Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why was I sobbing? (A reaction to the missionary age change.)

Saturday's announcement that girls can now go on missions at age 19 shouldn't have affected me. I'm WAY older than 19. I've left the church. There really isn't anyone in my life that that announcement really effects. (A few cousins... but that's it...)

So, why did I find myself sobbing uncontrollably when I went to bed Saturday night?
I couldn't figure it out until I read Joanna Brooks's blog.
"How do you let go of anger and hurt from growing up in a culture and institution that taught things about the role of women and about the timing and urgency of marriage that shaped pivotal decisions in your life? I’m grateful things will be better (at least in this respect) from now on, but I can’t help but grieve for what might have been."

That's it. I got married at 19 years old. I didn't get married because I had dreamed of being a wife and a mom my whole life... I hadn't. (At 14, I decided I didn't want to get married and I had no desire to have children.) I didn't get married because I couldn't picture my life without Larry. I didn't get married because I was madly in love...

I got married because I wanted to be "good". I got married because I wanted to move forward and progress in my life, and marriage was how a woman did that. I got married because I wanted to show my family that all of their prayers and efforts to keep me alive were worth it. I got married because I wanted to be an adult, and that is how a woman becomes an adult... She turns her life over to a man.

Larry liked me. Larry wanted me. I didn't think many men would... so I counted my blessings that someone DID want me, and I put the ring on my finger. (A ring I didn't want, by the way. I didn't like big stones, and I wanted a simple band... but HIS wife had to have a big diamond.)

He treated me like shit. He was abusive and controlling and my life with him was hell. It took me ten years to even BEGIN dealing with all of the things he did. I feel very lucky to have survived that marriage... and it's only been fairly recently that I have stopped having nightmares and flashbacks and... that all could have been avoided if I had had some other option.

I have already said that I wasn't real comfortable with trying to convert other people... but if a mission would have been an option, I am pretty sure I would have taken it. I could have avoided two years of being raped and ridiculed. I could have avoided the years and years of therapy. I could have avoided all of the beliefs I formed about myself, my body, relationships... My life could have been so different.

If I had gone on a mission, and not gone through the hell I went through with Larry, maybe I'd still be in the church... And while I am very happy now that I have left... it would have been a lot of easier if I had just been happy where I was born.

(I remember talking to a "super-believing" Mormon woman. My question was, "If I could prove to you that the church isn't what it claimed to be, would you want to hear my proof?"

She said, "No. I'm happy with my life, and I don't want to know."

I felt jealous... I WISH I could have said that, but I didn't have the option... I had to search out and question and eventually leave in order to save my life. I wish I could have been happy..)

So... while the decision has no effect on me or my life... I feel abandoned once again...Or at least I felt abandoned when I heard about the change in policy. I cried, and I cussed a bit.

Today, I am back to feeling grateful for my life. I definitely wouldn't choose the hell I went through, but the chances are good I would not be who I am today without all of those experiences.. I would not have the life I have today, and I really like my life.


  1. I love you, Miss Jen. And I can completely see how you would have ended up sobbing upon hearing the news. I feel cynical about it and have a story running in my head that the reason the church changed the age is because there were too many 19 year old boys choosing to not go on a mission because their 19 year old girlfriend wanted to get married and have sex. Now if both they both can be shipped off for two years each at the same time to go proselytizing. Aaaaand... I'm willing to admit that may just be my cynical "conspiracy theory" brain thinking there...

    1. I've talked to several active members who believe the same story. Getting them young is a way to keep them. (Whether they are losing them to sexual activity, reading things on the internet, or just a general apathy to religion.)

      And I love how you are so willing to accept your story isn't the only story. It makes me happy just knowing you.