To be or not to be… out.

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Davis 5 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #1564

    Tara Auston
    Participant

    I am struggling.

    Almost three years ago I came out to not only myself but my long term boyfriend. I kept my atheism a secret for about a year and then came out to my closest friends. And that is it. In the past two years I have only let one other person know that I am an atheist and that is only because she told me she was one first.

    Now to the more immediate problem. I work in a tight knit office environment with nine other women in their 20s and 30s. I have been at the office for almost five months now and feel like I am not making any friends. I realize that I instinctively keep other people at arms length and have a very hard time letting others in. I keep my personal life very secret. So secret in fact that I feel as though I am living a double life.

    As far as I know all the girls I work with are either openly Christian or at least believe in god. Deep philosophical conversations often occur, that I am never a part of, and I have never heard one other person say that they are atheist, agnostic, or even non-religious. Therefore, I have told NO ONE that I am an atheist for fear of feeling more awkward in the office than I already do feel. I am afraid if I told anyone that they would think differently of me.

    This would not normally be a problem except for today a girl in the office whom I thought might be another closeted atheist (she is a vegetarian, covered in tattoos, and has a LOT of piercings) said “Now, I have a good relationship with Jesus, mind you, but my fiance’s family is just way too religious. They don’t support my vegetarian lifestyle because they think the Bible tells them that eating meat is ok.” So I say “Yeah, and the Bible also says that you shouldn’t eat pork and shellfish but I bet they don’t follow that.” Long story short, I offended her by saying that. Now I don’t know what to do.

    HELP!

    • This topic was modified 5 years, 8 months ago by  Tara Auston.
    #1567

    Strega
    Moderator

    Maybe you need a job with a bit less socializing time available. Isn’t prejudism vile!

    #1568

    Tara Auston
    Participant

    Changing jobs isn’t the answer. I’d probably run into similar encounters no matter where I work. Plus, I really like my job. I absolutely should not let something as silly as this keep me from pursuing my career.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 8 months ago by  Tara Auston.
    #1570

    .
    Spectator

    Hi Tara,

    So sorry you’re going through all of that!! The prison you are in is all in your head. 100% of it is. YOU can be free but you must realize that you are living your life in way that is afraid to be your TRUE self because you are terrified of how OTHER people are going to react. Your self-worth is tied strongly to not feeing rejection from others…

    I know because I’ve been there, done that, got the T-shirt….Now I’ve removed that T-shirt and I’m dancing in a bikini, LOL!!!

    Remember it is illegal to be discriminated against based on your own personal value system. So relax. Don’t worry about “saying the wrong thing…” and if they don’t like you for who you are, they can build a bridge and get over it!!! (I must give @regthefronkeyfarmer ALL the credit for that one, lol…)

    #1571

    Tara Auston
    Participant

    That is exactly my problem! How did you get over that fear? Because honestly it is easier said than done.

    #1577

    .
    Spectator

    Tara,

    How did I change? A LOT of therapy!!! LOL!!!!

    BUT the good news is that there’s a small chance I might be able to summarize the last 3 years of my life in a few paragraphs to give you the essence of what that journey has looked like for me. Maybe you can learn from it and your own self-actualization timeframe will be dramatically shortened by my words. That would be a tremendous gift…..

    First: You are probably unaware of what being a female in the United States has done to you. First, to recognize that the WAY that you think about the world and about yourself has been shaped by a culture that sends messages of learned helplessness, submission, and unworthiness to girls and women. The messages are incredibly subtle and you will probably not pick up on them until you are on the other side of empowerment and come to start thinking of yourself as a strong capable woman. Then you’ll gasp in anger and exasperation that something so toxic and deadly is allowed to infiltrate our minds, and the minds of men who come to have unrealistic expectations of us. It is called oppression, and it is alive and well, even in the 21st Century. It doesn’t have to be. Oppression ends when you free yourself from the ridiculous notion that you are not smart, strong and capable.

    Second: You must understand the fact that you’ve been victim to these subtle and unnecessary hurdles to be a confident individual. In other words it is NOT YOUR FAULT!!! You don’t know something unless you are taught. If you are not taught by examples and role models it’s incredibly difficult to know any better. We lack strong female role models. We lack feeling empowered from the MEN in our lives. We lack guidance and emotional support. So how the hell COULD we know any different? Not just us, but women around the world. Very few women become empowered by themselves. There is almost always someone behind it. Whether it be their parents, friends, or even just one individual who cares and lends a few words of encouragement…The point is, DO NOT beat yourself up for having learned to think this way. It is an inevitable outcome from never being told otherwise.

    Third: I’m assuming you grew up around religion. Religious teachings only add salt to the wound and throw fuel to the fire. If you already think pretty mediocre about yourself, going to church and being taught that you are a sinner that needs a savior, no WONDER women are so messed up!!! So again…don’t BLAME yourself and just recognize it for what it is: A patriarchal society that teaches women to value themselves lower than they deserve, and teaches men to think they are over women in authority. It is another toxic attitude that you are probably not aware of unless you have done research and seen that it DOES NOT have to be that way!!!

    Fourth: Once you realize that you are a product of your environment, you can start to think about what it means to actually be an empowered woman. To be an empowered woman means the following…(to me)….This is the way we SHOULD be taught to think since we were little girls playing princess….

    You have the right to express ALL of your feelings, both positive and negative.

    You have the right to ask for what you want.

    You have the right to determine your own priorities.

    You have the right to NOT be responsible for other people’s behaviors, actions, feelings or problems.

    You have the right to say “NO” to others without feeling guilty.

    You have the right to take your time, slow down, and think.

    You have the right to be uniquely YOURSELF and your OWN person.

    You have the right to say, “I don’t know.” (I love that one.)

    You have the right to make decisions based on your feelings.

    You have the right to be in NON-abusive relationship.

    You have the right to make mistakes.

    You have the right to be safe.

    You have the right to put yourself first.

    You have the right to dignity and respect.

    You have the right to love and to be loved.

    You have the right to be human, not perfect.

    You have the right to your own personal space and time.

    You have the right to privacy.

    You have the right to be angry and protest if you are treated unfairly.

    You have the right to earn and control your own money.

    You have the right to grow and change, including changing your mind. (I love that one too..)

    You have the right to decide if and when you choose to forgive your mistakes or anyone else’s mistakes.

    You have the right to be happy.

    This list comes from the assertive bill of rights…a document that is different depending on who you talk to, but here was the source for this list:

    http://yrpcs.ca/assertiveness-and-your-personal-bill-of-rights/

    I learned about the Assertive Bill of Rights when I was in a support group for women recovering from domestic violence. I took to heart each one of these and I remind myself of them on a regular basis. I would recommend to print one and put it somewhere you can see and read on a regular basis…

    See if you can find a good local therapist.

    Write in a journal…

    Cling to friends in your life that are healthy and supportive of you. Get rid of friends who cause you pain. You don’t need them.

    Start writing daily affirmations about yourself. Women do this differently. For Christmas this last year me and my son didn’t get a tree. Instead we drew a tree on a big poster board and every day we could cut an ornament out of as sticky note and each write something we are thankful for. It became a gratitude tree. It was a reminder of the good things in our life.

    Little things like that actually re-wire your brain to think differently. It’s a way to actually heal you brain! Whether you’ve been through trauma or not, I think all women need to practice feeling strong, healthy, happy and confident. It doesn’t mean you’ll wake up tomorrow and feel like you’re on top of a mountain. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never be scared, or depressed, or worried. It doesn’t mean your problems disappear. It DOES mean that you can always take control of your feelings and remember that you are a magnificent, capable, beautiful woman worthy of all of these things above that I mentioned….

    And if you find yourself in a position where you’re not being respected in a way that you deserve, you can choose in that moment what to do about it. Whether it’s to confront a person, remove yourself from the situation.

    If these girls at work think differently than you, so what? You are not supposed to be BFF’s but co-workers. Learn to communicate with them professionally and make small talk. Water-cooler conversations are VERY important. But you don’t have to talk about your atheism. (you have the right to privacy.) But if you choose to tell them, you have the right to not be disrespected for it.

    Ultimately YOU are in control here. Once you realize that you are, you don’t have to worry about being hurt. You are no longer worried about what other girls “think” about you. If they think any less of you for being yourself they are NOT worth your time. You can smile and be cordial at work….and go home and live your life and not care about them outside the office. If they choose not to be friends with you outside of work, that’s OK!!!! You can find your “tribe”…your “peeps”….your “BFF’s”…elsewhere. That is the very essence of a great work/life balance.

    Don’t be intimidated by them. They are just people.

    And just remember they have the same rights you do….you are equals. No one is higher than the other………..

    #1578

    Tara Auston
    Participant

    Belle Rose (pretty name btw),

    You have no idea how much that helped and how much I needed that. It sucks that I have to be reminded of stuff I should already know but it is true that I have struggled with that “list of rights” almost my entire life. Thank you so much for your enlightenment. Things won’t change over night but you gave me a perspective nobody has ever shown me.

    #1579

    Davis
    Moderator

    @Belle +1

    #1582

    .
    Spectator

    Tara, I still need reminders myself. It is not That I have mastered it, but simply become aware of it. Being aware is to be enlightened. Mastery takes a lifetime…

    We always need reminders. That too is something to NOT beat yourself up over…That is why you need to surround yourself with good people and ditch everyone else…

    #1585

    .
    Spectator

    Also Tara…I recently finished reading My Fight / Your Fight by Ronda Rousey…She has quickly become one of my favorite people on this planet. I admire her….more than I can put into words. Not only for her accomplishments but from her own life story and circumstances, and her overall attitude towards life. I learned a LOT from reading her book….I’m a fan for LIFE! LOL!!!
    You might take a peek if you have any interest. She is the type of woman I hope little girls will aspire to become. I plan on advocating her book to every young woman I know. I think it should be required. Not because it’s very well written, but because it’s raw and real, and it gives you the insight into the struggles of a woman and how she can turn those struggles into advantages…it’s all in the mind….GREAT read!!!!

    #1602

    Nerdy Keith
    Participant

    To be honest I wouldn’t worry about it too much. It was an off the cuff remark; I think she’ll probably get over it. If it comes up again; it might be ok to just say that you are not very religious; but don’t elaborate on it any further than that. Your lack of faith is personal and everybody doesn’t need to know about it.

    #1802

    Long story short, I offended her by saying that. Now I don’t know what to do.

    Hi Tara…..No, you did not offend her. Do not try to take the blame for that. She decided to be offended. This is what all Christians do when their bigotry or double standards are pointed out to them. They will pick and choose what verses they like and ignore the others. Often they don’t even know that they exist. Remember that criticizing religion is not the same as criticizing the person. Remember too that you probably know the Bible better than they do.

    Of course if you want to have some office fun you could ask your co-workers some of these pertinent questions(OK I am being a little silly here but….)

    Dear Dr Laura:

    Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

    When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

    I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

    Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

    I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

    A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

    Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

    Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

    I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

    My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? – Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

    James: I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

    #1818

    Davis
    Moderator

    Tara,

    Don’t for a second feel the slightest bit bad for responding to religious nonsense in a public environment if they bring the subject up in the first place. If they are so insecure with their beliefs that they get upset when you quote their own scriptures (which they likely quote themselves when its convenient) then their position is not respectable and they merrit no special shield or “not allowed to offend” card. You are at work, not a church.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 8 months ago by  Davis.
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