This is indirectly related to atheism... I was raised back-and-forth between my mother's family and my father's.
Ages 0-2 with both parents; dad left with me at age 2.5 and didn't tell mom where we were. She gave up looking and moved back with my 1/2 brother & 1/2 sister to the midwest.
Ages 2.5-8 with dad, stepmom, and stepsister in Pacific Northwest; Dad and stepmom reared me as a Baptist.
8 went to visit mom and her family; dad and stepmom inconveniently separated temporarily and asked me to stay back in the midwest for awhile. I ended up staying for 3 years. I lived with my grandmother, grandfather, 1/2 sister and 1/2 brother. Mother and step-dad lived in town. Grandmother reared us as World Wide Church of God (the 1980s version).
11 Fought with Mother. Moved back to dad, stepmom & stepsister's. Baptist again.
12 Sent to paternal grandmother's due to stepmother fighting with me constantly. No religion there.
13 Back to midwest. Lived with mom & stepdad and 1/2 sister and stepsister. No religion. Hid our sinfulness (e.g. Christmas tree, birthday cake) from grandmother who was still WW Church of God.
16 Back to Dad, Stepmom & stepsister. Baptist again.
17 Moved to college (300 miles away from Dad's).
Now (39) Atheist, moved 600 miles from dad/2000 miles from mom; married with two 7 year old girls. Dad still Baptist. WW Church of God dissolved. Grandmothers both died. Mother now Pentecostal!
I used to visit my dad once a year or so, but haven't been since September 2006. He has visited me three times in 17 years; once my first year here in 1992; for my wedding in 1998; and when my girls were 6 weeks old in 2002. I have become less and less comfortable visiting because of my horrible relationship with my stepmother. When I was 12 and he sent me to his mother's place, it was because my stepmother gave him an ultimatum: her or me. He just sent me away. I got really depressed, started binge drinking, ended up in the ICU for overdose, and all this while, he never offered any help except for me to pray and be a servant to the Lord and all would be well. My behavior that caused stepmom to be so angry was: disrespect, not honoring my mother (her) and father, not being Godly. Focus on the Family was on the radio every day, advising her that God insists on tough love and convincing her that breaking my evil spirit was her duty to me.
My mom has visited me two times since 1992: for my wedding and for the birth of my girls. She believed she was too sinful to go to church, God would strike her down if she darkened his door. Now, she's 64, quit smoking, has stayed married to the same guy for over 30 years, hasn't drank alcohol or smoked pot in 25+ years, and now feels worthy of joining a church. She's become Pentecostal. I have not seen her since she became religious, but she seems calmer and less anxious, which is all due to putting her problems at "the lord's feet." She sent me a Jimmy Swaggart bible with his interpretations in red text throughout it. She hopes I will see her witness and turn to the Lord.
So here's where I need advice: Is it OK to just stop visiting these people? I feel really able, confident, and happy in my life but not when I'm talking with them. With them, I feel judged, "prayed for" if you know what that feels like, and inhibited because I don't want to offend them with my non-religious ways. To be clear, by non-religious ways, I'm talking about not praying before meals, not seeking God when discussing any decision or event in my life, not going to church with them, not wanting to be part of morning devotionals.
So you can see, nothing really bad is happening here, but I have a very strong desire to send them each $200 to buy a ticket to visit me anytime they like, but never go to their homes again. When I'm in their homes, I feel almost like a different person - smaller, more vulnerable, less sure of myself, and definitely in danger. I know this is unrealistic since I am exactly the same person wherever I am, but I get really anxious and depressed around them in their environments. I don't think I'd feel that way if they came to my environment.
Is it ok to stop going to see them? What is your opinion? Thank you big time if you read this and offer any advice.