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I Need An Attitude Check Regarding The Family I Was Born Into


Puddinhead
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I've lurked for a while but finally joined today. Forgive me if this has been discussed before - I searched around and couldn't find something similar.

 

I was the most devout fundy in a family of fundies. Also the most "educated" one, by attending bible college. I think this is why they took my deconversion especially hard. They've all known now for over 10 years and the "shock and awe" portion of family dysfunction is pretty well worked through. My brothers and I have a nice relationship. My parents and I, somewhat less so. It's much easier when they visit me, but when I visit them, there is a lot more prayer, book pushing and that sort of thing. My sisters, both pastors wives, stopped speaking to me on any genuine level years ago. The only time I hear from them is when I recieve I forwarded god-type email or my kids get some "scare Jesus into them!" book or cd. Even those come every few years. I have stood up for myself, but never...returned the favor by trying to convert them or send materials to their children.

 

Nice preamble? How about I get to it?

 

What I'd like to know is...how close are you to your fundy family? And if you're not close, do you feel badly about it? A little more explanation: My parents announced they are no longer able to travel due to health problems and old age. They won't attend my daughters HS graduation and seem genuinely sad about it. The rest of the siblings are throwing a "reunion" for our family that same month. I watch movies about families and read books about these situations and...I know that I should want to go. Or should feel guilty for not wanting to go...but I just can't work myself up over it. I don't feel guilty about not going to the thing as much as I feel horrible about "not feeling guilty for not going to the thing." Is something wrong with me?

 

My children too absolutely abhor the idea of going out to Wyoming to be surrounded by my family for a few days. They all don't shove Jesus down our throats to equal degrees - some of their home-schooled cousins are now Atheists, actually. But the whole affair is fantastically uncomfortable, with loads of prayer and most conversations gently pushing towards opportunities to witness. I can't blame them for hating it too.

 

I don't want to "make amends" with my sisters. I really don't want a relationship with them at all. The opposite of love isn't hate - it's apathy.

 

I guess, what I'm looking for (besides validation, apparently) is to know how common this attitude is. Do you feel apathetic about your siblings? Do you feel horribly guilty for your apathetic attitude? And finally, with my parents no longer able to travel, I will be forced to go and visit them (and somehow convince my kids to take this pilgramage as well?) How do you manage the wishes of your "now family" with the expectations of your "then family" and the obligations I feel towards my aging parents?

 

Thank you for your input.

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The relations between myself and my aging fundamentalist parents are not as good as I would like. I have a very difficult time visiting them because they are so right-wing fundy. My dad is a deacon in a Baptist Church.

 

My brothers and my parents are very far away (a hard 2 day drive or a plane ticket). I used to try to visit my parents every year, but did not this past year because its just difficult.

 

I just don't want to be involved in it. Its always a huge effort.

 

Yes, sometimes I feel guilty. I just don't want to expose my brain to this stuff anymore. Its FOX news or sports on the TV 24-7, crosses and Bible verses and Bibles everywhere, and very little conversation with my dad. I was never really that close to him, and he has become increasingly distant. I don't feel like they ever really understood me even as a child.

 

I am afraid if I told them of my present religious - type thoughts they would take it very badly on top of what they are dealing with now, which believe me is hardcore. Basically one of my brothers probably doesn't have long to live due to cancer.

 

Being Buddhist is like dealing in witchcraft and idol worship to them. They don't know, and will not know if I can help it.

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My brother is still in it, but my parents never were. I converted him when he was a small kid. As far as I know, he doesn't yet know I'm out.

 

I remain reluctant to speak about it because of his mental health. (Bat-shit demon-haunted Pentecostalism and a family history of madness do not mix well, as I realized and as he probably has yet to realize.) Finding out that I've "fallen away" might set him off in ways nobody wants to see; the "sum of all fears" if you will. So I'm maintaining as much distance as I can, for safety's sake (his safety), but I wish I didn't have to. I'm also not all that sure if he's still in or out or on the fence, it's hard to say, but last I knew he was still in. I miss him. He was always way cool, and we were so close before I moved away and then broke from Jesus. I love my bro. :(

 

The only other relative I have that's a fundie is my cousin and his wife, whom I haven't seen in a couple years. Last I knew he was planning on becoming a pastor. Don't know how he'd react if he found out, but I know he'll ask me "how's your walk?" when I see him next. Well, his brother is more or less an atheist, the other cousins on that side are largely irreligious, his parents are nominal Christians at the most (though maybe he's been influencing them), and the rest of that side of the family is pretty much irreligious, agnostic, or atheist, with maybe a few wishy-washy liberal Protestants or Catholics in the mix. My mom's side of the family? Please. About as Catholic as Robert DeNiro or Cheech Marin.

 

It's my brother that I'm worried about, mainly.

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My father was the religious nut of a religious family. He had a brother and grandmother who were preachers, yet he was still the nuttiest when it came to religion.

 

The last dozen or so years of his life were hard to deal with. He and his wife of those dozen years had done a couple of brief missionary stints and that was about all they could really converse about. Absolutely everyone he knew and his entire extended family of countless aunts, uncles, cousins were/are spirit-filled Jesus freaks. Except for his children; my brother, my sister and I.

 

We eventually stopped arguing (well, I stopped responding) about religion, but every word out of his or his wife's mouth concerned this or that pastor, one missionary or another, or what Jesus had done for so-and-so. There was the underlying agenda of converting me in every conversation. While we didn't actually fight, we certainly didn't bond or enjoy each other's company.

 

I was polite. What's a Heathen to do?

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The last dozen or so years of his life were hard to deal with. He and his wife of those dozen years had done a couple of brief missionary stints and that was about all they could really converse about. Absolutely everyone he knew and his entire extended family of countless aunts, uncles, cousins were/are spirit-filled Jesus freaks. Except for his children; my brother, my sister and I.

 

Interesting. Would you say it was (partly at least) because your dad "overdid it" with you and your siblings? Compared to how your cousins were raised, I mean.

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The last dozen or so years of his life were hard to deal with. He and his wife of those dozen years had done a couple of brief missionary stints and that was about all they could really converse about. Absolutely everyone he knew and his entire extended family of countless aunts, uncles, cousins were/are spirit-filled Jesus freaks. Except for his children; my brother, my sister and I.

 

Interesting. Would you say it was (partly at least) because your dad "overdid it" with you and your siblings? Compared to how your cousins were raised, I mean.

 

 

Honestly, I think the Old Time Religion didn't take with my siblings and me for a couple of reasons. Our mother went along to keep peace, but was very intelligent and taught us all to read well before we entered school. The other reason is possibly because we were raised in a large city and the rest of the family are, well, kinda hicks. Really, they were bumpkins rarely exposed to culture and educational opportunities - and proud of it, by the way!

 

I perceived my father as somehow more intense and obnoxious with his religion, but as far as I know, every one of his extended family and friends have always gone to every church service, the camp meetings and revivals. I don't think other parents in the family met much resistance with their children.

 

His kids escaped, however. Basically, our world just was always bigger than theirs.

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Hi Puddinhead. I'm not sure if my answers to your questions will help since I haven't come out to my family like you have, but here goes anyway:

 

I am extremely close to my fundy family. I love my parents dearly. They have made a lot of mistakes (what parents haven't?) and I really regret the wasted years because of their indoctrination, but I know how much they love me and that they truly believe all this stuff with all their heart. They didn't do it to be mean; they did it because they loved me.

 

They are very tied down right now due to some unusual circumstances, so they cannot come to visit me at this time. I visit their home about once per month and, I am with you, it is harder to visit the family than it is to have them come visit. They pray before most meals and study the Bible most mornings and will occasionally ask me if I know I'm going to heaven or will talk about how the Lawrd did this or that. I respect the prayer by remaining quiet and bowing my head, but I don't say anything. I respect the Bible study by just being quiet or going to another room. I don't join in. When it gets into uncomfortable conversation, though, I generally change the subject or just say, "I know where I'm going when I die. Don't worry about me." Well....it's true! :-) If the discussion turns to issues where I can raise a thought-provoking question, I do it, but never in a disrespectful manner or in a way that I know is going too far. Baby steps. Just get them to think. Of course, I'm not sure that last part would work so well for you since they already know you're not a believer.

 

Would you be able to tell them how you honestly feel? That you want to come visit but would like to really spend quality time with them as opposed to being preached to? That your kids might even want to come if it were more comfortable for them? In other words, family over religion for once. If they refuse, that is their own loss and very sad. So many xians lose out on what is right in front of them because they are so worried about what is not. Or, maybe it's because they love you so much that they want you to share in their delusion and not end up in hell. Doesn't make it right, but it makes it right from THEIR perspective.

 

I don't think you should feel guilty for being apathetic. You're tired of being "persecuted" (to use a term so loved by xians).

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Honestly, I think the Old Time Religion didn't take with my siblings and me for a couple of reasons. Our mother went along to keep peace, but was very intelligent and taught us all to read well before we entered school. The other reason is possibly because we were raised in a large city and the rest of the family are, well, kinda hicks. Really, they were bumpkins rarely exposed to culture and educational opportunities - and proud of it, by the way!

 

I perceived my father as somehow more intense and obnoxious with his religion, but as far as I know, every one of his extended family and friends have always gone to every church service, the camp meetings and revivals. I don't think other parents in the family met much resistance with their children.

 

His kids escaped, however. Basically, our world just was always bigger than theirs.

 

I see. Social environment and your mom's influence. Hmmmmmmmmmm...

 

I sense another poll coming along!

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I am with you, it is harder to visit the family than it is to have them come visit.

 

Hmmmmmmmmmmm...

 

With my brother it's the other way around. When I go back home, it's much easier for me to be undercover and evasive. But when he comes to visit me in Sin City, and sees me with my friends and stuff, it's a bit more awkward.

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I was the most devout fundy in a family of fundies. Also the most "educated" one, by attending bible college. I think this is why they took my deconversion especially hard. They've all known now for over 10 years and the "shock and awe" portion of family dysfunction is pretty well worked through.

 

I could have written that myself almost word for word.

 

I still get along with my family. My family has always been serious about their religion, but it amounts to letting their lives revolve around the church, not witnessing or sprinkling conversation with god talk.

 

I had visa issues last summer so spent three months between my brother's and my parent's waiting for my situation to get resolved so I could get back home to my wife. This was the first time in over 4 years that I had seen my family and was certainly the first time in about 20 years I had spent so much time with them.

 

I got along with everyone great but felt really uncomfortable when staying at my parent's (but not my brother's). I had changed, not them. They still all treat me the same, they still love me and they are still good people. I just don't have a lot in common with them other than our history. I find it uncomfortable talking only about the weather and other small talk all the time yet this was all we had in common other than just typical family news.

 

The bottom line, I've been traveling and living abroad for years and they've been in the same area all their lives. I have an education, they have just the basic HS. I read a lot they work a lot. There will always be our family connections and I will always love them. But I will never be as close to my parents as my brother who lives near them and who has lived his life pretty much as they have including with his religion.

 

So, I have changed, not their attitude or behavior toward me.

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Thank you so much for your honest responses. I feel a little less alone, and I suppose that's the point, to a degree!

 

I want to be honest, brutally honest, with myself. If there is a lack on my part, then I want to address it. But I think you're so right when well, several of you mentioned a similar experience and the fact that they don't know me - that they haven't changed and aren't willing to consider it. Ha, and I like the idea of selling it to the kids as a kind of anthropological field trip. Years ago they were forcefed "Veggie Tales." Now I suppose it will be Christian "rock" videos.

 

You remind me of a quote from the BBC series "Spaced" Something like, "They say the family of the 21st century is made up of friends, not relatives."

 

I suppose I should stop being so introspective about my motives, suck up and move on. Thanks for your kindness and openness

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I've very quickly become the black sheep of my fundy family. I don't really talk to my family at all anymore...and maybe I seem cold-hearted, but I truly do not care. When I talk to them they try to sneak in these veiled threats about the end of the world coming, so-and-so going to heaven (hint hint, you would go to hell!), etc... And they just have this smug condescention towards me. Even when they say they love me...I suppose they think Atheists aren't capable of love. But I suppose I mostly just feel contempt for them anyway. I've never thought that family should get a free-for-all. Love and respect are earned in my world.

 

It sounds like you're being more mature than I am about still keeping your family in your life though. :) Even though I can't say I miss mine... And I'm glad you're shielding your kids from their twisted ideas. :P They should use those visits with the extended family to reflect on just how lucky they are to have you for a parent. hehe.

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I haven't had a single legit conversation with my parents in over a year. Ive always loved my mom with every last drop of love. My parents kicked me out when I stood up to their pastors for wrongfully attacking my siblings. So -- as far as 'Fundy' goes, they fit the bill. But if they can willingly try and 'witness' to you, it is your right to start a new chapter in your (extended)Family by doing what you know is right.

 

At this point in time, I could say that I wouldnt even join their funeral other than to physically remove their fellow church-members. As far as Apathy is concerned, I'm in it knee deep.

 

I'll meet their wishes once they atleast meet a SINGLE one of mine.

We are a bartering species.

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Welcome, Puddinhead.

 

...I know that I should want to go. Or should feel guilty for not wanting to go...but I just can't work myself up over it. I don't feel guilty about not going to the thing as much as I feel horrible about "not feeling guilty for not going to the thing." Is something wrong with me?

I think that you're pathologically healthy. :HaHa:

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Guest QuidEstCaritas?

Considering my parents and brothers and sisters are in an international religious terrorist organization? No contact.

 

I wish I could have some with my brothers and sisters, but that's just not possible without endangering my own safety.

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