Old stories, new stories

I love and respect my father very much, but try not to make him uncomfortable.  This means I try not to talk about anything we have different views on.  Thanskgiving weekend I did just that.

I asked my father if he knew anything about my spiritual journey, assuming the answer was yes since he found out about this blog soon after I started it. It turns out he has never read anything on here.

Since we have never talked about it, his views predictably matched the horror stories that we were warned about.
“I see spiritual darkness in your life. Your new religion of feminism has made you angry and bitter.”

I knew this was the accepted story of deconverts and feminists, but I thought that my dad would see that since I left the church, I haven’t had a major episode of depression! That my nights of rolling on the floor, in too much pain to cry, wishing I were dead, were gone! Gone! That I was going back to school, exploring new ideas and pastimes, being creative, thinking about my future with less fear!

No. What he saw was that I was more open to talk about what made me angry. I had never told my parents of my self-loathing, my suicidal thoughts. I had never let myself be angry at harmful church teachings when I was in the church- it felt safer just to turn it inwards. I couldn’t let anyone see how I was hurting as it would have been a bad witness for Christ and would have hurt other people. He thought the mask of quiet, content Christian was all there was and missed it.

Breaking up with church culture was messy and painful and brought ugly wounds to the surface. Feminism, secularism and humanism were more like scalpels opening up a buried festering. They gave me the language and courage to talk about it. I don’t blame my dad for being wary and blaming the tools.

I am sad that instead of talking to me, he assumed that the old stories about deconverts were more true than my own. I understand though. I don’t know what is hiding behind his mask.

Aside

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. D'Ma
    Oct 25, 2013 @ 15:48:16

    Thank you for sharing, prairienymph. I think this is why I’m most afraid to talk openly about my deconversion. People will dismiss my own story isn’t the reality. It’s whatever narrative they’ve been given by the church. They won’t see “That my nights of rolling on the floor, in too much pain to cry, wishing I were dead, were gone!”. In fact they’d probably assume that this was proof that I’ve succumbed to the enticements of the devil. I’m having a false sense of happiness.

    So I just don’t go there…*sigh*

    Reply

    • prairienymph
      Oct 25, 2013 @ 19:16:43

      I remember asking why some non-Christians seemed to have more moral and enjoyable lives. The answer I got was that it only looked that way, and behind their smiling well-adjusted faces was dark emptiness. Ha. Now it seems like the sour grapes argument.
      How convenient that happiness in the church is proof of Jesus’ power but happiness outside is evidence of the devil :)

      Reply

  2. Donna Banta
    Oct 25, 2013 @ 16:24:48

    It’s annoying when religious people label secular ideas like feminism as religions. Sorry you had the unfortunate exchange with your dad, but sometimes things like that are impossible to avoid.

    Reply

    • prairienymph
      Oct 25, 2013 @ 19:20:19

      I’m glad we talked about it, although it makes me wonder what else he and others are assuming. He may choose ignorance when it comes to feminism and secular humanism, but I’m sure he knows enough about science not to mislabel that one.

      Reply

    • Ahab
      Oct 27, 2013 @ 19:17:44

      It struck me as odd that he called feminism a religion, rather than recognizing it as a worldview that respects women as human beings.

      Reply

      • prairienymph
        Oct 27, 2013 @ 21:10:55

        Didn’t you know feminism was a religion? And science? And atheism? All forms of devil worship, if you ask the right pastor.
        sigh
        I didn’t read any Christian feminist authors as a fundy since I was sure it was full of deception and powerful magic that would entice me away from ‘truth’. They are so afraid.

  3. ... Zoe ~
    Oct 25, 2013 @ 18:19:33

    Profound last sentence there PN. Chances are, he doesn’t know what is behind his mask either. Mask? What mask?

    I identify with the intensity of your depression. So glad you are feeling better.

    Reply

    • prairienymph
      Oct 25, 2013 @ 19:29:10

      Ha! My father has a beautiful mask, but I suspect what is underneath to be so much more beautiful, more angry, and more hurt. I’ve only seen cracks a few times in my life.

      While I’m sad you identify with depression, I’m glad to know it. I’ve really appreciated having you three, and others, as online aunties.

      Reply

  4. Ahab
    Oct 27, 2013 @ 19:20:13

    “Breaking up with church culture was messy and painful and brought ugly wounds to the surface. Feminism, secularism and humanism were more like scalpels opening up a buried festering.”

    I love the metaphor. A scapel’s blade might have been painful, but it allowed you to excise toxic beliefs, cleanse your system, and find health. Had you not cut into yourself, who knows what problems would have been left to fester?

    Reply

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