Southern loneliness
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05-04-2015, 11:00 PM
Southern loneliness
I am in my 40's, married to a theist wife and we have 3 kids together. (I was a theist too, when we married 17 years ago). Which, since we reside in a HEAVILY religious smaller city in the Tennessee area, the kids have become successfully (and unfortunately) indoctrinated.

At times I feel so incredibly alone and isolated. My wife and kids still attend all the religous social functions and frequently socialize with religous people in the community. They all seem very happy. Since I officially renounced all religious ties and came out to my family two years ago, in order to not portray and feel like a hypocrite, I quit attending church and all religous functions. I'm overall happy with that decision, however, it has come with consequences. As a result I now have no one close by to call a friend. Not one person. In this area, you either socialize through the church or you are, for all practical purposes, excluded and alone. My wife is constantly texting with her friends, talking to her friends (one a Christian male) which has sparked some insecurity and jealousy issues as of late. Me on the other hand, I never receive one single acknowledgement of my existence outside my immediate family.

I have nothing and no one outside my family anymore. I almost wish I could take a pill and go back to believing in absurdities. At least then I felt a part of something, something larger than myself, and didn't perceive this enormous sense of isolation I feel now.

My wife, still says she loves me and is 'ok' with my being an atheist, as long as I never discuss religion around her and the kids, essentially remaining mute on the topic; she says she is fine with it. I make good money and provide and very comfortable life for her and the kids, I think it's possible that her being tolerant of my atheism, is perhaps her enjoying the lifestyle I'm currently able to provide for her and the kids? It may be unfair of me to insinuate the accusation, but, if I wasn't providing this comfortable of a life, would she still profess tolerance of my atheism, or would she request a divorce? I don't know. Probably a touch out of line for me to suggest that my wife would behave in such a shallow manner.
Anyway, I've invested a lot of time and energy with my wife, raising three kids, and would be devastated should the marriage fail. I love my wife very much! We got and get along fine minus the religious obstacle in our relationship.


To make matters MUCH worse, I'm not a charismatic or outgoing naturally friendly person, I do like people, however I'm somewhat of a diffident soul. Making friends before I was an atheist was a challenge, now, in this area, it's nearly impossible.
I can't lie, sometimes the isolation from my community gets so overwhelming, depression rears its ugly head and I will think about some very drastic things, things that I know is not good for me to obsess about. However, that would mean my kids would grow up without a father, and I wouldn't want that for them.

I would actually love to move to a less religious area, or one that was more progressive and at least religiously neutral. But my wife doesn't want to move, plus there are other complicating factors like our kids being in high school, kids friends, my wife's friends, aging parents nearby, and it would be hard for me to find a job paying the kind of money im making now. For now, moving is daydreaming fantasy for me, in reality, it's easier said than done.
What can I say I often feel trapt and hopeless. At least I found this forum site to help me to vent some of my frustrations on. I'm reaching out for anything at this point.
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05-04-2015, 11:04 PM
RE: Southern loneliness
Welcome to the forum. There's a lot of people here, and many can identify with what you're going through. I hope you find some comfort here.

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06-04-2015, 08:55 AM (This post was last modified: 06-04-2015 09:04 AM by Dusky.)
RE: Southern loneliness
Welcome! I'm a bit of a newbie myself.

Best part is, my wife and I can relate! We're going into our late 20s and have recently come out of the woodworks as atheist to some family members. Unfortunately, there are some that will never know as the bridges to those relationships will burn, and religion means so little to me, I could live with the white lie to some members just for the sake of maintaining a relationship with them.

But we also live in a small town in Tennessee. About 45 minutes north of Nashville. Everyone is religious in our town. We take our kids to events at the local library, or to hang out at the park and we're bombarded with religious hounding. Within 2-3 minutes of talking to someone, the immediate next question is what church we attend. If we kindly say we do not attend any churches, we are then bombarded with if we would like to join theirs. If we come out and say we are atheist, immediately they stop talking to us or kind of smile and walk away. If we keep quiet and say thanks but no thanks, eventually we're looked up on facebook and then frequently invited to their events. Sadly, I'm trying to keep it from my kids from the time being (ages 3 and 4) but it's becoming increasingly difficult. I had another 4 year old girl tell my daughter about Jesus and going to hell. At the age of 4! Unfortunately, I do IT work in Nashville, so I'm not home a lot of the time to deal with this kind of thing.

If your town is anything like ours, you will be surrounded by these people. Every event, even if it is secular will be turned into something religious. We go trick-or-treating at a park down the street. I'd venture to say 80% of the vendors handing out candy are religious and then ask my family to join their church. Not just by the sheeple, but by the pastors themselves.

I could go deeper in my gripes, but hopefully since I live in TN as well, it gives you some consolation that there are others like you out there forced to live in religion's shadow for the time being.
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06-04-2015, 09:04 AM
RE: Southern loneliness
I can 100% relate to the isolation feeling. When I stopped going to church, I felt like I had been cut off from anything social, like I had no friends, like nobody cared about me except to see when I was coming back to church. It was a horrible feeling and my most depressing birthday shortly followed. But I've come a long way in the years since then. I did move away from that southern town, which helped immensely, but even before that I sought out some volunteerism, plays, and concerts to try to put myself out there. It helped, even if I didn't make any real close friends, I at least didn't feel so isolated.

I hope you find something that works for you. The folks on this forum are great, so that's a good start Smile best of luck in your small town.

Atheism is the only way to truly be free from sin.
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06-04-2015, 09:28 AM (This post was last modified: 06-04-2015 09:32 AM by Nurse.)
RE: Southern loneliness
I definitely understand. There's not a lot of us, but you're not alone. My closet is to prevent burning bridges with family, my friends don't care. I live in a smallish town/suburb of Huntsville, AL.

I find myself in Nashville quite a bit these days. I'm finding more and more freethinkers as I open up to people.

I was sitting in church yesterday when towards the beginning of the service the overhead lights went dim and the baptismal font brightened. An eight year old boy, clearly terrified, walked down into the water. One of the deacons had a shit eating grin on his face, said all the uncomfortable stuff (even as a Christian I always felt this "ick" factor with public declarations and the word choices used to describe accepting Christ into one's heart) and dunked the poor thing in the water. "Can I get an Amen, Hallelujah!" My son is six. I started crying (I cried through most of the service...), is this going to be my son in two years? The only thing I can think to stop it is stress that I don't think young children are capable of making and understanding such a decision, and hold out for Methodist confirmation around age 12, buying me time. That was important for my mom - I never did go through confirmation, we moved too much, and changed churches too often, I was eventually baptized at a baptist church at 14.

"If there's a single thing that life teaches us, it's that wishing doesn't make it so." - Lev Grossman
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06-04-2015, 09:36 AM
RE: Southern loneliness
I lived four years in Sparta, Tennessee in my teens, I can understand.

Stick around, you'll find support here and a wealth of experience willingly shared.

Welcome.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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06-04-2015, 09:51 AM
RE: Southern loneliness
I'm just poking my nose in here to let you all know I sympathize and I don't have any answers or advice. I've been happily married to an atheist for 46 years and I can't imagine being married to a believer. I burned my bridges with family by announcing my atheism when I was 14 years old and they did not take it well. But, that was 54 years ago and a very distant memory.

Nurse, you should have told that baptismal kid to run. The "water" is just the beginning. They are going to spend a lifetime drowning that poor kid in abusive bullshit.
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06-04-2015, 10:54 AM
RE: Southern loneliness
First I would like to thank all who have replied this far. I wasn't sure what to expect when composing my post. I've never participated on an atheist forum site before. However, I somewhat surprised just how much it has shone at least a glimmer of light and hope on my situation.

Just hearing that there are other atheist living in Jesus town(s) across Tennessee nearby has helped. I promise I'm not exaggerating when i say I feel as if I'm the ONLY one in town who dares to disbelieve.
I think it would be good for me to find something to join? However, almost everything around these parts gets brought back to religion in some fashion.
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06-04-2015, 11:04 AM
RE: Southern loneliness
You are not alone. But you should be able to google search atheists groups in your state or county. I also am pretty isolated from other atheists, both the groups near me are one hour north and 40 mins south. My contact is online.

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06-04-2015, 11:07 AM
RE: Southern loneliness
(05-04-2015 11:00 PM)Biolizard Wrote:  My wife, still says she loves me and is 'ok' with my being an atheist, as long as I never discuss religion around her and the kids, essentially remaining mute on the topic; she says she is fine with it.

That doesn't sound to me like she loves you but rather a pretend image that she has of you. Why does she get to express her beliefs openly, especially to the kids, and you have to hide yours?

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
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