*Disclaimer: This post contains references to some information which has caused me to seriously question the LDS church. If you are not an adult, consider talking to an adult about whether or not you should read this. I want to share the things I think about and feel, but I also fear bringing others to the place of anguish and confusion I have been in for almost 2 years now. Read as much or little of this as you want to given this disclaimer.
I have been thinking about how I want to proceed. Eventually I do want to talk about specific things I am confused about. But right now what I really want to do is continue with the story I started telling with my first posts. My last post I talked about where my husband is now, which is something I wanted to get out there, but I want to go back now to September 2011.
My husband had just told me at the end of August that he was leaving the Mormon church for good. This was shocking, sudden, and terrifying to me. I felt like my worst nightmare was coming true. In fact, that was one of the worst nightmares I had had about my husband. The nightmare went that we were in Mexico visiting my husband’s family. They were all sitting around drinking alcohol and then my husband started drinking with them. I still remember it because of how traumatizing the dream was. I remember thinking, in my dream, “no, don’t drink Ricardo. If you drink, you can’t have a temple recommend.” And that really was a huge fear for me. Prior to my husband leaving the church, I had the utmost confidence that Ricardo would always be the good priesthood holder I had so long desired and finally found. But part of me feared who Ricardo had been before. I knew he drank alcohol before he joined the church. I knew he had had other sexual relationships before (though few enough that he was considered practically celibate for his culture). But still, these things, and a few other more minor things, bothered me whenever I thought about them, so I tried hard not to think about them…and so these fears would turn into actual nightmares–nightmares which I assumed would never come true.
Well, when Ricardo left the church my nightmares started coming true, and I wondered just how many of the things I feared most were going to start happening. First, he took of his garments. I sat in our extra bedroom and sobbed as I boxed them up and put them in the closet. He turned his temple recommend into our bishop. Then, he started drinking tea–not quite as devastating, but still very difficult. And he started swearing from time to time. And instead of an Ensign in our bathroom there was Fawn Brodies’ No Man Knows My History. And every day as I got ready for work I got to hear my husband laughing his head off to the Book for Mormon Musical, which makes fun of Mormonism. And what happened when I came home singing hymns and Primary songs? Well, he told me how much he hated everything about hymns and Primary songs and about how corrupt the messages were they contained and about how the church basically starts brainwashing kids at such a young age, etc. Well, needless to say, the only time I sing hymns or primary songs now is at church or when he isn’t around.
And then the realities started setting in. I was never going to see my husband in garments again. We were never going to the temple together again. I was going to sit alone at church, without a husband, forever. I wasn’t going to have the Mormon family I wanted. We were never going to have family home evening, or scripture study, or family prayers (though we did pray together a couple of times before Ricardo became agnostic), or watch conference together, or go see church history sites together, or talk about the gospel as a family, or sing hymns together. I was never going to hear his testimony again, hear him tell our kids the church was true, watch him teach Sunday School. Instead I would hear him tell the kids the church was a lie and hear him testify that he was absolutely certain it was false. I was never going to get to see him get ready for church again. I was never going to get a priesthood blessing from him again…which was a very difficult thing to swallow. I was never going to see him give our children a name and a blessing, which was something I had been daydreaming about and looking forward to for some time. I wasn’t going to have the priesthood in my home at all, in fact. And the list goes on and on and on; there are hundreds and hundreds of things I had looked forward to and counted on that I suddenly had to come to terms with losing. And tears are streaming down my face right now as I recall how it felt as I contemplated all this.
During this time, I would stare at the picture of Ricardo and I outside the temple on our wedding day for hours and just sob. What did our marriage mean now? How were we going to raise a family? Who was I married to? Honestly, sometimes it felt like I didn’t know my husband. Especially since I didn’t know what was going to change and what would stay the same.
One of the things I had felt the most secure in, even during the time my husband was leaving, was that Ricardo would never drink alcohol. Even though I mentioned that I had nightmares about this, I actually thought this would never happen. The reason for this is that while we were dating Ricardo had told me that he made the decision to never drink again before he ever heard about the Mormon church. So, in my mind, as my husband began changing dramatically, I depended on the fact that that one thing wouldn’t change. And the day he told me he wanted to drink alcohol it just seemed like I didn’t know the man I was married to. It felt like every promise he had ever made me basically meant nothing since he seemed to be breaking them all. Was he going to cheat on me next? Start looking at porn? Turn into an alcoholic? I really had no idea what was going to happen, and I felt very insecure to say the least.
My world was upside down. And my changing husband and marriage was only half the story. The other half the story was the battle going on inside of me–the battle that is still going on inside of me, the crisis of faith, as some would call it. You see, I read a lot of the very things that made Ricardo decide to leave the church, and while I won’t get into too many specifics at the moment, I will say that I was beyond just confused. At first I thought there must be some easy answers to some of these questions, surely the apostles had clarified a lot of these things. But there just didn’t seem to be much out there. And the answers the apostles did give left more questions than answers. I didn’t want to stop believing, but I was facing some pretty daunting information. I had known Joseph Smith had multiple wives, but he also married other people’s wives (polyandry) and, it seems to me, manipulated young women into marrying him using fear tactics and promises of salvation for their families. There are actually multiple accounts of the first vision that differ in significant ways, leaving one to wonder things like–who exactly was it Joseph saw? The Book of Mormon appears to contain a significant amount of blatantly plagiarized material. Some of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon describe their experience as more spiritual, rather than physical. And the temple ceremony used to contain penalties which basically had you symbolically act out your gory death should you reveal what happened in the temple. These are sadly, only a few of the things that have troubled me these last years, but these are some of the things that have troubled me most. These and just the sheer amount of information out there that goes against what I was taught my entire life.
Some of what I found out, I think if I had just been told that initially it wouldn’t have bothered me so much. But it does bother me that the church seems to make up a more faith promoting story, rather than just telling it the way it happened. For example, witnesses to the translation of the BOM say Joseph translated the book mostly using a seer stone or peep stone, which he found treasure hunting. To be honest, I really could care less if Joseph translated the BOM standing on his head while eating tomato soup–it still requires the same amount of faith to believe that he translate it. It just troubles me that I was coloring pictures of a urim and thummim in primary and being told that Joseph used that to translate the BOM. Why the cover up story? Why not just tell us what actually happened. My guess is that people would swallow a seer stone story just fine. And I suppose this was correctly portrayed, once in the ensign and once in a picture the church published, but why not portray it correctly the rest of the time? And there are other things that I found out that, in and of themselves, were not all that disturbing. It was just the amount of information that I didn’t know, or had been seriously misrepresented that bothered me so much. I mean, especially after going through 4 years of seminary, 4 years of religion classes at BYU, and a lifetime of 3+ hours of church a week.}
But there is quite a selection of material that bothers me on a deeper level. I still wish I had known most of it before. I still wish I could know what I know now and believe the way I used to. Maybe some day I will. Maybe someday I will stop believing. But I still wish I had known. It just makes the church seem less true that it has to cover up its history.
Anyway, that’s enough detail for now. Just suffice it to say, that this material I read was comprehensive enough and disturbing enough that it left me seriously questioning EVERYTHING. I didn’t know what my marriage meant anymore. I didn’t know who I was. If everything I had built my life around was a lie, then what WAS real? Confused is an extreme over simplification. Basically, I was having a mid-life crisis at 24.
And right during this time I had another miscarriage (my second miscarriage that year), we moved, my dogs had crazy, horrible diarrhea for weeks, and I started 2 new jobs. I remember the night before I was supposed to start work telling Ricardo that I was going to have to quit my jobs because I just couldn’t function. He gently reminded me that we needed my income and he added that he thought it would be a good thing for me to have some structure while I got through this. Well, the next day as I drove to work, I realized that in order to make it through the day and get done what I needed to get done, I had to do something different than what I did about 4 years before that when my boyfriend and I broke up. I knew I couldn’t survive 12 hour days of work if I was depressed like that. So I fully committed myself to throwing myself into my job 100% and distracting myself as much as I had to in order to do what I had to do. And it worked. I became very proficient at the art of distracting myself. And work became a much happier place to me than home was, in fact, for a while, I dreaded going home because at home I had to face reality–and it seemed pretty dismal at that point (plus we were fighting pretty much every day for several months). So each morning, I would cry through my whole morning routine, and then, as I drove to work, I would pull myself together and distract myself with my responsibilities. And I did this well enough that I doubt anyone could tell I was struggling a tremendous amount on the inside.