Originally Posted by Zerbie
Now, can I be allowed to encourage you, Rick? You say you're 57 and don't want to feel like you're starting over back at square 1 again. But, consider all that you've learned and all the strengths and skills you've developed in 57 years. I see every reason for you to have confidence to just present yourself as you are, beliefs and all. If other people have difficulty with it, their thoughts are THEIRS, not yours, and the problem is likewise theirs.
It's up to you to gauge whether some surface amiability with your family is more important to you than openly discussing your non-theological views, or whether openly expressing your views is more important to you than having amiable terms with certain members of your family.
Decide which is more important to you. Then go with that choice, recognizing that it was a choice having to do with priority, and accept what goes along with that choice. You can't do more. You can't BOTH express a belief that will make your family go ballistic AND have an amiable surface relationship with them while they are going ballistic. It's one or the other, whether or not you choose to go through a gradual process of letting them come to terms with your belief system, well. . . you'll be 57 either way. You can either be 57 and speak openly with your family (fights, tears, and all) or you can be 57 and keep your views to yourself. You don't have to live up to a perfect example. Just choose your priority.
Yes, it's a decision I will have to make. When I came out of my gay closet I just told them right out "I'm gay." But I think with my atheist views it might be more of a gradual process.
At Thanksgiving before we sit down to eat, we all are asked to say what we are thankful for. When my turn comes around I always say, "I'm thankful to my brother and his wife for fixing this wonderful food." So maybe they are already getting the message.