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Anger management: Sporkage December 22, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in family, rants, teen angst.
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I haven’t talked to that judgmental, self-absorbed bitch Mother Dearest since last Monday’s argument, and with every day that passes, I just get more and more upset about what a total asshole she’s been.

(I’m sorry, Mom. I know I shouldn’t talk this way since you pay for all my shit, but I’m angry, and when I’m angry I get irrational.)

‘Cause, really. She’s actually talking about me behind my back now. I don’t usually eat dinner, so at one of these dinners I’m within hearing range (but not in anyone’s line of sight) and I hear her whine “She’s so disrespectful and ungrateful” to my father, who’s all “I don’t want to hear it”/ “This is between you and her, keep me out of it.” Classy, Mother Dearest. Really classy.

So I figure, if she’s doing it, I might as well continue the Mom sporkage on this blog, which by the way, is the only venue where I talk about her. My friends, save for Tyler, have no idea that I hate my family this much.

The nearer Christmas Eve looms, the more upset and restless I get about the shitty Christmas that she’s forced me into. What’s worse, spending Christmas alone or spending it with a bunch of people you hate, two of whom you’re not on speaking terms with? This has “Worst Christmas Ever” written all over it.

Sure, I could take the easy way out and offer an empty apology to her so we can at least have a Christmas that looks okay, but I’m sick of getting bent over and fucked in the ass here. I’ll tell you why I won’t apologize: BECAUSE I HAVE NOTHING TO APOLOGIZE FOR. What do I say, “Sorry for being myself? Sorry for sticking to my convictions?”

Mother Dearest is so self-absorbed that she thinks all of the major decisions I’ve made are centered on her. She told me that she thought I became an atheist just to piss her off, and she thought that I chose Dream College over Smarty-Pants College because it would directly disobey her wishes. And now she thinks that I wanted to spend Christmas away from the family just to spite her. Not only is that theory incredibly narcissistic, but it’s also a huge insult to my intelligence and character. So, no, Mother Dearest, I’m not doing it to spite you, because you’re hardly ever a factor in my personal decisions. I wanted to spend Christmas at a hotel because a) I assumed that you were kicking me out of Christmas, and b) I’d rather be happy alone than miserable with my family, especially on Christmas Eve.

During the argument, she explained that she wasn’t kicking me out of Christmas, she was just trying to tell me that they weren’t going to give me any gift. (And let’s face it, she’s only doing this so she can buy that motherfucking digital camera.)

Mother: “I just feel that gift-giving isn’t a tradition that atheists follow.”
TA (snickering): “Why, because it’s written in the Bible somewhere that Baby Jesus wants you to buy each other Nintendo Wiis to celebrate his birthday?”
Mother: “No, but giving each other presents is a way to celebrate our Savior’s birth, and clearly you don’t believe in Him, so you’re not getting one.”

It’s not that I’m bitter about not getting a gift, since I got a good amount of money for my birthday, but who wants to spend Christmas with someone like her?

I apologize if it’s been nothing but ranty-ness so far, but I’m extremely resentful and I’m venting here. Moving on, here are the various arguments for Christianity that she made in her argument, which I will proceed to spork:

1. “We’re your parents. It is our responsibility as Christians to try to steer you back in the right direction.”

Nice. Hide your discrimination behind a false sense of duty. It’s your responsibility as MY PARENTS to be open and supportive, but naaah, the Catholic dogma trumps any possibility of a healthy relationship between us.

2. “How can you be so sure that Jesus doesn’t exist when you know so little about the faith?”

Hmm, I have such a limited knowledge of the Harry Potter universe…sweet Jesus, I guess this means that Hogwarts is real! I’ve got to head to Platform 9 3/4 and enroll today, I’m craving some of those chocolate frog things.

3. “How can you get through the hardships without faith in something greater than all of us?”

The months following my outing as an atheist to the family have been the toughest four months of my life, but guess what? I’m still standing. Because I’m a strong person, and I believe in myself and my ability to overcome the difficulties I face. And in particularly weak moments, I turn to people like Tyler, who, unlike you, are supportive instead of judgmental.

4. “Then how do you explain the miraculous occurrences that happen every once in a while? I was supposed to marry a rich doctor, but then I met your father. I believe it was God’s Hand that brought us together.”

One word: Coincidence. And Rudge from The History Boys said it best: “It’s just one fucking thing after another.”

This is the first time in my life that thinking of Christmas actually makes me depressed instead of happy. Some of you suggested running away, since I’m now 18 and all, and I’m seriously thinking about it now. It would probably be the mentally healthy thing to do, anyway. The only time I’m ever truly happy is when they’re not in the house, and I’m all by myself; I actually yell “Shit!” and get generally pissed off whenever they come home. These feelings can’t possibly be normal.

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Comments»

1. Heather - December 23, 2007

Hi,
I don’t think I have any advice for you, but I wanted to leave you a comment anyway..

Thank you for sharing in these blog posts, I look forward to reading new ones :). I can relate in some ways, partly in that I’m a teen atheist in a catholic family, and have what I’ll describe as strong feelings of disgust towards my mother.. though, my family doesn’t know that I’m an atheist and I don’t really plan on bringing it up. I want them to know, but I think I’m just going to lay low till I’m independant… I respect you for what you’re going through.

I guess I just wanted to send out some love and support from this corner of the world. I hope that whatever ends up happening, you’ll get to spend some time enjoying Christmas…

2. Karen - December 23, 2007

My dear TA,

I’ve made some comments on other posts, and I suspect my core message isn’t one you want to hear yet. I’m going to keep at it, though, because it saddens me to see such a creative, intelligent person captive to the storm of her own fury. Been there, it hurt like hell, and raging against the situation didn’t ultimately help. (It was 30+ years ago, and the memory of it STILL hurts.)

If you need help to keep your temper, chant the mantra “this situation is temporary”. Your family may be very, VERY hard to live with right now, but going out on your own will present a whole new and different sort of problems. Sometimes it’s better to have a cease-fire with the enemy you know rather than to engage one you don’t know. That does NOT mean apologizing to those who’ve wronged you, just avoiding further engagement as best you can.

If that advice seems craven, or appears to suggest you avoid standing up for what you believe in, be assured that it wasn’t meant at such. A policy of disengagement doesn’t imply surrender, just a bout of patience on your part. Given that they’re prepared to send you to college, your parents clearly still feel some obligation toward you. You will make your life less painful, if you can be civil but disengaged.

This is BITCHIN’ hard work to achieve, and takes LOTS of practice. The reward is better sleep, less time spent chewing on how you’re being treated, and more time spent focusing on your future, refining your goals, and figuring out ways to achieve them.

“Okay, , I understand where you’re coming from. I disagree with you, but I’m grateful for your generosity at my birthday. I hope you’ve taken the money you would’ve spent on my and bought yourself that camera you want.” This is an INCREDIBLY powerful statement. If you can say something like this, at several occasions in different ways, you will send powerful shockwaves through the disfunctional family dynamic. This is the sort of thing self-assured adults say in the face of the BS you’re getting. Likewise:

“How can you get through the hardships without faith in something greater than all of us?” Can be answered with,
“I haven’t encountered such hardships yet. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”

“Then how do you explain the miraculous occurrences that happen every once in a while?” deserves something like, “coincidence is a powerful source of confusion”, or my favorite (but slightly snarky) “That’s just anecdotal, not real evidence.” People who respond with another anecdote get “the plural of anecdote is NOT data.”

The bottom line is, you’re currently in a situation where the people you live with are collectively a pain in the wazoo. THIS IS TEMPORARY. Your mom, your brother, even your father might be royal pains to live with right now, but are any of them putting obstacles in the way of your long-term goals that you’re not able to overcome? From what you’ve written, it doesn’t sound that way.

Deep breath. Many deep breaths. Be gracious at Christmas, even if it’s the toughest thing you’ve ever done. Your family members may be incredibly self-centered, but most people notice when someone is being more gracious and magnanimous then themselves.

The absolute BEST thing you might do is run out and buy (token, but useful) gifts for them, be cool when those gifts are opened, and shrug if they exhibit any regret that they didn’t reciprocate. If they want to make an issue of it, just say you thought it was something they might like, and it wasn’t expensive. No big deal.

*** -> This is the sort of behavior that convinces people you are an adult, capable of proactive rather than reactive behavior. Family tends to mellow out in long-term response to this behavior, and give you MUCH less grief in the coming months. <-***

I know that unsolicited free advice is often worth no more than the price, but I hope this helps. You are going through a most difficult transition, when being an adult by age doesn’t make breaking ties with difficult family financially attractive, but sure as hell would feel better. YOU ARE THEIR DAUGHTER. However self-centered they may be, they still, in the core, care. (Mind you, sometimes that core can be REALLY deeply buried.)

I wish you all the best. I won’t wish you a Merry Christmas, but instead I’ll wish you a successful Christmas, with the hope that your future Christmases can be the joyous. though god-free, celebrations they were meant to be, under whatever name (Christmas, solstice, etc.) suits.

3. badmormon - December 23, 2007

um also as an older woman, you are at the age when you hate your parents and they can’t do a damn thing right whatsoever. It’s how people seperate and turn into full adults.

Just remember there’s a lot of time ahead of you, you will be living your own life soon enough and that will be harder than this at times, I PROMISE and you will be glad to have mom care so much, even when it makes you crazy.

Family, they are the ones who will make you crazy forever but generally we need that.

But stick to your guns. In 20 years you’ll be laughing about it all and still be yourself.

4. atheistgirl - December 24, 2007

“So, no, Mother Dearest, I’m not doing it to spite you, because you’re hardly ever a factor in my personal decisions.”
Sit your mother down and tell her that to her face! Or write it down and leave the note on her nightstand. You have to explain to her that you’re not doing this just to hurt her. Make her understand how much she’s hurting you(without yelling).
And if that doesn’t work, leave. You’re an adult. Find an apartment and forget about her.

5. jgrab1 - December 24, 2007
6. jgrab1 - December 24, 2007

> “I just feel that gift-giving isn’t a tradition that atheists follow…giving
> each other presents is a way to celebrate our Savior’s birth…”

Boy, for a “Christian” she sure is ignorant about the history of Christianity. Gift-giving at the end of the year was around long before Christians coopted it (some say hijacked it) for their needs. The end of the harvest/winter solstace/and a whole bunch of other things have been celebrated by decorating trees (fertility rites) and giving gifts for millennia. (Actually the WordPress dictionary that comes on to spell check posts wants me to say milleniums, but that sounds wrong; of course, the WordPress dictionary doesn’t recognize the word “WordPress,” so how good could it be?) Sorry to say it, but your mother (and most Xtians) is an ignorant f*ck.

7. J - December 24, 2007

badmormon said:

> In 20 years you’ll be laughing about it all and still be yourself.

Err, not necessarily. I had bad experiences with my parents, my mother especially, and 20 years later I am not laughing. In fact, it wasn’t till years later that the true extent of the damage she did inside my head manifested itself, and I suddenly found I needed therapy. Not to scare you, TA, but it can happen. As others have said, best is to LEAVE as soon as possible, despite the “thousands of dollars” they are spending on you. You’ll be poorer but happier.

8. el incognito - December 24, 2007

Hey, if you’re still interested with my offer just let me know. Free of charge.

9. Teen Atheist - December 24, 2007

Heather: Thank you! I’m glad you enjoy my blog. I would suggest that laying low is probably the best idea for now. Trust me, it makes things a lot easier! XD

I appreciate comments like yours, they make my Christmas a little less lonely. 😀

10. Teen Atheist - December 24, 2007

Don’t worry, Karen, I read and take all comments and advice seriously, including yours. (Not counting the annoying comments suggesting that I “find God” — I just delete those, LOL.) I also appreciate the time and effort you put into what you write.

I’m going to keep at it, though, because it saddens me to see such a creative, intelligent person captive to the storm of her own fury.

I wouldn’t say “captive.” I’m still able to smile and laugh and sleep well at night. I just use this blog to let out my frustrations, so this particular blog post is my anger at its very worst. I don’t act like this in real life. Much. 🙂

This is BITCHIN’ hard work to achieve, and takes LOTS of practice. The reward is better sleep, less time spent chewing on how you’re being treated, and more time spent focusing on your future, refining your goals, and figuring out ways to achieve them.

Again, this blog only displays the worst of it, so don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions about me. I am actually very focused on my goals, because obviously I’d need to succeed at them in order to claim true independence. Right now, I’m actively looking for a job and trying to better my skill as a writer.

“How can you get through the hardships without faith in something greater than all of us?” Can be answered with,
“I haven’t encountered such hardships yet. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”

But that would be a lie, because there’s no denying that what I’m going through right now is a hardship. In fact, I’ve faced numerous hardships throughout my life (most of them stemming from my tumultuous relationship with my family), and I’ve gotten through them by believing in myself and surrounding myself with people who believe in me.

Your mom, your brother, even your father might be royal pains to live with right now, but are any of them putting obstacles in the way of your long-term goals that you’re not able to overcome? From what you’ve written, it doesn’t sound that way.

Just because I resent them doesn’t mean that they’re obstacles. I fought and argued to hold true to my identity as an atheist and my decision to enroll in Dream College, and so far I’m winning. They’re not obstacles, just really annoying people.

I know that unsolicited free advice is often worth no more than the price, but I hope this helps. You are going through a most difficult transition, when being an adult by age doesn’t make breaking ties with difficult family financially attractive, but sure as hell would feel better. YOU ARE THEIR DAUGHTER. However self-centered they may be, they still, in the core, care. (Mind you, sometimes that core can be REALLY deeply buried.)

I wish you all the best. I won’t wish you a Merry Christmas, but instead I’ll wish you a successful Christmas, with the hope that your future Christmases can be the joyous. though god-free, celebrations they were meant to be, under whatever name (Christmas, solstice, etc.) suits.

Thank you. 🙂

11. Teen Atheist - December 24, 2007

John:

Sorry to say it, but your mother (and most Xtians) is an ignorant f*ck.

Unfortunately, yeah. I think that’s the most depressing aspect about it — we all wish our parents were truly good role models for us to follow. Realizing that your parents are not only imperfect, but are the absolute opposite of the person you want to become, pretty much pulls the rug out from under you.

12. Teen Atheist - December 24, 2007

Err, not necessarily. I had bad experiences with my parents, my mother especially, and 20 years later I am not laughing. In fact, it wasn’t till years later that the true extent of the damage she did inside my head manifested itself, and I suddenly found I needed therapy. Not to scare you, TA, but it can happen. As others have said, best is to LEAVE as soon as possible, despite the “thousands of dollars” they are spending on you. You’ll be poorer but happier.

As much as I hate to say it (for fear of my own sanity), J, you’re probably right. It can happen. And that’s what I’m worried about — this environment is so toxic and hateful that I’m scared I’ll need thousands of dollars’ worth of therapy to undo the damage if I don’t move out soon.

13. jgrab1 - December 25, 2007

Don’t equate cost of therapy with how much good it will do you. Just something to consider.

14. Jersey - December 25, 2007

To answer your few quotes,

1. “We’re your parents. It is our responsibility as Christians to try to steer you back in the right direction.”

They’re just Bible-quote-picking again, Paul tells either Timothy or Titus (can’t remember off the top of my noggin) that it is the parents’ responsibility to rear their children in the Lord and His teachings.

2. “How can you be so sure that Jesus doesn’t exist when you know so little about the faith?”
Basic, weak defense by “catholics” who really cannot argue their opponents’ answers because of their lack of knowledge of the issue. Plus, aren’t they supposed to ENCOURAGE, not discourage, you into coming back into the faith?

3. “How can you get through the hardships without faith in something greater than all of us?”
It’s called humanism, it’s called trust, it’s called optimism.

4. “Then how do you explain the miraculous occurrences that happen every once in a while? I was supposed to marry a rich doctor, but then I met your father. I believe it was God’s Hand that brought us together.”
She believes in faith, you don’t. We have plans, but life does not allow us to always follow them. Also, doctors usually want to marry someone within their field, or at least someone they have long known since childhood, because they know otherwise the person much often only want to marry them for the money involved.

15. Teen Atheist - December 25, 2007

John: Yeah, but I was speaking hypothetically.

Lucinda - January 8, 2015

What a plersuae to find someone who thinks through the issues

16. Teen Atheist - December 25, 2007

El incognito: Heh, I wish I could. Merry Christmas, anyway!

17. jgrab1 - December 25, 2007

> Yeah, but I was speaking hypothetically.

Ah! I’m speaking from experience. I’m sure my ex-shrink was a very fine doctor. He certainly had a prestigious client list (I know they’re not supposed to divulge them, but I can find out just about anything if I put my mind to it), but he just didn’t work for me.

Writing a novella turned out to be more therapeutic.

18. Jones - January 10, 2008

Wow,
First time on your blog. I hate to see teens going through such difficult situations. You have come to the stage in life where you realize that your parents aren’t perfect either. Fact is no one is perfect. Just try to remember that your mom is doing what she thinks is best. It may not be the best thing, but unless she gives up on you at least try to appreciate her motives. Its easy to accuse people of being self centered. She may be. Just remember that none of us are perfect and that all of us should be accepted for who we are. It just takes some people a little longer to accept things.

As for the “have you studied it?” question you related to Harry Potter, was she trying to encourage you to study it? I don’t buy a car without checking out every detail. Friends may tell me this one is great and parents may tell me another is bad. I take people’s advice with a grain of salt, then do the research myself. This athiesm vs. Christianity stuff I have studied a lot. There are great arguements on both sides… some of them more than a thousand years old. I am glad you realise you are not the first to go through such a situation. I am not going to bother telling you which side of the arguement I stand on because I think being able to look at things objectively makes one’s stance much stronger.
Let me use the upcoming election as an example. Some hate what a Democrat says so by default they vote Republican. Others love what a Democrat says and vote Democrat. There is nothing wrong about those decisions unless those people fail to examine the words of the opposing party with the same scruitiny. The first group may find that they hate what both parties have to say equally. Likewise the second could find that they love what both parties have to say equally.
This is obviously a major part of your life being an athiest. Don’t go into it ignorant. Know what you believe as well as what you don’t believe in.

I usually tell teens this who are dealing with drug situations, but this next part kinda applies here too: Your mom feels like a failure. That is why she is taking it so personally. Your lifestyle to her is still a personal insult. She has not begun to see you as an adult yet. Try not to act like a rebeliuos teen, show responsibility, and find some way to thank your mom for how she has raised you. Try to make her feel like she is not a failure and that she has raised a responsible adult. It might take a while to find some way to express appreciation. Whatever you do, don’t let one bad issue in the midst of many good ones ruin your relationship forever.

19. Teen Atheist - January 10, 2008

You know what, I feel I know enough about atheism and Christianity to know that I made the right choice, so please don’t insinuate that I’m dumb enough to have picked atheism just because I don’t like Christianity. If you read my other posts, I think you would understand the reasons behind my choices better. Yes, I disliked the religion I was raised in, but there are a million other options, and I chose atheism because of all the belief systems out there, it was the one that made the most sense to me.

Also, I hope you realize that being and atheist and being a drug addict are two entirely different situations. That aside, thank you for your input, but this runs much deeper than just the one argument.

20. gillian shilson - January 15, 2008

hey, TA, this is just to send love and sympathy. I found your blog because I’m writing a novel and was trying to access teen-age expletives! (In my day we said things like Golly and Good Lord and Heavens!!!!) but I was riveted to read your stuff and feel so sad you are going through it like this. I’m ancient and having been brought up in a family of vicars for generations back had something to kick against, and have come to the conclusion through a fairly eventful life, if it’s of any interest, that I can’t stand fundamentalism of any sort, Christian or otherwise, but I do believe there’s something out there, that I can’t see but can experience, that can bring joy and hope that there’s a purpose to all this…etc. It would be sad (to my mind, possibly not to yours!) if your parents’ rampant Catholicism and religiosity put you off exploring – not that I think it will, as you are obviously tremendously strong, bright and curious about life.

I respect your atheism however and I know millions of people exist perfectly happily without any belief whatsoever in something they can’t see. By the way I thought Karen’s advice was spot on in how to defuse your parents – fantastic. This brings warm thoughts and good wishes for a better 2008.

21. Teen Atheist - January 15, 2008

Gillian: Cool, thanks! If you need more help with teen lingo, feel free to ask me anything through my Contact page. 😀

22. Tom - January 27, 2008

TA,

Not long ago I confessed to myself and to my family that I was an atheist. I was surprised by my mother’s reaction – emotion sans reason for the most part. My atheism and my questioning the existence of any metaphysical sort of freewill seem to have become the two topics that bother her most. Later I came to recognize that these were the first times I’ve taken a stance in opposition to what she fundamentally believes. Anyway, although my mother’s reactions are complex, I think they partly stem from her believing that my atheism and my not believing in ultimate freewill would hinder my path to happiness (whatever that means). She wants me to be happy because she loves me and because my happiness would validate her genetic and environmental contributions. Whatever the case may be, I’ve learned that I’d rather have her reject part of me than accept all of what she knows without knowing it all.

Anyway, thanks for your honesty. It helps to know that you’re out there with similar struggles. Your courage and reason give me hope.

23. Teen Atheist - January 27, 2008

Glad I could help, Tom. Thanks for the comment!


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