My Mormon Story, continued…the following months

*This post contains information better suited for adult readers that don’t mind my desiring to be wholly honest, even to the point people may lose some respect for me.

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I had just started a new job, make that two new jobs, then I went ahead and accepted a 3rd new job, so three jobs, and I am using all this work as a distraction from the reality that my life has just changed, very permanently, in a way I really don’t like and didn’t want, now that my husband had left the LDS church. And I was experiencing a number of emotions very intensely. I was heart broken to the point it was almost like I was mourning a death of a close family member because of everything I had lost in our relationship and because I had lost the image I had of the church as this pure, true institution I could base my life around. I was angry at God because 1) I felt like Ricardo gave him the chance to change his mind about leaving the LDS church and he didn’t, 2) because I had broken up with my boyfriend 4 years before based mostly on the fact that he wasn’t LDS, and now my husband wasn’t LDS–a bit ironic, no?, 3) My life seemed like it was on this path to greater church involvement and raising a family in the church, and I felt like God had basically told me this was the path for me through multiple priesthood blessings, including my and Ricardo’s patriarchal blessings, and then my husband leaves the church. It just didn’t make any sense. and 4) I was praying and hearing nothing in response. So I stopped praying, and I just stayed angry.  I was angry at Ricardo because he had pretty much ruined my life, a fact which I reminded him of regularly (which hurt him badly). And I was confused and I was losing myself completely, and not at all in a good way. My entire foundation was gone and I didn’t know if it was going to come back. I didn’t know who I was. Before, being Mormon was one of the most important parts of my identity. I was a Mormon. I did things the way a Mormon does things, and I did those things happily. But all the sudden, I didn’t know who I was, or how to act, or what to do and not do anymore.

As a TBM (True Believing Mormon) I had tried very very hard to live a pure life, by living the commandments. I passed on sex, alcohol, swearing, and immodest clothes. And, honestly, it was always worth it to pass on those things because I really, truly believed the church was true and living a pure life was, therefore, important. The only one of those things that was ever even difficult was the temptation to have sex before marriage. And this had only been a serious temptation with the boyfriend I have mentioned before. The more serious our relationship became, the more of a temptation that was.  I experienced a tremendous amount of guilt throughout our entire relationship due to the fact that I wanted very much to save sex, and also things like making out, for marriage, but during our relationship, it was very tempting to make out, and eventually it was very tempting to have sex (which we never did). Thus, guilt was pretty much a constant in the relationship (which probably drove this guy crazy since I don’t know if this person even has ever experienced guilt and he was dating someone who seemed to be plagued by it). (This scenario also played out with Ricardo, though, it was not as difficult since we only dated for 5 months).

At this point it is September 2011 and it hasn’t even been a month since Ricardo left the church. By this point, I didn’t know who I was or what I stood for, and I was seriously curious about everything I had never been curious about before. I thought a lot about all the things I had grown up thinking were bad–pornography, masturbation, alcohol, sex outside of marriage, low-cut shirts, coffee, etc.–that most other people pretty much just found normal. I was also experiencing a lot of insecurity about whether or not my husband would still be able to love me, as a Mormon on top of pressure from Ricardo to try new things, like alcohol and dressing less modestly. So, on my birthday, I surrendered to all this. I took off my garments, wore a low-cut shirt and a sexy bra, and we went out to eat. I felt horribly uncomfortable and insecure, albeit sexy, as I sat there feeling like a stranger to myself, all in the attempt to somehow be someone my husband would love and satisfy my curiosity. We had a small argument over something I no longer recall as we sat at dinner, then we chatted about something less controversial. I told Ricardo he could order alcohol if he wants. He did. He asked if I wanted to try some. I guess I sort of did, so I tried some red wine. BTW, it tasted like rotten fruit, not at all the sweet taste I was hoping for (I think I’ll stick to chocolate thanks). We got home and Ricardo broke open the bottle of wine he had there and we drank some more. By the end of the night I was pretty much sick about everything that happened. Ricardo felt like a complete stranger to me and I felt like I was losing it. Well, long story short, it had been way too short a time since Ricardo had left the church and I wasn’t ready for the situation I had gotten myself into. My birthday was ruined! And to this day, I still cannot kiss Ricardo after he has had alcohol because it brings back bad memories of that day.

So, the alcohol thing didn’t go well for me.

Some other things continued to incite my curiosity though. I had discovered a great distraction from life–flirting. Now, I have always enjoyed flirting, but after we got married I kept the flirting to our relationship only. But given that I was furious at my husband, mad at God, and in need of some serious distraction, it seemed like a good solution at the time–or at least an enjoyable one. Now, my definition of flirting is pretty mild, so, for the most part, I wasn’t doing anything crazy, pretty much just joking around with multiple guys, just silly stuff, nothing serious. And I never really worried about it a whole lot since very little had ever come of my flirting in my single days–it really was just intended to be a distraction.

About October 2011 one of the guys I was flirting with started reciprocating the attention. At first it was pretty innocent, but the jokes got more intense pretty fast. He reminded me of the guys I had grown up with. And to be honest, he was not really the kind of person I would ever have been interested in having a real relationship with, so it wasn’t like I was looking to start a new long-term relationship. It’s just that it was the perfect storm. I had almost no control over what was happening with Ricardo. I was extremely insecure about myself and my marriage. It was an exceptional distraction from emotional pain. I was curious about what sex with someone else would be like since I had never done that, and I pretty much had lost my moral compass, so I was kind of open to the idea. And this guy was bragging about what he had going on in that particular area so that only made me more curious. Well, sometime the end of November or maybe the beginning of December I came clean to Ricardo about the escalating situation with this guy–I have never been the kind of person to hide something like that–and he shocked me with how calmly he handled the situation. I fully expected him to get mad, honestly I kind of wanted him to get mad because there were a few other feelings I was dealing with too. Part of me wanted him to understand the betrayal I felt, and he just didn’t seem to get it. And so part of my flirting with this guy was that I wanted him to understand how betrayed by him I felt. Also, I felt like I didn’t deserve what was happening to me since I had lived my life in such a way that I thought I was going to have a different outcome, so I felt like if I did something bad maybe I would deserve the life I had gotten. I’m not saying the logic all makes sense here, but I was kind of going crazy, so it was what it was. Anyway, Ricardo has always been firm in telling me that cheating is one thing he just won’t ever put up with, so I fully expected him to be angry. But he was very understanding, didn’t yell, and just told me I needed to stop. By this point Ricardo had agreed to let me raise the kids in the LDS church if that’s what I wanted, and I started feeling some semblance of control over my life again, and that combined with Ricardo’s understanding but resolved advice that I needed to stop flirting  was enough. I stopped.

Well, by January Ricardo was reading books by Bart Ehrman and Christopher Hitchins. And by sometime in February or March he had gone from being Catholic to being Agnostic. He no longer really believed in God, and he certainly didn’t believe in Christ or the Bible any longer. So with this I lost the rest of my religious life with Ricardo and any sense of the sacred that I had experienced with him before. This was difficult, though less so than when he originally left Mormonism, since I had half expected it to happen eventually (once people are willing to question their faith to that point, why stop?). It was yet another change that again left me feeling insecure in our relationship. And about this time Ricardo told me that he just couldn’t handle the thought of me raising our kids in the church. The few things he had liked about the church, basically that it was a more or less Christian church that taught Christian values…well, when he became agnostic (for again, lots of really good reasons that I will talk about more later), he saw a lot of problems with Christianity and those Christian values, and he basically lost whatever small amount of respect he had left for the LDS church. So he no longer wanted our kids raised LDS. And THAT was what was really difficult on me. See, this whole time I kept telling Ricardo that it just wasn’t fair that he had promised me this life, and not only was he no longer going to be the husband he had promised, but he also no longer wanted me to be able to raise the kids the way he had agreed to raise the kids.

In December and January I had started feeling better about our relationship, but then when Ricardo decided he didn’t want me to raise the kids in the church that better feeling kind of went away. Again I felt I had no control over what was happening to me and I became very angry at Ricardo. By about March I was trying to find an adequate distraction from the frustration and anguish I was feeling and I made the serious mistake of getting myself back into the same situation. This time the flirting escalated to something more serious pretty quickly. At one point I remember him saying, “should we just do this?” and I had enough sense left in me to say no. And if I would have said yes, I know we would have . And another time he had the sense to stop when things could have gone further (now a lot of things almost happened, but very little actually happened, if that is in any way better). In the end, we stopped seeing each other entirely, but it scares me to know how close I came to having an affair. And what really scares me is knowing I probably would have lost Ricardo if I had. DSCF0004That would have been the biggest tragedy of the whole situation. I almost made the worst mistake I could have possibly made. I almost threw away my marriage. And this whole time I told Ricardo what was going on, and he never once raised his voice to me. I would have been unbelievably furious with him if the tables had been turned. But he never…even…yelled. Not once. Though I know I hurt him more than he has said, or probably will say. I married a good man. And, at least for a time, I was a very bad wife. I tried to help you understand my mindset at the time, but nothing really justifies what I did, or nearly did.

If some of you lose some respect for me after reading this, I get it. I want to be honest. I have always been honest. And this is the first time in my life I feel like have to hide things I’ve done, and I just don’t want to anymore.

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2 Responses to My Mormon Story, continued…the following months

  1. Eva Zaffuto-Jaune says:

    My dear Alicia,
    You know I can’t possibly understand what you are going through; this is a very difficult and unexpected situation for you and I must say I admire you for handling it the way you do, and speak with such an open heart (this blog is probably good therapy!).
    When I met Michael, I asked him right away whether he was an atheist, for I can ‘t imagine raising children with someone who disagrees with me on such an important matter, because I knew I wouldn’t have been able to handle a believer-non believer marriage, as I didn’t want my kids’ heads to be filled with ideas I didn’t believe in. But then, I met two incredible people, they are my friends, I love them, she’s an atheist, he is a muslim, they’ve been together for 8 years, lived together for 7 years and they got married last year. They are very happy. I have some concerns about how they handle their spiritual difference, it turns out they are doing great! she eats pork, and she drinks alcohol and he’s fine with it. In France, religious marriage is not considered “legal”, the law only recognizes republican marriage in town halls. So most people have two ceremonies, the one in the town hall, and the one in their church, temple, synagogue, mosque… we had a secular ceremony we wrote ourselves and which was performed by a close friend in a garden, it allowed us to choose the “terms” of our marriage, the values we believed in, the words we wanted to say to each other, it was our ceremony, it was godless, it was perfect. When my friends got married, they only went to the town hall, a few days later, an imam gave my friend a blessing so his marriage would be recognized by his community, so he could be religiously married, even though his wife wasn’t a muslim, it was not the traditional religious marriage he probably thought he would have growing up, she did not imagine while growing up that she would have to deal with religious interferences in her daily life. They made sacrifices, they committed, they adjusted, because they love each other and that is what matters most.
    You, Ricardo and Andrew love each other, you are not the family you imagine you would have growing up, but it’s YOUR family, you will have to build a new kind of family, with a fair amount of mormonism, and a fair amount of agnosticism. It’s going to be difficult, it requires sacrifices and adjustment. But you get to build something new, something different, something that is yours, just the three of you, and after all the hard work and commitment, you will find balance.

  2. Pingback: Sexuality as an American Mormon | MyModernMormonism

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