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L.B.

Huge steps taken today

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Hey everyone,

 

Since the last time I shared my back story in detail was probably years ago, I suppose a little summary is in order before I share what went on today.

 

I'm in my mid-forties, adopted, raised in a fundamentalist Christian household. I got in a lot of trouble as a kid, did very poorly in school, and was never very good at typical good Christian Behavior.

 

As a young adult, I moved out of my parents home and began to pursue a career as a songwriter and professional musician. I spent a couple of years actually paying the rent and feeding myself playing music and not having any other job. It was of course, not glamorous, but it was exactly what I wanted to do with my life, even after I had heard all the speeches about how unlikely it was that I would succeed at such a choice.

 

I had a few opportunities to take giant steps forward in my music career, but for reasons that I am only just now beginning to understand, I undermined and sabotaged my work by not following through.

 

Fast forward to my mid-twenties. I got married to a woman that I had known since I was a child, and had dated for almost seven years previous to our marriage. I decided, in a misguided attempt to conform my life to what I imagined my parents wanted from me, to quit playing music and settle down, or so I thought.

 

I moved to the southeastern United States and went to Bible College, with an eye toward a degree and a position as a preacher or evangelist in a church somewhere. I involve myself in contemporary Christian music, on the local church level and also in an experiment to see whether my chops and experience would translate to the kind of thing that the Christian music industry recognizes as Talent.

 

Lots of ups and downs, a few Church changes and more than a few struggles and arguments. What I did not realize, at least not to any real extent, was that I had attempted to conform myself to the imaginary standards of a god, and to the pressures and expectations of religious community, all for the sake of building some false sense of security oh, so that I would not have to fear testing my potential at the things I was really good at.

 

I came to realize recently, after two bouts with severe, crippling depression, that I could no longer pretend that I believed or even tolerated the nonsense that had come to Define my wife's daily activities and inner life.

 

Anyway, fast forward again, this time to this morning. Over the last couple of weeks, I had a sudden Resurgence of creativity after years of writer's block and near-total disinterest in my musical creative processes. I knew that I had to pursue this flow of creativity, and I had to be free of the self-doubt and fundamental self mistrust that typifies Christian religion.

 

I told my wife this morning things that we had already discussed, things like the idea that we love one another, but are no longer in love, because we both silently understand that our lives are inevitably going in, and are meant to go in, two very different directions. I explained to her that it did not matter whether she was willing to continue to imagine that we still had a married relationship. Ultimately, I knew that her adherence to the Bible as the word of a god mint that regardless of how she tried to ignore it, her religion dictated that I am an outsider, failed, sinful, and Bound for hell, because I do not believe there is a God, let alone the Christian one.

 

I told her that we needed to accept that, practically speaking, we were always going to have this huge difference between us, and that clinging to these beliefs is what has been helping her, while letting go of these beliefs is what has helped me.

 

In short, we have reached the place where we both understand that if I continued to pretend that I can tolerate insinuating myself into her Social Circles, exclusively Christian people, which are the only friendships that she has, there would sooner than later, time when my attitude and our relationship would implode.

 

I recognized, and told her as much, that I now understand my propensity for Bridge burning, and I wanted this to be an understanding, not a destruction. I want to be able to move forward in positive ways, and I want her to value the community and friendships that she has, that she will continue to have even if I am out of the picture.

 

For all of their sincerity and conviction, none of the people that we are surrounded by have been inspired by their spirit to ever contact me, asked me to spend time together, pray for me, or in any other since be anything but friendly and smiley on Sundays. In other words, there's no reason for me to expect that this community of Christians is good for me, but that does not at all mean that I want to disabuse my wife of her beliefs, in so far as her involvement in the Christian world seems to be a source of comfort, safety, and worldview that she can be comfortable with.

 

I am finally free, in the most honest sense, from any obligation to pretend that those beliefs and that environment needed to be meaningful to me at all. I have had the first important conversation about it with her. The next conversation will have to be with her and my children together. Then, there will be the conversation with the pastor of our local church, who admittedly has been compassionate and a good listener, even welcoming questioning, doubting, critical topics of conversation concerning the Christian religion and Church in general.

 

I know this has been a long post. I wrote it to encourage anyone in a similar situation to embrace honesty about what they believe, or don't believe, rather than trying to handle the weight of how it is going to affect others. If, in fact, you really do not believe these things, you can be completely honest about it without having to scream, without having to blame, and without any expectation that the other people in your life are going to follow you down that path of thought. It's not necessary for anyone else to be convinced of your rightness... It is only necessary that you are honest with yourself and everyone around you, so that the cognitive dissonance and pressure of forced conformity do not bring about ugly, destructive, and scarring consequences.

 

Thank you all for reading. Please feel free to comment or ask questions as you see fit. I'm sure I may have left out a detail or two in trying to explain this journey, and I'm more than glad to talk about it.

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Excellent post!

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Yes, an excellent and rather revealing post.  I suggest you work on balancing (i) your propensity to blame others and (ii) taking responsibility for your own actions.  

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6 hours ago, L.B. said:

 

I told my wife this morning things that we had already discussed, things like the idea that we love one another, but are no longer in love, because we both silently understand that our lives are inevitably going in, and are meant to go in, two very different directions. I explained to her that it did not matter whether she was willing to continue to imagine that we still had a married relationship. Ultimately, I knew that her adherence to the Bible as the word of a god mint that regardless of how she tried to ignore it, her religion dictated that I am an outsider, failed, sinful, and Bound for hell, because I do not believe there is a God, let alone the Christian one.

 

I told her that we needed to accept that, practically speaking, we were always going to have this huge difference between us, and that clinging to these beliefs is what has been helping her, while letting go of these beliefs is what has helped me.

 

Wow, great insight. I bet you are a great songwriter!

 

Thank-you for sharing your story, it has helped me an awful lot. I have recently separated too.

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I was very moved by this.  Thank you for sharing.

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Your honesty with your wife it is excellent - and whatever the outcome is I believe that Honesty will serve the both of you best.

 

And I think it's so healthy for you to have had the courage to express your thoughts and desires.

 

I couldn't tell by what you wrote - do you feel like this is the beginning of the end of your marriage? Or do you see your marriage continuing on but just looking a little different?

 

I'm married to a believing wife and for a good 5 years after me announcing my unbelief I did not think we were going to make it.  Finally during year 6 we have turned the corner.  Our marriage definitely looks different than it once did.  And that Gulf that you describe is always there.  But somehow it's gotten smaller has our relationship has gotten better. The more she knows and is convinced that I still love her and I'm still committed to her and that I'm not going to run headfirst into a life of "sin" the more it gives her a chance to come out of that defensive reactive place and just forget about religious belief for a while and be in the moment enjoying one another and enjoying our lives.

 

All the best to you.

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On 5/9/2019 at 10:33 AM, L.B. said:

I had to be free of the self-doubt and fundamental self mistrust that typifies Christian religion.

I felt this in my bones. 

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I want to thank everybody for your encouraging words. I knew this would be a place where I can tell this story and find not only acceptance, but honest feedback.

 

As to the question of whether I feel like my marriage is over, I'm not sure. I still feel like no matter how I feel about her as a woman, as a mother to my children, as a wife, the issue is that as a fellow human being, she is choosing to live her life based on the illusion that she, and I, are fundamentally flawed in and of ourselves. As far as I can see, it doesn't make any difference how much we compromised on her having her beliefs and me living rationally.

The big hurdle, if it's ever going to be surmounted, is that idea that even if we love one another and want the best for one another, the sources of our individual life goals, encouragement, strength, and inspiration are two completely different things.

I am never again going to spend a minute believing that I need some extrinsic Force to forgive me before it even begins to help me, or that this Force had been either directing or hindering everything I had done in my life.

My wife says that she is willing to not think about or not talk about that conflict. I understand, because I know her so well, that her saying that is partly a defense mechanism against being alone. She's a people pleaser, and she knows it and will tell you so.

Ultimately, however, I know in my heart that the time will come when some decision is going to come down to whether or not one of us believes that God or a god is in control of a situation, or whether she can allow herself to make or accept a choice that is in absolute conflict with what she believes is a holy book.

I've already asked her how she can justify continuing to believe in a religion that says that my rejection of God automatically destines me for wrath and hell.

 

It's not that I want her to quit her beliefs, I just want her to live consistently with them.

 

If she listens to the crap about hell and eternity and resurrection and all, and she believes it's all true and applicable to everyone, then we will never be truly right together, because I categorically reject that thinking, but she believes that fate is mine, and is sealed, unless I repent and accept the zombie man.

 

If she doesn't believe that, then I don't understand why she would constantly listen to such teachings and surround herself with friends who believe such a thing. 

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11 hours ago, L.B. said:

Ultimately, however, I know in my heart that the time will come when some decision is going to come down to whether or not one of us believes that God or a god is in control of a situation, or whether she can allow herself to make or accept a choice that is in absolute conflict with what she believes is a holy book.

If you're referring to a critical medical issue or end-of-life decision, put it in writing with the help of an attorney. Be as specific as you think you need to be. Check out the differences between the phrases "Do not resuscitate," and "Allow natural death." And be sure your family knows what you want and where the documents are.

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On 5/9/2019 at 7:26 PM, sdelsolray said:

Yes, an excellent and rather revealing post.  I suggest you work on balancing (i) your propensity to blame others and (ii) taking responsibility for your own actions.  

I blame myself for being a chickenshit for so long. I always knew I was choosing a bullshit story and a false, hollow, undeserved reputation as a good Christian man - all so we could get and stay emotionally and psychologically stuck for more than half our lives.

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On 5/11/2019 at 8:03 PM, older said:

If you're referring to a critical medical issue or end-of-life decision, put it in writing with the help of an attorney. Be as specific as you think you need to be. Check out the differences between the phrases "Do not resuscitate," and "Allow natural death." And be sure your family knows what you want and where the documents are.

No, I just mean things like whether or not either of us finds ourselves in a new situation... perhaps discovering a new friendship/relationship that is opening doors and encouraging growth...

 

Maybe her god wants her to be settled in her religion and free of my wickedness.

 

Maybe I just want her settled, in a stable home, so I can go be the man I need to be without a huge emotional collapse and more hurt feelings than are necessary. 

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Update:

 

My situation went from devastatingly bad to unbelievably worse. I'm out of our home with two changes of clothes and my immediate personal belongings.

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8 hours ago, L.B. said:

Update:

 

My situation went from devastatingly bad to unbelievably worse. I'm out of our home with two changes of clothes and my immediate personal belongings.

I'm so sorry you are going through this L.B. But I do think that time apart could help you both figure out which direction to go. How do you feel right now? 

 

It just blows me away how the horrible doctrine of christianity and hell can have such an impact on not just marriage, but in every aspect of life. So, so sad.

 

I got my fingers crossed for you.

 

 

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Just one of the many many examples of how fear and indoctrination can negatively impact society. Churches need to be licenced and audited to ensure they are not systematically destroying lives. Learning institutions need to offer classes on avoiding mind control and group think.

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22 hours ago, L.B. said:

Update:

 

My situation went from devastatingly bad to unbelievably worse. I'm out of our home with two changes of clothes and my immediate personal belongings.

 

Whew. Hang in there, L.B. What do you want at this point?

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She's divorcing me. I was supposed to stay at my parents' house tonight, but my father owns guns.

 

A friend - her pastor, ironically, who is a legit friend to me - is putting me in a hotel room tonight, and taking me to where I can rent a car for work tomorrow. I still have no place to live.

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Hope this works out LB. Wish there was something I could do. 

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Oh no.  I'm sorry LB.  Perhaps when all the dust settles, divorce will turn out to be the better path - but it totally sucks the way it went down for you.

 

Please keep us posted.

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On 5/16/2019 at 5:16 AM, L.B. said:

She's divorcing me. I was supposed to stay at my parents' house tonight, but my father owns guns.

 

A friend - her pastor, ironically, who is a legit friend to me - is putting me in a hotel room tonight, and taking me to where I can rent a car for work tomorrow. I still have no place to live.

 

That's distressing news, I'm sorry this happened so suddenly.

 

I recently found myself homeless for a month, but with three kids. We stayed at hotels, friends' houses and with relatives. It was a surreal time.

 

Which direction to do want to go from here? If you want to reconcile with your wife and return home then perhaps you can ask her pastor to convince her.

 

Alternatively, you could spend some time apart until the anger subsides. A separation can become a catalyst for change, a time for great personal growth for you both. You now have an opportunity to live in line with your values, instead of burying your dream and watching your life go by.

 

Change is scary when you don't know what's coming next. It's easier to cling to the familiar that embrace the unknown.

 

In-the-midst-of-winter-I-finally-found-there-was-within-me-an-invincible-summer..jpg

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I must be really tough getting blindsided in this way. You definitely have my symapathy. Things are probably moving fast right now with everything so tentative in this most recent post of yours. The good news is you have a job and in a situation like yours that is everything. When the dust settles I’m sure you’ll be standing on your own two feet. Best wishes and good luck in this difficult time. Do keep us posted when you have time.

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Thank you all for your kind words.

 

Yeah, so, the rental-car thing fell through. Long story.

 

I am in for a long period of uncertainties and loneliness. I burned a lot of bridges over time, as the fake xtian life I tried to live was hollow enough that I made few friends, but was believable enough that my downfall has been a scandal that made people want to shovel dirt on my grave.

 

I'll update when there's anything remotely forward about my progress.

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