Thursday, November 28, 2013

Count Your Many Blessings

It is that time of year.  Time to count our many blessing.  As we struggle with the “What if…”s and “Why?” and “How could they…” I have decided to take a moment to count the good the church has provided in my life.  I know this can be hard.  Especially when you are in the thick of leaving.  But If you spend too much time indulging in negative diatribes you are really only hurting yourself.  When leaving the church perspective can make or break you.  Look at it as an hilarious adventure of awkward silence and sexual blunders!  I encourage everyone who reads this blog to think of at least one thing the church provided for you.  If you feel comfortable leave a comment.  I would love to read them.

Kick Ass Childhood.  My childhood and the church are so interconnected I cannot separate them.  Growing up Mormon made me feel different and special.  It also provided me with a place to rebel and sharpen my comedic skills.  I made it my Job in class to entertain everyone.  (See: Poop Monster) As a result I have performed in front of thousands of people.   It has given me a unique perspective for my stand-up comedy routine.  

My sister Jacky who left before me.  Jacky called me yesterday and told me she wants to be more of a support to me during this time.  She has distanced herself because she was afraid the family would blame her.  Her fear is somewhat exaggerated but I understand.  She was publicly flogged by members of the church just for being on MTV. (See: Parent Trap)

Dating Rejuvenation/Extended Childhood. I've been hurt a few times romantically. Leaving the church has washed away my bitter cat lady mentality.  Every relationshit that haunted is inconsequential.  All of those men were Mormon.  Now as I date I have the mentality of a 17 year old who has never been hurt.  I also have the sexual experience of a 17 year old. I was able to live in that magical adolescent world until I was 26. A world where the word "SEX" makes you giggle and boys still have cooties. (see: The "S" Talk)  

A Super Family.  My family is exceptionally close.  Some of my best memories with my brothers and sisters were suffering through those 3 hours at church.  One time we kids reenacted the entire opening number from the musical CATs while we were supposed to be in class.  When my world fell apart my family picked up the pieces. My mother has always supported me (see: Mommy Doughter)  We are a family together forever.

A Practically Free Education.  BYU provides an excellent intellectual education an a discount for Mormons.  However, I was never a fan of the religion classes and lack of diversity.   I had my share of shit times but over all I had a college experience like no other.  (see: Drinking and Games)

My Friend Seth.  I honestly don’t know where I would be without this guy.  I was rocketing on a path of self-loathing and bitterness but he kicked my butt.  He gave me perspective and a new trajectory.  He helped me let go and move on.  I still bother him from time to time and it is always enlightening (See: Waiting for Gadot)  
This blog and my readers.  It is so amusing to be able to click back and see how much I have grown in the last 7 months.  Reading the comments and E-mails from you makes me feel less alone.  A few of you have even started your own blogs.  That’s GREAT!  I must give special thanks to my editor.  She is just one of my readers who offered to help me with my grammar and my creative spelling.  Unfortunately she could not edit this one.   Her new blog is

My Ex-boyfriend  who was the Best Worst Thing To Happen To Me.  (see: The Princesses and the Penis) I was in deep with the church.  I didn’t believe it but I was not going anywhere.  Cognitive Dissonance baby!   When you are in like I was you need something more than a push.  Thank you Aaron for grabbing me by the hair and throwing me into the volcano.  I can never really thank him.  I’m not sure how to say nicely “You were such a bad guy you made me question everything!”   Of course it was not all his fault. I was letting him teat me that way because I wanted to get my Marriage Merritt Badge.  I was acting Mormon and not living it.  (see: The PerfectProblem).  Regardless, when I look at my future now it is my own.  There is nothing more satisfying then building your own identity. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Monsters of Men

I was lying on the couch recovering from the massive concussion I had received from an old man who had decided not to stop at a red light. (See: Car Wreck)  Rob was coming over because he felt bad for me.  Yeah…right... As we all know, men who are not Mormon are sex addicts.  In my mind he was just playing nice in hopes that I would have sex him after I get better.   When Rob (see: sleeping with the enemy) arrived and walked in the door he was carrying an XBOX. 

“Hey sicky,” He said with a sympathetic smile “I brought you something to do while you’re sick.” 

“Wow,” I thought “He must really want to have sex with me, pretending to be so nice.”

He sifted through games and set everything up for me.  Then we got to talking.

“Guess what!?” he said “I have a girlfriend.”

I was taken aback as he told me all about his new lover.  Why was he being nice to me if he had a girlfriend? Is he hoping he could cheat on her with me? It just didn’t add up.  As we were talking an unexpected thought hesitated in brain.  What if he was just being a nice guy…? I walked him to the door and gave him a goodbye hug.   Then, after he had left, I spilled onto the couch and cried.  I was a horrible person. I would like to say it was the concussion that inspired my bitter negative judgmental thoughts.  That would be a lie.

Ever since that moment I have paid close attention to my automatic thoughts regarding non-Mormon men.  I felt sick before every casual hang out or date.  Overwhelm if I was at a party with more men then woman.  One time I was trapped in a restaurant booth with 9 non-Mormon men and only 3 non-mormon woman.  I nearly spilled a pitcher of beer trying to leap out. I had a panic attack. Thoughts I could not control.  Judgments, stereotypes, and most of all fear.  I realized that no matter how hard I tried I could not deprogram myself from the Idea that EVERY SINGLE non-Mormon man was a bad guy.  Clearly this was a job for my BFF/therapist.  I told her about my subconscious bias, that if you set a mormon man with loaded pistol in front of me and a non-Mormon with a puppy I would still choose the Mormon man. 

As I was talking to my BFF my mind flashed back to the one dozen non-mormon men I have interacted with.  A hobo cat calling me as I jogged through NYC saying “don’t run too much of that off!”  The “producer” I met in Harlem who wanted to make me a “star.”  I remembered the date I went on with a man who admitted to me he was actually married! (I will have to tell you about this experience in a later post.) 

Were these men my only representation of non-Mormon men?  How can I be 27 and have so few interactions?  I would talk to non-Mormon men.  For example, I interacted with them when I bought groceries, or if I bumped into one on the street, or if I wanted to tell one about the church.  Oh my God… Did I ever interact with a non-Mormon man on a personal level?  No.  Why would I?  I had my Mormon men who you could date and were so nice.  They would do nice things for you like give you a blessing or let you borrow their XBOX… 

I realized that I have been painting all non-Mormon men with the same brush you use on hobos/pimps/married sleazeballs.  By isolating myself from these men I have let stereotypes pressed on me by my church leaders, and Mormon friends sink in so deep that even a man with a beard had become a threat.  So how do I destroy the black hole in my heart?  If we have learned anything from the Syfy channel, we know that the only way out of a black hole is to light speed through it.  And so I shall. I will boldly go where this girl has never gone before. I’ll go to parties, talk to non-Mormon guys, and break down the barriers. And lastly, in the immortal words of Spock, I will “Live long and prosper.” 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Parent Trap

I remember my heathen sister came to visit. She had left the church a few years after being kicked out of BYU for being on MTV.  Jacky had held up a beer and said, “I will pay you 100 bucks to drink just one sip."

 I wouldn’t do it.

 Life in NYC was hard.  A city of 7 million people and I felt so alone.  The only people I felt I could interact with were Mormons.  I was afraid of everyone else.  I told Jacky this… she was quiet for a bit and then spoke, “I want you to be happy.  You should go online and just read ONE thing about Joseph Smith.  It will change your life.  Do it before you move across the country to marry this guy.” 

 I wouldn’t do it.

Fast forward two years and it was Jacky I called first.  I was livid.  26 years of rot falling from my mouth.  I replayed what I had learned and asked her, “How could they lie to us like this Jacky?”
She was quiet for a bit and then said “I know.”  

What else could she say?  I suddenly understood how painful it was for her living on the other side of the glass.  She was watching her family sink deeper and deeper into the quick sand.  Every time I said no to a beer, coffee or isolated myself from Non-Mormons it was a reminder to her that I was still stuck.   She told me she felt responsible, that she felt she was a bad sister for not leaving sooner.  Of course she’s thrilled that I made it out but now I look at my family and pray to the moon that they will be okay.

Telling Jacky was a celebration.   I wish everyone I told would react this way.   Telling Mom and Pa felt impossible.   I couldn’t keep putting on my Sunday dress only to change in a gas station.  One Sunday out of pure exhaustion I blurted everything out.  I had waited too long.  Like a grenade I exploded blame and anger on Joseph Smith.  I was not tactful or respectful.  My parents took it well considering I was accusing them of being brainwashed.  Later I apologized for acting “crazy”.

It was about a month later when my mother revisited the conversation.  I was able to be more diplomatic.  My parents had done a great job respecting my boundaries and I had done a great job pretending the church was not the reason I had experienced a nervous breakdown.

“So what do you think of the book of Mormon?” My mother said.

“Oh, I think Joseph wrote it,” I said flatly.

“Really?” My mother said, trying to hide her shattered heart. She then proceeded to tell me all the “facts” about the Book of Mormon that proved he could not have written it.  The same “facts” I was taught in church and in class at BYU. “You know Joseph was an uneducated man.  Son of a farmer-“

“Actually, he was very well educated.  Both his parents and sister were teachers.”  I said.

“Oh well you have just been reading Anti-Mormon literature.”

Aaaaand Stop.  I don’t want to hurt my parents so I take the “agree to disagree route”. This is called a boundary. (See: Coming Out The IKEA-Mormon ClosetMy parents mean the world to me.  Though it is hard watching them give the church their retirement I try to focus on what the church has done for them.  One gift I cannot deny is that our family is very close.  Partly due to all us kids working in the family Ice-cream shop. Partly due to the TV show(tho she never would have gotten on the show if she was not Mormon).  And partly due to our commitment to love each other forever.   The good news is my parents still love me.  We don’t fight about the church and I still believe that families can be together forever.