Date: April 22, 2023 04:52AM
My mother and her first cousin can hold a conversation in Bible verses (an exaggeration but close to how it feels to be around them).
Family Radio blares, but at least my mom didn’t sell all her stuff when Harold Camping predicted the Rapture.
There isn’t one picture of me on display in her house. There hasn’t been since I told her I don’t believe in God. “Beth! You’re a Humanist!” “Yes, and what, Mom?”
I have a younger half-brother who is 16 years younger than I am. When he was living with her, an adult mind you, she’d call me crying after a snowpocalypse or some sort of disaster because she was snowed in and my brother left to do whatever. So, my kid and I would drive IN THE SNOW an hour to her house and dig her out. And then deal with some Creationist nonsense she was babbling when we were done. Captive audience.
The last thing I wanted to do was go to her house. But then she’d call and say, “Beth, the next time you see me I’ll be dead in my coffin.” So off I’d go to pay homage and get an earful about religion. “What do you want for Mother’s Day?” “I want you to go to church with me.” Great. There goes three hours of my life listening to a bunch of bigots singing praises about their god-sanctioned bigotry. And there I was, complicit.
I don’t know if Mormons have a prayer list that’s read aloud in church, but my ass was on it every Sunday. Prayer Meeting was on Wednesday night, and there I was in name only, fervently prayed over. Got a prayer tree? I’ve been on that, too.
On those rare occasions that I went to church with her, a slew of strangers would approach me, always, to tell me that hearing the Word must touch my heart, Mom beaming beside me as I’d bite my tongue hoping I wouldn’t stroke out.
Her love for me feels contingent on belief. Her attempts at manipulation are naked and probably stem from some mental pathology. I know this. Being around her is bad for me.
I started pushing back in my 30s. And I’d get reeled back in. I’d go home when I was overwhelmed. I’d tell her I wasn’t going to listen to her rant at me and hang up the phone. Still, it was very, very painful. Isolating. Lonely.
When I was 45, I secretly moved 3K miles from her, blocked her phone number, emailed her and told her not to try to contact me, and it was the one of the best things I’ve done. For me! My decision was 100% for me and for no one else.
It’s been 10 years and eight months. It’s been hard. It’s been sad and lonely many times. But I am now living MY life. I’m sorry I waited until it was more than half over before I broke free.
But it is a sad thing. Not gonna lie. But please do not underestimate the human need for self-preservation or you will waste your life.
Do NOT do that.
Nothing you do will ever make them happy.
But if you think about, I know you can find a way to make yourself happy.
It’s a difficult transition, but it is liberating!
There’s always hope that things will change with your family. But try to push that to the back of your mind as you practice resisting religious, familial and societal pressure. Those pressures live within you. We can’t help but incorporate them into our sense of self. We’re supposed to belong to happy families, and if we don’t, the thinking is that we are doing something wrong.
Nope, nope, and nope.
Strive to live your life unapologetically. Sometimes you will succeed. Those times are amazing. Priceless.
Those moments will never be possible with the specter of disapproval of those who are supposed to love you best haunting your mind. You can’t banish them, but you can mute them some. When they’re muted, you can hear yourself.
I wish you love. I wish you freedom. I wish you happiness. I wish you joy.
Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 04/22/2023 02:20PM by Beth.