It was two years ago on Easter Sunday I realized how toxic and pointless it was to continue to attend church with my parents. For years I had been an agnostic, but I still attended the Assembly of God church I grew up in to placate my mother. I pretended to still have a Christian faith so as not to exacerbate her depression. Sundays were always a bad day as I would come home feeling stressed out and cranky with my husband and girls. Not the role model I wanted to be.
That Easter was miserable, but it made me realize that I am not able to make any other people happy, especially Mom. If I am not capable of making her happy, it follows that it is not my job or my responsibility to do so. That may seem pretty obvious, but it was one of the biggest "lightbulb" moments of my life.
I'm not sure which was the bigger relief, the lifting of that duty to keep Mom happy, or the release from pretending I fit into a community where I knew I didn't anymore. I know that part of me will always be shaped by evangelical-type thinking, and not all of that is bad. But for all that they are a loving community, they still want to bring you over to thinking just like them. I am deeply appreciative of the UU's and pagans I've met in this past year who don't want to judge or convert me. Their acceptance has been wonderful, like something I didn't know I missed. I am deeply grateful.
Tomorrow I will take my family over to my parents' house after they get home from church. There will be an egg hunt and a ham dinner, just like always. The difference is that I won't feel like I'm suffocating anymore.