I've been reflecting on and recovering from the encounter detailed in my last post. Thank you to everyone who posted and emailed your helpful and supportive messages. It's wonderful having a community of people I have come to admire, who understand this journey and who have blazed this path ahead of me. And who care.
Walking this deconversion journey alone for the past three years has been difficult. And lonely. I kept it a complete secret from my husband and everyone else I love for several reasons. I didn't know where it would lead and that scared me. I wanted to take the journey without being dissuaded or second-guessed. I didn't want to be peppered with questions I had no answers for. I didn't want to be ostracized from my community. I didn't want to create controversy without good cause (what if my faith returned?)
And I was afraid to be honest with the one person I have trusted most, my husband, who loves me hopelessly. It was too big a risk. I was already losing the biggest part of myself: my belief in God. I couldn't risk losing my lover, too. Because I would go from having everything to having nothing. Nothing.
I never thought I would marry. I knew I would NOT marry anyone in my parents' circle or from my hometown or who believed the fundamentalist way I was taught. I wanted someone who believed in God, but in a more liberal manner, someone I could have fun with. When I found him, I fell head over heels. And so did he. It was unexpected for both of us.
We've been together for over 25 years, through lots of good and bad. When we decided to marry, I had two requests: that we try to have a baby together, and that we go to church together. He agreed to both. We did both. Now I feel like I am going back on our original agreement. I feel guilty. I feel it isn't fair to him. But I've changed, and I can't ignore that anymore.
I've heard so many horror stories about estrangement and broken lives because of deconversion. I want to keep our marriage. I have been afraid my husband would see my rejection of belief as a rejection of him. And that once that cat was out of the bag, it would be uncontrollable and bad. So I controlled it by keeping it in the bag.
But he KNOWS something has been going on, he KNOWS I have changed, and he KNOWS I haven't trusted him with it. Feeling like your partner doesn't trust you can cause you to think all sorts of wild things, especially when you've always shared everything. And a cat kept in a bag for a long time kicks up quite a ruckus. And it gets very, very angry….
I think my husband's overreaction wasn't really about racism or protesting or Facebook. It was about us. It was about the undercurrent of the past three years of one big secret. It was the cork coming undone, spewing out all the fears and concerns he has had about what I have been holding back.
He has tried to get me to talk over the years. Several times he has told me he wished I would talk to him and that he would love me no matter what. I wanted to believe him. But I couldn't open up. All I could see was his reaction the first time I broached the subject, how hurt and confused he was, how hurt and lost I felt. How much I stood to lose.
But my silence isn't inert. It has been growing inside me, creating resentment on my part, creating a barrier between him and me, one that he senses but can't remove.
I owe to him to be honest and let the chips fall where they may. We both deserve that. I love him and hope we can come to a workable compromise. But if on the off-chance things go totally off the rails and we can't make it work, I suppose we would both be better off in the long run.
I'm tired of pretending and I think we're both tired of ignoring the elephant in the room. I have to take the bull by the horns (lovely mixed metaphors) and be honest.
6 thoughts on “Honesty…. a lonely word, or what I need?”
I think this will be a good move for you Skirty…keeping such a huge secret can be extremely stressful. I can’t begin to know how your hubs will react but try to be neutral to his reaction if you can at all manage it. You’ve had three years to adjust to this monumental change….he’s had no time. He’ll likely cycle through a variety of feelings over the next weeks/months/years and that might be very triggering for you. By no means am I saying you have to take any verbal abuse (walk away if he goes that route), but he’ll need some time and space to work through it all, and he might be very upset.
I think I only waited about a month between losing my faith to telling my hubs about my atheism, but that month still made a big difference. I had done an enormous amount of thinking and research in that month, and to be honest, it was irritating that my hubs was so far behind in thinking about these things. I was impatient for him to catch up, and he was in such a state of shock he didn’t care about the details at that point (and never really did care about the minutiae). It was a combustible situation for sure.
As to the rest of family, I was expecting them to ask all sorts of questions, but you know what? They never asked even one question, and still haven’t to this day. None of them has any idea why I lost my faith and I doubt they ever will (they assume it’s because I’m in a state of sin). So don’t be surprised if your family goes the same route. In my experience, no cares about how/why you lost your faith, it only matters that you’re now a disgrace. Try not to judge them too harshly for this, as this is how religion teaches them to think. Take comfort in knowing that you can love yourself and others in a much more authentic way now, which has nothing to do with what deity they believe in.
You will survive this and be better for it. 🙂
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Interesting…. I’ve heard before that people you assume would ask you all kinds of questions, just don’t! It’s almost like they can’t risk being that curious in case they open themselves up to doubt. What kind of faith is that?!? I guess they just send thoughtsandprayers your way haha
Right now I just want to tell the hubs. After that, I will figure out the next step. I appreciate what you said about not being reactionary, letting him cycle through his feelings without judgment. After all, that’s what I want, too. No matter how he reacts, I know him well enough to know that he will never be abusive, will never throw me under the bus, but will be protective of me especially when it comes to my family even if he disagrees with me. Because that’s how he’s always been.
I tend to move slowly in things, marinating a long time before making what looks like a sudden decision to the outside world. I’ve done so much reading and listening and research over the past 3 years trying to be prepared for this eventual talk. Like if I could just have all the answers then it would be easier to defend my choice. Only, it wasn’t my choice, and I can read until forever and never have the answers. Meanwhile the clock is ticking and the years we have together are moving by. And you’re right, I do feel more authentic and open now without that God veil between me and the Big Bad World. May as well – to use biblical imagery – rip that sucker in two. Love you, Vi!! ❤️😘
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Perhaps, rather than blurting out “I’m an atheist,” you might consider starting out with the feelings/thoughts/emotions you experienced when you first began to drift away. It might help him to better understand where you are today. Besides, you never know. He may even be experiencing similar thoughts/doubts but has been afraid/reluctant to express himself. But even if he’s still solid in his faith, gently sharing how you arrived at the place you are today could help to avoid any “confrontations.” Good luck!
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😂 Yeah “Hey! I’m a heathen atheist, deal with it!” wouldn’t be an advisable way to start! I’m not even going to use the A word. “Atheist” is a simple word but with so many negative connotations. I’m leaning more towards saying I no longer believe in God and that no matter how much I have asked the deity I believed in to give a sign or some evidence or to restore my faith, it just hasn’t happened. But that I still believe in him (aka my husband) and I’m not going anywhere. I want to start a conversation and I want to be prepared to direct it. I’m lucky that I journaled about the journey on my blog so I can remember the timeline of this journey if it comes up. Seth Andrews also has a great podcast that I might have him listen to. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thethinkingatheist/2017/05/31/letter-to-a-christian-spouse
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Seth shared a little more detail about his relationship with his Christian wife in a recent episode, “Atheists Believe in Nothing”. I think he starts that around 1hr7min in.
Thanks I haven’t listened to than one yet, I’ll check it out!