Could you please read this? I really need some support and I don't have any atheist friends.
First of all, I'm female. Maybe that will color the tone of this post. I don't know. I can be both logical and very sensitive, which makes me a bit eccentric. I've tried to toughen up. I don't know how well that has worked out for me.
During the past five years or so, I have pretty much made peace with my mother. We've had "mini" fights during this time, but our most recent tiff has me wondering once again if I'm crazy to stay so close to a domineering, fundamentalist Tea Party mother. The truth is I don't have much of a choice. I'm disabled and I rely on her. That scares the hell out of me. Or rather, my mother wishes it would. After decades of being an atheist, I'm not likely to suddenly start believing in god.
She's normal most of the time. In fact, she's extremely generous and self-effacing when she isn't religiously insane. She has the unenviable task of caring for both my 95-year-old grandmother and her daughter, me, who is in poor health. In the best of circumstances, this is a huge, stressful job. So I feel badly for her.She's very, very nice about 98% of the time. Still, there are some problems.
Recently, she told me she wanted me to "feel guilty" so I'd do what she said. Yes, that set off some alarms. In an argument, her go-to position is always martyrdom: "After all I've done for you!!!" What makes it worse is she does do too much for me. But that has been her decision. When I ask to pay for things, she always says no.
Another thing she told me was "You think you're so-o-o-o-o perfect!" I think this is a case of projection because fundamentalist Christianity demands perfection. For that reason, she cannot admit to any wrongdoing or she's "evil". There is no middle ground. Her superior attitude makes it difficult for me to admit to any wrongdoing because I don't want to apologize to someone who is trying to present herself as perfect and unassailable.
It's also quite possible the black and white thinking of Christianity has stuck with me, making it difficult for me to admit to wrongdoing regardless of how the other person acts. I'm having problems with self-respect because I'm sick all the time and feel worthless. So, no. I don't think I'm perfect.
Lately I've been wanting to stay away from the atheist movement due to all the in-fighting on YouTube and other places. I decided I just wanted to get along with people as best I could and maybe do some charity or community work. Of course, I shared this desire with my mother. I think that's where the "You think you're so perfect!" comment came from. No, I don't feel I'm perfect. That's why I want to change. I see this argument as a setback. I fucked up. Again. For the first few days after the blow-up, I felt like a failure. It's just starting to enter my brain that I can try again.
When my mother finally does go off, it's usually in a big way. Several years ago when I decided to take a break from her (I was physically able to at the time), she tried to convince my counselor I was demon-possessed and should be hospitalized. I took two such breaks from her and after I felt I'd set appropriate boundaries, our relationship was much better.
I am no saint. In this forum, that doesn't mean much, does it? XD Let's just say, I suck as much as the next person. Yes, I snapped at her. No, I wasn't blameless. She insisted I talk to her after I told her to leave me alone, so I felt she deserved anything I had to say. Obviously, that was the wrong decision. I should have stuck to my guns and told her to leave me alone until I was ready to talk.
She ended the argument with, "After all I've done for you, we are, at the least EVEN." So, no apology. I didn't apologize either.
I feel really alone up here in this rural, fundamentalist part of California. If I were in better health, I would consider trying to find some like-minded people. I tried once about ten years ago and it was a bust. I have a feeling it might turn out better this time if I could just do it.
My health is going downhill. My mother told me she was positive I would get better, but sadly, I have trouble deriving hope from that because she also believes in god and the Tea Party. My health care insurance is definitely bad. I see a PA who is very nice and thorough, but there's only so much he can do.
I worry my health is tied to having to deal with family members who believe the exact opposite of what I believe. My nephew got a new video card for Christmas. I had to swap out the power supply and install a brick-sized gaming card (Radeon HD 7870, if you care) in his tiny case. Luckily, my nephew did the heavy lifting or it would have been impossible.
During the entire time, I had to listen about how horrible liberals are and how wonderful Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin are. Luckily, the task was engaging enough that I didn't feel like ripping my hair out. But because I can multitask, I heard a lot of it.
Driving onto my mother's property and seeing her "Rico Oller" political sign out front makes me want to puke. I knew Rico Oller when I was growing up. Let's just say he's a nasty fucker who has killed hundreds of dogs (really long story). If people knew what he's done, they'd probably elect him anyway. Republicans...barf. I realize a lot of you may hold different political beliefs, but I bet we'd agree that most Republican politicians are nasty fuckers...like Rico Oller.
Because I lost all my Christian "friends" when I came out and have had difficulty finding a good friend, I wonder if there really is something seriously wrong with me that means I'll be lonely forever. My last friend told me, "You just haven't found the right friends." Then she moved to Alaska to live with an abusive boyfriend. Maybe I should give myself some more chances. There are slim pickings around here, so maybe it isn't all my fault. If only I weren't so sick, I could be a bit more proactive.
Question: Is there such thing as an atheist community? Somewhere I could move and receive a bit of help? I'd prefer to stay in California. In my youth, I traveled across the US and there's no state I would rather live in. I love my mother, but maybe she'd be easier to love if I didn't live in the same area as her and if I lived in a less Christian town.
Frustrated yet again,
Atheist in FundyLand
Thanks to everyone for replying. If I can master some of my fear, I would like to hang out here more often. I'm still leery of forums or any kind of Internet interactions, despite (or maybe because of?) the fact I've hung out on both political and religious forums where debate was the norm. I had over 12,000 posts on one forum over the course of several years until I finally realized it was a horribly toxic place and left.
I'll stick a toe in every now and again to test the waters...
AIF, you may find differences of opinion here; in fact, you surely will. But I've been coming for some while and I haven't come across bitterness or cruelty here. Most of us have to walk a line to some degree between saying to those around us exactly what we think and keeping our relatives from lynching us, but your situation is more delicate than most. I can offer you nothing but sympathy, but you at least have that. Best wishes.
I wish you the best of the best AIF.
Once again: You're too kind. :) Thanks for the talk...was it last week? It made me feel a hell of a lot better.
My sense of time is askew, so I am not sure, but I enjoyed it as well and your voice is astounding.
There certainly are places that aren't Fundyland. I live in Ithaca NY and it has a lot of anti-government paranoia and alternative medicine nuttiness. But there isn't much of a Christian presence here. The culture isn't dominated by Christianity.
And many big cities of course. But big cities are unsafe for women.
Maybe you do need to relocate someplace.
I used to live in Ventura, in Southern CA. That wasn't Fundyland either.
If your mom thinks you are possessed by demons, she is crazier than your average Christian. Sometimes people who take care of others do so because it makes them the center of attention, and your mom does have some heavy responsibilities. She may have some resentment toward you and your grandmother. If she's all right 98% of the time, that might be about the best you can hope for. No one plans for or hopes for taking care of both an aged mother and a disabled daughter; she may see it as her cross to bear.
I'm not clear on what your disability is. Depression? Anxiety? A physical problem? Are there any steps you can take to improve that situation? You said that sometimes you offer to pay for things. Do you have a source of income? Could you take over a utility payment or something like that, a regular payment so there would be no need to have arguments over it?
Just some ideas. It sounds to me like a tough spot for both of you. You might also read up a bit on Borderline Personality Disorder. See if the symptoms fit your mom.
I don't think you have anything to fear from the people here.