I haven’t been around much, given some big family events (one down, one to go), but I haven’t disappeared. Last night I had a slightly surreal experience on Facebook.
A few months ago, a woman sent me a friend request because she had read some of my exmo rantings. We hadn’t really talked much, other than we tended to agree with what the other was saying.
Last night I noticed she had added her maiden name to her profile, and I realized I knew her. She was in one of the three LDS wards that once met in our chapel in Southern California (now there’s only one). We attended seminary together, and I know I danced with her on several occasions at church dances. She hadn’t recognized me now that I’m old and graying.
Now we’re both older but wiser and out of the LDS church. Her siblings are all out of the church, the youngest an RM who came out a couple of years after his mission and now runs a youth ministry with his partner. Of the four surviving siblings in my family, three of us are out of the church.
It was interesting to talk about our differing experiences and perspectives from growing up Mormon. She felt excluded at church (there were some nasty kids in our stake) and never really believed as a teenager. She always struck me as quiet but pretty self-assured. Then she went off to BYU and married an RM. Of course, he left after a car accident gave her a traumatic brain injury, but he wanted to get back together when she recovered. Lovely.
With me, church was the safe place. At school I was bullied and made fun of (being short, skinny, middle class, and Mormon at a rich, predominantly Jewish high school), but at church I had friends, and I felt like I belonged. I think that’s partly why I was so faithful and diligent and really became the poster child for obedient Mormon boys.
For her it was a relief to figure out the church, whereas it was devastating to me. But looking back on it, neither of us regrets our decisions.
I know, there’s no real point to this, but it was a real pleasure to talk to someone who knew me way back when I was everything the church wanted me to be. Now I’m what I want to be, and so is she. That’s something to be happy about.