Mentally unstable family?
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31-08-2013, 01:31 PM
Mentally unstable family?
Hi all-

I've made a couple posts on here before, then kinda went MIA. Grad school ramped up and got pretty stressful for awhile, but I managed to successfully pass the preliminary exams and earn my Master's and am now officially a PhD candidate. Practically speaking, the hardest part of grad school is over. Additionally, my lover and I have officially moved into a place together- we couldn't be happier.

With the preliminary exams out of the way, I've been able to think more about my identity as an atheist. I'm still struggling with my family and their reaction to my relationship. I'm still outwardly a practicing Catholic, although I've been more open with my doubts and problems with the church. My family is still begging me to reconsider my relationship- for although they recognize that he's a great guy, they fear what an atheist father would do to good Catholic grandkids. I'm getting tired of playing the "we're different but we can work it out!" game with my family, because I believe that they're absolutely right. An atheist father would not produce good church-going kids, no matter how hard the mother tried. If I cared about producing good, church-going kids, I wouldn't be with the man I'm with. I hate lying to them about going to church every weekend, and I'm sick of scrambling to cover my ass when I get quizzed on what the homily was about. Coming out honestly would solve these problems.

The problem is that my mom isn't mentally stable. She's dealt with depression for a long time, but her beliefs don't let her seek appropriate treatment. She had periodic suicidal episodes when I was a kid and they scared the crap out of me. My dad has always insisted that it's just incredibly emotionally manipulative histrionics and she'll never act on it. Lately however, my dad's been communicating some concern as well. He mentioned to me last weekend that he's worried about her stressing herself to the point of heart attack. She's putting on an incredible amount of weight and has pretty much let herself go. I am to blame. Moving in with my man was the unthinkable. The worst part of this is that I have a young teenage sister still living at home who is having to process the slow descent of her mother into a disheveled mess.

If my mom killed herself directly over this, or worked herself into a fatal heart attack, I don't know how I'd live with myself. I've talked to some people about this, but the general consensus is always "there's nothing you can do, it's not your fault, you need to live your life". The problem is, this isn't just my life. I have a father and siblings who are affected too.

I am feeling completely hopeless. I have 9 months left of a lease with the man I love, and he doesn't know this, but I am considering planning for a split after those 9 months. We can end it beautifully, as though one of us had a terminal illness. He has made me happier than anyone could ever have, and I will never ever forget him. He deserves better than a woman with baggage like mine, and he will find someone to embrace again. I love him far too much to put him through the life of fighting that would be a life with me. There is no other way out. I would then forego my PhD, go home, and protect my sister and my father and my brother from the heartache of losing my mom. I will give her what she wants- she will win. I would rather loathe the only life I have than cause the kind of pain I will cause by being honest.

Has anyone else here every dealt with this? If I was only going to be disowned, fine. But I cannot cause someone's death. My happiness is not worth that. I love them all too much.
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31-08-2013, 01:52 PM
RE: Mentally unstable family?
My initial response is 'Wow, just wow!' You have a lot on your plate.

Rereading puts things in a different light though. Simply, you aren't responsible for your mother's choices in life. If she won't seek help and you and your family have no desire or ability to force her to seek help then there's not much you can do. Funny, I grew up Catholic in a very Catholic area and I don't remember seeking help through the medical community to be looked down on.

You are with a man you seem to care about but not enough for you to live your life honestly. I don't understand, really. Yes, you have a father and siblings but do you really think that you are supposed to completely derail your life and your happiness to prevent what might happen?

If you father now has serious concerns about your mother's mental state then he should be pushing her to seek help and not using it as the guilt card to keep you in line, maybe I am off base but that's what it sounds like. I think you are being manipulated. You may think that continuing with your life isn't fair somehow to your family but it sounds like their expectations of you are what's unfair here.

You say you are an outwardly practicing Catholic which doesn't exactly paint an image of a devout Catholic. Yet, you think that children will be more jeopardized by a loving atheist father than a fake Catholic. At least he is living the title he claims with regard to his beliefs.

I played the Catholic game for a time; complete with Catholic school so I get it.

Maybe some counseling would be good for you. I really think you need to get a grip on that good ole Catholic guilt. In fact, I think counseling for yourself is really crucial here before you throw everything away for something that is not in your control.

Please find someone to talk to, just because your mother won't doesn't mean you shouldn't.

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31-08-2013, 01:54 PM
RE: Mentally unstable family?
Damn! That's a tough one.

I can't relate to this precise situation other than having a high-stress mother. Or she was. She's more relaxed now, oddly, after breast-ops and such.

I do remember the guilt-trips (my father saying "this will kill your mother" etc.) when we did bad shit.

Well, it's not that I didn't care about her but I chose my own path and she survived.

Jewish mothers are unkillable it would seem.

It's only my personal view but isn't it best to live for future generations... as the older generations live for you?

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31-08-2013, 03:36 PM (This post was last modified: 31-08-2013 03:48 PM by FlightedChemist.)
RE: Mentally unstable family?
I appreciate the advice.

I've sought counseling, haven't been in awhile though. Maybe I should go back. I have trouble with counseling too. My counselor tells me to get past the guilt too. I don't know how to do that. Where is the line between selfishness and doing what needs to be done? I am making direct choices that affect everyone around me. The consequences of those choices could include my mom's death. Yeah, I realize, she's a time bomb and if I don't set her off something else will. I'm not pulling the trigger or feeding her pills. But how can anyone say that I'm not responsible? If I make the choice to drive a car 100 mph down a road and hit another car and kill someone, I'm responsible whether or not I intended to kill that person or not. I can't see a difference in these situations. Both situations have a whole host of extenuating circumstances that led to someone's demise, and no one intended for either to end that way. In both cases, I make choices in full knowledge of possible danger. I knew when I started my relationship and began to internally embrace my atheism that my parents wouldn't take it well, just like anyone knows that driving 100mph carries with it dangers.

If I could force my dad to seek help for mom, or force my mom directly to seek help, I would. But I can't. I can hope that the outcome of this won't be as bad as I'm afraid it might be. My lover thinks that once we get through the wedding and have our first babies, mom will come around- heathen babies or not. He favors continuing the "double life" approach because he knows exactly how crazy mom is and doesn't want to set anything off. He thinks we can ride it out. I don't know how much more riding it out I can handle. Being honest would lift a weight from my chest, but that weight might be replaced with a much heavier one.
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31-08-2013, 04:05 PM
RE: Mentally unstable family?
Yup. Grandmothers are way more chilled than mothers.

Dude's gotta point.


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31-08-2013, 04:15 PM
RE: Mentally unstable family?
We are an atheist family. My brother is gay and he is planning to leave the country. My sister is also planning to leave the country to marry the man she loves.
But here's the thing... my extremely Christian grandmother doesn't know any of this. She was so shocked when she found out I'm dating a guy 14 years older than me. I can't imagine what the rest would do to her if she knew. We all play our roles as a normal, Christian family in front of her, just so we won't upset her.

Having said that, I can't imagine what you must be going through. I do need to say though, like others did, that you have to get rid of that guilt of yours. You can't save everyone and the choices and thoughts of others are not your responsibility.

However, it's normal to care and worry about the impact of your choices in your loved ones' lives, but think about it the other way round. How do the choices of your parents affect YOUR life? I know many people who lost many opportunities in life because their parents did "what they thought was right". They never blame their parents and they always feel extremely responsible for their happiness.

You say that "choosing" atheism is like "choosing" to drive at 100mph. I disagree. First of all, you don't "choose" to not believe in something. This was not a choice of yours, so don't beat yourself up over it. Driving at 100mph IS a choice. You have the choice to drive more slowly.

My advice? Keep pretending for as long as you can. Unfortunately, in such situations, it's the only thing you can do. As for the babies, think about it really well. When you have kids you should think not only about how much you want them, but also how appropriate the environment and the circumstances are. Will these kids be happy? That's the first thing to think about.

"Behind every great pirate, there is a great butt."
-Guybrush Threepwood-
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31-08-2013, 06:32 PM
RE: Mentally unstable family?
Your mother's health is not your responsibility - your life is.

I can't imagine chucking away everything for such a reason.

I wish you well, but destroying your life does not seem like a rational or humane thing to do.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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31-08-2013, 07:08 PM
RE: Mentally unstable family?
[Image: Steve-Jobs.jpg]
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01-09-2013, 05:25 PM
Mentally unstable family?
Has anyone ever wondered whether or not upsetting the religious boat with family was worth it? I'm sure there's some tension for almost everyone, some more than others. Has anyone regretted coming out? Sometimes I almost regret reading the things I read and allowing myself out of the catholic box. As a chemist, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I started down the leaving religion path. There are a surprising number of apparently religious folk in my program though- even a creationist, which blows my mind.

Anyway- Maybe integrity isn't always worth the trouble? Maybe I just need to go on doing what I'm doing and get over lying about it because my intent is good.

What's this about us not having kids? I don't think our kids would have it so bad, even if my mom didn't come around. My dad and siblings tolerate my relationship- hell, my brother knows I'm an atheist and he even allowed my lover to drive his boat. That's a big deal. My lover's parents are awesome and his family is in complete support of us. The only rough patch would be my mom, and I suspect she'll resolve (for better or worse) by the time kids come along. We likely won't end up living anywhere near my family- few jobs for two PhD Chemists in their area. Even a mom who doesn't come around would only make for some awkward holidays.

I was listening to some Macklemore last night, and when Same Love started playing, it kinda occurred to me that leaving religion is kinda like coming out as gay. I know that's a comparison that's been made before- but we were talking about whether or not atheism is a choice, and if atheism is a choice then so is being gay. And being gay isn't a choice. If I don't expect gay kids to throw everything away to appease Christian parents, maybe I shouldn't force myself to do it either. And I know mom would react just as strongly if I came out as gay.

Thanks for the support everyone.

I'm thinking of print out that Steve Jobs quote.
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01-09-2013, 05:38 PM
RE: Mentally unstable family?
Hello FlightedChemist. Im sorry you're going through this. And i know you love your mother very much. But i have to agree with what the others are saying. You have to live your own life. I understand you just want to help. But will all due respect to your mother and family, if they do not want to help themselves then they cannot expect others to help them. You are a good person. That much i have gathered from your posts. Continue living the goodness you have and that is more than anybody could ask for.

If you don't want a sarcastic answer, don't ask stupid questions. Drinking Beverage
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