It's been two years since my episode of Mormon Stories. A lot has changed in my life since then, and I've definitely had to grow a thicker skin. I thought you may be interested in what is happening with me since those 4 hours of interview hit the air.The biggest change was with my Father. If you read any of my most recent posts, you know he developed a rare form of cancer and died in March of 2016. When I heard he was sick I flew out to Utah to be with him. I was with him 24/7 until he passed away. He hadn't spoken to me since the interview, but funnily enough, knowing you are about to die changes people. He told me I hurt a lot of people with my interview, and perhaps I did. It was certainly never my intention, nor has hurting people ever been. He cried, something I had never seen him do, and begged me to come back to the church. I was stuck. How do I be true to myself and yet let him die in peace? I promised him I would figure my life out. I'm still trying.
Not long after he died I separated from my husband. I'm sure the internet trolls are full of "I knew its" right about now. Hate to break it to you, but everyone could see that one coming. He was abusive and together we were not cohesive. Perhaps it was because I cheated on him, but the marriage had been dead long before that. Either way it was for the best.
With divorce comes the long battle of child custody. I fought for them until I ran out of money, which didn't take all that long because lawyers cost around $350 an hour in these parts. And, if I am being honest, I knew that all I had was a few dusty college degrees and little work experience, other than being a stay at home mom for 10 years. Unfortunately no one seems to think that is worth anything when looking to hire you. I conceded to my ex, and we share custody 60/40 and I pay him child support. I see my kids as often as I can and, with no guilt, enjoy the time I don't.
I got a job as a detention officer for a local sheriff's department, and while I was there I met my current boyfriend. I've discovered how off kilter my marriage truly was, and how a woman should be treated. He helps me see things with a fresh perspective, and I love him for it. The best part is he doesn't really understand all the workings of Mormon culture, so he can't get caught up in it.
I never did fully resign. I don't know what happened to my paperwork, and I stopped caring. That is what I like the most about having left the church. I truly left it. I still know a bit about what is going on within the church, but for the most part, I don't care. I'm free. It doesn't matter to me if I have a paper stating my name isn't on record anymore. What matters to me is that I'm happy, and that is all I ever wanted, simple as that may seem.
Because I'm not perfect, I want to say a few words to the harsh critics, those who have never met me, but who felt the need to say hurtful remarks on the internet. I've never understood why someone would feel the need to go and say hateful things anonymously. Say it to my face, and let me explain to you the true story behind your misguided perceptions.
For the most part, I don't care if people label me as having "mental issues." It is a stupid label, and one that only harms people. We ALL have mental issues at some point in time. If I seemed unstable, I'd ask you to step inside my life for a moment. I had a lot going on, and I wasn't afraid to show it. I'm HUMAN. I struggle. Life can be hard. Abraham Lincoln once said, "He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help." I love that quote! Those of us who want to criticize better be ready to step out from behind our keyboards and help. I hate knowing that suicide is on the rise, often because of internet bullies feeling the need to hurt someone senselessly. Kindness matters. To me, if you have never struggled with anxiety or depression, your opinion on someone who does holds little value. What you do with that opinion does.
It was pointed out that I'm no one special, just someone related to a Mormon Apostle. I don't refute that. I'm pretty average. But I also want other average people like me to know it is okay to be vulnerable. You don't need to be a scholar or someone "significant" in the church for your story to matter. People may put you down, and say your story isn't important, but they are wrong. It is the average person that holds any society together. You have more influence than you know.
I was told I am not a good "exmo". I had to laugh because I don't buy into that at all. I am who I am. I never wanted to be the face of a movement, just to be left alone. I don't need to attack the church, but I can talk about things and try to make them better from whatever situation I'm in. This is what I hope others like me can do. Don't get caught up in "exmormon" culture. It is just another stress you don't need. Just be happy. Have courage to stand up when things are wrong, and above all, treat others with kindness and respect, no matter who they are.
My grandpa and I still have the same relationship we always did. Mostly one that is a complex mixture of love and misunderstanding. I still think he believes 100% in what he does. I love him. I defend him. He's a great guy, albeit imperfect. I just want him to be happy.
I stand by everything I said in my interview. I know a lot more about the history of the Mormon church, as well as the inner workings, but it doesn't change my statements. Is the Mormon church true? I don't know. Is any religion? I don't know. I'm open to all possibilities. I'm just not going to waste one more minute of my life being unhappy over them. I wish the same for you. Take care and let your story be heard, YOU matter!