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My Mother


cvd26
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Hi there. It has been a while since I have posted, yet I frequent here often reading up on different posts. I am feeling upset about something for a while now involving my deconversion from Christianity (Catholicism specifically) that has to do with my mother.

 

I have been an agnostic/atheist for over a year now officially maybe longer. After I realized my lack of belief I made no secret of it to my family and was honest. My father was raised Catholic but has always been agnostic in his adult years and does not attend church nor any desire to. It was my mother that exposed me to and encouraged religious beliefs, and faith in a god. She was never fanatical, but had the more old fashioned Catholic view of god, that you go to church to commune with god and learn blah blah blah. Long story short I frequented different churches throughout my teen years along with my mother (she would seek out different bible studies) and all that time was scared and saddened that my dad was a heathen and would not go to heaven with us (or so I was taught). At one time during these Calvary Chapel youth group years I told my mom that I did not believe in any of this garbage and not sure if I even believed in god at all. I should have had more faith in myself and got away then but my mother's disappointed and saddened face made me stay. Fast forward to 2007 when after trying to believe and attend mass as an adult I finally let go and admitted to myself I did not believe in the bible, jesus story, or any religion. I waited several months then told my dad first who was not phased at all and said he never bought the whole religion thing either. My mom on the other hand seemed disappointed. She said that day on the phone "I know you believe in a higher power, I am sure of that" Um really? I didn't know you could speak for me...a grown adult, or read my mind. I let it go for a while but it came up a few times since then and I have been honest about it with her. She does not attend any church at all, read the bible, or even talk about god/religion. Yet in their house she has crosses, a wooden sign that says Jesus, and a cross in her car. I think she just hangs on to these things "in case". Not sure.

 

So recently I recommended to my dad that they rent the movie Religulous. Just today my dad told me they watched it. He said he agreed with it and commended Bill Maher for asking questions that most people do not ask. He said he did not find the film offensive at all and didn't think he was insulting anyone in it. My mom on the other hand did not like it at all. I asked my dad straight out "is mom sad or disappointed that I am no longer a Christian?" He said yes in some ways, and she just doesn't understand how you could have NO belief at all. My dad said he understands my feelings completely and don't worry about it. Thing is my mom's relationship with me and the way she talks to me has changed since she found out I am agnostic. She no longer calls me to talk (used to), when we do talk it is very shallow conversation, she seems sad around me or "down". Maybe I am reading too much into things but as her daughter I notice this. Recently when religion came up I said to her "I am not a bad person just because I am not Christian mom" She said "Oh I know that!!" Really though?

 

Any thoughts? Sorry to ramble. I just feel insulted in some ways that my mom must be thinking I am a poor lost sheep, or an empty person who has no god in her life. Ughh. It is frustrating. She seems to hang on to these luke warm beliefs herself out of fear from her own upbringing. She is not the type of person to intellectually investigate or analyze something either. I just am bummed that she would let this change how she sees me or interacts with me....even though she doesn't subscribe to any religion herself and my dad is agnostic! I am sure many of you have gone through something similar with relatives. Well thanks for reading!!

 

CVD

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My thoughts are the same as yours, in the sense that if your Mom had a fairly rigid religious upbringing, and she has never questioned any of it seriously, then she is going to have a hard time understanding you. Although she must know that your Dad is not a believer either. Don't worry that she still clings to what she was taught for so long as a youth. If she asks any questions of you about it just be honest and reasonable.

 

You can still maintain a good mother-daughter relationship, as long as she stays open minded and reasonable. It may take a lot longer than you anticipated. She now has two people in her life, in her own family, who are in direct opposition to what she has always assumed to be true. That's scary for a lot of people, especially when they get older. It is upsetting to her that others don't accept her beliefs, however minimal they may be. But my Catholic Mom has never pressed me on the issue. But once in a phone conversation about 3 1/2 years ago, she said "I know you don't believe in these things", and she let it go at that. She has never said another word to me about it. And I have a perfectly good relationship with her.

 

But then she is from Europe, and has always been of a different cut of cloth than American Catholics. I don't know how to explain it-----it's just different than it is here. In most of Europe, if you tell someone you're agnostic or atheistic, no one gives it a second thought.

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Bear in mind that she may not be seeing this as a failing in you, but a failing in her. She was supposed to show you the way and instruct you (and from your description, it sounds like she took charge of your religious upbringing), and it clearly didn't stick. Some people may see that as having failed you, or may be reminded of that feeling when around/talking to you.

 

Now I have no idea if your mother thinks that way, but it may not be just the lost sheep thing.

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Thank you all for the input. Really valid points you bring up. I agree it may be that she feels she failed since I no longer believe.

 

Downtoearth...I think I will attempt to talk to her, in a calm and concerned way about how I feel our relationship has changed and go from there.

 

It is hard enough leaving an entire way of thinking and becoming comfortable with my new beliefs and content...to then have that choice affect a relationship. I am sure you all have had some experience or another like this. It may just take time and more communication on my part to clear the air with her.

 

Thanks!! :)

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The thing that stood out the most to me in your post was that your father is agnostic and never really bought into religion. Apparently, a family member not sharing your mother's religious beliefs is not a "deal breaker" in terms of her personal realtionships. She appears to be disappointed in your deconversion, but, based on her continued relationship with your father, that apparently does not mean that she does not love you. My guess is that she needs time to adjust, but I'll bet your deconversion doesn't diminish her love for you. If what I am saying is true, then you and your mother have a firm foundation on which you can build (or rebuild) your personal relationship. I hope all goes well.

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