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Becoming Free

Becoming Free

Blame it on my parents.  They always told me to “think for yourself”.  I doubt they ever considered what would happen if I really did that.

Now, I suspect what they meant was, “Think what we tell you but do it in your own words.”  Too late.  When I was 13, I began to question everything and soon the total absurdity of religion became apparent.

Because I have been “encouraged” (forced) to read the bible several times, it was easy for me to see the contradictions in the book, what christians professed to believe, and how they really lived.

When I refused to go with them to their church, they said they would “Make me go.”

I asked them, “How are you going to make me? How will forcing me to attend church change my mind?”  Already, their attitude was starting to harden me against everything else they would tell me.

Their next idea was to have their minister talk to me.  I told them it was a waste of everyone’s time.  They persisted and had him come to the house to “Talk some sense into me.”  (as if they ever works for anyone)  After about 15 minutes of him quoting the bible to me and me pointing out that he was either wrong in his quotes or showing him how it said something else in another place, he became very angry and told me I was going to hell.  I suspect it was because I knew the bible better than he did and was, at age 13, able to prove how ridiculous his arguments were.

I told him, “If there is a Hell I’ll see you there.  Save me a nice place, OK?”  He said I was an impertinent, disrespectful child.  By then, I was angry myself and for the first time, I told a christian that he was a hypocrite, a liar, and a fool.  My parents insisted that I apologize.  I refused and left the room to a lot of yelling and threats.

For the next four years, I heard about this at least once a week.  So the night I graduated high school, I left my parent’s home and didn’t see them again for well over a year.  By then, with the credits I had accumulated in high school and summer school,  I had completed a couple of years of college.  Fortunately, I was able to pay for this myself.  I was entering the army and wanted to try to make peace with them, but had to listen to the same old recriminations and arguments again.

The next time I saw them was two years later when I was getting married.  After several years of an on-again, off-again relationship they finally agreed to just not discuss it any more.  I’d like to say that worked, but  subtle hints slowly became outright condemnation.  Then I took a job transfer from Ohio to Arizona, so family meetings were rare enough to become occasions for something other than contention.

I do have to say that I appreciate the other things they did for me, like encouraging my education and equipping me with the work ethic and attitudes I needed to survive and thrive at that early age.  In those areas, they were excellent parents and I am grateful for those things.

What did I learn?  Even your family can turn against you if you refuse to share in their illusions.  There are times, if you are to become your own person, you must stand firm in what you know to be true.

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  1. May 9, 2012 at 2:24 am | #1

    I’m sorry to hear that happened to you.

    • May 9, 2012 at 10:16 am | #2

      As I mentioned, other than that, they were decent parents. At least for my mother, she never really got over that. To the day she died, she’d bring it up sometimes. She did learn that when she did, I’d soon be gone, so it didn’t happen nearly as often.

  2. May 9, 2012 at 10:13 am | #3

    I admire you, you were a pretty tough minded kid!

    • May 9, 2012 at 10:24 am | #4

      If I was tough-minded, that’s another credit to my parents. I’ve thought for years it was a character flaw. I’ve never had much patience for willful ignornance.

  3. July 3, 2012 at 11:27 pm | #6

    I enjoyed your story. I would have done the same in your situation. Actually I can not imagine growing up in that situation but I have said similar things to similar people at about that age. You can not choose where you are born but you can choose who you are.

    • July 4, 2012 at 12:04 am | #7

      Thanks for your comment. As I said, in many other ways my parents were very good to me. They gave me the encouragement for learning (My mother taught me to read when I was three) and helped me to develop the skills and attitudes (mostly work ethic) to be able to take care of myself all of my life. For those things, I am very grateful and know I was fortunate to have parents who cared enough and took the time to help me with these things.

  4. jarwright
    July 30, 2012 at 4:07 pm | #8

    It is very sad to me to hear another story of how detrimental religion can be to the upbringing of a child. Because you found truth at an early age, you seem to have had some love taken away from you. Although I do not know you well enough to truly believe such a bold statement, I just want you to know I feel for you.

    Just how I feel, you may not feel as strongly about such things.

    • July 30, 2012 at 5:08 pm | #9

      I really don’t feel I lost much love. I never doubted that about my parents. It is sad that there was enough conflict to keep us apart for years at a time. But others have had it far worse, I know. What I didn’t mention is I endured a lot worse from peers and others than I did from my parents. But that’s another story.

  5. September 10, 2012 at 1:56 am | #10

    Ah, how i revel in this story since it’s a familiar one to me. What gets to me is when parents use the bible to teach when they should be using their own life experience; I don’t want to hear a quote from Matthew, i want to hear about your life and how it relates to mine! I want to hear about your mistakes and your solutions not some thousand year old maybe-fictional dead guys one. A child growing up in these conditions can some times feel isolated from the family because the family becomes a church, not a family. But still family is family and you and them might have your differences you’d still die for each other, and that counts as something special.

    • September 10, 2012 at 10:07 am | #11

      Thank you for your comment. It is well-expresed and very thoughtful. It certainly adds to the essay.

  6. September 18, 2012 at 11:45 pm | #12

    Beautiful, welcome

  7. January 13, 2013 at 4:26 am | #13

    This is a really sad post. It’s sad not just because of how they treated you, but also, because they clearly believe they are trying to save you from hell. It upsets me to see these lies just tear your family apart, to see them worry so much about something that just does not matter.

    • January 13, 2013 at 12:25 pm | #14

      In a way, it is sad. But remember, I also said that in other ways they were excellent parents. It’s sad that their own upbringing was such that they were mentally blinded to what they were doing. It was their encouragement to “think for yourself” that spared me from the same blindness. I will always be grateful to tem for encouraging me that way even though it did not turn out the way they had expected. :)

      Things did get better after I moved far enough away that visits became an occasion for joy and not recrimination.

  8. Bjorn Haas
    April 10, 2014 at 6:25 am | #15

    Your parents must have been very disappointed in you. How did you deal with their constant disappointment?

    • April 10, 2014 at 7:11 am | #16

      Dean, you stupid SOB. You are so dumb anyone could always recognize your posts. You aren’t even smart enough to use a believable fake email. Your spoofed IP addresses are so pathetically transparent a child could detect them.

      Your parents will be so disgraced by your being a stalker, troll, plagiarist, coward, slanderer, and total fool, they will probably deny knowing you. Yes, I will find you and I will expose you publicly and in open court.

  9. Bjorn Haas
    April 10, 2014 at 9:15 am | #17

    This isn’t Dean. Exposed for what? Don’t be so silly, James.

  10. Bjorn Haas
    April 10, 2014 at 9:31 am | #18

    I said exposed for what?

    • April 10, 2014 at 10:54 am | #19

      Being a stalker, liar, troll, plagiarist, coward, and absolute fool. Yes, you are Dean Fiddle and you are a stupid PoS if you think that you can fool me.

      If you are not, why do you have to hide behind a fake ID and IP address? Only cowards and trolls have to do that/

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