Saturday, October 03, 2015

When religious beliefs (or lack thereof) cause massive familial strife.

Over a month ago I had an article posted in the local paper. It was an opinion piece, written for the monthly Freethinker's Perspective. With a limit of only 800 words, naturally I could not be long-winded and explanatory on some of the points I made. It was an article on the 10 commandments and whether those commandments should be used as a basis for morality. In other words, should a person's morality be based on whether or not he/she followed all 10 commandments.

In the US, there are monuments placed in areas that are supposed to be secular. The government is not supposed to endorse a specific religion. However, many of these monuments were placed during the Cold War, a time where anyone who was an atheist was seen as a threat because atheists were communists and communists were evil. That thought has still prevailed along with another thought: those who are Muslim are also evil because of the events that took place on September 11, 2001.

So, right off the bat, with the first commandment, we have established an us vs them mentality. And then when you look at the commandment for the Sabbath (by the way, WHICH Sabbath are we even talking about here?) when you have the majority of Christians following a Sunday Sabbath, a number of Christians as well as Jews following a Saturday Sabbath, the division occurs even more. The 10 commandments in the US excludes quite a few people and the commandments themselves are not entirely clear. And that was my point for the article, to look at some of these commandments and to say, NO, this is not a good way to judge how moral someone is.

The article was received pretty well online though there were a couple of snarky comments regarding my weight and my hair (unfortunately had to submit a head shot for it which in and of itself went well beyond my comfort zone because I'm not overly photogenic) and how that should kill my credibility for writing that kind of a piece but there was no actual criticism on the article itself. No one could rationally discuss any issues with the actual article.

The president of the freethinker's group I'm in suggested I consider seeing if the Freedom From Religion Foundation would be interested in publishing it in their monthly column. Sure, why not? And they accepted it so it's going to be published for other freethinkers and atheists to see. Cool! And my younger sister was totally impressed and shared the news and the article. I hadn't really shared it on my page because I have a lot of Christian friends and figured some might take offense and really, I tend to not post a lot regarding my beliefs because I have people of different beliefs as friends on my page.

However, I made the mistake of mentioning it to my one older sister in Chicago. And she wanted to see the article. So I shared it on her husband's page which was the biggest mistake EVER. On the 21st, she calls my younger sister at 4 IN THE MORNING ranting and raving about how I was going to go to hell and how they needed to have an intervention for me because I was being brainwashed by my freethinker friends.

If only it had ended there...but it didn't. Two days later, my BIL posts my article on my page and included this note:
Did you not know, that these 10 commandments, occurs almost completely the same, in the Qur'an(Muslim), in Buddhism, In Hinduism, in Confusiousism etc? In all the world's religions, for TRUTH IS TRUTH. Though in this day and age, it's easy to pick on Christianity. I fear you only wrote this, from your failure with your husband. Who as u said, won't even read it. Why throw God under the bus? Did u consider everyone else you'd offend writing this? Maybe before you write these opinions, you should know what your talking about, by actually researching the subject.
This was taken word for word so spelling and grammar is not corrected. And I would have been fine with discussing with them what specifically they had issues with. Well, one of the problems seemed to stem from what I wrote on the commandment of honoring thy mother and father. I merely asked why the focus was on that specifically and to me, it seems to be very broad in scope. But these are the same people who went off on me, saying I was not honoring my parents because I testified against them in their trial, the trial they both had for committing MURDER which is also a commandment but apparently not as important as honoring your mother and father because I guess, honoring your earthly parents correlate to how you honor your non-earthly parent(s).

And it wouldn't even be that bad if it hadn't escalated to them attacking me for having my sister send presents for my kids (which I never obligated her to send and one year even told her NOT to send anything because John was sick of how much stuff the girls had) and how I am a liar and a gold digger. So again, no rational discussion on what they specifically disagreed with in the article but rather guilt trips and attacks (not just to me either but to my younger sister as well).

This is a trigger for me. I do still suffer from some post traumatic stress from the murder and one of those ways is that it has taken me a really really long time to feel comfortable with actually doing things for ME and not for other people. I am a massive people pleaser and in the years following the murder, I stopped doing a lot of things for myself and did what everyone wanted me to do. This included religious beliefs. This included a lot of the things I have done as a parent that I have not fully agreed with but did because I wanted to keep the peace. I lived my life for everyone else because stepping outside of that would be wrong. People would become angry with me, and consequences would happen, sometimes bad ones.

The day before my BIL's murder, my mother had a fight with him over the phone and she called me ranting and raving. I didn't take her side. I tried to be neutral, pointed out both of them were wrong. She started making threats about wanting him dead, I told her to knock it off. She abruptly ended out business relationship, wanted to come over and pick up stuff for the business and a computer she and my dad were getting and she let my dog out the front door by the street then called me and told her to get her before she got hit. And I relied on her for transportation. And then when she and my dad came over for the stuff the next morning, my father shot and killed my BIL.

SO...this is not something I deal with well but I worked to be calm and rational and tried to say hey you don't have to send stuff if you don't want to, I'm not making anyone send anything. And when it just kept going, I said enough. I will not discuss it anymore; I stand by what I wrote and I'm not changing my mind. I am not going to change my religious beliefs just because someone wants me to. If I were going to do that, I would be in the Dells right now with my husband and children! But I'm NOT! I am giving him the latitude to teach them his beliefs (though I don't agree with them) and I'm here doing what I enjoy which is going to school and learning what I need to learn for my degree. But I'm the worst person in the world because I don't believe in a god. Oh, and I'm crazy too, I guess.

He deleted it, along with the comments from friends who were defending me but not before he made one more comment that got to my email that basically said my sister will never forgive me for this because I turned against blood.

Fine. Whatever. I still remained friends with them on FB because I didn't quite know what to do though my therapist advised doing a pros and cons on doing a DEAR FAST (DBT terms) and I didn't want to totally cut them off without thinking it through for a little bit. In the meantime, because of the "fight", my sister can't send my younger sister her birthday presents or anything for her or her kids. She's getting punished for not taking their side against me and agreeing with them about my hell-bound soul.

Final straw was a meme he posted that showed how to convert an atheist by having the pilot sky diving holding a sign saying, "I was your pilot." This would then scare the atheist to convert at the last minute before inevitable death because duh, no pilot. Goes off the whole there are no atheists in foxholes argument (which is not whatsoever true). He had gotten this from a page he apparently now likes called Freedom From Atheists Foundation.

I cried. It came after a long day for me where I was feeling lonely, missing my family, feeling left out. It hurt. I do have feelings; if anything, I probably feel TOO much.

I called my younger sister and told her I would be deleting and blocking both BIL and older sister and why. I wanted to warn her because I more or less figured that she will get even more backlash from it. She understood. And it's not like she even needs to be dealing with all of this crap having had emergency gallbladder surgery just a week ago and still dealing with some complications from it. But hey, being RIGHT is more important to some people than considering the feelings of others, ESPECIALLY when it comes to forcefully converting more people for their god.

Seriously, with Christians like these, who needs Satan? And worse, they can't even SEE the hypocrisy of their actions.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It's nice having a little time to myself.

John and the girls are off in Wisconsin Dells this week for the yearly Feast of Tabernacles event. Since I'm in my 4th week of school, I stayed behind and to be honest, I find it to be a nice 8 day vacation from the normal life of heavy responsibilities as a parent. That may sound mean but as an introvert, it's the recharging I desperately need and it gives me time to take care of myself, something I don't always have time to do when I'm taking care of three other people (yes, sometimes the husband needs as much care as the two girls!).

Today was a good example of this. For the last two years I have had an IUD. I do not want anymore children but going to a Catholic hospital does not make it easy to have a tubal done, especially when the one doctor who is able to at the other hospital has concerns about my size. An IUD was a good second choice and seemed to work fine until my period decided to go MIA for a week. There had been a report following the car accident we had over a year and a half ago that said my IUD was malpositioned (I had a CT done following the accident due to abdominal pain and other things). I brought it up with the OB who had me go in for an ultrasound which found the IUD not being where it was supposed to be.

So it came out and I had another one put in because at my age (along with a family history of blood clotting issues), I'm running out of options for birth control and I have no desire to just rely on the old "pull and prey" method. That's how I got Isabelle (my husband likes to call it the "meant to be" method). And while I'm quite happy with my second born, I fully feel that two is enough and I'm in nowhere near the physical or mental shape for another child, especially now that both girls are in school and I'm in school as well. While the procedure was pretty straightforward, I have been experiencing a little pain and cramping and it was nice to just be able to come home and rest and not have to worry about taking care of anyone else. It can be kind of tiring sometimes to constantly be on duty. And while I love my girls and miss them very much, I won't deny that it's nice to have a little time to myself to regroup and recharge.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

Finally summer ended and the girls started school September 1. John is grudgingly accepting it but there were definitely some bumps along the way. The school open house was the end of August and he was horrified to discover that Isabelle's teacher had visible tattoos. There was a picnic at a local park for parents and students new to the school and in K and first grades. Natalie, Isabelle, and I all found people to talk to. John just sat off on his own. Then later, he complained about the teacher's tattoos again because she was also at the picnic. The girls are going to a small charter school. It takes up one hallway in the building of another elementary school. And so far, they love it. There have been some challenges, yes. Mainly, those have consisted of all three of us getting used to the early mornings but their first week of school went off without too many issues which made it easy to be ready for my first week of school which started a week later.

However, there is still a lot of difficulties with John as he continues to be unhappy with the choices I am making in trying to make my life (in DBT terms), "a life worth living". He's unhappy with these choices because they go against HIS personal belief system in what a woman with a husband and children should be doing. I say HIS personal belief system because not everyone in his church does the same thing. There are women in his church who are married with kids and work and have their children in public school. But he expects me to stay at home, homeschool, and take care of everything in the household so that he can sleep as he needs to and go to work (and do extra things HE wants to do like go to school and sell Usbourne books).

I am becoming more than frustrated with him about this. It hurts that he says this and feels this way about me. More and more I find myself wondering what he ever saw in me in the first place that led him to wanting to marry me. I have even asked him that and he won't even give me an answer. I am not unfamiliar with this kind of a marriage. I saw this with my own parents. My father was extremely (and still is) conservative who felt that women should stay at home and have children and not have other people raise them. He wasn't against sending us to school (thank goodness because neither one of them could have homeschooled) but he always put down my mother's pursuit for her degree, calling it just a hobby. They seemed like two very opposite people and I know us kids always wondered why they even stayed together.

Because I see our marriage mirroring my parents' more and more, I'm trying to work as hard as I can to be in a place where I don't have to rely on my husband (or really ANYONE) anymore. I'm in school; I'm working my way to a degree in a field I should be able to get a job in. I'm working with DVR. Next step is for me to get my driver's license. I know having that will make many things easier and will lessen that dependency even more. Because I know there will be a point where we will reach a fork in the road and one of us will go one way and the other will simply choose not to follow. In the meantime, I just have to keep taking it day by day and focus on the goal.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


I've become so tired of being criticized for every little thing. I'm tired of struggling alone with my mental illness and that struggle NEVER being recognized. If it was cancer I had, I would have all kinds of support. But it's not. My illness is in my head (literally) and just as I was invalidated growing up (which did nothing but WORSEN the mental illness to begin with), I'm constantly invalidated now. Others can become angry, act out, do irrational things and not get called out on it. I do it and I'm crazy, my therapy isn't working, I will NEVER be anything but an angry person prone to violence. I'm SO tired of it. I'm SO tired of the lack of support, of fighting ON MY OWN all the time. The pain is real. It may be inside and people can't see it but there are times it is deep and dark and completely and utterly overwhelming. And all I want to do is run away. I want to withdraw and hide and do everything possible to numb the pain because really, that's all I have. I only have myself to get through it because everyone else just stands there in judgement and tells me I have no right to feel that way.

I'm so tired of having to take care of everyone else when there is no one there to take care of me.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth...just what is that exactly?

"I want the truth!"
"You can't handle the truth!"
Anyone who is at least somewhat familiar with dramatic 1990 movies should recognize these lines from A Few Good Men. I happened to catch it on PBS last night and watched it though I also own the movie, having recently acquired it at a rummage sale about a month ago. It's an interesting movie to watch, the characters trying to get to the core truth of a murder that happened on a military base. At first glance, it seemed like an open and shut deal but the reality was far different and getting to the truth underneath it all would be more difficult.

It was that way, I think, with Irvin's murder 12 years ago. The question that was always asked was "why?" It was asked of my sister, asked of me. The question was asked at each of my parents' trials and we never got that answer, not really. And that has probably been the most difficult thing about the whole event, I think. We never got the truth of what was really behind the events of that day.

After my mother went to prison, I established communication with her. There was this period where she would tell me how it wasn't planned. It was her defense the whole time both during the trial and after. They didn't plan it. If they had planned it, surely they would have done a better job than just appearing at my apartment and shooting him in front of witnesses (very comforting Mom). I finally had to really sit down and write her a letter and tell her point blank that I did not believe her; I would never believe her and if she continued to talk about how the whole thing wasn't planned, I would stop talking to her because it didn't matter to me if they had planned it or not. The results were still the same. A man was dead and I saw my father kill him. The next time she called, she apologized and told me she would never bring it up again and to this day, she hasn't.

Having been in the dialectical behavior therapy program for about two and a half years now, I have come to slowly radically accept the fact that 1. I will never find out the truth and 2. there may very well be no more to it than a case of severe dis-regulation. In other words, this may likely have been no more than a crime of passion, a snap of the mental senses, a severe lapse of judgement leading to an event that affected many lives and ended one.

I don't think it was quite that simple though. There were things leading up to the event to suggest that it would lead to it. And like an inevitable train wreck, all I could do was stand there and watch; I couldn't do anything to stop it. I couldn't do anything to stop it. I warned Irvin my mother was making threats. I called the police the night before, trying to get my apartment keys because my mother was acting crazy. My sister, Irvin, and I were even trying to figure out how to get my mother put into the psychiatric unit. And in the end, all I could do was stand there, frozen, and watch my father shoot my brother-in-law from across my living room.

Can I handle the truth? Is there even any now after 12 years that my parents would even remember? Time messes with our heads, changes memories, puts in justifications and excuses that were not there previously. Is there a truth to be found anymore? It is extremely likely I will never know the why behind it all; I will never know what they were thinking in the hours and minutes before and even after Irvin was killed. And to be honest, I don't know if I really want to know.

My sister still tries to seek it out but from the other side. She has learned things about her first husband that may supposedly justify my parents' actions. What does that even matter? What does it change? He's still dead. My parents are still in prison and they will DIE in prison. I will get a phone call someday informing of me their death and that will be the end. And that day will come far sooner than I will be ready for it.

The carousel never stops turning. Whether I know the truth or not, I must go on and live my life because it is the only life I have to live. What happened, they did. They had the power to stop it and they chose not to. And THAT is the truth.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Thoughts on an article I read with another anniversary looming near...

I follow a number of pages on Facebook, one being for the American Humanist Association. An article came up today, titled Should Humanists Oppose Life Sentences Without Parole? You can read it here:
June 28th will be the 12 year anniversary of the murder of my younger sister's first husband, a murder committed by my father, instigated by my mother. I was a witness to that murder, front row seats, if you will. It was in my apartment and he died in my room after my father kicked my bedroom door open and shot him two more times following the first shot. During 2004, I testified at both of their separate trials. I waited for the jury to come back (with an almost hung jury for my dad's trial) I was there for both of their sentencings and read an impact statement at my dad's sentencing. Both were found guilty and both were sentenced to life without parole. The other option would have been to possibly eligible for parole in 20 years. My parents were 58 at the time of their sentencing so 20 years would have been nearly the rest of their lives anyway but as neither one showed remorse for killing my brother-in-law, they received the maximum sentence.

They've been incarcerated nearly 12 years; 10-11 years in prison itself. While I oppose the death penalty, I can't go so far as to oppose life sentences without parole. I definitely think that there are some people who should never be able to get out and victims/families of victims should not have to worry about these kinds of people getting out and wreaking havoc all over again. As for my parents, that's a hard one. Too many things happened where they did not have to be held accountable for their actions. Granted, both of my parents struggled with mental illnesses but at the same time, they got minimum amount of help for it. They often placed the blame on the rest of us and made us kids look like we were the crazy ones while making themselves look completely and totally normal. People fell for it too and because of that, they rarely suffered any consequences for their actions. Due to that, I feel, their behavior escalated. They became more and more disregulated and age, I'm sure, didn't help. It took them killing someone before something was finally done. And so they are where they are and will be for the rest of their lives and I feel that for them, that's for the best. I don't hate them and I have more or less forgiven them (at least in the sense that I am able to move on with my life and have at least kind of a relationship with them--on my terms) but I have no doubt that they are where they need to be. I would maybe consider a situation where their only other option was to be sent to a hospice, having reached a point of age or mental/physical deterioration where all they could do would be the live comfortably until they died. And so I see some points for the article but ultimately, I simply don't agree with opposing life in prison without parole as I think it is needed, if for no other reason than to provide peace of mind for the victims/families of the victims and not force them to be re-victimized through a parole hearing.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

It's been a bit of a rough transition.

I never did really like summer vacation. I needed school. In school, I knew I was intelligent and it was validated on a daily basis. At home, I often felt like I wasn't good enough, no matter what I did. When I was in the early elementary grades, summers weren't too bad. We had a ten acre farm and I would run around and play or read. The summer after our house burned down kind of sucked because there was four of us in a ten foot pop up camper but we spent a lot of time at the lake (just our luck that our house burned down just prior to one of the hottest summers on record) and when my mom really got sick of the heat, we stayed in a hotel. Having a really good imagination back then, I kept myself pretty well occupied. As I got older though and after my dad moved back in with us, summers kind of sucked. Eventually I did get better at signing myself up for things and keeping busy but I was always happy when the school year rolled around again and I could get away.

That hasn't changed much. I really enjoyed being in school this year. For the first time in a really long time, I was able to use my intelligence again and really succeed. I made friends, had things to talk about that didn't involve the bathroom habits of my children, and learned new things. I was happy and felt I had a purpose again. I've been out of school for almost a month now and I'm about to go insane. I'm trying to get Natalie ready for school next fall so I'm really pushing the homeschooling with her. It's still a fight a lot of days. Granted, it's not quite so bad as it's been in the past but she'll still try to delay and she will take forever to do anything. I constantly feel like I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I need to work with her on her writing. I'm REALLY concerned about her writing but I don't even know where to start.

John is the one who wanted them homeschooled. John is the one who has had SOME experience in teaching. But he won't help. It's MY JOB. I'm the MOM. I'm the one who is supposed to be staying at home and doing all the things a stay at home mom is expected to do. He points out constantly how I'm failing that and I am. I SUCK at housekeeping. I never was that great at it because no one in my family was good at it. I try; I really do try but I can't do it all and I don't get any help.

And so that old depression is coming back and my need to escape is returning. John and I are constantly fighting and yesterday, I just gave up and tuned out. I took two Xanax and basically called it a day. I just wanted to be numb. I felt so overwhelmed by the feelings of unhappiness and failure that I had trouble breathing. And I felt so alone.

I still have three months before I go back to school. School ended early this spring but starts late this fall. The girls will start school before I do. But in the meantime, I get to hear how much of a failure I am as a mother because I'm not doing my motherly duty staying home and homeschooling my kids.

Friday, May 01, 2015

My first school year is over and done; just two more to go.

I'm happy to say that both this semester and last, I have done rather well on the grade front. Last semester ended with grades of A,A,AB, and B. This semester I didn't do as well but still good grades: A,AB,AB, and B. I'll say it was because I had four classes specific to my major instead of two of them being general education classes like I had the first semester. So, that being all done and signed up for classes this fall, I now wait. It's going to be a long four months. I'm actually thinking of looking for a job to give myself something to do because I'm already feeling restless and a little depressed having to be home all the time.

John is back in school which means next to no sleep for him as he spends hours up hours writing papers for his online classes. He usually ends up with a paper to do a week and they can take up quite a bit of his time. He started up again before I finished the semester so things have kind of gone to heck in the last few weeks household wise. It's frustrating because there never really is any communication, just sort of this situation where things aren't done and haven't been done and now that I'm finished with school, I'm expected to suddenly have everything clean and put away. Uh, ok. Along with that, I'm still expected to do all of the homeschooling. Actually, these expectations didn't end while I was in school and due to that, I'm accused of failing my duties as a mother on a fairly regular basis.

One thing that has really had to change was the homeschooling situation. My oldest does not want to do schoolwork at all. And from the beginning, she has fought me and that hasn't changed. Along with that, it was expected that I would be the one to homeschool even though I'm not the one who is gung ho on it in the first place. I see the benefits. I see where it may even be necessary. However, for all of the responsibility to be dropped on me when I have little to no experience (compared to my husband who has subbed and has taught overseas) with very little to no help at all in research, curriculum selection, etc just has not been fair. Yes, he works. And yes now he's back in school (for a Master's degree in education of all things!). But he should still bear some responsibility for it when he's the one who wanted it to begin with. When I went back to school, my time and ability to deal with a child who did not want to do her schoolwork dropped. Her father has not taken over the homeschool. She has been taught very little this year so far. Her sister turns five in July and the thought of trying to homeschool two children and go to school myself was not something that seemed possible to do anymore. And so both girls will be going to school next fall. They are going to a charter school, a school for technology and arts. I've heard good things about it and I think it will be a good transition for my oldest. In the meantime, I'll have the summer to get her ready now that I'm done with classes for the next four months.

Naturally my husband is not happy about this. This is one of the reasons these days why he will throw my whole failing as a mother thing at me. I'm giving up. I'm not trying harder. What I don't get is how he's pushing for me to be the one to school them when we do not whatsoever agree on religion or on subjects such as evolution. There is no way I would ever teach them from a religious framework. And anything scientific I would teach with no connection to religion at all. And it may not seem like much when you first think about it but questions come up pretty quick if you try to look much beyond the first writing civilizations. Not to mention, I am an atheist. He is not. He believes that the Bible is word for word true. I definitely do not. I see Christianity in all its flavors as nothing more than a myth, no different than Greek mythology. So to even have ME be the one to homeschool them would potentially expose both of my children to ideas that are outside of the belief system he wants them to learn. And he's worried about them going to public school?!

There will be more of this to come, I'm sure and I'll just have to keep on keeping on and not let it get to me or derail me. I have every intention of finishing school and getting a career. Being back in school has given me a purpose for each day I hadn't had in a long time. And each family is different but I know for me, I really do not enjoy depending on my husband financially. I need more; I need something to challenge me mentally and being a stay at home just wasn't doing it. If that makes me a failure as a mother, so be it. But I'd like to think that being a happy mother rather than a miserable one is important too.

My husband may not see the changes (or if he does, he sees them as a negative thing), but others do and have been impressed with how far I've come. That at least makes it a little easier for me when the "failure as a mom" comments get thrown my way.