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How do you patiently manage fundamentalist family and friends?


LostinParis
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I am struggling to love my religious family and friends just as they are. I want to let go of my desire to challenge their toxic beliefs. Help.

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Mostly we don't spend time together. The last couple of times I was around their religious activities it was like being in the temple of Zeus or something, watching people go through religious actions and use language that was foreign. Hearing them emphasize repeatedly how very faithful god is made me want to ask how often they remind themselves how real and present gravity is. Gravity is demonstrable and is always there, while their god isn't so they have to constantly tell themselves that their imaginary friend is so very real and in control. So I feel your longing to pop their balloon of imagination. But I only see them once a year or so, and miss out on a lot of family time because it is bizarre instead of a feeling of being connected. Toxic isn't something to embrace, even from family. Social constructs are used by cults worldwide to keep people in the cults, because nobody really likes to lose a social circle especially one that they grew up with. I still have affection for my family and extended family, but we really don't spend any time together. I'm sure there is some kind of shunning on their part as well, since we don't live far apart physically. 

 

Finding new social circles has been very difficult the past couple of years because of the virus. My circle is musicians, and last year all the venues were shut down and some closed permanently. One is still open and starting to have shows again, so there is some hope for fun human interactions. But I'm resigned to having no close family ties now, even if we are pleasant to each other when we do interact. 

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I set clear boundaries with my parents not long after my deconversion.  Essentially, religion of any kind is off-limits.  This extends to prayer, proselytizing, church invitations, etc.  My dad has always respected the boundaries; but is happy to discuss beliefs if I broach the subject.  My mother has pushed the boundaries a few times and gotten smacked down.  But, 2 years ago, she seriously broke the boundary where Redneck Jr. was concerned.  She has been virtually cut off since then.  I'm cordial when I see her; but will only discuss the weather and other mundane subjects with her.  

 

It's hard; I wish I had better answers for you.

 

But, as far as wanting to let go of the desire to challenge their beliefs, have you considered that what might be toxic to you is healthy for them?  Or, if not healthy, per se, at least not as destructive and poisonous as it is for you?  My parents' entire identity is the church and religion.  If they didn't have that, I shudder to think what they might find to fill in the void that would be left, especially my mother.  She's already such a toxic, vindictive, and manipulative narcissist; how much worse might she be without jesus keeping her in check?

 

Perhaps celebrating your own health might be more beneficial than lamenting their sickness.  I know compassion moves you; but how sorry do you feel for the chain-smoker with lung cancer, or the alcoholic with cirrhosis?  The point is, you've chosen health and well-being; they've chosen their sickness.  Maybe they don't realize they're sick; maybe they don't want to get healthy.  But, you do.  And it's okay to focus on your self.

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On 11/3/2021 at 5:50 AM, LostinParis said:

I am struggling to love my religious family and friends just as they are. I want to let go of my desire to challenge their toxic beliefs. Help.

I think most of us have "been there, and done that".   Or are going through it.  My experience has been that challenging their toxic beliefs only drives them further away.  makes them angry, or they just pity you more.  They believe the devil has won you over to his side.  In the last 30 years I don't think any of the believers I know have changed sides.  And only a very small % of the more liberal ones have remained true "friends".   The serinity "prayer" is applicable in this situation.

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