My Mom’s History with Religion (Part 2)

The following is a guest post from my mom, I hope you enjoy it an I’m interested in hearing your thoughts!

Hi everyone, I’m back. Sorry I am taking so long to post another piece. It has been a struggle deciding what thoughts, feelings and information to share about my life. The struggle is about respecting boundaries…mine and others. Something that is helping me make decisions in this regard is this new favourite saying of mine by an unknown author; I heard it on one of the latest episodes of “Being Erica”…

“Life they say can turn on a dime. In a world that constantly shifts beneath our feet, the only thing we know for certain is how we feel. The love we have, the fear we hide from, the pain we push away…give them a voice and the rewards are peace of mind and a peaceful heart.”

During the process of composing a future post about how psychology has influenced my life, I have been finding myself constantly questioning “How relative is this to the rest of the content of Lindsay’s blog? Are people really interested in knowing about my personal struggles? What in the world is my intention for sharing this information with Lindsay, her spouse (the only people I actually know that read this blog) and the anonymous strangers that read this blog?”

So I feel a need to preface any possible future posts with this one. I need to express up front that I feel like some sort of interloper on this blog. Even though Lindsay has assured me that whatever I write is okay, I am still having trepidations. Even though I am quite motivated and feel my intentions are honourable I still need another shot of encouragement, reassurance and permission that this is the right forum to tell my story.

I can somewhat justify that my history is part of Lindsay’s and therefore has some relevance to her blog on the basis that my story has influenced her life directly and indirectly. My intentions have a great deal to do with providing her with a bigger, clearer picture of who her mother is. Also, the process of writing this is helping me focus on the parts of my life that I think are most valuable to share.

My initial interest in telling my story was sparked in my early thirties when I briefly attended a bible study group. This group began each session with someone telling “their story” with the intent of showing how God was working in their lives. I remember being in awe of those who volunteered to do so. First and foremost, I admired their ability and willingness to articulate and share their innermost struggles with others. I also envied them for being able to express their most authentic selves, something I desperately wanted to do, but felt I couldn’t without betraying the confidences I felt I owed to others. Finally, I was amazed at the creative ways they were able to see the big picture and create a story out of their lives. In essence they were speaking about the cards they had been dealt, how they coped, and how everything shaped them into who they were today. In addition, I appreciated the positive outcomes that their collective stories offered. It didn’t matter so much that they attributed their outcomes to God, what mattered to me was the inspiring messages of hope that I always took away. It was then that I first realized and had come to believe in the healing power of sharing one’s story. It was a healing that seemed to occur not only within the teller but to the listener as well.

So over the past few decades I have persistently tried to tell my own story hoping for the restorative qualities I believed it would provide me and ultimately my family. My attempts took many forms mostly involving journaling and talk therapy. My major stumbling block was always the feeling that I would be betraying another’s confidence so I mostly limited myself to letting my inner life unfold within the confines of a therapist’s office. Unfortunately, what I have finally come to realize is that in the effort to protect others I was sacrificing my own authenticity and in a sense I was betraying myself. Is this making sense to anyone?

Sharing my innermost thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and hopes with a counsellor definitely helped me find peace of mind, yet it still felt like it wasn’t quite enough. More and more I felt as though I needed to share my authentic self with my family and the community at large. When my husband left me in September of 2009, I immediately began to feel less constrained about speaking about my past. While his leaving wounded me deeply, it also opened me up to new possibilities. Suddenly I was able to be myself more with my children, friends and other family members. It has been a huge relief to be able to talk to them about some of my struggles and it is my hope that in the knowing, my children especially, will gain something…whatever that may be.

To conclude, I am unaware of a forum that provides atheists an opportunity to tell their story. So, perhaps in addition to Lindsay’s unique and creative way of telling her story, the telling of mine, will provide further inspiration for others to speak of theirs. That is one of my hopes. I think it is important to know what you don’t believe and why. Equally as important is to know what you do believe and how you came to believe that. Would you like to know more about me? More of what I believe? Is this the right place to voice my story?

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3 Responses to “My Mom’s History with Religion (Part 2)”


  1. 1 Chelsea January 25, 2011 at 12:28 am

    Atheists who follow atheist blogs always want to hear people’s deconversion stories! And if they don’t, well, they won’t read it! Go to any popular atheist (or agnostic-questioning) forum and there will always be a post where someone asks, “What is your deconversion story?” and then everyone wants to share.

    You’re being too hard on yourself by worrying if we really want to hear it. Don’t overthink so much. It can be very liberating to put your thoughts out there.

    The nice thing about having your daughter’s blog to borrow is that you don’t have to limit yourself to tiny little posts in comments sections; you can go into great detail if you want. And then if you like how it feels, maybe you can start your own blog to get more of your thoughts off your chest. The good thing about online forums is the option of anonymity- you don’t have to worry about betraying other people’s trust. Just change their names in your posts, or even your own if you feel like you need to.

    I think if you want to share your thoughts and beliefs, and feel some need to, you should do it. Not for anyone else, just for yourself. If you don’t want to, don’t. You have no obligation to the readers of Lindsay’s blog.

  2. 2 The Pick Man January 26, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Mom,

    I’m so glad that Chelsea asked her initial question regarding how your daughter’s newfound skepticism has influenced you that has provoked your responses so far.

    You mention preferring not to be labelled. I, too, resist labels. That’s the reason why, if asked, I refer to myself as atheist; using the word as an adjective rather than as a noun, ’an atheist. Why should one have to carry a label associated with something that one has no belief actually exists? One blogger (doubtless with tongue in cheek) refers to himself as the A-Unicornist. It makes just as much sense as an A-Fairyist or an A-Theist.

    You question whether anybody is interested in reading of your experiences. The answer is a most definite ‘yes’. I can identify with the struggle you have faced regarding wanting to express yourself whilst protecting others and I appreciate what you are doing to overcome that self-imposed restriction. A while ago I started my own non-specific blog and am constantly seeking the courage to open up my innermost thoughts. You are an encouragement to me; please keep it up.

  3. 3 kailasnatha April 19, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Atheism is so foreign to me. I always believed in God from the time I was a little boy and not thru any kind of religious indoctrination. It just seemed so obvious to me that there was a singular intelligence at work throughout the universe and that the life in my breath and heart was the very same life in the birds and animals and the energy in everyone’s eyes was the same light that was in the sun. We were all just waves on the same ocean of energy with an “eye” that looked out at other waves and makes the mistake of thinking there were two of us when there is only one ocean. (I was swimmer and would “meditate” on stuff like this during 5-10 miles races in the water…) Later my interest in science and physics only confirmed my “adolescent” perceptions of the universe and then even later when I read the Hindu scriptures, everything I had come to believe about God as the One Divinity pervading All Being was completely validated. I understand the rejection of the Abrahamic view of God, but feel sad for the existential emotional abyss in which many atheists inevitably find themselves. (I know that’s a horrible generalization/stereotype of atheists, but frankly I’ve known enough to know that lot so of them end up in that lonely space)

    If they can at least espouse some kind of humanism where some universal values of love and compassion take precedence, then at least that’s a good alternative to “religion” if they really feel so dedicated to being isolated and cut off from the big picture.


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