My parents are amazing people. They are always there for me (turning 30 this year) and have never judged or meant to harm me or my brothers in any way whatsoever. That said, the influence the Mormon church has had on their parenting was without a doubt very harmful.
I have been drawn to women from a very young age. I remember being 6 or 7 and being obsessed with Jasmine from Aladdin. I didn’t know why, but I was obsessed. As I grew up I found myself trying harder and harder to find pictures of women’s bodies. It wasn’t a perverted endeavor, as a young male I was simply extremely curious and amazed.
When I was 9 my parents became active in the Mormon church, my dad had been inactive and my mom joined for the first time. I was baptized before I knew what was going on, my mom was also baptized and we were an LDS family now.
I hated going to church and being told what to do. From the first time I stepped foot in a Mormon church I could feel the necessity to smile no matter how you felt. The appearance of happiness and “having it together” was the most important. I was good at appearances, I was really good.
As I grew up I naturally discovered masturbation and pornography. I remember lying at my aaronic priesthood interview about masturbation and pornography. I was a locked vault. My appearance never waivered. I was whatever the church wanted me to be on the outside and being who I was on the inside. A dangerous game to play as a kid who isn’t even a teenager yet.
This facade began to break down as I continued to grow older. I began to hate myself for not being able to actually be what everyone wanted me to be. I felt like a fake because masturbation never bothered me, because I knew at 14 I had no intention of going on a mission, and I was trapped in these expectations from my parents and everyone we knew. As my true self began to emerge to my parents I found myself constantly meeting with the bishop. Not because I felt any need whatsoever to confess my sins to this man, but because my parents confided in him everything that was going on and he requested to meet with me. Smoked a cigarette, meeting with the bishop. Masturbation, meeting with the bishop. I never felt myself to be a bad kid. Although my Mormon standards I was an apostate at 14. So I embraced it. I did what I wanted and didn’t even try to hide it anymore. Until something cracked inside me. I had sex with a girl at 16. This wasn’t even my first time but something about it made me feel guilty. Nothing bad happened, She was older, it was consensual, nothing bad. I just felt guilty. I actually told my parents what had happened. Wanting their advice or support or something. I got a meeting with the bishop. In this meeting my ability to block myself from the self loathing hatred that comes from not being Mr perfect Mormon was shattered. I was asked the positions we had sex in, how long it lasted, were we completely naked or just partially? He even asked where I ejaculated. In a condom or did I stop and remove my penis from inside her first? Sorry to be so graphic.
I felt like the lowest human on the planet at this point. After discussing these horrendous details with a man I didn’t even want to discuss anything further than a football game with, I hated myself. I was scum. How could I have done something like that to a girl? How could I have stooped so low to not be following the church’s teaching on chastity. That night I cut myself for the first time
I began cutting myself constantly. Wanting to try and get deeper and deeper every time. Not caring about the consequences. I would take pills kids at school would offer me. I didn’t know, or care what they were. I was worthless and had no future on this earth or anything to offer anyone. I tried to kill my self at 16. My parents got me help at a mental hospital. After some time I became less suicidal and things have been, for the most part, under control since then. I am now very happily married with children and can say my life is nothing like it was back then. My wife, who knew me through everything above, has helped me feel like a normal and wholesome person more than anything I was ever told in the church. I still have the scars from back then, but every day they fade and I can feel that pain fade with them.
I don’t blame the church or that bishop or even my parents for what happened. I made choices and did some wrong things. I do blame the church for making my worthiness more important than anything I was facing. My parents didn’t see, and I didn’t know, my depression and anxiety issues festering because that wasn’t important. What was important is that I was obedient to the church. Which blinded my amazing, loving, would die for me parents to what was going on. It told them sending me to the bishop was the most rational thing they could do.
I won’t let my children think there is anything wrong with them as they grow up and face the issues children and teenagers face. I will help them fight their battles and provide them understanding and help. I will not let any man, behind closed door or not, make them feel their entire worth as human beings is dependent on the church’s standard