Sunday, December 30, 2012

Who I Am (part 3 of 3) I almost wanted to abandon this "Who I Am" 3-part series because it's so long and wordy, but decided to finish what I started,

Two more verses of commentary:

"See I thought love was black and white
That it was wrong or it was right
But you ain't leaving without a fight
And I think I am just as torn inside"

This continues to be a trap for me...Seeing things as black and white. I think I've been doing it for so long, it's sometimes like an automatic programming in my brain. I don't know what else to say about this one right now except that there have been two ways that the black and white, have been balanced and bridged in my life: My own experiences, or being with another in their experiences. experience :)

Even moving away from the Church felt like this. When the sadness or anger got big enough and I hadn't yet processed something, I would feel a reactive trigger inside me: "I'm out of here," I would think. But it would come from a place of anger, and a feeling of pulling away my love from the Church. While these moments still come up when I find out more about the Church history I didn't previously know, or experience another layer of awareness of how a perspective I've held for so long has hurt myself, I've realized that any time I feel the black and white's something to look at more closely. The black and white sensation for me is a feeling of all-or-nothing...example: "it's either true or it isn't," "it's either right or wrong," "it's either good or bad," "I'm either loving towards the Church or I'm angry." Usually neither extreme is as helpful as taking time to be able to see the reality of both sides.


And I won't be far from where you are if ever you should call
You meant more to me than anyone I ever loved at all
But you taught me how to trust myself and so I say to you
This is what I have to do"

Many people who are also struggling at church have confided in me that part, or all, of the reason they stay is to help others who are struggling with how to hold a more nuanced view. I can relate, as I worried that when I left the church I would no longer be trusted by those I felt I "helped" that were in the church but struggling with it. I have found that leaving church has left me with no less to do as far as helping others. It doesn't matter where we are in any process of any experience. There will always be others around us who will be seeking love and understanding. Because I spent so many years in the church, and had many ignorant and judgmental thoughts, and hurt people with ignorant comments (and still do because I'm human), I do feel a particular desire to be there to help others who call for help and understanding.

As I think about it, it wasn't really the church that had my greatest love, it was the people. It was the teachers, ward members, and neighbors who loved me.

"You taught me how to trust myself." While part of leaving is to continue this journey of learning to trust myself, I have also found that many of the things I learned through the avenue of religion, have been helpful in me following through with my readiness to leave it. Teachings about trusting my "spiritual promptings," about honesty, integrity, responsibility and courage.


  1. It should come as no surprise, stuck in another airport catching up on the blogs I like to review, and after reading "Who Am I" I am overwhelmed by the sincerity of your reflection. I had no idea this period in your life was so conflicted. I am sorry for that, but like a tree our growth depends upon our ability to soften, loosen, and shed boundaries and defenses we no longer need. So I see that as a positive for thing for you.

    I applaud you for being so sincere in your retrospective. In a way, like myself exiting the Catholic faith, and like the tree that sheds its bark to grow taller and wider, shedding the boundaries to expand I needed to create boundaries and develop defenses to protect myself and then, at a certain point, to outgrow them. If we don’t allow ourselves to shed our protective layer, we can’t expand to our full potential. I still believe the church offered a protective shield like the bark of tree to enable the delicate process of growth and renewal to unfold without threat. My growth also depends upon my ability to soften, loosen, and shed boundaries and defenses I no longer need.

    Unlike a tree, though we must consciously decide when it is time to shed our bark and expand our boundaries, so we can move into our next ring of growth. I have honored the protective barriers I have and continue to put in place, but I also need to understand when to soften and release them when the time comes. Easier said than done, but In doing so, I create the space for my next phase of growth. It sounds like you are shedding your protective bark and expanding your rings of life.

    Again, very well done. I am not going to be surprised by future posts am I? I sense a foreboding storm cloud :(

    1. a foreboding storm cloud...?! I'll leave you in suspense ;) It's nice to read your thoughts and experiences on some of these posts. It sounds like you've been exploring your own self protections and sorting through what to keep and what to release. I like that you mentioned the importance of being aware of the "right timing."

      I had a really interesting dream a few nights ago, and in it, I was at the home of group leaders who had called and asked me to come facilitate a therapy group. When I got there the leader was killing one of the group leaders for not following their protocols in their way. It was a terrifying experience because I knew that what was happening was not okay, and yet all the other group leaders acted like it was no big deal.

      I felt a "Divine" prompting in that moment to NOT open my mouth, but to pretend that I also thought it was normal. I realized that I would need to take action, but also realized that I needed to get into a safe place first. I finished out the night, knowing that as soon as they drove me home and I was safe, I could sound the alarm and report the harm that was happening.

      I think this happens within each of us as we learn and grow. We may start to recognize that certain "parts" of how we react to life and people are not helpful. We may even see that these reactions have always been defenses to protect ourselves (and our place within our "tribe").

      As we get into more safety within ourselves, and build trust with our own moral compass (which may not be as much about a solid "moral piety" as it is about getting clear with our life goals, and being honest with ourselves about our intentions), we may find it time to shed another layer of the defenses.

      It seems like it can take time, and can be especially confusing when so much of our experience was beautiful, prosperous, safe, etc.

      I hope you're doing well!