Monday, February 21, 2011

Healing Words

About a month ago, I was having a pretty tough time. I had found out about the Stake Pres sharing information about me. Specifically, he spoke to several of my bishops who shared with him how much money the church had given me. The Stake President then shared that information with Ginger.

I wanted to stand up for myself. Not because I thought he would care, but just as a "I don't allow people to do hurtful things to me anymore. I confront abusive behavior."

I called him. He said I had no right to bring any of this up, and the only reason I even cared was because I was feeling guilty. He said a lot of crap that sounded like a lot of the bullshit I have heard for most of my life.

"It doesn't matter what I did to you, YOU are so bad, you deserve it."

I was upset. I decided to stop at my parents' home.
I shared with my mom what the Stake Pres had said, and then shared with her how I believed it, even though I also knew he was wrong. My dad came in. Said he was glad I was there. I wanted to crawl in a hole. I was so scared of what he was going to say next.

He then shared with me that he has been praying about me. (Oh dear God, not now. I can't take any more right now.)
He then shocked me in a most WONDERFUL way:
"I support your decision not to go to church. I think it is exactly what YOU need right now, today."
I felt hopeful, happy, excited, and wary.
"What if I never go back?"
He said, "I've thought about that, and I don't care. I see the sparkle in your eyes and the brightness in your face, and I love that. I love YOU! I love having YOU in my home, and I'd rather have that. It just doesn't matter if you go to church or not."

I cried.

Several months ago, I was reading a letter written by a father to Boyd K. Packer about Packer's teachings on homosexuality. I got to the end of the letter, and I cried. This father was choosing his son's happiness over what Packer had to say. I WANTED that. I wanted my dad to see me, and to choose me, just like that dad had done.

I understood that my expectation might have been too much. I understood that my very active Mormon dad would always want me to go to church. And all of the understanding in the world didn't take that desire, that NEED away.

Since that day, my dad and I have had some deep discussions. I have shared my doubts and many of my questions. With every question, he has said, "I have never thought about that. Let me get back to you," and then he has... Not with the General Authority answer, but with Dad's answer. Again, it feels amazing.

One conversation was about fear and guilt. He apologized for raising me in a home with so much fear. He said he didn't know any better back then, and he does now. He talked about how his fear lead him to do things that really hurt his kids.

We talked about how even though he has apologized, and I have forgiven him, I am still dealing with the consequences of his parenting. Similar to if someone had accidentally broke my leg. Even if they apologized, and I forgave them, my leg would still be broken until it healed. I used to pretend like my leg wasn't broken, so he wouldn't have to feel the pain. It required me to hide ME to protect him. No one is hiding now, and that feels amazing.

Our last conversation was last week. I don't remember what I said... His answer was, "We all have to start with a foundation of loving ourselves. The church gets in the way of you loving yourself, therefore, its not good for you. Find that foundation. I love you."

When I started on my journey to heal my life, one of the things I kept FEELING deep down was that if I healed me, I could help heal my dad. It never made sense to me... how could I make a difference for him? I won't pretend that I understand it, or even pretend that I am right. It just feels so good... and it FEELS deep down that I am healing more than just me.

I know I am incredibly lucky. I know so many people will never hear these words from their active Mormon families. I feel so grateful.

13 comments:

  1. I so love what you have written here, Jen. It is so insightful, so profound , so loving, so tender, so genuine, and so peaceful. I really love it.

    It is interesting what you wrote about your father, that you felt if you could heal you, you could heal him. That is really beautiful.

    You know a little of my circumstances of my early life. And, like you, it has taken an enormous amount of time, through intensive therapy, to get to a point of healing. Part of my healing was confronting what BOTH my parents did to me. That nearly killed me, literally. Through the process, I have told my parents that I could forgive them (and I have) of anything that have ever done to me, and that I hoped they could forgive me of anything I may have done. Their reaction? Hoe dare blog author SUGGEST WE ever did anything wrong. I offered both of them the true olive branch, a way to make right all the wrongs they perpetrated, and they turned the other way. So be it. They are on their own. I hope THEY can heal before it is too late for them. I really felt like my offering them my complete forgiveness for what transpired would be the catalyst in helping them to ask for forgiveness- but, it did not work that way. I hope it will and can be different for you and your dad.

    You sound really happy these past several days. I am so glad. You deserve it. You deserve to be happy. You are a stellar human being, with much love to give others, including yourself. You are amazing. :)

    Happy night!

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  2. (Sorry about all the stupid spelling errors- I need to learn how to spell, and type!!)

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  3. I've had a similar talk with dad. It was interesting, because I had to go through the process of forgiveness, but I didn't realize until later that the process of healing was actually a different process.

    It was difficult for me because I realized that to heal I had to dig some of that stuff back up again. But it was really helpful and dad was very tender. I totally understand the worry of hurting him because I had that same concern. In the end, I think it was good for me and him when we talked about it. I'm glad you had a positive experience as well.

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  4. I know many could benefit from this type of talk even from non-religious parents. Just the loving and caring of it. *hugs!* I'm glad you got that from him, I'm glad you're feeling better for it!

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  5. It's amazing to hear such good news from you. It gives me hope. :D

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  6. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing this!

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  7. blog author - I'm so sorry that your parents couldn't see... Sometimes I wonder if the pain of acknowledging the hurt they've caused feels like too much to bear. It doesn't make it any easier for you. (and no need to apologize for spelling errors... sometimes I leave spelling errors and typos just so I can confront my perfectionism need.)

    Jeff- I knew you'd had the talk with dad too, which made it easier for me to talk to him. SO, thanks for being first.

    shattered - Imagine the world we would live in if everyone felt loved and accepted for who they are! It would be Uh-Mazing!!

    Carla and J G-W - Thank you. It was hard to write, because I know many people won't get that kind of acceptance. I wanted to bring hope. There were days when I would have just felt insanely jealous...

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  8. "Similar to if someone had accidentally broke my leg. Even if they apologized, and I forgave them, my leg would still be broken until it healed. I used to pretend like my leg wasn't broken, so he wouldn't have to feel the pain. It required me to hide ME to protect him. No one is hiding now, and that feels amazing."

    cool, and sweet anagoly. I don't think I have ever thought of it as such, but I do know that I continually try to hid my pain from others as to some how show that I am not angry at them. So I like what you have to say. Sounds difficult.

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  9. Yeti, Thank you! :) And thanks for coming to visit my blog.

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  10. You wrote: His answer was, "We all have to start with a foundation of loving ourselves. The church gets in the way of you loving yourself, therefore, its not good for you. Find that foundation. I love you."

    That is so beautiful! So true! Thanks for sharing your experience with your father. What a very tender moment.

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  11. Jen, I visit a great site called faceseast.org. It's a site for couples of practicing lds and postmormon/nom to get support and understanding. I would love to share this story of your father with them, with your permission. Reading about your father listening with his heart instead of following an institution is beautiful, inspiring, and humbling. Let me know how you feel about me posting a link to this post. Much love, Rachel

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  12. Rachel, Yes. Please share. I know how much hope I would have felt if I had read someone else's story.

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  13. I feel like a lot of people who haven't been there really don't understand. The broken leg analogy is great. You can forgive but you still need to take care of the consequences of the lifestyle that led up to the need for forgiveness as well

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