I have not thought about the Mormon Church this much in over 20 years. I still suffer from adult self- loathing- and I didn’t know what it was until just his moment. I don’t know if I can share my story fully as I have never done that. I hope that I don’t go into the all-too- familiar cycle of suicidal thoughts and feelings I’ve been plagued with my whole life. I grew up in a home with no father. I was a victim of sexual abuse at the age of six. The sexual abuse, I now know, was worse than most cases. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time it was happening that it was worse. I was molested for over three years by my neighbor’s older brothers. They would get her to persuade me to come over to play with her and that is when the abuse would occur. Each time I would leave- the darkness surrounded me would become increasingly darker and more powerful. I ached all over. I wanted so badly to crawl into my mother’s lap and cry to her – to tell her everything that was going on. I could not. I could not dare expose that I was a devil child doing evil, dirty things like that. I sucked it up and allowed the pain to increase. The emotional pain only got worse. It eventually rotted my soul – like a cavity left unattended would. Eventually the sexual abuse stopped.
I only wanted to live a normal life but the pain was excruciating. The pain is still excruciating. Right now, as I write this, my thoughts betray me. Both my children are grown. They are on their own. No one would miss me. The pain is too much. God forgive me for my thoughts.
As I grew up in the church, the self – loathing grew stronger. I hated myself so much that I began to enjoy thoughts of harming myself. I had no idea that what I was doing was suicidal ideation. No one ever taught me about this stuff. No one ever had a reason to- I barely opened my mouth.
Then the time came to start having interviews with the bishop. They all went fine. Everything was fine up until I began to become anorexic and act out – becoming sexually promiscuous. No father in the home. No self- worth. An abusive mother who shamed me and abused me with her words even before I started acting out. Of course, it only got worse when I started recklessly sleeping around with people I didn’t know. I started smoking cigarettes, doing drugs, drinking. It was all easing the pain. But I knew I was going to have to answer for it to the bishop one day.
So that’s what I did: went into the bishop to confess. I had it coming, I thought. I was scum of the earth. I realize now that I went in there screaming for help but everything came out as one, big hateful self-loathsome confession of all my sexual misconduct and evil ways. And I was begging to be punished. I told the bishop to give it to me good. I deserved to be excommunicated because I was a foul, foul whore. Worse than the whore of Babylon.
He listened with darkened eyes at the details of my sin. I cried like you wouldn’t believe. He took my sobbing to mean that I was sorry for my sins. He disfellowshipped me. He handed me “The Miracle of Forgiveness,” and I left his office feeling lower than the scum of the earth. After I read that book, I was ready to self-abuse some more- because I deserved the pains of hell.
The visits to the bishop’s office were more frequent. I deserved the shaming. I began to enjoy the shaming- at least someone was paying attention to me. After a Sunday night meeting in the bishop’s office full of shaming – I went home and tried to commit suicide. It almost worked. The bishop was not trained to detect the signs of child molestation or the behavior of a child who suffered such trauma.
Today, those feelings of shame are a habit. I draw comfort in them, still, even after over a decade of deep trauma therapy, and nine years of sobriety, which has proved to be of little effectiveness in resolving my deep depression. I can tell you right now, my children are the only real reason I’m alive.