if I break away from the church completely.
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11-01-2014, 02:31 AM
RE: I Feel Terrible
(11-01-2014 02:22 AM)ibseth Wrote:  Yeah, I plan on going to UC Irvine. However I fear my family will not support me financially if I break away from the church completely.

So. Play the game. When you're gone, you're gone.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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11-01-2014, 02:47 AM
RE: I Feel Terrible
It's hard to empathise because I've not been where you are.

But others here have posted with similar issues, so you are not alone.

Generally, the advice will be:
1. Stick it out.
1a) don't bite the hand that feeds you (until you no longer need to be fed)
1b) learn from the experience (like you are watching a movie of your life and you are the critic)

or

2. Stand up for what you (don't) believe in
2a) For your own sanity
2b) As an example to those around you who might secretly be in the same position.

Only you can know how strong you are to try the latter, or indeed, what strength you may gain along that path.

Here's a good test:
Imagine that someone in authority (a judge, police officer etc.) told you that you had to keep up the pretense... you have no choice.

Do you feel more stressed? Or do you feel relief?

Then, imagine that someone in authority told you that you have to rebel, protest and do the 'right' thing.. you have no choice.

Do you feel more stressed? Or do you feel relief?

If you can imagine that, you have answered your own question.

I hope that helps.

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11-01-2014, 09:47 AM
RE: I Feel Terrible
What do you think would happen if you asked respectful questions regarding issues with the Mormon church? The obvious issues appear to be... DNA issues, the problems with archeology, and the Egyptian papyri that Joseph Smith supposedly translated.
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11-01-2014, 10:56 AM
RE: I Feel Terrible
Use this time to plan your way out. Try to get a job so you can get some funds for survival. College will allow you to escape them physically. Start researching the area around irvine where you can seek help once you arrive. Keep in mind that once the news breaks they will probably want to pull you out of college and bring you close to home. This is why you need a job now (and to save every single penny), so when that day comes you can afford your own housing and living expenses. Once you escape, do you really want to be forced to return?

There is a group called the clergy project that has ministers in the same position as you. They stand up each week and give sermons. Many of them have said they have switched to more humanist messages. You could try that when asked to give prayers.

Good luck


"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
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11-01-2014, 11:11 AM
RE: I Feel Terrible
You may just have to play the game till you can get out and away. Just remember, they can't control your thoughts. Once you are away at college you can more openly explore the world. Good luck and it's really not that long that you have to wait. Right now it probably seems like forever but it's not.

I'm not anti-social. I'm pro-solitude. Sleepy
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11-01-2014, 11:25 AM
RE: I Feel Terrible
Wow, so many great ideas and encouraging thoughts. This helps a lot. Thanks!
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11-01-2014, 11:48 AM (This post was last modified: 11-01-2014 12:19 PM by ibseth.)
RE: I Feel Terrible
I think I'll be sticking it out. The idea of sticking up for my (lack of) beliefs is much better emotionally than continuing to "play the game," but I have my future to think about so it seems that's not really an option.

As for the suggestion that I ask questions about gospel issues, it's difficult to do so because there's not really a forum for that in the church. The leadership and youth would view that as a move to distract and disrupt the class and to destroy testimonies as those issues are largely unknown in the church. I supposee the latter is true, which is why they would (and have, I've tried to bring up biblical issues) respond badly. A lot of the problem is the huge stigma in the church towards "antimormon literature." The members are discouraged from educating themselves about the historical issues.
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