Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Movie

Just wanted to share the title of a movie I watched a couple of weeks ago. It's called "Paradise Recovered." It's a small, indie movie currently on Netflix. You can see the trailer on YouTube. For a small film I was impressed with the acting, and enjoyed the connection between the main characters. It's a story of how a woman comes to terms with questioning her fundamentalist beliefs, while working to find a balance of connecting with something that feels "spiritual."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


TRUTH: It's a topic that fills up thousands of books. Here's just one post to add to the myriad of thoughts on this idea.

Throughout my process of deciding what to do about church, I would go through and still go through, roller coaster moments...trying to sort things out. "What is really true?" Because I just internalized what I was told I should believe, if something didn't fit for me I would stuff it, and often wonder "what's wrong with me? Why am I feeling so frustrated or rebellious or prideful inside myself?" I would feel guilty as though it was all my fault and I would attempt to swallow the feelings, and brush what didn't fit under the rug (because there was enough that did fit I suppose, and it helped me feel connected to those around me by keeping the waters calm, and not rocking the boat). The problem was that when I finally began to let myself question without the guilt, torrents of pain and anger rose from years of stuffing certain questions and things that hadn't made sense to me.

I would sometimes feel very confused..."I don't know what's true anymore," I would think. I couldn't deny certain "spiritual" experiences I had had, and still was having. I also couldn't deny some of the new awarenesses that were coming up, and the realities I was seeing that I had previously denied (i.e. someone could be genuinely at peace without any religious attachment).

I remember a moment of self-pity after I'd stopped attending confused about whether or not the church was really true. "WHAT'S REALLY TRUE?" I begged. I put it out there to the universe, or God, or intuition, or whatever/whomever it was that I had felt would sometimes show a presence of clarity when my confused self was genuinely ready to hear the answer.

In that moment I felt a presence of clarity, and a thought arose from it... "you're asking the wrong question." I had a flash of was so quick, it's difficult to put into words, but the sense was something like this... "it's the wrong question. It assumes an all-or-nothing thinking pattern. It doesn't allow for growth and evolution as it assumes that the meaning I made from what felt true to me last week or last year, would have to be the same meaning I would make of what feels true to me today. It assumes that my experiences are static. It also assumes that I cannot hold both truth (clarity) and untruth (unclarity) together in an experience.

I realized that there were PARTS of my perspectives from things I learned through the avenue of religion that still felt clear and important to me. There were also PARTS that no longer felt helpful to my process, and rather felt blocking to my growth, as they fed what I now perceived to be fear-based beliefs.

Awhile later I ran into this quote as I was reading:

"So we're pretty skittish about this God-is-my-source thing. And, perhaps rightly we should be. We don't want to swallow whole everything that others tell us, simply because they claim to carry a message from the Most High.

But how can we know for sure what is Divine Inspiration and what is not? How can we be certain who is speaking eternal truth?

Ah, that is the great question. But here is the great secret. WE DO NOT HAVE TO KNOW. All we have to know is OUR truth, not someone else's. When we understand this, we understand everything. We understand that what others are saying doesn't have to be The Truth; it only has to lead us to our own. And it will do that. It cannot help but do that, eventually. All things lead us to our innermost truth."

- Neale donald Walsch in "Communion With God."

So, now I watch for those moments...those moments I'm trying to decide, "Is what this person telling me right? or true?" I realize that in those moments I'm asking the wrong question. Instead I'm finding it more helpful to ask myself..."how do I feel about this or that? For me?" maybe it's not about being right or wrong...maybe it's about honoring what feels best to me in that moment...not because it's absolute truth, but because it's my truth, it's how I can best make meaning of the world from all I've experienced up to that point. In the same way, I get to honor others, and their experiences.

I'm going to use an example here:

I had a client come in for therapy. The first few sessions he told me what was going on, from his perspective. He'd had a history of addiction and hiding things, however, as he was sharing his story I felt what, as a mormon I had called "the spirit." I felt warmth in my body and goosebumps, as he explained how he had changed, was loving his wife, not hiding things, etc. I had learned to translate these feelings to mean that what he was telling me was TRUE.

The next week his wife came in. They sat there together as the wife explained the lies and deception that were still going on. I suddenly felt confused and disoriented. Had he lied to me? It couldn't be...I'd "felt" sure he was telling the truth. I looked over at him as he had his head down, eyes on the ground. When he looked up I asked if he was understanding where his wife was coming from. He said yes, admitting that he was still lying, deceiving, etc.

This was an opening moment for me. I realized that "my" feelings about what someone was saying had nothing to do with what that person's truth was. It did, however, guide me to my own truth. I resonated with the ideas of honesty, change, and love because those principles are beautiful principles to me. I realized that people may be honest or they may not, but I don't need to know whether or not someone is being honest with me. If the information I'm getting from someone else changes, then I can adjust my reaction as needed, but all I need to do is stay committed to what I feel, for me.

This has been helpful to remember as I've been sorting through understanding "the truth" of religious dogma. I grew up believing that someone's experience was what they had said it was (or what I had been taught it was). This was especially true with Joseph Smith and church history. When I started learning other aspects of the experience & history, the confusion set in. Because I had assumed what I'd been taught was the full and honest story, I reacted to it as such growing up. And if my own personal feelings didn't mesh with something, then I dismissed my feelings...believing that the story was more true than my own feelings.

I didn't step back from the church because of historical or doctrinal issues. I ran across those after I left. I stepped back because I decided to be honest with myself about MY own truth. To acknowledge that certain perspectives felt blocking to my own personal growth. I decided to honor my own story more than someone else's. So, when I began to find out parts of the church story I had previously not own personal story and the more dynamic, story of church history began to merge. This was a healing part of the process for me. It still is. and somehow I can't help but visualize this perfect merging happening as we really face with honesty all parts of our own experience.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Feeling Betrayed

Not too long after deciding to step back I was packing up my temple clothes (I had just washed them since I'd wanted to go through the temple one more time before I stopped attending). As I was packing everything up, tears began to come. I felt sad and confused, again feeling lost. "I'm so confused," I thought. "I don't understand why this decision to leave feels like the right thing to do when it's the only church where someone has actually conversed with God (thinking of Joseph Smith's grove experience). I also don't understand why a church that is God's 'one true church,' is not aligned with some of the things I've been learning about healing the human mind and heart."

It was not more than a week later when I came across information about the multiple accounts of the first vision. Now...some background for anyone reading...I was not LOOKING for information about this subject, in fact had never even heard about it before. I was not researching anti-mormon sites. I was listening to some podcasts that simply had the intent of supporting people wherever they were in their experience with mormonism (whether in, out, or anywhere in between). There were all sorts of topics, including information about church history. Basically the idea was to bring in researchers, historians, etc. who had done work directly with source material, and have them share their stories and experience. Some of the guests were members of the church (church historians & apologists), others were not.

I came across a podcast and the interviewee was talking about the multiple accounts of the first vision. "What?" I felt so confused. "I've never heard about this before." I began researching what other historians had said on the subject, both in and out of the church. As I found church historians, including Richard Bushman, confirming what I was hearing about the multiple accounts, I began to feel sick & betrayed. I also felt some weight lifting off my shoulders. It was both painful and helpful. The information seemed to make more sense in a lot of ways, but I was shocked! "Why don't they tell us that?" "Why do they paint a picture that's missing important pieces?" "It makes it look like it's something it isn't." (This was just one area of history/doctrine that this happened with...I'll post a future post on this).

Then I came across some quotes, that helped explain why important parts of the history were left out:

- Apostle Boyd K. Packer, "The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect", 1981, BYU Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 259-271

"You seminary teachers and some of you institute and BYU men will be teaching the history of the Church this school year. This is an unparalleled opportunity in the lives of your students to increase their faith and testimony of the divinity of this work. Your objective should be that they will see the hand of the Lord in every hour and every moment of the Church from its beginning till now.

Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a very powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer.

There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not.

Some things that are true are not very useful.

That historian or scholar who delights in pointing out the weaknesses and frailties of present or past leaders destroys faith. A destroyer of faith — particularly one within the Church, and more particularly one who is employed specifically to build faith — places himself in great spiritual jeopardy. He is serving the wrong master, and unless he repents, he will not be among the faithful in the eternities. ... Do not spread disease germs!" ...[end of quote]

- Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, "Reading Church History," CES Doctrine and Covenants Symposium, Brigham Young University, 16 Aug. 1985, page 25. also see Dallin H. Oaks, "Elder Decries Criticism of LDS Leaders," quoted in The Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday August 18, 1985, p. 2B

"It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true. As Elder George F. Richards, President of the Council of the Twelve, said in a conference address in April 1947, 'when we say anything bad about the leaders of the Church, whether true or false, we tend to impair their influence and their usefulness and are thus working against the Lord and his cause.' ... The Holy Ghost will not guide or confirm criticism of the Lord's anointed, or of Church leaders, local or general. This reality should be part of the spiritual evaluation that LDS readers and viewers apply to those things written about our history and those who made it."

- Apostle Russell M. Nelson, “Truth—and More,” Ensign, Jan. 1986, page 69

"Indeed, in some instances, the merciful companion to truth is silence. Some truths are best left unsaid.

Any who are tempted to rake through the annals of history, to use truth unrighteously, or to dig up facts with the intent to defame or destroy, should hearken to this warning of scripture:

'The righteousness of God [is] revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.' (Rom. 1:17-18.)

I repeat: 'The wrath of God is … against all … who hold the truth in unrighteousness.'

To anyone who, because of truth, may be tempted to become a dissenter against the Lord and his anointed, weigh carefully your action in light of this sacred scripture:

'These dissenters, having the same instruction and the same information … yea, having been instructed in the same knowledge of the Lord, nevertheless, it is strange to relate, not long after their dissensions they became more hardened and impenitent, and … wicked, … entirely forgetting the Lord their God.' (Alma 47:36.)" [end of quote]

It's me now

So, yeah, again...I was shocked. After reading these quotes, I felt shakey and weak. I felt betrayed. I realized how I'd made many decisions based on believing a story that was portrayed a certain way, and that the story that was in my mind wasn't even reality.

One thing I've learned in doing my own healing work and in doing therapy, is that facing things HONESTLY is one of the greatest, most healing, most beautiful experiences there is. Facing things honestly means looking at both the pleasant and painful, the good and the bad, the light and the dark. It means understanding all aspects of the experience, and seeing them for what they are. I do acknowledge that often we mistranslate things (example: that because we've done something bad...we are bad). We tend to believe in causations that aren't true, and end up suffering because of our own confusion. However, if we just pretend parts of the experience didn't exist then we don't give ourselves a chance to work through and understand what really happened, and why it played out as it did.

The interesting thing about having been a member of the church is that while I was educated to think critically, I simply didn't apply that learning to the areas of the church. And no wonder, I was taught not to! (this is not to say that some aren't taught to...but I wasn't. In fact, I was taught that as far as "church" issues go, if something I learned didn't fit with what leaders were telling me, it was best to defer to the leaders. Again, this was simply my experience). I think that as humans we have an innate desire to understand the truth (unless there is a block of fear or something). When you watch children they ask questions, even awkward ones, genuinely curious about the truth. I find that I most often want the information (sometimes really asking for honesty is scary), and want to be allowed to make the meaning from it that I will...from my own experience. To be manipulated into believing something a certain way (by someone purposely leaving out information) feels inauthentic and hurtful.

This topic of not hiding things to protect our ego needs is one I'm working on within myself, and one that I'm finding can release a great deal of we do it with compassion and awareness. I included a thought and definition of the word "Moksha" on the back of my business card...

Monday, January 7, 2013

It's Really A Choice!

A couple of months after stepping back from attending church I was going through one of my many "moments of terror." The moments I felt fear arise so strong that I was sure that God was going to "punish" me eternally for not enduring. I was laying on the floor crying, "why God...why would I feel okay about leaving church if it's the only true church?"

Then came the awareness from somewhere deep within (whether from my "higher self," what Einstein called, "the old self," my subconscious, a God, or a devil?...though I will say the message brought deep peace and feeling of clarity and freedom):

"Jenny I don't care what you doesn't matter to me AT ALL. My love for you, and your value and abilities are in NO WAY dependent upon whether or not you ever go back to church. But, know that anytime you make a decision out of fear you will suffer." and it wasn't like..."you'll suffer forever," it was just matter of fact, that if I make a choice from that place it will be difficult until I get it sorted out more and adjust any parts of the decision that need to be adjusted to get in line with what I truly desire.

Because I'd spent a few days triggered back into overwhelming fear, it was all around me. If I go back to church, I'd be going back out of fear (fear based on things I'd been told growing up: If you leave the church you lose the Spirit, you can never be "really" happy, you won't have as much meaning in your life, you won't be able to serve mankind as effectively, how will I raise children without the church?....), and if I didn't go back I'd be staying away out of fear (at least in that moment). Fear of being hurt by what was said, fear of having to conform to perspectives I didn't agree with, fear of going back just to feel more comfort, or connect socially because I was struggling to find community and others who could understand.

"What?" I replied to the inner voice that had come..."I don't have a clue how to do that right now!! All I can feel is fear." So, I spent the next few days imagining what it would be like if there was no fear...either way. What would I choose simply because it was what I WANTED to choose. I could actually see things I wanted out of both decisions, but as I sat with it I knew that what I wanted most was to continue to explore a new way, a new kind of life where I could open room for perspectives based on my own experiences rather than what others were telling me I was supposed to believe. For so many years, my experiences had matched up enough that being in the church had worked well for me. When my own experiences no longer matched up with certain expectations and perspectives of the institution, and doctrine, it became more difficult. Some people may have a similar experience in the church and decide to stay in...feeling they could do (or want to do) in the church what I felt I needed to leave the church for. I think it made a difference that I was such a literal believer for so many years. I'd spent three years trying to work with the cognitive dissonance, and I knew I'd done what I needed to, but that to really make room for myself it was now time for me to go a different way.

Then I felt calm again.

If you're going through this, know that it's not uncommon to have to work through the decision process over and over. Every time fear or anger comes back up I have to sort through another layer of confusion. I will say, those moments come less often, and more and more I'm able to remember in the fear and anger that I've processed it before and can do it again. I've found that it does get better.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Moment: Deciding to own my own spirituality

I wanted to share one of my decision moments...One of the moments that months of confusion, anger, fear, empowerment, ah-hah's, prayer, meditation, crying all culminated to. There were so many other moments before "this moment," and so many after. This moment didn't solve all the emotional/mental stuff that I'm still sorting through, but it was such a strong moment of clarity, and it provided an answer (not THE answer...many will have different answers to their confusion) to the question of what to do about all the emotional turmoil and stress I'd been feeling at church.

For about three years I'd been experiencing more and more confusion at church and more and more anger. I'm not saying there weren't a lot of beautiful, touching, loving moments...those were there too, but it was a little like a roller coaster. Up and down between feeling compassion and understanding, and then feeling judgment and condemnation. My pain, fear, and sadness in meetings, conferences, scripture reading, etc. seemed to be most often connected to how SOME things were languaged, and certain perspectives.

At the same time my frustration within the church was mounting, other resources were showing up that offered possible ways of holding my spirituality aside from whatever religious framework I did or didn't have. These resources showed up as I had more honest conversations with "my god" (whatever or whomever it was that I felt was more knowing than my confused and angry self). They also showed up as mentors, teachers, in books, in science, and in the "metaphors" of religion, mythology, etc. As some of my "old" perspectives were dying, and as new perspectives were showing up that made more sense to me, I began to feel frustrated that the church wasn't shifting and changing with me. "why does the church still see it this or that way?" I would think. or "letting go of 'that perspective' has been so much more helpful for me in releasing my own anxiety and addictive stuff," so why is the "true" church still seeing it that way. For me, it wasn't that the church wasn't perfect so much as that it had claimed to be the MOST true (or the ONLY true) church, and that I would get closer to God by abiding by ITS doctrines (its perspectives, etc.) than anything else, and that what church leaders (esp. the twelve apostles)said trumped my own perspectives, even for me, in my life.

At this point I had not done any research into church history, and was strictly working to decide what "spiritual" perspectives were still helpful to me and which ones weren't (as far as emotional and mental health). During an especially overwhelming week I went and saw a mentor. "I'm so angry," I said. I listed off my many frustrations, knowing I was speaking from a "victim" place, but also knowing it was how I really felt. He looked at me and said, "ah yes, whenever we're angry at someone else, it's because we're blaming them for something we're not yet willing to do for ourself." When he said it, I could feel it strike a chord down deep. What I had hoped for was someone who could say that my frustrations were valid, but to tell me it had to do with something I wasn't yet willing to do for myself felt so uncomfortable, and true!

What is it I'm not yet willing to do for myself I wondered. I was angry about so many things. I had decided to continue my attendance through those painful years because I still believed what I'd been taught growing up about it being the one true church and all. In fact, I never thought I would leave the church. Plus, I thought..."if what's taught does make me angry and sad maybe it'd be helpful for me to sit in meditation with it while at church and figure out why it makes me angry and sad (because it didn't used to)."

The following week I was sitting in sacrament meeting. I was feeling a greater sense of calm than I had for awhile. Something was said that felt like an emotional hit. I noticed the hurt and then frustration, and as I watched my mind responding to this frustration I suddenly realized..."I'm expecting the church to better care for my spirituality. I'm expecting them to understand the changes that have happened to me in the last few years, and am expecting them to adjust to my own changing self."

and yet, there I was...not willing to make the changes I needed to make to better care for my own spirituality, or to make a space that would better facilitate where I was in my own process. I had not been willing to leave a place that no longer felt supportive, and where it felt unsafe to be vulnerable and give of MYSELF fully (my perspectives and ways of navigating life). I was still giving the church ownership over my relationship with God and my spiritual learning. No wonder I was so angry. A wave of love washed over me...for the church and for myself. I realized that if I would offer myself what I was expecting them to offer me, the right to make a real change, then I could begin to heal. If I could really make space for me...where I was, and how I saw the world, then I could make space for others...where they are and how they see the world. I could forgive myself for the times I was judging, condemning and didn't understand someone else who was where I am now, because I could trust that we're all doing our best. If I could honor myself, and not keep putting myself in a position where I was continually getting emotional hits (stop attempting to make all of the church persepctives work for me (when they didn't feel like they did anymore), and stop going to church (so I wouldn't continue to be fed messages that to be acceptable to God I needed to make THOSE perspectives fit into my life), then I would have more energy to trust that we're all just doing our best. That was the moment I knew I was leaving.

Actually, I will say that was the moment I decided to "step back" from Church. I didn't feel like it was right timing to make a permanent decision, but I knew I needed to do some healing and recover from the pain of the last few years. I was still sorting through much of what I'd been taught about the Church, and so I didn't dare to entertain the thought of never going back. I was even nervous about just stepping back for awhile (since I still would have the fear rise..."what if they're right? What if I can't go to the "celestial kingdom" without being a member of THE CHURCH" since I'd had the light, I was in even more danger of judgment). I'd never skipped church just to skip...but I decided to take 4 months off, and then reassess. That was a little over a year ago, and I haven't gone back. I'll share more about other moments that brought more clarity for me, but for now that was the first moment of actual separation.

One thing I found was that even though I knew that to release anger it was important for me to leave (and stop feeling the hits every week), it didn't mean I couldn't be proactive in continuing to do my healing work around the issues of recovering from the pain of the last few years, and it didn't mean I couldn't help others. Writing down the story of your experience is one way that can help others. There are many other ways as well. But, attempting to get others to understand your experience when they don't want to, or when it wouldn't even be safe for them yet (to force others to break down their beliefs, is often an ego-based decision coming from our own fears and selfish needs, such as needing others to see things our way). However, if we can rebuild ourselves people will find us if they need our assistance, just as we will continue to find other helpers along our own way of life...when we're ready for help.

"Often, letting go of the old form of a relationship becomes a lesson in pure love much deeper than any that would have been learned had we stayed together. At the so-called end of relationships, I have sometimes felt like I was falling in love with the person [or institution] more deeply than I had been before. 'I love you so much that I can release you to be where you need to be, to go where you need to go.' This moment in a relationship is not about an ending. It's about the ultimate fulfillment of the purpose in any relationship: that we find the meaning of pure love.

Sometimes the lesson to be learned in a relationship is how to hang in there and try to work things out. Other times, the lesson to be learned is how to exit a situation that doesn't serve. NO ONE can determine for another person what principle applies in what circumstance."

- Marianne Williamson

Thursday, January 3, 2013


So...I've got another movie commentary post. holiday season = movie season. And art, music, relationships, or books, can be great ways for us to become more conscoius of aspects of ourselves. *NOTE: This post gives away some of the plot from Silver Linings Playbook, so if you're planning to see it, you may not want to read this post.

I've been thinking about the idea of perfectionism for awhile now. I've been watching the ways it plays out in my own life, and affects my relationships. I went and saw "Silver Linings Playbook," and while I enjoyed the movie on many levels, I also felt some inner conflict with the "craziness" the main characters displayed. (craziness to me in this situation meant: seemingly illogical, emotional reactions). While the examples in the movie may have been "extreme," as I was watching I noticed my own judgments of their craziness (in terms of it being problematic to their relationships), as well as a fear of my own potential craziness (in terms of it causing problems in my relationships).

While, I don't think it would benefit me to attempt acting more emotionally crazy just to add drama or excitement to life, or to my relationships, I do think it would benefit me to be honest with the crazy that is in there. As I'm writing I'm noticing that what really scares me are my emotions in the context of relationships. For most of my life I feel like I have either buried them, or used them manipulatively. There have been some shining moments...and I'm practicing being vulnerable, but I think where it's still especially hard to be vulnerable is being ok that I don't always understand my own emotions right away (or maybe ever), and until I do I look like a "crazy person." I think if I could really see the whole picture of all I've been through (and my emotional genes), even my "crazy" emotional reactions would make sense.

Trusting this may give me greater ability to not repress my feelings in the moment. Not that I'll have to stay stuck in anger, fear, frustration, etc., but that in that moment, if that's what I feel, to pretend otherwise dishonors me.

What really struck me was at the end there was acceptance and understanding. He said to her (paraphrasing), "you acted crazy, but you were only meeting my own craziness." It was ok because he understood. I noticed a deep fear that if I'm crazy it will never be understood.

I honor my own fear of my's real for me, and I don't know how much acceptance I'll be able to recover in this life, but I'm going to keep working on it...because it frees me to be honest.

I don't believe that only religious people deal with this idea of needing to be perfect (or that all religious people feel it), but I do know that for me, MY religious perspectives, for pretty much my whole life, kept the dysfunctional ideas of perfectionism alive.

Teacher/speaker, Osho, who in his own right says some crazy things :) said,

"You are being taught from the very beginning to be a perfectionist, and then naturally you go on applying your perfectionist ideas to everything, even to love.

Just the other day I came across a statement: 'A perfectionist is a person who takes great pains, and gives even greater pains to others.' And the outcome is just a miserable world!

Everybody is trying to be perfect. And the moment somebody starts trying to be perfect, he starts expecting everybody else to be perfect. He starts condemning people, he starts humiliating people.

Because you cannot be perfect, you start feeling guilty, you lose respect for yourself. And the man who has lost respect for himself has lost all the dignity of being human. Your pride has been crushed, your humanity has been destroyed by beautiful words like perfection.

Man cannot BE perfect. Yes, there is something that man can EXPERIENCE, but which is beyond the ordinary conception of man. Unless man also experiences something of the divine, he cannot know perfection.

Perfection is not something like a discipline; it is not something that you can practice. It is not something for which you have to go through rehearsals. But that is what is being taught to everybody, and the result is a world full of hypocrites, who know perfectly well that they are hollow and empty."


If Divine perfection (in any form) does exist, which I sense it does, it's not afraid of humanness, mistakes, imperfection, or anything else. It's not afraid of us "messing up" or "ruining" relationships, screwing up our jobs, hurting others or ourselves. It's not afraid of inadequacy, selfishness, darkness, ignorance, and destruction. How could it be? It understands all of these things perfectly. It can hold the dark as well as the's's whole, not dual.


INTRO: I went out with a darling man and ended up lying to him. Didn't mean to lie, at first I thought I was being honest. We'd walked into a place to hear some music...and immediately I felt disconnected from the ambience, and a longing to leave and continue our conversation which I'd been so enjoying. When I found out I needed my ID I went out to the car to get it. When I couldn't find my wallet in my purse I was kind of relieved, and mentioned to him as he stood by that I must have left my wallet by the computer earlier that day when I was paying bills online. Just as I was getting ready to zip my purse up I saw my wallet. Rather than letting him know I'd just found it, I let my story stand. I was working on a particular practice that week of honesty. I knew that yes, I'd not been honest about the wallet, but even prior, I hadn't been honest about not wanting to stay and hear the music. Why was I so afraid of sharing my opinion? If I would have at least had the courage to share my opinion, I don't think I would have minded if he'd felt different. From that place I could choose to stay and listen to music because I knew he was enjoying it, and probably enjoy it more myself, knowing that at least I'd been honest, and I knew it was what he really wanted. Rather than sitting there thinking, "I wonder if he even really wants to be here? Maybe we're both sitting here because we're too afraid to be honest with each other."

So...anyways, the next time we went out I decided I was going to fess up to both breaches of honesty. It made for me feeling super vulnerable throughout the date, and then at the end of the evening, I attempted to explain (somewhat like I just did above, but all shy and embarrassed like...just wanting to run away), and I have no idea what he thought or felt about it (he tried to be nice and understanding), but I felt like such a weirdo!! I felt crazy for having lied, then I felt crazy for deciding to tell him. Aside from whether or not he'd been able to accept my crazy in that moment, I was not even close to being able to accept it myself. He left, and the inner dialogue went something like this:

***(definition: perfect me = the real me that is whole...that can hold ALL of reality, the "good" and the "bad." Perfectionist me= the part that only accepts the good)

PERFECTIONIST ME: "I'm SO weird! He's going to think I'm weird, and he's right. Why do I feel I have to drag people into my own weirdness? It's my fault I'd lied, I should've just lived with it."

PERFECT ME: What are you feeling?

PERFECTIONIST ME: Anxious and sad

PERFECT ME: Why anxious?

PERFECTIONIST ME: I don't think he's ever going to call again, and it's because I messed it up. Why do I do stuff like that?

PERFECT ME: What do you mean you messed it up?

PERFECTIONIST ME: I'm too intense and I do intense things sometimes, and it weirds people out.

PERFECT ME: Hmmm...seems to me there are lots of people who act intense who are in relationships with someone who loves them.

As my perfectionist spoke with my perfect self (the part of me that allows for ALL of reality...the "good" and the "bad,"), my perfectionist realized just was being a perfectionist. And, if this man never called again, that was okay, whatever the reason. I felt more trust that I was doing the best I knew how in that moment, and even if I did "mess it up," I was just learning.

For me, not actively engaging in the literal, dogmatic religion (or the dogmatic perspectives) of my past, has been a helpful part of releasing the belief that I need to be perfect, or that to be fulfilled, life even needs to look a certain way. I will admit, however, that I'm coming to believe that perfectionism is in the "eye of the beholder," because I am quite able to transfer those tendancies to other areas of my life...even without the church being so involved. But, I do think it is helping to not hear the messages reinforced over and over...week after week.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sharing The Blog

This is simply...a story, one of many stories.

When I began this blog, I knew I wasn't going to be the only one to read it. A part of me kept hoping I would never feel ready to share it...and I'm not sure I'll ever really feel "ready," but again I knew when I started it was not only for myself. This blog is not a chronological piecing together of the steps that led me out of the church (writing anything felt overwhelming enough...I couldn't even imagine being able to write it all out in order). Rather, it is little snapshots of the experience as I continue to experience it. The posts blend present thoughts and feelings, with things that have happened the last few years.

I'm so grateful to everyone who has shared with me their story, and it is from those who have been courageous that I have gained courage. I think it's so much easier for me to hear others share than it is for me to share myself, and yet I know that while some will feel angst and anger at my words, others will find comfort and understanding. And since it was what I needed in my lonliest times I want to offer that back.

Part of the difficulty in sharing is a fear of misunderstanding, judgment, and being perceived as unloyal to family, friends, and those who raised and taught me so many beautiful things. While I don't believe there's any way to avoid all of this, I do want to say that I honor ALL my experiences, and I honor those who have been a part of my growth...both in easy and difficult ways. I believe we're all doing the best we know to do moment to moment.

If reading this doesn't feel helpful, feel free to not read. And whether or not you agree with my perspectives, may you be led to better understand your own view of the world, as it stands presently. May my thoughts give you the courage to ask yourself the questions that can be scary to ask.

I get that my experience could be narrated from numerous angles. It's part of what makes it so difficult to make this blog public. Knowing that the meaning I make from a thought or experience today, may be different than the meaning I make of it tomorrow. But so be I am today...writing today...about today...and how I see the world today. I don't believe that anything I say is the "TRUTH." It's just a perspective.

"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."

-Albert Einstein

(tag: This blog is about Life after religion. I grew up in the Mormon religion, and so this blog may be helpful for Disaffected or Post Mormons, Ex-Mormons, and anyone else working to rebuild life after leaving a strong religious tradition. It may also be helpful for those choosing religion or chuch activity, but who want to read about one person's experience in leaving.)