Friday, October 16, 2015

The Mormon Blues

The morning of August 2, I woke up to get my family ready for 9 am church.
We got there on time just like we mostly do. A weekly feat cause I am not a morning girl!
We were likely a distraction during Sacrament Meeting in a ward where I can count the kids that attend sacrament on my fingers and maybe three toes if it's a good day. I probably didn't hear a single word spoken, the sacrament water was likely dumped down the front of me, my skirt was quite possibly turned around and on backwards from all the commotion. 

I am the ward librarian and so headed to the library after sacrament with arms full of books and bags, snotty wipers, wiggly baby, car seat and a handful of discarded snacks from the floor. I was hustling around the library after Jane while everyone probably had to help themselves to what they needed cause I was too busy with my baby to notice them, and then... in the height of my business I realized that it was the Sunday I was supposed to meet with the Bishop and renew my temple recommend.
I had been waiting for this day.

When I realized it was the day something in me just snapped.
I was done. Hasta la taco, sayonara, over and out, goodbye. 
Done with church, done with being a Mormon, done with the lifestyle, done with it all.
For real and seriously so very done. I hate it. done.

The "Mormon" way of living wasn't easy anymore. What I had done naturally for years was not natural anymore. It had become so hard. Keeping covenants and commandments took thought now. Getting kids ready for church is just not fun.
At all.
I loathe, absolutely loathe Sundays in their entirety. Like, they make my eyes water.
They feel lonely, and boring, and exhausting, they truly depress me. I just want a 12 hour nap.
I want to teach the children the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy....but I totally have forgotten why we keep the Sabbath day holy in the first place. This day in my house is not a day of rest. It is bar none the hardest day of the week. I hate staying home, I work on Saturday to get the house all cleaned up and then by Sunday morning it's always in total disarray. Home ends up being the last place I want to be. I'm just so tired, I can barely make it to and through church and then to have to come home to a house that is impossible to keep clean and spend the next 9 hours trying to keep it together and have nice meal and entertain children and make it a "special" and "different" day. ugh.
It's slowly killing me for sure.
No, really.
It is.
A slow miserable death.
There would be no appointment with the Bishop. No temple recommend for me.

In the months leading up to this I knew in my heart I was trying- but failing in so many ways.
There was just no feeling behind my actions and efforts anymore.
My best is not good enough.
I am not good enough.
These are the words I began to tell myself. I am just so convincing!
Up until this point I had been at times a judgy type. Wondering why other families weren't towing the same line I was now forcing my self to tow.
Not fair. They seem happy and I feel so frazzled I could vomit.

Not everyone who leaves the church does so in a fit of anger or because of sin or non-belief.
Some are just overwhelmed with life.
Like, I've got 99 problems and being a Latter Day Saint isn't going to be one anymore.

Standing in the library with who knows who standing around I could feel emotion rising in me while trying to explain how I was feeling to my husband. My dear, patient, loving husband.
I was so shocked that the words that were coming out of my mouth were in fact coming out of my mouth.
I was so sad that I had let myself fall so far. So bloody far.
I didn't mean to. It just happened. I felt so dark. 

I cried for literally rest of the day. In the evening I divulged all of this and soooo much more to a listening ear while I cried into my daughter's muslin blanket for TWO hours.
Refreshing,-- but cringe worthy and humiliating to say the very leassst. Shudder.
My gratitude for this person is infinity. The poor soul.
I received a priesthood blessing, advice, counsel and much needed love and understanding and went home.
But nothing happened.
The next day nothing either.The next day nothing. The next day nothing.
Why isn't anything happening!?
When you find yourself in such a disheveled state of mind you are counting the hours. I knew what I needed to do but literally could not bring myself to do it. I knew I needed to get my temple recommend and get myself there as soon as I could. I knew I needed to pray and read my scriptures and do all those tiny things that I hadn't been doing with much gusto.. But, I could not. I truly with every fiber of my being was done. Such a terrifying experience to have and a decision I couldn't take lightly either.
The problem with taking a step in the right direction -is then you have to take another and another.
I was not up for that.
I have built my whole life around Mormonism and every little thing that comes with it because I am a believer. I want to raise my children this way. How can I explain to them that I can no longer tow the line, but they should keep on going?....
Er, maybe I don't want to raise them this way. 
Would my husband continue to be active in the church? Would he take the children? What will the children think? Do we all just need a break? Would we ever go back? What is this going to look like? Should we move? Maybe the pressure of living somewhere where everybody knows my name is wearing on me. People are going to think I'm crazy. I am. I am literally going crazy.
I wanted to pull myself together, but I could not. I tried to talk some sense into myself but there was none to be had.

This wasn't a result of "sin" or me misbehaving in some way. It was not for lack of testimony either. I examined that pretty thoroughly in the following weeks. I am hung up on nothing. 
I wanted to shake my own shoulders, " WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!"
What is the problem!?
I just don't need one more thing to fail at. I can't do this church thing right.
My list of failures grows longer everyday. Everyday.
At this point the church is the easiest failure to get rid of, right?
I just don't show up anymore. Slip out the back door, free at last!
Done and done. 

Two years ago I was in a calling that was very difficult for me. I accepted the calling knowing that it would be difficult, but that's what good Mormons do! We don't say no. Am I right? I did the calling for nearly a year until I was at my wits end and asking to be released seemed the same level of failure than staying in a calling I truly was not good at. The children in my class were so good, and so sweet and very much deserving of a teacher that had their crap together a little more.
The Sunday I was released was humiliating. The person who took my calling is someone I am very close to, and they were sitting directly in front of me. Seriously, of allll people!? My eyes nearly popped outta my head!  I felt like I was being punished. I felt hot inside, and wanted to disappear in my humiliation. Ugh. Please bless he never ever ever finds out I asked to be released! (of course in hind sight there is no one else I would have wanted to pick up my slack, he is absolutely perfect in every way for this calling and it was meant to be) Anyway, things like this led me to feel like a failure. Like my one job is to show up to church and be able to serve in some kind of capacity and I'm just not able to.
It's not that I don't want a calling. I do. But, I make a terrible calling holder right now. It's likely my own perception but it feels like people start to frown upon that and they begin to lose confidence in you. In turn I lost confidence in myself. Something must be wrong with me.

I have had people actually gasp at me for turning down or asking to be released from a calling or not saying a prayer when asked among other things. My perception had become that you must do everything asked, everything, or you will not be in good standing. The church asks a lot of it's members and as members we hold ourselves to a really high standard of living sometimes.
Who wants to live that way!? Not me.
This way of believing is wrong though. That is not what is expected. If you are Mormon and this is your belief and one you perpetuate, you should stop. Myself included. It is a myth.

Anyway, my spiritual "lamp" was empty. Nor had I been doing anything for YEARS to take care of myself. Nothing-ish. Totally lost myself in having babiesssss, and life. Sometimes life and fifth babies (in my case) come at you like a wrecking ball and frankly there isn't much of a dang thing you can do about it because you don't realize the damage that just barely getting by day after day is doing and it's too late to change anything about your situation anyway. Not that I would. But the option doesn't exist at this point so who cares anyway... what a conundrum.

Every now and the we find ourselves in the thick of it. That is surely where I am right now with 5 little children. The responsibility of it all is daunting at times. Like 96% of the time. There is no one to help me. No one to intervene and clean up this mess that has become my life. I am terrible at asking for help. Lending hands do come, but they are few and far between so I just have to keep going best I know how and it feels so yucky and impossible and I just want to disappear.
My house is a mess, 4000 square feet of mess. I'm drowning in laundry and dishes and toys and dirty floors, bathrooms and dust. I am failing as a "homemaker". I have considered going back to work simply so I can pay someone to take over. I can't keep up at this point. I am lonely and isolated cause it's hard to be around people when you feel this way. Putting on a good face is so tiring. Just hide.
I am in poor physical health and tired. It feels hard to keep everyone happy. They expect a lot. They all need and want more and more and more until the kind and nurturing mother I desperately want to be wants to give way to a mean one. I don't like her and she must stay hidden. Fake it till bedtime and try not to slip up too many times is sometimes all I can do.
Managing so many people's lives is one hell of an undertaking. Period.
Evidently absence of self care practices lead to having biggish problem one day. Oops.

It's been a few months now. A few long months.  I would love to be able to say that I've got this all figured out. I don't. The only decision that I have made is that I will stay "active" in the church and not become "less active". I have made a commitment to myself to do that.

When I was finally ready- the counsel I'd received on that night I cried till my face fell off started to seep in and I knew what I needed to do and I had the courage and strength to do it.
I did go see my stake president and get my temple recommend- which was the most amazing experience and I highly recommend it! I have been to the temple every week since and little by little I feel fortitude building inside me. I am feeling more capable and my capacity to handle life is growing. Most days I feel like I have made the right decision.
I have made covenants that I wish to keep.
I believe there is absolute refuge in the gospel if we allow it.
I have hope things are going to get easier. I have hope I will be able to endure until that day comes. I believe someday I will be infinitely grateful I did not throw in the towel. That day is not today and probably not tomorrow.
But it is coming. I can see it, clear out there on the horizon.

I think experiences like this become blessings as they pass. The lessons learned invaluable.
We descend into what feels (but surely isn't) like depths the of hell and then ever so s l o w l y arise to a new level.
I am re-learning a lot about the Atonement. I am re-learning that the Lord doesn't expect perfection. He knows there are things we aren't good at or we struggle with. I think He is infinitely more accepting of us than we ourselves could ever hope to be. I am learning that a lot of my perceptions are wrong. Perception isn't always reality. I am having to re-teach myself. It's a lot of work. I thought everything would fall back into place by now, and now I am realizing that it will take more time than I thought since it is so intermingled with other aspects of my life I am working on and through.

Life is full of times and seasons. I am in the season where keeping my children safe, fed, and sometimes bathed and clothed is about all I can handle.
I know it doesn't mean diddly squat to anyone but me and that is okay.
I am learning patience, lots of patience. Patience for the good things to come.
I am learning many lessons in perspective.

Mostly, I am learning to have a grateful heart.
Every messy day is a gift. A gift I love and am truly grateful for. Truly.

If there is one thing and one thing only I can teach my own children- it is this.
You are good enough.
Just the way you are.
You don't have to bend until you break. In all your capacities you are enough so long as you are giving the best effort you know how. Your best effort most likely doesn't look like someone else's best effort. You are uniquely you and the Lord loves you just the way you are.
He knows you and your strengths and your weaknesses and the things that make you, you.
He does care if you have a kind and a loving heart, and if you love and serve him in the ways that feel comfortable to you. He does care if you keep the covenants that you make with Him. He is the only one that truly knows your heart and your intent and if you are trying or not.
You must work hard, be kind and serve others.
But, do not forget to be kind and serve yourself. You are important too.
Please never let anyone lead you to believe otherwise. Ever ever.

Simon Dewey

The End


Gina said...

Oh Jamie! You are singing my song. I've struggled with so many of the same feelings. I never wanted to be inactive but I struggle with accepting counsel. Things like family home evening and family prayer seem to bring more contention then peace or joy. At church I fight to stay seated instead of grabbing at least one noisy kid and fleeing to the hall. And feeling lost in a life of five really feels like drowning sometimes. So much noise, mess, toys, laundry, whining, just so much! I hear ya!
I few things I'm grateful for: I live in a very low pressure place. I don't feel too much pressure to out on the super stylish Mormon suburban mom show. I feel genuinely loved and accepted by my neighbors.
Two, my kids are so good despite my many shortcomings. I'm overly critical of them most of time but they are really amazing. I'm blessed.
Three, my husband. He knows all my weakness and struggles and he make a huge effort to keep me sane. It's probably an exhausting feat.
You are not alone. Being a mom is hard. Be kind to yourself. Do the most important things, and forgive yourself and forget the rest for now.

jameemalee said...

Thank you for your thoughts! I am grateful you told me what you're grateful for. I realized I too am grateful for those same things. I love where I live. I live by people who truly love and care for me and my family. Also there is no mom show here, haha. I love that. My kids and husband are also wonderful and I probably don't give them near enough credit. They are so patient with me. Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts and for your encouragement, I really appreciate it. Hope you and your family are well <3

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