I'll be home for Christmas
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23-11-2015, 08:42 AM
I'll be home for Christmas
Living in "atheist" Sweden with my agnostic/apathetic husband has made my final deconversion to agnosticism rather easy and pleasant, but it has been two years since I've been able to see my family. I am finally able to go visit them in the US for the Christmas and New Years holidays, and I am excited and looking forward to it because I have missed them dearly.

However, they are all very religious and I am not out as a nonbeliever because I still rely heavily on my connection with them and don't want to put any further strain on our relationships than is already there due to distance. I am also starting to go through the angry phase where I feel like I'm able to see things for the first time and it just pisses me off some of the terrible things that christianity spreads. I don't know if I'll have the patience to sit there quietly and smile and nod when things come up.

My father is a pastor of a come-as-you-are type of church that seeks to minister to the outcasts of society, such as recovering drug addicts and former prostitutes, and I can see the good that the church community and positive messages does for them. He also does counselling, and part of that is "fixing the gays." I think he does a lot of good for people who have been sexually abused, and I can respect that part of his ministry, but the few times he has counselled lgtbq people, and how much he openly talks about what he does, it starts to really bother me, but I try to hide it. Personally, I am straight, but I identify as androgyn-gendered. I've really only talked to my husband and a few friends about that as it generally doesn't affect my life and people usually just label me as a tomboy. So when my dad starts talking about how god made people male and female and traditional gender roles and stereotypes and how we should behave, it really bothers me. He's a very kind and well-meaning man and most of the time we're very close, and so I worry about how he would react and what kind of strain it would put on our relationship. I remember him saying sometimes when I was a teenager that he wanted me to marry a good christian man and raise christian children because he couldn't be happy in heaven if he knew that me or my children were in hell. My family has accepted my husband despite his nonbelief/apathy, but it took some time, yet I feel all kinds of guilt over how sad and disappointed I know they would be if they knew I was the same.

My mother is a smart woman, but she has bought into the whole Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin type conspiracy theories and paranoia. Sometimes I do try to gently poke holes a bit at those when she brings up "the gay agenda" that is destroying the american family and persecuting christians! Ugh... I just can't. I have started to almost grieve for her because of how religion has ruined her life, but at her age and given my dad's occupation, I just don't know if it would do more harm than good to try to open her eyes or not. She's a rational person, and a lot like me, and I can see how she has forced herself into the good christian woman role, even reading self-help books that say that she would be happier if she would more closely conform to the bible's idea of the perfect woman. I know that the church members judge her (and the rest of us), expecting her to be a perfect christian woman due to being a pastor's wife, and then she doesn't live up to expectations because she doesn't teach sunday school and doesn't sing in the choir and can't play piano... the pressure they put on her is terrible, no matter what church we were at. It makes me so sad. It makes me even sadder to see her working a job that is far below her skill and intelligence level and having so few friends, spending most of her free time in front of the tv, because of how my dad's job has dragged her all over the country every few years. If only he'd been in a different occupation, she could've had more stability. She could've finished getting her doctorate and been teaching at a university, finding fulfillment in her job and building up a good retirement, and been able to keep all the friends she made. Instead she's all alone and working as a cashier. It makes me so sad and I don't know if I can hold it all in when I see her.

The worst challenge, though, will be my little sister. She has always always always been able to push my buttons and make me argue. She gets me feistier than anyone else I've ever met. It doesn't help at all that she's basically an empty vessel that all kinds of crap gets poured into and she never bothers to question any of it. I've caught her more than once holding onto conflicting ideas as if they were both true, and it drives me nuts! Then of course I am the bad guy for pointing it out and she bursts into tears. She has been working for over a year for a christian organization that is practically a cult and I worry a lot about what nonsense they've been filling her with. So, yeah, I'm going to need all the patience in the world to put up with her nonsense, so I really hope that religious things come up as little as possible.

Sorry for a big rant, but I have nowhere else to go with these things and I had to get it out. I am so worried about this visit even though I desperately am in need of it, and it's still a month away. I'll probably use this thread to keep myself sane during the visit to spew my frustrations and hopefully avoid confrontation with my family. I really really just want everything to go smoothly and to have a lot of fun... but I'm so worried.
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23-11-2015, 09:19 AM
RE: I'll be home for Christmas
(23-11-2015 08:42 AM)sarah_stardust Wrote:  Living in "atheist" Sweden with my agnostic/apathetic husband has made my final deconversion to agnosticism rather easy and pleasant, but it has been two years since I've been able to see my family. I am finally able to go visit them in the US for the Christmas and New Years holidays, and I am excited and looking forward to it because I have missed them dearly.

However, they are all very religious and I am not out as a nonbeliever because I still rely heavily on my connection with them and don't want to put any further strain on our relationships than is already there due to distance. I am also starting to go through the angry phase where I feel like I'm able to see things for the first time and it just pisses me off some of the terrible things that christianity spreads. I don't know if I'll have the patience to sit there quietly and smile and nod when things come up.

My father is a pastor of a come-as-you-are type of church that seeks to minister to the outcasts of society, such as recovering drug addicts and former prostitutes, and I can see the good that the church community and positive messages does for them. He also does counselling, and part of that is "fixing the gays." I think he does a lot of good for people who have been sexually abused, and I can respect that part of his ministry, but the few times he has counselled lgtbq people, and how much he openly talks about what he does, it starts to really bother me, but I try to hide it. Personally, I am straight, but I identify as androgyn-gendered. I've really only talked to my husband and a few friends about that as it generally doesn't affect my life and people usually just label me as a tomboy. So when my dad starts talking about how god made people male and female and traditional gender roles and stereotypes and how we should behave, it really bothers me. He's a very kind and well-meaning man and most of the time we're very close, and so I worry about how he would react and what kind of strain it would put on our relationship. I remember him saying sometimes when I was a teenager that he wanted me to marry a good christian man and raise christian children because he couldn't be happy in heaven if he knew that me or my children were in hell. My family has accepted my husband despite his nonbelief/apathy, but it took some time, yet I feel all kinds of guilt over how sad and disappointed I know they would be if they knew I was the same.

My mother is a smart woman, but she has bought into the whole Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin type conspiracy theories and paranoia. Sometimes I do try to gently poke holes a bit at those when she brings up "the gay agenda" that is destroying the american family and persecuting christians! Ugh... I just can't. I have started to almost grieve for her because of how religion has ruined her life, but at her age and given my dad's occupation, I just don't know if it would do more harm than good to try to open her eyes or not. She's a rational person, and a lot like me, and I can see how she has forced herself into the good christian woman role, even reading self-help books that say that she would be happier if she would more closely conform to the bible's idea of the perfect woman. I know that the church members judge her (and the rest of us), expecting her to be a perfect christian woman due to being a pastor's wife, and then she doesn't live up to expectations because she doesn't teach sunday school and doesn't sing in the choir and can't play piano... the pressure they put on her is terrible, no matter what church we were at. It makes me so sad. It makes me even sadder to see her working a job that is far below her skill and intelligence level and having so few friends, spending most of her free time in front of the tv, because of how my dad's job has dragged her all over the country every few years. If only he'd been in a different occupation, she could've had more stability. She could've finished getting her doctorate and been teaching at a university, finding fulfillment in her job and building up a good retirement, and been able to keep all the friends she made. Instead she's all alone and working as a cashier. It makes me so sad and I don't know if I can hold it all in when I see her.

The worst challenge, though, will be my little sister. She has always always always been able to push my buttons and make me argue. She gets me feistier than anyone else I've ever met. It doesn't help at all that she's basically an empty vessel that all kinds of crap gets poured into and she never bothers to question any of it. I've caught her more than once holding onto conflicting ideas as if they were both true, and it drives me nuts! Then of course I am the bad guy for pointing it out and she bursts into tears. She has been working for over a year for a christian organization that is practically a cult and I worry a lot about what nonsense they've been filling her with. So, yeah, I'm going to need all the patience in the world to put up with her nonsense, so I really hope that religious things come up as little as possible.

Sorry for a big rant, but I have nowhere else to go with these things and I had to get it out. I am so worried about this visit even though I desperately am in need of it, and it's still a month away. I'll probably use this thread to keep myself sane during the visit to spew my frustrations and hopefully avoid confrontation with my family. I really really just want everything to go smoothly and to have a lot of fun... but I'm so worried.

Sarah,
I've got a similar family back in Tenn. My brother is a Seventh-day- Adventist preacher who is sure that Obama is making secret deals with the pope about America's money supply, my mother is 91 and dedicated to brother's preaching and when I land in their midst I have to keep from howling with laughter at mealtimes. My youngest brother is a celibate gay and a believer in the idea that he is cursed with it as a consequence of original sin and on and on and on.
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23-11-2015, 09:33 AM
RE: I'll be home for Christmas
That sounds like a very tense situation for you to be going into. I hope your husband will be along so that the two of you can complain privately. It sounds like your mom and dad are the ones you'll want to concentrate on--tell your sister to shut up, if she starts to try to push your buttons. Something done out of malice doesn't need a kind response.

Beyond changing the subject or telling your family members that your views are different, but you don't want to argue about them, maybe try to make family time extremely active so that you are all focused most on the activity and aren't sitting around talking? That's what I often do--say, "let's go to a movie," or "let's go sightseeing," etc., then talk solely about that. As you aren't in the same country most of the time, you'll have a lot of neutral conversation material, as well.

I try very hard to avoid quiet conversation time, there are just not enough areas of agreement with my relatives for this to be comfortable. I have occasionally stopped a conversation outright, which was hard, but better than an angry argument.
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23-11-2015, 05:04 PM
RE: I'll be home for Christmas
DerFish - Oh goodness. I feel so sorry for your youngest brother.

Julep - My husband will be with me, but he just doesn't really think about these things. Religion and politics are just not topics that are discussed much in this culture, and while I have brought things up with him sometimes as I've been learning, he's just not that interested. At least we're not on opposite sides and arguing about it, though, so I probably will lean on him some. Thanks for the suggestion to keep busy. It sounds like a good plan to me. My sister is the one who is always suggesting activities, so it won't be hard to be like, oh hey, yeah, let's do that thing you wanted to do instead of this sitting around talking.
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25-12-2015, 03:14 AM
RE: I'll be home for Christmas
I've only been here a couple of days and already have managed to talk to my mother about climate change (she's a denier) and my father about the big bang and how the bible shouldn't be taken literally (although I tried to leave the option open for reading it all as parables so I wouldn't come across as atheist)... my dad wants to talk to me more about these things but not around my mother and sister as it'd probably upset them.

Yep, this is going great ><;; I need to keep my big mouth shut when I'm not awake enough to filter what I'm saying.
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25-12-2015, 03:31 AM
RE: I'll be home for Christmas
Focus on this ... they are victims! It's not their fault that they've been lied to ... muster what sympathy you can.

Hug

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