Friday, February 6, 2015

Five years later... CALM

Recently, BJ and I decided we wanted to go back to the CALM (Community After Leaving Mormonism) support group. When we were leaving the church, the group was very helpful. There were people there who were like me: not sure what to do, where to go, or what was going to happen. We all felt fragile and afraid and angry and sad... We could support each other.

There were also a few people who had been out for a while. They had gone through the fragile afraid place, and eventually life had calmed down. They had gone through the process of rebuilding themselves after losing their entire belief system. Most of them didn't say much, but just their presence was reassuring. They hadn't turned into murdering, stealing, baby eaters. They were still nice people - they just didn't go to church on Sunday. Or some did. They had gotten to a place where life was calm, and I desperately wanted to get to a place where life was calm.

When I said I was angry, they nodded reassuringly, listened as I told my stories, and handed me a cookie. I felt fragile, confused, scared, excited, happy, angry (again), sad, hurt, more confused, and they just listened. My story was so much like all of the other stories, but they didn't show that on their faces. They were so good to me.

I wanted to be that for someone else.
Last night I listened as people talked about feeling betrayed and deceived when they learned about issues in the church, and the white washed way Mormon history was presented. I listened as people talked about their fear that their family would disown them... or their desire for death, because they couldn't live their life to please others anymore, but they didn't want to disappoint them either... or the feeling that they deserve to suffer because they just can't be a part of the organization anymore... or the very real results of divorce and isolation because their family members did disown and distance themselves.

I didn't offer anyone a cookie, but I'm glad we went.
Life is not at all like I expected it to be, but it's turned out pretty amazing really. I don't know how to help other than to be a reassuring presence.

And as a surprise, I got to meet one of my Facebook friends in real life. Helen and I connected four years ago, but since she lives in another state, we had never met. Now we have.