There was a period in my life when I was very lost. I found myself dealing with traumas I was unprepared for. I felt emotionally and mentally abandoned by my family and friends. I dealt with my pain by inflicting more. I have the disfigured body to prove it. Even then I knew that this was not my permanent solution. I wanted desperately to have the support and help I lacked.
At this point I was still a member of my parent’s church. I’d never really experienced anything else religion wise. I’d been going back and forth with my beliefs due to doubts I had about the church since I was 12. Still at 18 I hadn’t fully gotten away from it. My bishop had called me in to assign a calling for me in the church. I already knew what it would be. “Pianist” of some sort… that was one of my grumblings of going to church. These callings are considered straight from God and somehow God always wanted me to be a pianist. I felt at the time that I was looked at as just the piano player and I wanted to actually participate in church; doing real church stuff. I told him that I was not interested in playing the piano and explained my feelings. I was honest with him.
At my honesty he delved further, wondering why I wasn’t willing to serve God in the calling that was designated for me. I told him that I was doing some “soul searching” to try and decide once and for all if I really believed in the church teachings. I also told him I was struggling with some other things and was considering going to therapy regularly. He said that he understood and wanted to help.”What beliefs are you struggling with?” he asked. I told him the main thing that I was struggling with was the commandment of Polygamy in the early church. I told him I had a hard time believing a loving God would command an entire group of people to live such a horrible life and that I was trying to take the church on my own terms and choose to accept it as a whole, with some exclusions. He then sat there a moment, pondering, then asked me, ” How old are you?” I told him “18.” Then he said, “We have time.”
Taken aback by this remark, I asked him what he meant. He then told me ” Well, you have a while before you need to go through the Temple and one of the questions we ask in the temple recommend interview is ‘Do you believe in all the commandments of the church and teachings of the Presidents of the church; accepting them as prophets, seers, and revelators.(…or something close to that…) Based on what you’ve just told me, I wouldn’t be able to give you a temple recommend. But we’ve got time.”
I don’t remember much more of that interview except that he offered to have the church pay for part of the therapy, seeing as I’d been a regular tithing payer all my life. He knew I wouldn’t be able to afford it, and suggested that the church pay for a portion on the condition that I had regular meetings with him to discuss my progress.
My heart raced as I left, I was livid. All my life I was taught that going through the temple ordinances was a right of passage. Now I was being denied my church’s acceptance because I wanted to follow my heart’s conviction. Honestly, I felt a sense of loss. Would I be denied Heaven also? Once I’d calmed down I decided to go forward with therapy and on the advice of my therapist, I agreed to continue meeting with my bishop and accept the financial help despite my misgivings.
So for a duration, I met with the bishop and my therapist regularly. Neither cured me- let me tell you that. My therapist used very “unique” techniques that left me possibly more unbalanced. She seemed like she was just having loads of fun observing my behaviors and reactions like I was some kind of science project. And the bishop, who wasn’t any kind of professional in this area, sat at each of our meetings very interested in what I was saying, taking notes and for all I could tell, fascinated by my level of mental insanity. All I can think is they were each playing their own game at my expense. Neither cared about me, they were only interested in their respective numbers.
Why am I writing all this? What am I getting at? Well…I had a dream last night that I was at the house of an old church friend. For some reason (which made perfect sense in my dream), the bishop’s files for all the people he’d “counseled” were in a dresser I opened. In it, I found my file along with the files of many other kids I went to church with. All of everyone’s personal information was cataloged there and this guy apparently had a fascination with everyone’s disturbances. Suddenly everything I told him was public among all the people that I once went to church with. Later, I had a confrontation with one of the women from church. She was attacking me based on the information that was in this file, using my personal confessions against me. I felt violated and ran out of the house, carrying my file and sobbing.
Since I woke up this morning, the dream has been gnawing at me. I decided that I needed to deal with it. I’m writing this to tell my story. I’ve spent way too much of my time being silent about certain things with certain people. I watch what I say far too often and as a result feel an emptiness in my life. It’s a lack of genuine relationships. My facades are so complete, so tailored for each persons comfort level that I disregard myself.
I have to be done. I’m ready to be a whole person.
For the record:
I used to have a problem with self injury. It started in my early teens and got to be more seious in my later teens. Now, I’ve gone nearly 3 years without it thanks to the support of my kick ass husband, Jordan, and my own determination to overcome my psychological disturbances/tendencies.
I grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and though I doubted for a long time, I didn’t officially know what I believed regarding the teachings of the church. Although I had many experiences like the one with my bishop, it wasn’t any one person or the people as a whole that “drove me away”. I found a glaring contradiction between the Bible and the fundamental teachings of the Mormon church (Found in the LDS approved version of the Bible no less). It was one I could not ignore. Once I found that, It’s like a dam broke loose and there were more and more contradictions, teachings, practices that I knew were not commanded by God. I could no longer practice this religion.
I’m not trying to be self righteous here. Just setting the record straight. I don’t claim to have the ultimate spiritual life, I’m very flawed. But I’ve chosen to give myself to my God and savior Jesus Christ. In some ways I’m glad to have the experience of a Mormon upbringing. Some of my deepest scars will lend me the most strength and will let me best help others. This is my journey and I’m working on perfecting myself for my God.
Which comes to the last thing I want to say. It’s time that I was honest. If you disagree with anything that I’ve written, you don’t have to return. In fact you don’t ever have to think of it again if you choose. Or you can be honest with me right back and maybe we’ve got a chance at a genuine relationship built on honesty and trust. I’m ready to give it a shot.