Thursday, March 29, 2018

Mormon church history (why we should know)

The reason why it matters to me to post about the bad things in my own community are 1.  To atone for the judgment I heaped upon the catholic church when their scandal erupted, including judging those members who still attended even if they were not part of the controversy.  2.  To (in a round about way) encourage us to learn and face our history more so that we can stop being doomed to repeat it.  During my darkest days of full and literal belief in my religion but also deadly feelings from the PTSD my friend encouraged me to read some history books she'd read lately.  I resented her for pushing her newfound history obsession on me in my time of weary weakness, but eventually let her talk me into reading to discuss the same books she'd been in.  It was amazingly helpful to read and digest the books along with youtube videos and podcasts about the same topics and really digest it together.  I am thankful she forced me into it, because I needed to know.  And I'm grateful I had a friend along the way.

I needed to know that Joseph Smith coerced young girls into secretly living as his wives while he led the church and towns they lived in as the prophet.  I needed to know that many of the married men he sent on missions far away were sent off so their wives would be available for the same secret practice.  All with him, and all as he was seen as the most amazing man next to Jesus by his loyal church members.  Oh man it was painful to learn all of that stuff after 30 something years of church teachings and hymns about how great he was and how exalted he treated his wife Emma, "the elect lady."

I foraged into the deep first person accounts and journals of the girls and women affected by this practice.  And their words sunk into my heart, but made the "normal" everyday things we are taught in church painful to listen to.  Church is painful when people are weeping and testifying of things that the church now admits are not the actual history, but someone's heart and brain convinced them to believe at a young age.

I needed to know this real and raw history to make sense of how my leaders- 3 bishops to be exact- could lead me into shame and submission and spiritual shunning for the months that I was disfellowshipped.  I literally didn't even realize until my 30s that the fact that I had told the bishop I had said no to the thing forced upon me made it sexual assault.

 I was pushed down on my back, I was held down.  I said no 3 times, and I felt immense shame that the private parts I was protecting for marriage had been so quickly seen and vandalized by someone I had no physical means to even attempt to fight back with.  He had driven me in my mom's car to his house in the middle of a church stake dance to do this, because my family trusted him enough to hand him their keys. It was so mind blowing to think I could even explain what happened to someone else.  I never bothered to try.

What I won't ever forget is the winter velvet prairie style dress I had sewn especially for that dance hitting the dark brown carpet of his living room floor.  I also won't forget the time he pinned me down again in my own home to whisper "I am in charge of this," a couple years later.  Because embarrassingly enough I was still dating him.

And that meant that those men spiritually punished me for being a sexual assault victim.  And that my brain and my desire to be a great mormon kept that from bothering me for a good 20 years until my body rebelled and collapsed into health problems and panic attacks and severe depression.  In the midst of that, learning the REAL history of my church's founder and the women he brought into his life gave me perspective when trying to heal myself.  I attempted to counsel with a current bishop about how this had affected me, and his knee jerk response was to suggest that I could be having panic attacks because I hadn't "fully repented" when I had my almost year long disfellowhipment as an 18/19 year old.  Knowing the egregious sins that our founder Joseph committed, my fiery heart immediately knew how wrong he was.  And my sweet, fiery husband immediately spoke to that bishop for an hour instructing him on where he had gone wrong with that response.  Could a woman have done that?  Would he have listened to a woman?  That is an (obvious) point that ties to my other activism feelings, but nevertheless, I am glad I was armed with knowledge of the weakness at all levels, and the wrongness of those who tried to pit my love from God against me.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Mormon Clergy Abuse

It's hard to be a survivor here.

If you are found out, they threaten you with repentance.  They say it is love but make no mistake the man at the other side of the table has a sneer in his lips at the vocalizing of your sexual experiences.  The sneer extends to your comments about saying No and his replies about being humble.

20 years later you get your life saved from ending it all, and the Dr proclaims your OCD and PTSD.  Eventually you know the root as the panic attacks are upended by medication in every place but church.

Then you talk to your current bishop for understanding when leaving during panic attacks and he asks if you REALLY repented.  After you used the word rape.  And you feel the life ending spiral sink you down to your toes in hopelessness.

And you find a group of friends on the internet.  They share their sorrows.  And you trust.  And you share yours.  And three of the male friends start private messaging their sympathy.  And you feel heard.  And then they start mentioning their underwear.  And you are thankful to finally have the insight when you are being groomed.  You are learning!
It's hard to be a survivor here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

at 18

so now i am free writing
but thinking about publishing
I swore to write in my journal
so that it would be saved for
posterity but I type better than i
write cursive
the things i keep thinking about today
are the young boys of 19 sent
home from the mtc like the ones
in my hometown who had
sex with their girlfriend
and the pressure of the confession
culture and then they find out
30 years later the leader was grooming
girls, younger much younger
when are we going to learn
not to put people on pedastals
when are men gonna stop
the old boys club
when is feminism going
to save us mormon girls
i am 18 I will always be 18
until we get this solved

Monday, March 19, 2018

Lupus and Me

Some of my best thinking these days is done while sweating around the gym floor to a latin beat (aka zumba class).  Today I was semi-compiling my thoughts as I danced around, about the last year and my health.

About 2 weeks ago I had some blood coming out of my ear, not much, but it is what set the whole cascade of memories concerning my Lupus since moving to Wyoming.  That move is a landmark in the timeline of the disease because I stopped all of my medications right before that move.  I was on a dangerous injectable dose of a chemotherapy drug that ironically has the side affect of causing tumors or cancer.  I was on several other drugs with life changing side effects and I was feeling an inner drum beat that I was tunneling toward death either way.

Basically moving here I chose to claim my life.  Whatever life is left I wanted to live it.  Everyone has their reasons for taking the drugs they are supposed to or not, and this was my time.  I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to dispose of my injection needles and my dangerous prescriptions.  The pills were pretty straightforward but finding a place in this small town to accept used needles was a nightmare.    So many phone calls, pointless drives, and shocked looking clerks...

So.  I had my reset.  I was medication free for a few months.  And actually I felt better than I had since the diagnosis.  I was walking daily down a paved path by my apartment and felt like I was reclaiming my body.  But slow, slow, slowly my health started to struggle and by 9 months here I had developed some kind of infection.  I can't remember where and when the pain started but it felt like strep in my throat.  After enough days of fighting that the ear pain began and so I began going to the doctor.  This was an upsetting time because I was started with a normal antibiotic, got worse and ended up on a new antibiotic.  I was panicky by the third time going in because ear pain as an adult is the literal worst.  Or one of the worst?  And it didn't help that when discussing the second antibiotic and steroid the doctor seemed to indicate she wouldn't do much more to treat.  I felt like she was dooming me to death by earache.

The third attempt at medical help ended with a steroid prescription, an asthma prescription and a plan for increasingly aggressive allergy treatment.  The good news is that appeased the pain.  The bad news is I was so dang anxious that this wasn't the end of it.  It was a weird couple  of months.  It really changed my social behavior, I retreated within myself, I closed my social media accounts, and just kind of retreated to my cave.  It reminded me of how I feel in labor, like in a world unto myself.  It is a dark and interesting memory, kind of shut away, but brought into the forefront by my draining ear even a year later.

I'm still lupus treatment free.  I dedicate more time and resources to preventive health than I ever have in my life.  I follow pretty much any Dr. Rhonda Patrick advice on slowing aging.  I think the thing that strikes me about that health scare is that I didn't feel influenced to go back into aggressive lupus treating again.  I don't know if the escalation of the infections was because of lupus but I still feel more comfortable with my preventative natural way of health for now.  I am thankful to be outside, around my kids and out of bed.  My last year in Omaha and the last year my baby was home with me before school I have very foggy memories and I know I was mostly in bed managing medication effects.  I'm glad I am living here.