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Venting Session

Venting Session

A Story by Keith LaFountaine
"

I needed to vent about something that's been eating at me for a few months.

"

I know I just posted that I was taking a break - and to my credit I am - but it’s four in the morning, I’m finished finals, and I need to get this out. Even if nobody reads this, at least the emotions will have transferred from my fingertips to the page. Sometimes that’s all it takes to feel a little better.

This upcoming Valentine’s Day will mark the 3rd anniversary of my grandfather’s death. On the approach to this moment, his birthday has come and gone. He and my grandmother’s anniversary has passed for yet another year. And everything seems a little emptier. The skies seem a little less bright when I stand outside in the morning. My laugh seems a little less true every time I hear a joke. I can’t explain it.

I loved my grandfather. I looked up to him. I looked up to his courage. His resolve. His values. His love. And now, nearing the date of his passing, I feel bombarded with unfair emotions slung at me like a volley of arrows. And what makes things worse is that the archers are my own family.

Everybody grieves differently. I picked up the pen when I went through my depression. It took years, but I managed to get out of it. A lot of people turn to religion. Others use music. Everyone is different. But these past few months have put me in an awkward position.

 

I am an atheist. I am firm in my beliefs. Though they are my beliefs only, and I do not force them onto anyone else in my family, there has been a noticeable difference in the way my family interacts with me. And that breaks my heart. It truly does.

I was talking with my parents a few weeks ago, as I do every Sunday to let them know how my schoolwork is going and such, when they asked me if I would be offended by the Christmas ornaments in the house. Every year, my family puts up a small ornament, celebrating the birth of Christ in a small fashion - we’ve never been a church going family. At first, I thought this was a joke. A few months before - in the summer - my father had joked that, because I was an atheist, he would save a lot on Christmas shopping. So, at first I laughed. But they were serious. And in one respect I felt somewhat understanding. Though I’ve been an atheist for the better part of five years, they say they didn’t know this until the summer of 2013. So, I wanted to understand their asking. But then I felt a little hurt " that my own parents had to ask me if something as small as an ornamental manger would offend me, as though I’ve somehow changed as a person in the past few months.

            This seems like small potatoes, but things just grew from here.

            Over Thanksgiving, I was lucky enough to spend time with my aunt and uncle. I was unable to get home due to the weather, however it felt good to " at the very least " be with family. While I was conversing with my grandmother about odds and ends of school and such, my grandfather’s funeral came up. The topic of religion followed, and I - again - said what I believed when asked. The following look shattered my heart to pieces. For, though I know my family loves me, the look I got from my aunt when the word “atheist” left my mouth was one of pure hatred. I’m not sure if it was meant to be so, but I could feel the anger behind it. It was in her eyes, followed by the words “do you know what that is?” And when I responded “Yes " I don’t believe in a higher power”, she shook her head and didn’t look at me for the rest of the conversation; even when I tried to console her by reiterating “These are my beliefs; you don’t have to share them " it’s okay.”  I had to explain myself to someone who’s supposed to love me unconditionally.

            And perhaps I’m overacting a bit. After all, that look lasted a matter of seconds while I have years of love to back-up my aunt’s affection. But it’s not just the look. It’s the questions, the responses, the anger, and surprise since my family “discovered” that I was an atheist. They treat me differently.

 

            I’m always asked, “How do you not believe in Heaven? Don’t you believe your grandfather is there?” And the answer is never simple. Whenever dealing in life and death, I find the world tough to translate.

            I want to believe in God. I really do. I want to believe in somebody watching over me; someone with a set idea for life when I have no idea what the f**k I’m doing. I really do. But I can’t. I want to believe my grandfather is up in Heaven. I want to believe that, when I die, he will greet me with a hug and smile, saying “You done good, kiddo” before leading me to paradise.

            But I can’t believe that.

            I can’t believe that God is helping sports teams win football games while children in Somalia are being pushed into being soldiers. I can’t believe that God is giving rain to crops in Ohio while leaving millions dying of hunger and thirst. I can’t believe that God has a hand in everything when so little of this world is actually prospering.

            I love my family. I always will. I would sacrifice anything for them. But I can’t help but spill a few tears every time I see that look of distaste about my association as an atheist. Every harsh utterance of the very word - atheist - spoken as if fueled by venomous rage.

            I am an atheist. But you know what else I am? I’m a person. I have hopes, dreams, goals, fears, doubts, and I have experienced the loss of my grandfather just as much as the rest of my family. And to see everyone rallying around God makes me happy because - regardless of my beliefs - I'm glad they’re not falling into depression like I did. But I hate the looks. I hate the anger. It breaks my heart when people I love unconditionally have thoughts of rage towards me - even if it’s for a moment. 


© 2013 Keith LaFountaine



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Firstly can I say that to tell your family your true feelings is an act of bravery and they should be proud that you feel strongly enough to stand up and say "this is my way, maybe not your way but it is what I believe." Well done but I don't think that the dirty looks mean very much, they are probably more surprised than angry. They are all people do, fallible and emotional, forgive them the odd confused or annoyed look. Remember their love and kindness in times of need and also remember that they are approaching your grandfathers anniversary with their own pains and loss. I am a church goer but although I have gone for most of my life I still can not put into words what I believe. Saying there is no god seems like turning my back on the possibility of a higher power and feels "naughty" in some way. I have trouble with it all, being a logical person and trying to put together god and science is not easy. The big beard in the sky does not work for me but I like to think there is something out there, maybe not interfering but sometimes putting a finger here or there. Like a gentle kid with an ant farm, they mourn the ants who die or fight but they can't stop it.
I think you should believe what makes the most sense to you and let your family know you still love them and respect their views, it is just that you don't share them. Also Christmas is about family, giving, receiving, laughter and sharing, it is not just about the birth of a child who may or may not have been the son of god. Enjoy it and enjoy your family as life is short and time goes fast, cherish them before you lament too late about their loss. Mostly though take care and be strong. xx Sorry I ranted on a bit :-) xx

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I don't understand this world. I do my best to stay positive for the family. Hard to believe in anything real. I'm glad you are done with the finals. I do believe change is coming. Maybe not for the better? We have leaders saying "Rape is God will." "We are doing better, only 400,000 dying a month in Africa, better than a million ten years ago.", "A man with no work had more time for family". When we are led by eggheads. I pray your generation does better than we did. I pray for logic and common sense. Always good to read your words.
Coyote

Posted 3 Years Ago


What an interesting, somewhat sad.. sad.. post but oh, so honest, so genuine! I'm a believer, can't help it, any more than you can be true to YOUrself. I think, no, know, people are brainwashed into believing whichever faith. But, for so many, perhaps the more strongly willed - questioning and analysing facts and figures isn't bad - unexpected perhaps but also, courageous. Sometimes questions and answers help make a final decisio, even on your last day. You might feel one way now, but who knows.. For me the answer is for someone in your shoes to show you're still the same YOU, behave in a loving and respectful way and hope in time you'll be given the respect you deserve. It'll probably be more than hard - forms of confrontation about anything always are, but, tis worth a try and in the end, like it or not, is a way of 'turning the other cheek'!

Trouble is that so many people blare out their beliefs, whether of a faith or the opposite.. both sides need one distinct means of being: tolerance. No shouting and beating chests on one side or another. Acceptance with dignity wrapped in give and take - even if you bang your head on a wall now and again. This is a BRILLIANT post, both literally and in content.

(By the by, we all see God in the way we're taught as little cildren: a man with a long beard sitting on a throne making and creating miracles worldwide. [Rather like being told that Santa Claus gives every child on our planet toys come Christmas] Both are false tales, lies.. Faith is trying to understand, then.. then holding the hems and sighs of what you feel. If that gives you comfort then you believe. God isnt a WHO but a WHAT and what you believe is how you think, how you feel and a hell on earth lot more. )

Sorry, said far too much.. but, in the process showing admiration for your courage; takes guts to go another from your family's religious convictions. Surely if you go on showing them that there's gentle, respectful love still deep inside you, keeping discussion on the matter toa minimum.. words sharpen misunderstanding, things will settle, in time.. some time. Ok. off my soapboax with apologies.

Posted 3 Years Ago


being an atheist doesn't mean you have no morals, or kindness, or compassion. i don't understand why people think being an atheist is so evil. we don't go around imposing our beliefs on anyone the way they're always preaching to us. i am not vocal about being an atheist so as not to hurt my parents. but if anyone would ask me i would tell them the truth. i can't stand self-righteous religious people. they make me sick. it's good you can articulate your feelings. great job.

Posted 3 Years Ago


I really appreciate your perspective. I'm sorry your family is not treating you very well. I bet that as they see you being kind to them over time, eventually they'll have no choice but to accept you for who you are. Good luck!

Posted 3 Years Ago


Hi Keith, sorry you are in that position. I think you will find many people equate atheism with devil worship and the dark images of the heretic from the Middle Ages. I too have no belief in a life after death as such so you are not alone. Darwin got it right!

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Keith, I find it incredibly sad that your family treats you differently because of your beliefs. You are right that family is supposed to love unconditionally. By the way, so are Christians. My niece told the family that she was an atheist last year; it has changed none of our feelings toward her. When I think about my family, we are a mix of beliefs, as well as a mix of dreams, talents, and joys. As for grieving your grandfather, I would focus on what you know for sure, rather than the "controversial" unknowns. You loved him, he loved you, you are a better person for having known him, and, one way or another, he is no longer vexed by the troubles of the world; he is at peace.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Firstly can I say that to tell your family your true feelings is an act of bravery and they should be proud that you feel strongly enough to stand up and say "this is my way, maybe not your way but it is what I believe." Well done but I don't think that the dirty looks mean very much, they are probably more surprised than angry. They are all people do, fallible and emotional, forgive them the odd confused or annoyed look. Remember their love and kindness in times of need and also remember that they are approaching your grandfathers anniversary with their own pains and loss. I am a church goer but although I have gone for most of my life I still can not put into words what I believe. Saying there is no god seems like turning my back on the possibility of a higher power and feels "naughty" in some way. I have trouble with it all, being a logical person and trying to put together god and science is not easy. The big beard in the sky does not work for me but I like to think there is something out there, maybe not interfering but sometimes putting a finger here or there. Like a gentle kid with an ant farm, they mourn the ants who die or fight but they can't stop it.
I think you should believe what makes the most sense to you and let your family know you still love them and respect their views, it is just that you don't share them. Also Christmas is about family, giving, receiving, laughter and sharing, it is not just about the birth of a child who may or may not have been the son of god. Enjoy it and enjoy your family as life is short and time goes fast, cherish them before you lament too late about their loss. Mostly though take care and be strong. xx Sorry I ranted on a bit :-) xx

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on December 20, 2013
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Author

Keith LaFountaine
Keith LaFountaine

Burlington, VT



About
Hey everyone! I'm a 21 year old writer/musician/filmmaker currently going to Lyndon State College. My birthday is October 25th. I love writing, it's a great stress reliever for me. My topics are no.. more..

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