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Sometimes, I Wish I Wasn't Such A Chicken


Thought2Much
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Okay, so I've been toying around with the idea for quite a while of joining Meetup.com, and signing up for a local freethought/atheist group.

 

Problem is, I'm chicken. Not about meeting the people there (I'm socially awkward, but not that socially awkward), but about how I would talk about this to my wife.

 

The time of day and week that the meetings occur means that I wouldn't see my kids at all that day, which my wife has given me shit about before when I've tried to meet friends after work (which may be one reason why I don't have friends anymore). Then, if she pressed me to know who the people are that I'm getting together with, I'm afraid it would cause more problems for me and my relationship with my wife if I told her the truth (which I would have to do, since I'm rather bad at lying).

 

On the other hand, I really want to go to the Meetup coming up in September, because it looks like Teresa MacBane will be there. For those of you unfamiliar with Teresa, she is the first female graduate of The Clergy Project (a group that helps ministers that no longer believe in their faith to leave their jobs as ministers and move on to other vocations), and she came out publicly at this year's Reason Rally in Washington, D.C. I think it would be pretty damn awesome to meet her, because she seems like an amazing person.

 

Sigh.

 

I would like to be able to talk to actual people again. I would like to be able to do that without having to attend a Bible study or prayer meeting or something. I would like to be able to discuss science and other topics with other human beings without using a keyboard.

 

Maybe my wife will surprise me again with her reaction if I tell her that I'm meeting with other non-believers, and not be [too] upset about it. Or maybe that will push buttons that will cause major problems; the reality of my unbelief might really set in with her if I do that.

 

Or maybe I just need to learn to stand up for my damn self once in a while, and say that this is who I am and this is the reality of the situation, and that she will just need to deal with it. I don't know.

 

I just don't know.

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"To thine own self be true."

 

You do what you need to do to be true to yourself, T2M :)

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I think you should, but not before she fully understands just how far you are in the process. I can just see her going back to family sobbing "now he wants to go be friends with a bunch of other godless heathens too." I would first continue the conversation of making sure whe knows exactly where you stand.

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I'm too new around here to really know you, Thought2Much. But from what I've seen, you're a cool person. If you don't have real-world friends and you're not "allowed" to connect with potential ones, I'm guessing the problem isn't being chicken, but maybe partly being too kind (or too reluctant to stir chaos) and partly being manipulated.

 

I agree with the above: gently tell your wife where you stand, then go to the meetup. It is just one day and you sound as if you really, really, really need to make the big move now.

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Well, I've joined the Meetup group, which is still pending approval by the organizer. We'll see if I work up the courage to attend the next event or not.

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Why do you grant her the right to be arbiter of what you can think, do and be? I really do feel bad for anyone in such a situation, but I confess I do not understand that dynamic going on in a relationship of supposed equals. Sorry, just don't get it.

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Why do you grant her the right to be arbiter of what you can think, do and be? I really do feel bad for anyone in such a situation, but I confess I do not understand that dynamic going on in a relationship of supposed equals. Sorry, just don't get it.

 

A lot of this just comes down to my own personality. I don't like to hurt people, or see other people get hurt because of me. I don't generally like to rock the boat. I've generally been willing to compromise a lot of things in order to make our relationship work (like the fact that she's a disorganized slob and I'm a neat freak).

 

Spending time away from my family with people that my wife would think are "stealing" me away from her could hurt her. Since I actually want to continue to live with my wife, her being hurt can affect me on a daily basis.

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I feel you, T2M. After I came out, my wife went through my email and found emails I had written to Recovering from Religion. So, she asked if I wanted to go to those meetings. I told her I did. So, that band-aid was ripped off. But, all the problems your talking about, uneasiness in the marriage, issues with the kids, all that stuff was a problem for me. Ultimately the stress with my marriage got too much for me to keep going to the meetings. Three weeks ago, I again felt like she was dictating what I could or could not do. I wasn't going to the meetings because it upset her. I was going to church every week for her. And, I haven't objected to the kids going to church and Christian school. I felt like I was the one that was making all the compromises. She does something with the church, at least, three times a week. I told her I was no longer going to church (and I haven't for three weeks) and that I wanted to go to some meetups again. She said that would be fine with her. That being said, my Recovering from Religion group leader stepped down, and I haven't connected with any other atheist\secular groups.

 

It's all about what battles your willing to fight. Having a social group, for me, is worth fighting for. Keep in mind she has her's, so it's unfair for her not to allow you to have yours. I wish you the best.

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A lot of this just comes down to my own personality. I don't like to hurt people, or see other people get hurt because of me. I don't generally like to rock the boat. I've generally been willing to compromise a lot of things in order to make our relationship work (like the fact that she's a disorganized slob and I'm a neat freak).

 

Wow, you and I think a lot alike.

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I don't like to hurt people, or see other people get hurt because of me. I don't generally like to rock the boat. I've generally been willing to compromise a lot of things in order to make our relationship work (like the fact that she's a disorganized slob and I'm a neat freak).

 

Spending time away from my family with people that my wife would think are "stealing" me away from her could hurt her. Since I actually want to continue to live with my wife, her being hurt can affect me on a daily basis.

My husband and I have had to work out our different interests also. For my husband, I know he loves it when I go to different groups and activities, because when I come home from them I'm so happy. He just loves that.

 

I think it is important for each person in a relationship to get "fed" by doing what we truly enjoy with people that we really connect with, and I don't think it's fair to withhold that kind of joy from our partner.

 

I'm with the others here who think you should go, but perhaps try to do something really nice for your wife so that she benefits from you going, too. Like maybe if there's a fantastic bakery or dessert place there, pick up her favorite thing and bring it home to share. Kind of like training wheels for her, until she finds her balance.

 

The other thing you could do to see real people is join a local interests-based group. Lots of groups are looking for board members--be it in a neighbourhood/community association, an animal welfare group, an environmental group, or homeless shelter. These are great places to meet people who have more in common with you than your beliefs about God.

 

Keep us posted!

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Can you start with the Teresa MacBane meeting as a one-off?

 

How often are the meetings? If they're monthly that doesn't sound unreasonable to miss seeing your children one day per month. Weekly wouldn't be unreasonable in my opinion, but might be in your wife's. But you don't have to attend every one, surely?

 

Is there time to phone home and say goodnight to the children while you are at the meetings?

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I would like to be able to talk to actual people again. I would like to be able to do that without having to attend a Bible study or prayer meeting or something. I would like to be able to discuss science and other topics with other human beings without using a keyboard.

 

This! Tell her this. What you need is important. I am socially isolated myself, with hardly any friends (and I am recently single again) and it sucks in a painful, I'm falling through a never ending abyss sort of way. I wouldn't wish that on anybody.

 

If you feel the need to reach out to others who may be like-minded and socially and intellectually interesting, then you've got to for your own mental health.

 

Sure, you don't want to neglect your wife and kids. But you won't do them any good by neglecting yourself.

 

You need to ask for and expect your wife's support and involvment in planning ways to 1) be with the family in a postive effective way and 2) attend meetups or any social events to have that area of need met.

 

It shouldn't be an either or situation. In a family everyone has to adjust as the needs of others change. It's not easy, but it's necessary for everyone's health and growth.

 

(my 2 cents worth . . .)

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I've sent in my RSVP for the September event of the meetup. Now I just have to tell my wife. I'll just tell her I'm getting together at a diner with some people that I met over the internet (which is all true). Hopefully she doesn't push too hard for more information, because she might not like the answers to any questions she might ask.

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I've sent in my RSVP for the September event of the meetup. Now I just have to tell my wife. I'll just tell her I'm getting together at a diner with some people that I met over the internet (which is all true). Hopefully she doesn't push too hard for more information, because she might not like the answers to any questions she might ask.

 

Have you done that before? That actually sounds a little creepy and suspicious to me. I still vote for being open about it. Putting it off just heightens the impact when it finally comes out.

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I can relate to Thoughtomuch's uneasiness about going to a social meeting of non-believers. I have SO wanted to meet people 'in the flesh' to talk about the struggles unique to ex-christians but I actually haven't been able to even find a group withing 200 miles of where I live. I would have the same problem of my husbands objection though and too am a 'peace maker' type person and hate rocking the boat.

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Have you done that before? That actually sounds a little creepy and suspicious to me. I still vote for being open about it. Putting it off just heightens the impact when it finally comes out.

 

I've talked about the possibility of meeting with people from various forums I've been on in the past, so I don't know if it would be a total shock or creepy. If my wife asks more questions I'll be as honest as I can about it.

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Have you done that before? That actually sounds a little creepy and suspicious to me. I still vote for being open about it. Putting it off just heightens the impact when it finally comes out.

 

I've talked about the possibility of meeting with people from various forums I've been on in the past, so I don't know if it would be a total shock or creepy. If my wife asks more questions I'll be as honest as I can about it.

 

I hate to pry, but did have overbearing parents as a kid, or did you constantly have to chase their respect/approval?

Something about the way you react to your wife's possible disapproval of your new beliefs is a red flag for me, I recognize that kind of attitude in myself as well.....

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I hate to pry, but did have overbearing parents as a kid, or did you constantly have to chase their respect/approval?

Something about the way you react to your wife's possible disapproval of your new beliefs is a red flag for me, I recognize that kind of attitude in myself as well.....

 

My parents weren't overbearing at all. Quite the reverse, actually. They let me make just about all of my own decisions from a fairly young age.

 

It's just my personality, I guess. That, and this is all a new thing for me in my relationship with my wife. I imagine once I get things a bit more out in the open, everything will smooth out. I guess I'm just in uncharted territory, is all.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Last week, I told my wife I was going to meet some people that I met over the internet after work, and she seemed okay with it. Even though I didn't tell her exactly who I was meeting or why (and she didn't press the issue), I'm pretty sure that she was able to put two and two together and have some notion of what I was doing.

 

The meeting was held last night at a diner not too far from where I work. It was a diverse and interesting group. One of them is an amateur astronomer who does volunteer work at local observatories. Another one is a biologist. At least two of the people are programmers. A couple of them were rather loud and preachy, but most of them were a lot less angry, and fun to talk to. If they had one thing in common, they all seemed to be very intelligent.

 

Part of their tradition is that they have everyone tell their story. I told a very, very short version of my story. It was neat to see everyone's reaction when I got to the part where I married an Assemblies of God pastor's daughter. The weirdest part is that I had to tell my story loud enough for everyone in the group to hear, but there were other people in the diner. That was a little awkward, since I'm not one for pushing my beliefs on others, and I felt a little bad for the other people at the restaurant who had to listen to a group of atheists tell their life stories. After we had told our stories, several of the other members had a lot of questions about how I got where I am and what I think about a lot of things related to religion. It was great to be able to speak face-to-face with people about all of it.

 

I plan to go to next month's meeting.

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Good for you, T2M!

 

(I do want to mention that you know, just be aware, okay?--isolating one's partner is a signal hallmark of an abuser. Just keep it in mind before you let that slippery slope take you.)

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I mean your wife sounds like she's isolating you. When an abuser wants more control over her victim (I use the female pronoun here because of the specific situation, but please understand either gender can be an abuser), one really nice easy way to do that is to cut that victim off from sources of potential sympathy and support. The more time and attention you give an abuser, the more damage she can do and the more control she can exert; conversely, the more time and attention you give other things, the more threatened she feels about her control over you.

 

I'M TOTALLY NOT SAYING YOUR WIFE IS ABUSIVE. Like everything psychological, behaviors are mostly a continuum thing. Most of us have seen a partner's email open and taken a quick peek. Most of us have expressed a desire for a partner to spend more time at home. When it happens so much that you're discovering you're not even *trying* to do stuff you really want to do or saying things you need to say because you fear the repercussions, though, that's harmful. I'm concerned because of things you've said that sound like your free will is being chilled. Your kids are going to survive one night a week with Daddy seeing friends. She has to know this too. That's just an excuse.

 

Maybe your wife would appreciate a reacharound in the form of you letting HER go out one night a week while you take care of the kids. Instead of seeing this as a terrifying growing-apart, she needs to see this as an essential component of your self-discovery.

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This is actually only one night a month, so I'm pretty sure I can swing it without any complaints.

 

Yeah, I've seen the signs you're talking about regarding doing things outside the home with other people. It's actually something I've confronted her about before (this was before I deconverted, and was one of the few real confrontations we've had). I pretty much said in no uncertain terms that if I want to go out with friends (which isn't often at all), I don't want to hear any shit about it. Since then, she hasn't complained about it.

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