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I want to warn you from the outset that this will be a long diary touching on birth order, familial struggles, abortion rights, mental illness, gossip, and much more. So this is the appropriate time to "get off the ride". This would solely be for the people like me who come here many times a day and don't mind a long read.
More than anything I am looking for some support during a difficult time.
I am the second oldest pitch-black sheep of a family of six kids. Our father was ordained as a Christian Reformed minister, who went non-denominational after about ten years.  I have always been and am starting to believe I always will be the outcast.
The current issue I am dealing with is this. How do you defend your beliefs, while being attacked, but not come off as the aggressor?
Incredibly long story short by way of filling you in-
I have never hid my beliefs, no matter how unpopular. As a result, both my immediate and extended family(all outspoken, affirmed Christians) know that I am pro-choice, pro-human rights, anti-"war", anti-"religious freedom", basically, I am an informed liberal.
As such, over the last few years I have been increasingly distant from my family, both extended and immediate.
Over the course of my life, being the outspoken liberal of the family, I have become the de facto "keeper of secrets".
All the pre-marital sex, all the abortions, all the drug use, it is mine to keep, while at the same time being honest about my own beliefs.
Recently my youngest sibling, my only sister, called me in tears saying that she had gotten pregnant and wanted to get an abortion and wanted to hear what I thought. Over the course of the next few weeks I urged her, due to her upbringing and surroundings, to have the baby and give it up for adoption, even though I'm pro-choice, I know if she is not ready to leave the church, and has an abortion, the rest of her life is hell. Labeled a murderer for life.
But, she did terminate the pregnancy. And then got married, to the guy that helped her to get said abortion. An avowed Christian who was staunchly pro-life, and who while professing daily on facebook his love and admiration for Jesus, very much did not oppose the abortion.
And time goes on, until I read on facebook that she has "liked" Paul Ryan, the Tea Party and Donald Trump. And so, thinking that no one in my family can read my facebook posts, as I have deleted all of them after I said "fuck" in a post to another adult, and was told by my family that they were worried for my children, because I said fuck, I said that I was losing respect for said sister due to her recent actions.
The resultant shit-storm from my family was apocalyptic to say the least.
I have been labeled a bad father.
A bad husband.
A drug addict.
Mentally ill.
A coward.
and all I want is to explain how my actions make me none of those things.
I will answer every question totally honestly.
All I want is some honest feedback on how to proceed without furthering the idea that people like myself are just arrogant assholes that can't listen to the other side. Please help in whatever way you can...

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Comment Preferences

  •  It was pretty bad judgement (4+ / 0-)

    to talk about your sister's actions on Facebook, regardless of who was theoretically authorized to see it.   You'll be taking plenty of grief on this so you don't need it from me -- but please, for your own sake, learn once and for all right now, the lesson of Internet discretion and discretion generally.  

    Honestly I think you might try apologizing to your family, and especially your sister -- not for your beliefs, or (how ridiculous) for the occasional cuss word -- but for hurting them.  Because I suspect they ARE hurting.   She may have made bad and inconsistent choices, but believe me she will pay a price for them.  Give her love and understanding.  Be more Christian than the professed Christians.  

    As far as defending your beliefs without getting ugly about it -- save that for another day.  Nobody is going to change their mind in the middle of this hot  mess.   Just tell them that certain topics will have to be off limits but you still love them -- unless you're too mad too right now, in which case just keep your mouth shut and stay away.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:16:54 PM PST

    •  I wasn't sure what that meant -- did he (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp, Pluto

      specify that she got an abortion, or just obliquely refer to "her recent actions"?

      © cai Visit to join the fight against global warming.

      by cai on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:26:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I suppose I was assuming (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        not necessarily that he spilled EVERY detail, but at the least that he made it clear that the circumstances of her marriage were appalling to him.  Not a posture that would ever conduce to family harmony.  

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:29:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you, thank you, thank you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp, Joy of Fishes, chimene

      I'm so glad you responded. As far as your advice, I have apologized. Both to my sister specifically, and to those involved, in the general sense that they were affected. I fully understand that my actions were out of bounds. However, the way things were left from their side, in terms of not responding to me, is that, I am either on drugs-coke and meth were mentioned specifically, or so mentally ill that my presence would be damaging. So I either needed to seek help for said unknown addiction, or get psychiatric help, before they could deal with me. So that is where I find myself. "Broke and looking for communal therapy". Again thank you so much for your response.

      •  They choose to believe your wits are addled (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hotheadCA, chimene

        by drugs or disease, so that they can find an way to recast some unpleasant truths you have spoken as crazed ravings.  You don't sound crazy to me, but you ARE distressed, for a lot of reasons both current and historical.  Almost everybody can learn something from therapy, and I recommend it -- probably not the same flavor as THEY might recommend, but some variety or other, to help you gain perspective on all this.  However as you say cost is always a consideration.  Shop around for support groups, buy some self-help books, what the heck.  AA, NA, and Al-Anon are huge in part because they are free, and some people find comfort in them even where substance abuse is not their chief concern.  

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 06:06:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I would confront both of them directly. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, hotheadCA

    They are hypocrites.  They do not live what they profess.  It sounds to me like you want to be closer to your family, and you are under stress about this.  But are they being fair to you?  Are they being respectful of you?  Those are questions you need to consider.  Treat yourself well, and fairly, and don't settle for less from hypocrites.

    Expose the lies. Fight for the truth. Push progressive politics. Save our planet. Health care is a right, not a privilege.

    by lighttheway on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:22:42 PM PST

  •  Regarding your sister: if a woman calls (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    swampyankee, Pluto, Chi, DianeNYS

    you and says she wants to get an abortion, then her decision is made.   The appropriate position is not to talk her out of it.  

    I suspect what she wanted to hear from you was that you did not judge her, and you did not think she was a bad person for her decision.  Perhaps she also wanted you to help in practical ways, such as driving her to appointments or assisting with finances.

    Going through with an unwanted pregnancy to give the baby up for adoption is often presented as a "way out", but it is not.  Many women know that a) they do not want to be pregnant, b) they do not want to give birth, and c) if they did so, they'd be unable to give the baby up, and d) if they did give the baby up, it would represent a huge loss and lifelong trauma.  Women who choose this path on their own should be offered support, but they should not be badgered into it because it seems easier to someone else than what they actually want to do: terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

    Unfortunately, by trying to put what you thought her interests were ahead of what she was telling you they were, you may have pushed her to rely on someone who would play the hypocrite, but help her: and therefore, someone she could trust in that moment more than you.

    © cai Visit to join the fight against global warming.

    by cai on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:24:36 PM PST

    •  P.S. -- In some situations, it may be (8+ / 0-)

      appropriate to ask gentle questions: "Are you sure this is what you want?" or, "Have you made your peace with this decision?"  

      But as the saying goes, a woman doesn't want an abortion the way she wants a manicure.  She wants an abortion the way an animal in a trap wants to chew its leg off to get free.

      © cai Visit to join the fight against global warming.

      by cai on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:30:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wow, you're last sentence here (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp, cai, Pluto, DianeNYS, Anne was here, malevola

        is so powerful and so true.

        However, I struggle with your initial analysis. I think josh gave his advice out of love and fear for his sister---that she would not be able to live with her actions. Perhaps it wasn't the best advice, but I think it came from the right place.

        Then he finds out she's "liking" Paul Ryan, who wouldn't allow her to have an abortion just because she feels like an "animal willing to chew its leg off to get free."

        I have huge problems with people who use the freedoms and support of the Democratic platform, and then turn around and try to shut the door behind them to others who have need of the same.  Frankly, it disgusts me.

        "A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues." Theodore Roosevelt.

        by StellaRay on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:36:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, I'm not excusing his sister's hypocrisy. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But enlightening someone steeped in bullshit is a long and drawn-out process, if you can manage it at all.

          Plus, it's clear that she had decided on termination herself, whatever her political beliefs.  So I feel it would have been more helpful if the diarist had, after an initial question or three, been supportive of her decision.

          Of course, a vindictive person could have said to her, "You like politicians who are stridently anti-choice, so just go live according to the rules you like so much for other people."  But I'm assuming that the diarist is not vindictive, that he loves his sister and wants what is best for her.

          © cai Visit to join the fight against global warming.

          by cai on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:43:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I didn't read this (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            as him not being supportive of his sister's choice, simply afraid for her to make a decision that clearly defies her beliefs.  But then we find that her beliefs can be altered when it's all about her.

            And I totally agree, enlightening someone steeped in bullshit is a thankless and usually useless task. Better to spend your time with those whose values you respect, rather than trying to change someone's mind about values you don't respect.

            "A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues." Theodore Roosevelt.

            by StellaRay on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:59:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  This was my entire motivation (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          StellaRay, lgmcp, DianeNYS

          As a man who will never have to deal with a pregnancy, unwanted or not, I have never believed it was my place. And so I told my sister with the utmost honesty that I would support and love her, no matter her decision. I did a bad thing by breaching her trust, and I will always have to live with that. I just want to start from a place of honesty and don't know how to do that, since the foundation of this entire situation is lie. So that is why I'm reaching out.

          •  Yes, that's the problem (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lgmcp, theotherjosh, DianeNYS

            Your foundation is different than your family's.  Not their fault and not yours.  Sometimes it's good to be pragmatic and simply call it for what it is without pulling in all the emotion.

            Since you feel you betrayed your sister's trust, I think you'd feel better if you apologized for that.  Keep it simple, take your own inventory, and stay away from hers.  

            Make your apology to be the person you want to be, not to get your sister's approval. If you do this, it won't matter what her response is. You will have done what you think is right, and from there all good things flow, even if it isn't immediately apparent.

            "A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues." Theodore Roosevelt.

            by StellaRay on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 06:04:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I hope this goes to StellaRay (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Thank you. I keep having issues with my responses being connected to the posts I wish them to be. I agree. And I have spoken to my sister, where I did sincerly apologize, and talk about how she was feeling. But she still hates herself and believes she murdered a baby. So as I try to convince the rest of my family I'm not a danger due to my beliefs, I'm trying to get her to understand that she isn't "evil". Again, I'm reaching out to a website, albeit one I truly enjoy, but a website, for help, so I expect nothing and will not be offended if the responses drop off. Again thank you for everything, and please know I will think earnestly on the thing I truly believe you wrote because you cared.

              •  I do care, josh. (0+ / 0-)

                And I feel very badly for people who think they can "convince"
                other people how to feel, or save them from themselves.  Been there, done that, and long ago humbly accepted that my desire to do so is just another form of the controlling behavior I resist.

                We can sometimes influence, when the door is open, but the degree of that influence is small, when compared to the decisions anyone might make, based on so much more than what we have to say or to offer.  People change their minds based on their own experience, not based on someone else's.

                Your sister will have to deal with her own issues.  Your worth is NOT dependent on you saying the right words to make her see the light, as you see it.

                Your worth is in the love you give, the humility for your mistakes you accept, and the degree to which you think you too are worth protection, safety and compassion.

                "A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues." Theodore Roosevelt.

                by StellaRay on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 06:53:54 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  There comes a time for some (9+ / 0-)

    when it is imperative to build a new family, one chosen to better fit who we are. This "new family" is hopefully made of friends who share our values, and like us well enough to accept us for who we are. This new family becomes where we seek refuge and comfort.  

    What to do with the "old family?"  Limit contact, DON'T discuss politics, send a Christmas card. This may sound cold, but emotional survival sometimes dictates it.  

    Couple of things to remember.  Your family is NOT showing you loving behavior with their actions, but rather controlling "flock" behavior, willing to oust and ridicule you when you don't fly their way.  Conditional love is very painful, as it requires you give up who you are to earn it.

    And every time you stand in front of a person who invalidates who you are and what you believe, it's like a mirror, reflecting back to you doubt, shame and judgment. In other words, toxic stuff.

    We don't choose our families and some of us are luckier than others when it comes to who we are born into.  But as adults, we DO have choices. We CAN choose not to surround ourselves with those who don't respect us.  We CAN choose not to try to change their minds.  We CAN choose to love ourselves enough to find people in our lives who are welcoming and accepting.  And if we don't, we are part of the problem.

    Letting go of what is painful is a beautiful thing. Good luck josh and Godspeed.  

    "A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues." Theodore Roosevelt.

    by StellaRay on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:26:44 PM PST

    •  Coincidentally, old friend posted on FB just now (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StellaRay, cai, Pluto, Anne was here
      I'm grateful for kind and thoughtful people in my life.

      I'm grateful to those participants in Adult Children of Alcoholics, years ago, who told me it was okay not to maintain friendships with alcoholics or their defenders and enablers.

      With over six billion people in the world, it really is okay to sit closer to nicer people, and not to invite abusive drunks and druggies over to hang out.

      The same might be said of other kinds of abusiveness, including the Fundamentalist kind.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:38:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Amen to this: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp, Pluto

        "it really is okay to sit closer to nicer people."  When you look at it this way, who wouldn't agree?  Seems like it's the sanest decision one could make, and it is.

        I've seen this many times. Seen people get very involved in helping their abusive families maintain their systems. They think they're fighting the good fight with their families, but all they're doing is adding kerosene to the fire.

        I say let them be them, and for God sakes, let you be you, and that means finding people "to sit next to" who accept you rather than tear you down.  

        "A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues." Theodore Roosevelt.

        by StellaRay on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:48:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  But it takes a lot (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        to give up on family of origin.  If Josh wants to stay in connection, he will have to show compassion as well as setting limits.  

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:48:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not saying (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lgmcp, Joy of Fishes

          "give up on" as in excommunicate.  I'm saying "give up on" as in stop trying to change who they are, argue with them, or defend yourself.  I'm saying except the realities, adjust your expectations, and find a better place to nest.

          And I have to say, I'm not hearing evidence of a family who will recognize any show of compassion from josh. I find generally that people who can't give compassion don't recognize it when it's given to them.

          "A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues." Theodore Roosevelt.

          by StellaRay on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:51:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Not just because it feels good to hear (0+ / 0-)

      This is what my wife(who also come from a very different type of broken home) and I have been trying to work through.

  •  Not to be repetitive, but, thank you. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, Joy of Fishes

    Obviously, there is a lot more to all of this than I could fit into that initial post, but as a father of three, it's late for me and I would really like to continue talking to anyone that has the time or desire. So if you can or want to stick with me, I have absolutely loved all the feedback thus far.

  •  Honesty is not an unqualified good (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, Joy of Fishes

    Never hiding your views, no matter how unpopular, has made everyone miserable, including yourself.  You undoubtedly believe you are being virtuous when you are honest with your family, and you take pride in doing so.  But telling everyone exactly what you think is no virtue.  It is a temptation to be resisted, a vice to be given up.

    Parents begin by telling their children that they should always tell the truth, that it is a sin to tell a lie.  And then they spend the next fifteen years trying to undo the damage.

    Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules about when to be honest, when to dissemble, and when to just plain keep your mouth shut.  But as a general rule, being pleasant should be weighed in the balance along with being honest.

    Personally speaking, if I never hid my views, no matter how unpopular, I would be banned from this website.

  •  When one doesn't understand the rationale for (0+ / 0-)

    compromising, life becomes much easier -- and lonelier.

    As this fellow discovered (well, maybe not the easier part).

  •  I'll just add ... (0+ / 0-)

    When you get the chance, read "The Varieties of Religious Experience", over a century old but still IMO the best book on the psychology of religion.

    Best wishes. There are a number of conservative Christians in my wife's family that I was once very close too that think many of the same things about me. Some don't talk to me and some make a point of showing their condescending faux Christian love by tolerating my presence. Life's too short. After many years of sorrow I now feel blessed by their absence. I don't mean to diminish the greater issues when it's your own parents but you are at a point where no real communication will take place until they are motivated to initiate it.

    Our reason is quite satisfied ... if we can find a few arguments that will do to recite in case our credulity is criticized... Our faith is faith in someone else's faith, and in the greatest matters this is most the case. - William James

    by radical empiricist on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 06:55:44 PM PST

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