I think I just killed my parents.

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So, remember how I came out as an unbeliever to my family last week? The “I love you” response I got from them was a buffer to allow their shock and pain a couple days before emerging in words.

I got an email from my dad that was, honestly, the hardest thing I’ve ever read.  Ever.  And I cried and feel pain unlike I’ve ever felt before. Ever.

“[This] grieves me as deeply as I have ever felt grief,” he said.  Another Ever.

His email continued for several more paragraphs in raw pain as a father who just discovered his daughter will be damned for eternity.  He wept while writing it, and I wept while reading it.

He can’t handle it.  I can’t handle knowing what I’ve done to him.  He has always been my hero; I have always looked up to him and loved him so deeply.  He is the wisest, smartest man I know.  He has always given everything for me.

I feel like how I used to feel as a Christian knowing that my sin was what crucified Jesus.  Except this is much more real, much more tangible, and since my dad is not part-God, I fear there will never be a resurrection.

 

OMG this hurts.

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The Author

I'm a closet atheist christian missionary. Paradigm shifts happen frequently for those who allow themselves to think critically about currently held beliefs and openly about new ones. I’ve developed the skill, or perhaps addiction, for change but the community around me is slow to catch up -- and would damn me if they knew where I stood.

8 Comments

  1. I’m so sorry for the pain you are going through. I know exactly how it feels! I was actually just yesterday reading back through my journal from that time period in my life, when to disappoint my parents by telling them the truth about this felt so crushing—because I knew they would be crushed.

    But let me tell you, time did heal our wounds, though the scars remain. They did not die of grief, after all, and neither did I. They even, thankfully, still accept me into their lives, though things between us are never quite as comfortable as they used to be. I’ve had to learn a new way of relating with them—to be okay with living my own life without their approval. I needed therapy to help me get there. As for them, well, parents always take the risk that their children will grow up to make choices they don’t like. It’s just the way it is. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s my life to live, not theirs.

    I believe you are doing the right thing, and I applaud your bravery for facing this pain and going forward anyway.

    “This above all: to thine own self be true.” – Shakespeare (in Hamlet)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your story with me and for your encouragement. It honestly feels like we won’t make it through this, but I know that that can’t be true. Time heals wounds — that is good news! How long did it take for your relationship with your parents to feel *somewhat* normal again?

      Also, I love the Shakespeare quote. Been thinking about it all day, actually..

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      • My family is of the type that puts on a happy face and talks about surface-level things while determinedly avoiding talking about anything personal or controversial, so we never really had a big blow-up about my apostasy; instead it’s just been awkward. But my relationship with my parents keeps evolving as I keep standing firm in my separateness and independence from them, my refusal to be everything they want me to be and to instead be who I am.

        I see your question below about why being true to yourself is important. Oh, dear. I think only we of the super-Christian indoctrination would ask that question, because only we have been taught all our lives to sacrifice and deny ourselves, live for God’s glory, be a servant to others, mortify the flesh, etc. Plus, our larger culture preaches to us, especially to women, that it’s selfish and therefore wrong to take care of ourselves and follow our own desires. That mindset led me into illness and misery, because taken to the extreme, that mindset is essentially living suicide. Our happiness and mental health require a harmony between our inner feelings and our external circumstances. That is why being true to yourself is important: because it’s essential for living a healthy, happy life. Anyone who tells you otherwise has a suspicious agenda.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how my outlook on life is distorted because of the “die to self” mentality. What is selflessness?!?! Wow, what a concept engrained in us from Christianity that can lead to some dysfunctional behaviors. You bring up some really great points and I think the *good* part of me agrees with you wholeheartedly. The part of me that *feels* though… gah. That is another story — I have the “fight” that part of me not to give of myself too much in this situation. Ohhhh the irony!!

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  2. It is nearly impossible to convince others who are certain of their belief that there is a world outside of it. You chose to do the bravest possible thing and be honest with yourself despite possible alienation from your family. This initial period of grief will pass! It will. And you will be able to have a rational, honest discussion. You’ve done the equivalent of ripping off a band-aid, and the pain is going to be quite severe at first. Know that there are others who support you, and who have made this same journey. Being true to yourself is the most important thing. Allow yourself to grieve, knowing that very soon it won’t hurt like this anymore. If you ever need an open mind to bounce things off of, I’m here! I’m sending positive thoughts your way 🙂

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    • I’m seriously so grateful for your support! And yes, nearly impossible is right. I’ve tried to talk to him about it in a way that can foster understanding, but it’s like we speak two different languages. Probably because we do — we come from two completely different worldviews.

      Thank you for your encouragement. This probably sounds like a silly question, but why is being true to oneself so important? I’m starting to doubt my decision..

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      • It took me ten years to work up the courage to be honest with my parents. Our relationship has suffered so much for my waiting, and so have I. I’ve become a shell of the person I should be. I don’t know who I am, or who I want to be…I’ve been obsessed with appearing appropriate for so long that I don’t know how to drop the act. Life really is about self-discovery. You owe it to yourself to live your life, and not just pretend. I feel like every time we deny ourselves to keep from hurting another, we crawl deeper into ourselves, and it is painful work to come back out! You deserve to be who you are, just as much as your parents deserve to be happy. It may not seem like it now, but they wouldn’t want you to live a lie, either. This is painful because they love you, and you them. That is a very, very good start.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Your story is heartbreaking, but it encourages me not to regret what I’ve done. Thank you for reminding me what life is about, that I deserve to be myself, and to face this now rather than living like a ghost for years. I’m so tempted to retreat and do that —- but I know it wouldn’t be right. I’m sorry you learned that the hard way, though I appreciate your wisdom that came from it.

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