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.