I was born and raised in the church and had both fantastic Bishops and then Bishops and other leaders that made my skin crawl. I was asked if I masturbated during Bishopric’s interviews and although I had I ALWAYS lied. The guilt from being “sinful” enough to masturbate was bad enough but when you add in the guilt for lying about it it compounded everything. Even worse was when I would go to temple and do baptisms for the dead and knowing I was not “worthy” to be there. I’d always been taught that if the work done for the dead was done by someone unworthy the people on the other side would not be able to accept the gospel and would therefore remain where they were. So not only was I damning myself to hell for masturbating I was also damning everyone that I had done the work for; however, I still lied.
Because of the guilt of that I spent years suicidal and when I went off to college alone I spent many days researching and plotting how to do it. I never got to the point where I attempted but it was sooooo tempting to just be done with the shame. My grandmother had a place near where I went to school and I was able to go there and be alone. There were many times I’d sit in the garage wanting to just turn the ignition or holding the knives to my wrist wanting to make the cuts but knowing other family members used it as a vacation spot I never wanted them to have to be the ones to find my body especially those with young kids.
When I was about 20 years old I was in a young singles adult ward at the local college. The Bishop made it clear that he was there for us if we wanted to talk to him on certain nights. One night the guilt got so bad that even though I’d never had a conversation with this man I KNEW I had to go and confess I couldn’t deal with the guilt and shame anymore. By the time I got to the building where the ward was held I was having a panic attack but knew what I had to do. I pretty much ran into the building and when I saw the Bishop was just leaving I decided that I didn’t have to speak to him and instead told him I was just wanting to introduce myself. He looked at me like I was crazy for running in there like that but didn’t say anything else to me other than asking my name and generic details. Because of the spirit of discernment I figured if I needed to say something he would lead me down those topics or try to find the real reason I ran into here. I’m thankful now that he didn’t but at the time I figured I was too far gone and God no longer care about me because He knew why I had gone rushing to meet with the Bishop and He didn’t prompt the Bishop to help me. This made the suicidal thoughts worse as if I was too far gone for God to care what was the point?
It wasn’t too long after that that I stopped going to church. I tried to go back for my parents sake as my siblings had left largely because of their own experiences with Bishopric interviews. Even though I’ve not been active for several years I still feel the “Mormon guilt” and shame. Thankfully those times are few and far between but the older I get the harder it’s getting to push away. I always wanted to have a big family always wanted to e a great mom and have lots of kids. I turn 36 next week and have never had a relationship. I have never felt worthy enough to try and find someone to fall in love with, get married to or have kids with. I am at the point now where I would love to try but don’t know how. I still feel like I’m not good enough in anything that I do and the majority of that stems from the guilt of the interviews and the belief that I was and am still a sinner. I spent years eating away my feelings and looking at it now feel like the reason I did so was to make myself unattractive and that way I would not have to be disappointed when the person I love found out what a disgusting excuse for a human being I am.
These interviews need to stop. I was one of the lucky ones only being asked about masturbation and none of the other damaging questions but plenty of damage was done just from that and I don’t know that I’ll ever completely get over the guilt and shame.