Friday, August 2, 2013

Undercover Agnostic (Update 15): Anything Worth Having Is Worth Fighting For

I have talked before on the blog about how my mother when I was growing up (and still to this day) felt that rock music is “evil”, she defined “rock music” as anything that is modern music, except for classic country, and what passes for country music these days on the radio. I know I sound like I’m 80 years old when I say that about country music, but what’s on country radio now, to me sounds like hollow pop music with a southern accent to it. I would much rather prefer Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings any day over modern country music.

Anyway, enough on that tangent (or as a former pastor of mine used to call it, “chasing rabbits”, whenever someone would go off topic), as a kid, I didn’t agree with her about rock, it didn’t like it, it sounded like senseless noise to me, but I didn’t agree with it (well, maybe about some of it, especially rock with darker themes, I imagine 15 year old me would be horrified to find out that 24 year old me is listening to the likes of Avenged Sevenfold).

I just tolerated her new country music, and enjoyed the old country, and by the time I was about 14-15 years old, I was starting to warm up to the Christian contemporary music that was common in the evangelical/fundamentalist church we were in, and I’m still in as the Undercover Agnostic.

As I said in my first Undercover Agnostic update, she didn’t approve of Christian contemporary music, even though most of it is rather mild in tone/volume, and now to me, sounds rather cheesy, because she felt it was too “worldly” and insincere. I used to listen to it by myself on the radio in my room, with headphones, or by the time I was 16, on the radio while driving.

When I was in the Southern Baptist university I was in for a year (I won’t go more into detail on that, I’m sure most of you already know about that time period in my life), I had a room mate who was raised on classic rock, groups like the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, etc. (His absolute favorite was Van Halen). I started to listen to it myself, and slowly warm up to it, and actually enjoy it, but modern rock bands I still couldn’t handle the sound of, and felt slightly repulsed by.

It wasn’t until I came back home that I really started to slowly appreciate more modern rock, especially various forms of alternative rock. Upon returning home, I had a hard time settling into a normal sleep schedule, and instead of just staring at the ceiling, trying to fall asleep, I knew I had to do something to keep my mind somewhat occupied for a while, and I found that listening to the radio (with ear buds in of course), would help.

Going through the stations, I ended up stumbling upon the Loveline radio show with celebrity psychiatrist Dr. Drew Pinsky, and radio DJ/comedian “Psycho” Mike Catherwood. The show was highly entertaining, both with Mike’s comedy, and some of the rather odd questions that callers would have. The show, more importantly, besides being rather entertaining and informative at the same time, helped to open up a whole new world to me. The show would regularly have various bands as guests, and I was introduced to the quirky lyrics of the band Cake, the rich vocals, great guitar solos, and dark themes of Avenged Sevenfold, and the anti-establishment attitudes of the band Bad Religion.

The band that really spoke to me the most at this time, though was one of the Loveline crew’s favorite guests, Linkin Park. The lyrics, especially of their songs from their Hybrid Theory album really summed up what I was feeling at the time in such a deep way. This song, In the End especially had it’s lyrics speak to me in a profound way then:

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter.

I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn't even matter. 
One thing
I don't know why
It doesn't even matter how hard you try
Keep that in mind
I designed this rhyme to remind myself how I
(Tried so hard)

In spite of the way you were mocking me
Acting like I was part of your property
Remembering all the times you fought with me
I'm surprised (It got so far)

Things aren't the way they were before
You wouldn't even recognize me anymore
Not that you knew me back then

But it all comes back to me(In the end) 

Recently, I listened to the Hybrid Theory album in its entirety on YouTube (I’m so glad the old time limits on videos are gone now), and Linkin Park’s lyrics still have the same effect on me several years later. I heard a song on that album that I hadn’t heard before, called A Place for My Head:

I watch how the moon sits in the sky in the dark night
Shining with the light from the sun
The sun doesn't give light to the moon assuming
The moon's going to owe it one

It makes me think of how you act to me
You do favors and then rapidly
You just turn around and start asking me
about things that you want back from me

I'm sick of the tension, sick of the hunger
Sick of you acting like I owe you this
Find another place, to feed your greed -
While I find a place to rest

Go away
You try to take the best of me

I want to be in another place
I hate when you say you don't understand
(You'll see it's not meant to be)
I want to be in the energy, not with the enemy
A place for my head

My mom has done quite a bit for me, and she still is. She has been working with my dad on rebuilding the house that I bought while I am at work, and she has even paid for the materials since paying for the house has drained my accounts (though she insists on being paid back, it will take several months after moving in to pay all that off).

I can’t stand the attitude she has about it though. Because of all of what she does, not only do I owe her, she feels like she owns me. I have to hand over all of my life, my very existence to her to control, and do whatever she wants to with.

When I move out, I will have to set her straight about this; I can’t continue to live this way. I don’t treat her that way despite all I have done for her, taking care of her when I was just a young child, when she had a hard time just getting out of bed due to neurological problems (medication has kept that down for the most part in recent years), helping to take care of my father as a teen, and even now, with his issues with mental illness and neurological problems. Hell, she should be grateful at the very least that I didn’t have her arrested the day she barricaded me in the house several years ago.

I’m not looking forward to it. I know it’s something that will be essential to do, or I will never be able to move forward in life as an adult. My biggest fears about finally moving out and stepping out on my own are not that I will be overwhelmed by the stress of it and completely fall apart mentally and emotionally like the last time, I don’t think that will happen, I’m on medication now, I have familiar surroundings around me, and some people I can trust. My fear is that I won’t be able to learn how to stand my ground as an adult. It’s hard to learn boundaries when you were never taught them as a child, and had a parent who didn’t let you have any aspect of your life as your own to keep and to run.

I’m worried that I will give in and not force her to step back, and acknowledge that my life is my own. I’m worried that I won’t be able to stand up for myself in relationships either, that I will let myself be walked all over, which is how my mom and dad’s marriage turned out, and now he feels like due to his health issues, that he can’t ever leave, that he just has to deal with it as best as he can.

I’ve fallen into that trap before, with an ex-girlfriend, I forgave her, and let her get away with many things that I shouldn’t have tolerated, and just broke off the relationship instead. There were times when I should have broken it off, and I did, but then I would end up falling for her act that she was sorry, and take back again and again.

My upbringing has made me afraid of confrontation, and too eager to forgive people, even when I shouldn’t. I suppose it’s all those years of knowing what would happen if I did try to stand up for myself and set boundaries.

 It’s even worse dealing with mom than with anyone else, just the thought of confrontation with her drives me insane, partly because in most cases, it was utterly pointless when I tried, I might as well have been arguing with the walls around me, as incapable as she is of hearing out anyone’s point of view, if it contradicts her own, and she had all the power. I was just this helpless kid who couldn’t do anything about my situation at all.

I guess even though those exact memories don’t come to mind, subconsciously, those same feelings come back, and I retreat back into that mode. It makes me feel humiliated, and cowardly. I know I have to do it; I must, regardless of the consequences. I don’t know if I will ever come out as an agnostic to her, but I have to at the very least force her to acknowledge that she can’t run my life anymore. I think one of my biggest worries is that her reaction will get so bad, and she will not give up, and then I will be forced to disown her to save my mental health, and establish my own life.

The problem with that is that if I disown her, then all contact with my dad is gone. He’s a good man, he was there for me as a child, and he still is there for me now, and I feel like I need to be there for him now as an adult, and I can’t do that from a distance.

It’s a risk I have to take though, and I hope I’m ready to take that risk, it’s about time I had my own life, it’s long overdue, and I deserve it, every adult does, and I have to keep reminding myself of this: Anything worth having is worth fighting for.

Since I have thoroughly gotten everyone depressed with this post, maybe I can make up for it a bit with this song, one of my favorite songs of all times, “Rose Tattoo” by the Boston based Celtic rock group Dropkick Murphys:


  1. "My upbringing has made me afraid of confrontation, and too eager to forgive people, even when I shouldn’t. I suppose it’s all those years of knowing what would happen if I did try to stand up for myself and set boundaries." - I learned the same survival strategy as a child. This is going to make you very vulnerable to predatory personalities (I'm going to start calling them the 'morally disabled' so as not to frighten people with the term sociopath) and is very hard to overcome (take it from me). My advice - Get some therapy in this regard and make it high on your priority list and it will save you years of being taken advantage of. Medication is a band-aid.

    1. I prefer the term sociopath myself, it's more fitting, I think. ;)

      Yeah, therapy might be something I need to look into.

  2. I second the recommendation for therapy. Therapy did a lot for me in my work to break a destructive pattern I'd been living with for too long.

    1. I would definitely consider it a destructive pattern for sure.

  3. I still do not like country music, either. We only listened to classical and hymns growing up...until I was about 16, then we got a bit of mild contemporary Christian music.

    1. It must have been torture growing up in Texas then, lol.

      I only like a few classic country singers, as I mentioned Cash and Waylon Jennings are good, and I don't mind some Charlie Daniels and Willie Nelson from time to time.

      Cash and Jennings' music always seemed to have this real, authentic quality to it, like they put their heart and soul into the music.

      What kind of Christian contemporary did you listen to back then? I remember plenty of it from my time, and some from my sister's teen years (mid/late 90's). Strangely enough, my mom had no problem with it when my sister was a teen, but by the time I came around, it wasn't acceptable

  4. Good old rock and roll never sat well with the ministers I knew either. Some of my friends still think bands like Iron Maiden are "satanic"....I guess they don't know what they are missing out on.

    My love for music keeps me sane at times, so keep listening to positive music it helps :) Good luck for the confrontation when it comes out. I was listening to the Atheist nomads podcast and they had an interview with Joshi Berger. Maybe you can give part 2 of the interview a listen, he has had some really tough family times as well. Keep strong.

    1. You mentioned Iron Maiden and "Satanism", my mom still believes the old KISS = "Knights In Satan's Service" hoax.

      I've found lately that I have really started to love the Celtic inspired rock bands like Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, and The Rumjacks. It's funny how none of them are actually from Ireland (Boston, Los Angeles, and Australia). I also enjoy the pirate rock group Alestorm, which has a heavy Celtic influence in their tone.

    2. How about the ACDC = Anti Christ Devils Child. That was another one that got thrown about.

    3. Wow. I have never heard that one. Maybe that was unique to South Africa, I don't know. Although, much of what you said about the attitudes of fundamentalism when you were growing up in South Africa pretty much sounds like the fundamentalists of my past, minus the blatant white supremacist attitudes.

      Though some of the anti-immigration attitudes have racism involved at some levels.

  5. Replies
    1. I'm listening to Shinedown and Bad Religion right now. :)


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