How does one obtain perfection? I clung to the pamphlet “For the Strength of Youth”. I lived and died to follow the rules laid out before me. But I was weak. I gave in to the temptations of the flesh. It started when I was 12 and I would find myself in and out of the Bishop and Stake President’s office well into my adulthood trying to repent for “sins” that I know now were only the normal reactions of any growing, hormonal adolescent.
I was the “blacksheep” in my ward. The other young women weren’t allowed to play with me, I might lead them to sin. I was 12 with a long-distance boyfriend, I carried his picture in my pocket and would talk about him to anyone that would listen. I was 14, finally I could go to dances, again I had a boyfriend when I wasn’t “old enough” to date yet. (Not that we actually went on dates, Mother would never allow that. My kid sister watched us often.) Later I started dating the young man who would be known as my high school sweetheart. I was 16 1/2 when I thought I might be pregnant. The shame I brought to myself and my family. My bishop was horrified and berated my boyfriend and I outside of a church member’s home, in the middle of a Fireside discussion. I was denied sacrament. There were no blessings in my time of need and confusion. I was outcast even further. (Turns out I’d just missed my period. How little I truly understood my body.)
I’d lost count the number of times I wasn’t allowed to take the sacrament or say a prayer. People just stopped asking. It was just assumed. No wonder none of the other Young Women came looking for me during mutual. I wasn’t wanted anyway.
By 17, I was engaged. My mother dreamed of my wedding day. Just before my senior year of high school, I swallowed a fistful of pills, not caring what would happen to me. Nothing happened. No one ever found out. By 18 I had “run away” from home and was married to a Mormon boy, simply because we had nowhere to live but his parents home and we couldn’t live together in their home unless we were married. We struggled to be good Mormons. We hadn’t been sealed in the temple. I struggled so hard with my husband so that we could be sealed for time and eternity. We failed. The marriage fell apart. Less than two years later I was divorced for the first time. (It wouldn’t be the last.)
Forever trying to live up to the high standards of morality and chastity within the LDS church, I decided to go back to BYU-Hawaii, this time as a single college student. I went back to my Bishop’s office to confess my sins and put my spiritual business in order that I would be worthy enough to attend college. Again with the probing questions, again with my quiet and shy answers. (There was one question I remember refusing to answer. In the midst of my confession of my sexual sins, they wanted to know names of my partners. I refused. To this day I still do not understand what the names of my partners has to do with my desire to repent for my own sins. There was a Mormon involved. I’m not certain I ever admitted to that, but I’m aware that there were rumors.) Again with my own confusion of my own sexuality and my desire to so badly be the perfect Mormon and live up to my mother’s great expectations of me. There’s a lot of responsibility to being the eldest child. I got into BYU-Hawaii.
I met an RM (Returned Missionary). Could this be real? Could all my dreams really be coming true? Might I actually get married in the temple to an RM? Me? An unworthy, sinful member of the true church? We met in January. And in true Mormon fashion we were married for all time and eternity in April of the same year. Our families couldn’t be happier. We’d done it. Or so we thought.
In the midst of this, I had undiagnosed mental health issues. These issues stem from years of emotional and psychological abuse. Our “dream” marriage failed. Less than 2 years later I was divorced for the 2nd time. I blame the LDS church for this failed marriage. For the unrealistic expectations on newly weds to be the perfect couples, to instantly fall into the perfect family picture. The church shamed him for viewing porn. He beat himself up for viewing porn. I’d learned to keep my porn habits a secret. Those secrets. Those lies. That lack of trusting communication, it destroyed us. I was sent back to my parents. I was 24 years old.
I got married a third time. This time outside of the Mormon church. I was no longer a practicing member, but I was still haunted by the “sexual education” I’d received at the hands of the LDS church. I allowed things to happen to me that shouldn’t have, had I known my own power to say No. That marriage also failed.
I’d been taught to chase marriage. That marriage was the ultimate goal. One cannot be truly happy without marrying and having children. As a woman, that was my only purpose. No one ever asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was always just assumed. I’m 38 now, and childless.
I officially resigned from the LDS church in 2005, but I still clung to its beliefs and believed them to be good. By 2013 I saw the truth of the LDS church, the lies and damage it had caused. My mental health illness went undiagnosed for decades because my issues were viewed as an issue of sin and unrighteousness and not as something wrong with the chemical makeup of my mind. The only time I saw a therapist as a child was when I was 13 and it was because I had a loose opinion about sex. No one wanted to discuss why I felt the way I did. No one wanted to talk about why I cried all the time and didn’t know why. No one wanted to understand why I had no friends at church. I was left very much alone in my private struggle to understand myself and fit into a perfect mold laid out before me as a young believing member of the LDS church.
I’m proud to be out now. I’m in regular therapy and see a psychiatrist of my medication. I’ve been diagnosed with complexPTSD, Bipolar I, Severe Anxiety, agoraphobia and Autism. I’m in a safe place surrounded by people who love me just as I am. I no longer hide my sexuality from myself or others. I am a proud genderqueer bisexual. I am a proud advocate. I speak for those who cannot.