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 Mabel on March 15, 2012 at 7:03pm

That's the way it is in this country. I'm way over it.

Comment by Melissa on March 15, 2012 at 11:13pm

@ Nelson - You know, it's not as if my machete is all gooey and dripping with blood and guts. I always clean it off. You know... afterward.

Comment by Melissa on March 16, 2012 at 12:42am

Thanks, everyone. :-)  I'm glad to be here!

Comment by Pope Beanie on March 16, 2012 at 1:09am

Hey Melissa,

I'll never forget shocking a friend back in 9th grade, and things never being the same between us again. I'm a lot more careful coming out to people now not just for my own comfort, but because of how negatively they've reacted to it. I come out more slowly now, just to see how they might be able to handle it. As I learn how brainwashed faithful they are, I communicate about as much skepticism and independent thinking as I can to them, while trying not to lose their confidence.

It's not always easy, and I'm not perfect! But that's me. I don't yet know a better way to be an effective and good example of atheism, benevolent humanism, etc.

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 16, 2012 at 2:27am

First, welcome, Melissa!

Secondly, you know as well as I do, if you can set aside your emotions momentarily and think rationally about it, that the problem is actually with her, and not with you. But since neither you nor I have walked in her shoes, we have no way of knowing what brought her to that point - all either of us can do, is hope she gets the help she needs.

pax vobiscum,

Comment by SteveInCO on March 16, 2012 at 6:15am

Is "atheistophobic" a word?

Comment by Diego Alejandro Garzon on March 16, 2012 at 7:14am

Welcome Melissa, 

So since she knows that you're an atheist she doesn't like you anymore. Who's problem is that? You can't do anything about it. She asked you what religion you are. And you just answered the truth, seems good to me? Let her hate, just go on being you and maybe talk with her about it or ignore her. 

Comment by chiz on March 16, 2012 at 10:04am

Welcome to the site.

You will run into things like this a lot if you are open about being atheist. It's just part of it and, hopefully, will get better in the future. Don't let it bother you for long. People are just scared of what they don't understand.

Comment by Melissa on March 16, 2012 at 10:46am

Thanks for all the welcoming words!

I know that a lot of people just don't understand and I'm really okay with that. I don't understand a lot of things, either. I understand this lady's need for relying on/praying to her god to help her process some of the things that is going on in her life right now. That's how faith works, and who am I to say that that course of action isn't the best one for her? Hey, I have faith as well! I have faith that if I write something down in my journal and ruminate on it for a while, that it's going to make sense and I'll be able to sort through that and make peace with it.

It just bothers me that she reacted with fear - extreme fear - over the words, "I'm an atheist." Would she have reacted differently had I said I was Muslim or a satanist?

Bah! I'm tired of being upset about this, even though it's going to bug me later I'm sure. (Today's my last day for the group.) I am who and what I am. I don't feel the need to apologize or make excuses because I've nothing to be sorry for.

Comment by Melissa on March 16, 2012 at 10:48am

** Still attempting to figure out the mechanics of posting here. I'm sure it's super simple, but I can't figure out how to quote someone else, or how to/if I can edit something that I've already posted. I just read over the mess I posted a few seconds ago... grammar much, Mel? LOL


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