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I May Have Pushed Myself Off A Cliff...metaphorically


sparklingphoenix
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Well, I don't know how else to start this off other than just diving into it.. I just need somewhere to talk about this. I've had an atheist boyfriend for two years and never told my family about it. I've been hiding it all this time because I was afraid. I was afraid that they would be upset with me for my choice to be with him, as well as the fact that it's long distance, so they might have thought the relationship would be impossible. I'm afraid to lose my family altogether because of this, so I made a choice to not tell my family until later. 

 

 I went to visit him this summer and when I came back I finally told my mom and brother. My boyfriend introduced me to his family, and asked me to try to tell my family about him at some point.  I had a lot of reasons for going to visit him, and my family knew all the reasons I was going to that place, except that I was also visiting a boy. In part, I recognize that it's my fault for not telling them the whole truth, but I was also afraid to cause more dysfunction in my family. They don't know I'm not Christian anymore, and I haven't been ready to tell them. I was afraid that if I told them about my boyfriend, they would start asking me questions about my faith and then things would blow up in my family if they found out I don't believe. My family has been through so much tragedy and I didn't know how to handle all this. I feel so terrible that I hid the full truth from my family, but I also believe that I did the best that I could to do what's right for my life given the circumstances I was in. I'm having a hard time finding the balance between being true to myself and making choices to pursue the life I want and trying to respect my family. I never want to hurt anyone I love, and I honestly don't know what the right thing for me to do was. Maybe there was no right thing. I'm at a stage where I'm still somewhat dependent on my family because I'm in college, but I'll graduate next year and be on my own. I recognize that since my family still does support me, that I do owe them to some extent, so I accept the blame if I was wrong. I'm just having such a hard time. I love my family even though they put me through so much pain, and I'm afraid of hurting them. No matter what I know they are going to be hurt by me, because I don't want to be with a Christian guy, and I'm not. I've felt so conflicted and afraid. I've already lost my family so many times and I've been afraid to lose them all over again. It hurts. Things are more serious with my boyfriend and I didn't want to lie to my mom anymore, so that's why I told my mom and brother, and eventually I'll have to tell my grandparents. I think they will be very upset. I don't know how to handle this. Maybe I made a huge mistake...

 

After I told my mom, she said she wished I could be with a Christian guy, but that she will love whoever I love regardless of my choice. She talked to me like I'm still a Christian (because she doesn't know I'm not), asking me to pray about it to make sure he is the right one for me. I thought she handled it well, and then today I saw her crying a little. She said I had always been honest to her before, and she was upset that I lied. I understand her, and she said she understands why I did what I did. I just feel so sorry to hurt people, and I'm also trying to follow what I feel is right for me. I just feel like a horrible person and I've never been one to be deceptive about anything before.

 

I feel like when I fight for what I want, when I fight to be myself, my family gets hurt. They hurt me all my life trying to mold me into their image, but I still never want to upset them, because I know they didn't mean to hurt me. I feel like I'm looking over the edge of a cliff and when my grandparents find out about everything, then I'll have fallen off. I hope this doesn't come off as whiney, I've just been holding all the stress from this inside for two years. Now everything in my family has the potential to fall apart again and I'm scared. Has anyone else been in a situation similar? help.gif sad.png ;~;

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Your family hasn't made it easy to be approachable, from the sounds of it. I'm not an advocate of lying but they painted you into a corner. I think as Christians, it is part of the religious make up to be people pleasers. I know I was that way all through my days as a Christian. It is great that they know about your boyfriend and in time, you can share more about your own spiritual journey.

 

But don't beat yourself up. Sometimes the truth hurts those we love very much. But if they love us back, they will accept our truths and who we are, even if it disappoints them. I think you are going to be more than ok and I hope the best for you, your bf and family. :)

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Your family hasn't made it easy to be approachable, from the sounds of it. I'm not an advocate of lying but they painted you into a corner. I think as Christians, it is part of the religious make up to be people pleasers. I know I was that way all through my days as a Christian. It is great that they know about your boyfriend and in time, you can share more about your own spiritual journey.

 

But don't beat yourself up. Sometimes the truth hurts those we love very much. But if they love us back, they will accept our truths and who we are, even if it disappoints them. I think you are going to be more than ok and I hope the best for you, your bf and family. smile.png

 

Yes, they've always made it very clear what they expected from my life, and I can't give them that. I feel really sorry that I won't be or do what they want, and that I couldn't tell them what's going on in my life. Sometimes I can't tell if I'm making good or bad choices. I always tried to make the best choice every time, but I think sometimes I was damned either way. My family almost strictly talks about religion, so I feel like I'm always walking on eggshells whenever I talk with them. I've totally been a people pleaser too, and as I started to change that, my family didn't handle it well at first, so it's been hard. Thanks so much for your words, I really needed that. 

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Your family hasn't made it easy to be approachable, from the sounds of it. I'm not an advocate of lying but they painted you into a corner. I think as Christians, it is part of the religious make up to be people pleasers. I know I was that way all through my days as a Christian. It is great that they know about your boyfriend and in time, you can share more about your own spiritual journey.

But don't beat yourself up. Sometimes the truth hurts those we love very much. But if they love us back, they will accept our truths and who we are, even if it disappoints them. I think you are going to be more than ok and I hope the best for you, your bf and family. :)

 

 

Yes, they've always made it very clear what they expected from my life, and I can't give them that. I feel really sorry that I won't be or do what they want, and that I couldn't tell them what's going on in my life. Sometimes I can't tell if I'm making good or bad choices. I always tried to make the best choice every time, but I think sometimes I was damned either way. My family almost strictly talks about religion, so I feel like I'm always walking on eggshells whenever I talk with them. I've totally been a people pleaser too, and as I started to change that, my family didn't handle it well at first, so it's been hard. Thanks so much for your words, I really needed that.

My gosh, you are describing my family to a tee! Lol they are the same way. Critical. Judging. Like I can't do anything right. It is hard to go through life with a family who is always criticizing you. At first, I believed they did this out of love for me. And that may be but I get tired of making excuses for people. You seem like a lovely person, I'll tell you that and there is no reason to feel guilt. I know your feelings so well and want you to know that you matter. Your decisions are your own and even though your family doesn't approve, you can't change them. I think giving people the benefit of the doubt is a good thing but not at the expense of our own happiness.

 

Great step with telling them about your bf. You are braver than you know! **hugs :)

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Your family hasn't made it easy to be approachable, from the sounds of it. I'm not an advocate of lying but they painted you into a corner. I think as Christians, it is part of the religious make up to be people pleasers. I know I was that way all through my days as a Christian. It is great that they know about your boyfriend and in time, you can share more about your own spiritual journey.

But don't beat yourself up. Sometimes the truth hurts those we love very much. But if they love us back, they will accept our truths and who we are, even if it disappoints them. I think you are going to be more than ok and I hope the best for you, your bf and family. smile.png

 

Yes, they've always made it very clear what they expected from my life, and I can't give them that. I feel really sorry that I won't be or do what they want, and that I couldn't tell them what's going on in my life. Sometimes I can't tell if I'm making good or bad choices. I always tried to make the best choice every time, but I think sometimes I was damned either way. My family almost strictly talks about religion, so I feel like I'm always walking on eggshells whenever I talk with them. I've totally been a people pleaser too, and as I started to change that, my family didn't handle it well at first, so it's been hard. Thanks so much for your words, I really needed that.

My gosh, you are describing my family to a tee! Lol they are the same way. Critical. Judging. Like I can't do anything right. It is hard to go through life with a family who is always criticizing you. At first, I believed they did this out of love for me. And that may be but I get tired of making excuses for people. You seem like a lovely person, I'll tell you that and there is no reason to feel guilt. I know your feelings so well and want you to know that you matter. Your decisions are your own and even though your family doesn't approve, you can't change them. I think giving people the benefit of the doubt is a good thing but not at the expense of our own happiness.

 

Great step with telling them about your bf. You are braver than you know! **hugs smile.png

 

Oh man, I'm sorry your family is like mine. It's not fun at all. Mine are critical and judgmental too. In the past I've done almost everything in line with what they expected, but not so much anymore. I think if people are constantly critical, then they have some kind of personal problem. It seems like with most Christian families, we can never do enough and are never good enough. Thank you :) you seem really lovely yourself! I hope your family is learning to accept you more too. 

 

Heh, I feel like I just did something crazy and stupid! I'm relieved I don't have to hide it from my mom, but my grandparents are who I'm more worried about. They support me more than my mom does and insisted on helping to pay for some of my travel expenses. Even when I tried to tell them I would take out loans they wouldn't hear of it. ;~; 

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There is no easy answer and no magic wand of advice.  Families have their own dynamics and only you can judge yours.

 

At the moment, however, it seems to me that things have gone as well as they could with your mother and hopefully will go no worse elsewhere - and the fact is that, having told some members of your family of the relationship, you've probably told everyone, even if not immediately..Play this right, you may find you have a sort of ally in your mother.

 

Eventually these will all have to accept that you are old enough to make your own life's decisions.

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Littlena,

 

That may be one way to deal with the issue...

 

Human, thanks for your advice. I do value all my close relationships a lot and I care about people, even if they don't agree with me. I've struggled with coming out to my family a lot because I just feel that my grandparents are already in their 80's and I don't want to break their hearts. They are relatively healthy, but I don't want to put a strain on their health too. Of course I'm also just terrified to tell them, so letting them know I have an atheist boyfriend feels like knocking down the first domino to set off a chain reaction. It may not happen that way, but then I still have the problem of being dishonest. Right now I am not really pretending to be Christian because I don't go to church or pray or read the bible at all, but I never say anything that would let my family think I'm not a Christian. I've thought at some point it might be safe to come out to my mom, but when I saw her crying yesterday I didn't feel so sure. She prayed for me to make "the right decisions" and from what she said I think she hopes that my boyfriend will either convert to Christianity or that I will find someone else. From the advice you've given me I think the best thing I can do right now is try to talk to my mom again. I don't know if she needs some time to continue processing everything or not, but I want to see what she thinks of how I should handle it with my grandparents. 

 

My grandparents are the ones helping me pay for school. I don't feel guilty of them paying for my school even though I'm not a Christian, but I do feel guilty because they helped me pay for studying in the place where I visited my boyfriend. I paid for part of it and I also got a scholarship, but I wonder if they knew the whole reason why I went if they would want me to pay them back later for their part. Maybe not, but I don't really know. They are generous and they love me, but they may feel hurt.. Even thought I tried to refuse their money and told them I would get loans. I probably should have been more firm and taken out loans to pay for everything myself. Even then, they probably would have gotten upset with me. Sigh. :( 

 

I really appreciate your solid advice and I will be thinking carefully about it. 

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There is no easy answer and no magic wand of advice.  Families have their own dynamics and only you can judge yours.

 

At the moment, however, it seems to me that things have gone as well as they could with your mother and hopefully will go no worse elsewhere - and the fact is that, having told some members of your family of the relationship, you've probably told everyone, even if not immediately..Play this right, you may find you have a sort of ally in your mother.

 

Eventually these will all have to accept that you are old enough to make your own life's decisions.

You're right. I imagined it going a lot worse with my mom. Since yesterday afternoon she's been very nice to me, but her body language is really closed off and looks like she hates me. I've been feeling confused. She probably feels confused too. I really hope she will try to help me. She is codependent on my grandparents and the three of them tend to talk behind my back and change their minds about things that they had individually talked to me about. My mom's individual voice doesn't come out very often because she lets everyone else (especially her parents) influence all her decisions and opinions. It's very rare for me to hear what she actually thinks. I hope that the three of them don't gang up on me. My brother is also not a Christian anymore. He hasn't rejected it as strongly as me, but we are on the same page about it for the most part. I think he would be on my side, but it seems hard to talk to him about this since he's still recovering from a breakup. 

 

I think my mom can accept that I'm old enough to choose for myself, and I've proved it to my family with my choices this summer, but usually it's because my choices look good to them. I hope it will go better than I imagine. Thanks for your response!

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Littlena

 

We all do things we think we could have done better. Now the question is, could we? Was it really an option to do it better or have we not done it the best way we could?

 

When I was 22 I moved out from my parents and I was so afraid to tell them I even planned to move out...I just more or less secretly looked for a room and as I found one I planned the moving and one day I came, took all my stuff and moved out. I felt guilty and bad for having it done this way...and Church made me feel guilty and bad about it even more with their honor your parents sermons...The pastor even once had a sermon where he told how he moved out and how he thought this was the right way to do it, like bringing home flowers, thanking his parents for their parenting, having a proper goodbye. I wish I had had the guts to do it that way and felt like I had been a complete coward. I felt guilty of hurting my family and all.

 

Now as time passed my relationship with my parents got better (there still is some tension and enough triggers to be cautions from my side) and we just never talked about it. When I still attended Church I thought I needed to bring it up and ask for forgiveness and all...bullshit. With some distance now I understand: It has been the ONLY way for me to do it. And even if I hurt my parents they created a climate that just made me leave the house and that I was scared to tell them was not that much my fault. It was a result of their parenting and the stuff that happened before I came into this family.

 

When I read your lines your not telling your parents about your boyfriend sounds a bit similar to that. Your parents created an environment where you did not feel save to be honest with them. And that is why we lie and do things that hurt others. To protect ourselves. And we do it the way we know best.

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Littlena

 

We all do things we think we could have done better. Now the question is, could we? ...

 

moanareina,

 

Thanks so much for what you said. Your story reminds me of a time I left home when I was 19. My mom was being so dysfunctional one night that I couldn't take it anymore. I packed up my stuff that night and didn't come home the next day. I think you were really brave to get yourself an apartment and you did the right thing for you. Not everybody wants to give their parents flowers for their parenting. Seriously... We should give ours a self help book.

 

Every time I've made a decision that is good or healthy for me, I felt like my family got hurt. I really hate that. After I left home at 19 my whole family was upset with me and couldn't understand what my problem was. My grandma even insinuated that I left home and wouldn't talk to my mom to punish her. In reality I had to cut my mom and dad out of my life in order to heal from everything they did. I talk to my mom now, but not my dad. 

 

This time I just felt like I was more deceptive than I've ever had to be, and I hate it. But like you said, they didn't give me an environment where I felt I could be honest. If I could have I would have. I really needed to hear this because I been feeling so guilty. That Christian background really does train your mind to be a guilt magnet and beat yourself up for every little mistake. 

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Littlena,

 

I understand what you're going through. I think our situations are a little similar, except my immediate family (just my mom, dad, and grandparents) aren't religious. Have been in the past, but it seems like they have a belief in Xian god, just not active. I've told my aunts, and other extended members of my family who attend church, and they like to give me a hard time about it, but I learned to not vocalize my disbelief unless I'm driven to.

 

Anyway, I was in and out of a long distance relationship with my boyfriend (I suppose he's my ex now since we don't talk much), who just recently deconverted like I did. We met when we were Christians.

 

He lives in a country where you're either Christian or Muslim, there is no other choice. His people are very strict about it, and he could possibly bring a lot of trouble, and gossip to his family if he ever came out. Not to mention how discouraging it was to bring up our families not taking our relationship seriously, so we had agreed to never tell them until we were both sure that we could work things out. 

 

I think all of this is just a part of being in your early-to-mid twenties. Of course not trying to derail your personal experience, but I know quite a few people, religious or not, with accumulated stress over becoming independent and generally sorting their lives out. I had to break it to myself that this just wasn't the time to be in a LDR, especially since I'm not employed right now, and I rely on my family every once in a while. Imagine if I told them about my relationship. They'll really think I'm losing my mind. They already think I spend way too much time online lol.

 

I don't have much advice right now, since I'm still uncomfortable in my situation. But I also hope the best for you, and I believe everything will turn out fine once you're on your own. You won't have to worry about it. Good luck and thanks for sharing!

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Littlena,

 

I understand what you're going through. I think our situations are a little similar, except my immediate family (just my mom, dad, and grandparents) aren't religious. Have been in the past, but it seems like they have a belief in Xian god, just not active. I've told my aunts, and other extended members of my family who attend church, and they like to give me a hard time about it, but I learned to not vocalize my disbelief unless I'm driven to.

 

Anyway, I was in and out of a long distance relationship with my boyfriend (I suppose he's my ex now since we don't talk much), who just recently deconverted like I did. We met when we were Christians.

 

He lives in a country where you're either Christian or Muslim, there is no other choice. His people are very strict about it, and he could possibly bring a lot of trouble, and gossip to his family if he ever came out. Not to mention how discouraging it was to bring up our families not taking our relationship seriously, so we had agreed to never tell them until we were both sure that we could work things out. 

 

I think all of this is just a part of being in your early-to-mid twenties. Of course not trying to derail your personal experience, but I know quite a few people, religious or not, with accumulated stress over becoming independent and generally sorting their lives out. I had to break it to myself that this just wasn't the time to be in a LDR, especially since I'm not employed right now, and I rely on my family every once in a while. Imagine if I told them about my relationship. They'll really think I'm losing my mind. They already think I spend way too much time online lol.

 

I don't have much advice right now, since I'm still uncomfortable in my situation. But I also hope the best for you, and I believe everything will turn out fine once you're on your own. You won't have to worry about it. Good luck and thanks for sharing!

Wow your situation is actually really similar to mine, except my boyfriend's parents don't really care what either of us believe and where he's from religion isn't that important. I met his parents this summer and it went really well. Just my family is the problem ;~; I'm so sorry your situation is uncomfortable and that you haven't been able to work things out with your significant other. That sucks. I can imagine his situation with religion is really difficult and I can see how hard that would be for both of you considering your side too. I didn't tell my family for a long time too because of the same reason, being online. No matter what I hope the best things work out for you. LDR is really hard, especially when it involves such a huge distance. I understand that too well. I'll definitely feel better when I can take care of myself and have a job. Even though it's hard, it's nice to know I'm not the only one. Thanks so much for your comment! I hope things work out better for you too!

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Your family hasn't made it easy to be approachable, from the sounds of it. I'm not an advocate of lying but they painted you into a corner. I think as Christians, it is part of the religious make up to be people pleasers. I know I was that way all through my days as a Christian. It is great that they know about your boyfriend and in time, you can share more about your own spiritual journey.

 

But don't beat yourself up. Sometimes the truth hurts those we love very much. But if they love us back, they will accept our truths and who we are, even if it disappoints them. I think you are going to be more than ok and I hope the best for you, your bf and family. smile.png

 

Yes, they've always made it very clear what they expected from my life, and I can't give them that. I feel really sorry that I won't be or do what they want, and that I couldn't tell them what's going on in my life. Sometimes I can't tell if I'm making good or bad choices. I always tried to make the best choice every time, but I think sometimes I was damned either way. My family almost strictly talks about religion, so I feel like I'm always walking on eggshells whenever I talk with them. I've totally been a people pleaser too, and as I started to change that, my family didn't handle it well at first, so it's been hard. Thanks so much for your words, I really needed that. 

 

 

Don't forget the statement you just made... "My life". It is your life so you should do what you want with it. You probably won't get another and in the end only you lay down with your thoughts at night and must sleep. Not anyone else wanting a different life for you. Try pleasing yourself for a while and see if you like that better?

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Your family hasn't made it easy to be approachable, from the sounds of it. I'm not an advocate of lying but they painted you into a corner. I think as Christians, it is part of the religious make up to be people pleasers. I know I was that way all through my days as a Christian. It is great that they know about your boyfriend and in time, you can share more about your own spiritual journey.

 

But don't beat yourself up. Sometimes the truth hurts those we love very much. But if they love us back, they will accept our truths and who we are, even if it disappoints them. I think you are going to be more than ok and I hope the best for you, your bf and family. smile.png

 

Yes, they've always made it very clear what they expected from my life, and I can't give them that. I feel really sorry that I won't be or do what they want, and that I couldn't tell them what's going on in my life. Sometimes I can't tell if I'm making good or bad choices. I always tried to make the best choice every time, but I think sometimes I was damned either way. My family almost strictly talks about religion, so I feel like I'm always walking on eggshells whenever I talk with them. I've totally been a people pleaser too, and as I started to change that, my family didn't handle it well at first, so it's been hard. Thanks so much for your words, I really needed that. 

 

 

Don't forget the statement you just made... "My life". It is your life so you should do what you want with it. You probably won't get another and in the end only you lay down with your thoughts at night and must sleep. Not anyone else wanting a different life for you. Try pleasing yourself for a while and see if you like that better?

 

That's true. Ultimately I'm going to do what I think is right for me, I just wish other people wouldn't be hurt by it. 

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After a freakout from my parents, as a young adult, I broke up with an amazing atheist boyfriend, and I regret it to this day. Not because I believe that he and I would have stayed together forever (I used the inner knowledge that we weren't going to be permanent as an excuse to myself), but because it was a truly shitty thing to do to him, to myself, and there wasn't anything honest or courageous in it.

I believed that I could save my family from being hurt. Looking back, on one hand, it's a people pleasing issue, but on the other hand, it's pure arrogance and hubris. My sacrifice of pretending to be a Christian was going to be what kept our family from being torn apart - how noble of me. My family was like yours - talked about religion all the time, so just being quiet and living my own life wasn't a real option, I had to either acquiesce to their plans for me or say directly that I wasn't going to do something or believe something. I married a Christian and two years later we were divorced. That was when I realized that trying to not hurt them was futile.

 

And coming out as an atheist and marrying an atheist really did make things suck with my parents. I really hate it when people give advice (not any in this thread!) where they tell someone that their family will learn to be accepting. Doing what would make my life happy and honest put a huge rift in my relationship with my parents. It does hurt that they're not proud of me or respect me the way they did when they thought I was a Christian. But even though it's cliche, it's true that you can't be responsible for other people's happiness.

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