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Where I'm At


VacuumFlux
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I am not happy. There are certainly good times and fun things going on in my life, but there is a lot of deep-seated unhappiness. And I have no clue how to resolve it.

 

First for some good news. I have a girlfriend. We've been dating for a few months, things are moving slowly but steadily. We've got decent communication going on. We haven't had any big fights yet, which is a combination of the communication going well and still being in the infatuation stage of things.

 

Now for the bad news. My family doesn't know I'm not straight (ok, one family member does and is cool with it, but is keeping it a secret from the rest). I didn't think this would be a huge deal at first. I mean, I'm just going on a few dates with a friend I think is hot, right? But, uh.... I haven't dated in a long time. I haven't been attracted strongly to anyone in a long time. I'd turned my sexuality down to a minimum because I didn't need it and it was annoying. I'd forgotten what passion feels like. I'd either forgotten or never experienced pair-bonding, where you like someone so much that your relationship starts to become part of your identity, where you want to take them with you everywhere and show them off to everyone. I didn't realize I would care this much this soon. Sometimes I wish I'd known what I was getting myself into when I asked her out, but I don't know that I would have made a different choice.

 

So that's one thing. The other is church. Church is a big problem because they're fundies and I live at home and don't have much of a choice not to go. If I move out and stay in town, I will still be expected to attend. No, a more liberal church would still be horrifyingly bad to parents, and UUs aren't considered christian. Moving out will be seen as a personal insult to my parents because they have some weird ideas about what family means and are horrified that any parent could be so mean as to kick their kids out of the house. They let my sister live at home for free for months, years, despite having screaming-level fights on a regular basis and threatening to kick her out almost every week. Despite all that, they really didn't want her to leave and were a bit sad when she did.

 

My parents can be loving people. They are also horrible broken people from dysfunctional families. They are much better than their parents, but there's still a lot of habits of being a healthy adult that they never learned. They've done a lot of shit that hurt me more than they will ever know that I hate them for. Hate mostly because it's a betrayal of the promise of a good relationship from the times when they're being reasonable humans. I hate them because I love them too much to quit caring about them; I can't just shake the dust from my feet and move on. I keep wanting to afix a black and white label on them of "good people" or "bad people" but neither one is true, and instead I keep hopping back and forth, which is rather disconcerting.

 

If my parents didn't care about me, I wouldn't have to care about them. If I could come out to them and have them disown me (not just the words of doing so, but in how they feel) then I could return the feeling and be over it fairly quickly. It would be a lot easier that way. But no, they do care, and they won't understand and I feel that I'd owe it to them to at least give them a chance to come to terms with it, with me, and to have some sort of a relationship. I really don't know that I can go through that right now. I don't know if my social support network is strong enough to fall back on when my family fails me. I don't know if I'm strong enough not to spiral into a dangerous depression, or to get in bad enough shape that I'd be useless while I mourn and get fired for it. I have a lot of health problems that are linked to/exacerbated by anxiety, and though being out is supposed to be better for you in the long term, I know it will get a lot worse before it gets a little better.

 

I really need to move out before I tackle any of the other issues with my parents. But every time I try to prep myself for that fight all the other hurts come to the surface of my mind. When I try to bring up the idea of me moving out in casual conversation and they dismiss the idea offhandedly, I remember every other time they've hurt me by expressing disregard for things I cared about. I am full of rage, but that doesn't do anything useful for me.

 

And then it's not just my parents. It's most of my extended family. It's my religious friends. It's the whole damn rest of my life when random strangers will hate me if they know too much about me. So far, I've only been out to people who I can reasonable expect to be ok with it. I'm not a confrontational person. I don't want to hurt all the people who care about me. Since there's no good outcome for me whether I'm out or not, shouldn't it matter how many people I hurt with either choice? Do I deeply hurt the people closest to me and mildly help a lot of other queers/atheists by being another drop in the bucket? Or is the sin of omission pretty mild compared to the intense harm I will cause to a few? Is "greatest good for the greatest number" even a reasonable moral system to apply to this question?

 

I just want a quiet happy life full of the outdoors, loving relationships, some hobbies, and maybe a significant other. I don't think that can ever happen in its entirely. Maybe I could cut ties and move somewhere gay-friendly and in ten years be ok with myself and where I'm at. Maybe. I doubt it. I expect the rest of my life to contain a fair bit of pain and hurt. I'm just not sure which path through all of this will make the bad stuff most worth living through.

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I hear ya...You're set up on a chess board where the only moves are decided for you from a Fundy point of view. Any moves outside of that are inconceivable to them. I am truly saddened by this. There's really not much advice I can give other than ultimately, finally and painfully you have to decide what you want and go from there. It's obviously ten times more complicated than just that as you outlined but it may ultimately come down to that. You can't help how others may react. If you are true to yourself and they don't accept you then they are not accepting you but rejecting an image they have of you and not the true you. They are forcing an image of how you should be and not how you want to or could be. You may have seen it but this video and the subsequent series of videos always helped me...

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7skPnJOZYdA&feature=player_profilepage

 

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I don't have all the answers for you, but I do have one answer for you - you are not responsible for people being hurt by you being who you are. It doesn't matter how much you feel responsible. You are not. There is nothing harmful in being gay and wanting love. There is nothing harmful in not being a Christian. The fact that people will choose to be hurt by it is not your responsibility . It is their choice.

 

You've been raised to sacrifice yourself. And lots of prattle on about "Do no harm." or "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The second one might actually give you some freedom. If you would want those you care about to be who they really are with you, then you must act in that fashion.

 

If things keep going down their current path, you may have found someone you could spend the rest of your life with. Are you going to let her be hurt by your dishonesty in order to protect small minded people?

 

My husband is one of those who likes to find people projects and try to help them. I'm fine with this to a point. As an example, he has a friend that has changed in very bad ways over the years. At first, my husband thought it was because the friend was grieving some losses, so he put up with a lot of shit. This caused the friend to pile more shit on him. He spent a lot of time and effort on his friend. One day, we were deciding how to spend some free time, and he was feeling obligated to give even more time to the so-called friend. I responded that I didn't want to sacrifice healthy relationships just to try and help this unhealthy one. Life is short. It really is. And you don't want to waste it with people who don't appreciate the real you.

 

You are living a lie, pretending to be someone you're not, and you're doing it strictly for their happiness. And what will be the benefit of that at the end of the day? yes, there are definitely times when we should keep our mouths shut. There are a lot of people that I am dishonest with because being honest would only cause hurt to other good people, but there is a limit. I do not spend much time with those who are not worthy of my time.

 

You seem like a lovely, bright, caring and thinking person, and I think it would be a real tragedy if you waste your life. Maybe now is not the time to make any decisions, but please do not sacrifice the love you may have found on the altar of Christianity. That wouldn't just hurt you. It would hurt her.

 

I am soooo sorry you have to go through this. I wish there was a way I could ease your pain and make the road easy. The only thing I can tell you is that it's actually worth the pain to fight for the life that you want. I had to sacrifice almost everything, and it was hard. But now I have a life that some can only dream of. And it was worth it, and in all honesty, I went for it not knowing it could be this good. I took the risk with no guarantees, and I had taken the risk before and been devastated, but it didn't stop me from taking the risk again, because some things in life are worth fighting for. Love is one of them. If your parents can't love who you really are, it's better to deal with the pain of it sooner rather than later.

 

Whatever you decide, I wish you the best. And congrats on meeting someone. I'm glad there is a bright spot in your life right now. That tends to make other stuff easier to put up with.

 

Ironically, I was driving home from the shops just now, and I was thinking to myself - why is it such a big deal who we love? Why? I certainly used to think it was a big deal. I bought into the hate of the homosexual lifestyle when I was a Christian... all the way until I met someone who is one of the best friends I've ever had and he's gay. And once I accepted him, I slowly began to accept all of them. This actually happened before I left the church.

 

There are so many differences in my thinking now. It is so different, that I honestly, for the life of me, cannot figure out why I bought into all the garbage and all the hate for so long. I am so sorry that you are surrounded by people who are full of hate. You do not deserve that.

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ScifiChick gives some very good advice (all of which I agree with), so I will only add one thing to it:

 

If you think it will be much easier handling the coming out thing with your parents after you have moved out, then by all means move out. Even if you have to plan it in secret and your parents don't know until you're packing up your things and going out the door, it must be done - simply because that is what YOU want.

 

People say so often that Atheists are selfish people, and I'd dare to say that they're right. As well we should be. We don't have a god threatening to smite us for our wrongdoings or a devil to blame for our "sinful nature", so we hold the responsibility for ourselves. This is both a good and a bad thing. We're responsible not only for our mistakes but for our happiness and success. No one else will always be there to help you through life and make sure that everything is the way that it should be.

 

Your home situation sounds similar to that of my best friend. She is a Christian, but she's realized within the last few months (I am proud to say with my help) that she MUST move away from her parents in order to sort her own issues out. This is exactly what I think you should do. You'll never be able to stay true to yourself if you're constantly worrying about hurting other people.

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