Former gentle atheist feeling fed up, betrayed, pissed!

This is going to be long! I haven't been in hear in a long time and have come to a hard realization. This is going to be a long story I feel like I need to get off my chest for my own health and sanity. The condensed version is that ive finally started standing up for myself and others against a very religious fundamentalist family and realized today that im a leper in their eyes and behind their "i love you but's," they want to censor me and hope some tragedy happens in my life so I have a "come to Jesus moment!" Today is the first time I've seen them for who they are and how they see me and it's rocked my world to the core! I have all sorts of emotions right now that I can't talk. I have to step back and calm down. I'm going to write it in my summary or my about me spot too long for this and I'm sure here I'm not alone, which I now feel I am with my family (other than my one brother). UGH!

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Comment by Tony Atkinson on September 1, 2012 at 11:13pm
Awesome advice and thanks for the thought food. I'm having close to the same epiphany I had with religion except now with my family. I've realized I'm better than how they define me. It is bs and i dont need this baggage there piling on me. That I can choose to be better than let there judgements effect me and if need be yes I can do fine without them. I've decided to not be quiet and am going to continue speaking my mind. If they can't handle it that's on them. Beth KZ your right I am defending a lot of the things zombie Jesus did and I think that's what threw me for a loop. That's the most mad I've ever got at my family exactly because I saw there hypocrisy. But that is one of the problems with religion people pick and choose it isn't clear cut it's an evolving meme. Btw y'all are all awesome! Finally getting to hearing constructive feedback instead of the jibberish my family tosses my direction. And another new pet peeve I have that instantly makes me want to nut punch someone, "I'm/were praying for you."
Comment by Joan Denoo on September 1, 2012 at 7:46pm

Tony, I feel a lot of pain from you and I am in a painful place as well. I don't have any answers; I know that pain is our body telling us something needs attention and you recognize the things that cause you pain. I know from past experiences that pain is always an ending/beginning of thinking something that needs reconsideration. Pain is valuable because it causes us to stop, look, think, experiment, explore, do something more, less, or something else. 

In my case, the religion part was settled several years ago and I feel no discomfort as family members describe the hell I will experience. That is just plain and pure nonsense. There is no hell or heaven, and there is no meaning in life. We just exist, as 7 billion others exist on the planet now and who knows how many other human beings have existed before us. There is no god to obey, no son of god to redeem us, no punishment or reward from some "higher power", and no one to listen to our prayers. There was no immaculate conception or virgin birth, or resurrection, or transcendence. Those are all Bronze Age myths created to answer some very complex questions.

It turns out their answers are wrong, the questions one has about life and living and meaning and purpose are valid questions 

Why was I born? Because a sperm and egg fertilized a new life ... that is all. 

What is my purpose? Nothing. I exist, so do you, and so do 7 billion others. 

If we talk to biologists, they will tell you that reproduction is the reason we exist and I guess that is as about as good as it gets; although those who do not reproduce have about as much reason for existence as those of us who have. 

Now we get to family. Ah! Yes! In my experience, I had to let family go because of their desire to define me. I need no external definers. I am the one who is responsible for defining me. And you are responsible for defining you. Any attempt to judge you or correct you or change you is an intrusion upon your right of being.  

I wish you well, Tony, and that the answers you come to satisfy, comfort and strengthen you. 

Comment by Beth KZ on September 1, 2012 at 2:13pm

Hey, all I can say is that I hear you, and know what it feels like to having a falling out with family. I have too, over a different topic - and I've learned a few things.

  1. Your (my) family may not be the people you (I) thought they were.
  2. There are plenty of other people who will be there for you, who actually will accept you for who you are, rather than who they want you to be.
  3. Anyone who says, "I love you but..." is being but-faced. They don't mean what came before it.
  4. Any parent who can say "I made a mistake in how I reared you", or words to that effect, has just revealed themself to not being a "loving" parent, but someone trying to make a copy of themself - a very bad reason to have children.
  5. Anyone who is hoping that tragedy, including life-threatening or life-ending tragedy happens to you does not, in any sense, love you. Most people who truly dislike you do not actively wish for bad things to happen to you.
  6. The issues you're defending - racism, women, rape victims - is speaking out for the down-trodden. The Christian Bibles I've read portray Jesus as speaking up for the same people - poor, down-trodden... He spoke up for the Samaritan (racially downtrodden), and at the stoning of the adulteress. He spoke many times about the poor. It says a lot for modern Christianity that someone who calls themselves a "Christian" would shun a person for espousing these same views.

In the mean time, you have your brother, who is still "family" to you. So, stick by him - you may or may not choose to follow his advice on any topic, nor does he have to yours, but you can respect each other as human beings.

Your family might come around, or they might not. Best thing for yourself is to create a social support system of your own - or even "adopt" the family of a significant other if they relate and accept you.

And, look at the situation objectively. Granted, I don't know you, but you've chosen a career path to help people - and there is a great need for male nurses to help preserve the modesty of men when they are getting medical care.

Comment by Diane on September 1, 2012 at 8:01am
I read it. Good for you. Hang onto what you know right now. You are good. I still think you may want to consider giving yourself some space, especially from your uncle and from any pull you might feel later to make it right with your dad just because of your conditioning to do that by your family. Anyway, you may decide I'm full of shit. I could be way off the mark. After all, I'm a stranger. I did care enough to try though because you seemed and seem like a good guy.
Comment by Diane on September 1, 2012 at 7:46am
Oh shit, Tony. I didn't know you posted again. I was writing back to the guy feeling as you did in your first post. Haven't read your new one. I just wanted to explain as soon as I read, "Oh, fuck it..." Glad you are feeling better.
Comment by Diane on September 1, 2012 at 7:43am
Hi Tony. I'm Diane and I'm new here. I've spent a couple of hours now writing a response to you even though we don't know each other. I "feel" your anguish. You deserve to be accepted and loved for who you are. Family should be able to give that to you, making a safe, caring and accepting space for you all to be together. I'm so sorry you are not getting that love from your family for all of who you instead of selected parts of who you are.

I decided to start over and write less for now. I need to sleep on some of it. I want to say a few things. If they seem "off" to you, I'm sorry. I just thought you should hear back from people awake when you posted.

You are right that you are not alone. So very many people, including many from Xian fundamentalist backgrounds, have experienced things similar to what you are going through right now. I just want to say to you, "It gets better." It gets better, really, one way or the other. If your experience is like mine, and like a lot of other people's, it only gets better after awhile. For many reasons your rejecting family members probably are not going to do better now. Your mileage may vary, but I found it helpful to let go of hoping they would just love me enough. Many of us have given ourselves some space because it is easier if you don't have to interact with them all the time. We also choose a family of friends. And they say "You can't choose your family." Hah! It can be nice to put together a family of people who are easier to get along with, people you find easy to like and eventually to love. I too had 1 brother. It has been really good to keep and grow that family connection with my bro the whole time. IMHO it probably isn't fair to put him in the position of choosing you or the rest of them. About the rest of them, if you decide to give yourself some space, and can, consider not making a final decision about your connection with them right now.You can decide later whether or how much to have them in your lives. Your mileage may vary, but for me family contact changed over time. For worse, then better, then worse, then better... Now its been better again for several years--most of the time. Best wishes.
Comment by Tony Atkinson on September 1, 2012 at 12:50am
I'm definitely going to get more involved!
Comment by Tony Atkinson on September 1, 2012 at 12:49am
Fuck it I'll write it here. My dad and 2 uncles are Wesleyan pastors. Religion is the main theme in my family. I served as an Army medic saw and did some great and not so great things. Got out went to nursing school in SD got divorced but have a beautiful lovely daughter, and the divorce was mutual I still have respect for my X. Worked out well for us and our daughter. Became an atheist in college shortly after even though I was neutral, could care less once I was out the house. That's my background.
Two weeks ago I finally decided to start replying to their very hateful, racist, anti-woman, etc. posts. Knowing in my head they were good loving people. All of a sudden I'm defending how bad slavery is, rape victims choice if they want to have abortions, evolution is true science, global warming, gay marriage, the poor, the starving, etc. etc. All while being told by them they love me butt.....
Today it hit a boiling point when I defended rape victims ability to choose abortion if they wanted. My uncle pastor and cousins reported me to Facebook because I stated "if I was a woman raped or my daughter was raped I want that to be an option and for myself I would have an abortion for sure!" Because of all the drama I decided to call my dad to make sure I wasn't going crazy with my ideas, no answer. So I called my mom. The only way she would say if an abortion is necessary is if a baby was dead in utero and causing a gangrenous infection! I got a little more heated and tactfully disagreed. We continued talking about slavery in the bible, which she defended as a moral argument (I got more pissed and she lost some respect). It hit a crescendo with her when she told me she thinks she might have raised me wrong (which is her own guilty feelings for her religious views of my atheism). Then proceeded to ask me what good I've done for humanity?
I replied I'm a paid philanthropist I'm a male nurses, I've served in the military and lived those horrible scenes in military movies. Then paused and realized she's mind fucking me! I'm defending myself to my mother who I suddenly realize thinks I'm evil, a bad person, but has to love me because I'm her son.
I call my brother, who is a traumatic story himself and he's made a great life regardless of the dogma so we can relate. Talking to him he's getting pissed and sad I'm pissed and sad so I have to talk to my dad. He's like the grand master wizard of the family.
Call him no answer he calls back shortly after almost crying because I've hit an emotional offensive thread with my questions. I feel like shit for making him and the others offended and so emotional and begin defending myself to my dad. Whom I thought might have my back because he's a pretty liberal pastor. He tells me he thinks I'm a good person and am going through some tough times and am searching for god! That he would love to have more discussions about god and Jesus with me. I say sure I would love to talk more about that with him all the while I'm feeling the big religious thumb crushing me like an ant!
After i hung up, worked out talked with my brother, drank a beer, then sat in the dark and contemplated it all. I've realized how ignorant and naive I've been all this time. How "god" has effected myself and my family. How They see me as inferior, unworthy, satan's pawn. Regardless of how I'm the most educated, most traveled, anti racist, whatever. My point is I'm better than they are and am not going to seek there approval anymore! Religion has been between me and them for awhile now, but this is my first time seeing it. Thanks for the place to vent. No one will read this monstrosity (i could easily make it much longer) but I already feel better just being able to say it.

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