Monday, September 29, 2014

Moving Out

We all know how hard it is to tell your friends and siblings you are letting go of the Iron rod.  You know what they are saying behind your back.  You notice they distance themselves.  I have even heard stories of people being shunned and ostracized. It is a sticky wicket.  But nothing compares to the challenge of telling your parents.  

I spent months hiding from my parents. I was living with Mom and Dads home trying to get my life together.  Being recently dumped, unemployed and on suicide watch I decided not to add heathen to my list of failures.  It was a tough act.  Every Sunday morning I would put on a dress and "drive to church".  Luckily we had a
Singles Ward I could "attend" so my parents never suspected.  I usually stopped at a gas station and changed into my street clothing.  I usually sat in my car and drove around for a while.  Maybe stop in a bar and watch people living normal lives.  Occasionally I would drop in on the Singles Ward.  Like a moth to the flame.  I actually enjoyed seeing all my old friends and getting all that attention. Many of them knew I was questioning.  Having been a staple in the ward they all worried about me. "I'm Just really busy" I would say with a smile.  I usually ended the service hiding in the bathroom fighting tears.

This went on for months.  It was hard enough leaving my friends. The idea of telling my parents was terrifying.    I worried if they knew I would be throw out of the house.  Left to fend for myself.  I figured I would wait until I moved out. But the game of Church Hide and Seek was getting harder and harder to play.  I started dropping hint.  Saying I had doubts.  Asking inappropriate questions to the home teachers. Then my  mother discovered my copy of "No Man Knows My History" (See:  )  She became more and more defensive of the church.  Insisting on nightly prayer and Family Home Evening. It was time for the truth to come out. 

It was a Sunday evening and I was still in my Sunday dress.  My parents started asking me about my job search trying to give me advice.  How could I interview for jobs when I was such an emotional wreck? I had no idea where my life was headed.  I was still silently suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I was not sleeping and felt so alone. 

"Maybe if you just spent more time at church you could clear your head," My Mother said. 

Suddenly I just blurted it out "I'm not going to church!" There was a moment of silence.  I took a deep breath. "Mom, Dad I need to tell you something.  Can we sit down?"

I told them I did not believe Joseph Smith was a prophet and that I would no longer be a Mormon.  It was a short conversation and my parent were relatively understanding. Of course more long winded and frustrating conversation were yet to come but for the time being it was okay.  My parents respond with love and understanding. They still supported me and did not kick me out.  That felt nice. The important part was I held my ground.  I did not allow them the fantastic idea  that I would come back.  

For those of you who have yet to tell your parents I recommend you break it to them over time. Maybe a few weeks.  Maybe a few months. But tell them and when you do do not leave them any room for hope.  In the long run you will just hurt them more.  Live your new life with excitement and pride.  I know you probably feel you are disappointing them.  Well let me ask you you plan on living in your parents basement for the rest of your life?  No. You want to move out and they want you to too.  They would be disappointed if you never moved out and built a life for yourself.   Letting your parents believe you may one day come back to church is like emotionally sleeping on a futon in their basement. Your parents had you so they could watch you grow and become your own person. You may not get the job they think you should have, or date the boys they pick but they can take pride in the fact that they raised someone who could think for themselves. 

If you are struggling with coming out I highly recommend you watch this TED talk.  My sister sent me this link as I was leaving and gave me a lot of courage! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

An Unexpected Rant

I was recently sent a survey from my old Ward in NYC.  They explained they were going to do a series of lessons on marriage and they wanted to get an idea of the general feeling towards relationship from the NYC Mormons.  

I decided to fill out the survey for mostly for my own masochistic reasons.  Most of the question were typical Mormon stereotypes.  There was a multiple choice question I found indicative of their true purpose in sending out this questionnaire, the question is very telling of the attitude of those in the Mormon faith towards marriage. 

What answer below best reflects your feelings on dating and marriage?
  •  I’m ready to be married now, get me out of this dating game now
  •  I’ll get around to dating when I have time, but for now I’m chasing my dreams
  •  Dating is fun, but the idea of getting married is terrifying
  •  I feel like my dating life is in balance with the other aspects in my life
 #1 is a statement I heard countless times while in the church.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the most frequent response from their young, single adult audience.  There is an idea brewed in the minds of the young and sexually frustrated that the moment they say "I do" everything in your relationship is all taken care of, and that you will always be perfectly in love and happy.  

Alex, my Never-Mo boyfriend, and I have been together for almost a year and we are in no rush to seal the deal. This is the first relationship I have been in where time is no issue.  We’re already having sex and we both have independent lives. This is also the first time I have been dating someone where relationship milestones are not reached every week like clockwork. The romantic comedy element adds a lot of excitement to Mormon relationships.  I have noticed that it feels like our relationship is lacking in excitement merely because he is not shouting "Marry me!" But that is simply a reaction to developing a healthy relationship based on common Interests not getting into heaven. By taking our time and removing the threat of unrealistic expectation, we are able to develop a healthy, loving and honest relationship. So when I reached the final question on the survey I could not resist answering honestly.

  •  Is there anything you would like the bishop to know?
Here is what I wrote…
"When I was Mormon the pressure to get married was horrible and I was unhappy.  It's not the Bishop’s fault.  The church as a whole has an idea of relationships that is unhealthy.  Getting married is a choice some make. Not getting married is also a choice.  When I was a Mormon the men were all under sexed and over-stressed about the idea of getting married. They had unrealistic and, frankly, childish ideas of relationships.  The relationship was less about love and more about what their wife was going to do for them. Now, as a Non-mormon, I have learned a lot about what makes a healthy relationship.  It’s not about finding the most church going, reverent,  a-sexual person you can find. It is about opening yourself up to loving yourself and owning that.  If you are a Mormon who drinks and does not attend church find someone else who lives life this way.  Don't try and change who you are for the hope that you will get married and have sex.   Be yourself...not what the church tells you to be.  I filled out this survey as if I was still Mormon.  But then I thought it would be better to be honest and tell you the truth.  To show you that love outside religious expectations is real true and awesome love!"