Since the first part is mostly unnecessarily, I've left it out. If you'd like to read the previous 15 paragraphs, read here: http://pastie.org/private/5fdbaz2eogrl48dhf8pla
I can't see myself being with my family in the future anymore. I can't see myself coming home for Christmas when I'm older. I question if they even love me anymore.. I feel completely awful. I don't want it to be this way. Being Christmas time, I wish I could love my family more, but I can't when they're like this. I just need some help. I need someone to turn to, and love. Friends and girlfriends aren't enough.. I just don't know what to do. I recently watched, "Creation", a movie portraying the life of Charles Darwin. I feel just like that. My family simply expects me to change, but it's not going to happen. Do they know what they're doing? How they're making me feel? I try letting them know. I'm often literally crying, wishing things weren't this way. It's been over a year..
Religion is destroying one of the most precious things in my life, and I can't do anything about it. I feel so empty inside. I need help..
Jeffrey, Maybe it would help to know there is a group of ex-mormons here?
It's very hard for you right now. It really does get better. It really does.
I think that one of the most important things to remember is that this is not about you. What I mean is that you can't control your parents reactions, or your bishop, or anyone else. How they are reacting is not your fault. When I left, my mantra with my parents and my wife was this:
"It is better to be hated for who you are, than loved for who you are not."
It seems a bit strange, but I kind of embraced their hatred and rejection. I embraced it because it was their reaction to the genuine me, and I relished in being genuine.
It does get better.
It is better to be hated for who you are, than loved for who you are not.
I really like that quote. Thanks for your words, and I'll try to keep what you've said in mind.
I am now 26 years old, atheist, and ex-mormon. Your story really hit me in the heart because it was quite similar to mine. The only difference was that I didn't ever confess to anything except when they caught me (looking at porn, drinking alcohol, etc). It makes me happy to hear you say words like you are happy around your friends in your "second life." I had my second life and was certainly much happier but deeply deeply depressed during my entire teenage life.
Overall my parents were good but shared some similarities with yours when discovering my "flaws." I know how you feel. You are WAY better than I was. I had a 1.75 GPA and had to take a 5th year of high school. I just didn't care about anything other than my computer, video games, and music. On top of that I would get stoned and drunk saturday night, and then bless the sacrament for hundreds of mormons the next morning. That made me feel great about myself (not)!
Sorry I'm kind of just rambling here but I want to tell you that I know EXACTLY how you feel. It's painful inside, you just want to be you but you can't around your family and you dense mormon town.
To re-iterate what Sentient and Jon said below: It gets better. But here is my advice to you. Hold on to your inner self. Cherish your passions in life (software engineering, friends, etc). Focus all of your energy on them. You cannot change your parents perceptions of you. They have to change it for themselves. DON'T let that get in the way of pursuing your dreams in life. Don't let it stop you from feeling good about yourself. It sounds like you are almost out of highschool. My advice is to get the hell out of your house and that town the second you graduate. That is what I did and it was the best decision of my life. I was free, I didn't have a burden of coming home and put on my mormon mask for the evening infront of my parents. To say that fake prayer for dinner that meant nothing to me. I could be ME. 8 years later I am now a successful IT professional, have so many passions and hobbies in my life, and happier than ever. I have married an ex-mormon atheist. We understand eachother and love eachother very much. I am ME! Nobody is stopping that. Focus on yourself and get the hell out of there Jeffrey. You're almost there and you've got my support!
If I'm in need of help, do I even bother turning to them? As far as financial, or schooling needs? I'd leave as soon as I graduate, but everything seems so soon. I always felt like my parents would be there to help with college. I doubt I'd need much, if anything, but I feel like I need some kind of support. But then again, I'd almost give anything to be away from this..
And with all that, do I answer the phone when they call? Do I come for any family gatherings? Do I invite them to my wedding? My college graduation? Or do I completely ignore them for the rest of my life?..
Thanks for your comments. It's helped.
For some things, you will want to cross that bridge when you come to it. What people think at a given moment evolves. That will be true for you and for them.
College help can come in many forms. If you are doing well enough to look for scholarships, that's one way. Loans are hard - the more you borrow, the more that you have to pay back, but sometimes they are a necessary evil. Some students have to emancipate from their parents, in order to get grants. Maybe a school counselor can help with that?
Long ago, I went to college paid by my military history, spent 3 years in the Army first; then worked part time in college and did extra jobs through grad and professional school. It's not something I would advise, and it was a different era, but it was how I did it. You will find your own way.
Give them space, but don't ignore them or shut them out. You'll see as time goes by that people can learn to live with each other, even when they don't always behave the way you want. There is enormous value in family, even if it's not the perfect family everyone wants.
Thank you for sharing. I just turned 39, and left the church about 9 years ago.
While your family will probably always treat you with a degree of disappointment, in time they will most likely accept you for who you are and allow you back into their lives. My experience has been that while they will disapprove and occasionally voice their displeasure, they will still have strong feelings for you and want you around.
The only problem is, you are going to have to be the grown up now. Your parents are not going to be able to guide and advise you, as they should. This cannot be helped. You can still have their love, but it will probably be tinged with disappointment. That has been my fate, but I have found that it's the love I want more than then approval. And I can still occasionally get some good advice here and there.
Much of the bad feeling you are experiencing is coming from the fact that they feel like since they sacrificed so much, you should too. They don't think it's fair for you to take the 'easy' road when theirs was so hard. The reason why their road was so hard is because they have been forcing themselves to live a life that is counter to nature. It's very noble, disciplined, and works great if you can follow the rules, but it is still counter to nature. And when they see someone abandon that road it hurts very much...mostly because they would like to abandon it too, but lack the courage and conviction to do so.
If you would like to talk with me more on this matter, just let me know and I will give you my email address. I would be more than willing to listen to you and share what experiences I have had.
Thank you for commenting. I've already made the sad realization of my future alone-ness, but I'm not sure where I draw the line? How involved do I let them in my future life, if at all..
Let them be involved up to the point where an argument is about to start, then politely excuse yourself. It will hurt, and you will have to bear the brunt of it, but the rewards will be greater than the pain.