, ,

As a follow up to my last “Is It Worth It?” post, I reflected on the past 5 years and the changes that have come compared to the previous 40.

It’s hard to explain the freedom and peace that swept over me initially as I divorced, exited Mormonism,  and came out.  Having the kids all to myself at regular intervals is the best part  But I’ve also realized some differences in the things I think or feel since then.

Here’s a brief list of thoughts and feelings I’ve lost the need to process on such a regular basis:

  • Discomfort…That sinking feeling in my stomach each first Sunday of the month when the  ward wacko got up to bear her testimony.  Each ward had one. For Example:
    • The 9 year old boy wearing a 3 piece suit who got up there and perfectly (too perfectly) imitated a GA in his testimony bearing. Actualy ANY child bearing testimony is creepy to me.
    • The old lady who shamelessly talks about some obscure doctrine that makes Mormonism appear plain silly, but you know it’s an actual LDS doctrine…and you feel uncomfortable for the converts in the ward who are hearing it for the first time.
    • The single young adult whose effusive praise of the  bishop’s wisdom and spirituality seemed to follow their hours long confessional appointment with him the week prior.
  • Confusion…The uneasy feeling on the last week of every month when I hadn’t done any of my home teaching yet and hadn’t been at home much either.  Do I take that one night free and spend it home teaching or stay home with my family?
  • Guilt…The following first  Sunday of the month at church when I had to tell the Elder’s Quorum President that I didn’t do my home teaching last month.
  • Disappointment…That sinking feeling on Saturday night when I realized that for all intents and purposes my weekend was over. I’d have to get up early the next day and spend the whole day in meetings.
  • Awkward…That unsettled feeling in social settings when I knew I was going to be cornered on some Mormon questions and I’d have to play the member missionary when all I really wanted to do was have fun.
  • Embarrassment… Knowing that I was being an ass when a guest came into my home for dinner and graciously offered me a bottle of wine and then I’d have to awkwardly explain why we wouldn’t be drinking it that night… or ever…
  • Ambivalent… That tug of war between what I WANTED say to my kids and what I feel like I COULD say to my kids (and not upset their single-minded believing Mom) when they asked me questions about sex, the universe, right and wrong.
  • Indignant… That “who-the-hell-do-you-think-you-are” feeling I always got in church when someone giving a talk or a lesson decided to end by “challenging” everyone to follow some absurd pattern of study or to modify our lives in some way to achieve some sort of enlightenment that the lesson called for.
  • Emasculated … That powerless feeling that comes after getting a “calling” that I didn’t want, need or like.  And the crazy internal assumption that I couldn’t say “no” (Scoutmaster, Executive Secretary, etc).
  • Forgetful… Whenever I attended the temple and was reminded about meaning of the symbols on the garments I realized I wore these things 24/7 and never, ever thought about their supposed meaning.
  • Longing… The feeling of craving human skin-to-skin contact and cuddling, which the garments and my ex pretty much prevented.
  • Disappointment… That feeling that came immediately after General Conference when I had hopefully anticipated something BIG… but then it ended up just being a bunch of the same old – same old droning, self-satisfied old men….again.

And of course, I can’t just focus on the negative.  Here’s what I DO feel a lot lately:

  • Gratitude… Any time I ride by an LDS chapel on my bike on a Sunday morning and see the parking lot packed with minivans and SUVs, I feel this enormous sense of gratitude that I’m not inside.
  • Comfortable… Every morning when I put on my colorful, thin and “brief” underwear.
  • Curious... It’s amazing the things I’ve learned about the world around me and how open I am to learning new things now that I don’t feel like I already have any of the big answers.
  • Connected… Not sure if I can articulate this one that well, but I feel increasingly connected to people of all stripes and colors now that I don’t feel “chosen”
  • Pride… Leaving Mormonism 5 years ago was the most difficult thing I’d ever done.  I’m proud that when it REALLY counted I had the courage to stick to what I believed.
  • Unbridled Glee… Watching 2 gay men country-western dance the other night I realized I just felt happy for them and not a twinge of “shouldn’ts” or “shoulds” were mixed in with that and how good it feels to not have that wall around me anymore.  Happiness is just plain happiness in whatever form it takes.
  • Free... When the inside and the outside match, it’s bliss.