Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Drinking or Games

My boyfriend Brad and I had just enjoyed an elegant evening at the BYU Student Ball.  It was a fantastic night of dancing, romance, and fake champagne (grape juice). He was clothed in his finest suit and I was wearing a fancy evening dress. The pavement glistened from the freshly fallen rain.  As we were walking home from the Ball we saw some freshmen setting up a game of laser tag.

“Hey, do you guys want to play with us?” Said one of the youngsters, already covered in mud. I responded as any sober woman in an evening gown would…

“Umm….YES!”, I shouted.  I then hiked up my gown, kicked off my heals, and destroyed those little rascals.  My boyfriend and I darted thru trees, and hid behind the statue of David O McKay.  007 style baby. And we did it all without alcohol. 
One of my favorite things about the Mormon community is our ability to get crazy without getting drunk.  My friends and I would do some of the most outrageous things.  Poll dancing on subway cars, late night dance parties in our underwear.  I remember one night I dressed up a butter-nut squash and made my friend go on a date with it. I gave him a little mustache, a French ascent, and he kept trying to kiss her.  The patrons of Dairy Queen were thoroughly entertained. Another time I dressed up as a convincing man and tried to see how many chicks’ numbers I could get. One girl responded with a hint of pity “I’m really busy and can’t date.”

It’s funny to me how people outside the church need “liquid courage”.  They seem more inhibited. Every year Forbs Magazine awards BYU the title of most Stone Cold Sober school.  So as you can imagine it is quite a shock for me as I am now living near the university that wins the award for being the “Most hung-over”.  Drinking surrounds everything people do here.  The other day I went to a picnic and I brought Mikes Hard Lemonade. I was shunned.  People told me I needed to bring “real stuff”. One guy told me I needed to get better at drinking because this was just sad… Better?  Better at what? Training my body to cope with poison?  I took a sip of my friend wine…

“blagh…why does it burn?” I said

“oh haha, I forgot.  You are new at drinking.” They said.

“I know,” I said “but seriously why does it burn, and you. Why are you still drinking it?”

I guess there are some things I just don’t understand about alcohol. When I first left the church I was pisst about all the typical collage experiences I missed out on.  You know, getting drunk, hangovers, drinking games, one night stands, and waking up with a lamp shade on your head. I have realized that I actually have not missed out on anything.  In fact I have a very clear memory of the time I dressed up as a billy goat and played guitar for people in the library while my friend in an ape suit danced.  I don’t have anything against drinking. It is a different type of crazy fun. I have yet to get drunk and I do look forward to the experience.  But I have no intention to make it a regular weekend activity.  It would have been nice if I could have had a drink now and again to relax at BYU.  However, I would not trade in my blanket fort  memories for all the Mikes Hard lemonade in the world. 

 Mormons have learned to get drunk on life. Outside the Mormon community there is a mentality that you need to be drunk to spray paint a pumpkin gold and throw it off the roof. Our craziness is slightly more organized but still just as wild, I’ll be it childish, and fun.  To anyone who thinks you need alcohol to get goofy, it is just not true.  People think they do because they always have.  You don’t believe me?  Spend a weekend in Provo.  If you don’t see at least one gang of boys long-boarding down the street with light sabers or one group of woman dressed as aliens for a space themed dance party, I’ll give you my translation hat.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Princess and the Penis

New York City. A vibrant cascade of hard steel and neon lights.  Yes, the apartment I lived in was small, and the city smelled of urine and boiled fish eyes but this city…oh heaven.  Every night there was a new adventure, every week a new Broadway show, and every Sunday a new reminder that I would die alone. The ratio from Mormon girls to Mormon boys was 20 to 1.  I thought about dating outside the faith but all those horror stories of falling in love with a non-member.  Most of all I was afraid of Sex.  Sex is a horrible tool Non-Mormon men use to ensnare woman into emotional traps.  Men outside the church are unfeeling sex monsters.  No, he would have to be a Mormon. 

So when one of my best Mormon friend told me he loved me I was thrilled…sort of.  He was the Pillsbury Doughboy.  Pudgy, food science major at BYU, and he was a millionaire.  I was not attracted to him but he was my best friend.  He accepted my testimony though it was lacking.   He lived in Utah but called me constantly.  When he told me he had feelings for me I said, “I’m in New York. Good luck.” He did not need luck, just a few thousands of dollars.  

He hopped a jet to see me and he swept me off my feet.  We went to art museums, Broadway shows. He took me to a restaurant that was considered one of world’s best. It cost over 500 bucks for the two of us. 

“What will you have to drink madam?”, Snooty waiter

“Oh water.” I said

“Excellent choice, we have six verities of water for you tonight. The Spring Apple with just a hint of basil, the mountain crisp with fresh ice and rose, The house tap infused with cucumber and...” the list went on.

After I finished my 24k Gold Flake cake, we kissed for first time.  He was a bad kisser.  Oily skin, tired easily. He also had never used tongue before and felt guilty.  Physical attraction would come right?  That was what I was told.  Friendship is the most important part isn’t it?  He was the sweetest man I had ever knew. He made me feel safe and understood. He went above boyfriend duty. One day I texted him I was sick.  A few minutes later he had a full meal deliver to my door.  I was his princess and he was showing me the world.  Took me to Disney Land, Portland, San Francisco, promised me much more if I married him. I did fall for him and the kissing did improve slightly.

I told him I struggled with church and he said that was okay.  I had never told a man I loved that before. He would help me. This man was such a good Mormon boy.  I struggled to keep up with his spiritual demands.  The magic carpet ride slowly turn into a slimy bath mat.  I loved him and he loved me but...

“Well it’s true, I would love you more if you had served a mission.” He said

“But I couldn’t have. I was engaged when I was 21.  I prayed and I felt God tell me not to go.” I said

“Yeah,” he said “I think you would be a better mother to our children if you had. I’m worried because your family converted to the church. My family has pioneer heritage. I’m just not sure your family is good enough.”

I had to be good enough!  I felt that this man was my last chance to be loved. After all love does not exist outside of the church, only Sex.

 The Doughboy asked me to leave New York City and move to Utah so we could be married.  I tried to get excited about my future of being completely dependent on him. That was what he and his family expected of me.  I was glad I would finally get to have Sex. I would have to work on being attracted to him sexually as resemble a Cream Puff but I did love him. That would come.  When I was in Utah the shit hit the fan.  Unspeakable shit. I left him flat. I lay in bed and cried for days.  I stopped eating.  I ignored his calls. 

I realized something while I was wasting away.  No man could ever hurt me the way he did.  I can’t think of a scenario where I would ever be this sick from broken trust. He was Mormon?  I was not good enough? I was so insecure because I did not have a perfect testimony.(see: Perfect Problem)  Suddenly I was not so afraid of those awful Non-Mormons. Sex?…I almost married the Pillsbury Doughboy knowing I was not attracted to him. I wanted to have Sex and almost sold my soul for it.  Maybe Sex before marriage is not a bad thing? I want to be attracted physically to my husband and I want to know him in every way.  Trust?…I never should have trusted a man who judged my self-worth on my lack pioneer heritage. Maybe Trust has less to do with a person’s faith and more to do with who they are. Love?…Can I find Love with Sex and Trust outside of marriage? outside of the church?  More importantly can I Trust myself to Love again?

Monday, July 22, 2013

French Revolution

When I first left the church I started this blog.  I shared it with my good friend Roberta(see: peek out the Mormon Closet).  She really enjoyed the stories but…

“You make us sound Amish.” Roberta said

About a month later she hit her own breaking point.  She was living in Paris and felt like she was missing out. She decided it was time to take a peek outside the Bubble. 


“I know,” I said.

You don’t know how much you don’t know until you leave.  When I was in Paris I went to a lovely Crêpe restaurant with a man. Sebastian was not Mormon but was fascinated with the culture.   We talked a lot about the church.  I told him how I was not sure I believed it, but I was fairly sure I couldn't leave.  Honestly I’m not sure how people outside the church live. His eye fell on me with pity.

 “Yoou are so disarmed from ze world. Life iz beautiful but I fear zat you will nevera see zat,” Seabass said

This stuck with me long after the egg fromage.  I couldn't stop wondering what he meant.  Disarmed?  I get the world.  I have been a part of the world my whole life.  Haven’t I?  I pondered my life, friends, work, schooling and everything…It all went back to the church.  Still I was happy… wasn't I? My stomach turned as I contemplated. There were dark times too.   Disarmed?

As my trip continued I had many more eye opening experiences (see: To the Vatican). When I got home from the trip I pulled back the certain on the history of Joseph Smith.  I could never go back. When you decided to leave the church your moral spine is ripped out of your body.  Suddenly all the things you never dared to do are an expectation.   Drinking, Sex, Relationships, Love, Coffee, Clothing, Underwear, Music, Movies, Sundays, they all take on new meaning.  

I’m learning what he meant by disarmed. What you don’t know CAN hurt you. When I first decided to drink alcohol I found a guy online who said he would gladly help me learn how to drink.  Oh how nice of him. NOO! I learned. Some people use alcohol to try and make woman sleep with them.  Men can be very sneaky.  I’m not used to the seduction patterns of sexually active men.  I have had many guys try to emotional sneak attack me into the sack.   

There are no rules anymore.  No reason for me to be a good person.  When I watch a movie and there is nudity I don’t look away.  I borrowed two books from the hospital and did not give them back.  I swear all the time now.  I only ware revealing clothing. I used to be nice to everyone even if they were weird. NOW I avoid the awkward people.  I used to go on a date with any boy that asks. NOW I say NO to dates with guys if I don’t like them. Every time I go to the store I see Cosmo girl and I read the cover. I even contemplated doing a one night stand. tho I just barely learned how to take my clothes off.  Maybe I should go buy a sex magazine. Ha Ha! If I got pregnant maybe I would get an abortion. My moral compass feels so out of whack. Funny that I consider these things to be evidence of my degradation. I have this new responsibility to decide what I think is right and wrong.  My CTR ring can’t help me anymore.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Waiting For Godot

As we all know God has a plan for us.  Gods plan for me was to give up my dream of living in NYC,  move to Utah for my now ex-boyfriend, have no money left, move home to live in my parents basement, and to spend the 4th of July dancing around in a cow suit to sell Ice-cream.  I need a real job. I have been working for my parents in their Ice-Cream shop. I decided to go to a single ward activity to net-work.  I was driving down an unfamiliar driveway when SMASH. My windshield shattered. I hit a low hanging tree branch.  God was punishing me.

 “This is satin trying to pull you away. God can’t protect you if you don’t go to church.” My father reminded me

I am trying to pull my life together but I feel like I’m swimming in a giant casserole dish of green Jello.  My mom let me barrow her car.  My mind was racing as I drove. I could not think of one good thing in my life.  Why God do you hate me so much?  Why did you break my windshield?  Maybe my parents were right.  God is upset with me for leaving the church.  Maybe he does have a plan for me and I’m disappointing him?  Just as I was entering the city Seth called.(See: Cliff diving delusions)  I begged him to come with me to the activity even though I knew he had tons of homework to do. When I went to pick him up I vomited all of my feelings on him. How God was punishing me. Maybe I should stay Mormon. talked me down and reminded me that these things happen.

At the party I turned off my crazy lady ramble and turned on my charming charismatic I’m-not-a-crazy-person banter.  I need these people to like me so I can get a job.  It worked. One boy offered to pass on my resume and even give me a tour of his amazing company. I told him I would think about it.

“Think about it?”  Seth said

“Well, yeah.  I’m just not sure if it is where I’m supposed to be.” I told him

“I don’t understand.  He is offering to help you.  Isn't that why you drove all the way out here?  Why won’t just look into it?”, said Seth

I was waiting for a sign.  That feeling that would tell me this was my next move.

The next night I was sitting alone my parent’s basement.  Sad that God had shattered my windshield.  Pondering why God told me move to Utah. Confused by Gods choice to lead me to my situation. Then I remember something Seth had said to me.

“It is really empowering when you can take credit for the good things you have done in your life.”

Something clicked in me. I floated to the ceiling and was looking down at my pathetic body.  Sitting alone on a Friday night.  Oh I don’t have a real Job, Oh I crashed my car again, Oh I gave up everything for a man who broke my heart.  Wake up! Did God earn you the money to go to Europe? No! Did God help you move to NYC and find an apt for only 300 bucks a month in Manhattan? NO! You did that.  Did God give you the grades to get into BYU and the talent to be in all those shows?  No, you worked your ass off in school. I have spent my entire life giving God all the credit.  I had not even applied for one job in a month. There was someone who I found who was willing to help me.  I put myself out there and something good happened! Why was I was hesitating. I have been paralyzed, waiting for Godot to tell me my next move.

Isn’t it possible that all those “feelings” I have had that guided me to a successful life really came from me? And all those bad things that happened in my life came from choices I made. Choices to trust people who I shouldn’t have.  The trials I face are not designed to make me stronger.  They are just things that happen and I have to choose how I deal with them.  Instead of worrying about Choosing the Right I need to just Choose and take responsibility for my actions. Maybe Gods hands are not in ALL things? Maybe we are the masters of our fate? Maybe I just didn’t see that tree branch?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cliff Diving Delusions

A bunch of LDS YSAs were gathering at a drown rock quarry.  A yearly ritual where we throwing our bodies off giant cliffs, and plunging ourselves into deep murky water.  I was not sure I was up to a day “I haven’t seen you at church?” but I was eager to try out my new swimming suit.  A bikini!  I was going to this activity and I was not going to pretend I was Mormon any more.  After doing a few death defying dives I wonder over to meet the others.  I was standing there trying to see if any girls would give me the “sinner” look.   Ha ha ha! That’s right ladies I have BOOBs and I’m not afraid to use them.

While I was standing looking for reactions, some guy came over and started talking to me.  “Ha ha,” I thought, “Wrong way buddy. Not interested. Take your strength of youth pamphlet else ware.”  We exchanged words back and forth. When RECORD SCRATCH   

He said, “Well I used to be Mormon but I’m not anymore.”

Suddenly a man whose name I had already forgotten had my undivided attention.  It was Elder Price!   Needless to say we spent the rest of the day together.  In fact he wanted me to hang out with him the next day.  He was eager to talk to me.  I felt a little uneasy about this.  I know, I know, two blog post ago I was fantasizing about running away with Elder Price (see: Book of Mormon Musical) but now having him standing right in front of me... I don’t know.  See I had been handling things on my own sort of.  Though on the outside I looked cool and collected underneath I’m fragile.  I do not like the feeling of being vulnerable.  I knew that there was no way I could hide that from him.

I drove over to meet him with my guitar.  He played me a song he wrote about leaving the church and I played him a comedy song I wrote about Utah.  We talked for hours.  I can’t tell you how wonderful it felt to be truly understood.  Our stories were so similar.  It was like we already knew each other.  Yes he was attractive but that didn’t even cross my mind.  As we were joking around he made a comment along the lines of “maybe I will see you naked tonight?”  It never occurred to me that he might have been serious.  When we did start making out I realized something very strange.  There was no red light.  No church authorities threatening to take away my temple recommend.  I also discovered that I am not afraid of a penis anymore. 

I did not have sex with him and I never will.  He is more like a mentor to me.  That and he asked another girl out in front of me like a day later.  Regardless I hope to maintain a friendship with this man.

“How long did it take you to get over the whole church thing?” I asked him

“ha, I’m still not over it.” he said

“I was hoping it could get it over with in like 5 months, maybe 3 if I worked really hard,” I said

“This isn't school. You can't graduate out of Mormonism. You need to just relax.  You go out to bars, ware tube tops, and sware because you feel like you have to prove something.   Like that you never were Mormon.  It doesn’t work like that.”

 I drove away pisst at him.  “He doesn’t know me.  When I was 14 I had major back surgery. My first Boyfriend tried to suffocate me.  I cured eating disorder and started a mentor program for woman.  I literally survived BYU.  Lived in Harlem NYC and fought off a crack addict. And I just recovered from a legit nervous breakdown like a Boss!  I crushed those issues and moved on in record time. Even my older sister was impressed. She said it took her at least a year to get where I’m at with the church now.  Don’t sit here and tell me it takes years…please.”

But as I was leaving the city limits I realized I my a have limit.  How long can I keep up this pace? Throwing myself into foreign situations.  Every beer I drank, every boy I kissed, every show I watch was all to help pull me out of what I had convinced myself was a toxic environment.   It is all in my head.  No one cares if I wear a bikini. I don’t need to watch the entire series of Sex in the City. I don’t need to get drunk.   I have been throwing myself off cliff after cliff.  Putting myself in dangerous situation.  Trusting people that are not to be trusted, and drowning myself in dark bitter feelings.  I have spent so many years feeling guilty for being me, but maybe me is not so bad after all.   

Saturday, July 6, 2013

White Pickett Future

His name was Blake.  He was funny and played guitar which are the only qualifications in a man your freshman year.  We would jam together and talk.  I think of all the people at BYU he was one of the few who I felt a connection too.  I wrote him while he was on his mission. Two days ago as I was cleaning and one of his letters resurfaced in my life. The letter read"

“I’m sorry you don’t feel like you fit in at BYU.  Yeah you are loud and funny but that is the best part of you.  You deserve to marry a nice guy who is a MEMBER of the CHURCH. Do not settle for anything less.“

 I really can’t imagine anything worse now.  Don’t get me wrong.  Mormon boys can be sweethearts.  But the expectations of being married to a Mormon are very high.  If you want to have kids…forget it.  You will have too many opposing ideas. Even many liberal Mormons still hold on to guilt about the way they live there life.  I’m slightly afraid of Mormon boys now.   I would be very conflicted if I fell for one.  Mormons are afraid of that too.  So many times I was taught you should never date someone who is not a member of the church, you might fall in love.  Oddly enough both Mormons and post-Mormons feel sorry for one another.

I’m learning to respect my friends wishes to stay in the church and never learn the history.  I want to shake everyone you know and yell “STOP! OPEN YOUR EYES! CAN’T YOU SEE YOU HAVE BEEN DOOPED?”  Mormons have been taught to never ever question the church outside the church.  They believe all on faith.  When I tell them my findings they always ask “What are your sources?”  I always want to shoot back “What are yours?  I could list at least 20 accredited Documentarians, Writers, Biographers, Anthropologist, and Historian’s.  Many of whom were Mormon.  You have one source…the church.”   But most of them are happy.  I don’t want to take that away from them.  It’s because I love them that I want them to be informed.  What if someday after they are married they learn about the Book of Abraham, or Joes wife’s and lose it! I know I would have.  Thank God I never got married. Now I can really find myself.  The prophets are correct about one thing.  If you ever study Mormonism outside of the approved sources it will ruin your life for a while.   Finding out the truth was absolutely devastating. 

I used to know what my life would be like. After achieving my dream of being an amazing something in NYC I would meet a lovely Mormon boy.  We would be sealed in the temple. We would move to the suburbs and buy a little house. I would be a stay at home mom for a while. I would have the perfect family with my priesthood holding husband, my future missionary son, and my virtuous daughter.  We would raise our kids to memorize BOM stories, pay tithing, and bare testimonies.  I would work in Young Woman’s as a teacher and impart my wisdom onto children about loving God, chastity, and finding yourself.  When I got older I would serve a mission with my husband.  We would be old and in love and everything would be wonderful.    Now when I think of my future...  Maybe I’ll work at Starbucks and get drunk every weekend.  I’ll get a tattoo of a skull on my lower back and take up Larping. Maybe I’ll marry a duck dynasty look alike.  He will smoke cigars and we will live in an abandon barn. Maybe he will cheat on me and I will only see our meth head son on the weekends. 

Why do I think this way?  I’m not Mormon, not insane! There is so much opportunity for me to build the life I want. I can meet people who will enjoy my company.  I’m a smart woman and I can take care of myself. It’s nice to know that I’m not settling.  Settling for someone who will find fault with everything I do.  Judge me for not enjoying three hour church. The restrictions of whom and how I love are gone!  If anything I’ve ensured myself a genuine shot at happiness because I can be myself.  There are so many good people out there who build you up not tear you down.  Maybe the key is not to envision your future, but to welcome it.  Focus on the things I love and build a community with people who share my interests.  Sure there is no guarantee Happy Ever After... but was there ever?  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mommy Daughter

My mother, like me, is a woman who speaks her mind.  She will yell and scream and occasionally swear. She is the breadwinner in the family.  An nontraditional Mormon Mommy.  That’s how I knew something was upsetting her when she wouldn’t say anything; she just went to her room and closed the door.

My little sister had just called to have a criticizing conversation about her wedding day —how everything had run smoothly until one certain moment where she felt my mother had interfered too much and therefore ruined it.  My mother looked pale as she told me what my little sister had said.  I know that mom had spent  sleepless nights to ensure that this would be the best day ever.

Being a middle child, it’s not unusual for me to take on the responsibility as mediator. I called my sister up very calmly but soon I had to lay down the law.

“Do you have any idea the sacrifices Mom made for you?  You got every damn thing you wanted at the wedding from the reception hall to the Italian soda bar. She never said 'No' to any of your wedding wishes.  Do you know why?  She loves you.  She would have sold her left leg to pay for your Italian soda bar.  Now I’m doing you a favor.  Mom does not want to talk to you but if you are lucky I may be able to get her to listen.”

My mother was lying quietly in her bed.  She would not speak.  I asked her to listen to my sister but she refused.  Finally the guilt set in on my sister as she frantically began calling Mom to apologize. Mom would not pick up.  She called me again, this time in tears, and gave me her apology speech.  I was able to convince my Mom to hear it and they mended fences.  After she hung up the phone, Mom just looked at me and began to cry.  I was a little confused.  Everything was settled.  The apology had been sincere. 

“You know, no one from my side of the family came to the wedding,” she said.

“Well Mom, they couldn’t really go.  She got married in the temple and they are not Mormon. I didn’t even get to go,” I said, trying to not show my own frustration.

“I know, I know but… It just really bothered me more than I thought it would.  I really wanted my parents and my brothers and sisters to be there too,” she said through tears.

 I was surprised. I had been so focused on my own bitter feelings of being left out (see: Off White Wedding); I never imagined it would affect those who could attend.  I looked at my mom with brand new eyes.  I thought of the sacrifices she has made all of her life.  Her own parents boycotted her wedding. She lost all of her friends. She moved across the country to go to BYU.  This religion has isolated her from her family in so many ways. 

My mother rarely mentions her childhood.  From the tiny slivers I hear of her Dad, I’ve suspected he was an Iron Fist Father.  When I first learned the truth concerning the church, I would look at my mom and wonder, “How Mom? You are such a smart woman. How did you let them get you?”  Seeing her weeping under the covers I realized that there is something about Mormonism. Something good. Something that pulled my mother out of a shadowed place and into a light. I know she has never studied the history of the church.  Her family many times tried to have “anti-Mormon” interventions. I’m not sure how she got converted to Mormonism but I suspect the church acts as the father she never had.  I climbed onto the bed and held my mom as she wept.

“Don’t worry Mom,” I said, “ I will never get married in the temple so everyone can come to my wedding!”

My mother laughed, and with complete sincerity said, “Thank you Honey. You always know just what to say to cheer me up.”