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The Toes I Can't Step On

By Tusk ~

I'm sure this situation may be old hat to some of you, but I've got to ask, because I haven't found any answers yet.

T can't say I never painted her toesImage by ems2n21 via Flickr
When I de-converted, I was in a relationship with a woman I thought I was going to marry. She was/is a curiously devout liberal protestant. In the months since I "fell away" we broke it off, but stayed friends. It's safe to say that we will not be trying again. This has been one of the most difficult part of leaving the fold, for me at least. At times, it has been crushing. More difficult than dealing with my uber-Catholic mother, who hasn't so much as responded to a text message in the last few weeks.

I'll take some help, if you've got some. Now, it's no secret that apostasy can be one of the most exciting, paradigm-shifting, and important events in a former theist's life. The freedom. The lack of guilt. The knowledge that you are not a wretched sinner. The freedom, again. Naturally, I was excited...but I knew this would not be an easy road. As a former theist, I now also have the problem of not being able to keep my mouth shut when bullshit enters a discussion. This entire website is a testament to that.

Here is my problem. This may sound mushy-gushy and gross, but I'm being honest. If this wasn't a part of your de-conversion experience, count yourself lucky.

I loved this woman. More than I thought I could anyone. She was the one person I swore I would never hurt. I had plans to be her shield and her sword. The good Christian husband, blah blah blah. We were going to raise good Christian children, in a good Christian home, next to some good Christian neighbors. She has been the most important person in my life for the past 5 years, and now she's just gone...partly because of me. Not gone in that we don't speak anymore, but gone in that I drastically changed the nature of the relationship with my atheism, and we had to end it. We still talk once or twice a week, but it's...different. We're forced to dance around issues and subjects that would otherwise result in me telling her I don't believe the claims she is making. Which of course sounds, to her, like I'm calling her a liar.

Here's the question. I'm at an impasse, because as the title suggests, she is the one person whom I cannot bear to hurt, and yet I have done just doing nothing more than being honest with myself. What is the best way to handle this situation? Can a friendship possibly be maintained while so much history is just disregarded? Or do I only have a mere shell of our former relationship to look forward to in the time to come? I know that breaking it off was the right decision, since a marriage with our differing worldviews would likely have ended disastrously. But now, I'm left with this wreckage and a person I still care about more than most. What to do, what to do?