The second coming-out (thread).

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.

fucking good show guy!!!
now, you can gently, and lovingly, lead them away from all the bullshit.
just goes to show, a lot more people will admit to doubt, when there is a supporting structure to collapse into.
i bet you are as happy as a pig in shit, as you should be.
well done. ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

Good story and well done. Hope it leads to many good things for you and the family.


BM it is not as simple as you obviously experienced it and doesn’t mean that other atheists would experience the same relatively smooth revelation. (Congrats anyway): your folks grew up (I assume) in a conservative culture where the Kerk was the kingpin of society; the dominee the technical guru on how to live the good life etc etc. Starting to doubt must have been quite a dilemma for them and your emerging views, while on the one hand worrying them, also must have made them wonder, but were possibly to scared to ask, lest you not only confirm their fears about your lost soul but theirs as well…this could be seen to be akin to Dante saying “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate” (Abandon all hope ye who enter here) in his ‘Divine Comedy.’ All I am saying besides being happy for you, is to have some understanding of the process they are going through as well, which I’m sure you do! Se maar net!

My wife and I had the same upbringing and when we had our first child the whole christening thing developed into a tug-o’-war between the church and my wife (a KJV leidster nogal) on the one side and me on the other: I eventually gave in to keep the peace so the next one was also christened…by then my wife starting having her own doubts so the third and fourth kids are destined to go to hell, unchristened. Today she’s an agnostic atheist, but doesn’t realise it yet.

I’m glad you posted that Brian because I’m not trying to invalidate their fears and issues with this. Obviously I understand completely the hardships and uncertainty that comes from going down this path, and the fears of rejection by family, peers, friends, etc. It’s a hard road to walk, which is why I want to give them time to contemplate, process, etc. before I push this into the open. As I’ve described above, I’m one to wait for things to emerge naturally and in their own time, with a little prod maybe here and there. It seems to have served me well in this instance, perhaps I felt instinctively that now was a better time to broach the issue than before, when the reaction might’ve been much different. Probably their disillusionment with the clergy and congregation around them has helped feed this new found skepticism. Whereas before they could’ve felt a lot more “sure”.

Also I’m not trying to invalidate or belittle the experiences of all those many atheists I’ve spoken to who grew up in the same environments and had disasterous experiences when airing their views. It is VERY important to note them and proceed with caution. What I’m trying to do is provide the counter example, because I had little if none. Our culture is steeped and I can almost say rooted in religious ideas, and they cannot be shaken lightly. However, In providing such a counter point, I hope other skeptics can TRY to gauge if their situation may be less terrifying than it seems at first glance. In the end only the judgement of the person who knows their closest intimately can be used, even though it may appear that mine was way off.

Well! I’m really pleased that it went so well for you. As for the extended family, depending on whether you’re close to them or not (I’m guessing not), it really doesnt matter, parents and siblings usually are more important to us, I had to cut out the extended family completely, and have’nt seen them for YEARS, and in all honesty, it was (is) no great loss.

had to do the same with my extended family, (i was only a source of gossip), and my mum and sister. started off as one issue, then i realised, that cutting them out, lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. they are god-fearing to a T, homophobic, and racist. in all, not a huge loss.
i allways say this to people who moan about their families. just because they are blood, doesnt mean they are a good influence in your life.

what makes you think that you are’nt still??? >:D

i havent had any contact with them for years, nobody even knows where i stay, work, or what my number is. whatever they waffle, is made up for their own entertainment. and they are welcome to it.

BM. Awesome, awesome, awesome! Nice to hear a success story.

My folks seem to be getting more religious as time goes on. They live in a smallish village where everyone knows one another and many of the community go to the local anglican church. My S/O is openly atheist, whereas I’m too chicken to upset my folks so mostly just shut up about religion except if faced with a direct question or if I’ve had a guts full (happening more often these days). This usually results in my being kakked on by my mother, so I shut up again and feel like a hypocrite. If I do openly admit to thinking all of the bible is a fairy story etc etc I think my folks will blame my S/O for my “conversion”. I’d prefer them to realise that I’ve been thinking about the whole thing and have arrived at the conclusion on my own - my S/O has just speeded up the process.

My extended family are nice folks and I have no intent of alienating them or “cutting them off”. People in my family do tend to get along quite well and there is a good atmosphere around whenever we all get together.

Of course, should THEY wish to cut me off because of this, there’s nothing I can do about that, it would be out of my control, and I would lament them doing that (which I don’t expect, but it could happen).

BM. Awesome, awesome, awesome!

Thanks Lurkie, and I hope you find a way to deal with this either way. I had to point out specifically to my parents that my s/o only came into the picture after I de-converted by myself, just to prevent that kind of misplaced resentment from them towards my s/o about supposedly initiating this change.

It’s actually interesting to note that when we started dating, we both had to pussy-foot around the issue a bit before realising it wasn’t a big deal for either of us. That is also an interesting conversation.

i make it quite a quick conversation topic. usually, after the initial meeting, cellphone number and or skype/email details. then, in the chatting that follows, i drop in that, i dont do kids,(yours, or me giving birth to any), and i dont do god. from there, if they dont want to play ball, it’s easy enough to bail when there are no feelings involved.
allso, if they wish to still get involved with you, then they cant say you misled them. i’m quite blunt like that, and it has worked well so far.

i had a giggle the other night. my s/o is not religious. at all. ever. so we were in our local crawl, and some oke walks up to him: ‘hey, how you doing?’ usual pleasantries follow.
turns out, they were in school together.
‘i saw you a while ago, wasnt it at was at xyz church…’
i nearly spewed coke all over my man with laughter. i barely managed to hold my pose. thankfully the music was very loud.
later on, my s/o said he saw me nearly choking on my drink, and said i didnt hide it very well.

A belated well done from my side too, Boogiemonster. I admire your sensitivity towards the feelings of others, and your dedication to peaceful, unhurried solutions. I think it will be all downhill from here. 8)