How did I ever turn out so darn weird? The Me of 1997 would totally not recognize the Me of 2007. This is starting to cause some discomfort in my associations with other people. Luckily, I know that I’m right now 🙂 so it isn’t causing me to question my beliefs but it is making wonder what all I should say to others.
Take the people I work with. I am going to a conference in Florida next week with a few of them. I was going to actually travel and stay with them but changed my mind when one started talking about how she spends all her time in Florida cussing out people who speak Spanish. I’ve been fairly outspoken about social justice issues at work. I don’t think I’ve changed anyone’s mind about anything but now they sometimes stop saying bigoted things when I’m around.
I had a quilting day today. At one point the conversation got to a local out lesbian who is in the military (sssh, don’t tell). She is in a relationship and has adopted several kids. My friends started talking about how they weren’t sure whether gay people should be allowed to adopt. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to listen to the anti-gay diatribe that was sure to follow without comment but didn’t think that a pro-gay adoption argument would do any good. So I quickly changed the subject. I’m not sure that I should have done that. Part of me says that I should have shot down their arguments but the other part says that it would have been falling on ears that were not open to discussion. Add to this that I’m horribly non-confrontational so the idea of starting a spirited debate is horrifying to me. I’m having cognitive dissonance – a conflict between what you feel and what you say. (Look at that college education actually coming in handy for once.)
The other relationship issue that is bubbling up is my family’s response to my religious choices. They are non-confrontational too so I’m not hearing this directly. Over Christmas the husband reported that my mother was talking to him about how she would like to see me start attending church again. She has always blamed him for my lack of church attendance. I met the husband at the same time that I was questioning my Christianity. This is a coincidence – not a cause and effect but she doesn’t see it that way. The husband has always said that she blames him for me not being an active Christian but I don’t think she’s ever been that blatant before. I asked him what he said to her and he said that there were no churches in our area that we felt comfortable in. I guess that’s true since I’m a pagan and he’s semi-Christian (He claims to be Christian but he has beliefs that would get him kicked out of any self-respecting Christian church)! I was surprised at that answer though. He doesn’t understand being in the closet about religion and freely talks about my paganism to everyone. If my highly confrontational husband backed away from starting a row with my mother I don’t know if I could ever do it.
I think the reason why is that there is no good outcome. Ideally, they would say, “We don’t agree with your choice but obviously there is nothing we can do about it so we will respect your decision and shut up about it.” Not going to happen. My mom saw a cookbook I have here that is pagan. I didn’t even know she saw it but she came up to me and said that the woman who “wrote that cookbook has very interesting ideas.” You needed to hear her tone to realize that she did not mean it as a compliment.
My sister in law also harrasses us about church. I don’t get that one since my brother knows I’m a pagan. I converted just as he was turning into a hard-core Christian. (I think we passed somewhere in the middle!) I don’t know that he has ever said anything to his wife. We actually went to church on Christmas Eve with them. We weren’t in the real service since my brother has a behind the scenes job and we hung out with him. Afterwards we went to lunch and I asked why there were armed police in the lobby when we came in. It is because of the amount of money collected. The SIL also started talking about a “crazy lady” who was bothering people there. The husband started in on her about isn’t the role of the church to take care of the less fortunate. He was right on in puncturing her hypocrasy but no one else saw it but me.
I want to get this over with before we adopt. Not taking my kid(s) to church will be a huge source of conflict. I’m thinking of talking to the SIL first. She’ll be my practice for my mom.