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Guilting Me Into an Inauthentic Life

Do you remember last week when I told you that I went on a serious Facebook defriending spree?

In that post, I mentioned briefly a Facebook message that I received from someone which sparked the whole dramatic annihilation of so many on my friends list.

The person who sent that message to me was an extended family member. The details don’t matter. But there were two parts of his rather long emails that bothered me. Big time.

Sorry, don’t mean to rant, but I’m totally drunk on cold medicine right now and I just feel a need…

First he said:

“You’ve made it very clear for a long time that you are going to do what you want no matter what other people think.”

Second (referring to other family members):

“I’m not the only one who feels this way.”

I think it goes without saying that nobody likes to find out that other people, and people they care about, are discussing whether or not their life is acceptable, douchey, or on “the right track.”

I mean give me a break. I already know that to my big Mormon family I’m about as hell bound as they come.

In the Book of Mormon, there’s a story of a young man who goes around spreading falsehoods to the masses about religion and life and heaven and hell. He leads many people away from the church in his efforts. His name was Alma.

I always read that story when I was in the church and thought, wow, what a dill weed. If anybody deserved to be smitten with leprosy or brain eating maggots it was that guy. I mean… look what he’s doing to the souls of others!

Now I look at that story and I think, that’s a man who had his own convictions, and he stood by them. He wasn’t a dill weed at all.

In the story, his father the prophet prays so hard that an angel of God smites Alma the Younger to the ground, knocks him out cold for a few days, and helps him have a change of heart through tortuous and painful repentance. Alma wakes up and becomes one of the greatest prophets and missionaries ever known.

It’s kind of a cool story, I won’t lie.

And I know that to a lot of Mormons, including my family members, I’m a modern day Alma the Younger, pre-angel, and definitely not scripture prophet potential. To many of them (who I love dearly and who I believe love me), I am someone with a big voice who is using my voice and my platform to purposefully spread mistruth and drag others away from God’s only truth. A lot of them pray, I bet, for me to have my knock-em-out moment with an angel and realize my own faulty ways.

I get that. I’m okay with that.

Those are their beliefs and I’m not going to fault them for those beliefs. The church and its teachings are sacred to them. We all have the right to believe our own truths and live our own truths.

I do, however, have a problem with two things. First, the inability to appreciate that I live and speak my convictions, even when those convictions are different than theirs. Second, the inability to see only me, instead of a very different version of me wrapped in the blankets of their own version of right and wrong.

289 comments
L
L

The sad truth is that there are few people in this world who are kindred spirits, or who appreciate us warts and all.  You never would have known this without Facebook.

Let's face it, civilization turns on denial -- on the illusion people create of others by how they fill in the blanks. Facebook invites us to share far, far, far TMI, beyond the inappropriate.  Honestly, family members are NOT your friends -- they aren't peers who were in the trenches with you sharing the same work or coming-of-age experiences.  They're the "friends" who shared the past you've mostly outgrown and will never quite view you outside of that context.  

Unless you enjoy disfunctional drama and constant criticism, simply limit the information about your life that you share with them.  You really can't go home again.  Just try to live your life happily, and don't share information about it with them on Facebook.  Most of them wouldn't even notice if you put them in the Restricted list.  In fact, they'd probably think their words had an effect on you, and fill in the blanks of the silence with their belief you must be living an improved life as a result of their input, lol.  

Let them think what they will.  Those who care will seek out the truth.  Those who don't are going to think what they will anyway, regardless what you do (shrugs).  

KathleenO79
KathleenO79

Hi Dan..I can so relate to this! I was raised Catholic.I was married in the church at 20 yr of age to a man I barely knew, I stayed married to this man for 12 years because in my church and my family. You just do not divorce! Period! My first step of living an authentic life was to finally leave my husband. Fast forward 5 years...I married my soul mate. We were married at the courthouse but I continued to stay in my church even though I couldn't receive communion. After raising our 3 boys in the church I finally have left the church. It is liberating..it is also my h personal hell

kbp9
kbp9

live your truth

PattyKennedy
PattyKennedy

There is no weaker statement in an argument than “I’m not the only one who feels this way.”    In my younger days, I would think OMG.... who else thinks this way?   What are they saying?  What have I done/said/worn/etc to make them feel this way?    

Now when I hear those words I think.... what a weak and pitiful individual you are that you cannot stand on your own two feet and back your own views without bringing the anonymous "other people" to back you up.  

I believe that we choose our family before we come into this life, Dan and that overcoming their views to be our own person is part of the lesson we are here to learn.   

Keep on trucking young Alma...you are on the right track!


StaceyPopielErickson
StaceyPopielErickson

“You’ve made it very clear for a long time that you are going to do what you want no matter what other people think.”

Such an amazing compliment. Ironic, but complimentary! :)

SaraHanna1
SaraHanna1

I've been familyless most of my life, due to secrets that destroyed. As Ashory below me says, I have more love, validation, and happiness with the family I've chosen for myself than I ever got from my own. 

Ashory
Ashory

I enjoy more validation, smiles, and unconditional affection from the family I've chosen, than I do from  most of the family that I was born into. You won't -ever- be familyless, Dan. Love your face.

MarenMichelleSmith
MarenMichelleSmith

This post makes a lot more sense now... I'm proud of you. It takes a lot of guts to be truthful to yourself. :) Keep on doing what you're doing.

Kerri
Kerri

You are strong. You are wise. You keep going. "learning to ignore things is one of the paths to inner peace" and "to belittle is to Be little". My personal and spiritual belief is that God is nonjudgmental. And we should all strive to be that way too. Just found your blog. Love your adoption story. Just be kind to others and true to yourself and you will not go wrong. All the best!

notsoMolly
notsoMolly

I am always sorry that there are people in the world that don't see past their personal beliefs to see that the same book that teaches us of Alma the Younger, teaches us of agency, and of loving people, always. Alma may have prayed for his son to have a mighty change of heart, but I feel strongly that he never made him feel less loved for making his own choices. No matter what a person belives, they should believe it whole-heartedly, that's what i think. Should we always do whatever we want, regardless of others? Of course not. That would lead to silly people doing silly things, ending up in silly, hurtful situations. But whatever a person believes in, truly and firmly, should not change our basic love for them and respect for their right to choose.

eeriejane
eeriejane

I love this line:  I’m scared of breaking what little thread is keeping me attached to some of these people that I have nothing but love and admiration for.   (With the emphasis on nothing.)   This article is an inspiration.  I too abandoned my overbearing judgmental faith around the age of thirty.  When I am with my old friends and family being authentic is the hardest thing because I don't want to break that thread.  I listen to people tell me I am going to hell and I still love and admire them.  You have given me a lot to think about--thanks. 

dawni
dawni

I've been thinking about this, Dan. You say, "I may end up a lot closer to a familyless person"... and it hit a chord. My family believe that I should have ties to my father and that no reason I could have is enough to warrant not having contact etc with him, and as a result, I've become somewhat familyless, and it's sort of by choice.

I know the situation is very different, but what I wanted to say about is that -- as much as I love those people, not everything about being 'somewhat familyless' sucks. For a start, when I'm not wasting my time and energy seeking approval for who I am, from people who won't give it, I'm a much happier person! Even without actively seeking it, it's hard to know that you're living a life the people you care for don't approve of. For me, that got easier when I made that choice to be 'somewhat familyless'. I don't know if that helps any, but I thought I'd share it anyway, just in case.Is it wrong to do what you want no matter what others think? I think that depends. It's important to stand fast on your convictions, but I think it's also important to balance that with others. Not that I'm saying you don't (!) - I just think it's important to remember that balance is pretty much essential in all aspects of life. This is one of those things where I think the Wiccan Rede works -- An it harm none, do what ye will. (Not that I'm Wiccan or suggesting that you should follow their doctrine or whatnot, it's just something that I believe is apt for the question/situation!)

Mouse
Mouse

For me. the first quote creates two immediate responses. The first is "What a great compliment!". I'm aware it wasn't meant as one, but it is nonetheless. Being someone who can stand up for what they believe is right and live their lives as authentically as they can takes great courage and determination. Regardless of how they meant it, appreciate the comment for what it actually means. My second response to the first quote is somewhat more convoluted: First, I would consider whether your important people feel you are hearing them. When someone doesn't feel heard, the same things are just going to be continually repeated and everyone will feel increasingly frustrated, hopeless, unheard, disrespected, ____, etc.. The question isn't necessarily whether you are hearing them but whether you are effectively communicating to them the fact that they are sincerely being heard.

My thoughts on the second quote are: so what? Everyone talks about their lives, especially areas in which they have particular happiness or concern. You are part of their lives. They love you. They are concerned for you. Hence, you will be a topic of conversation. Don't make more of this than is there. They are trying to make sense of their world the best they can, and you are part of that world.For me, I tend to get concerned about people talking about me only when I'm worried about the content of the discussion, about being judged and thought of poorly. Being okay with the conversations comes with finally deciding on an emotional level (not even close to the same as the logical level) that: (1) you are loved, (2) you are right or at least doing your best to be & do right, and (3) that you either don't care about their opinion on whatever topic it is or you are at least willing to disregard their negative opinion as a forgivable part of them.So, for me, I had to eventually accept that my family agrees with almost nothing in my life, that they firmly believe I am going to hell for quite a multitude of reasons, and that they are going to continue talking about me. And I'm truly okay with all of that. Their beliefs do not diminish me, nor do they negate their love for me. They discuss me because they love me and because they worry- as yours do you. That is the prerogative of family.

HannahMenicucci
HannahMenicucci

Your son is happy, healthy, and safe. That alone justifies any choice you've made regarding your lifestyle as a good one.

Amanda Muxlow Freeman
Amanda Muxlow Freeman

YOu got lots of long responses on this post. and apparently mine disappeared! LOL! weird

KelsieLouiseKachel
KelsieLouiseKachel

We all care a lot about you, and I know you know that. You seem to give your family unconditional support; but that does that mean that they will do the same for you. That is not fair, but some people cannot bring themselves to accept people who are different from them. Remember, you are loved by many, many people. 

OnlyaLittleSugarCoated
OnlyaLittleSugarCoated

I was afraid of losing all of my family if I shared my truth. There came a day when I decided that was their choice, and I would let them make it. I was very VERY wrong about them. It turns they love ME, but I couldn't know that until I got brave enough to share all the secrets.

That said... I had to wait until I was ready and willing to accept any choice they might make. I had to make sure I was strong enough to handle it if they all decided to disown me, or if they sent me emails like the one you got, or whatever... So, share yourself on your terms.

B2Momma
B2Momma

Funny, when I read the original comment about living the way you want and not caring what anyone else thinks I thought, "You say that like it's a bad thing. Isn't that what we're all supposed to do?!"  I have had a similar experience with my family.  I was raised Catholic and then at 18 I began to question the teachings and decided I didn't agree and would no longer be a member of that church.  Whenever I do or say something that my family doesn't agree with I'm told in no uncertain terms how disappointing I am.  I'm beginning to wonder how long I can continue to carry on in a relationship that is so harmful just because of biology.  At some point I think people have to earn the right to be in our lives and after a certain age biology alone shouldn't be the decider.  I say that, but I can't bring myself to put my foot down yet.  Best of luck to you.

OneRed911
OneRed911

My philosophy on this is this:  "An accident of DNA doesn't make you family" and you, yourself, follow this with your son.  Your true family loves you for who YOU are, not who they want you to be.   Stay strong in your beliefs and those who really love you will stick by you.  Good luck.  :-)

Sharon Hammill
Sharon Hammill

I've severed ties with a lot of these kind of people, even close family members. If people can't accept me living my life according to my beliefs, then I don't want them around. Only loving and approving of someone when they they their life the way YOU want them to is NOT real love. When these people are happy to accept me the way I am, and stop trying to ram their beliefs down my throat, I will happily accept them back into my life.

Sharla Coffman
Sharla Coffman

One of my favorite poems Dan is by Marianne Williamson called "Our Deepest Fear". It is a truth that we all should live by: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are POWERFUL BEYOND MEASURE. It is our LIGHT, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. YOUR PLAYING SMALL DOES NOT SERVE THE WORLD. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. WE ARE ALL MEANT TO SHINE, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; IT’S IN EVERYONE. And as we LET OUR OWN LIGHT SHINE, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” –Marianne Williamson

ardharward
ardharward

Amazingly enough it was in Relief Society in a ward in Hawaii when I first heard the words sometimes your family of origin doesn't work out.  You must build your own family, even if that doesn't mean people from your family of origin, or eliminating some.   No, it's not wrong to do what you want no matter what other people think.  You are the only one who has to live with you.  As you all ready know, trying to live otherwise to please others only makes you miserable, and as you have hinted at, in some instances, suicidal.  It's sad that some people feel like like they need to tell you how to live and nameless others agree with them, especially nameless family members.  

Chelsea Keesler
Chelsea Keesler

None of what we say can put you at ease, or help justify the way you live your life, because, like you said, you're not so concerned with the public reaction as you are the familial reaction. Speaking for others like this relative of yours did is manipulative, selfish, and most likely inaccurate. Sure, your other family members may disagree with certain aspects of your life, but that doesn't mean they feel exactly the way this person feels. Ultimately, the being/entity/thing/person we allow to hold the most power in our life is essentially who we worship. Although I'm sure your relative does love you, their actions seem to show that they are more self involved than concerned about you. As a Christian (with some "unconventional" views on scripture, by the way,) it is very clear that the Christian way of life will never be comfortable, will always be a challenge, and that we are to work on our spiritual relationship before pursuing helping others work on theirs. It sounds like your relative is unable to get through the fact that he's uncomfortable, and seems to be blaming you for it, rather than working on their own issues and then addressing you about how they're feeling.

Chelsea Keesler
Chelsea Keesler

None of what we say can put you at ease, or help justify the way you live your life, because, like you said, you're not so concerned with the public reaction as you are the familial reaction. Speaking for others like this relative of yours did is manipulative, selfish, and most likely inaccurate. Sure, your other family members may disagree with certain aspects of your life, but that doesn't mean they feel exactly the way this person feels. Ultimately, the being/entity/thing/person we allow to hold the most power in our life is essentially who we worship. Although I'm sure your relative does love you, their actions seem to show that they are more self involved than concerned about you. As a Christian (with some "unconventional" views on scripture, by the way,) it is very clear that the Christian way of life will never be comfortable, will always be a challenge, and that we are to work on our spiritual relationship before pursuing helping others work on theirs. It sounds like your relative is unable to get through the fact that he's uncomfortable, and seems to be blaming you for it, rather than working on their own issues and then addressing you about how they're feeling.

Larry Dunbar
Larry Dunbar

If this question had been put to me 15 years ago my answer would have been to listen to those that love you and try to do as they ask to save the relationship.Today is a much different story I spent decades trying to be something different than what i truly was for everyone else but myself.As i have aged i realized they were busy living their lives while I was miserable inside and out.You can live your life for yourself while still staying true to the core values your parents instilled in you.I now make decisions for MY life i am not breaking any laws and still cary my core values that has not changed.some are not happy with it but i am now happy and content with myself and my role in this world :-)

Erica Tackett
Erica Tackett

I had struggled with that vary issue, not wanting to tell my grandpa about my own Wiccan path. He is a man that comes from a family of "praise the Lord" jumping up and down pastors. I never thought I would be lucky enough when he found out and still accepted me after finding out exactly was Wicca really is. We have a rede that states, "Do what ye will, init harm none". Basically, do what you wish to do as long as no harm is being done to others, or yourself. I find letting others push their convictions on you breaks that. It keeps you from being who you are. Dan, you are a wonderful, beautiful, and kind-hearted person and it does break my heart that it appears that your family can't look past what you don't believe in, and instead of look at what you do believe in. I hope with all my heart this all works out, and you find peace in situation, whether by letting the people in your life who do not accept you go, or by them accepting you no matter what. Blessed be.

MikeMitchell
MikeMitchell

"Is it wrong to “do what you want no matter what other people think?”"

Rephrase to "Is it wrong to do what you feel is right despite what others want you to do?" 

I've followed a very similar path. Many of my Mormon friends and family have distanced themselves a bit, disagree with me regularly, and a few have decided they want nothing to do with me. It was hard but I've learned that I have to let go of my attachment to their approval of me. Even if they don't care for me, I can continue to care for them. Persisting in what you believe, with an open mind, is paramount to your own sanity. Consider their comments politely. Show them how you would like to be treated by treating them that way. They may continue to disagree with you but eventually they will come to respect you for your convictions and courtesy.

Just my thoughts.

Sondra Soufane
Sondra Soufane

Bravo!!!! Live your life....be authentically Y~O~U :-) ~ღஜღ~

AnonyMoose
AnonyMoose

I was doing this... to someone I love very much... Just in a verydifferent way.  Not so much with guilt... but there are many ways tochange someone.  It wasn't until I Googled "How do I save my Marriage"that I found an explanation that truly made me understand where I wasgoing wrong.  I had put over a decade of effort into my marriage... andsuddenly, the solid, make it through anything, foundation that we hadrelied on for so long... was crumbling from under us.  For years we hadprided ourselves on our devotion and strength... and suddenly... we weredone.  I was and still am a complete wreck... but in a way... its agood thing.  If we are able to get through this and find ourselves andeach other again, we will be better to each other and we will reallyWILL be able to get through anything.  Its kind of the same thing...For a very long time... I could have sworn that HE was the one whoneeded to change... that I was doing everything I could to make himhappy and give him what he wanted.  In the end, we both needed to changeand remember how to love each other exactly as we are... like when wefirst met.  Years of separation and and stress from a military life hadforced into and unending circle of mutual degradation.   We had beentrying to tell each other what we needed... and we would SWEAR we wereexperts at communication... but in the end, neither one of us truly knewhow to communicate our wants and needs to each other.  It took thisnear.. and still possible... permanent break up and a desperate Googlesearch to find the answers.  These are not things that anyone knows toteach... that most people only find by accident or when its already toolate... I hope your post can help others before its too late.

Shelleyd77
Shelleyd77

I've done some things that weren't right.  But who doesn't?  Theologists, everyone?  I'm sure Mother Theresa had some faults, or so some thought.  That's why we are often considered hypocrites.  Live your life...it's no one else's business but your own.  If they are your family, they will love you unconditionally.  As for them seeing you go to hell, I guess that's up to God, after all, He's their judge.  Guess they will have to wait and see.  

MandyLeighRoberts
MandyLeighRoberts

I grew up and Baptist preacher's kid. And I have walked away from much of what I was taught growing up. My parents don't quite get me but accept me. We still have our arguments, but many of my extended family have a problem with my views. It hasn't been easy, and relationships have been strained but I had to be me, and cut the negativity out. Other than my parents, younger sister and 2 cousins I have little to no contact with the rest of the family. I have friends that have become my family, and I'm happier. I can't help that others can't see past our differences, they are the ones that have a problem with me. So they are the ones that have to get over it.

Tiana LaChelle Ells
Tiana LaChelle Ells

Every day. Grew up as a Mormon. Most of my family, including my husbands family, are all Mormons. It's so hard being around them and feeling their judgement since neither my husband or I are still a part of that religion, or any. I feel like I'm an adult, and nobody should have any say on the way my husband and I choose to live our lives. We're still good people, just not "good enough" apparently.

Shelley Rinehart
Shelley Rinehart

Dan, I once read "Only God can judge me" and its something I keep in mind daily. There are many people who judge me for decisions I've made. I don't believe they have the right to judge me. I do believe they have a right to their opinions. And if our opinions differ, then we either agree to disagree or we part ways. Family or friend. And yes, that is painful. But if people in your life that you are closest to cannot respect you enough to agree to disagree on points, then they don't need to be within your inner circle. You've come to a point in your life where you have found happiness and you are a fantastic dad who works with Noah's mom. Pat yourself on the back and give yourself the credit you deserve. Most important, don't ever let anyones judgement of you bring you down. EVER.

JeanetteSmithLamb
JeanetteSmithLamb

p.s. Oh ya, I forgot to add this.   "What other people think of you, is none of your business."  Mark Twain? Eleanor Roosevelt? Someone famous said that and I love it.

Alexandra Walker-Kinnear
Alexandra Walker-Kinnear

I think that there is a difference between "doing what YOU believe to be right" and "going your own way, regardless of what others think". If the 'others' are people you love and respect, than you owe them the courtesy of responding to their opinions. That means honestly taking the time to consider whether there is something in them, and taking the time to explain why your views differ (and if they are not comfortable with that last bit... then, of course, they are doing exactly what they are accusing you of!) But taking the time to respect what others think, does NOT mean that you have to conform to what they think! Ultimately, you must do what you believe to be right.

Alexandra Walker-Kinnear
Alexandra Walker-Kinnear

I think that there is a difference between "doing what YOU believe to be right" and "going your own way, regardless of what others think". If the 'others' are people you love and respect, than you owe them the courtesy of responding to their opinions. That means honestly taking the time to consider whether there is something in them, and taking the time to explain why your views differ (and if they are not comfortable with that last bit... then, of course, they are doing exactly what they are accusing you of!) But taking the time to respect what others think, does NOT mean that you have to conform to what they think! Ultimately, you must do what you believe to be right.

Byra
Byra

I think there is a difference between "doing what you want when want" and "doing what you feel is right".  Doing what you want implies you are being selfish and don't care about others,  doing what you feel is right implies you've thought about it and this is what is "right" for you and/or your family.  So it all depends on circumstance. There is black and white answer.  Good Luck.

AlleahMariePoirier
AlleahMariePoirier

Coming from a family of wildly different religions, I can relate to the pain of being judged for the way you've chosen to live your life. Growing up, my paternal grandmother was a devout Jehovah's Witness, and would very patiently and lovingly explain to me exactly why I was going to hell... aat four years old!  I attended an Anglican church as a child, until I discovered the Christian view on homosexuality;  dealbreaker!  My eldest brothers, in adulthood converted to Catholicism, and LDS, respectively.  My big sister became a Wiccan.  My brother and I both became agnostic.  My point here is that, despite our theological differences, we get along great.  It takes a lot of tolerance on all sides, but we do it anyways.  What your family can come to realize is that if you are a peaceful, loving person, its truly none of their business how you worship.  Of course they are concerned for what they consider damaging to your soul, but it is still your soul.  I hope for your sake that they can learn to live with that.  *hugs*

mrsedge2009
mrsedge2009

Dan-It seems that sometimes our family is our hardest critic. We choose our friends based on mutual likes, feelings, tastes, etc, but our family is given to us by someone much higher. True family loves you regardless. I have friends in my life who have chosen to move away from the Mormon religion and their families react in much the same manner as yours. It baffles me. I was Athiest for many years and my Nazarene family loved me throughout. You should never feel like you have to feel guilty for do what you think is right. Your actions hurt no one, your lack of belief in a specific religion is not harming anyone. I don't know your family, so I wont say what they should or should not do, but it seems that they are choosing religion over family. It also seems to me that God wants us to love the sinner and hate the sin. I live my own authentic life unapologetically, happily, and without shame. You should be proud to do the same. You live a full life, with a beautiful child, and friends who will always be there to love and support you. It sounds to me like you have a beautiful family that just doesnt share the same blood.

wcdameron
wcdameron

Dan,   I  was raised in a Catholic family in the 1960's with four brothers in North Carolina. You can understand how difficult it was to be gay, the only thing worse would have been if I came out as a Mormon.....But I digress.  In the end, I came out, married the man of my dreams and started a blog about it "The Authentic Life".  Good for you, don't let anyone keep wrap you up in in-authenticity.  Peoples is peoples and love is love.  Be who you are.

Paula Smith
Paula Smith

As much as possible, I try to live in such a way that I don't offend my friends and/or relatives. That said, I believe EVERYONe lives their beliefs. If you believe your mother's ( just an example--I don't know which, if any, relative is disapproving of your life choices) disapproval is more important than God's, then you might "lie to God" and live her way. If you believe in God; if you don't believe in God--your behavior will follow your beliefs. If you don't feel that is the case, then you may not be as sure of your beliefs as you might want to be. I absolutely refuse to lie to God; I'm pretty sure God could see right through one of those!! But I DO believe that God is flexible, and not nearly as judgmental as many of us have been taught.

JeanetteSmithLamb
JeanetteSmithLamb

It's funny no one in my family really gives me grief for not going to church. A lot of my extended family may not know. Even if they did try to give me hell for not being an active member of the LDS church anymore, I think they know I wouldn't stand for it. Family is about unconditional love, don't let that dill weed of a relative try to guilt you into one damned thing. If he truly cared about you, he would simply want you to be happy and nothing more.  Keep your chin up kid, don't let the haters get you down. If he wants to be man enough to tell you what he is actually talking about and name names, well then, maybe then you can talk turkey, until then he can suck a rock.

Christal Legeckis
Christal Legeckis

Wow, John Engle. Your comment resonates in me. I've had to deal with some family members who have treated me like this lately. Your words inspire me, and make me feel much better about choosing my own path. Thank you for posting your words here.

tekntonk
tekntonk

Dan – Like you I spent nearly thirty nears living my life for other people, to please them, to fit into their vision of what was right for my life. Although my family background is one of evangelical Christianity, much of what drove me to feel I had no alternatives other than conformity are the same as any other monotheistic religion that requires its followers/believers to “live a certain way, believe certain tenants without question.” In short, like you, I reached a place where my death seemed to be the only outcome and I personally was starting to consider that outcome to be a more definite possibility. Like you, I feared making decisions to change things would cost me connections with family members and then-close friends. This was an extremely painful process, Dan, and your post today echoes much of what I was afraid of happening before I decided to be true to myself.Fortunately, several circumstances changed the way I viewed things, and although it took some time, I ultimately found the courage to be myself and live my life the way that is right for me. I am also proud to say (though this isn’t always a typical response) my family members have largely come around to accept me for who I really am. People are truly capable of acceptance on some level, and although this might not be true for your situation, sometimes (I’m speaking about family connections here) people who initially withdraw from you can rise above their hurt, shock, sadness, and disapproval of what they believe are harmful choices for you to see you for the person you truly are, the one they’ve always loved and cared for and who has been right in front of them (though somewhat hidden) all along.Don’t waste another year not being totally honest with yourself, with others about yourself, and especially with those in your life whose relationships with you are based on conditional love and acceptance. I guarantee you’ll find deep and solid relationships to replace (though perhaps not fully) the ones you will lose. My decision to live authentically – the process of dismantling and then recreating my entire life – took a great deal of time, cost me quite a bit personally, emotionally, and even financially, but in the end it was totally and completely worth it.

Leba Hirsch
Leba Hirsch

Absolutely. I think the best we can do is be true to ourselves: you keep doing what you believe is right! I love your blogs!