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Old 07-27-2008, 10:13 AM   #1 (permalink)
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My Mother is a Religious Extremist?

Hello people, I havn't posted in a while. There is a house showing today, so i'll try to make this brief. Anyway, since my father (the alcoholic in the family) has died, my mother has become more and more focused on religion and its getting to the point where its starting to get kind of scary. When she started out going to church more I thought it was just because she was trying to find someplace where she belonged, and maybe to an extent thats still true, but shes holding onto every piece of Christian/Catholic paraphernalia she comes into contact with these days and trying to "convert" me more than she ever has in the past--I thought she gave that up long ago. She is even considering joining a megachurch in our area. I am distrustful of those types of churches, they seem so superficial and artificial. Anyway, getting back to how this ties into the fact that theres a house showing, she has a St. Joseph statue thing and the statue gets credit for all of our hard work when we finally sell the house, not us. It makes me upset. Any advice on this matter?
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Old 07-27-2008, 08:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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In my opinion this kind of religious "extremism" is as bad as any drug addiction. I personally know people who use religion as a means of escaping the realities of life and I know first hand what it can do to families and relationships.

To tell the truth I do not really have trouble relinquishing credit for my accomplishments to a Higher Power. If your mom wants to regard St. Jo as such then I would'nt take that away from her. What I would have trouble dealing with is when other important matters are abandoned for the sake of religion or when you try to force feed me with your own religious beliefs.

Take care of yourself. Don't allow her to use religion to abuse control or shame you.
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Old 07-27-2008, 08:31 PM   #3 (permalink)
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As I was growing up, my mother was like that and my dad was the other extreme in the sense that he hated religon and use to scream things at my mother like "now what does your friend Jesus think about that?" when they were fighting.

I read here (somewhere) the other day that when someone comes from an alcoholic family they do 1 of 3 things.
1. Become an alcoholic
2. Get into a relationship with an alcoholic
3. Become obsessed with religon
And it sounds like your mum is punting on option number 3 now option 2 has gone.

Is it her house? Or your house? Who legally owns it?
If it is her's then I'd suggest you let her do with it what she wishes, regardless of 'whom' or what she wants to credit the work too, and if it really bothers you then stop doing the work so "Saint Joseph" or whoever she wants to credit can pitch in. wink. wink.

If it belongs to both of you, I hope you get a good price! Does it matter who the credit goes too??

As ACOA's, by default, we take care of our parents and we begin to recover when we learn to take care of ourselves and allow others to do what they need to do for themselves no matter how crazy it seems.
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Old 07-27-2008, 08:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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While I too distrust many kinds of organized mega-religion, I don't interfere in other peoples' religious beliefs and activities any more than I allow them to interfere with mine. If she finds comfort there, then it doesn't matter what your particular leanings are....her religious life is about her, not you.

But, as Peter points out, if she uses these beliefs to shame you, or even if you're just sick of her trying to "convert" you, you will need to establish some boundaries, along the line of, "If you bring this up again, I am going to hang up/leave. I find it very uncomfortable and have made it pretty clear that I don't want to discuss this with you."

I know a few people who do the St. Joe thing. I've also, in my grumpy later years, learned how to say, "And, mom, was it St. Joe who spent ten hours painting the hall? The fact that you are completely discounting all the effort we've put in makes me not want to put in the effort any more."

You can say nothing and hold all these worries and grudges, or you can speak your mind and perhaps keep from slipping into permanent emotional separation from your mother. That's my two cents, at least.

Why not focus on your own happiness instead of on her glaring flaws?
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Old 07-28-2008, 12:36 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thank you all. I know I shouldn't be this angry over her beliefs and its not really the beliefs themselves, though they aren't my cup of tea, but the way she has crossed the line to where she tries to hurt me with them, it just gets emotionally exhausting to deal with. To answer Lizw's question, unfortunately, she is the one who owns the house, however, at the moment, i'm the only person with a paying job of any kind. I'm currently trying to get out of the entire situation as soon as possible. I am in the position where I kind of feel uncomfortable telling her to leave me alone outright since its technically her house.
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Old 07-28-2008, 06:17 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I am in the position where I kind of feel uncomfortable telling her to leave me alone outright since its technically her house.
(Incoming velvet hammer warning)

Sure, it's her house. Where is it written that she is your Empress or Queen and that you must swear fealty to her like a medieval serf? Where is it written that she is allowed to denegrate you and castigate you and generally treat you boorishly and she gets a free pass on having to remain decent to you because of some Saint who lived hundreds of years ago?

I have a very very religious (as in born-again, over the top, extremist) coworker. She also has coping issues and turned to religion. Many times when she gets all snarled up and in a state of hissy-fit, I will remark "I'm sure that's exactly how Jesus would have handled that situation." (in a neutral tone). That's me.

For you, how you choose to handle the situation is obviously your choice. It is her house, she is an adult, you do not have to take this just because it is her house. You are HELPING HER, were she more sane, she would be grateful for the help, not dismissive.

And even if it is "in her house", that does not give her the right to be dismissive or obnoxious to you. What it *does* do though, is gives you the ability to say "sorry mom, I have to go now, this is not at all pleasant and I don't appreciate it. I'll be at home if you want to call me" (and if you have caller ID, only answer the phone if you feel emotionally ready to hang up when she starts with either the guilt trips or the religious conversion stuff or whatever)

The key to making this work is that you must clearly define your boundaries. "I would appreciate it if you might recognize the work I'm doing to help you." "I would rather you didn't try to convert me anymore, I'm an adult, if I'm not Catholic yet, I probably won't ever be. Please stop."

Then always have an escape plan. If it's on the phone, tell her that you don't like being treated this way and she can call you back when she doesn't feel the need to do so. If you're in her house, tell her you're leaving until she can respect your boundaries. Then leave.

You do not have to play a part in this. She is not your responsibility, especially if she seems to show no desire to take any responsibility for herself.

For the record, my 1st ex-brother-in-law was an alcoholic and drug addict. He gave up the substances and replaced them with God. I liked him better on drugs, he was easier to deal with. He eventually gave up God and went back to drugs. *shrug* As long as I don't have to deal with him, he can destroy his life however he'd like.
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Old 07-28-2008, 07:37 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Boy do I know how you feel. I have a friend who preaches Bible quotes to me all the time. She was trying to convert me to her church. It is an addiction just like alcohol or drugs. She's trying to force her will on you. I keep my distance and whenever she brings up religion I tell her I have to go. Best of luck to you.
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Old 07-28-2008, 08:51 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Rancorous View Post
Thank you all. I know I shouldn't be this angry over her beliefs and its not really the beliefs themselves, though they aren't my cup of tea, but the way she has crossed the line to where she tries to hurt me with them, it just gets emotionally exhausting to deal with. To answer Lizw's question, unfortunately, she is the one who owns the house, however, at the moment, i'm the only person with a paying job of any kind. I'm currently trying to get out of the entire situation as soon as possible. I am in the position where I kind of feel uncomfortable telling her to leave me alone outright since its technically her house.
Hi Rancorous,

I know how you feel......and I'm sorry, I wasn't aware she was being abusive. I thought she was just being stupid (and it's not a crime to be stupid.....yet)

Planning to get out of the situation asap sounds like a good way to go. Life's too short to be stuck in such a place. Keep your eye on the prize and get out of there when you can. What keeps you there, by the way? Since you're the one with the paying job, and since St. Joe has it all well in hand , what makes it so you have to stay?

Ginger's right too.....there are infinite halfway steps between being, well, rancorous (smile) and being 100% subservient. Maybe you can find a way to express your feelings that relieve some of the pressure inside you.

You could also become a buddhist, like me. All my relatives steer clear of me...they think I worship cows or something.
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Old 07-28-2008, 09:07 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm only still there right now because of a few things:

1)I'm only making minimum wage.
2)I'm trying to go back to school.
3) I can't drive because she won't allow me to take the driving test to get my license. (I feel like shes trying to control me subconsciously and it really impedes any progress in my life...)
4)She is a diabetic and its so bad that if I leave she'll probably die.
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Old 07-28-2008, 09:14 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Another thing that complicates everything that I should probably mention at some point, she has control of my money until i'm 35 (She had me pretty much declared disabled, I think the diagnosis is bullshit and i'm just starting to try and fight it all), i'm kind of afraid of what she might do with it, she keeps making stupider and stupider decisions. So, thats another reason why i'm so anxious to get out, I want to regain control of my own money. I'm not sure whether that involves legal action or not, but its going to get messy either way i'm sure.
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Old 07-28-2008, 01:35 PM   #11 (permalink)
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This sounds very similar to Munchausen by proxy syndrome. Can you find a doctor who knows a lot about this disorder to do an evaluation?
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Old 07-28-2008, 01:58 PM   #12 (permalink)
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There is this great memior called 'Sickened' about that bi proxy syndrome and it sounds to me like you need to get yourself declared 'undisabled' and get out of there.

One of the hardest things we have to do as ACOA is let our parents live their own lives because we can't save them, regardless of what they are doing or not doing, i.e taking medication, not taking medication, drinking or not drinking etc.... We can try to control them but it will drive us mad as control over another person is just an illusion.

Not only are they free to live their own lives, we are free to live ours too.
Bear in mind that God/Hp is looking after you both.
I for one will keep you in my prayers.

:praying
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Old 07-28-2008, 06:23 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I really think its just a form of scapegoating thats continuing even after my father is dead. I think she just started trying to find something "wrong" with me at an early age when I was angry all the time and having an actual healthy reaction to all the bullshit that goes on in the family. So, she tried sending me to a bunch of doctors and had them do tests for all these psychiatric and neurological illnesses and learning disabilities to take the focus off the real problem which was my dad's alcoholism, not sure if its really that syndrome because those people tend to fake illnesses themselves. She did and still does try to make sure I was pretty drugged up all the time. Really, no matter what, she won't go for me testing her for anything and if I say anything even remotely sarcastic she keeps threatening to kick me out, so i'm trying to remain stoic, but she hates that too and I just can't act too nice, i'm too upset to. Anyway, i'm kind of concerned for me because my brain feels weird sometimes and I act weird and space out. I think it could be from all the psyche meds shes had me on over the past two decades or something.
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Old 07-29-2008, 12:12 AM   #14 (permalink)
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My mom is a religious extremist......I finally realized it was rooted in horrible fear. However I don't live with her and live 1000 miles away, more or less. I have learned ways of dealing with it, kindly as much as possible as she is now 70.

I hope for your sake you can find some sort of solution.
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