Suffocating. I’m not strong enough.

comments 6
leaving Christianity / the godless side

When we first saw my parents this morning, exhaustion seeped from them like a rotten stench.  “We couldn’t sleep last night.”  I knew they didn’t just mean physically.  When I questioned my mom on what kept her awake, tears filled her already-reddened eyes and she looked at me as if I should obviously know why.  And I did.  My unbelief.  Nothing more was said.

Spending all day with them was like forcing me to stay in a room with dead bodies I murdered.  I felt terrified and claustrophobic.  Trapped and burdened.  Guilty.  

I'm trapped in a dark room

I’m trapped in a dark room

I desperately tried to smile and be myself, but the weight of the pain etched in the lines on my parents’ faces and their stubborn silence forced me to bear not only my emotion, but theirs as well.  It’s too much.  Too painful.  I’m too weak.

Usually I avoided eye contact with my dad– he couldn’t stand staring into the depths of his daughter’s hell-bound soul, and I couldn’t stand to look into the depths of the pain I caused within his.  But when I did, his eyes broke me.  They were aged, pained, struggling to keep back tears.  They held no more joy, no more peace.  His eyes were the guardians of the secrets of his mind filled with thoughts that so obviously tormented him.  He was quiet, remained quiet, all day.  And it killed me.  We’d pass trees along the sidewalk and I was envious of the soil beneath them.  How desperately I wished I could crumple below the tree and disappear into the ground.  

He couldn’t even hold or play with his granddaughter without being tortured.  He didn’t have to say any of this; his eyes told it all.

I can’t stand how much pain I’m putting my parents through.  It’s not fair.  Walking around today, I looked at passersby and resented them.  How is it that so many people are given the life circumstances that bring them to believing the same as their family?? They have no idea how lucky they are.  This isn’t fair, it hurts more than anything I’ve ever experienced, and I have no control over it.  “God” is demanding a life to be sacrificed on his altar — either my own in its authenticity, or that of my parents.

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.


  1. That sounds impossible. On the one hand they might grow more accepting over time, but you make it sound like it’s very unlikely. Living so far away must make it so much harder to come to any sort common ground. I can’t think of a way to say it’ll be okay without sounding insincere, but every life has moments of joy and moments of pain and all we can do is weather the latter and focus on finding more joy on the other side. Maybe you don’t feel strong, but you are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it feels impossible. I don’t think they will ever accept this. I actually had a dream a night or two ago that my dad told me we’ve lost all common ground with each other and that our relationship was forever crippled. It was terrible. Thank you for reminding me that there are moments of joy, regardless.


  2. (((Teal))) . . . the weight of it all. My goodness. My heart goes out to you. So very difficult for all of you. Would it be possible to shorten their stay with you if it doesn’t ease up?

    That photo of the cave. There’s a light in there . . . I think it is you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our stay was mostly at the campground that was already reserved for us, so no shortening.. But they leave tonight. “The light in the cave..” Thank you for that comment. I’ve actually thought about that a couple times this week when things were especially difficult with them.


  3. Andy says

    I think all you can do is love them as they make the transition. I really feel for you, Teal. I can only imagine…
    It seems like their abstraction of heaven and hell is (psychologically) projected onto your current reality and it’s causing them severe inner anguish. It is the idea that you won’t be in “heaven.” When reality bumps against cherished beliefs, that is when the rubber meets the road, so to speak. They are having to recontextualize this unexpected (and definitely unwanted and even feared) change in their lives. It’s easy to have compassion for them. What it seems like they are experiencing, in their mind, is that you are going to be experiencing something worse than physical death. It’s like a betrayal, in a sense…and they might even be taking it as an attack to their beliefs. Which, to them, it might be. You are taking a stand for what you see to be true (which takes HUGE courage…so bravo to you!) and they are having to figure out how that fits into the way they see things. Truth always just stands there. It’s the rest of the world that has to change according to it. So I suppose if I were to offer help, I’d say be gentle in your approach, but firm in your stand.

    It seems, from what you write, that it is such a huge blow to how they see the world, that it would probably be good to understand that it will take a while for them to come around to a place where psychological acceptance of the situation is even possible. They are resisting what is, and that is what is causing their anguish. It’s not you personally. Take it easy on yourself. If there is guilt on your part, let it come up within your psyche, acknowledge it, and let it go. All you can do is be there for them.
    My thoughts are with you in your situation, Teal. Continue to breathe and remember that not only do you exist, but you are aware that you exist. Deep measured breaths help bring about deep peace. And remember, whatever they choose to do is not your fault. Don’t think of it as life being sacrificed. Instead, realize that Jesus taught forgiveness. And so, to stake your life as a Christian, as your parents have, would, psychologically tend to bring up that which is unforgiveable from the unconscious. So realize that you standing for truth is also a chance for your parents to grow deeper in their faith, or to reject it, or they could choose to remain unconscious about the whole thing. Only time will tell. But during that time, I hope that we can offer you help. Your fellow bloggers have offered BRILLIANT advice and encouragement.

    I know you posted this 2 days ago, but I imagine the situation has probably not lessened. As others have said, keep your chin up and deal with love (as if we have to remind you :-))

    Best wishes,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow Andy, thank you so much for your heartfelt reply. And for reminding about how difficult this is for my parents. You described very well the paradox in which they live right now — their daughter’s damnation and their faith in God (including his teachings on forgiveness, as you say.) I completely believe them that this is the hardest thing they’ve ever been through. And I HATE that I’m putting them through it — still wrestling with the guilt and responsibility of it all. Sigh.

      Yes, this situation definitely has not lessened. But I love what you said about being gentle in my approach yet firm in my stance…. I will take that with me as we finally talk with them tonight (they’ve delayed the conversation until now). So nervous..


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