Samuel

Leaving religious family

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I've been in the process of de-coversion for several years now. I think one of the hardest things for me has been separating my identity from my religious family and in particular their cult like religion. For the first time I think I am beginning to be able to see myself separately. And this has brought a lot more health into my life. 

 

One of the hardest things has been separating from my relationship with my mom who really doesn't have any identity outside the cult. She has been in the cult her whole life and I just don't have any way to have a secular relationship with her. Because of this its taken that much longer to realize that I just can't do it any more for my health. Time and time again she has used her place in my heart to push the ideals of their organization, its hard for me to explain really what it feels like to be used in this way. It feels really bad. 

 

I've been depressed lately, but I wanted to post this, since it seems close to progress. IDK. 

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I'm going through something similar! I'm actually planning on telling my parents that I no longer believe next time I visit them (in about a month) and I'm super stressed out about it so you're not alone.

 

I'm dreading it for a number of reasons which I'm sure you can relate to, but most of all because I know how much it will hurt them to believe their firstborn son is going to hell. I feel almost a little guilty about it because I know how much it will devastate them and I hate the idea of bringing this type of pain into someone else's life. I'm scared because I honestly have no idea what this will do to my family. But I know I have to. I'm sick of lying to them every week when I talk to them and they ask if I'm still going to Church. Really I'm sick of not being honest with them about my beliefs in general.

 

So I guess I don't have any answers for you, and probably have all the same questions and concerns. But hopefully it helps knowing someone else is going through the same thing (it certainly helps me knowing that you are)

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@Samuel, @jvstater,

 

I empathise with you both on the topic of coming clean with loved ones. 

 

On the one hand honesty and openness seem to have the best long term results. On the other hand this sometimes seems selfish. I mean relieving our own conscience at the expense of others. We feel better when we are not hiding our beliefs but exposing our disbelief frequently causes others undue stress. The fact the their stress is related to choosing to believe in a non existence being does not change the matter and, yes, we are only partially responsible for their discomfort. 

 

IMHO it is prudent to be honest with fams that are living in your household as the impact of not being so is a daily nuisance. As far as your folks are concerned - when they ask if you are still attending the weekly fundy fest you tell them the truth BUT, when they query as to why, simply tell them you don't' feel the need to attend. If they begin the fundy diatribe about the necessity of staying in the word, just change the subject. 

 

Eventually your folks will justify whatever they make of this. 

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Every person's situation is different so I can't tell you what the answer to your predicament is. What I can tell you is that a little over 10 years ago I came out to my family about my unbelief. It was really rough in the beginning, and yeah, there was a lot of hurt feelings going around in the family, but I don't regret it one but (except maybe I would have softened the punch a little at the delivery, but hey - I did what I knew how). 10 years later I feel a lot happier and healthier, and I think my family (that ended up not disowning me) and I actually have a better relationship overall, even though I still completely disagree with their beliefs.   

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On 9/25/2018 at 1:09 AM, Samuel said:

I've been in the process of de-coversion for several years now. I think one of the hardest things for me has been separating my identity from my religious family and in particular their cult like religion. For the first time I think I am beginning to be able to see myself separately. And this has brought a lot more health into my life. 

 

One of the hardest things has been separating from my relationship with my mom who really doesn't have any identity outside the cult. She has been in the cult her whole life and I just don't have any way to have a secular relationship with her. Because of this its taken that much longer to realize that I just can't do it any more for my health. Time and time again she has used her place in my heart to push the ideals of their organization, its hard for me to explain really what it feels like to be used in this way. It feels really bad. 

 

I've been depressed lately, but I wanted to post this, since it seems close to progress. IDK. 

 

Baby steps are still steps.  Keep your eyes open and trust your instincts.  If it sounds like BS, it probably is.  And you don't have to live her life, nor do you owe her your allegiance to her faith.  You are your own person and your own health and sanity should be your focus.  Family, especially heavily indoctrinated family, can be very manipulative.  If you feel you are being manipulated, step away from them.  Don't let guilt get to you.  She did her job getting you to adulthood.  That doesn't give her the right to dictate how you live your adulthood.  Clearly, your brain fights against indoctrination, so go with it!

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On 9/25/2018 at 10:54 AM, jvstater said:

I'm going through something similar! I'm actually planning on telling my parents that I no longer believe next time I visit them (in about a month) and I'm super stressed out about it so you're not alone.

 

I'm dreading it for a number of reasons which I'm sure you can relate to, but most of all because I know how much it will hurt them to believe their firstborn son is going to hell. I feel almost a little guilty about it because I know how much it will devastate them and I hate the idea of bringing this type of pain into someone else's life. I'm scared because I honestly have no idea what this will do to my family. But I know I have to. I'm sick of lying to them every week when I talk to them and they ask if I'm still going to Church. Really I'm sick of not being honest with them about my beliefs in general.

 

So I guess I don't have any answers for you, and probably have all the same questions and concerns. But hopefully it helps knowing someone else is going through the same thing (it certainly helps me knowing that you are)

 

You're in the right place, because we've all been where you are now, and some of us have yet to "come out" to our loved ones.  It's ok.  What I told Samuel is the same for you.  It's not your fault that they have allowed a fantasy to take over their thoughts and feelings, and it's not your fault if they are "hurt" by your disbelief.  They have done that to themselves.  Love them as any child should love their parents, but be gently firm in your resolve.  The more logical and unemotional you are when you tell them, the less they will be able to guilt you or manipulate you.  I don't know your situation or how fundamentalist your parents are, but the deeper they are in beliefs, the more likely they are to react strongly and try to guilt you.  My mother isn't a fundamentalist, but even she threw some whoppers at me.  Just be matter-of-fact about it and refuse to be drawn into a debate about any of it.  Maybe you enjoy debate, but I would suggest that with family and all the emotions that tend to be involved, debate really isn't a great idea.  Just keep telling them that you just don't believe it anymore and you hope that they can respect your lack of belief and know that this does not change how you feel about them.

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Remember that using emotional blackmail against those who disagree with them is a primary weapon of the cult. You can't be responsible for how another person reacts to differing opinions. In the end, honestly is the only way to live your life.

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Wow, I totally came out all preachy, there, lol.  Sorry!  

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Sam,

 

Don't feel depressed.  You are figuring out just WHO YOU are.  Look at it as an adventure.  If your family starts to give you the emotional business, just use sarcasm. What is likely, at first it will irritate them, then they will get angry, finally they will confront you.  At that point, just tell them that you love them, but emotional manipulation will not be tolerated by you, and if you (refering to your family) want something serious, (you tell them) they will not try that again.  They will be shocked, confused, but that will pass.  They may try it again, just repeat the sequence, and after them running into a brick wall a few times, they will finally stop.  You may have to reinforce this a few times.  Now, that being said, don't go out looking for a fight with them, do be respectful and loving otherwise.  They are your family afterall and you don't really want to hurt them, just train them in the way they interact with you.  People will treat you the way you let them. 

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On 9/25/2018 at 2:09 AM, Samuel said:

Time and time again she has used her place in my heart to push the ideals of their organization, its hard for me to explain really what it feels like to be used in this way. It feels really bad. 

 

Can you explain a little more what this means?  My mother can be extremely manipulative, although she certainly doesn't think she is and would manipulatingly bristle at such a suggestion.  Although she doesn't tell my husband and me how to live our lives, I do have some serious boundary issues with her and it has strained our relationship over the years.  I WISH I could just come out and tell them I don't believe any of it anymore, but I'm afraid to.  Afraid of sending them into turmoil thinking I'm going to hell, and afraid of how she will emotionally steamroll my disbelief instead of respecting me as an adult in my right mind.  Is that kinda how you feel too?

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Sometimes when we do convert, we feel like we have to “have the talk” with the relatives about our new found unbelief. I think that need is like evangelism in reverse.

 

Evangelical Christianity demands that you share your belief with everyone in an attempt to get them saved. So now, it feels like you need to share the opposite.

 

Unless your change of beliefs has practical implications for how things happen day to day, you are under no obligation to share with them. And it is not being dishonest in any way. It is simply part of being an adult with independent ideas.

 

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Certainly, we are under no obligation to disclose our true feelings with anyone. Marriages work better when we are honest with each other but, sharing every niggling little detail can be annoying.  And disbelief in fundamental concepts held closely by the entire family cannot be dismissed as immaterial.  

 

As far as explaining ourselves to the sheeple, in my case, the necessity of forthcoming was brought on by the swirling conjecture and presumptions that I stopped attending church because someone was mean to me. I really don't give fuck if some wants to believe that, but if I can make it clear that, via research, reading, and THINKING, I came to the conclusion the Christianism is a pylle of lies and mind control, then I feel some obligation there. In short a large part of vocalizing my unbelief was in the interest of pushing back. 

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On 9/28/2018 at 1:04 PM, Daffodil said:

 

Baby steps are still steps.  Keep your eyes open and trust your instincts.  If it sounds like BS, it probably is.  And you don't have to live her life, nor do you owe her your allegiance to her faith.  You are your own person and your own health and sanity should be your focus.  Family, especially heavily indoctrinated family, can be very manipulative.  If you feel you are being manipulated, step away from them.  Don't let guilt get to you.  She did her job getting you to adulthood.  That doesn't give her the right to dictate how you live your adulthood.  Clearly, your brain fights against indoctrination, so go with it!

 

Thanks, I really appreciate that :)

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On 9/30/2018 at 9:10 AM, MamaCaz said:

 

Can you explain a little more what this means?  My mother can be extremely manipulative, although she certainly doesn't think she is and would manipulatingly bristle at such a suggestion.  Although she doesn't tell my husband and me how to live our lives, I do have some serious boundary issues with her and it has strained our relationship over the years.  I WISH I could just come out and tell them I don't believe any of it anymore, but I'm afraid to.  Afraid of sending them into turmoil thinking I'm going to hell, and afraid of how she will emotionally steamroll my disbelief instead of respecting me as an adult in my right mind.  Is that kinda how you feel too?

 

For sure, I think what I’m getting at is that my mother is really religious. You would have to get into the teachings of the particular organization that I came out of but she sees her religion as inseparable and synonymous with life. There are practices within the organization that pretty much lead of person to try and be preoccupied with religious thought 24/7. So there’s just no middle ground to have a relationship and I think I’m just greaving that, coming to terms with it in a way. For me my deconversion is about also coming out as gay which my parents see as something that can be changed, or is not a big deal, they’ve held beliefs that are hateful towards gay people and really demeaning to me for my entire life. I get in this mindspace where I regret cutting off communication but I also know that all communication in the past was based on pretending that I wasn’t who I am (in many ways). 

 

I think part of it (not a therapist or anything) is that I’m struggling with those pieces of the relationship or just human decency that I’d like to honor but can’t because they are tied to so much disagreeable self-serving malice. I mean how do you say I’m sad that I can’t comfort you about my never having been happy growing up in the religion and leaving. Im definitely feeling some pain trying to break away and every time I try to negate my experience to make others feel better I feel worse. 

 

My father on the other hand is practically pathological in his authoritarianism. It’s hard for me the break out of the sort of authoritarian thought patterns that he laid out growing up. 

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4 hours ago, Samuel said:

My father on the other hand is practically pathological in his authoritarianism. It’s hard for me the break out of the sort of authoritarian thought patterns that he laid out growing up. 

In my experience when you grow up with an authoritarian father it's natural to internalize the attitude you faced and unconsciously be really hard on yourself all the time. Take it easy on yourself! We all have to learn to be the parents to ourselves that we needed when we were little.

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I’ve learned a lot about boundaries in the last few years. I was raised conservative, but really took all the worst of it to heart. Of me and my 5 siblings, I would say that 3 of us are casual christians, two of us are done with it all. 

 

Thebenefit in my family is is that my parents, still conservative, aren’t really interested in the hard answers. I’m pretty sure my mom knows that I haven’t been to church in two years- she hasn’t asked me about it. I’m glad we can keep it on that level, because I truly wouldn’t know how to explain it in a way that makes sense. Maybe there isn’t such a way. At any rate, my siblings and I are much more open personally and are able to discuss things like that. 

 

Now, in my husband’s family, who functions like a cult, we disagreed with the patriarchal father and were kicked out the door. Of course, they would view it as if we were apostates that willingly left. But we have had no contact.

 

Mostly, this is just to let you know my story. As others have said, I don’t think there are any right answers. Depression sucks- I’ve dealt with that as well. Take care of yourself. 

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