If there was a glass wall containing my inner self this past decade it would be me pounding and screaming at the facade I put up. That the church fashioned for me. Wanting to come in and inhabit my body again because I was expected to sit idle and peek out at times that were sparse and appropriate. How I longed to be wild. To break outside of it.
Fueled by an energy drink and a space of idle time, I scoured my soon-to-be broken laptop to collect and categorize my files to avoid losing any when I upgrade. I placed folders on the desktop varying from taxes to resumes, a huge lump of thousands of photos into one folder. Then I compiled a myriad folders assigned to random hobbies or phases I took on over the past decade, short-lived and amateur. I cringed at good intentioned pursuits… college I never finished, careers I never took off doing, hobbies & dreams.
There is a pattern of piety rather than typical youthful aspirations. There is me in front of the temple grinning, pure and pretty. I longed to go in, and when I finally did, it was my whole personality. Poetic odes and letters to my husband calling him “my priesthood man” and praising him for leading our family — words flowing with penitence and gratitude. It was clear I wanted to be led and was sure about my path.
I am a different creature now. All that time peeking through the curtain were glimmers of my light when I indulged to act on my behalf. But those pursuits were stifled by a blatant lack of support and I returned to shame and humility. I wanted to be supported. I believed I couldn’t function without a priesthood man. After all, he held the passkey to my new body and my eternity. My love was unquestioning and blind…the covenant to heed his counsel and hearken unto him was surely in the back of my mind.
Purges happened on three occasions.
ONE: I believed that parts of me that were “me” were evil…vans shoes, a skateboard, letters from friends, my writing, my photography. I purged trinkets and mementos of my life to break myself of any hope of returning. I remember the driveway on a sunny day and the green dumpster as I dumped piece by piece my belongings. I felt determined in my new life as a wife and mother coming and marked on the calendar. My worthiness and purity were represented by this purge. Now I’m picking up pieces from my memory and fragments of photos which remind me of phases of life that were “me”.
TWO: I remember the playroom in the upstairs of the home I spent as a teenager. One day as a wife returning home, I picked apart my naughty art tearing up everything I could that resembled my playful rogue spirit. This was a life of full devotion, void of distractions like past associations, wild aspirations and career and travel goals. They were all impractical. Maybe if I could minimize the memories I would be more converted and pleasing to god.
THREE: Coming home again several years later I assessed my journals in greater detail. Pages from my more rebellions early adulthood, with a sharpie in hand. I set out to black out words and tore out whole pages to censor my experience. If I could I would tear it from my skin like a scab or discard of it like a hang nail. But the rabbit hole of shame and my piles of writing testified against me. That I was carnal and strayed from the path and didn’t have remorse on more than one occasion. How repulsive it was of me. I didn’t have time to read it all, and dreaded the chance of someone losing their testimony over my mistakes.
I have left the church now. Not even recently, well over a year ago, and I’m learning about my identity for the first time. When my recent computer purge came to an end, I looked around at my dog and child and coffee cups and dinner yet to be cleaned up and I thought of my intensity, my passion. In a moment of compassion I knew I had struggled. And that being here is so painful because I’ve woken up. I’m the real me unleashed and I have a lot to say. Feels like a fight every day, but my ropes of bondage have disappeared and no one is containing me. Why are you struggling!! I ask myself. My spouse complains about. My siblings worry about. I’m immersed in the fascination of an ideology that took my life away and that I believed in and loved wholeheartedly and betrayed me!
Sometimes I wonder what tf happened to me. All these desktop folders… proof of my half lived life, when I thought I was living right. Now I’m unleashed and I’m furious. Like a fly being presented an open door, I dart around the life I created and can’t get my time back yet don’t know where to start my living.
I like coffee and reading historical literature, I am a seeker of facts and evidence. True stories and news-worthy happenings that prove again and again how futile the church’s attempts at being legitimate are. I’ve moved from heartbreak and grief to strength and rage like a steady bubbling simmer.
I am still angry I am still wild and it scares people but it doesn’t scare me. I feel safe again in my skin. I answer to me, not a stern patriarchy assessing me. I thought for so long I was broken when I wasn’t. I was chasing a moving goalpost. I traded my autonomy for passive obedience. Now I’m me and it’s different. It took me a long time to realize I wasn’t truly happy. Would ‘happy’ be what I am now? Maybe more like shocked. More like relieved. There is nothing holding me and I don’t know what do with being so free. Goddamn, I am me!