Well, my husband and my kids know I don't believe in god any more but I'm still 'in the closet' IRT my parents and other relatives, and the in laws.   I've been journaling some of my thoughts in Word Docs the past week or so, and I'm pretty angry at the hold my religious upbringing still seems to have over me.  It's hard to change thought patterns that are ingrained into you from the time you're born till your 30 something.  My mom suspects something is up, but she doesn't know the whole story and I've been avoiding the subject with her.  There's lots of guilt and drama there- I'm an only child and I just hate the thought of causing her pain by telling her I don't believe.  On the other hand, I'm tired of constantly changing the subject when she starts spewing jesus on me, or when she starts saying things that I just can't stand to hear.  I've been trying to figure out if it's better to just out myself and deal with the drama and the consequences or if I should just keep nodding and smiling and trying to ignore the comments.

I'm 33 years old, I have four children and I don't live in the same state as my parents or other relatives.  I realized that I need to find an atheist community, because I just feel like I'm drowning in the 'supernatural' crap that surrounds me everyday. 

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Yes, I think I'm beginning to find that my sanity is much more important to me than
other people's feelings. I think I'm trying to work up the courage to come out and
say it. Rationally, I would not be causing her pain by letting her know I'm an atheist-
it's really her beliefs that are the source of such pain. I really need to stop
owning other people's issues.
Welcome Jenn.

Not living near your parents helps a lot, or at least it did for me. Of course, living far away from them resulted in my waiting a lot longer to tell them simply because it's easier to pretend from far away.
Thanks Tom. I'm so glad I found this place. That is very true, about distance. We used to live much further away, now they are in the next state. I get myself all excited about just coming clean, and then I get scared. What if my husband's family disowns him if they find out? What if my grandfather finds out and decides to disown me and take me out of his will? What if he decides to hold it against my father? I have this 'thing' with guilt, (thanks christianity!) where I feel like everything is my fault. While it would actually be THEIR fault for being a-holes I'd feel that I had caused it.
When my parents last visited, I pulled all our home school science stuff off the living room bookshelves and put it all in my room, along with all my atheist reading material by Dawkins and such. I 'think' I'm ready to just put my books on the shelves and leave them there, and if someone asks then I'll answer them. That way I'm not going out of my way to hide who I am, especially in my own home- but I'm not going out of my way to rub my non-belief in their faces either.
I know you are racked with guilt and fear over this, but remember: they inflicted this on you. It was probably also inflicted on them. The "trauma" of letting them know is nowhere near what you have been brutalized with.

That being said, it's a sensitive issue and only you can know if, when, and how is the right time to do this. Have you thought about sitting down and writing a thoughtful letter to them about this? It might be a good way for you to communicate everything you are feeling in a coherent manner, without fear of interruption or forgetting an important point. There is no reason for you to hide in your own home from ANYONE.
Hi. I feel like I'm in pretty much the same boat. I'm alone here in Holland surrounded with my x's family who are Christian and Jews. I feel pretty alone in my Atheism too. Maybe there's a nonvirtual group we culd join outside the home so we don't feel like it's a lost battle. I tired of fighting this battle alone. and I really need my two children in my camp. it's hard on them because they are constanly confronted with the differences.
Many families have just one set of opinions and that seems to be the healthiest for the kids. Don't you think?
I don't think having one set of opinions is necessarily the healthiest. Would you feel the same way if you were in a family of racists or murderers? LET your children be confronted with the differences. They're not stupid. I don't even think it's necessary to teach them atheism, because that is a conclusion. Indoctrinated atheism is no better than indoctrinated religion. Teach them rationality and critical thinking (the METHODOLOGY), and they'll get to atheism from there. You will never change the adults' minds; all you can do is agree to disagree. Unless something happens in their lives where they WANT to explore alternatives, they never will. But the least you can do for your kids is to show them how to evaluate truth claims and let them work things out on their own. If you approach it in an open and honest manner, and treat them as intelligent people, I think they will respond well to that. Then, when the other adults go ballistic whenever a tenet of their faith is questioned, your children will know exactly what is going on.
Try to keep something in mind:

You, and your relatives, have always been non-believers. You, and your relatives, have always not believed in Zeus, Odin, Thor, and that list goes on and on. You just took a very *tiny* step further, and sooner, that the rest of your family, by adding one more deity to your list of deities that you don't believe in.

If you want to find a way to talk to your parents about it, then start from the many points of agreement that you have with them. Talk about the myriad of silly things that people of other faiths believe. My favorite is to get a couple of glasses of water, dissolve some salt in one, and talk about how we can easily see that salt and freshwater can be mixed, but devout Muslims believe that is impossible, because the Q'uoran says so, and they are entrenched. Anyone with eyeballs can see that salt and freshwater mix, but the Q'uoran can hobble minds and make that impossible.

Most people are more than willing to agree with how silly someone else's religion is. Start there. Don't mention your own beliefs until you have saturated the environment with examples of non-Christian superstitious folly.

I also would not want your mother to feel pain. But if she is in a place where *your* acceptance of the world around you, in all its complex beauty, is painful to her, then that is something that *her parents* did to her, not something that you can ever do to her.
I think there is no simple answer to your problem.
I have a similar problem and concerning people i know i mostly do not tell them about my faithlessness.
That has partially very practical reasons. One of them is that i would not survive the day and trust me I do know what i am speaking about.

If your parents and relatives live do not live in the same state as you say in your post then i wonder how much "contact" you have with them that will upset you so much. It sounds as if the easiest way to act would be to not tell them anything and avoid religious topics altogether.
You wont change their belief anyway and chances are that it is so ingrained in them that they can't accept you being an atheist. If contact is rare i see no sense in telling them. Chances are that they would start talking and contacting you all the time in order to get you back which will just cause more trouble.

On the other hand IF you have people around you that bother you all the time it might be best to bluntly tell them to go to (their) hell and leave you alone.

In short: if the trouble is bearable bear it, if not then fight it.
Jenn, I completely understand where you are coming from. When my wife found out that my daughter was questioning xtianity, she FLIPPED out! And i went through it with my parents, as well. They act like it is so far out of the realm of possibility to NOT believe, that they have like a meltdown or something.

And, like you, I feel like I'm drowning in "supernatural" crap everyday, from my family, co workers, etc. But the thing that helps me is to go to web sites like this, or read about different religions on Wikipedia, and read about evolution, and the Big Bang. All of those things help fight off magical thinking, and the despair that goes with it.

Good luck, my friend.




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