Monday, September 13, 2010

Now that that is out of my system.

A bit of a ramble today, if you will.

So I've been feeling like an ass lately. Been reading these really great posts from other bloggers. One in particular--don't remember who it was--mentioned how dumb it was for Mormons to not give their girls a middle name because it would later become their maiden name when they got married.

It's a tradition in my husband's family, so we just did the same for our daughter. I regret this now. Not because it's stupid so much, but because I never got to name any of my kids after my great-grandma. She's still around at 95, but she's slowing down. A lot. And I lovelovelove her name.

I haven't spoken with Eric about wanting to officially make that my daughter's middle name, but I'm certain he won't care. I just don't know how to go about it. I'm sure we could go to the county and find out, but I haven't a lot of time these days.

Besides, it's weird trying to explain to Abbie why she doesn't have a middle name yet. She doesn't really get it. And the obvious question now is "what if she doesn't get married?" You know?

Why do we expect people to get married? I suppose because many people do, but still. It's imposing upon her an expectation, and I don't want to "expect" my daughter to get married.

Besides being stupid in and of itself, there are more important things to expect, to teach her. Like being her own person. Staying true to herself. Think critically. Be the best she can possibly be. To be happy and strong, confident.

You know?

I cringe reading other posts that criticize these nuances of Mormon culture--in part because I think it's harmful if not abusive in some cases, but because I did that too. And I didn't even know it. I wasn't BIC, but ask anyone and they'd tell you (because they told me) that I sure as hell acted like it. When I joined, I embraced it all. Whatever doubts I had I dismissed as unimportant in the grand scheme of things. I often wondered, in the beginning, where the church had been all my life.

However, I am proud to say I never, ever, ever wanted to go to BYU. My best friend suggested we go to UVSC for a while, live in her grandparents' basement, and a part of me wanted to but I'm a wuss about moving more than an hour away and I don't know how serious she was about it either.

So many forks in the road in my life I wonder about. What if I would've sucked it up and gone to Texas to attend University with my best online friend back in the day. What if I would've gone to UVSC.

I want to think "What if I went to UC Santa Cruz like I wanted to throughout high school" but joining the church before I even could crushed all those dreams and the ones that came after. The English thing got set aside. Next I remember telling my institute director that I really felt that I should be a paralegal, and the look on his face told me quite clearly it was not acceptable. So I settled for the community college's glorified secretary program--I was very good at it, but it didn't make me happy. It just seemed more appropriate.

That said, I can't blame it all on the church. I think. I don't like anything hard or scary, so the excuses were welcome. Joining the church was neither hard nor scary. It was my way of finally rebelling against my family--sad, right?

I just wish I would've been more independently-minded. Something about the church took that all away from me.

There are a lot of things about the church I am grateful for. A few close friends, my new family, my kids. A home for a few years. But there are a lot more things that piss me off. Eric's the same way. And we both realize that had we gone a separate way out of high school (he regrets his mission), we probably would have never met--and I cannot begin to tell you the chemistry we had, the connection. But still, we wonder. And we're a little angry about it.

And I'm a little angry at myself for wanting so much to fit in, to embrace all the little traditions. I wanted so much to have a real, traditional LDS family. (Eric never did, btw)

At least I never learned to sew so I could make my own clothes. At least I finally--after a few years--realized the last thing I wanted to do was scrapbook. At least I finally realized saying "no" was okay. At least I finally came to terms with the fact that I could not physically or mentally handle the big family I wanted so much in the beginning. It's bad enough I have three. Maybe I'll tell that story later. It's a scary story to tell because, you know, I do love my youngest.

Anyway, I never felt right in Relief Society. I'm just not a girly-girl. I don't like doing "homemaking" things. Besides, everyone my age had callings elsewhere.

My friends and I called it "Menopause Society."

And at least I realized right away that, while largely no problem with the actual endowment ceremony, the initiatories CREEPED ME OUT and there was no fucking way I was going to wear my bra over my garment top. It was too, too weird.

And I know there's no use crying over spilt milk, but it still stings. In a lot of ways I wish I could've been slightly more rebellious and less Molly, but that's out of my system now. More and more I feel I'm getting my power back, and it feels good.

Still, I continue to learn that some of the things I did and said weren't just isolated, "me" incidents, but very much Mormon. And it's weird. And it does make me angry.


  1. Yeah, I think most of my anger was directed at myself. When I figured everything out, not only did I have to acknowledge that I was a fucking moron for most of my life, but I had obediently crammed a harmful belief system down my children's throats -- in a loving way, of course. Your kids don't even know who the devil is. Yay!

    On the other hand, we were lied to. We were betrayed. The organization hurts people and its good to have some appropriately directed anger -- or maybe righteous indignation? -- about that.

    And then again on the other hand (I have 3 hands now), you figured it out, you are young, your husband is on the same page with you, you are getting your power back, life is good and it only gets better.

  2. Okay, but my son's name is JOSEPH. He goes by his middle name, like his father, so hardly anybody knows it, and even if they did, almost nobody associates it with Joseph Smith. BUT I KNOW. And it makes me crazy. We can't change it now, so we'll just encourage him to change it when he's an adult.

    I have other regrets, too. I went way off the skids career-wise after I converted. I desperately wanted to go into forensic medicine - it had been my passion since I was 10 and I've never really lost it. But I became convinced that it wouldn't be a suitable career for a mother.

    My partner is a very quiet, diplomatic person, and I only saw him angry about the Church once, when the new edition of the BoM was released with the altered introduction. That was the only time he admitted to feeling betrayed. He said that he'd gone to Taiwan to teach people these things and now the Church was saying they weren't true. Except they weren't really saying it. I couldn't relate to that particular frustration but I have some of my own. I have so many regrets, really, about so much of my time, but especially how deeply and how often I ignored my conscience and obeyed instead.

    So you're not alone, definitely, but CogDis is right - you're young, you're going through this WITH your husband, your kids are too little to be really consumed with it - you're going to come out on the other side whole and healthy.

  3. "At least I finally came to terms with the fact that I could not physically or mentally handle the big family I wanted so much in the beginning. It's bad enough I have three."

    Oh, and this? YES. I can relate to this so much. We wanted a great big family. But we had our second and knew we were DONE. I just could not handle it. I knew intuitively that more children would push me over the edge. But I felt the pressure almost immediately to get back to it. He got a vasectomy a year after we left. Guilt-free. Because we knew it was right for us. We didn't have to consult some secret handbook that we're not even supposed to know is in existence.

  4. @CD: One of the things Eric and I considered when wondering when "the right time to stop going" was was the fact that the longer we attended, the more bullshit we'd have to de-indoctrinate in the kids.

    I mean, it was bad enough that my daughter came home from Primary one Sunday, saw me drink a cup of coffee, and say "Mommy, I learned in church that coffee is bad...?"

    She was concerned, and I was *pissed* But I handled it well, I think.

    So yes, doing it young and while the kids are young = good. I regret the time I've lost (20s are supposed to be a great time and I'll never get 'em back) but I've a lot to look forward to, also. Just hard to remember and really see it.

    That said, it makes me wonder how many older apostates there are. I imagine the older you get and the longer you've been in, the harder it becomes.

    OMG, chandelle--for real?


    But Joseph is his his middle name because his first is his daddy's. So we call him Joe to avoid confusion.

    And no, we weren't trying to name him after teh prophet, but goddamn if I don't think of that often anyway. I don't like it. I like the name, but the association is just too much.

    I swear I need to do a post on the whole "big family" thing--so, so much bullshit.

  5. Hi Lisa,

    I definitely had a different experience in the church. Gosh, I think I must have been born rebellious. I never wanted to be "Molly", it just wasn't in me..., still isn't. My parents did a great job focusing on the right things in life: love, responsibility, etc. Recently I have thought that my childhood home was hugely benefitted by the fact that my mom was a convert at 16. She had no Mormon cultural baggage to tote around and I think it made a huge difference in how I perceived the church. That and my dad is inherently rebellious too. Neither one of them cared a lick about what other people thought; and I don't mean they were jerks, I mean they were never defined by other people. I think that rubbed off on me because I just do not relate to the pressures people feel within the church to conform to some "ideal." I think that is why I find your feelings so interesting!


  6. Lisa,
    Pat yourself on the back for not going to BYU. I did, and it's followed me around since. Where you went to college is something that defines you. Kudos for making the right choice.