I Was Shunned By My Family – Non-Fiction

Writer: Atheist Republic

Subject: I Was Shunned By My Family

Link: 27.05.2022 / newsletter@atheistrepublic.com

I Was Shunned By My Family

Atheists all throughout the world experience being shunned in one way or another when they oppose the teachings of the religion they were born into. Even people who are not yet adults are shamed and sometimes kicked out of their home. Here is one such story, shared by Deborah, who is now also on the AR volunteer team.

My experience of having to, “Lie,” about my beliefs is probably a common one. I was indoctrinated as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in a large family. I had 12 siblings and two wonderful parents, though very strict. At the age of seventeen I was disfellowshipped (shunned) for smoking cigarettes. Even though I was turned in for smoking, the elders of the congregation were really disfellowshipping me for being discovered as a lesbian. At that time, I had finally found others like myself and reached out to them. After years of hiding and lying about who I was, and having nobody to relate to, I was compelled to pursue that part of me. Yet my heart was torn between the two families.

Once disfellowshipped, everyone I knew and associated with were required by the religion to turn their backs on me when it came to any social or even casual encounter. Even my own family members (mostly) felt compelled to shun me. Their reasoning was to try to “shock” me into repenting and going through the process of returning to the congregational fold.

To their surprise, I had no intention of going through that long, tortuous process. I was stunned and felt so betrayed. But I wasn’t going to just crumple and fold into what I knew I didn’t believe. I decided to reverse that psychological blackmail, even though I knew the cult had a much stronger grip on them.

At twenty-one, I left Michigan and moved to Phoenix, AZ. I cannot describe the pain and loneliness I felt most of my early adult life. The rest is pretty much history. I spent years on my own with very little family contact. But when I was older, I decided to move back home to reconnect with my family. Our relationship was still very strained, but they seem to have a curiosity about me. Over the last decade and after a few deaths, we’ve managed to come to an arm’s length relationship again, for the most part. I have two brothers who accept me one hundred percent now, and I am grateful for that. ​

If you are feeling alone, please don’t despair. Reach out to our community through our forum, our support group, or our facebook page. You’re not alone. You can find connections through Atheist Republic.

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