This is a c/p from my last MySpace blog. I decided to move it over directly as a jumping-off point for changing to blogspot. At MySpace, access to this post was limited to a very select list of people who know me well. Here... well... equal opportunity offense, I guess. As an aside, update, whatever: yesterday I spent the day chilling out with a close friend (who is Christian and reads my blog) and was able to let go of most of the hurt and negativity, so I'm feeling much better today. Thank goodness.
October 4, 2007 - Thursday
Rant Category: Friends
I'm so frustrated and angry, right now. I'm actually shaking. So this probably isn't the best time to be posting a blog for all to see, but I need to let off some steam - and cursing out loud on the phone to a friend or to my husband would be overheard by the kids and they've already heard enough.
This is what happened: about two hours ago I went out to the minivan to haul in some groceries. I'd taken some Benadryl while at a friend's house, today, so I'm feeling really tired and a little out of it (so please forgive any typos). Anyway, the neighbors were outside. They said Hi. I responded in kind, and went back inside without furthering a conversation.
So my neighbor, a woman with whom I've been developing a tentative friendship, dropped by a while later to check on me because she said I was looking tired and pale and she wanted to make sure everything was OK. How sweet and wonderfully neighborly, right?
Despite being dead tired, I invited her in. Right away she started in on the Jesus talk. OK. Whatever. She asked what I thought of her and I told her I thought she was a good person. No, she clarified, knowing that she's Christian, how does that change my opinion of her? I laughed a little and said hey, one of the joys of being atheist is that I just don't care. I consider religious beliefs just one facet of who a person is. What matters to me is the whole person. Are you a good person? Yes? Then I like you well enough, whether or not we agree on everything.
Then she asked me if I was still on medication for depression. I tried to change the subject, knowing that she's a faith-heals-all person. She pushed it. I got sucked in. She kept telling me how if I'd just try to have a little faith, I wouldn't need to take these evil drugs.
I pulled out all the tried-and-true tricks to just deflect and move on. It's been 10 years since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and I've been dealing with it since childhood. Coping with people who don't believe in biologically-based mood disorders and those who are just ignorant in general is old hat at this point. But she kept pushing - actually having the gall to tell me (in front of my kids, no less) that I only need the meds because I think I do and that I should quit taking them.
I didn't blow up at her. I don't know as I visibly reacted at all, but I wanted to pick her up and physically remove her from my home.
Instead I told her more than I should have. I tried to explain where I've been and what I've been through. I told her that she had not lived my life. That, if it weren't for psychotropic regulation, I would be dead.
Because that's the bottom line. I don't like taking the pills every morning. I don't like that I spend nearly as much on the stupid pills every month as I do for food for the kids. Before I had kids who depended on me, I regularly quit taking meds because I hate them so much. But I can't do that now. My kids need me and it's unlikely I'd make it more than a few months before taking off for "exotic new life adventures," leaving behind everything I love. And I probably wouldn't last a year before jumping off a bridge or blowing my head off. This isn't drug dependence. It's a simple (if ugly) truth. And people who don't have experience with mental illness usually can't grasp that.
Basically I concluded by telling her that if I took her advice it would destroy my family so I didn't think this was a subject we should discuss again. Visibly upset, she reassured me that she was only seeking the best for me and that she'd pray for me. I told her it wasn't necessary. Apparently this offended her because she got up to leave, saying that she'd never bring up religion again. I told her that would probably be a good idea.
I don't think that was the response she was looking for.
I hate being cornered like that. Why couldn't she just lay off? I know she had good intentions (and I told her that I knew it), but somehow that just makes it worse.
I get so tired of the same old assumptions. I think I'm going to start a list to print out and keep on me (I probably won't actually print it, but I'm in need of some serious catharsis, so I'm going to keep ranting until I feel better.
Assumptions I Regularly Have to Address Every Time I Have Any Sort of Relationship with a "True Believer"
1. I don't know anything about your religious tomes.
Untrue. With few exceptions, I have found that I'm more familiar with your holy writ than you are. When happening upon the few exceptions, I often end up forming a real friendship. After all - I don't hate religion or religious people. I hate ignorance. I hate liars. And I despise hypocrites. If you haven't read your Bible when you start thumping me with it, I will probably not bother to correct you. I've learned that those who preach what they have been too lazy to research are not worth the time it would take to offer corrections.
2. I was not raised in the right religion.
This may be partly true, as I have rejected the religion in which I was raised. However, the monkey on the back of this particular assumption is that you have the right religion and if I just opened my heart to doing things your way, I'd be converted. The reality is that I am probably as attracted to magical thinking as any other human, but the line of reasoning that brought me to where I am absolutely rejects the idea of preferring belief or faith over logic and skepticism. If you are true to yourself, I will probably develop respect for who you are (part and parcel with your spiritual beliefs). If you can't reciprocate, back off. We will never actually be friends because I will know that you have no respect for who I am. And by the by - mocking the religion or beliefs of those who raised me loses major respect points. If that doesn't bother you, make fun of the LDS all you want. But know that I'm sardonically appraising the irony. After all, to me the Judeo-Christian pantheon is no different than that of the Ancient Greeks, Phoenecians, Assyrians, etc. Listening to you bash Mormons is like listening to two Asatru get brutal over whether Thor or Odin is mightier. Except, in this case, you are denigrating people I love. Not cool.
3. I don't believe in God because I never wanted to badly enough.
It's not easy to slough off the sacred beliefs of the society in which you were raised. I wanted to believe. Heck, I still feel a little sad about the acceptance I'll never have. It hurts that I'll never quite fit in with my own family. Who would want that? I would so love to believe that there is a benevolent being out there, just waiting to love and bless me. That's such a comforting concept. If there was any way I could possibly believe, I would. However, I have come to the far-less-comfortable conclusion that I can not believe in a god or gods, no matter how much I'd like to. Assuming otherwise is so off-the-mark and personally hurtful that you'd probably do a service to your evangelistic hopes by simply not discussing religion with me at all.
4. If only I would pray, I would find Jesus.
This is really the same as 3. I've prayed my little heart out. I've prayed while reading the Bible. I've prayed while reading other religious works. I've prayed prayed prayed prayed prayed... That ended about 15 years ago. At this point, telling me to pray is pretty much the same as insisting that I try to have a conversation with your imaginary friend. I could go through the motions, but it would be no different, for me, than when my then-three-year-old insisted that I set a place for Harry Potter at the dinner table and tuck him into bed at night. Except that I love my daughter unconditionally and I knew she'd grow out of it.
5. This is the first time I've been exposed to what you're preaching.
I've gone through all the same crap so many times. Your spin is not unique. You will not be the person to finally get through to me. If, deep down, you ultimately hope that offering me friendship will convert me and save my soul, I will know. If you can rise above that and actually love me for who I am (you know who you are), I will probably find your hopes for my spiritual well-being endearing. If our friendship is fundamentally balanced on me eventally coming around, please move on. You're wasting your time. And, even worse, you're wasting mine.
I'm sure I'll come up with more, but right now my husband is home and my family is eating dinner while I sit here and seethe. Time to go chill out.