Saturday, October 27, 2012

Friendship after Divorce

I started this entry a long time ago, but never finished it. I've written and rewritten it and added things and taken away things... just trying to say what I really want to say, but I'm not even sure what I want to say... so... how do I say what I want to if I don't know what it is...

I don't know if it's complete or good.., but I've decided to share it today.

Once upon a time, I spent an awesome weekend camping, fishing, and riding in the mountains. BJ and I had this trip planned for a LONG time. We wanted to pack our gear, ride in to Kidney Lake, spend a few days fishing, and ride out.

(For those who don't know: Once upon a time, Dann and I were married. Now we're not. We are friends. Being friends was important to me, and it was important to him.)

I didn't want to tell Dann about the trip. I was afraid it would make him sad or jealous. I didn't want him to feel angry or freaked out. (I am very aware of ex-spouses that act crazy when they hear things they don't like.) We were all at my parents' house for dinner. I wanted to tell my dad all about the trip - especially since it was his idea. (He went to Kidney Lake and told BJ and I we needed to go.)

So, I talked about it. I ignored the voice in my head telling me that I wasn't allowed to talk about the things that make me happy... But the voice that said I was hurting Dann wouldn't shut up. So... I finally just said, "Does it bother you that I went on this trip? Or that I talk about it?"

"No! Why would it bother me? What kind of friend would I be if I didn't want to hear about the things that make you happy? What kind of a friend would I be if I got jealous when you were doing something you love? I want you to be happy. I want you to do things you love. And I want to hear about it all! Does it make you jealous when I talk about my dates and/or other girls?"

That was a good question. The answer is NO. I feel really happy for him when he's happy. I feel really happy for him when he's doing things he loves. What kind of a friend would tell him that he can't talk about his dates? That's a huge part of his life.

I want us to be friends. Real friends. So, I tell him about the stuff that I care about. I don't protect him from ME, and I don't hide me, and I don't expect him to pretend or hide either. We're FRIENDS.

All of this has gotten me thinking: We are definitely not common, so how are we doing it?
I had people tell me it wasn't possible.
"Once you break up with a person, it should just be over." And I agree, if that's what  any ONE of the people want, that is exactly how it should be... but what if both people want a friendship?

A relationship only works if both people have a desire to be in the relationship. It would have been completely acceptable if either one of us had said, "I don't want to continue a relationship with you." THAT is different from the way a lot of people think. For instance, Person A wants to be friends, so they try to force Person B to be their friend. That isn't a friendship. I don't know what that is... other than messed up.) If, in the future, one of us needed to change the relationship again, we would. A relationship only works when it works for both people.

I also think we had to let go of our past relationship. It would be impossible to be "present-friends", if either one of us was still stuck in " past-marriage". We have a history, but we let that be history. There is no talk of what might have been, or blame for the marriage ending, or even questions as to why it didn't work out. There is no trying to get back together - there is only our present friendship.

I had to make a lot of changes in myself. It was a big adjustment for people around me... including for Dann. He was used to me being different... more self-sacrificing... he was a huge support in my journey. Instead of trying to get me to go back to being self-sacrificing, he helped me grow the way I needed to grow...

While we were married, Dann did things that really hurt me. He apologized for those things, and he also understood that his apology didn't make everything all better. There was a lot of pain and anger that I had to go through, and he didn't expect me to rush it on his account. He didn't expect me to do anything for him... He didn't even expect me to be his friend unless I wanted to. Really... He had no expectations of me or of our relationship. By not trying to force anything, by letting go of what he thought it should be, it's unfolded naturally into the relationship we have now.

When I talk to him about anything, he doesn't use invalidating statements and comments. (And if he did, I could tell him. We could talk about it without him freaking out.)

He told me to trust myself.
"I trust you. Now, YOU trust you. If you don't want to talk to me, don't want to see me, or don't want anything to do with me: It doesn't matter. Trust yourself. If you fake it because you think that's what you're supposed to do, or because you think that is what I want, you will NEVER recover... But if you learn to trust you in EVERYTHING, healing will happen." (taken from an online chat)
He told me not to answer the phone when he (or anyone) called unless I WANTED to talk to him (or them).  For nine years, I thought it was my responsibility to take care of his needs: to put him ahead of myself. It was hard to change that belief. It has taken me a long time to get to a place where I am okay having needs, wants, and desires...  He understood that, and supported me. I'd like to say this isn't still hard for me. It is. It's been years, and I still have to fight against the feeling that I have to take care of him.

Knowing the way I work, how awful would our relationship be if he wanted me to fix things for him? How awful would it be for me, if he wanted me to continue taking care of him? If he thought that was what I was supposed to do? Or if he blamed me for not doing more to "save" our marriage? I'd have to fight against the false beliefs in my head AND in his head. I don't think I was (or am) strong enough that I could do that. That relationship would be deadly toxic for me.

He respects me when I tell him no.
I'm still working on telling people (and specifically him) "no". I have had to learn to stand up for myself. When I tell him "no" for any reason, he actually thanks me for taking care of myself, instead of pushing to get his way. That, more than anything, makes it possible for me to be around him. To talk to him. To count him as one of my friends. I have been way too much of a people-pleaser to have people in my life who expect me to please them... in any way...

He doesn't act like he knows what I should be doing, or what my path looks like.
Again, he trusts ME to find my own way, and he is a support as I walk my path. He doesn't give me advice or tell me how to live my life. 

He celebrates when I am happy. 
When I moved, and I was SO excited, he was excited for me. He helped me move - into the house I live in with BJ. Dann is grateful that I found BJ, because I am grateful. He wants to hear about our camping trips, our horseback rides, our fishing trips. He also gets angry when he feels BJ or I aren't being treated right.
"When you love someone, you are happy when they are happy. If you feel sad or hurt when another person is happy, that isn't love, that's selfishness." (taken from a text.)
Can you imagine how healing it is to have him say that to me? Can you imagine how wonderful it is to have a friend that really does care about MY happiness?

I feel lucky. I know how beautifully odd it is. It is rather perfect that we've both come to this place. It's rather perfect that we both wanted a friendship, and we defined friendship in the same way. Our separation and our journey was not short and was not easy, but considering what so many people go through, we're very lucky.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Hey look: JeannieLeigh nominated me for a blog award. Shocked me a little.

I get really nervous when people like Jeannie read my blog. I figure they'll hate it... it will make them angry at me... Probably because of how open I am here, and I am still very afraid that if people know ME, they'll hate me. Which is somewhat amusing considering how Jeannie and I found each others' blogs.

She is one of my brother's friends.
Justin was (is?) going through a lot. Over the past year, I have pushed him to love and accept himself. He kept telling me he was too horrible, and if I really knew him, I would hate him as much as he hated himself...

A month (or so) ago Justin and I (and my parents) had an intense conversation. (More intense for him than for anyone else.) He shared some of his "secrets". He didn't tell me anything that changed the way I felt about him... I still love him. I still think he is a kind and wonderful man. I still believe I was right in pushing him to love and accept himself.

The day after our conversation, Jeannie sent him an email asking him to guest post on her blog. Guess what she asked him to write about?? How do you love and accept yourself?

I giggled when he called me and told me that.
It took him a few days to write the post... and then I read why she asked him to write it.
Awesomeness in action. That is all I can say.

I think sometimes we need other people to help us remember that we are okay. Jeannie was an angel for my brother, and I guess today she was an angel for me. It's nice to be reminded that people appreciate what I have to say.

So... here's the rules for this award.

  • Each person must post 11 things about themselves. 
  • Answer the questions the nominator asked, and create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
  • Go to their page and tell them.
  • No tag-backs. 
Eleven things about me:
  • I am the oldest of five kids (Jen (me), Jeff, Zack, Mellen (her real name is MariEllen, but I pretty much never call her that), and Justin) I really love being a big sister. Always have, always will.
  • I play the violin, piano, and the organ. I am teaching myself to play the guitar... (I'd learn a lot faster if I ever took it out of the case.)
  • I graduated from Southern Utah University with a degree in Sociology. I still like reading Sociology textbooks. (I'm kind of a geek like that.)
  • I love horses. I love all animals. I just especially love horses.
  • I love being outside. Trees, mountains, animals, bugs, sun, rain, snow (if I have the right gear), beach, sand, dirt, ALL OF IT. I feel at home when I am outside.
  • I love to read. When I was a kid I'd stay up all night reading... I remember one summer my mom looked at me in exasperation because I had read everything in the house and said, "Why don't you just go watch some TV?!"
  • I think people are fascinating. All people. There's just so many stories out there, and I love them all.
  • I love salmon tacos from Rubio's. I live about a half-hour away from the nearest one, and there are days I drive down the canyon just to eat them. 
(This is harder than I thought... what the hell do I tell all ya'll?)
  •  I just got a new iPhone. It took me a long time, because I didn't want to spend money on the phone and I hated the idea of renewing my contract and signing up for a data plan. Now I can't live without the silly thing.
  • One of the things I do for work is design ties (neckties). I get really REALLY excited whenever anyone buys one of my designs. I wonder if I'll ever get used to that feeling.
  • I once planned on starting a group home for troubled youth. Some days I still think about doing that again, but then I remember my pager going off at 2 AM, and I don't want to do that anymore.
    Now for Jeannie's questions:
    1. If you could be an animal you would be? 
    2. Probably a bird... maybe a horse... I don't know. I think it would be fascinating to be anything (or anyone) other than me... How would the world look? Do birds know they are birds? Why don't birds ever land on my shoulder, but they will sit on the horse's back? How does it all work?
    3. Why do you blog?
    4. Two reasons. It gives me a place to sort out my thoughts and my feelings. I get to know myself better by writing. I remember what it was like to feel SO alone... like no one else had ever been through and survived what I was going through. I hope maybe someone will find my words and know they aren't alone.
    5. Favorite piece of furniture (and it can't be your bed!)?
    6. Piano. If that doesn't count as furniture, then my bookshelf.
    7. What is your signature dance move?
    8. I like how it feels to just move with the music... so my signature move is whatever I am feeling in that moment.
    9. Character in a movie/book you related to most?
    10. I can't think of anyone right now... Books, I mostly read memoirs. Emily Pearson's memoir (Dancing with Crazy) was really good. There were parts where I felt like she could have been writing my story...
    11. Number one place you never want to go?
    12. There isn't anywhere I never want to go... I want to explore everything and everywhere. I know that won't happen, but I would love it if it would.
    13. Worst fashion mistake of all time?
    14. eighties hair.
    15. Favorite word?
    16. Fuck.
    17. Guilty pleasure?
    18. I don't believe in guilty pleasures. Life is here to be enjoyed... and I have felt way too guilty about way too many things...
    19. Thoughts on breakfast?
    20. eat it!
    21. If you were a tree, what tree would you be?
    22. something big and old and knotted. 

    So... Justin cheated and ALSO put me on his list, so here are Justin's questions:
    1. Favorite mystical/mythical animal?
      Unicorn... I guess. Never really thought about it.
    2. Favorite place?
      The mountains. Or my house. I like being home.
    3. Most random childhood memory
      Playing in the bushes and pretending they were houses.
    4. What is something about yourself that you're proud of?
      I work HARD. I have had to completely reconstruct myself and my life, and I did it. (Am still doing it.)
    5. What is something awesome about yourself that I may not know?
      I can't think of anything... between reading the blog and being my brother, there isn't much you don't know.
    6. Favorite number.
      I don't have one. I just adopt whoever I'm with - their favorite number.
    7. What are your feelings on the matter of cheese?
      Generally, I don't like it... but I love nachos... and pepperjack cheese has almost changed my opinion on cheese
    8. Favorite book or series, if not possible favorite genre.
      Genre - Memoirs... I will read almost anyone's memoir, because I love to hear people's stories.
    9. A quote you love?

      Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
    10. Someone you look up to in history
      Martin Luther King Jr. 
    11. Someone you admire in present day?
      There are a lot of people. I am surrounded by amazing people. 

    And now my list of blogs.

    Poetry sans onions (Julia)
    The Rains Came Down
    I am serious... and don't call me Shirley
    the peacewriter
    Beyond the Closet Door
    Breaking the Silence
    We were going to be Queens (Kiley)
    Life As a Reader (Morrigan)
    The things I have discovered
    Within Four Walls (Wendy)

    Phew!! I'm done!

    I'm prejudiced against Mormons.

    JeannieLeigh nominated me for a blog award. 
    I promise I'll do all that I am supposed to do because she nominated me. (Answer the questions about me, nominate others, etc.)

    But first, there's other stuff that I want to write about:

    It surprises me when active members of the church get to know me, and they are okay with me. It surprises me when they tell me they appreciate what I write. It surprises me that people have been so kind and respectful to me.

    I have written a ton about how awesome my family has been... because they respect me and love me.

    It really IS awesome that my family loves ME... and at the same time... when did it become awesome to have a family that was loving and respectful and nonjudgmental?

    The thing I recently realized about myself?
    I'm prejudiced against Mormons. You know how I know that?
    I say things like, "They are still members, but they are really good to me."
    "They love the church, and yet somehow they still love me."

    How could I have not seen the way I think before?
    I get REALLY cranky when people say racist statements, like:
    "He's black, but he's a really good man."
    (As if to say a good man and a black man aren't usually the same man. BULLSHIT!)

    So, when did it become okay to hold members of the LDS church to a lower standard than I would hold the rest of the world?

    Maybe my prejudice comes from the way I was as a member...
    I cut off friends who went inactive or who left the church. I never told them why - I just stopped talking to them.
    I was self-righteous...
    I was self-sacrificing AND I had an expectation that good people women would be too. (Men didn't have to be.)

    I pushed people to be obedient.
    I told them what to do, how to think, what to feel.
    If they got any answer that was different from the church, I dismissed them and their answer.

    Just four years ago, I sat with my sister and told her she was taking the wrong path. I am SO GLAD she didn't take that shit from me. She told me I was caught up in my life and my problems, and I wasn't seeing HER. She was right. I apologized to her immediately, and have made every effort to see HER. I hope I am a better sister now.

    I wanted to be GOOD. I wanted to be a good, righteous, person who was worthy of being loved... and that desire drove me to be a bitch. (Other days it drove me to be a doormat. I was a very confused soul.) Leaving the church helped me to let go of all of that.

    I feel amazed, because I don't know if I could have done what my family or people like Jeannie have done.

    My prejudice also comes from observing others:
    It is amazing to me that my family isn't judgmental, because I see how other families are.
    It is amazing to me that my family doesn't try to get me to go back to church, because so few families are respectful enough to do that.
    It is amazing to me that my family comes to visit me when I have heard of others that won't visit family as long as they are"living in sin". (i.e. I live in the house with a man I am not married to.)
    I think it's awesome that my parents, siblings, aunts, grandparents, and a cousin all SAY and MEAN, "I love you and I want you to be happy," and they trust ME to find my own happiness. They have no prescribed "plan of happiness" that I have to do, or they won't believe I am happy. They listen to ME.
    They don't tell me I am following Satan, I need to repent, or any other of the crazy things I have heard people tell their "apostate" loved ones.

    I am SO grateful. My family treats me the way I wish ALL families would treat each other.
    I also wish I didn't think it was so amazing and awesome that they are the way they are.

    It's just... I'm not sure how to change my fear of Mormons.
    That's what my prejudice is:
    Fear that people will first: judge me, and then: use their judgment to hurt me.

    My prejudice keeps me alert and wary, and it's easier to not take it personally if they do something that hurts. As much as I hate to say this, maybe I'm not ready to let go of that.

    Right now, I feel amazed by very simple acts of kindness, and can shrug off huge acts of abuse. Maybe that's not a bad place to be in... at least for a little while...

    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.

    Monday, October 8, 2012

    Or maybe... I don't feel as strongly (about missionary work) as I thought.

    After I wrote the last post (I don't believe in missionary work), I went to my parents' house for dinner. I just got a new iPhone, and was browsing facebook while I was waiting for everyone to get there.

    My friend, John, posed this question. I paid extra attention to it because of the post I had just written.
    "Hypothetical: There's a 19 year-old LDS male who is super smart and sensitive, who does not believe that the LDS church is the one true church, but who loves the church, and would theoretically like to serve a mission -- but only if he could do it in a way where he didn't feel like he had to lie to people (testifying of things he didn't believe/know) -- perhaps inviting people to join the church if it worked for them? I don't know exactly.

    My question to you all --
    1) Have any of you been able to successfully serve a mission in this way?
    2) If not, do you know anyone who has? Or do you have any advice on how to make this work? I'm looking for advice tips on if this is possible."
    So, I asked my family. Justin told me about his friend. He (friend) is from a part-member family. His mother is Catholic, his father is Mormon. His goal for his mission (he's been out for six weeks) is to find the people that the church is right for. No one else.

    In that way, I think we all are missionaries... I write a blog about the harm the church has done to me, about working to heal my life, and about abusive relationships, and part of my "mission" is to just be here in case someone else feels like I do/have felt. I'm not trying to "de-convert" anyone, but I want to be a help to someone if they are already on that road and need support.

    There are people that need to hear what I have to say. (I needed to hear what I had to say.) 
    There are people that need to hear what you have to say too... And now all I can think about is the plaque-thingy my mom gave me for Christmas last year.

    Your story matters. (tell it)

    It's a fine line... How do you say, "This is what I have found helpful," without saying, "You should do this too." MANY missionaries put HIGH pressure to get new converts. For them, it seems like they need to convert other people in order to validate themselves. That seems like it would be harmful for everyone. The missionary and everyone he talks to.... and that is what I find myself fighting against. 

    So, it turns out I don't feel as strongly as I thought I did... 
    And... my "mission" is still the same, LOVE YOURSELF. You are perfect and beautiful and wonderful just the way you are. You don't need to change a thing, and neither do I.

    Saturday, October 6, 2012

    I don't believe in missionary work... of any kind

    I didn't believe in trying to convert people TO the church when I was a member, and I don't believe in trying to de-convert people now that I've left.

    A few years ago, I was working very closely with my bishop. In one of our meetings, Bishop C asked about my friends. One of my best friends is Jewish. At the time, we talked on the phone almost every day... And our conversations were not short, nor were they surface-y. We talked. We listened to each other cry. We shared our struggles and our victories. We REALLY talked. When I told him about her, his response was, "Wonderful! What a great missionary opportunity!!!"

    I felt disgusted. Here was this amazing person who loved ME, and who was SO supportive of me and my journey. How could I possibly THINK about trying to convert (change) her? I love her for who she is, and I didn't (still don't) want her to change. I would never DREAM of taking away her family traditions, culture, and beliefs. Being Jewish is a big part of her, and I love HER. (Of course, if she decided she didn't want that to be a part of her life anymore, then I'd be there to support her. I love her, and I want her to be happy, and I trust her to know her way.)

    When I started questioning, she was one of the only people I felt like I could talk to. Her perspective was SO refreshing. She helped me to see I wasn't bad for questioning. She helped me by just listening. There was never any judgment, or even really any advice. She was always supportive and safe to talk to. I am still so so so grateful I had her to turn to...

    I know many missionaries love the product they sell... and I'm not against telling people about something you love. By ALL means. I love when Amanda tells me about her traditions and holidays. (I like it when she tells me about just about everything - the traditions and holidays are just things that she loves that are different from me.) Last week, my family listened to me talk about the Book of Mormon Musical for thirty minutes. Do you think they cared about it at all? No. They listened because they care about ME. And I hope they know I wasn't trying to sell them on anything. I was talking about it because I like it, but I don't expect everyone to like what I like. The trouble I see with missionary work is that people believe their way is the ONLY way. Missionaries believe that other people are incomplete/broken/need to be changed if they don't believe the same way that they do. (Atheists are just as guilty of this sometimes, and I don't like their missionary work either.)

    To those of you who love the church, how would you feel if I told you that the Truth was outside of the church... You can never find happiness as long as you are a member... If you have prayed, and you still believe the church is true, it's because you are not praying right, or haven't studied enough, or you need to repent. It HURTS. It feels shitty and invalidating, and it's not okay. (Those of us who have left get this kind of stuff all the time... And I've heard missionaries telling potential converts things like this. I imagine it hurts less coming from a naive eighteen-nineteen year old stranger than it does coming from family and friends, but still...)

    In the book The Good Heart, the Dalai Lama he tells Christians NOT to convert to Buddhism. The Dalai Lama said that... WHY? The only reason I can come up with is that it is more important to him that people make peace with themselves and their own roots. Conversion of any kind is painful. The religious stories we were told growing up are a BIG part of us. In my case, I had to leave because I couldn't make peace with the church and much of it's teachings. It hurt. It is hard. Even though it has been two years, and I am definitely MUCH happier than I was, I feel like I am still in the process of finding ME outside of the church. It seems like asking someone to convert TO the church would be just as difficult.

    I HIGHLY value accepting others and loving them as they are. If I had a cause, that would be mine. If I wanted to convert anyone to anything, it would be, LOVE YOURSELF!

    Book of Mormon Musical: Hasa Diga

    Remember how I said I didn't feel like writing any more about Book of Mormon Musical. That was then... Today, I feel like it.

    A warning: I'm about to write about a song that WILL offend.  I like this song, but I don't think you will. It's blasphemous, offensive, profane, vulgar, and the list goes on. Don't listen to it, and if you decide to listen to it, don't get mad at me, because I warned you. (There are phrases and a word that even I won't use... and fuck is one of my very favorite words. I feel guilty even writing what the song title means, so in the words of Elder Price, "They are saying F--- You to Heavenly Father.")

    First, since I just told you all not to listen to it, here is what the song is about:
    The people have a lot of bad things in their life. They then list the struggles in their life: No food. People dying in the street. Female circumcision. AIDS. Warlords. etc. Really awful and horrific things that most people could never imagine...REAL shit.

    Then they turn to the missionaries and ask them to list off the bad things in their life:
    Crowded plane. Late bus. Lost luggage.

    Eventually the missionaries figure out what the people are saying (F you to Heavenly Father). Elder Price tells them they shouldn't be saying that.

    The reply is, "If you don't like what we say, try living here a couple days."

    I really like that line, because that is how I have felt before.
    I'm not saying you have to listen to me and you definitely don't have to agree with me... but don't you dare tell me how I am supposed to get through hell while you're sitting on your nice, fluffy, heavenly clouds.

    There's also something about making fun of something that has had so much power over me, that reduces it's power. If I can laugh at it, it doesn't hurt or control me nearly as much...

    I can always tell when BJ has had a bad day, because this is the song blasting through out the house. He plays it once or twice... and then he seems more relaxed... So... because I feel like shit this morning, I decided to try it.

    (Have I told you all how crazy General Conference weekend makes me. It makes me NUTS. I feel guilty and angry and twisted in knots... I want to scream and cry and throw things...)

    It works. Relieves some of the tension. Gives me a place to put all of the anger I feel. Makes me laugh. Which reminds me of a story...

    A few years ago, I was in a rough place. Flashbacks, seizures, and trying to make sense of a world that didn't make sense at all. One day, I was curled up in a ball on the floor, in too much pain to even cry, and I was apologizing for being such a pain (or something)... BJ held me and just said, "Stop apologizing... You haven' done ANYTHING to apologize for... and especially... with all the fucking shit you have been through..."

    Back then, I didn't use the fuck word. I thought it was bad! BAD! BAD! But something clicked in my brain, and I interrupted him, "It's not 'fucking shit'. Let's be accurate, it's actually 'shitty fucking'."

    I thought it was really funny. But more than funny, it was honest. I owned what happened to me. And I used words that were off limits, but said what I needed to say... and I laughed, which released some of the tension in my body And it really did make it "all seem better".

    Some anger and pain is too intense to feel, and it's too intense to distract from, and there just aren't "nice" words that can accomplish what a well placed FUCKword can. I don't advocate using profanity all the time, but I do believe there are times and there are places where it is entirely appropriate.

    Like in this song. It was very healing for me. It shocked me enough to let me laugh at the anger and the pain... I don't know if that's what the writers had in mind, but that is what it did for me.

    (Warning repeat: I do NOT recommend this song to anyone else. It is blasphemous and offensive and uses language that might make your ears bleed. I'm just telling you that I loved it, but I don't think anyone else will.)

    Since I'm writing about it, I might as well tell you about seeing it live. I enjoyed it. It wasn't helpful - it wasn't harmful. It was just fun for me.

    The reprise, however, was a different story. The reprise wasn't on the CD, so I'd never heard it. The full song is shocking and exaggerated. The reprise was less shocking, and instead of exaggerating emotions, it captured exactly how I have felt... The  betrayal, the loneliness, the heartache, the dashed hopes and the pain of "now what?" all were captured in that thirty second song... And I couldn't laugh at the emotions I felt.
    I was such a fool to have followed this advice…
    There is no trip to Paradise…
    How could I let my hopes get so high…
    Hasa Diga Eebowai…
    You gave me a dream… but it was all a lie…
    I think you like to see me cry…
    Hasa diga…
    I sobbed. It wasn't like "tears running down my face, but I still look pretty" No. Ugly tears. Snot. Holding it in so no one else could hear, but it felt like my throat was being ripped out... I wasn't expecting that. AT ALL. I enjoyed talking to the other audience members around me before the show and during intermission... but after the show, I just wanted to get out of there. I sat in the van and cried. Once I finished crying, I felt better... And I'm back to loving the show.

    Before I left the church, I went through a lot of intense emotions and a lot of confusion.
    I felt betrayed; lied to; ANGRY at how hard I tried to believe and how hard I tried to make myself fit; angry that I had been taught if I didn't get the "right" answers to prayers, it is because there is something wrong with ME; angry at all of the teachings that really fucked me up; angry at all of the time I spent feeling anxious and depressed because I believed; angry at the false hopes (if I just did what I was supposed to do, I would be happy.); lonely - I was afraid I was going to love everyone I loved; FEAR and GUILT for not doing what everyone thought I should; afraid of what would happen to me; and on and on and on.

    Since leaving, I have had to completely reconstruct my own stories and beliefs. That isn't easy to do, and it gets even more difficult two weekends a year. I can't get away from it... I guess I CAN. I have. I ran away and went camping every conference weekend for two years. I avoided my family and refused to talk to them. I didn't get on Facebook, or read any blogs... I thought I was doing better. I thought it wouldn't affect me anymore. Apparently, I was wrong...

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    Book of Mormon Musical: dinner conversations

    After seeing Book of Mormon Musical, I had all these thoughts I was going to write about, but something strange happened:

    I told my mom I was going to go see it. I didn't think she would think that was cool, but for my own sanity, I felt like I needed to tell her. (When I start keeping things secret because I'm afraid of what other people will think about me, I start to go crazy. It doesn't really matter what the secret is... just having a "secret" makes me lose my mind.)

    I was at dinner with my parents and siblings, and my mom turned to me and said, "Are you going to tell everyone about your trip this week?"

    I got all nervous, and asked her if it was really okay if I tell people.
    She laughed at me, which was a totally appropriate response, and then I had a conversation about why I like the Book of Mormon Musical with my whole family. I talked about why I went, and why I loved it. I also talked about what I didn't like. And my dad and brothers talked about what they liked and didn't like (at least as much as they'd heard).

    I never thought that conversation could happen, because... well... I thought they wouldn't want to hear about it. It's cool that we can all talk about the things we care about - even though the things we each care about seem to contradict each other.

    It's like the things don't matter, but the people do.

    So... now I don't really feel like trying to write any more blogs about the musical. Maybe later. (I really do want to write about what each of the songs meant to me, because the music was really healing for me...)

    Monday, October 1, 2012

    Book of Mormon Musical: Ads in the Play bill?

    After seeing The Book of Mormon Musical, I have many thoughts... I'm probably going to have to break them down into a few different posts... So, let's start with this one:

    I don't understand why the church chose to advertise in the playbill of this play.
    Three full page ads. All saying things like, "The book is always better," or "I read the book."
    They really needed one that said, "This book will change your life," .. oh wait, I just found the church's official statement on the musical, "The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ."

    I wonder if the guy that said that had heard this song yet. (I don't think this song has anything offensive in it... I think even my mom would think it's clever. But, I could be wrong.)

    I am aware of the idea "All publicity is good publicity." and I guess it makes sense from a business point of view. Jump on the publicity bandwagon... But...

    Does the church know what is in this play?

    The play shows the missionaries as naive and arrogant at the same time. Does the church know how closely many of the missionaries resemble the stereotype?
    The guy sitting behind me went to during the intermission. He was chatting with the missionaries online, but then he asked the wrong question, and they ended his session. He shrugged his shoulders and said, "That's kinda what I thought." I don't know what his question was. When I asked him about it he said, "The real missionaries are even more naive than the ones on the stage."
    I hate stereotypes and generalizations, but how could I argue with him? He'd just had a session with the missionaries shut down, because they determined he wasn't asking the right questions. 

    Why is the church giving money to a play that has more offensive, blasphemous, sacrilegious and vulgar language than any R rated movie? Why are they supporting that? Advertisers are often called sponsors... Why is the church sponsoring this play?

    Do church leaders know what they are "endorsing"? Do the members?
    Don't get me wrong - I love it (the play), but I sure wouldn't have liked it a few years ago.

    I never saw Titanic (the movie), because I didn't want to support a movie that had such "bad" things in it. Even edited...My seminary teacher explained that we were still giving money to the movie-makers, which supports them, so if you don't want to support that kind of thing, don't see the movie. This play has a whole lot of stuff that my seminary teachers would hate. It's much MUCH worse than Titanic.

    Do they know that the only song that references Mormon doctrine gets laughed at by the audience? Before I saw it, I loved the song 'I Believe' because it showed the naivety of the missionary... but other people didn't laugh for the reasons I laughed. (This was actually hard for me to listen to, but I think I'll write a whole post about that. later.)

    Do they know there is a whole song about "raise your middle finger to the sky, and curse God's rotten name." (and that line is the most innocent of the song. That song uses language even I don't use, and fuck is one of my favorite words.)

    Do they know the basic conclusion of the play? Even though religion is silly, it can still be helpful and uplifting. It doesn't matter if the stories are true if they are helpful. (And in the play, the LDS stories weren't helpful, so they made up their own stories and started their own church.)

    Do they know that the play really isn't about the book of Mormon at all? The LDS church advertising in this play is like the Jewish religion advertising in the play Fiddler on the Roof. Except, it's not really like that, because there is very little in this play that the church would support... At least Fiddler on the Roof can be considered wholesome and family friendly.

    I just find it... disturbing.