The hard thing about changing directions

I have always been someone who takes their own path. I don’t follow along with other people if I don’t agree and I’m also not afraid to voice my personal views on any situation. The way I lead my life has posed problems for me in the past, mostly with my family and their not approving of my decisions or stance on an issue. My decision to become a Muslim is no different, it may actually be one of the hardest things I have had to deal with in terms of my family, particularly my mom.

I remember when I told my mom that I didn’t believe in God. I think I was probably 16 years old and honestly probably told her more to make her mad then for any other reason. The truth was that it wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God, it’s that I didn’t consider myself a Christian and that I didn’t want to be associate with any religion. I didn’t know much, if anything, about any other religion and I also didn’t know much about Christianity. All I did know was that I didn’t agree with what I heard and how the Christians I knew behaved.

Now, why would I tell my mother something like that to make her mad you ask…

How about a little back story? My mother and I lived together, just the two of us for several years after her and my father were divorced. The divorce was something I had wanted for a long time and so had she. My father was a real jerk, and that’s putting it nicely. He was what you might call emotionally abusive to me and my mother and living with him felt like living in hell.

I was a good kid, didn’t stay out past my curfew, didn’t make stupid decisions and get myself into trouble, had great grades in school, etc. I did, however, start dating a boy who was 4 years older than me and my mom hated him. We fought about our relationship constantly. I know that I told her my disbelief in the middle of a fight one day, probably to get her off of my back about my boyfriend, and it worked.

Since then I tried to explain, on many occasions, that it wasn’t really that I didn’t believe in God, but more that I wasn’t sure what I believed. I knew that there was a higher being but I didn’t really know what to call him or what to believe about him. I ended up labeling myself Agnostic. Over the last 11 years she has brought this up more times then I care to remember, and always with negativity.

Last October, when my husband and I made the decision to convert, I really didn’t want to tell her. I knew that telling her would mean that I would forever have to hear how she disagreed with me and how stupid my decision was. After talking it over with Chase he convinced me to tell her. So I did.

I expressed my concerns to her and told her that I didn’t really want to tell her in the first place. She acted like I had no reason to feel that way and she promised that she would not act any different toward me or say anything negative, especially since she knew nothing about it. That didn’t last long, not that I ever really believed it would.

My mom mentioned little things here and there. She asked me ridiculous questions about things that didn’t even make sense. For example, she asked me to make brownies for my aunts birthday party, then decided it would be hilarious to ask “There’s nothing in brownies that you’re not allowed to eat anymore, right?”. She has asked similar questions about almost anything I was going to eat at her house. I can deal with it, it’s annoying, but I can deal.

Then, a couple of days  before Christmas, she informed me that everyone would appreciate it if we didn’t mention anything about “our new found beliefs” while everyone was there for Christmas. She told me that it would just start problems and potentially start fights. I didn’t say anything, even though it kind of upset me that she would even say that to me. She could tell that it upset me so she went on about how “oh no, now I’ve pissed her off.” I wasn’t mad, I was upset that she would say such a thing to me. I would never ask anyone not to mention things like that, ever. I don’t get offended when people talk to me about their religious beliefs and I expect the same courtesy in return. Although, I never mention it unless I’m asked a question which is very rare outside of the bantering.

I asked her what happened to not being negative about my decision? Hadn’t she told me that she would respect it and respect me? That’s when she told me that she had been doing research about it online and she just can’t agree with any of it. I guess that whatever she read made her decide that our relationship was less important then her narrow minded, likely misinformed, views. That’s when I asked her to please not talk like that in front of my children and we left.

I called Chase on the way home and just lost it. Crying is just not something that I do, especially not without good reason. My mom had officially upset me enough to make me doubt that I had made the right decision. My family has always been my safe place. We get together all the time and talk about anything and everything. It felt like they had started to not include me in things that they used to include me in, like shopping trips. I told Chase what was going on and how they way they were acting was making me feel. I also told him that I just wanted things to go back to “normal”.

I guess I am just a really lucky person. My husband stopped by my mom’s on his way home and talked to her about the whole thing. He was able to convey to her how she was making me feel and she actually listened to him.  I have never been able to make her listen to me about such things but he did.

Overall, things have been much better with my family since then. She still says little things every now and then, but they usually are much less condescending. Her main issue right now is that she is convinced that I am letting my hair grow out and not bleaching it anymore because I “have to”, not because I want to. I can live with that, it’s much less ridiculous then so many other things that she has said.She’ll be happy to know that my hair is driving me crazy and is about to get chopped back off and bleached again! 🙂

There have been other challenges, but this has probably been the hardest for me. When you are so accustomed to talking to your family about anything and being accepted for who you are it’s hard for all of that to change so abruptly.