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  1. #21
    Senior Member Heart&Brain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009


    Quote Originally Posted by BerberElla View Post

    It's very important now that you begin to fill your life with people who care about you, for you, and not for some religious badge you wear.

    One of the things that has helped me most in letting go of my family, is by making the choice mine.

    As far as I see it, real love supercedes religious love, I have seen other religious families learn to cope with the apostate within their midst, without disowning them, and that IS love, not what you are experiencing, nor what I did.

    Therefore make this choice yours, you may love them but aren't you angry to be so devalued by them?

    It's that anger at their stupidity that gets me through each day tbh. I'm still not at that "not feeling" stage.

    A support group as someone else mentioned is also a must, there was nowhere online really that fit what I needed for suuport, so I started a forum up with 3 other like minded people, and now it's full of people in the same boat as me, and we help each other by forming our own type of family.

    So keep busy, get mad, and believe me, one day this won't bother you as much.

    I only feel sad a couple of times a month these days, there was a time where I went to sleep with a heavy heart each night.

    Honestly, I would consider why these people are worthy of your love AT ALL.
    They may have been nice in the past and you may be longing back to the old times where you felt a true connection between you. But I can't see any deep, personally admirable qualities in their behaviour towards you that is worthy of anything but anger, contempt and - on good days - pity for having allowed an amputation of their basic humanity and replaced it with an unloving prothesis of religious faith.

    It may be tough to hear, but I think the love you feel for them is not real love, since it's self-defeating and relies on a false image of what these people are really, actually like as individual persons. The 'love' you feel looks more like a wish for love to be possible. It is a wish that they were actual lovable and loving people. But they don't want to be, perhaps they don't even know how to be anymore.
    I think you are very much entitled to be angry and hurt by the utter disrespect they show for you.

    And without ever having been in a similar situation, I must say that my first thought was the same as BerberElla's: take your grief and fear and anger and loneliness serious and join a support group, preferably a real-life one (!), to work through this tough life change together with others who have also experienced conflicts and estrangements from their family due to apostacy.

    You'll probably have to grieve a lot: About the loss of the people from your past. About the loss of your illusions about who they were. About how shallow their 'love' for you really was.
    But maybe the hardest grief: about having to give up seeing the best in everybody, give up stretching yourself beyond measurement in order to 'be the one who's always hopeful, loving, accepting and open, no matter how people hurt you'. You will have to change a bit of your sense of self here and it's painful.

    I personally HATE to give up my hope that something will bring out the good buried deep down in most people. I'm an ENFP, I can't help giving people second, third etc. chances. Caring for others is supposed to be a good thing, so it's immensely painful to give up doing it. But enough is enough and you'll kill yourself inside if you don't.

    You have to be loving to yourself too, treat yourself with the respect and care you deserve, so you must be the first in line to protect yourself from loving people that are harmful to you.

    I really wish you all the best and admire you for your strength and honesty.
    But please, take good care of yourself, don't be a doormat, don't accept any blame or guilt, don't suppress your absolutely justified anger, don't demand of yourself to feel tender love for people who in the harsh light of reality don't want you any good unless you obey. Demanding you to give up your self in order to recieve affection has nothing to do with loving who you are. It's pure power, control and fear. Don't go there.

    You will meet people who like and respect you and want to support your choice of travel for an authentic, happy and loving life. You will.
    Take care!

    A genius once said: "Without religion good people would do good things and bad people would do bad things. But it takes religion to make good people do bad things." It's sadly true.

  2. #22
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008


    I was really sorry to read this thread and the other. I know it has to be extremely difficult for you at the moment. I've never been shunned by my family, but I did reach a point in my life for a while where I removed myself as much as possible, for varying reasons. These are people who are supposed to love you unconditionally, yet they chose religious faith above you.

    Don't let them make you feel as if you are less of a person for not believing and buying into their faith. Sometimes, great things come at a high cost. Your emotional and mental freedom from the bounds of a wacky religion that you were very unhappy in IS your reward. Who knows, given enough time, perhaps your positive movement towards happiness for yourself may inspire them to change their mindset a bit. I wouldn't count on it though... but do know that life CAN be very fulfilling and full of people who love you for who you are, despite the fact that you don't share genetics or religious beliefs.

    Oh, and !

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jun 2009


    Just wanted to say thank you for all the positive and supportive replies in this thread. This is an extremely complicated and hard time for me and any support is welcomed with open arms

  4. #24
    Senior Member amelie's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009


    This situation has got be so emotionally painful and difficult - I can see what you are saying about being isolated. Asking you to sacrifice who you are and how you see the world is not an appropriate thing for a family to ask someone, even their own child. The lack of boundaries there is very concerning, and they are in effect trying to pressure you into getting back to their way of doing things. If I were going to make a guess, I would guess that religion would not be the only way that you were pressured to be "fit in" by them - perhaps being out on your own will allow you much more freedom to discover yourself and find God in your own way. You are brave in being willing to make that leap out into the world and find your own way, and I admire you for it.

    I think one thing to realize is that with your bi-polar and the therapy you've gotten in that context, you've had a whole set of experiences that are probably vastly different from those of most of your family, so it's not surprising that you see things differently. It's too bad they are not able to empathize or try to see your point of view, or to be close to you in spite of your differences. I thought your E-mails were very reasonable, rational, and clear - you showed a lot of maturity in responding to the rudeness calmly and with the statement that you were still open to a relationship if things change - that's a big gift to them, even if they don't see it that way, and a great opportunity for them to learn another way of doing things.

    I also had a difficult family situation - not as difficult as yours, but troubled. I had to let go of the traditional idea of family and figure out how to make my own place in the world. You have a wife that you are close to, it sounds like, so you have someone to build your life around, and perhaps eventually you will have kids. I don't know if your wife's family is a group you can be close to, but if so, that's an option for family. Also, over time, you can set out to build a family of friends that will be as solid for you as you wish your own family was - people that can meet you at your level. It does take a long time, but it can be done. Best of luck.

  5. #25
    Nickle Iron Silicone Charmed Justice's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009


    As complicated as this all is, you really need people who LOVE you unconditionally and support you where you are and as who you are.

    I was born into a devoutly religious family as well(Baptist), and at the age of 24, realized that I too no longer believed in the god of the bible. I have stayed quiet about my change in viewpoint, for the most part, but my parents are well aware. In my NFP exploration-of-ideas-excitement, I told them. For me, no longer holding these views(publicly) was a huge relief. I had been struggling with eyebrow raising skepticism for nearly a decade at that time, and I was happy to finally be able to confidently express myself. Nonetheless, my parents and I still have issues surrounding all of this. I have learned, over the past couple of years, that religion is an issue that we just can't discuss right now. The conversations always deteriorate. Fortunately, I have not been disowned by any close friends who know, but I'm sure if I told some longtime acquaintances, that they would disappear. The reality is, being of the non-religious(atheist/agnostic) group earns you few friends or brownie points in a conservative religious environment. The solution: change your environment!

    My husband and I moved 800 miles away from where we started, to a more progressive community, and are raising our kids somewhere that we can all enjoy ourselves and be accepted. We have found many friends of the liberal Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist and agnostic variety. As a result, we have a strong support group who cares for us as we are, and we can even entertain religious conversations of the theoretical nature(which I personally need) without fearing rejection and isolation. Yea!! We attend a Unitarian Universalist Church, which is composed largely of Humanist, atheist, liberal Christians, and Jews: fun stuff. If you find a good church of this nature, you will be able to explore many different beliefs/and non-beliefs amongst people who are interested in the exploration, and you will make many friends who are open-minded enough to not have their own beliefs threatened by yours.

    As for your cousin, it seems like they've made themselves clear. I know the NF side of yourself wonders "what if you could do...." to possibly change their minds, but the truth is, ubber religious people like this are usually more serious about their commitment to their concept of god than they are to the reality of the relationship you had with them. Just step back, and give them time. They may or may not come around. If they don't, the loss will be incredibly painful, but it is truly part of letting go of that life you were born into, and stepping into the exciting life that you have chosen for yourself.

    Good luck!

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