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 Closet) My 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.