I am in the process of writing my story about the sexual issues and shaming that happened within the church. It’s really hard to do. I’ve been in therapy for years, and it still sucks. I still feel lost with it.
There are so many facets to it. Like old neighbor men asking about my virginity. That’s not the worst part. Just one part. I had this neighbor try to make deals with me. He said he’d take me out for hamburgers if I didn’t date or kiss boys. He would show up at my job, and ask me sexual questions. He would stop me on the street and try to get answers on what I was doing. I was so uncomfortable, but I thought it was normal!!! I was 16!!
Dating was awful in Utah. No offense guys, but Mormon men were the worst. Non Mormons totally respected my boundaries. Never pushed things. Mormon guys had zero restraint. There was one returned missionary I had to quite literally run from. Like run from his house and walk home.
I did have one good bishop. He never tried to pry, and he would hand me a new temple recommend every time I saw him. He told me whatever I was doing, he felt I just needed to be right with god and that I could make that decision. But the bishop that came after him, that wrecked me.
My family was and still is a mess. Throughout my teens I lived off and on with other families. I didn’t go to school after the 6th grade, until I put myself in community college at 16. Things were messy, but I tried to make something decent of my life. I stayed away from drugs and alcohol. I did the best I could. At 19, things slipped. Once. And I got pregnant.
I had a borrowed home. Borrowed family. I was living with neighbors who had surprised me on my 18th birthday by moving me out of my parents house. I had no education other than the one I was trying to build. What was mine, I could fit into my car. I. Was. Terrified.
I went to the bishop for help and guidance. What I got was shame. He told me I was a snake. That it was my fault. I had tempted the guy. He told me I could never be a good mother with this sin hanging over my head, and that the only thing I could do now was to give this baby to a worthy family. He set me up with LDS social services. They pushed adoption as my only option and on my first visit, had me start looking at temple worthy families.
I was distraught. It didn’t feel right. Neither did abortion. The guy and I decided to get married. I went back to the bishop to tell him. He was angry. Told me it was a mistake. That I was ruining that child. He said if we went through with it, that I should lie about our wedding date, so that this child would never know the truth. And so that other people would never know about that sin.
I tried to keep my head above water. My family is toxic. My mother is broken. She carries a lot of sexual shame that in my belief stems from her Mormon upbringing. She can never forgive herself, and took it out on us. My mother tried to stop the wedding. She threatened to boycott us. She took his parents out to dinner and told them we were throwing our lives away. She mounted a smear campaign to friends and family trying to stop us from getting married.
We got married. There’s even more there. Horrible things. But to shorten things… I flatlined. Emotionally I flatlined. I died. I developed severe anorexia. I numbed everything out. Ran and ran and ran. Abused and starved myself. I almost died so many times. I laid in a hospital bed with my heart rate at 18 bpm at one point. All because I felt so worthless. So broken. Unfixable.
I have been through a lot of treatment. I still struggle. Before that, I had hope that I could better my life. I was working to make a good life without the issues of my family. But after that, I lost it all. Whatever fragile foundation I had, totally crumbled.
I’m still rebuilding, 12 years on. My husband and I are still married. I have 3 beautiful girls. But I did lose one son. He was still born, because of my anorexia.
I blamed myself for years. I punished myself. I don’t want to anymore. I would like to be free of that burden of shame I didn’t need to carry. My children are healthy and happy. I have been a good mother. As much as I could be between punishing myself. I would like to turn this around now, and lay the blame where it belongs. And that is on a broken system.