telling the family

When I first became an atheist, I wasn’t sure how to tell people– or if I should tell them at all.  I eventually decided to wait until the topic came up, with my family especially, and then mention it.  That went over fine, for the most part.  The one glitch in that plan came quickly, the first weekend after I’d told my husband (now ex).  I was on the phone chatting with my mother and once the call was over, my ex asked if I had told her that I’m not a Christian anymore.  “No, I didn’t.”

He looked at me with this expression of authority (that’s the only way I can really describe it– like he was about to give an order.)  “You need to call her back and tell her.”

“No, I don’t.”

But he insisted, and basically, made it clear that he was going to be a bullying pain in the ass until I did it, so I did.  (This story makes me so angry, even two years later.)  The conversation went like this.

“Hi, mom.  I’m not a Christian anymore.  [Ex] thought you might want to know.”

“Uhh… okay… thanks for telling me.  Do you still believe in god?”

“I’m not sure right now.”

“Oh.  Okay.”

We say awkward goodbyes and that was it.

I told you that story so I could tell you this one.

Talking about my divorce was really hard for me when I first left my ex.  Word got out to some family members before I got a chance to break it to them, and I tried to explain a little bit to my mom, but I was really, really falling apart.  I would talk slowly and with wierd pauses, eventually stopping in the middle of sentences, and finally I would just freeze up completely.  I couldn’t even move.  I managed to get a few words out with my mom, telling her I was unhappy, that it wasn’t a good marriage despite the way it seemed.  Then my younger brother called, and I felt like he was demanding an explanation.  I finally told him, “I’m not ready to talk about it.  We’re not even really that close.”  This really hurt his feelings, despite the fact that it is perfectly true.

So now I’ve been back home, and I’ve been able to chat about it, with varying degrees of detail, to everyone except my brother, since he’s just got into town.  When we have some time just the two of us, I’ll bring it up.  I figure I’ll say something like, “You asked about my divorce before, do you still want to know about it?”  That method worked pretty good with my mom.

It feels good to be able to bring up difficult topics like this.  It even feels brave.

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3 Responses to “telling the family”

  1. Newton Says:

    I spend most of my days arguing with atheists….interesting piece you have here. (no comments on the divorce part)

  2. atimetorend Says:

    It feels good to be able to bring up difficult topics like this. It even feels brave.

    It really is brave, and terrible it has to be so difficult. Sounds like you are making good progress.

  3. mum2one Says:

    I’m recently separated, going through a divorce, and I know what you mean. Every time I tell someone new about it all, I feel brave for saying out loud how bad it really was being IN the marriage.

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