Thursday, January 17, 2013

B is for Breaking Bonds



I mentioned in last week's post that I no longer felt I had to hide my altar; that I was happy that I knew no one would be entering my house who would judge me for it. There's a reason for this development. But first, some history.

I was raised very conservative Christian. I was the good little Christian girl. I was saving sex for marriage. I was homeschooled until eighth grade. I thought dinosaurs lived alongside humans in biblical times. (Hey, Job mentions leviathan and behemoth, those are obviously dinosaurs!)

It wasn't until a few years out of high school that I really started questioning those beliefs; Sascha helped a lot simply by asking me questions and encouraging me to think - really THINK - about why I believed certain things. Even so, while I was questioning things, I didn't really make up my mind until I moved away from my home state, away from my family's influence. Without the constant pressure to be the good daughter, without fear of family judgement, I was finally able to decide that no, I was not Christian. I don't believe in God and Jesus or hell.

Making this entire process slower was the way I'd been raised; women are subordinate in the household; you should be quiet and obedient. I mean, that wasn't said in so many words, but men were the heads of households. Men were pastors and elders of the church. Women don't get positions of authority. So mixed up in these religious beliefs were also beliefs about my place, and the lack of confidence in my own judgement and reasoning. (Trying to make a decision? Don't make it alone, look it up in the Bible and pray about it, because your reasoning is never good enough.)

That was five years ago. It's taken me this long to realize my judgement is sound; I can be logical and reasoning. I have a right to make my voice and opinions heard. And they are NOT the same opinions as my family.  I've even somewhat repaired the damage to my history and science education.

So this last holiday season, my family, as usual, made a big deal on Facebook about "It's Merry Christmas, NOT Happy Holidays!" and "Jesus is the Reason for the Season." Being a pagan who celebrates the Solstice, and having pagan and Jewish friends who are also celebrating holidays other than Christmas, I couldn't let this go. To one of my mother's posts (the one with Ben Stein saying he's not offended by Merry Christmas, if you know it) I posted three very long, very thought-out comments refuting the speech, statement by statement. Including the Snopes link saying that most of that is not, actually, from Ben Stein. My mother deleted the post.

My favorite cousin re-posted the Ben Stein thing about a week later, which was when I discovered my mother had deleted hers. I told my cousin I would have linked her to my response, but I couldn't find it, so I just left the Snopes link. My mother FINALLY commented in reply, saying "I don't care who said it" but then continuing on to say "I'm sorry we failed you and I hope you see the truth someday." Saying she didn't care about the truth of a thing and they saying she hoped I found the truth pissed me off and made me laugh out loud at the same time.

There were other Facebook posts that I objected to, and either didn't get replies to my comments or they were to the same effect. I did not get mad in my comments, I simply pointed out there were other holidays being celebrated at the same time, and I'd rather be inclusive with my "Happy Holidays" then exclude everyone who wasn't Christian.

Well, last week I posted a picture I found that said "If in 2012 I have said anything that pissed you off, annoyed you, or offended you in any way, SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP because 2013 isn't going to be any different!"

My mother replied and said since I was comfortable saying the "F" word but offended by Merry Christmas, she was blocking me from her Facebook feed. I promptly removed her, my father, a very religious aunt, and another conservative uncle, leaving only my older brother, his wife, and two cousins. I'm guessing my brother and his wife will probably follow shortly.

And I feel FREE. Holy shit. The last several months I'd gradually stopped censoring myself on Facebook; my friends know who I am. To try to pretend to please my family was tiring. But I still had the "well, I'm gonna get flak for that statement!" stress when I posted things I knew my family wouldn't agree with. And it's GONE.

It's taken almost six years, but I finally feel free to be my complete self. My pagan, feminist, pro-choice, liberal, profane self. 2013: the year I finally broke free.

10 comments:

  1. Hi You and I have very similar backgrounds, and I made the decision a year ago to stop trying to keep my family happy, and to stop feeling like I had let them down by following my own heart. It has been completely worth it, the stress and self doubt is gone, and I feel equally free - congratulations on choosing your own path and being who you are!

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    1. Congratulations to you as well! It's such a hard thing to do. I know my family loves me and wants what they think is the best for me, so it's especially hard to disappoint them. But I have to do what is right for me.

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  2. I was really moved by this post. Though I don't know you, it's clear that you've been blessed with (and worked hard for!) your strength and intelligence, and through these things finally found you freedom. Thank you for sharing part of your journey.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. I think it's important to share journeys and experiences like this; you never know where other people are in their journeys, and sometimes it's precisely something like this that they need to hear.

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  3. I love when people view things that come to their FB feed as special personal messages Just To Them! Maybe it's a lack of understanding of what the FB really does... but its always interesting.

    Most of us lived the bulk of our lives without FB, and if it disappeared tomorrow I bet we would manage to live just fine. You won't miss those few feed blocks. Cheers!

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    1. Ugh, yes. If I'm directing something specifically at someone, I'll e-mail them! Or at least tag them in a post! If it doesn't have your name on it, maybe it's just a general post! Argh.

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  4. Good for you! I can't really identify myself in what you've been through since my family is not religious at all, in any way, and I've always had the luxury of being able to do whatever I want. (And still I did not mess everything up) ;)
    I always get amazed how people (family among all) react when someone does something they don't seem fit. Why is it so hard to accept it? Do all people have to be and think exactly the same?
    Sorry for saying so but your mum is a little silly for doing and saying what she did. I know cursing is a little more taboo over there but come on! And Jesus is the only reason for the celebrating in December? Well, after Christianity took over an already existing feast, so yeah. Those ways of thinking pisses me off.

    It is a little interesting reading this since I was thinking about those promises of saving oneself for marrige. I've heard about those promise rings young girls get over there. I know sex is a big deal and espacially in the US if I got it right. It seems to be every parents nightmare: The kids having sex.
    In Sweden those rings don't exist, but maybe it's because we're not such a religious nation. At least not from my point of view.
    America never stops amazing me.

    Fridens liljor!

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    1. The U.S. is still a very puritanical country, overall. We have messed up, outdated ideas about sex, gender, and religion over here.

      I wish America was amazing you in a good way, but I'm pretty sure you meant amazing you with its idiocy, heh.

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