Monday, December 23, 2013

Changed Locks and Violent Parents (Part 2): Picking Up the Shattered Pieces

Sheldon's note: If you haven't already, read post 1, The Confrontation, before continuing to read this post, because it will not make sense out of context.

After the confrontation Wednesday, I'm resting, and trying to pick up the pieces of my life. They haven't attempted to visit, or contact me, if they try, or if they make a huge scene if I encounter them in a public place (which could easily happen in a town of 30,000 people), then I'll file charges and/or a restraining order.

 I know some people had been asking about that, if I would go through with a restraining order, but I was already notified by the officer at the scene that they can be prosecuted simply for trying to contact me, or showing up at the house again. If they do attempt anything like that, or go after "Cathy", the neighbor that is helping me with my dog, "Happy Horse", then there will be hell to pay legally for them (especially if they try to go after Cathy and her kids).

Right now, I guess you could best describe me as being war weary, and trying to recover. I'm looking at where to go from here. All I know is that I'm going nowhere near them from now on, my mom has proven that she can't change.

She actually had the nerve to tell my sister in Indiana that she couldn't understand why I got law enforcement involved. Seriously? Relative or not, if someone is trying to force their way into your home, what else would you do? Better question, why can't a mentally healthy 54 year old adult understand this basic concept (or is trying to pretend not to, she's good at playing stupid sometimes)?


My life is going to drastically change, I know that I have to rebuild all of my social circles all over again, from this week forward, I'm no longer the Undercover Agnostic.

The time had come for me to finally come out, my sister already knows that I'm not a Christian anymore, though I didn't tell her about becoming an atheist, but from now on, if the issue comes up in conversation, or I'm asked, I'll calmly lay it out there. I'm not the kind of person to shout what I believe on faith, politics, etc, from the rooftops offline, it's not who I am.

The problem arises however, that I'm going to have to rebuild all my social circles all over again, the people I knew from the fundie church will drift away for various reasons, whether it be simple lack of contact/no shared interests, believing the lies that my mom will inevitably tell them about this incident, or rejecting me as being an "evil sinner", even though my lifestyle won't change that much, I'll be "one of them", the people from the evil outside world, no matter how I live my life.

Some of them will stick around like, Jason, the Sunday School teacher (partly because we still work for the same company), and the young couple Sam and Rose, that I have been good friends with for years, but I need to start new circles, look for new groups, it's getting too quiet and lonely around the house.

I had thought that I would skip anything resembling a church from now on, but it turns out that getting up and going somewhere on a Sunday morning is too hard of a habit to break.

I went this past Sunday to a Unitarian church. I had to go about 10-15 miles to a nearby community for the closest one, it only took me about 20 minutes to get to the neighborhood, but about 30 minutes to find the church within the historical neighborhood that the church is in (thanks, Google Maps).


 It was a little odd, not having people swarm you as you come in, like will happen at fundamentalist churches (though I did appreciate the lack of Personal Space Invaders there), but the people were causal and friendly enough.

It was an odd paradox during their Christmas service, singing songs, participating in some traditions that were apparently spinoffs of Catholic and mainline Protestant traditions (denominations like the Episcopal church), in a 100 plus year old cathedral like building, while a minister bases his sermon off of the old Dr. Suess story,The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. At the end of the service, he gave a benediction from an old Jewish tradition.

As a former fundamentalist, it was quite baffling, but interesting. One of the members, whose family has been in the church for 3 generations, has said that this service this year just happened to be a Christmas style service, they alternate holidays each year during this season, last year was a Yule service.

 Hey, why not? After all, Christmas is based off of many of those traditions, and the Catholic church, and later Martin Luther, intended for Christmas to replace Yule.


It brought a smile to my face later, when I found their bathroom, and the sign said it was an "all gender" bathroom, they accept people of all gender identities.

This seems like a crowd I can get definitely get along with, especially in the after fellowship, when the minister had said that he was recently invited to a costume party, and he went as Tonya Harding, and his wife went as Burt Reynolds. The host of the party wasn't amused by this, and he was baffled by their response.....

Maybe this might be the place where I can rebuild the social circles I need, and I might ask the minister about options regarding counseling, let him know what has happened in my life. The only issue is that I noticed a huge age gap in this church, everyone is either in their 30's, married with young children, or in their 60's.

It will be some time before I would consider it, but eventually, I wanted to start dating again. I had been holding off in recent years, because it wouldn't have been fair to bring some poor woman into the mess that was my life. I got so sick of hearing the "good godly girl" line from my mom, and some years ago, she asked me why I hadn't been dating. I had told her, "How can I give of my life to someone else, when my life isn't mine to give in the first place?". She wasn't happy, and gave up on the nagging about it for several months, and then started it up again. It was true, though, my life, nothing about me was mine to give.

I wouldn't know where to start though, once I do try again. First of all, where would I meet people? Would atheist groups in my area have plenty of young adults? Maybe, I mean after all, my generation is rejecting religion at a record pace, and there may be plenty of ex-fundamentalists there like me, that would know where I'm coming from.

The first challenge would be meeting someone, then finding out if they can tolerate me, and my odd obsessive personality, and the baggage I'm trying to toss out, that has collected over the years. That's the real challenge.....

I've been real lonely lately, and I miss being in a relationship, the emotional closeness and trust, and the affection (being with a girlfriend, or a close female friend is the only occasions where I even like affection in the first place, otherwise, it's intolerable).

I really need to meet someone in person that's a lot like Lana Hope, someone who is smart, very open minded, who has a lot of love and compassion for people. Someone who if isn't a fellow ex-fundamentalist, at least understands a bit where I'm coming from in life, and what the effects of that were.

Where/how do I find someone like this in my area? Where do I even begin? Should I wait for a while before even attempting this?









31 comments:

  1. The UU is a good idea. There are usually atheists in the midst and they do usually have activities to join in. They don't try to be everything to everyone like evangelicals, but there will be stuff to do. I am not sociable enough to want to wake up on Sunday morning so I haven't gone, but lots of my friends have.

    As for companionship, look for someone as messed up as you and you can recover together! :-p

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    1. It's so ingrained in me to get up and go somewhere on Sunday morning, and I usually can't sleep past 9 anyway. I suppose that come from several years of working night, and/or waking up obscenely early to go to work.

      As for a relationship, I need to find my Amy Farrah Fowler (wonders how many fans of The Big Bang Theory read this). ;)

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  2. You can always try a dating site, my wife and I met on match.com

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    1. But if you do so, Sheldon, be careful and always use common sense. I've always resisted using dating sites because you never know what kind of person you'll meet.

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    2. Yeah, Ahab, I've wondered about that, besides the fact that i wouldn't have time/money to travel to meet someone if they weren't from here in the St. Louis area.

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    3. I limited my searches to a very small radius around where I lived. It's worth a shot if you suck at the bar scene like I do. Granted, you meet some nutty people there, but I think that's true no matter where you are meeting people :)

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    4. @Huasdorff, well I'm nutty too, so I can't say much, lol.

      @Joe Congrats.

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  3. Dating sites are a pretty good way of meeting both friends and romantic partners, if you're looking. Some of my best friends I've met through OKCupid. If you don't like the online approach, meet people through hobbies. You have a dog, maybe take him to the dog park or obedience school. You could also join a book club or knitting circle or gaming group or any number of groups about whatever hobbies you may have or pick up. I believe the Captain Awkward advice blog has a few posts on meeting people when your social circle has fallen apart, whether by breakups or moving to a new city or whatever.

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    1. Thanks, I looked up the Captian Awkward blog, I think I'll be reading it regularly.

      I'm wondering if I should try atheist groups in my area.

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  4. I go to a United Methodist Church that sounds a bit like that Unitarian church. I think that it is helpful and healthy to shop around a bit for a church. Amazing how much difference there is out there.

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    1. Hmm... I guess that church is on the more liberal side of the Methodist spectrum. The UMC is kind of like the Catholic church, the views of the hierarchy are at least 2 generations behind that of the laypeople and the individual ministers of each congregations.

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    2. I attend one of the campuses of the largest UMC in the country. The church is very accepting and seems to work around the hierarchy. On most of the polarizing issues they seem to take a gray posture which does not make the extremists (fundies on the left and right) too happy. My wife and I like it because of their online service that we can substitute when we are not up for going on Sunday.

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    3. Well, when you try to please everybody, you typically end up pleasing no one. ;)

      Does the online service come with some sort of chat function, or a discussion board? Because that would be nice for a congregation to have, discuss the sermon in real time. (It would have to moderated well to prevent troll invasions, and arguments from getting too far out of hand).

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    4. My wife and I have our own chat session as we are watching. :)

      I do think that it might be fun to occasionally have some kind of virtual interaction after the sermon.

      A few years back the church lost about 500 members because the pastor would not take a stand against homosexuality - fundies on the right were upset. Occasionally the fundies on the left are upset that the church does not come down hard on some issues. Mostly I like the "gray" approach the church seems to embrace. Most folks are attracted to the church because of the focus on the brain and not the emotions. Also great that they are so welcoming and accepting of people where they are.

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  5. I would say go and check out different churches and religions just for fun, it gives you something to do on Sundays until you find new hobbies. Also, you learn more about the craziness of religion though sounds like you don't need to. Glad to hear all is well and you are keeping on rambling :)

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    1. I suppose I just needed to keep the tradition of going somewhere on Sundays going.

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  6. Thanks! I think it is important to have people who understand our background. I feel lost a lot too. But I find that when I meet people who just admit that their background is broken then we have a lot in common.

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    1. True, anyone from a destructive family background could relate somewhat.

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  7. All the best to you Sheldon! I've heard good things about the UU church for people in your situation.

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    1. I had heard that they are very welcoming to various groups, atheists and Wiccans included.

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  8. Your experience at the Unitarian church sounds promising. Here's to new friends and new community.

    As for meeting a potential romantic interest through local atheist groups, it would depend on the makeup of the group. Some have a large contingent of people in their 20s and 30s, others have mostly older adults, and some have a good mix of age groups. Good luck in your search!

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    1. I was wondering if many of the atheist groups would have young adults, because churches, especially the fundie variety are bleeding out young members very quickly

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  9. The unfortunate problem, and one of the major reasons why I never encourage anyone to hide who they really are, is that all of those "relationships" that you thought you had really never existed in the first place. Those people never cared about you, they cared about the lie. The second the lie vanishes and you admit who you were all along, you find out how transitory the whole thing was. The only instance I would ever recommend anyone not be open with everyone about what they believe or who they are is in the instance of the risk of physical violence or financial destitution and both of those are things that should be solved immediately. No friends and no family are worth having to hide your own reality from. It's just not. I hope everything works out for you and that you can find friends... real friends, away from a church setting. They just are not good places for finding honest, real friendships.

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    1. Yeah, I've already told some people at the Unitarian church that I'm atheist, no problems there, which they accept all beliefs, it's the way they are organized.

      I think many of the people I knew from the fundie church, I won't hear from them again probably, most won't take the time to reach out.I'm going to start looking for atheist groups as well.

      I'm done hiding who I am.

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    2. try to keep this in mind Sheldon: there's never a reason to hide who you are. We are all, quite literally, little bits of stardust. every atom in you was at some point, inside a star. it's what's most awesome about being an atheist. the reality of who we are is soooooo much better than a fictional story.

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    3. It is mind blown how immense this world is.

      That's what people liked about Carl Sagan, his sense of awe and wonder about the universe, and his passion for exploring it.

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  10. I've heard that atheists are very popular on OK Cupid (statistically speaking). However, from my single female friends I've heard that you get what you pay for in terms of dating sites and the quality of person one meets. My male friends have found long term relationships using pay sites. They had to go on a lot (a lot) of icky first dates to find the right person.

    Nice work, BTW (because mental wellness is a choice and it is work). You have a good plan to replace your old social supports with newer/healthier ones. I'm very happy for you, man.

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    1. Dating sites sound very much like a potential minefield to me. I've never heard of atheists being very common on them.

      I know you are familiar with atheist/humanist groups in your area, are they typically singles friendly?

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    2. Not Andrew, but in my experience, the atheist/agnostic/secular groups in my neck of the woods (Minneapolis-St. Paul) do tend to have a good mix of people. (Wide age range, couples/families/singles, and across genders.) Meetup.com has been great for me to meet other secular folks. Also sometimes you can find a group for a particular population, like secular singles or former fundies.
      Good luck to you!!

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    3. Might need to look into that.

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