This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Why I don't go to church

I've always had an on again off again relationship with the church.  I was told once that the relationship with have with our father, is often related to the relationship with have with our Father.  I now know I have an attachment disorder, and it explains a lot to me about the difficulty I've had developing a trusting relationship with God.

When we adopted, we decided to go with a Christian adoption agency, so we started going to church (a requirement).  I liked it, but my husband is not into organized religion because of the hypocrisy he's seen in the members of the church (flipping people off as they're exiting the parking lot) and my kids (bio and adopted) hated our choice in church.  Plus, our son got himself kicked out of the youth group for aggressive/ intimidating behavior and burdening the other young teens with his issues.  (He went to residential psychiatric treatment soon after this).

I've always preferred to attend Sunday School for the support, instead of church which I found boring and disconnected (I found I could tolerate the contemporary service, but Hubby hated the music).  Hubby went wherever/whenever I drug him, when he wasn't teaching scuba.

As a former preschool director, a former social worker and mental health professional, and now the parent to 4 kids (2 bio with their own quirks and 2 special needs adopted teens) I felt I had a lot to contribute to conversations about parenting and yes, I did ask for prayers on occasion.

Hubby is a VERY private person so when he asked me to stop talking about our personal life, even just asking the class to pray for our family with no details added, I assumed that was why.  Since I'm an outspoken person and the whole reason I wanted to go to church was for support... I eventually stopped going.

Now, 2 years later, Hubby casually mentioned that privacy wasn't why he'd wanted me to stop talking about our family.  He said he saw class members rolling their eyes whenever I spoke.  Since people did this all the time to my bipolar mom who couldn't stop talking when she was manic, this is one of my biggest fears.

No one at our church really "gets it," although I thought there were many who were sympathetic.  Now I question that.  I don't think they were judging me, but they weren't valuing my input like I thought they were.

The kids still go to church with the grandparents (when they spend the night - which luckily for us is almost every weekend), but Hubby and I stay home.  I miss it, but what I want is more like I imagine Orlando to be.  I want to go where everybody knows my name, and they're always glad I came.  I want to be where people see our troubles are all the same, and I want people to give me Verbal Affirmation.


My very conservative sister and brother in law and my parents were having a discussion at the dinner table about Republicans and the fact that our government over-regulates everything.  They feel that people's churches and communities should provide the support people need instead of taxing the people and using that money to provide welfare and support programs.  They even feel that people shouldn't have to have a college education to provide medical, legal or any other services and it shouldn't be regulated by the government.

I soooo much wanted to jump into the conversation, and explain why church and community won't pay for my kids $10K a month residential treatment or hospitalization, and my 18 yo severely mentally ill son can't ask for the help he so desperately needs from a church or community he doesn't feel connected to and that he's constantly moving around?  That my niece who just had her baby taken by the state grew up in an environment that taught her that a baby was the answer to needing unconditional love?  That while a church in my community might be able to support my kids (not that they want to) if I'm advocating for them, but what about kids in poor rural communities with a large, needy, uneducated, mentally ill, addicted population?  How is the girl who is in residential treatment until she ages out of the system who has NO family or community, supposed to access these church and community services (you can't attend a local church when you're in residential treatment and she has no family)?

There are most definitely things we as a "community" can and should do to help, but there are some things I firmly believe we need help with organizing and yes, regulating.  I have many more things I could say on this subject, but it's 1am and I'm going to bed.

So lets see, religion, politics, mental illness... any sensitive subject I didn't address?


Lisa said...

Many of our opinions on these subjects are directly affected by our life experiences - or lack of those. I don't think everyone is all right or all wrong.

I don't even want to identify directly with any political party - I'm not an "all or nothing" kind of gal. I am conservative in many ways and do think that the church and community SHOULD be our support system. The reality is that this isn't so. There is all too much judgement going on and frankly, some of it isn't too far off the mark. I know I get sick and tired of helping certain family members who just lack the motivation to get off their butts and help themselves after years of support by me and the community - but the catch is, I know they aren't mentally ill. I don't want to carry the judgement and resentment I may feel about a few over into other peoples lives because frankly, I don't have a clue what's going on with their lives and in their minds. I guess the bulk of my frustration lies in the fact that in my county, there is no money for adequate mental health services. I have been treading water for years with a few of my kids and I HATE IT!!

As far as the church goes - it was refreshing to hear that I'm not the only one who sees the hypocrisy and lack of support. I am not the kind of person you want to say, "How are you?" to unless you want an earful. I feel like crying when asked that question because I know I am supposed to just say, "fine, and you?" and yet I just can't do it. I mumble and walk away or just turn the conversation onto the other person instantly because I know that I am a burden to them and their average or above-average life.

I think if you have even one person in your life that is walking the same path as you and gets it - you need to treasure that person and be there for them 100% - otherwise you will be very, very lonely.

Sorry to vent - I do think you have some very valid points.

marythemom said...

Thanks Lisa. Are you on Facebook? (Please don't say we're already friends there. Please don't say we're already friends there. Please don't say... ) I'm finding that I'm really appreciating the support I'm getting on FB, even if it's just a lot of "Likes." At least I know others are listening at 1am when I'm reading/writing, and I can respond directly to others with lots of details when I have time versus having to get dressed up for church or when I'm in the middle of dealing with a child's meltdown.

We can vent and pour out all the crud (in private groups or messages), without having to worry about giving an earful to someone who doesn't get it or overwhelming the one or two local people who get it, but are dealing with their own stuff.

My little sister and her husband just don't get it, and I doubt anyone at their church does either. Even if they do try to understand, it's overwhelming to someone who doesn't live it (it's overwhelming to someone who does) and I'm always afraid someone is going to see me, a relatively healthy, able-bodied person sitting on my butt, and assume it's because I'm lazy and making it all up (easy to do when my charming RADs make it look like they're fine), when in reality I'm so overwhelmed I don't know where to start.

If we're not already FB friends, I'd like to be. My name there is Mary Themom.

Lisa said...

Thank you Mary. Nope, not on FB - lots of crazy reasons why not. You are always welcome to email me at!

Miz Kizzle said...

Churches are made up of people, both good, bad and indifferent. There are churches where the congregation is tolerant and caring and there are churches like the one Rick Santorum visited in Lousiana when he was campaigning there where the minister, a Reverand Terry, announced that all non-Christians, liberals and woman who have had abortions should be thrown out of the U.S.
I imagine Jesus, if he were to return today, would have a thing or two to say to say to Rev. Terry.
Ghandi once said that he liked the Christian religion but he didn't like most Christians. I agree with him. People often seem to think that simply going to church makes them superior to those who don't. These folks like to boast about how "their" God is "awesome," as if everyone elses' particular deity is second-rate. There are others who attend big, flashy megachurches because they are bored with traditional churches and want a more exciting experience. Then there are the haters who use certain Bible passages as an excuse to despise gays, blacks or women who want educational and job parity with men.
Maybe you need to find a different church, one with a support group where you can share about your problems without worrying about taking up too much time from the worship service.