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Monday, August 2, 2010


It's difficult for me to pinpoint one exactly reason for leaving the LDS Church, but I know one major reason has a lot to do with fear. I remember looking at non-members and marveling at how unafraid they were. They drank tea, they had sex, they went shopping on Sunday! Weren't they afraid of God punishing them for it?

Meanwhile, I was afraid of...

-Iced Tea
-Anything flavored like Coke, iced tea or coffee
-Clothing that showed shoulders
-Swearing, or even hearing people swear
-Watching moves with sex and/or swearing
-Thinking about sex
-Showing an interest in sex
-Kissing with tongue, or kissing too much without tongue
-Do I even need to explain how unholy terrified I was at the thought of having sex?
-My own body (it wanted things I wasn't supposed to want)
-Bad thoughts
-Gay people
-People who blatantly lived gospel-incompatible lives
-My friends going to hell because they weren't Mormon
-My depression really being the devil in my head
-Disappointing my family on a spiritual level
-Not living up to "the image"

I'm sure that's only a partial list. I was astounded to see people acting on their desires and impulses with no fear at all of God's anger. I felt like it was me against the world, trying to be the person the LDS Church wanted me to be, and terrified of anything else. I was my own worst enemy, now that I look back at it all. I kept myself caged because I was afraid of the evil in the world, and even more afraid of the evil in my head.

I remember  being nine years old and thinking that my soul was already blackened beyond redemption; I'd passed the age of eight and therefore, God was making a list of all my wrongdoings. Since turning eight, I had fought with my brothers, snitched cookies from the cookie jar without permission, talked back to my parents. Clearly these were sins, and I had not repented, and no unclean thing can be with God. Looking back, I'm angry. No child should believe themselves to be evil.

Now... it's not that I'm never afraid. Of course there are things I fear. But my life isn't built around fear anymore. It's built around hope and around achieving the things that I desire for myself. It's not about "What bad things will happen if I do this?" so much as "What good could come of this?" In fact, there are days when I relish being able to stand up to an old Mormon fear. I don't drink Coke or coffee (I think I'll blog about that later) but I wear tank tops, I have sex with my fiance and, wild woman that I am, I drink tea!

I don't know if I'll ever have kids, but if I do, they will not be raised to fear everything that doesn't have a Mormon stamp of approval on it. They will not be raised in the swamp of fear that I grew up in. It shouldn't take courage to drink soda, for heaven's sake.

I wonder... the next generation of Exmo's... will flip-flops be on the list of things they feared? And how stupid is that?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Obligatory First Post

When I was eighteen years old, I had a second piercing put into my right earlobe. It was nothing extreme; it wasn't even gauged. I just liked the slight unevenness of it. Nobody thought much of it; indeed, my mother already had an extra piercing in each of her earlobes.

When I was twenty-one years old, I went to a broadcast for youth and young adults, to hear the Mormon prophet Gordon B Hinckley speak. Up until that day, I hadn't been particularly happy to be a member of the Mormon church, but neither had I felt disturbed to be so. It was all I knew. The questions were there, but they were infant ideas. They had not yet grown words.

I remember only one piece of counsel from that broadcast: that women should have only one earring per ear. One modest earring, whatever that meant. And there I sat, with my ears totaling two and my earrings totaling three. I had just been given a direct order from, as far as I knew, the Prophet of God. I had thought, in such a situation, that my course of action would be obvious. But sitting there in that stuffy chapel on that butt-numbing bench, with the Prophet's face ten feet tall before me, I knew that I was not going to obey.

There was no anger in that moment, no bitterness or resentment. There was just the calm, sure knowledge that nobody, not even a Prophet, had any business mucking about in my jewelry box! It was such a small thing, but for the first time ever, the LDS Church had attempted to cross a boundary in my mind, and found that boundary defended. My jewelry was an expression of my personality. Years of being bullied at school as a geeky bookworm had instilled in me a stolid determination that I would not change my personality, my self, for anyone but me. My jewelry was not loud or edgy, but it was part of my self and, to some degree, I wore it in defiance of those who would have taken that away. Though I may not yet have understood the depth of the LDS Church's failings, I knew bullying when I saw it.

I did not take out that third earring. My mother took her extras out that evening. Every other woman I knew took out any extra piercings she had. But I did not. That one extra earring went from a sparkly whim to an act of defiance. I would not take it out. I was defying the Prophet. I didn't fully understand why, but it was terribly important that I keep it up.

I still have that third piercing. There were times when I went for months without wearing any jewelry at all; I was hit by a near-crippling dose of clinical depression not long after that broadcast, and I quit caring how I looked for a while. A few times during the years that followed, that third piercing closed up and began to heal over. Whenever I caught it doing that, I would pick up any old earring and shove it through the hole. Sometimes I relished the pain but mostly it was an annoyance. But it was a sign of my ownership of myself, so it had to stay, pain or no pain.

So,  if you're reading this, welcome to my PostMormon blog, and I hope my choice of name makes at least a bit of sense to you.