My Sister Thinks I'm "Going Through a Phase!"
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15-03-2013, 11:38 AM (This post was last modified: 15-03-2013 11:43 AM by bbeljefe.)
RE: My Sister Thinks I'm "Going Through a Phase!"
(15-03-2013 10:59 AM)Peanut Wrote:  I just felt the need to vent about her reaction because...I guess I felt like she had no concern to the "bigger picture" or the whole reason I went to her looking for support. For a minute there, she seemed to follow that I am certain my current relationship is doomed and there is no going back. BUT then I reiterated the fact that our religious differences is playing a big role in the disconnection and my sister pretty much "took his side."

Now, I'm a grown up. I can handle the truth and I can handle people having different opinions than my own. But when my sister-the one person I've looked up to my whole life-got sidetracked with trying to convince me to be "open-minded" toward eventually being spiritual, it just brought me down. She joined the ranks, in my eyes, of the Christian believers who MUST preach the word of God at all costs. It further aggravated me because she knows I've always looked up to her. I kinda got the feeling when she was giving me her "advice," that she was calculating and being somewhat manipulative. (I pictured her imagining saying all this to me, I end up "seeing the light," she then gets to have me attend church with her, AND she gets brownie points for converting a non-believer to Christianity.) It's sad, but that's how she made me feel. I didn't feel she was even listening to me. Angry Confused
Of course you felt she had no concern for the bigger picture, she didn't. You pointed out two major issues with your relationship... having kids and religion, and she jumped on religion and hung in there till the bitter end with no regard for your position.

Look at it this way: Let's say the two points were having kids and baseball. He likes baseball and you don't. Would it make any sense at all if your sister had attempted to coerce you into liking baseball? Of course not. And I would imagine that even if she were a baseball fan, she would understand that you weren't, would empathize with that position and would try to help you from your perspective on the matter.

But that's not how it happened. How it happened is that she ignored your preference and added some extra stress for you to deal with. And then, you come to a place that's supposedly populated by like minded people and now you're being told to have sympathy for the person who caused your stress.

Fuck that. Your sister didn't respect your preferences. If you're expected to respect others' preferences and fragile conditions then by damn everyone else should be expected to respect yours. Period.

EDIT: If there is anything you could possibly deserve admonishment for it's the fact that you asked a person with irrational beliefs for advise about another person's irrational beliefs. But even that's an untenable position, given your prior experience with your sister.

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names. - Chinese Proverb
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15-03-2013, 11:52 AM
RE: My Sister Thinks I'm "Going Through a Phase!"
(15-03-2013 10:59 AM)Peanut Wrote:  I just felt the need to vent about her reaction because...I guess I felt like she had no concern to the "bigger picture" ... I didn't feel she was even listening to me. Angry Confused

A lot of us are men... according to Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (which contains a good mixture of both truth and bullshit) guys have a tendency to try to fix problems rather than listen when a woman vents. I'm not sure if that's true of guys in general, but I know I made that mistake.

I hope your next talk with her goes much better.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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15-03-2013, 11:54 AM
RE: My Sister Thinks I'm "Going Through a Phase!"
(14-03-2013 10:02 PM)Peanut Wrote:  I just got off the phone with my beloved sister. We talked for about an hour and a half about life and all that. She is six years older than me but we are so effing close, that we talk about ANYTHING. NO HOLDS. NO HIDING. EVERYTHING.

It is for this reason, that I haven't talked to her much about what I've been going through for the last few weeks. I knew she would try and be all "big sister needs to protect baby sister" on me. Although we are super close, we've grown apart in recent years due to the fact that she has found God again. We used to talk about life and what we believe and don't believe all the time. We were so in sync. And then she got herself into trouble and finally admitted to herself that she was an alcoholic. She goes to AA meetings regularly and reads all the "daily prayer" things all the time.

I'm proud of my sister for cleaning herself up. I REALLY AM. But I still don't care for religion and don't see it in my future. I decided to call her today and hear her take on my current relationship. I told her all about the two things that I see are standing in the way of "making it work" with said boyfriend.
  • He doesn't know if he wants any children and we won't even know for another few years until he feels comfortable in his job...
  • He believes I'm going to Hell.
In talking to her, the last forty minutes of our conversation revolved around her repeatedly saying she's "not trying to convert me, but..." But she was TOTALLY trying to "open my eyes" and see "the bigger picture."
OMG. I didn't realize that she felt this way. The very second I mentioned the topic of my not believing in a hell, God, Heaven or anything religious-and the fact that I'm ABSOLUTELY comfortable in my stance-she began to go all "preachy" on me. A few points that stuck out:
  • "You aren't keeping an 'open mind.'"
  • "You haven't looked at religion from a point of view other than your close-minded opinion of religion." (WHAT?!)
  • "Yeah, you started to think you were atheist while you were a Sophomore, but you didn't know better." (WHAT?!!!?)
  • "You need to tell him you are willing to look into being 'spiritual.' Being spiritual doesn't mean you believe in God."
  • "You are spending too much time on your "atheist website!" You are only hearing points of view from them. Why not spend time on a religious website, too? THEY WON'T TRY TO FILL YOUR MIND WITH IDEAS THAT HAVE NO BASIS..." (What the @#$!?)
Oh! That last one was a doozy! I laughed. I seriously pulled the phone from my ear and stared at it for a good twenty seconds. And when I went back to listen again, she was still spewing nonsense.

She kinda mentioned that I was being "brain-washed..." Dodgy

I can't believe she feels this way. I am completely dumbfounded. I asked her how exactly am I not being "open-minded." She stated that I never 'gave religion a chance' and I shouldn't be so 'against' it. I said I can't believe she is trying to say she isn't "trying to convert" me. I told her outright that she was being kind of ridiculous and hypocritical. Her go-to for life's answers is to turn to religion. No other thing is as powerful as believing in something bigger than herself.

You should have heard her reaction when I said that while I respect her view and appreciate her "advice," but I'd be lying to him if I said I'd be "open-minded" to being "spiritual" because I'm what some might call anti-theist. (I've figured out that's the right word to describe me in recent months. I can't stand the thought of going to church, seeing 'prayer chain' posts on public forums and the very thought of somebody trying to "convert" me makes me cringe and feel almost threatened.)I have absolutely NO DESIRE to spend anymore time in "figuring out if religion is for me," because I've spent the last TEN YEARS of my life doing it. I'm very content in my decision. There was a brief pause on her end of the line and then she forged on accusing me of being "brain washed and close-minded." I told her that she apparently doesn't know me as well as I thought. It seems the thought of her little sister NOT wanting to believe in ANYTHING freaked her out.

This is awesome. Now my sister-although she will steadfastly deny doing it-is going to make me one of her projects. I'm not going to hear the end of it.
My situation with a sibling has some similiarities. (Sorry for the vague "sibling", but that sibling may lurk around here and so I'm typically reluctant to get too specific about anything personal since this sibling may guess who I am.) When I first became an atheist, this sibling also thought it was a phase and believed I would eventually "come around". After 15 or 20 years, they finally realized that I didn't come around and then everything changed. First came the conversations about "why", then came materials by email and mail that they thought would convince me I was wrong, finally came all the mass cards informing me of prayers for my salvation when they realized there was nothing else they could do. Along the line I heard many of those same things you listed that your sister said.

My advice is for you to try to be understanding of her point of view and let her discuss it with you in order to work through it. But draw the line at anything insulting. Tell her calmly and politely (because anger or rudeness would give her an unnecessary excuse to inwardly invalidate anything you might say) that you are willing to discuss religion/atheism, but not willing to engage in insult exchanges. If something is offensive, ask her to detail what she means instead of just making offensive statements. That way, you can discuss the factuality of specific points instead of dealing with overgeneralized offensive statements that have some obscure meaning. Remember that you are sisters and this doesn't have to break you apart. As close as you say you two have been, she probably just needs time to adjust and to accept that you really aren't going to change your mind. Anything you can do to help her arrive at those (patience, understanding, conversations, or whatever) will help you get beyond this that much sooner. She will probably never approve of your atheism, but she can probably eventually reach a point of acceptance enough to let you be.

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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15-03-2013, 11:59 AM
RE: My Sister Thinks I'm "Going Through a Phase!"
Keep contact with your sister open and let her be whatever she thinks she needs to be... you BE the atheist. Lovingly smile and nod through her preaching if that makes her happy but do insist that you are fine and content with the overall management of your life.

Encourage her in her sobriety ... let her know how proud you are of HER strength - let her know that SHE is the one who pulled HERSELF out of the drunken nightmare she lived whether she sees it that way or not. Keep drumming it into her that it's all HER and that SHE is the strong one, not something outside of her.

Tell her that is not what you believe, but what you know to be the reality of the situation. You can believe anything you want to get through a tough situation but sooner or later, the reality of the situation will need to kick in to get any satisfaction in life. Shit, my Mom used to make me do the dishes after school each day and the only way I could get through it sometimes, was to pretend a witch imprisoned me and to get out I had to scrub her filthy dishes. I was bored so I had to make it a game or I wouldn't even be able to touch the fucking dishes. Your sister is probably a very intelligent person who is easily bored... god just helps her pretend.

Let her know that humans are not alone because we do have each other and we experience the same kinds of feelings and have similiar kinds of struggles.

There is nothing outside of our own mind and body that is in control of us. A great deal of our control is up to us.
Human beings are not some kind of pinball game to be manipulated ... sadly, some do exploit the vulnerable in this way.

Personally, I think AA is backed up by a false promise of control... they certainly don't talk about SELF control... isn't that what sobriety is about - self control?

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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15-03-2013, 12:08 PM
RE: My Sister Thinks I'm "Going Through a Phase!"
I'm sorry this is happening. It'a always a lot harder when theists in question are beloved family members. I can handle being told I'm going to tell from a stranger on the internet, but I get a little more upset when it's someone I love saying these things. I believe very strongly that actions speak louder than words. The only way to convince your sister this isn't a phase is to hold strong to what you know, always, every single day. Keep yourself educated. Know how to respond should a disagreement come about. If you waiver and seem to be unsure, it will most definitely seem like a phase or that your beliefs have a shaky foundation that won't hold once they put weight on it, you know?
I'm dating a theist. He has never told me I'm going to hell, even if he thinks it. We had a discussion about it and still talk when the topic comes up. We're both into intellectual, philosophical discussion. The day he tells me that I have to believe or I will burn for eternity is the day we're not going to be in a relationship anymore. I even go to church with him sometimes. It doesn't bother me if I have time and he has never pressured me to go. He's always surprised when I say, "Oh, hey, I'll go to church with you tonight." I want to spend time with him. That's important to me.
Anyways, good luck.
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15-03-2013, 10:57 PM
RE: My Sister Thinks I'm "Going Through a Phase!"
(15-03-2013 06:24 AM)Starcrash Wrote:  
(15-03-2013 04:16 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  Just because I am a theist doesn't mean I can't make accurate judgements about the world around me. Only atheists suffer from that problem.

I didn't think you were posing as a theist this whole time, but I agree that your assessments on this thread have been more rational than usual... until you stereotyped atheists. Do you fail to notice when atheists make "accurate judgements about the world around [them]"? We call that confirmation bias.

C'mon, be fair. We noticed your rational input here. Why can't you do it back?

The stereotyped statement was a joke.....apparently not a very good one.
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16-03-2013, 01:51 AM
RE: My Sister Thinks I'm "Going Through a Phase!"
(15-03-2013 10:57 PM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  The stereotyped statement was a joke.....apparently not a very good one.
One of the major problems with a typed statement is the inability to convey tone. Your joke may have been funny if I could've recognized it as one, but it's so hard to recognize. I really didn't mean to argue against a joke.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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16-03-2013, 02:21 AM
RE: My Sister Thinks I'm "Going Through a Phase!"
(16-03-2013 01:51 AM)Starcrash Wrote:  
(15-03-2013 10:57 PM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  The stereotyped statement was a joke.....apparently not a very good one.
One of the major problems with a typed statement is the inability to convey tone. Your joke may have been funny if I could've recognized it as one, but it's so hard to recognize. I really didn't mean to argue against a joke.

I agree. What makes it even more difficult for me to convey a joke is that I hate smilies...so I rarely use them.
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16-03-2013, 02:17 PM
My Sister Thinks I'm "Going Through a Phase!"
Peanut, do you feel admonished by anyone encouraging caution with your sister's condition (which would include me)?

I hope I didn't come off that way. You're right, she wasn't listening to you. And I'm sure that hurts when you're so close.

I do tend to take alcoholism seriously though. It ruins lives...worse than religion does. But, if she stays sober and regains her strength then in time you two may be able to return to an amicable state.

Sorry, but after my life experiences, I tend to treat recovering alcoholics with great caution. And my mother (recovering) has always drilled into my head: "Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic."
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16-03-2013, 02:29 PM
RE: My Sister Thinks I'm "Going Through a Phase!"
I didn't feel bad by anything that was said. I posted to get it off my chest and in doing so, I EXPECTED people to be honest with me. Smile

I appreciate all that was said by everyone. I take sobriety seriously as well. I want her to stay strong. In time, I'm sure she will come around and not try to shove it down my throat or beat me over the head with religion. She will eventually realize that she is wasting her time...

"It was life, often unsatisfying, frequently cruel, usually boring, sometimes beautiful, once in awhile exhilarating." -Stephen King
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