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Living A Double Life


Leex
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Just like the title says, Im living a double life. I "deconverted" slowly about four years ago (Im 21) But Ive been raised in a fundamentalist christian home so I haven't told my parents about my real believes and instead I've been pretending to be a christian. I still go to church regularly, pray with the family, etc, etc. If I stop doing those things my mother would notice and would talk to me, as she takes "spiritual salvation" very seriously. And that's precisely why I have not told her. I know that if I do she would live an unhappy life praying all day and suffering, thinking that Im going to hell. 

 

I want to move from state but Im still not prepare to do so, but I think that would help. Still, I want to move with my girlfriend but we don't want to get married yet and, of course, for a christian fundamentalist that is a huge red flag and sooner or later my mother will notice. For some time my plan have been to just keep faking it but Im getting tired of it and it's getting me a little bit depressed. 

 

I don't know what I should do. Sometimes I think I should be a lil bit more selfish and just tell the truth and be honest for my own sake but I know I wont be happy with a depressed mother either. It wont matter how I say it, she wont understand it. I don't see any other options but lying or being honest and I don't know what's best. Any advice?

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I want to move from state but Im still not prepare to do so, but I think that would help. Still, I want to move with my girlfriend but we don't want to get married yet and, of course, for a christian fundamentalist that is a huge red flag and sooner or later my mother will notice. For some time my plan have been to just keep faking it but Im getting tired of it and it's getting me a little bit depressed

 

I don't know what I should do. 

 

It's right there.  Live your life your way.  It is your life.  You are under no obligation to live the way your parent expect or the way they indoctrinated you.  When you decide to tell them do so on neutral ground, preferably in a public place, so that you can leave if they get ugly.  I assume from this that your GF is onboard and okay with your deconversion.  It sucks being an atheist or agnostic when your partner is a strong believer.  Don't feel the least bit guilty about moving in with your partner.  The only issue is if that is right for your relationship and really you and your GF are the experts on that subject.  Christians will get all preachy with morality but if they thump the Bible that claims is pure hypocrisy.  The book is full of genocide, hate, lies, slavery, owning multiple wives and supports many other kinds of immorality.  But you don't have to tell your folks that.  I refuse to get drawn into theology debates with my relatives.  If the subject comes up I just tell them that I don't see the point to talking about it.  No good can come from it.

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Just like the title says, Im living a double life. I "deconverted" slowly about four years ago (Im 21) But Ive been raised in a fundamentalist christian home so I haven't told my parents about my real believes and instead I've been pretending to be a christian. I still go to church regularly, pray with the family, etc, etc. If I stop doing those things my mother would notice and would talk to me, as she takes "spiritual salvation" very seriously. And that's precisely why I have not told her. I know that if I do she would live an unhappy life praying all day and suffering, thinking that Im going to hell. 

 

I want to move from state but Im still not prepare to do so, but I think that would help. Still, I want to move with my girlfriend but we don't want to get married yet and, of course, for a christian fundamentalist that is a huge red flag and sooner or later my mother will notice. For some time my plan have been to just keep faking it but Im getting tired of it and it's getting me a little bit depressed. 

 

I don't know what I should do. Sometimes I think I should be a lil bit more selfish and just tell the truth and be honest for my own sake but I know I wont be happy with a depressed mother either. It wont matter how I say it, she wont understand it. I don't see any other options but lying or being honest and I don't know what's best. Any advice?

 

If you tell Mom now it could get worse than just depressing. :-) Wait till you can move out then live however you like. Your religion probably wont be an issue if you live far enough away that you wont be able to go to church with Mom on Sunday. She can believe whatever she wants. Tell her you go to church every Sunday if you like. :-) Or tell her you don't believe in God. Whatever you think is best at that point.

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I know that if I do she would live an unhappy life praying all day and suffering, thinking that Im going to hell. 

 

That's her problem and choice. You have done nothing wrong. You have equal right to an opinion even if that opinion differs from hers. If you allow yourself to be emotionally manipulated this early in adulthood, it will never end.

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This is only my experience, and yours may be different, but I tried to live a double life for the same reasons as you - fear of hurting and disappointing my parents and creating family conflict. By the end, I was a nervous wreck, resentful of myself and my parents, and living a life that was entirely different from what I wanted for myself. I don't care for slippery slope arguments, but when you live a double life for someone else, once you take that first step toward appeasing them, whether it's going to church or participating in group prayer or whatever else is inauthentic to yourself, it becomes harder and harder to say no. Because you've already repeatedly made justifications to yourself that their desires are more important than yours.

 

I would never wish that on another person, and I would even recommend going to drastic measures to get yourself in a position where you aren't dependent on your parents. I don't know what your educational situation is, but right now, I think the most important thing isn't "coming out" to your family, but getting yourself to a place where your life and theirs aren't so intertwined. Try to find a way, even if it means taking on (another?) shitty job, to make $400-600/month that you'd need to live in a cheap place with roommates. If you have savings, use them to move out. I highly recommend living with people you aren't emotionally invested in right now - i.e. not your girlfriend. Once you aren't so enmeshed, it will be much easier to start a conversation about why you won't be going to church anymore.

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Thank you all for your comments. They have helped me. Im going to save money to move out as soon as possible. I will also have to deal with other people I know from church, but that doesn't bother me as much as my mother. My gf is agnostic, so it's cool but the thing is the she is going to move from state soon in order to work on a nice professional job she found and if I move I would obviously like to go to the same place. My parents, of course, will notice that... but what the hell, that is something I can't hide. Plus, my girlfirend the only person close to me that knows Im not a believer. 

 

 

Oh, and it's also getting difficult to hear some crazy bs stuff in church and wanting to just open my mouth and debate it but having to hold it haha Even more when my father it's getting into discussing deep theology. 

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If you are financially dependent on your parents and fear that your mom will cut you off if she finds out, it may be a good idea to fake it, in the short term, while you plan your future independence.

 

Other than that, it's a matter of personal boundaries. Your mom is an adult, and you are not responsible for what she does with the knowledge of your apostasy. It's her problem. Being in the closet is not psychologically healthy, and being out will allow your mom to love you (or not) for who you are, not for who she thinks you are.

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@Cousin Ricky

 

I know staying in the closet in not healthy but neither is having my mother all over me or seeing her depressed. Because I know she will still love me and that is, precisely, the problem. Keep in mind that she would see that as part of a "spiritual battle" for my soul against the devil. So yeah... it's not cool and I can't speak any sense into her. 

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I was in a similar situation--very Christian fundamentalist parents (as was I before my deconversion) and I had just finished at a Christian college and back to living at home to find a job  (this 1 year post deconversion). I quickly knew I couldn't hide that I didn't believe while I was living under their roof-- for my own sanity, but was also worried about my mom's reaction. After giving them the long letter of explanation, there were a few nights of me hearing her up late sobbing, and I got a lot of "talks" from both my parents, but I was strong with my boundaries (no, I wasn't going to go along to church) and also determined to move out. She even asked the pastor to take me out to lunch to talk with me. I moved out about 6 months later after deciding graduate school and a small student loan was my "out" ticket. I also was dating my then agnostic boyfriend (now husband) at the time.

 

Fast forward 10 years later, married, 2 kids, and overall quite happy and content with life. We have a pretty good relationship with my parents and Christianity is not brought up nearly as much as it once was in those early years of me telling them. At this point, I think my mom likes to believe we are "backslidden" Christians or Christians that aren't quite strong (or hiding)... on other words, I think she's taken on a form of denial or decided to remain "assured of our salvation" --in christianese speak if you will. I still remain outspoken about what I do or don't believe if need be, but mostly I just stay quiet because I have already told my parents what I needed to tell them 10 years ago.

 

Your mom will likely go through a grieving process, but let yourself know this is ok and completely normal...she will be strong enough to somehow make sense of it for herself (even if she decides to take the denial route and stick with it). Let your parents know you love them and still want a relationship with them, but don't forget to keep your boundaries and speak up if you feel those are really being violated.

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Dude, you're 21. You need to leave home, or forever live under the control of your parents (which it sounds like you absolutely are). What ever you decide to do, they're going to have to deal with it. Normal parents learn to let their kids move on and grow up. Make yours do the same.

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I know that if I do she would live an unhappy life praying all day and suffering, thinking that Im going to hell.

 

That's her problem and choice. You have done nothing wrong. You have equal right to an opinion even if that opinion differs from hers. If you allow yourself to be emotionally manipulated this early in adulthood, it will never end.

Yes. What florduh said. Keeping your apostasy a secret makes you miserable and it's awkward when you get into Jesus discussions with your parents, when you have to keep spitting out trash from the Book of Standard Christian Phrases.

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@StandingRoomOnly: Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

 

@Voice: I know, but remember this is more than just moving from home. 

 

@Lilith: It is is akward haha. I just want to handle the situation the right way. I don't want to hurt my parents because they have been great and have always supported me in everything but this is the exception. 

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Stop reading my posts and telling my parents. This site is supposed to be confidential. You're a jerk and a jack ass whoever you are. Thanks also for hurting my folks. Good Christian actions. NOT.

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I understand exactly where your coming from. You truly love your mother and you don't want to do anything that would hurt her. It's really a tough position to

be in.

 

I'm sure you are familiar with the word "codependent". You are a codependent to

your mother; you are supporting your mother's dependency on her addictive myth.

 

Consider this: If you and your mother were regularly to go out and drink

together(An extreme hypothetical, I know, but it will illustrate my point.)and

you realize that you both have a drinking problem, what could you do?

 

Your mother loves her drinking and her time with you and doesn't want to stop

drinking. She will be hurt and lonely if you quit because it will result in her

drinking alone. You love your mother and don't want to hurt her.

 

So, do you continue to drink with her to avoid hurting her? Stop drinking, but

continue to meet her while she is drinking? Or, tell her you are going to stop

drinking and ask her to do the same, and tell her you will continue to meet her as usual, but not to drink alcohol?

 

Is there any doubt as to what you should do in this hypothetical situation? You

are part of her problem. The third alternative is the only good answer.

 

You may think that since you are dealing with religion that this if different.

WRONG. Fundamentalist Xtianity is addictive and is every bit as hard as

alcoholism to beat. Your pretending that you are a christian contributes to her continued belief in christianity. She thinks it's working for you. It's not and

by not telling her that, she is just going to continue this myth within a myth.

 

You must deal in the truth and let the chips fall where they may. If your mother is ever going to accept your decision, the illusion must be shattered. Now it's very possible that your mother may not cooperate with you at all no matter what you do. But you can't solve her problem. She will have to deal with that

herself. But your pretense is not helping.

 

However,when you tell her is a different question. The suggestions in the above replies are good. Use your best judgment as to how and when to come clean with

her. But your responsibility is to yourself. Good luck

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I agree with Burnedout. If you have to pretend to be a Christian for a little while longer, you could explore other churches and claim you feel the "holy spirit" drawing you in a different direction. That you feel the need to explore your "faith" a little deeper and want to see how and why other Christians believe as they do.

 

As the others said making a clean cut would probably be preferable but if you need to stay longer maybe this could be an option.

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@William: Very interesting perspective. Makes me think.... Thanks.

 

 

@Seeker: Yeah, I'll be moving from church very soon while I prepare myself to move from state. 

 

 

I think that once I move, eventually, she will get the point and the discussion is going to come naturally. 

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Your mother loves her drinking and her time with you and doesn't want to stop

drinking. She will be hurt and lonely if you quit because it will result in her

drinking alone. You love your mother and don't want to hurt her.

 

Perfect analogy. Well said.

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Dude, you're 21. You need to leave home, or forever live under the control of your parents (which it sounds like you absolutely are). What ever you decide to do, they're going to have to deal with it. Normal parents learn to let their kids move on and grow up. Make yours do the same.

 

YES, I desperately wish someone had told me this at 21. If you are passive with your parents now, they WILL take advantage of it. I could have easily moved out at 21, had a great job, and was in the process of finishing school. I listened to them and didn't want to cause conflict (and it wasn't even about religion, but moving to another state with them). My mom always acted like I was somehow hurting her and it was a huge insult to her that I'd even think of moving out. If you cannot move out on GOOD terms NOW, you NEVER will. No matter what or how hard you try. Eventually, you will grow to resent each other. I tried to move out on good terms, but wound up living there til 26 trying to not upset my mother (who had major childhood issues that she never got addressed at therapy). I left on bad terms and we didn't speak for almost a year despite how hard I tried.  I wish I would have just sucked it up and did it at 21 like I wanted to instead of living in misery for half my 20s. 

 

In others words, there is no point in waiting because, more than likely, there  will NEVER be good terms to leave on. Find a job, find some roommates and gtfo!  

 

If I ever have kids, I will probably make them leave at 20 at the latest. 

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Codependence is not a good long term behavior.  Enabling another to act dysfunctionally is also not a good long term behavior.  I suppose those behaviors can be maintained temporarily in certain situations, such as the OP's situation.  The sooner those behaviors are discarded, the better.

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