Here to reclaim (or discover?) my sense of self

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FreeAgent
Posts: 2
Joined: 31 Mar 2018, 06:47

Here to reclaim (or discover?) my sense of self

Post by FreeAgent » 03 Apr 2018, 20:16

I've been lurking around here and a few other forums, and recently decided I should stop being creepy .. and then spent several days trying to figure out how to put my (very long) story/feelings on the matter into words.

So here goes. I was born and raised in the church. Dad was excommunicated when I was a kid. Mom divorced him, and then got weird about "protecting" us from my dad's "influence," which was more or less equated with Satan. She did everything in her power to keep us from spending time with him, including getting some kind of court order that required him to let her take us to church with her, even during his visitation.

While I was young, I kind of took everything my mom said about dad and other non-Mormons at face value. I guess I've always had a bit of a problem with magical thinking, and so when she would blame stuff like, I don't know, his washing machine breaking down on him breaking the sabbath, it kind of made sense to me. But at the same time, I felt this intense sense of otherness, growing up. I didn't get along with the other Mormon kids, had pretty much no friend in church or otherwise, and deep down knew that there was no way I could grow up and have a bunch of kids and be a perfect Mormon housewife like I was supposed to.

Things got better when I went to college. Even though I ended up attending at BYU, even that was marginally less strict than my mom's constant drum-beating about LDS standards and whatever, and it gave me some space to start to question why I was living the way I was, and whether this was really the lifestyle I wanted to lead going forward. I was also able to make some non-traditional Mormon friends who gave me hope that maybe there was more than one way to be Mormon.

The year after college, I ended up in another lousy ward where I was being stalked/harassed by the ward clerk and shunned by most everyone else. And, I was finally living all by myself, and thinking about, you know, maybe just breaking things off with the church for a while and giving myself a chance to really find out what I actually believed, and how I wanted to live my life, instead of just defaulting to all the "right" Mormon answers about things. Before I was able to do this, I made the mistake of suggesting a guy friend move in with me as a roommate to help pay the bills. We were both broke, and he was moving into my area. Also note: I had lived with male roommates before, and I'm not straight. Nonetheless, my mom did what she's done to pretty much all her other daughters and assumed that we were sleeping together and began to pressure us to get married ASAP. His family also freaked out. And we liked each other well enough and were both still trying to get things "right" in life, so we went through with it.

A few months later his and my family also pressured me into going through the temple, which was a horrible experience that involved, at one point, my mom physically dragging me into one of the ordinance rooms.

I spent the next couple of months after that oscillating between feeling as though my agency had been completely ripped away from me, and feeling like it was all my fault because I couldn't stand up to my mom and to the church. When I couldn't deal with that anymore, I just turned off emotionally and fell into a three-year depression.

Recently, though, I've had a weird sort of awakening. A series of events got me thinking about how certain aspects of the church still strike me as creepy attempts to exert control over the members, and about how I've never really learned to act like an adult and make my own decisions--I just follow the rules, albeit begrudgingly. A couple weeks ago I was finally like--what if I just stop. Just stop following the rules and start choosing for myself?

At the same time, I find myself in a pretty great ward with members who know some of the above, and who are remarkably supportive. So I'm trying to avoid throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

And so that's why I'm here.

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SilentDawning
Posts: 6877
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: Here to reclaim (or discover?) my sense of self

Post by SilentDawning » 04 Apr 2018, 16:11

FreeAgent wrote:
03 Apr 2018, 20:16
A couple weeks ago I was finally like--what if I just stop. Just stop following the rules and start choosing for myself?

At the same time, I find myself in a pretty great ward with members who know some of the above, and who are remarkably supportive. So I'm trying to avoid throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

And so that's why I'm here.
I highlighted the part in bold because I had a similar thought. I wouldn't just wholesale stop following the rules. I would go through the ones that come to mind first and start evaluating them. Discuss them here, and reconstruct what you believe.

Are you still married to your spouse with whom you went to the temple? That is something else to consider -- their expectations, and the impact on family relationships -- as you decide what to believe or do.

I do know what it feels like to feel controlled, and to want to be a "free agent". And ultimately, our participation in church is voluntary.

One thing I liked in your statement was that you didn't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are a lot of babies in the church experience, and I'm glad you acknowledge that -- and want to keep the good aspects in spite of the bad ones...
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

Roy
Posts: 5129
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Here to reclaim (or discover?) my sense of self

Post by Roy » 04 Apr 2018, 16:33

Welcome FreeAgent,

Wow, you have been through an ordeal. Welcome and I hope that we can help in some way.

My own MIL is very manipulative and controlling. I find it interesting that she wraps herself up in a veneer of the LDS church to justify her acting the way she does. She is cherry picking the things that she agrees with while ignoring the rest. Also she seems stuck in the church teachings of her youth.

Anyway, DW and I have found it very helpful to create and maintain boundaries to avoid being placed in a situation where we are ceding control. We are respectful, we are appreciative, we are courteous - but we maintain our independence. I would recommend that you and your spouse do something similar. Especially now that you are married you are socially expected to be independent of parental interference.

I am assuming that married life with your spouse is decent.
FreeAgent wrote:
03 Apr 2018, 20:16
Also note: I had lived with male roommates before, and I'm not straight.
I am not sure how much this goes into the equation. If you are bisexual you may still have a fulfilling relationship and marriage with your husband. It is still not cool how you were pressured into marriage but maybe it can work from this point forward. If you are closer to the SSA end of the spectrum that gets harder to imagine.

We at stayLDS do not have perfect answers. What we do offer is empathy and open sharing of best practices and what might have worked for us in our attempt to navigate life and Stay LDS. Your mileage may vary.

No matter what you do, I believe it is important to "own" your decision. Do not let me or anybody else tell you how to run your life. I am not suggesting radical rebellion and wholesale defiance. Rather I feel it is helpful to evaluate things to determine how you feel about them and to develop your own personal motivation for your life and the things you personally feel are meaningful.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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DarkJedi
Posts: 6091
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Here to reclaim (or discover?) my sense of self

Post by DarkJedi » 05 Apr 2018, 05:01

Welcome to the forum and thanks for your in-depth introduction.

Indeed don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. There is much good in the church, and sometimes what is good to you may not be as good to me - we need to all figure it out for ourselves. Likewise, there's some things that we individually can't handle or come to terms with. The latter does not make the former bad. You do have an advantage that you're in a good ward where there are people you feel comfortable with - bonus for you!
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

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dande48
Posts: 1135
Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 16:35
Location: Wherever there is danger

Re: Here to reclaim (or discover?) my sense of self

Post by dande48 » 05 Apr 2018, 07:30

Hi FreeAgent!

Happy your here. I always appreciate listening to other's stories, and am grateful you shared yours.
FreeAgent wrote:
03 Apr 2018, 20:16
A couple weeks ago I was finally like--what if I just stop. Just stop following the rules and start choosing for myself?
On Rules:
"Freedom" is one of the gods of the modern age, and is often worshiped a notch or two above God. Freedom, the ability to do what you like, whenever you like, with whomever you like seems like a wonderful idea. We should be allowed to freely do as we please, especially if it's not hurting anyone else. However, I think it's apparent that when humans "hang the rules" and live according to themselves, there are usually some pretty devastating consequences. As the analogy goes, it's the string on the kite that lets it soar.

I think a lot of the rules given us by the Church are like that. I don't agree with some of them, and I'm pretty sure there isn't an afterlife, at least in the way its taught. But a lot of the commandments and principles taught by the Church are central to happy living. Tithing, the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity, the sacrament, the temple, service, genealogy... are all central to a happy and fulfilling life. I might not agree with how they are implemented and enforced; most are in need of a little fine tuning, but I can't think of a single Church principle (with some tweaking) that is not ideal for a happy and fulfilling life.

Don't forget, you can always pick and choose. It is possible to be both a free agent, and a follower of "rules".
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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