Not wanting to pollute the other thread with almost-off-topic. So I made a new one. (Plus I tend to go on a bit, don’t I?)
As far as my parents are concerned I am now out of the closet (ahem, as an atheist, calm down guys). I would just note it somewhere but I felt my situation may not be unique and many surprising things happened before the dust could even settle… I feel my experience may help other Afrikaners since I was DISSUADED IRL by many Afrikaner atheists to not breach the line with my parents in this profound way. They all testified that it “broke” their relationships. I did not want this. I took their advice to heart and turns out they may have been wrong. Or perhaps my approach worked… Who knows?
Brief history recap for those not following at home: I grew up in a deeply religious Afrikaner conservative house. My parents occupied “positions” in the church for most of my life. This only changed recently when my father put down the mantle because he didn’t agree with changes made by some new folks. My mom has only recently left a position of responsibility in the church, under great duress and drama. Anyway, point is, this doesn’t sound like a good recipe for their previously devout hard-working-at-every-bake-sale-and-other-events son to tell them he’s an atheist.
So I’ve, in my previous words “inched” my way out over the course of years. At first I went to church less. Then I stopped. This bothered my mother no end and I got many deeply-worried questions about my faith. I told her I just didn’t like the church, but my faith was still OK. These were half-truths (I was becoming agnostic at the time), that I still don’t forgive myself for.
As time has progressed I’ve become slowly and surely more openly critical of certain doctrine, but usually I approached it from a “but the bible contradicts itself in that case” basis. Showing that many holy cows could be interpreted differently. My mom would have a worried expression on her face when I did. I KNEW it bothered her a lot.
So, this weekend a very woo-woo crazy documentary was showing on Discovery about the “portals to hell”. At one point I was feeling a bit tired of all this crap while having to sit there and bear it, so I finally piped up that this was all CLEARLY bullshit. It took some anxious silent minutes for the questions I was expecting to start flowing. And as they started I answered truthfully until the revelation hit home; I didn’t believe ANY of it. Then came silence, from both my parents. The TV still playing (now some other channel), and silence…
I knew something had to be coming so I didn’t push, I just decided to sit back and let things take their course (and noted a tear or two). Finally, we started talking, calmly, openly, frankly. And suddenly, my whole world changed. My father came out to me and my mom about (in many more words) being agnostic. (!!!)
I saw my moms world being rocked, but not too harshly, she was unusually calm about it, she had asked why he still went to church then?.. why does he still X,Y,Z, etc… I was almost as surprised as she, but I’ll admit the thought of him not being that into it had crossed my mind before, however his behaviour had been the exact opposite all this time…
Conversation flowed surprisingly well, I tried not to be “strident”, I kept the more controversial aspects of my beliefs in the background for now. Eventually she admitted that she TOO had doubts (!!!), and went so far as to ask me blankly if she should abandon religion. I have never, ever, ever in my entire life been so unprepared for a question. I told her to do what she feels is right (also in many more words).
In the end it turns out there were revelations to be had all-round and that someone had to initiate the conversation, but nobody ever felt open enough to do it. I almost feel like the damage done to my psyche wrt being open with my parents disappeared in a moment. And yes, I now feel like an utter ass for being on this forum going on about being in the closet when in fact it was entirely unnecessary. Unbelievable weekend followed, we were light-hearted and happy. A weight has definitely been lifted and now I’m awaiting with glee the future conversations we can have that were never possible before.
Now comes the the rest of the family. But strangely I’m suddenly unphased about it. I’ll give them some time to get to grips with their whole situation first though. But man I can’t wait.