Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Q & A With Emma

Dear Emma,
I love reading your blog. I am also a newly ex-mormon 26 yr old female! What do you think has helped you the most as you were leaving Mormonism?

Perspective.  Mormonism is such a complex religion/lifestyle/club.  The church wants so badly to be black a white but there are about …I don’t know…50 shades of gray. 

Everyone who leaves the church experiences it differently.    For some it’s as easy as walking into a Mc Donald’s, Taking one look at the menu and leaving.  For others it is like being seated at  a Mexican restaurant ordering some fantastic looking enchiladas.   Waiting over an hour only to discover that they have messed up and now you’re stuck eating slimy cold gazpacho soup.  You can make a huge fuss and leave without paying only to be chased down by the owner, you can send it back and hope they get it right even if it takes another hour, or you can just eat the soup. 

My sloppy point is in order to leave peacefully you need to remember it’s not the end of the world. It feels that way and it is the end of many things.  It is also the beginning of your new wonderful life.  Sure I’m annoyed I’m a weirdo when it comes to sex.  But there was worse things than being a 27 year old virgin. Perspective.  It’s not all bad.

Since college, I have mainly made friends through church, and now that the social outlet is gone, I am trying to find other things to do. What do you recommend?

Ah yes the F.H.Evasion. Your entire social life was handed to you on a silver platter. You never had to work or even think about what you would be doing because every Sunday they told you.  Monday: FHE, Tuesday: help sister Wazername move. Wednesday: dinner with miss…You get the point.  Now your calendar is wide open and that can be scary.  It took me about 3 months to realize that no stranger was going to call me with a list of social activities. You have to do it yourself.

That silver platter was nice but it was always full of activity’s that were bland and tasteless.   Once you learn
to cook up your own fun you will find it much more rewarding.   Instead of one size fits all activity’s like Disney karaoke in the church gym you can find more of a custom fit.  For example I LOVE doing stand-up!  Before I left the church I would do it but I always had to avoid the church.  Now I do stand-up almost every night and I’m getting quite good at it!  I don’t have to be clean or PC.  I like to make jokes about how I’m a virgin and how Mit Romney is watching me.  I don’t attack the church but I’m free to tease.

I want to make more non-mormon friends!  I really do not enjoy drinking.  How do people like us meet more people like us?

Find the things you love to do and do them.  As we say “Google will set you free”, it will also show you the world. Look online for events and go! Don’t rule out going to bars. Most bars have more than just alcohol to entice people.  Live music, dancing, trivia, wet T-shirt contests (if that is your thing). I really enjoy Meetup.com events.   Just yesterday I played Ultimate Frisbee with a bunch of new people my age.  Most of them drank but not to get hammered.  They were active people.  I imagine if I was not Mormon I would have friends who would tell me about all this cool stuff.  As you have newly left you may need this tool to get started.  

You will be tempted to talk about the church.  That’s okay.  I have found that almost everyone has had a faith crisis in their life.  It’s an interesting topic but remember that you are more than your old religion.  Stay light on the topic of religion and don’t let it dominate the conversation. 

You are in charge of your own social life now…revel in it!

I wanna date non-mormons.  How do I do that?

I have about 27 blog post on this topic and still don’t know.   In Mormon culture there is sooo much stress in finding your eternal companion.  Marriage to Mormons is more than finding a partner.  In order to move up in the church you must be married.  You can’t be a bishop or institute teacher without your marriage certification.  Singles wards require “adult” supervision from married people.  In many ways you are made to feel incomplete without a spouse.

The world is a lot more relaxed.  People who are married and people who are single live together in harmony(see: Bon Voyage) It is  important when you start dating outside the church to take it slow.  Look around you…every guy is an option! See that guy with the tattoo, the one drinking a beer, the guy who has had sex, they could be really great guys(gasp!) Give them a chance. It’s hard to erase the old “I Judge Thee” habit.  Start by just making friends and getting comfortable with different types of people. 

When you do meet someone you like feel free to communicate that (see: Pink Pedistal)   If you want a committed relationship find a guy who wants that too.  Take it slow so that you can be sure.  Some men will say anything for sex.  Any guy that is pushing you to do stuff you’re not comfortable with…tell them to F OFF! Most important take your time.  People find love at every age out here...not just at 22. 

Hey Emma,
Have you ever thought of getting your records removed from the church?

At this point in my journey…No. But I see why many people do.  They want closure, they don’t want to be one of the churches “15 Million” members.  I have found that for me to move on from the church I need to find myself away from it all.  I’m looking for that squishy gray area where I can be myself and still keep the parts of Mormonism I like.  My family, my friends, and my network.  Maybe with time I will. It won’t be for many years, when I can look at a Mormon temple and think to myself “Hey do you remember when you actually went inside one of those?”  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Cosmo Girl

Her dark smoky eyes always find mine.  Her hair is being blown back she gives me the “come hither.”  Whether it’s a Walgreens, Wal-mart or even a 7 Eleven she is waiting for me, tempting me with her mysteries untold. In big, block, pink letters the words Cosmopolitan are scrolled across the cover. 

I’ll admit it.  I want to know her “25 secret sex tricks to make him sweat.”  I don’t plan to use them tonight, I’m just curious.  I used to look at this magazine and think “some day before I get married I will buy one.”   Oh God!  What a disaster that would have been if my entire sex education came from one issue that read “S&M, make him want it!” A month ago I thought S&M was a knock-off hard candy.

Luckily I don’t need to make that embarrassing purchase yet.  I met a girl named Jen who is really nice and fun.  I had been trying desperately to make friends with a non-Mormon girl with absolutely no luck. (see: Pick up chick)  I wasn’t really trying to befriend Jen.  It just happened one night when I planned what she thought was a casual girl’s night. Ha ha!  She didn’t realize it but she was walking into a trap!

I bombarded her with questions.  She didn’t realize she would be giving a lecture on adult sexual relationships but was a fantastic sport about it.   I asked, “What can you do with a penis to make it happy?” She demonstrated, quite emphatically, on a bottle of mustard.  I asked about vibrators, I asked her about how sex works in a relationship. I could tell she was enjoying my naivety on the subject. Not just sex but dating and relationships, expectations and break-ups, moving in with a guy as opposed to just dating. I asked about things that no magazine can really give you an honest perspective on. 

 I asked about bedroom topics - including what to do about the cobwebs in the basement. “Of  course!” I exclaimed, “an electric Razor! Why didn’t I think of that? Have you ever tried using a Bic down there?  It’s like hacking your way through the Amazon jungle!”

Jen was trying to explain something about Vaginas but I had NO IDEA what she was talking about. It was like she was speaking chinese.  As she was explaining shaving your little lady I realized something…well awful…I had never really looked at my own. It has literally been feet away from my face my entire life and I had never seen it.  Rob and Seth had seen it before I had.  Why hadn’t I looked at it before?  Let me say that this is not a Mormon girl thing…well at least I hope it is not.  I hope I am the ONLY 27 year old who has never inspected her own grand canyon.

I noticed something rather beautiful.   Though we grew up in different environments we both were looking for the same thing.   Someone to connect with.  We both had experience love and heart break.  We both have the same dream and fear of love.  We both struggled with finding and keeping true to yourself.   Sex is, from what I have surmised, an extension of emotion.  Not always love but, depending on the person, it can mean something.  That has been my biggest fear.  I don’t want to sleep with a guy and then find myself following him around like a sheep dog.  But I also don’t want to sleep with a guy and then when he asks to see me again I ask “Why?”

Looking back on this data I thought of the three men whose company I had enjoyed beyond the “Strength of Youth” Packet.  Of the three men, two were very easily dismissed from my life.  Rob and Rodrigo were nice, but what we had done didn’t mean anything.  Seth however…hmmm.  He is Ex-mormon.  That did mean something.  I liked when Seth held me.  There was comfort there. Seth and I are not exactly compatible but he understand stood better than anyone what I’m going through.   I wish there were more Post-mo boys out here. But then I remember that I did not leave the Mormon faith to join an even smaller sub-culture of relationships. 

Jen continues to be a very valuable resource as well as a friend.  After my *ha ha* road trip with Rodrigo I called her the next day to make sure I was not a bad person. 

“Do you think Jake will be mad at me?” I said

“Why would he be mad at you?” said Jen

“I mean Rodrigo was his friend and I made out with him!” I exclaimed

“Right. It’s okay. He won’t be mad,” she said

“but…um…did I tell you that…we were naked.” I confessed

Thunderous laughter echoed from the other line, “If anything, Jake would be egging you on. He would be rooting for you to go for it. It’s called getting lucky.” She said.

“Oh. Okay but I feel like I should tell you-“

“Whoa!  Honestly you don’t have to confess anything.  You’re fine.” She interrupted

“Oh. Okay.  Cool. Well I got to go.  I have to date a lawyer from the Bahamas!”

Jen is one awesome lady.  Every lady who leaves the church needs to get her one of her!  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Best Worst Year

One year ago this weekend my life changed forever.  A break up, a car wreck and a complete mental break down.  This course of events set the stage for the Best Worst Year of My Life.  I believe in life we are allotted a certain number of days where we are allowed to be fantastically miserable.  I used all of them this past year.  I have decided to honor these last 365 days by taking a good hard look into the past. 

Leaving the church is knocking over the first Domino.  I can’t believe how many of my old beliefs are falling to the ground.  I’m a better, happier person. The weight of the church is still heavy on me. Yesterday I spent 8 hours building an online Domino Effect Mind Map.  I have decided to share it with you.    The center is the first Domino.  The red words were my old beliefs and under them are my new beliefs.  I used prezi which is a free Power Point. 

(I can send you the prezi if you would like. Just E-mail me and put in the subject line PREZI)

 This exercise was very helpful and painful.  You may notice that Dating, Sex, Relationships have a large presents in my brain.  Under Goals, Dreams, and Expectation’s... I’m drawing major blanks.  I was not always boy crazy and insecure.   It snuck up on me.  I had a love hate relationship with BYU.  I loved how I was the edgy different girl who spoke her mind. However, it made me sad how often I was judged for it.  I became submissive.  Something happened to me in NYC.  My super Mormon roomies rubbed off on me.  My molly Mormon admirer gave me an offer I felt I was too old to refuse (I was 26)

After making this graph I have realized that I have let dating distract me from my real problems.  I’m not great at being vulnerable.  I have completely lost touch with the career driven, NYC bitch I wanted to be.  I think the biggest thing I learned is I don’t love myself.  This makes me sad… why would I want some guy to love me, if I don’t love me.   I have decided to put a halt on my cereal dating.  It feels unnatural saying No.  At BYU I was so different I had to trick boys into asking me out.  A weird combination of desperate and hard to get.  Non-mo boys don’t size up my testimony.  It’s nice.  I was supposed to go out with Vick this week.  A super accomplish Engineer with all sorts of dreams and goals.  I don’t want to live vicariously through his mater program and his horseback riding.  I need to revisit my dreams.  Maybe make a few adjustments to my pen-house in New York.  

We the questioning brothers and sisters have an extraordinary journey.  Enjoy this unique experience tho it will get the better of you at times.   Leaving the church is a huge accomplishment. Take this Gold Star!  None of your friends are likely to throw you a party.  Just remind yourself that you were brave enough to say “I don’t think the earth is flat”.   I recommend seeing a therapist.   If that is not an option for you feel free to barrow my Mind Map.  It helps you pinpoint where your schemas and automatic thoughts are coming from.
 I know this world is true. 
There are people who will love you for you. 

But if you don’t love you then it won’t matter…boohoo.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pink Pedestal

It all started when I punched Seth in the arm and called him my friend. This shouldn’t be a big deal.  He is my friend but I also think he is way hot.  As I was talking to him I became aware of the Berlin Friendship Wall I was erecting. I try to appear unattractive to him and point out all the reasons I should not like him to myself.  This wall is one of many invisible barriers I put between myself and potential relationships. I started seeing a therapist to help me deal with the church.  She has been pushing me to talk about my last relationship with a man named Pillsbury(see:  Princess and the Penis).  I’m learning it was not the end of that relationship that was tormenting me.  It is the beginning. 

His name was David.  We spent everyday together skipping down the silver streets of New York.  We had what is known as a connection. Connection.  A while ago Seth reintroduced me to this term. (see: Great Sexpectations) This word has been ringing in my ear ever since.   I have used it many times before but only now am I starting to understand. See, Pillsbury and I had a relationship.  David and I had a connection. Cue massive regrets.

How many times did I punch David in the arm and call him friend?  How many times did I convince myself to just be friends with this dashingly handsome man.  I loved him.  I have never met a man I cared for them the way I cared for David.  I thought about him all the time.  Everyone in the ward thought we were dating.  We might as well have been.  We were inseparable...well except for my wall.  I told him all about my Skype relationship with Pillsbury.   David soon became angry every time I brought up Pillsbury.  So I stopped talking to him about it.  He did everything he could to show me he liked me.  Just shy of tying me down and screaming "I like you!" What happened you ask?  Nothing. Every hint he dropped, I gave him the old "We are such good friends".  I liked him so instead of playing dumb why I didn’t just say something.  When I told him Pillsbury was flying out to see me he was irrational.  His face dropped and he ignored me.

"Come on." I said with an innocent smile "arnt you going to check him out for me and make sure he is good enough?"

He just looked away, "I’m really busy that week" he said...I never said what week he was coming...and David was unemployed. 

The whole thing blew up in my big play dumb face. I was insensitive and afraid. I blew off one of the most meaningful relationships I ever had so I wouldn't risk losing it. I was afraid to be loved.  And I have done this countless times.  I saw David a few weeks ago.  My wall was still up, still in denial. But as we were surfing on carts through the wal-mart parking lot my feelings for him began to surface again. I thought to myself “He is truly an amazing man. I would go back to church if I could find a man like him.”  I snuffed those thoughts out but thanks to my therapist I must face the truth.
By trying to protect myself from being vulnerable I have ended up wondering “what if?” Pillsbury was easy to date.  I was not attracted to him so I thought he couldn’t hurt me(wrong!) We was the model Mormon man. He pursued me the way I expected to be pursued. He put me on a lovely pedestal.  Many of the Mormon boys I have dated have done this.  But I don’t want the pedestal.  I want to be an equal. I remember being told so many times by boys at BYU how unattractive a woman is, who pursues a man.  They want to win you with gifts and acts of valor.  Who doesn't want that?  It sounds fun but to truly play this game you might as well be an apple on a tree waiting to be picked. 

The churches expectation invites sexisum. A single mormon man is at fault for being alone but a woman.  We are told it is not our fault our husband must be in heaven.  I want to be down on earth with my unemployed lover running through central park. I want to take responsibility for my relationships. I want to accept that I have a choice on who and how I love.  Who know what would have happened if I allowed myself to open up to David. Maybe nothing would have changed.  I have been replaying the events over and over in my head but about a year too late. 

I’m coming off my pedestal.  I don’t want to be spoiled anymore.  I want to find a connection.  The stigma of a "DTR"(mormon term for Define The Relationship) is so negative.  I did everything I could to avoid it.  Like many Mormon men and woman who suffered years of reinforce stereotypes I became silent to my own thoughts. As I move forward in my personal relationship I will remember David. I would be fine dating a guy who’s only gift to me was his heart.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Potty Training

Lazars were flashing, the music was blaring and I was wearing a little number I bought in New York City 7 years ago.  I was nervous to bust out my low drop tank top.  I bought it during my rebellious youth but never warn it.  Unsure the affect this top would have called my friend Jen to basically ask her permission.  I even packed another shirt just in case.  My Boobs looked amazing.  You never would have guessed I was a virgin from the way I was moving on the dance floor.  My friend Kate even pulled me aside to learn how to drop it like it’s hot.   I was among friends + one friend of a friend.  His name was Rodrigo.

After a few drinks I noticed Rodrigo noticing me.  The definition of tall dark and handsome.  Brazilian and beautiful.  After a few more drink I contemplated the existence and proximity of this man.  After a few more drinks I found myself more than contemplating proximity.   As a group we moved from one bar to the next, Rodrigo at my hips.  Around 1 am the group started to dissipate.  Kate had also made acquaintance with a man who was at her hips.  

I was beginning to sober up but most of my friends were still wasted.   I started to wonder what I was doing.  Who was this guy I kept kissing and why didn’t I care?  Rodrigo told me very specifically that he was going into the bathroom. 

“okay.” I said

He left…he came back and again told me he wanted to go to the bathroom. 

“fine.” He smiled and I smiled back.

A third time he came back slightly frustrated.  He said to me a third time “I’m going to the bathroom.”

“then go!” I said

“I want you to come with me.” He said

“I don’t have to go,” I said

“Come, please”, He said

“Is there a line?” I said.

 This time he looked deep into my eyes and smiled. “There in no one.  Meet me,”

“Oh God!” I thought.  I had seen this in the movies. Commode Coitus! I was no good in a bedroom much less a bathroom! As he was walking away I realized I was WAAAY over my head. Most of my friends had left.  Kate was still there with her hitch hiker.
“Kate!” I said with combination fear and adolescents “Um. I have never done anything like…anything.  How do you…what should I do?”

Kate just stared, “You okay?” 

I was trying to figure out a really cool way of saying “Help!  This man wants to do sexy times in the bathroom and I am no good with a pee pee. I should run and hide but he is very attractive!”

Just then Rodrigo came back from his fourth potty trip. He took my hand and started to guide me toward the bathroom.  I stared at Kate the way you stare up at a ledge after you have fallen.
“I think it’s time for me to go home.” I said abruptly. I left and he fallowed. We walked hand in hand back to my car.  God he was good looking.  And leaving to go back to Brazil in 12 days.  It was the perfect crime.  But he was friends with my friend Jack.  As we were walking back to my car I saw Jack and called out to him.  Rodrigo kissed me to stop the sound.  “Don’t call him over here.  I just want to be with you.”  Did I mention how incredibly handsome he was. 
We kissed all the way to my car. And in my car.  And I drove him home where we continued to enjoy my car. (tho it was totaled a week later)  After we enjoyed the car I told Rodrigo it was time for me to go home.  Then something happened.  Something I did not expect.  He said,

“Wait.  Can I get your number?”

My very first thought was “Why?” There I was naked with a man who was also naked.  And I wondered “Why?”.   As I drove away a small black hole formed in the pit of my stomach.  I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, except maybe indecent exposure as my car windows were not tinted.  I’m sure Rodrigo had no intention to call me.  I was sure this was what the kids call a hook up. No sex but still sexy. So why did I feel so raw. Why? Why? Is this what I’m becoming? So detached? My mind was trying to sort tho what transpired in the car.  At one point Rodrigo asked me what I liked about him. I said “I like how sexy you are.” To that he asked “is that all?”  What if Rodrigo did like me for some odd reason?  Am I really that heartless?  I thought back to Rob and Seth. (See: Sleeping With the Enemy, and Great Sexpectations) I liked Rob sort of.  I really liked Seth tho I basically convinced myself not too.  Rodrigo… I didn't know him...Oh my.