Saturday, October 9, 2010

Waving the White Flag


Have you read, heard or seen some of the responses to the editing fiasco? I'd list some but then I'd have to kill myself.

I'm done! People, there is no hope. In this sense I do think I need to leave the fucking church alone. I can talk about, work through, cry and scream about my experiences, but this bitching activism thing about their doctrine and policies and ignorant beliefs is like bashing my head against a brick wall. I can only lose so much blood.

I realize that wavering members might see this blog and that leaving is a difficult thing but ultimately a very good thing, but it's like a reverse version of Russian roulette. Most of the time I'm just hurting myself. Once in a while someone will stop by and be all "hmmm, she might have something" but is it worth it? I'm not sure, and I'm leaning toward "NO." Unless a person comes to me, I'm done. I at least need a break.

I started this blog to just talk about religion. Y'all, I had severed all ties with the church for months except for the ones I couldn't escape: family, a few friends. Every time the Ensign showed up at our house, BAM! into the trash. It still does, but y'know. Example. I didn't look up this shit. I left the NOM board alone. It was wonderful.

But like I mentioned, you just can't escape this completely. You can't. And I go through cycles, sometimes severe, of obsession. I began not too long ago to obsess over religion and god and what I believed and didn't believe. I wanted a bit of support. I needed it. People told me I needed to blog again, and I figured the church would only be a part of it. It would have to be. Aside from being born Christian (which is huge), the church is the single biggest influence in my life. My membership spanned what I consider to be my most formative years. I can't ignore it completely, and I knew I wouldn't be able to.

That said, I was under the naive and hopeful assumption when I began this blog that the church had to at least give it a fucking break for a little while, but jesus. They can't. Always something.

And their sheep just follow. I don't even know why they have eyes.

Mmph. I mean that and I don't. I visited with my MIL last night and I don't think I have to say it again but I will: I love my MIL. She's a sweet woman who has been nothing but the same to us since we (er, the kids) told her we don't go to church anymore. And it made me think of all the shit I've been saying, the posts on facebook where she is a friend, the thoughts, whatever.

I don't want to shove this shit in her face. Not without her asking about it. She's happy, she's a good woman, she's not hurting anyone. She's even really kind to her out nephew. She's a good, good woman. We disagree on many things, but she's always been really good to me. And it's good to love others despite fundamental differences, because we are more than just our sexuality. We are more than just our beliefs. Though those two things make up a huge part of who we are, nobody is two-dimensional. We are complex, wonderful beings and we need diversity in this world if we are to really survive and be happy.

My ex-roomie has been nothing but good to me. MLDSFDTS.

I can't figure out how I can rail against the church and not against them. It's not possible. They take it so personally. And why not? We all know how it gets into your blood.

Railing against the church for us is like an exorcism. We take it personally, and why the hell not? We have every reason to. But sometimes, I just really wish I could quietly go. My anger more than anything makes me feel the church still has power over me.

It all makes me think back to when I was first disaffected. You know, very very angry and very loud. The regrets afterward. Nobody responds well to childish ranting. I need to respect their decisions and their views if I want them to respect mine. Shoving it in their faces doesn't do jack shit because, in the end, they will believe despite until something hits them just right. Just like Prop 8 did for me. Polygamy.

In short, I need to STFU. I will speak up when necessary, but it needn't take up the majority of what I do say. If I want them to see me as more than just an ex-member, if I want them to see my happiness, then I need to curtail the bitching which doesn't do much good anyway. I will stand up, but I also need to know when to back down. If I want respect then I need to give it. I remember what it's like to be a TBM just like I remember what it's like to have your first real doubts.

I get my recent anger, you know. Events like Packer's talk and Prop 8 was what really gave me the green light to consider leaving. It was offensive. I didn't appreciate what my experience taught me about the church: that they think I'm stupid, blind, and willing to ask "how high?" when they demand that I jump. I've never been that kind of girl--except as a member. And the more my political views changed over the last five years, the more I realized the grey in the black and white, the more these doctrines snapped me out of it. That really was the beginning of the end, polygamy. Thinking I should have another child when I knew I shouldn't, couldn't. Being told how to vote. The hatred toward people who don't hurt others any more than anyone else. So when I see these issues arise again, it triggers and I get obsessively angry all over again. And I kind of hate myself for remaining. I can't condone this shit, even passively.

Which is why I drafted my first resignation letter last night. I'll get into that in another post probably.

But once you've been gone for a while you begin to romanticize it. You want to be kind and not like the devilish "antis" you were warned about and vilified for so long. You want to be that good example, to prove to other members that see? i may be an apostate but i'm still a good person who doesn't obsess and bitch and turn into a monster. And, in that vein, because we're good people, before we know it we're only thinking of the good things about the church. For me, it's (some of) the hymns, the smell of the church building, the traditions. I miss seeing my husband dressed up. I miss seeing my boys dressed up. I enjoyed teaching the women in Relief Society for the two times I could handle it before I had to cry uncle--not because I hated teaching (I loved it) but because I didn't believe in it.

Yet if I were to attend a church, the LDS church would be the only one I would feel at home in despite everything. I liked the quiet. I liked the lack of crazy shouts of "hallelujah!" and the lack of fear that someone would break into tongues. It's a more inclusive doctrine. It wasn't weird to me--with the exception of F&T Sunday, but that was more entertainment than anything else. So you begin to forget about the hurtful things, the things that made you miserable. You want to forgive and forget. So we need the reminders occasionally that it wasn't all that great. Ask Kiley. Sometimes we need an Elder Packer to remind us why we left.

It's not a bad thing to remember the good. Because they are, in large part, good people. We didn't join to be assholes. We joined because we wanted to be better. We stayed because we wanted to be good. We left because we wanted to better our lives, to be truer to what we know now is reality. To grow and enjoy life. We got out of the fucking cave and omg, it's pretty awesome. We want to spread that gospel. But we need to give remaining members the benefit, to allow them their own time to get to whatever conclusion they will get to. We may be sad for them because we feel they are missing out on so much, but in the end it is their decision. If it makes them happier and they're kind to others, then we need to leave them alone and not waste our breath fighting with people who have dug their feet in, who only want to be right. And we can understand that. At least I can.

I'll talk with MLDSFDTS if she wants to, I'll just be myself and deal with his family thinking I'm super weird instead of just a little, but I need to GET OVER IT. Life is too short for this.

Besides, MIL aside, there's no arguing with super TBM members. There's just not. Not that I've really tried, but listening to their reactions was enough. I get so angry as to lose all rationality. I just want to scream, and that does nothing for the cause.

I'm done. White flag. Surrender. All that. There's no point. I know there's a point with people who are wavering, but goddammit, that's not my place. Not to the extent I've taken it. I'm yelling at people in vain and at the expense of others who don't deserve to hear it all the fucking time. What good is it doing?

I'm tired of being so angry...again. I always end up hating myself in the end. I'd like to enjoy myself. Laugh a little. Move forward instead of going back. This isn't that. There's a whole world out there, and all I can do is be spiteful. This isn't getting my power back. This is giving it back to the people who I allowed to take it away in the first place. They don't deserve it.

I recognize, however, that it might take me a little bit to fully get over this. I'd be dishonest if I told you and myself that I won't ever bitch like this again. I will. It's part of the process. But for now, I want so much to be done. Also, I'm dealing with a bit of depression this last month or so (I'm bipolar. There. I said it.) and it makes it difficult to make firm decisions. To not obsess and feel attacked. To not feel so goddamn insecure and defensive. Anger is easier and more cathartic than being depressed and feeling like nobody likes me, guess I'll go eat worms. Being angry makes me feel in control, powerful. But I'm not.


  1. I've used this metaphor before. Mormonism is like the dog poo on the Yosemite hiking trail. You need to recognize it for what it is and be aware of it enough to avoid it. You might even want to warn other hikers against stepping in it. But you don't want to focus on it and take pictures of it from different angles to hang on your wall as a memento of your trip to Yosemite when you get home.

    Life *is* too short. But recovering from Mormonism *is* a process. You're doing just fine, m'dear. It will get better and better. Be patient with yourself and remember you can't persuade anyone who only wants validation no matter how reasonable and logical your arguments. Some sheep will always always always choose a shepherd -- even a lame and dead wrong one like BKP -- rather than think for themselves. You'd be better off beating your head against that brick wall.

    The dog poo poo is out there but it doesn't define or control your life unless you focus on it all the time. Just avoid reading the craziness of the sheeple in denial, like that found on Feminist Mormon Housewives ... I go there rarely and only for academic purposes but I make it a point to not stay too long. Otherwise my head might explode.

  2. Oy, you bring up fMh. I blogged for them for a few weeks last year...eighteen months ago? I dunno. Enough to know I didn't really belong there. They were among the things I'd given up during my sabbatical. Sometime ago I poked my head back because I've a few of their permas on my FB list and the blog titles seemed promising. So when the permas on my list were all "I SAW YOU! you need to come back more often!" I fell for it, but it's not like I went back every time. Just a little more often. I like feeling wanted and valued. I need it. But it, too, makes me want to scream far too often.

    Thank you, though. I just wish the church didn't make a point to out themselves out as the snakes that they are. I've been taught for so long to rail against evil that it's kind of hard to not.

    Again, not that I think the members themselves are evil (most of them), but the church that heads them certainly seems to be. Hateful and controlling and manipulative and self-aggrandizing at the very least.

    I just wish they'd leave ME the hell alone. But that won't happen.

  3. I for one am quite proud of you. I remember when you first considered leaving, the pain you went through and how I just sat back and said, "If you want to leave, leave. I know it won't be easy, but sometimes walking away is the only answer."

    I still feel pain and anger when I think about the church that I left, and it was nowhere near as controlling as the LDS church. When I briefly dabbled in the Baptist church I ran screaming when the pastor told me that a woman's worth is determined by her children and a man's worth is determined by his work... I was living with my then fiance supporting him fully... and I had no intention of ever having children.

    I've often equated Christianity (regardless of denomination) to a puppet show. The pastor controls the men, the men control their wives, the women control the children. It sickens me, and I won't live like that.

    I've always felt that the shepherd analogy was a bit of a falsehood... you're not being led, you're being corralled... like a cow to slaughter.

    The comments that I've read of your MIL on FB always make me smile. She truly strikes me as a wonderful person and you're blessed to have her in your life. Reading here that she is still accepting and gentle-hearted to those she loves who have left the church makes me incredibly happy. I know that her opinion/feelings on the matter (as well a the rest of Eric's family) mean the world to you in this situation, and I'm confident that she will still hold you close to her heart and love you for who you are. Hopefully her attitude will rub off on other family members who may otherwise ostracize you.

    Best of luck while you struggle with this. You know I'm here-always-if you need me. You got the digits! :)

  4. I guess I have just kind of drifted away from church without ever having a huge "I'M LEAVING" moment, so the whole process (of leaving) kind of baffles me.

    Then again, I'm trying to go to meet friends and maybe a nice boy who will go out to eat and see a movie with me on Sundays. We'll see how this goes.

  5. Noe: Yeah, I remember that too. I wish it wasn't such a process for me. Frustrating, but it's good to know you're there with me <3

    Boob Nazi: Everyone's different, it's cool. I'm finding that it depends on family, your own feelings toward the church during the span of your membership, your personality, the culture of the church where you live, how much you've allowed it to sink in, etc. Really, I envy you.

    And really, I'm in a much better position in leaving than...well, all of my friends. The way they've been treated is awful. I'm really, really lucky and I tend to forget that.

    Good luck with the Sunday thing :D It really is a nice day to be out. Saturdays always seem so busy. <3

  6. I feel terrible when people get treated badly because they've left the church. I don't see a difference! My super Mormony friends would see me coming home from a movie on Sunday and just ask how it was.

    And I went to BYU and was inactive there. It didn't really affect how people saw me or interacted with me. I was even the activities co-chair when I wasn't going to church! hahaha That Bishop made me want to go to church just because he truly loved me without forcing me to go to church or looking at me differently because of it.

    I've never believed in it. (PHEW. THAT FEELS SO GOOD!) However, I still would want to get married in the temple because that's the only place I've ever wanted to get married! (And the reason I could wear a dress with sleeves without getting looked at strangely haha. I hate my upper arms.) I guess in this matter, I'm still as much of a contradiction as I am in everything else.

    I've just been pretty lucky in my dealings. I don't TALK about not going to church much, so that may affect why I don't get as much rumbling against me. If I wrote on fb, "I AM OFFICIALLY OUT OF THE CHURCH", I bet I'd get some craaazaaay responses. And I don't really feel like I need to get out of the church completely. I have never fit in at church (or at BYU), but I want my children growing up with an attitude like I had: sex is amazing but don't be a ho, alcohol is stupid, and drugs are even more stupid. I want them to have healthy attitudes that if they screw up, it's okay. And they won't have all the terrible guilt. I don't know what this last paragraph meant haha.

    I think it means that I'm a cultural Mormon. I want to give my kids (if I have any) a chance to believe in something. I want to give them the choice. I don't want to force them into anything. I want them to be baptized but feel free to choose different paths if they like. (Well, unless they want to be dirty drunks. Then I'd be mad.) I don't know why I'm thinking about my kids when I'm contemplating my life alone right now. I'm considering what it'll be like being alone the rest of my life. I would NOT want to be single and still going to church in my 30s or 40s. I actually just hate going to church being single. (I'm slightly depressed about being single right now haha)

    Thanks for letting me get this out on your blog! I've been debating where I'm going with my life lately because I moved and have no friends, so I needed this comment to happen. It may not make sense. I apologize.

  7. Also, do you happen to live in Sacramento? I see someone clicking over to my blog from here from Sacramento. I grew up there!

  8. First, i SWEAR i'm not just sitting here waiting for comments to pop up. I'm studying. No, for reals. It's not a fantastic thing to do in front of the computer, but I gotta take an online quiz when I'm done, soooo.

    YES! I'm actually about an hour from Sacramento. I noticed the other day on your blog (maybe from a recent post, maybe not. I dig yr blog) that you were in Sacramento Int'l. You should totally let me know if you come back anytime soon. I think it'd be fun. Even though we don't "talk" much. Up to you.

    Anyways, I'm the same way about my kids. Non member parents and their kids *scare* the crap out of me. I forget easily that I was raised in a non-member home and that members can be scary too. I'm also soooo glad they won't be going into YM/YW and being pressured to go on missions and attending BYU and all that shizz.

    I won't baptize them for the world, but I understand that some day they might decide to, in a sense, go back to their roots. That'll be a challenging day if it comes.

    Also, my daughter is turning 8 in May. I'm gearing up for it, even though I'm pretty sure everyone knows. FIL is kind of vocal about it sometimes.

    I'm so glad you got to get all that out on my blog! Honored :D

    I wasn't sure where you stood on the church after sifting through yr blog, but I knew you were one of the cool ones if you were active.

    Oh--also, I hate my arms too but i SO regret the long sleeved wedding dress thing. Ugh! Felt like a pioneer. Maaaan. I had tried on a strapless dress and everyone in the store gasped. I don't get that too often.

    If I had to do it all over again I'd be in Monterey in a split second. Or up the northern coast.

    Also, I hate the church for putting so much pressure on people to get married and how they treat "older" singles (you're only 25 soon, right?). <3

  9. I'm from Folsom, and I go back semi-regularly. Unfortunately, the next time I'll be there will be Christmas, and I'll only be there for three days. And after that, Marchish for three days for my new niece/nephew. I won't be going back for a long-ish period of time... ever again. Not that I don't love it, but I'd rather take vacations to Europe with my vacation time! haha

    You regretted the long-sleeved wedding dress? Really? Well, dammit. I was talking about this the other day (yes, I watch wedding shows and am DYING to get married in order to have the party haha), and I seriously considered it. Pioneer. BOO.

    Monterey! eeeee. I'd love to be married there. sigh.

    And if I ever become active, I'll totally be one of the cool ones. haha! I don't know where I stand on having kids go to BYU. I was able to find cool people and not have ridiculous friends, but not everyone is able to take such a light view of things as me, I guess.

    Yes, I am soon to be an "older" single. 25 used to be my "I'm going out and having sex" age, but I'll probably not go out and do that.

    Good luck telling your husband's family about not baptizing your kids. I know my mother would go craaaazyyyyyyy if one of us didn't baptize our children. (Yes, I have family pressure to stay Mormon. blech.)

    And thanks for telling me you like my blog. I've been down about that lately. haha

    I like the "agnostic" part of your blog title because I'm seriously considering that I'm agnostic. (The liberal part, however, I can't agree with hahahaha. I do believe I'm moderate. Both sides are crazy.) I just can't NOT believe there is a God out there. My atheist friend drives me crazy with calling God a fairy tale, so I'm not an atheist. I'll go with agnostic. And if I believe there is a God, I can attend church, right?

  10. Folsom! My grandfather lived there.

    I'd rather go to Europe, too. No worries.

    My younger SIL goes to BYU right now, but she's definitely not one of the Mollys. I don't know quite where she stands, but I detect good things. Her main focus right now is living her life and doing fun, interesting, and important things. I'm really jealous. Not that I don't love my family, but dammit!

    lol, "going out and having sex" age--love it.

    I don't know what's going to happen when they find out we're not baptizing our kids. Or when they find out we're resigning (I'm beginning to consider doing it despite Eric, but we'll see). The not baptizing thing is pretty big, committal.

    You strike me as a New Order Mormon. Check out the forum if you're interested:

    The agnostic thing is cool, but it's a little frustrating too. I can't figure out why yet. I was where you are with the "I can't NOT believe there is a god" but I dunno anymore. Trying to figure that out: hence, the blog.

    My husband identifies as an atheist. HE DRIVES ME NUTS because I'll tell him my reservations in denying a god or anything supernatural and he *always* has an answer. Annoying!

    and GASSSSP. a moderate?!?!

    it's cool :D

    I think you can attend church. I dunno how long you'll be able to *handle* it, especially if you marry an active dude and have kids, but I doubt they'll kick you out :) You'll just be the token lady with the fringe-cringe-omg-did-she-just-say-that? views. It requires blue hair in my experience, though.

  11. I know how you are feeling. It is so annoying that leaving requires working through so much. Cut yourself some slack though. You have learned how to see the world through a Mormon filter and getting over that is hard. When you are talking about the church it is not about individual members as much as it is about he system and the leadership. I know that is hard for individual members to understand.

    I also understand the need to step away for awhile. I am toying with the idea of taking a break too, or at least cutting down on the blogging. The problem is that these things are pent up and blogging gets them out. Free therapy...

  12. Kiley: I don't know about taking a step back so much--maybe only in the sense of not giving the church as much focused attention as I have been. I do think my attention here at the blog has been pretty disciplined as of late but it's not so much elsewhere. Perhaps it's all in my head. Either way, I need to focus on other things for a while. Fun things. Or just maybe religion as a whole.

    They are pent up, and there are definite triggers. Sometimes it's conference, sometimes it's an article, sometimes it's something a friend or family member says. There's no getting away from it.

    Free therapy for real.

  13. It was partly because of all those questions - baptisms, specifically, but also missions, blessings, and so forth - that we came out officially about leaving. I just saw this loop of silence and lies stretching out before us and wanted to get it out of the way before such events came up.

  14. I just found your blog, and this post made me cry. I am in the process of trying to deal with abusive relationships (past marriages), and... as I started confronting those relationships, I couldn't help but confront the relationship I had with the church.

    And you described how it works, PERFECTLY. I can't picture myself with anyone else. There WERE a lot of good times. And the bad times just kind of disappear from your memory. And then you find yourself wanting to be there... even though most of you can't figure out WHY.

    So I went back. And he'd hurt me again. And it would take me even longer to leave the next time.

    The only way I could get away from my abuser was limiting my contact. And keeping a list of the things that hurt. Even though I didn't want to focus on all of the crap, I HAD to... Just to keep myself safe.

    Trying to do that with church, but its hard... Suddenly EVERYONE around me is the manipulative one trying to get me back. It makes me crazy!