Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It Never Ends

I've been thinking about Mormonism a lot lately. See, earlier this year Adam and I split up. We'd been in counseling for about 6 months, but things kept getting worse. Ending a nearly decade-long relationship and entering the dating world has been a strange adventure. And it was inevitable that during the process I'd start unpacking more ways the church affected me (and my marriage). Plus it's hard to meet new people and talk about yourself without bringing up the church. Mormonism isn't like a lot of religions, where it's a Sunday thing and that's that. It permeates EVERY waking moment of your life. I went to a Mormon university, I was married in a Mormon temple, I was deeply entrenched in the culture for about 8 or 9 years.

I stopped writing regularly here because I was just tired. I was tired of hurting. I was tired of giving anymore of my time and energy to anything church related. And while I think it was a necessary and healthy decision at the time, it seems like now it's time to face some more issues and do some more processing. And that's the thing isn't it? I can ignore the church as best as possible (except when driving past the stupid temple that just had to be built in the quadrant of Calgary where I live) but you don't devote yourself to a high demand group (the polite way of saying "cult") for some of your most formative developmental years and get to live a life completely free of it just because you broke away.

I do want to say that I don't blame Adam personally for how things ended. His contributions to the breakdown of our relationship can be placed squarely on the church's shoulders, as can mine. And let's face it, two young adults, little more than kids, getting married within four months of meeting without any opportunity to explore intimate compatibility because they've been brainwashed to believe anything more than basic kissing is sinful, second only to murder, is a recipe for disaster. We should both count ourselves very lucky that we were able to move forward in our lives with civility, and two great kids to co-parent. We shared our lives for a long time. We supported each other through some very rough times (exiting Mormonism being one of the toughest). And, as The Doctor says in "Vincent and the Doctor:"

The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.

I think the same should be said of my marriage. Sure, I have bitter days, what woman wouldn't? But it wasn't always bad. It wasn't without it's good points. And let's not pretend I've not been shaped by the experience, in some ways for the better. Now is the time to carry on and learn from the journey. 

I think, in some ways, it would never have been possible for me to fully heal from Mormonism without leaving my marriage. I didn't see that at the time. But these past months have been full of little "revelations." And while I'm not comfortable blogging most of them (it's not fair to Adam to air our dirty laundry online for the whole world to see), I do think I'm ready to write about Mormonism and it's effect on me again.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I'm not promising regular posts. Not in the least. But as I lie here on the couch nursing what might be influenza but is awful no matter what it is, I found myself wanting to post here. When that feeling hits, I'll listen to it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Worst Two Years

The following is what Adam wrote in response to a question on an AMA (ask me anything): Former Mormon feature I did elsewhere on the web. He apologizes for rambling.


Why was my mission the worst two years of my life? Well, the answer is going to be really big, really personal, and really hard to explain because I'm going to have to give background info at every step. I honestly don't know if this even scratches the surface. Looking back at everything I've written I'm realizing it would take an entire book to get the full message across.
 I'm also going to be talking a lot about masturbation, so you can go ahead and skip the whole post if that makes you uncomfortable.
First of all, you need to understand the social expectation of every "worthy" young man of 19 years to serve a mission. Young women are taught their whole lives to stay pure so they can meet that special RM (Returned Missionary) and get married in the temple. In a lot of ways, your mission is your breeding license, indicating to all the ladies that you're good enough material in God's eyes to be the father of their children. After that it's just a matter of them picking which one they like the best. I guess girls are naturally pure and lovely, and don't need to do anything to prove their worth. A mission becomes your plumage for attracting a mate. Without it you're kind of hooped.
So what does being "worthy" to serve a mission mean? Well, you need to be keeping the commandments, especially the Law of Chastity. There are conflicting reports, but I've heard of guys who had sex in high school, repented, and were not allowed to serve because of their prior transgressions. In mormon theology, breaking the Law of Chastity is second in severity only to murder: God decides who comes and goes, and those who take those powers into their own hands are in big trouble.
Now imagine you're a fourteen year old boy. Everybody knows what fourteen year old boys do. Now imagine you're in your sunday school lesson and your teacher points out that the law of chastity can be broken BY YOURSELF. Just stop and think about the terror and internal turmoil of a fourteen year old who realizes that what they've been doing in private is the second worst thing they could possibly do in God's eyes. Thus begins the shame spiral.
Now I don't know about everybody else, but I don't see how people (especially teenage boys) can just turn off the desire to masturbate unless they've got some sort of asexual medical condition. Each time you "relapse," you feel disgusting, unworthy, and hopeless. Each time, you promise that it will NEVER happen again. After going through this process for weeks, months, and years on end, a person's self worth becomes permanently damaged. They cannot help but view themselves as broken somehow. Imagine raising someone to think that food is sinful, and they must never partake. It's like Alcoholics Anonymous, but for breathing. It's just not healthy.
Every week in sacrament meeting the young men prepare and bless the sacrament. Each week you are acutely aware of your unworthiness and inadequacy.
Then suddenly you're 18 1/2. There is a rather explicit expectation for every worth young man to serve a mission when he's 19. It's time to get ready for a mission. You know that they have "raised the bar" on the worthiness standards. They expect you to be abstinent of all sexuality. People as when you're putting your papers in. What do you tell them? Do you delay? Do you decline? Every ward (congregation) has "that person" who didn't serve a mission. They're the weird 35 year old with no family, no prospects. Sometimes they go inactive (stop coming to church). The time came and they didn't step up to the plate.
So you tell yourself that you've got it all under control, that despite your shortcomings you are worthy enough to serve. I never even had the opportunity to stop and decide if this was something I wanted to do: it was expected of me, and nobody says no to the Lord.

This topic is so big, and I've just scratched the surface, yet I don't even know if I'm getting the idea across.

So anyway, you end up on your mission. Everyone tries their best to project the outward model of what you are supposed to be, and you feel like you are the only on who is struggling on the inside to even WANT to be that. But you don't stop trying. It's like the woman in an abusive relationship who takes her beating and then frets over what she must have done to deserve it. The mission is two years completely dedicated to the Lord's work: anyone who doesn't love selflessly giving themselves to their Heavenly Father must not be living the Gospel right. For two years you lose your first name. You are given a new identity: "Elder/Sister So-and-so." You are supposed to lose yourself in the work, and really you do. You start to lose all sense of who you are as a person, you see yourself only as a missionary, as a tool in God's hands. Except that only makes it worse, doesn't it? Because people aren't meant to be perfect. People are meant to have flaws. But a flawed tool in God's hands? You're shortchanging God. After all He's given you, he just asks for two years and you can't even do that properly.
And the work itself is grueling, vapid, and depressing. Each day you wake up at 6:00. You have one hour for personal preparation (breakfast, exercise, shower, dressing), and then it's study time. For three hours every morning you study the scriptures, the lesson manuals, various teaching aids. You are expected to be a scriptorian. And Mormons have a lot more scriptures! On top of the Old and New Testament, there is the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
At 10:00, you hit the streets. Door-to door tracting, street contacting, anyone, anywhere. Nobody wants to listen to you. You spend from 10am to 8pm being rejected by every person you see. The only people who ever let us in to talk to them were those with obvious social or mental problems, who we referred to as "less accountable." We preyed on the weak, the lonely, the ignorant, while being constantly foiled and frustrated by the intelligent and well informed. Although in hindsight I can see why nobody wanted to listen to the batshit crazy nonsense we were spouting, at the time we knew that the message was perfect: the fault must therefore lie in the messenger.
Each evening we would return to our apartments and call in our numbers to our supervisor: how many hours we had spent doing what. How many people had actually let us speak to them. How many return visits we had scheduled. Our teaching sessions were called "discussions" rather than "lessons," but they really weren't anything of the sort. We were explicitly instructed to tell them our message, but that we were not supposed to hear their contradicting view in return.
The people I had to put up with made me want to kill myself. Those who achieved leadership roles in the mission organization tended to be horrendously arrogant and self-righteous. Authority in a theocracy comes down from God, through other people above you, so you can't really complain against them without complaining against God. Each person for each position is chosen by revelation, and they are entitled to receive revelation to guide those under their stewardship. That means that if you have an asshole for a Zone Leader who says everyone who doesn't baptize someone this month isn't dedicated enough to the Lord's work, that is the divinely revealed truth. Then when you work your ass off all month and nobody gets baptized, it lands on your shoulders. When they accuse you of things you didn't do, it turns out you're wrong. When they're assholes and steal your personal belongings that they don't think are in line with being a missionary, you can't complain.
For two years the mission decided what music I was allowed to listen to (only things with the church's logo, or classical music pre-1900's), when I was allowed to call home (on Christmas and Mother's Day, 30 minutes each), and who I could write emails to (only family members). They decided how many hours I had per week to buy groceries and do my laundry. I had no recreation to speak of (I started gluing popsicle sticks together out of boredom). Missionaries are paired with a "companion" who lives, eats, studies, and works with you. Literally the only time that they are not at arm's length is when you are in the bathroom. These are assigned as well.
I don't really know how to get this across. It was two years of the most mentally and emotionally damaging abuse I've experienced in my life. I vividly recall one morning, sometime early in my second year, when I realized how much longer I had left to go. I was standing in the kitchen, holding the largest knife I could find. I was trying to figure out how exactly to drop it on my foot to injure me enough to be sent home honorably without making me permanently disabled for life. I was literally weighing which appendages I could stand to lose to get out. If none of the particulars of what it was like get the message across, maybe that will at least let you know how it impacted me. I came very very close to dropping the knife.

So I spent two years being a horrible person, dedicating my soul to being better at it, and feeling like a failure for not loving it.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Buzz Lightyear, Ex-Mormon

Hey, don't get too excited. I'm not planning to revive this blog. But I thought those of you still subscribed would be happy to see I wrote something on this topic:


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Watch This

An online acquaintance made an excellent series of videos in response to last year's General Conference talk by Holland that many Mormons are still rabidly promoting on the internet. It's an illogical, emotional, manipulative, arrogant and dishonest example of public speaking. But I'll let FlackerMan tell you all about it:

Friday, April 30, 2010

The 2010 MS Walk

It’s almost time.

I try to participate in the MS Walk every year, in honor of my mother. It’s a cause that matters greatly to me. And I would love your help.

This year I’m hoping to raise at least $1,000. If all 328 of my Blogger followers gave just $4 that would be more than enough. See? Even small donations can make a big difference! So, if you’re able, please consider sponsoring me. Not able to donate? That’s OK. You can still help me out by blogging, tweeting, and sharing on Facebook. Any help at all will mean a lot to me, and to the MS Society.

I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me about the MS Walk a few more times between now and the date of my local walk. Consider this a “kick-off” post.

And, just FYI, I will make a blog signature for anyone who donates $10 dollars or more and provides a valid e-mail address in their online donation form. You’ll have to select the “name and amount” option to receive your free signature. Or, if you donate $15 dollars or more you can choose between a free signature or one month of advertising space on Domestic Dork {provide an e-mail address and select “name and amount”}. And everyone who donates {again, you’ll need to provide an e-mail address in the form”} has the option of being added to an “Honor Blog Roll.” The blog roll will be left in my sidebar on Domestic Dork for 3 months and then left indefinitely on the blog page {see the “blogs” button in my menu on the left side of my Domestic Dork blog}.

Thanks for reading this, and thanks in advance and from the bottom of my heart for any donations and/or help spreading the word.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I Love You Guys

CaraDee left a link to the video below on my last post. I'm a fan of Non-Stamp Collector but I hadn't seen this particular video of his. Creationists, WATCH THIS. Thanks CaraDee!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Let me start off by saying I’ve already gotten some nice comments on my last post about “atheists having faith.” Chanson linked to a post of hers on the issue. And Andrew S. left a really insightful comment:
E.g., if you notice the guy's comment...he always pins atheists as being people who believe there is no god. So he isn't framing this in terms of belief vs. nonbelief, or do believe vs. do not believe.  
Instead, he is framing it in terms of believe there is vs. believe there is not. He consistently address those who "believe there is no god," who have faith "there is no god" etc.,  
Well, phew! All I can do is give a sigh of relief. His stinging indictment doesn't even apply to me. I am an atheist because I do not believe in gods and I do not believe there are gods, not because I believe there are no gods. And most atheists (I think, I have never conducted a formal poll) would agree. It seems to me that most people concede -- even if only grudgingly -- that belief either way requires "faith" (I agree with chanson that this also says more about the person's opinion of faith than anything)...and many people will concede that "nonbelief" is "reasonable."  
What they fail to realize is that atheism includes that nonbelief.
And then there was this “gem.” {Rant to follow.}
Well said, let first examine who is God. God is the source of everything and the creator of every creature. Answer this Questions: Do you know that there are manufacturers for every car and a potter for every pot? Have you ever seen a beuatiful garden that just happened without a meticulous gardener? If your answer is yes, why do you think the earth and man just happened; when no car or house just happened. Here is the bottom line; to deny God is to deny that there is no manufacturer of cars or no potter for pot. And that is either you are a hypocrite or you are a fool.
For more on this read my blog, Achievement The Way I See It 2 http://josephabioye.blogspot.com
When I provide links READ THEM before you run your mouth or you just end up looking like a douche and pissing me off. Seriously. This makes me angry. I provided a LIST of things to read re: evolution. It just so happens that those links {and books} address the designer/”just happens” fallacy.
ATHEISTS/EVOLUTIONISTS DO NOT BELIEVE THINGS “JUST HAPPENED.” But then, if you had READ the information I provided you’d know that. But no, you’d rather leave trite little analogies that DO NOT APPLY.
Here’s that reading list for you again. Do not bother me with your cliché arguments again until you’ve read them.
And I highly recommend buying or borrowing: The God Delusion and The Greatest Show On Earth. We own and love both.
If the Christians who make these idiotic analogies and arguments actually spent time listening to what the other side has to say they’d know those arguments have already been addressed and answered. But it seems they’d rather sit around repeating their crap to each other and congratulating each other on how smart they are, and what great zingers they’ve come up with to show how foolish the non-theists are. No, “heaven forbid” they actually learn what the hell they’re talking about. It’s far better to spew fallacies about watches and watchmakers and how evolution is “just a theory” {yes, in the same sense of the word as the THEORY OF GRAVITY}. THIS is exactly the kind of bullshit I have little patience for.
That said, I’m done. I’m not wasting my time providing the same resources over and over and over again. I have better things to do with my time, like having breakfast with my family, which is exactly what I’m going to do.