i DIDN’T kill my parents.

comments 6
the godless side / the post-God side

I’ve had two good friends in the last 2 weeks “come out” to their very religious families as no longer believing in God.

As each read me the words they chose to speak to their respective families, memories of the horror I felt when I came out surged through me again, haunting me with feeling crippled by guilt for killing my parents and creating a chasm in my relationship with my sister.  But I was also filled with a new emotion: Anger.  Now, it’s been about 4 months since I told me parents about my disbelief, so I’ve recovered significantly from their initial blow.  But reading my friend’s words was the first time I saw the situation from an outside perspective.  And it gave me the ability the reevaluate my own experience from a more-removed-standpoint.  This is what I realized, something that my husband and any rational person in my life tried to reassure me at the time but that I couldn’t quite understand:

I am not responsible for how my parents (or anyone else) feel/s.

But more than that:

Our parent/child relationship is completely backwards.  During my “coming out,” I was the one who had to reassure them of my love for them, over and over again.  I was the one who had to comfort them in their pain, who was made to feel the cause of the pain and then to apologize for it.  Not the other way around.

The realization of this backwards-ness while experiencing my friends’  words to their families turned my being haunted with terror to being filled with anger.  I am angry at my parents for making me take care of their hearts when they did nothing, absolutely nothing, to assure me or comfort me or hold me or wipe my tears.  I needed them to be my parents.  But instead, they made themselves out to be the victims.

I will no longer feel guilty.  I will no longer allow myself to think I “killed” them.  I need to be freed of them and of the guilt.  And if they refuse to comfort me during that hardest time in my life, as they so blatantly have, then I will have to find that comfort within myself, knowing I have the courage and power to be completely authentic and emotionally healthy.  That I am willing to admit my mistakes, discover my own dysfunction, and sacrifice all my pride on the altar of being genuine.  I am no murderer.  I am a creator of life: my own.

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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.

6 Comments

  1. I don’t know how you got here, from believing to not believing AND not feeling responsible for your family’s feelings. I had an honest convo w/husband two nights ago. Told him I couldn’t pray, didn’t know what I believed anymore, questioned God’s existence. Lots of questions, lots of “what have you been reading?”, lots of “your love brought me to faith, how do you explain that child in the other room, the love we share, don’t you want to spend eternity with me”….lots of fearful tears by both of us. Couldn’t make him understand that I didn’t WANT to lose faith, that it wasn’t anyone else’s influence, that I couldn’t point to “just one thing” that caused this loss for me. And he is a very open-minded, secular man! So I cannot even IMAGINE broaching a conversation with my extended Christian family, most especially my mother who cannot take a timely phone call or discuss a relationship or even snag a sale at Macy’s without invoking God as the source of it! I’ve spent my whole life feeling responsible for her feelings. Lots of therapy and my husband’s realistic counsel have helped me move out of that somewhat. But, deep in the hollows of my soul, I still feel like she is right, that I am wrong, that I will pay for being wrong in the end. I cannot bear to think of discussing my doubts with her. I believe it would send her to her grave, her heart would be so broken for me. She definitely would not try to comfort me, just tell me how she saw me going down the wrong road for years (because I am not in her denomination, I let my daughter read YA novels, and I drink wine now and again….no, I am not even kidding) and now I have grieved the Holy Spirit to the point that He has left me. (As if that is logical for a loving God to do….?) AND… she would throw my late father’s life and dying prayer in my face – all he wanted was for his family to know God and to see them in Heaven. I know that for a fact – I was with him right before his last stroke, the one that put him in a vegetative state for 18 months, and he told me that himself. Just thinking of him makes me cry. I don’t know where this will lead for me – I hope my faith is restored, truly I do – but until then, I may have to rely on the comfort of strangers. Which makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong….

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  2. Skirtonavent, your comment wasn’t addressed to me, so I hope you don’t mind my input. (Teal, this is also sort of continuing our conversation the other night.)

    First of all, I don’t know if we’re the same religion, but I think it doesn’t matter to God what religion people are, as long as we grow in love toward our fellow man. If we desire to, I believe we can obtain more truth, and that some religions may contain more truth than other religions; but to obtain truth that can’t be proven by science, I believe we need to increase our trust in God (faith). I also believe fear and faith are opposites.

    My religion teaches everyone on earth is a literal spirit child of God; that we all lived with God before we came to earth; that he sent us to earth to obtain bodies and to grow and learn–my interpretation of this is that we came to earth to have varying experiences that challenge us and increase our understanding and empathy. It says in one of my church’s religious texts (we believe God is speaking to Joseph Smith here):

    “And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

    “The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?”

    I believe God is patient. I believe the purpose of this life is not to have an easy life. It is not to follow God’s commandments perfectly. It is not to never doubt and have unwavering faith and trust in God. It is not to avoid suffering.

    I believe the purpose of this life is to give us experiences–joyful and painful–which will help us grow in wisdom and understanding. For example, my husband was unemployed and underemployed for a long time, so we had to delay having children. It was a very painful time for me, but I gained empathy and more compassion because of it.

    Of course, I believe there is value in obeying God’s commandments and having faith and hope. I believe those things affect our and others’ lives. But I don’t think those things are the *purpose* of this life.

    One other thing. I believe it is human nature for some people to try to control others–my religion calls it “unrighteous dominion.” I believe parents and religious people often do this with good intentions, because they are so focused on their children “avoiding mistakes,” or “making it to heaven.” But if we give any thought to this, we realize it is unwise and destructive. How can anyone learn anything for themselves if they are coerced into doing it, even by well-meaning people?

    If you genuinely want to have faith in God, then I have a few articles that might help you understand the perspective of someone who still believes in God, and could help someone who desires to believe in God. I’ve personally only read two of them. They are both from the LDS perspective, but I think my religion shares basic principles with most other religions.

    https://www.lds.org/topics/gospel-study?lang=eng – Summary of why we seek learning, faith
    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/receiving-a-testimony-of-light-and-truth?lang=eng – talk by Dieter F. Uchtdorf that I enjoyed, about truth
    https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/ces-devotionals/2013/01/what-is-truth – “What is Truth” – haven’t read this yet, but would like to
    https://www.lds.org/ensign/2002/03/lord-increase-our-faith?lang=eng – haven’t read this either, but it’s about how to increase your faith, if you desire to

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    • I always appreciate your perspective 🙂 I love this that you said:

      “I believe the purpose of this life is to give us experiences–joyful and painful–which will help us grow in wisdom and understanding.”

      While I don’t believe in an inherent purpose in life, I do believe that we find our own purpose, and this is a great one.

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