I just joined TA today after having been 'lurking' for months... so, "Hello!"

I am currently attending an intensive outpatient therapy group that meets every day. I'm dealing with some unresolved, and until very recently, unremembered incidents from my childhood. "Graduating" tomorrow, tyvm!

There are many different types of people in this group, dealing with some pretty serious issues. Even though I'm there as part of the group, folks usually gravitate to me for reassurance and just because I make them feel safe and understood. A woman who started on the same day as I did, came up to me today at break and thanked me profusely for helping her through some things. She thanked me for being so kind, caring, genuine, honest, etc., etc. It was really very humbling. I hugged her and told her that I was happy to have been able to help, blah, yadda...  She then said, "You are the most loving Christian I have ever met. Where do you go to church?"  I told her I am not a Christian and I do not go to church. She asked, "Well, what religion are you?"  I said, "I'm an atheist."  She recoiled as if I'd slapped her. Had a mortified look on her face and actually turned and almost ran away from me.

After the break, she sat as far away from me as she physically could and kept staring at me like she was expecting me to whip out a machete and kill everybody in the place. She was so bothered by this that she talked to one of the therapists. I'm assuming it was about me because she kept staring and looking very distressed while she was talking. I honestly think she saw me as dangerous...

I know I shouldn't let this bother me, but it does. Isn't it 'enough' that I am in that group for the same immense pain that everyone else is there for? Isn't it 'enough' that I have never been anything but genuine, kind, caring, compassionate, and loving toward everyone there? Isn't it enough that I have sat through, literally, hours worth of faith-based 'testimonies' about how their god helped them through this or that? Never asking the question, "Well, where was your god when all this crap was happening to you?!" ... and I wanted to. But I respect people and their beliefs - always have.

Am I not allowed to appreciate things without putting a "God dun it!" label on everything? During the break, I was outside because there was a brief lull in the rain we've been having here for the past few days. One of the bushes had dozens of teal and silver colored snails in it. I was fascinated! I respected the random "God is amazing to make this" type comments. Why isn't it enough that I enjoyed them for what they are?

Ugh. Yeah, I shouldn't be upset about what happened. But I am. :-(

Views: 617

Comment by Nina van der Roos on March 16, 2012 at 11:26am

Welcome Melissa. Sorry to learn about your experience with the christian woman, all I can say is move to the Netherlands, here no one gives a pair of fetid dingo's kidneys if you are atheist, more likely to get odd looks if you go around wearing religion on your sleeve !


Nina van der Roos.

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 16, 2012 at 11:38am

If it isn't, it should be, and as far as I'm concerned, it is now - thanks for coining it, Steve!

(BTW - used to live in Golden)

pax vobiscum,

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 16, 2012 at 11:48am

Melissa - for reasons no one can readily explain, some of these forums have "Reply" buttons at the bottom, while others, like this one, do not. The ones that DO have reply buttons, also have a little piece of instruction telling you that you have 15 minutes to edit your post - again, this one does not.

My suggestion, if you want to edit your post, would be to copy what you've written, paste it into a new post, correct it and submit it. Then go to your old post, and if you'll look in the upper right hand corner, you'll see a small "x" - if you'll click on that, it will delete your old post.

As for quoting someone else, just copy what you want to quote, and if it's relatively short, just paste it into your new post and enclose it in quotation marks - if it's longer, paste it, highlight it, then click the quotation mark symbol above (fourth image from your right).

pax vobiscum,

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 16, 2012 at 11:54am

Melissa - I agree with Diego (above), except that I wouldn't ignore her, as that would just put more distance between you and would only confirm her suspicion that athiests are bad. I would act like nothing's happened, continue to be your usual polite, pleasant, supportive self, and in time, it may dawn on her that her preconception was wrong. If not, you've lost nothing by simply being yourself.

pax vobiscum,

Comment by Michael Appleman on March 16, 2012 at 12:46pm

In my life when I come across anything absurd like that I just laugh. Cause really, its pretty hilarious that a grown person is acting like that.

Comment by SteveInCO on March 16, 2012 at 1:13pm

Unfortunately one disadvantage of "atheistophobic" (or atheistophobe) is it just doesn't roll of the tongue quickly.  I tried "atheiophobic" but it could mean "without fear of god" which of course would be a word that applies to US, not them.

Comment by kris feenstra on March 16, 2012 at 1:38pm

<side note>

"Melissa - for reasons no one can readily explain, some of these forums have "Reply" buttons at the bottom, while others, like this one, do not."

Forum threads have the 'reply' button under each post (up to a point) as they are designed for ongoing conversation.  Blog posts (like this), pictures, and videos do not have the 'reply' button at the bottom of each comment as the comments section is intended for singular comments, not vivid discussion or debate.  Granted, it doesn't always work out that way in practice, but that's the structure currently in place.

</side note>

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 16, 2012 at 2:05pm

I stand corrected - apparently one CAN readily explain it! Good to know, thanks Kris.

Comment by C Elaine Clark on March 16, 2012 at 2:52pm

all religion exclude any group or religion that is not the one that that group belongs to.  My rule of thumb is don't engage....  I had an experience similar to yours years back , I was the only non believer in the group.... when you finnalyy leave the groups as you will none of these peopel will matter  in your life.... ( also , get a cat ) 

Comment by Pope Beanie on March 16, 2012 at 4:42pm

I can't think of a better word than "brainwashed" right now. I had an experience with one person who seemed to have never even considered the concept of atheism before, even though she seemed intelligent and in her forties. She looked at me with sincere disbelief, thought for a moment, and replied with "you know, what is an atheist, anyway?", as if atheism must be a silly word for something that's just impossible or unrealistic.

What I'm saying is there's genuine shock in some of the faithful. I can't just categorize it as their stupidity or something we can't handle. We really are the first humans to poke holes in some of these people's blinders.


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