Could you please read this? I really need some support and I don't have any atheist friends.
First of all, I'm female. Maybe that will color the tone of this post. I don't know. I can be both logical and very sensitive, which makes me a bit eccentric. I've tried to toughen up. I don't know how well that has worked out for me.
During the past five years or so, I have pretty much made peace with my mother. We've had "mini" fights during this time, but our most recent tiff has me wondering once again if I'm crazy to stay so close to a domineering, fundamentalist Tea Party mother. The truth is I don't have much of a choice. I'm disabled and I rely on her. That scares the hell out of me. Or rather, my mother wishes it would. After decades of being an atheist, I'm not likely to suddenly start believing in god.
She's normal most of the time. In fact, she's extremely generous and self-effacing when she isn't religiously insane. She has the unenviable task of caring for both my 95-year-old grandmother and her daughter, me, who is in poor health. In the best of circumstances, this is a huge, stressful job. So I feel badly for her.She's very, very nice about 98% of the time. Still, there are some problems.
Recently, she told me she wanted me to "feel guilty" so I'd do what she said. Yes, that set off some alarms. In an argument, her go-to position is always martyrdom: "After all I've done for you!!!" What makes it worse is she does do too much for me. But that has been her decision. When I ask to pay for things, she always says no.
Another thing she told me was "You think you're so-o-o-o-o perfect!" I think this is a case of projection because fundamentalist Christianity demands perfection. For that reason, she cannot admit to any wrongdoing or she's "evil". There is no middle ground. Her superior attitude makes it difficult for me to admit to any wrongdoing because I don't want to apologize to someone who is trying to present herself as perfect and unassailable.
It's also quite possible the black and white thinking of Christianity has stuck with me, making it difficult for me to admit to wrongdoing regardless of how the other person acts. I'm having problems with self-respect because I'm sick all the time and feel worthless. So, no. I don't think I'm perfect.
Lately I've been wanting to stay away from the atheist movement due to all the in-fighting on YouTube and other places. I decided I just wanted to get along with people as best I could and maybe do some charity or community work. Of course, I shared this desire with my mother. I think that's where the "You think you're so perfect!" comment came from. No, I don't feel I'm perfect. That's why I want to change. I see this argument as a setback. I fucked up. Again. For the first few days after the blow-up, I felt like a failure. It's just starting to enter my brain that I can try again.
When my mother finally does go off, it's usually in a big way. Several years ago when I decided to take a break from her (I was physically able to at the time), she tried to convince my counselor I was demon-possessed and should be hospitalized. I took two such breaks from her and after I felt I'd set appropriate boundaries, our relationship was much better.
I am no saint. In this forum, that doesn't mean much, does it? XD Let's just say, I suck as much as the next person. Yes, I snapped at her. No, I wasn't blameless. She insisted I talk to her after I told her to leave me alone, so I felt she deserved anything I had to say. Obviously, that was the wrong decision. I should have stuck to my guns and told her to leave me alone until I was ready to talk.
She ended the argument with, "After all I've done for you, we are, at the least EVEN." So, no apology. I didn't apologize either.
I feel really alone up here in this rural, fundamentalist part of California. If I were in better health, I would consider trying to find some like-minded people. I tried once about ten years ago and it was a bust. I have a feeling it might turn out better this time if I could just do it.
My health is going downhill. My mother told me she was positive I would get better, but sadly, I have trouble deriving hope from that because she also believes in god and the Tea Party. My health care insurance is definitely bad. I see a PA who is very nice and thorough, but there's only so much he can do.
I worry my health is tied to having to deal with family members who believe the exact opposite of what I believe. My nephew got a new video card for Christmas. I had to swap out the power supply and install a brick-sized gaming card (Radeon HD 7870, if you care) in his tiny case. Luckily, my nephew did the heavy lifting or it would have been impossible.
During the entire time, I had to listen about how horrible liberals are and how wonderful Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin are. Luckily, the task was engaging enough that I didn't feel like ripping my hair out. But because I can multitask, I heard a lot of it.
Driving onto my mother's property and seeing her "Rico Oller" political sign out front makes me want to puke. I knew Rico Oller when I was growing up. Let's just say he's a nasty fucker who has killed hundreds of dogs (really long story). If people knew what he's done, they'd probably elect him anyway. Republicans...barf. I realize a lot of you may hold different political beliefs, but I bet we'd agree that most Republican politicians are nasty fuckers...like Rico Oller.
Because I lost all my Christian "friends" when I came out and have had difficulty finding a good friend, I wonder if there really is something seriously wrong with me that means I'll be lonely forever. My last friend told me, "You just haven't found the right friends." Then she moved to Alaska to live with an abusive boyfriend. Maybe I should give myself some more chances. There are slim pickings around here, so maybe it isn't all my fault. If only I weren't so sick, I could be a bit more proactive.
Question: Is there such thing as an atheist community? Somewhere I could move and receive a bit of help? I'd prefer to stay in California. In my youth, I traveled across the US and there's no state I would rather live in. I love my mother, but maybe she'd be easier to love if I didn't live in the same area as her and if I lived in a less Christian town.
Frustrated yet again,
Atheist in FundyLand
I grew-up partly in a fundie environment in the Deep South, so I know where you're coming from. The worldview becomes so deeply ingrained, that even if you can intellectually disavow all of it, emotionally... Well, traces remain. I meet with a skeptic group occasionally, in a public restaurant. Unlike my fellow skeptics, I always fall silent when the wait staff is near; somehow, I'm convinced that if they heard that I was an atheist, they'd spit in my food. Intellectually, I'm not ashamed of my disbelief, but emotionally -- that's a different story.
I'm still estranged from my fundie family, and before the internet, I was terribly isolated. I don't know how rural of an area you live in, but hopefully, you can find like-minded individuals nearby. Good luck, AIF.
I sympathize with you because I suffered a long period of poor health which rendered me both dependent on my malicious divorced Catholic parents and too weak to defend myself against them. Fortunately, I live in a society which is Atheistic, nominally Christian and devoid of Fundamentalism.
Your biggest problem may not be your health but your nationality. Your Fundamentalist Christian culture is unique in the Western world and entrenched in your national identity right down to your dollar bills.
A theoretical solution to your difficulties would be to migrate to another Western country which is likely to have an advanced social welfare and health care system. You would thereby achieve independence and be free of your mother who is obviously a lunatic.
The future holds endless possibilities and should not be feared by you.
You're the first person I've met anywhere who has had a somewhat similar experience with poor health and being in the care of a deeply religious person. My mother isn't exactly malicious. Well, not as much anymore. I see her more as a slave of her own upbringing. I do, however, wonder why she couldn't / can't break away. I made that very difficult transition and it upsets me that others won't even look at the evidence.
I wouldn't even know how to go about moving to a different country. Of course, I'd have to visit the country first. And since I am ill, I'm not a very good candidate for even a visit. I'm currently not driving (which is a huge deal in a rural area). Even if someone drives me, I can only take short trips.
If I could get better, I could do it, but somehow I feel I may not be able to get better until I get away. This quandary has been going on for many years now.
I suffered a long period of poor health which rendered me both dependent on my malicious divorced Catholic parents and too weak to defend myself against them.
That's horrible, Napoleon. I didn't really experience the feelings from my childhood until my late 20's, for that reason. I was afraid that if I did experience the feelings I would disintegrate and be in a mental hospital, at my mother's (and father's) mercy. By my late 20's I had worked at enough jobs that I knew I could support myself. I did explode and disintegrate, but I was able to keep working and stay out of a mental hospital anyway. I was terrified of being helpless, and I still am, for good reasons. When you're down, people abuse you. Abusers are attracted to places like mental hospitals where there are vulnerable people.
So my parents stole my 20's from me.
It wasn't related to religion for me, since neither of my parents were religious. My mother did later construct a New Agey sort of Christianity for herself, where she talks to Jesus and Jesus acts as her therapist. She grew up in a very religious Baptist family and her roots came back to haunt her (to mix some metaphors :) I'm not sure how seriously she takes it, though. I think religion is her way of trying to absolve herself for having been so abusive.
Welcome, and good luck to you. Saying that your mother is right about 98% of the time might be as good as it gets. Wanting you to "feel guilty" (and working you that way) is important to her as she is "forgiven." You have to feel guilty in order to be forgiven. She is holding out for the possibility that you might become a believer yet. In fact, she can't understand why your health issues have not driven you in that direction. To her, it makes you "stubborn." Fundies think this way. That's why their answers to everything always starts out with "the buybull says," and they do not understand why that statement doesn't settle all issues.
Atheist communities? For forums and the like AN is a good one, so please stay with us. As for a place to live, I'm not sure. There is an active atheist community in Austin, Texas but I know little about it.
Welcome to A/N. Just talking to others who share your beliefs/non-beliefs can be soothing. Fortunately, I tend to think the ones in this group represent the sane portion.
You've mentioned you think your health may flag a bit due to contact with family members with different opinions. I imagine that can be oppressive in large doses, especially when immobilized and/or isolated. I believe our bodies respond to better mental health and vice versa. Like many people, I sometimes have my down periods. Sometimes they're related to things going on in my life. Other times I suspect they're caused by physical issues such as poor diet or lack of physical exertion. The most debilitating for me is the idea that I have lost control of my life. Nothing pumps me up as much as knowing I'm doing, or will be doing, something to which I've been happily anticipating. It would be wrong for me to suggest this might be true for you as well. Please consider it though and if true, look for ways to regain what control you can. I'm sure your mother is suffering a bit under the load. Her infrequent outbursts are probably the result. There is no right or wrong person in the living situation you both find yourseves in. How we handle that stress determines who is at fault. I sympathize with your response as I tend to blow up the same way when I feel someone has crossed the line. I usually feel terrible afterwards and try to get a better grip on my emotions.
I don't know how you get from "I want to do charity work" to "You think you're so perfect". That doesn't make sense to me. If possible, I would go ahead with this awesome idea, no matter what your mom thinks. Besides being good for someone else, I think it would be great for you. You may not be able to completely get away from your mom but it definitely sounds like you need more breaks from each other. It would be healthy for you both. I'd like to think there might be some state services out there that could help guide you to a better place in life. This is California after all. Good luck and please let us know how you're progressing.
sheesh!? .. dang. Colorado!?
Broward county florida is doable. there will be growing groups of anti-insanity atheists.. i hear of a hall planned in the future too. elbow to elbow at times down here tho!?
AIF, so please research Ketamine, unless you already know about it. Seems like a miracle so to speak.
Welcome!! You have found a virtual community for now, which should be a tremendous help for your sanity. We all want to help in whatever small way possible.
At least she has a 98% "acceptable" rate, I could never live with either my own mother or mother-in-law.
I live in the NYC area. While it's still mostly religious, people can't get away with a fundie lifestyle very easily. There's endless diversity. On YouTube, there's a video of a bible-thumper on the subway preaching hate against gays, and a gay man shouting back at him. Other subway riders applauded the gay man. Heehee!!!
It's insanely expensive, but possible to have a good, modest life in the outer boroughs. At least it's a start, and there's something for everybody.
Thanks to everyone for replying. If I can master some of my fear, I would like to hang out here more often. I'm still leery of forums or any kind of Internet interactions, despite (or maybe because of?) the fact I've hung out on both political and religious forums where debate was the norm. I had over 12,000 posts on one forum over the course of several years until I finally realized it was a horribly toxic place and left.
I'll stick a toe in every now and again to test the waters...
AIF, you may find differences of opinion here; in fact, you surely will. But I've been coming for some while and I haven't come across bitterness or cruelty here. Most of us have to walk a line to some degree between saying to those around us exactly what we think and keeping our relatives from lynching us, but your situation is more delicate than most. I can offer you nothing but sympathy, but you at least have that. Best wishes.