Just came out to my parents over email

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Reuben
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Just came out to my parents over email

Post by Reuben » Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:44 am

Background: My wife, children and I live in Europe. We're visiting my parents in Utah in April this year. My Mom had a stroke last year that left her unable to speak. She's currently house-bound and is rebuilding her vocabulary.

*****

Subject: Something you should know before we arrive

First, I'm sorry I've been out of contact. I know your burdens for the past few months have been heavy. Though I can't truly understand the pain, fear, exhaustion and loneliness you and Mom have both experienced, I could have helped lighten your burdens by staying connected.

The truth is, I've been afraid to talk to you. I hate to burden you further by telling you why, but I can't justify requiring my children to keep secrets.

Just over two years ago, I woke one morning to the realization that I could no longer believe the Church's claims to truth and authority. About a year later, I stopped attending. I made both determinations after long, careful, and sometimes painful contemplation.

I know this hurts you. I hope focusing on the many things that haven't changed can make it easier to bear.

I still love you both. I will always be grateful to you for raising me with every opportunity you could provide, with such a strong moral foundation, and with such a solid model of a healthy marriage.

I believe very much in the teachings of Jesus Christ. I think the second great commandment is the purest gift the world has ever been given. I find a lot of value in LDS teachings. I think the doctrine that we are all literal children of God is beautiful and ennobling. I'm in awe of a God who rejoices and grieves with his creations.

I love you, and I will always be grateful to you.

Mrs. Reuben and I still love each other fiercely, and respect each other and each other's beliefs. My experience, and her understanding and selfless support through it, have drawn us closer together.

Did I mention that I love you, and I will always be grateful to you?

Please don't try to fix me. My faith crisis caused profound, prolonged grief, which I'm still dealing with. Others who have experienced it and also lived through the death of a spouse say the experience is similar. Trying to determine what I did wrong to cause it will come across exactly as well as telling a recent widower, "It's your fault your wife is dead."

Please tell me you love me. Lately, I've found it difficult to expect other people to think well of me. But part of me is still a little boy who wants to make his parents proud. If you can't honestly say that, then please at least tell me that you think I'm good and worthwhile.

I love you, and I will always be grateful to you.

Reuben
You were born to trust, not fear. It is your birthright.

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FiveFingerMnemonic
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Re: Just came out to my parents over email

Post by FiveFingerMnemonic » Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:20 am

Very brave of you. I think being authentic is healthy despite any temporary discomfort with parents.

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slavereeno
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Re: Just came out to my parents over email

Post by slavereeno » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:25 am

I love the letter, I hope that it is received well.

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Linked
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Re: Just came out to my parents over email

Post by Linked » Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:31 am

That is a great letter. Your focus on the positive and the relationship you hope to have will hopefully help you guys get through the grief they may feel.
Reuben wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:44 am
Please tell me you love me. Lately, I've found it difficult to expect other people to think well of me. But part of me is still a little boy who wants to make his parents proud. If you can't honestly say that, then please at least tell me that you think I'm good and worthwhile.
That part really resonated with me. I hope you can continue to get some sense of validation from those that have provided it for your entire life.
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

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jfro18
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Re: Just came out to my parents over email

Post by jfro18 » Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:34 am

I think the letter is great - it shows your love for your family, sets some boundaries, and makes clear that you want to move forward in the best way possible.

I hope you get a good response and things can work out as good as can be expected -- definitely a great first step towards that for sure.

Reuben
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Re: Just came out to my parents over email

Post by Reuben » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:47 am

Hey, thanks for the validation and well-wishes. They're exactly what I was hoping for. :D I will return and report, but probably not with the text of the reply (unless somehow I seek and get permission).

I feel like I should make some things clear about the lack of anger in the email, in case anyone is doing unfair comparisons with their own coming out.

1. Lack of anger isn't quite representative. I was furious and bitter last night, for example.

2. My family is not your family. Some parents need to be shaken up sometimes. I figured that between two siblings already leaving the church and my Mom's ongoing health issues, it was time for my parents to get a break.

3. I fully recognize that I'm privileged in a few ways, one of which is that I didn't need to tell my parents for two years.
Linked wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:31 am
Reuben wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:44 am
Please tell me you love me. Lately, I've found it difficult to expect other people to think well of me. But part of me is still a little boy who wants to make his parents proud. If you can't honestly say that, then please at least tell me that you think I'm good and worthwhile.
That part really resonated with me. I hope you can continue to get some sense of validation from those that have provided it for your entire life.
Actually, they haven't. That's why I told them what to say.

I can identify a few reasons I have a hard time trusting people to think well of me: hardwiring, childhood bullying, depression (mostly in remission), emotional bullying by the church, and the fact that my parents' acceptance has always been conditional and I've had a hard time meeting the conditions. They had a pretty bad experience when my older brother came out, so I hope to help them discover that unconditional acceptance works better. So... fingers crossed.
You were born to trust, not fear. It is your birthright.

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FiveFingerMnemonic
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Re: Just came out to my parents over email

Post by FiveFingerMnemonic » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:50 am

A little bit of social engineering and experimentation can be fun. Just don't be surprised at the rigidity of mindset in the elderly.

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Linked
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Re: Just came out to my parents over email

Post by Linked » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:56 am

Reuben wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:47 am
Linked wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:31 am
Reuben wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:44 am
Please tell me you love me. Lately, I've found it difficult to expect other people to think well of me. But part of me is still a little boy who wants to make his parents proud. If you can't honestly say that, then please at least tell me that you think I'm good and worthwhile.
That part really resonated with me. I hope you can continue to get some sense of validation from those that have provided it for your entire life.
Actually, they haven't. That's why I told them what to say.

I can identify a few reasons I have a hard time trusting people to think well of me: hardwiring, childhood bullying, depression (mostly in remission), emotional bullying by the church, and the fact that my parents' acceptance has always been conditional and I've had a hard time meeting the conditions. They had a pretty bad experience when my older brother came out, so I hope to help them discover that unconditional acceptance works better. So... fingers crossed.
Oh, well then I hope your plan works. Hopefully your visit this year is a good experience. On a side note, if you have any time/interest while you are here maybe we should have another NOM lunch while you are in town.

I was the youngest kid in my family and soaked up praise from my parents and siblings. As the only one who doesn't believe, it has been hard for me to suspect that now they think I am lead astray. What was once positive is now negative.
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

Reuben
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Re: Just came out to my parents over email

Post by Reuben » Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:22 pm

Linked wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:56 am
Reuben wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:47 am
Linked wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:31 am


That part really resonated with me. I hope you can continue to get some sense of validation from those that have provided it for your entire life.
Actually, they haven't. That's why I told them what to say.

I can identify a few reasons I have a hard time trusting people to think well of me: hardwiring, childhood bullying, depression (mostly in remission), emotional bullying by the church, and the fact that my parents' acceptance has always been conditional and I've had a hard time meeting the conditions. They had a pretty bad experience when my older brother came out, so I hope to help them discover that unconditional acceptance works better. So... fingers crossed.
Oh, well then I hope your plan works. Hopefully your visit this year is a good experience. On a side note, if you have any time/interest while you are here maybe we should have another NOM lunch while you are in town.

I was the youngest kid in my family and soaked up praise from my parents and siblings. As the only one who doesn't believe, it has been hard for me to suspect that now they think I am lead astray. What was once positive is now negative.
A NOM lunch sounds fantastic.

Part of my frustration and fear has been that I felt like I finally had my parents' acceptance after I graduated, got a research job, and was ordained a high priest. I never knew how much I had depended on it until I stood to lose it.

If I do lose it, it'll be tough, but I think I'll be able to let go. It might even be good for me, even though it would suck.
You were born to trust, not fear. It is your birthright.

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alas
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Re: Just came out to my parents over email

Post by alas » Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:32 pm

Reuben wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:47 am
Hey, thanks for the validation and well-wishes. They're exactly what I was hoping for. :D I will return and report, but probably not with the text of the reply (unless somehow I seek and get permission).

I feel like I should make some things clear about the lack of anger in the email, in case anyone is doing unfair comparisons with their own coming out.

1. Lack of anger isn't quite representative. I was furious and bitter last night, for example.

2. My family is not your family. Some parents need to be shaken up sometimes. I figured that between two siblings already leaving the church and my Mom's ongoing health issues, it was time for my parents to get a break.

3. I fully recognize that I'm privileged in a few ways, one of which is that I didn't need to tell my parents for two years.
Linked wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:31 am
Reuben wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:44 am
Please tell me you love me. Lately, I've found it difficult to expect other people to think well of me. But part of me is still a little boy who wants to make his parents proud. If you can't honestly say that, then please at least tell me that you think I'm good and worthwhile.
That part really resonated with me. I hope you can continue to get some sense of validation from those that have provided it for your entire life.
Actually, they haven't. That's why I told them what to say.

I can identify a few reasons I have a hard time trusting people to think well of me: hardwiring, childhood bullying, depression (mostly in remission), emotional bullying by the church, and the fact that my parents' acceptance has always been conditional and I've had a hard time meeting the conditions. They had a pretty bad experience when my older brother came out, so I hope to help them discover that unconditional acceptance works better. So... fingers crossed.
My mother was one who just never said she loved us. One time we were saying good by after a visit and I told her I loved her. One of my kids piped up, and said, yeah, we always say we love you and you never say it back. My mom tried, she choked and then cried. She finally got the words out.

So, my recommendation (well, other than a loud mouthed child) is to say it to your parents, often, until they learn it is acceptable to voice it. It took my mother several years. But she had been raised by parents who never said it and it just wasn’t part of her vocabulary. Her love had always seemed very conditional also, and she was a perfectionist, and was very free with criticism, but didn’t seem to know how to praise or give approval.

Reuben
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Re: Just came out to my parents over email

Post by Reuben » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:15 am

alas wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:32 pm
Reuben wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:47 am
I can identify a few reasons I have a hard time trusting people to think well of me: hardwiring, childhood bullying, depression (mostly in remission), emotional bullying by the church, and the fact that my parents' acceptance has always been conditional and I've had a hard time meeting the conditions. They had a pretty bad experience when my older brother came out, so I hope to help them discover that unconditional acceptance works better. So... fingers crossed.
My mother was one who just never said she loved us. One time we were saying good by after a visit and I told her I loved her. One of my kids piped up, and said, yeah, we always say we love you and you never say it back. My mom tried, she choked and then cried. She finally got the words out.

So, my recommendation (well, other than a loud mouthed child) is to say it to your parents, often, until they learn it is acceptable to voice it. It took my mother several years. But she had been raised by parents who never said it and it just wasn’t part of her vocabulary. Her love had always seemed very conditional also, and she was a perfectionist, and was very free with criticism, but didn’t seem to know how to praise or give approval.
Whether the problem is that they don't actually accept me as I am, or they don't know how to voice it, that's a great idea. Thanks.

I could do without them following suit, but it would be nice if they did at some point.
You were born to trust, not fear. It is your birthright.

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Hagoth
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Re: Just came out to my parents over email

Post by Hagoth » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:58 pm

Reuben wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:44 am
I believe very much in the teachings of Jesus Christ. I think the second great commandment is the purest gift the world has ever been given. I find a lot of value in LDS teachings. I think the doctrine that we are all literal children of God is beautiful and ennobling. I'm in awe of a God who rejoices and grieves with his creations.
It was a great idea to include this. It tells them that you have not gone full-on out of control heathen.

Good luck!
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Reuben
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Re: Just came out to my parents over email

Post by Reuben » Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:49 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:58 pm
Reuben wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:44 am
I believe very much in the teachings of Jesus Christ. I think the second great commandment is the purest gift the world has ever been given. I find a lot of value in LDS teachings. I think the doctrine that we are all literal children of God is beautiful and ennobling. I'm in awe of a God who rejoices and grieves with his creations.
It was a great idea to include this. It tells them that you have not gone full-on out of control heathen.

Good luck!
That's exactly it. But it had one unintended effect: my dad has used it to downgrade my faith transition to "doubts." I'm not sure what I think about that.

More later, after I work out what he meant by some triggering stuff and whether I need to say anything about it. I might, if it indicates a boundary I should maintain to keep from having a fight when we visit later this year. I might go for the respect angle. If we can treat each other with the same respect we would treat any other adult with different beliefs, things should go fine.

He did say he loves me and is proud of me for my accomplishments in and out of the church. That was really nice.
You were born to trust, not fear. It is your birthright.

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