It has been quite some time since my last substantial post here on this blog. I’ve been rather busy lately (any extra time has been devoted to my studies for school, with an occasional free moment dedicated to posting on my new blog), and I just simply haven’t had the energy to make the time to post. But as Christmas is upon us, and as I’ve been feeling extremely blessed and loved these last several months, I’d like to just take a few minutes and share my gratitude with all who come here to read. (And just so you know, you should consider this my Christmas card/letter to you this year.)

School was difficult this semester. 15 credits, including a 10-hour-per-week internship, on top of my normal parenting and household duties, kept me pretty much perpetually running behind while feeling absolutely exhausted for the last several months. But I made it through. With the help of my husband, the (though sometimes unhappy) cooperation of my children, and the help of loving, involved, and concerned family of many flavors (those to whom I’m related and those who I claim as family despite that actual physical connection), I’ve made it through yet another semester alive and in possession of grades that reflect the effort I’ve expended.

Kimball had surgery last week, and I’m grateful and thankful to say he is recovering well. Certainly he’s got a long road ahead (still on the modified liquid diet (which means jello, applesauce, and pudding but not much else)), but I am thankful to have seen this surgery happen before the end of the year (much more financially manageable for us this way), and that everything went well during the procedure and recovery thus far. A huge thanks to those who have been calling, texting, praying, and helping with my children. You probably don’t know how much that has meant.

Someone has been stopping by our house the last several evenings, dropping off treats and gifts for my family. Our Secret Santa has been especially thoughtful and kind, and though I don’t know who they are, or if I will ever find out, I’m thankful and grateful for the way they’ve impacted me these last few days. “Things” matter very little to me – honestly, I care very little for belongings and possessions. But the idea that someone would put time, effort, money, and love into something like this for my family (and especially my children) means so much to me. As I’ve felt increasingly detached and unwelcome or unwanted by those with whom I used to spend my time, it comes as a wonderful blessing and joy to my heart to find that there are still those who love, no matter the differences. To whomever you are, if you are reading this, thank you. We’ve enjoyed many games, treats, and fun together through the gifts you’ve brought us. It truly cheers my heart to feel your love. (And I’ll apologize now, because my kids are determined to catch you. Run fast. 😉 )

Over the last several months, I’ve found new friends that love and accept me and my beliefs. I can’t even express how much that has meant to me, and how much I appreciate the love and friendship I’ve found from a group of people who are willing to come together showing love and acceptance of me, listen to my thoughts and ideas, and have open, honest, and meaningful discussions with me about them. That has been invaluable over the last several months for me, and I’m so thankful to these people who have been and continue to be so loving, welcoming, and open.

But most of all, I have such profound gratitude for the hand of God in my life. I have seen some really incredible things happen over the past year – things that have changed me in profound and undeniable ways. Small, seemingly insignificant things have happened that have absolutely changed the way I see myself, the way I see others, and the way I see God and Christ. I see now that all I’ve been through (especially these past three or so years) has truly been for a wise purpose.

Thank you, all of you. Your presence in my life is a blessing to me. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season, filled with love and gratitude. May you find the love and peace your heart is seeking.

Posted in Life | 1 Comment

Unwanted and Cast Out

Yet again, those like me are shunned and unwanted. This is my brother-in-law and his wife. Seeking truth again appears to be unwelcome in the LDS church.

40 Days on Death Row

And this is me. There is hope, even when we aren’t welcome.

Finding Faith After Losing Religion

Posted in Life, Mormonism, Spirituality | Leave a comment

Women and the Priesthood – A Deeper Look

My heart aches, and the tears that I thought were long since finished have been flowing freely again. Again I’m feeling rejected, dismissed, and shunned by strangers, acquaintances, friends, and even some of my own family members for my sincere and heart-felt questions, desires, and pain. I and many like me have been painted again as dangerous, threatening, poisonous, and, in some cases, apostate.

Too many I know are being summoned by their local leadership (some at the behest of the general leadership of the LDS church, despite claims to the contrary) to disciplinary councils because of their honest questions and sincere desire to follow Christ and God. A handful of (online) prominent LDS members were recently issued letters indicating they would be put on trial before church courts for apostasy because of their beliefs. Among them was Kate Kelly, the founder of the Ordain Women movement.

The mission statement of Ordain Women contains the following (you can read the full mission statement here):

Based on the principle of thoughtful, faith-affirming strategic action, Ordain Women aspires to create a space for Mormon women to articulate issues of gender inequality they may be hesitant to raise alone. As a group we intend to put ourselves in the public eye and call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood. We sincerely ask our leaders to take this matter to the Lord in prayer.

Ordain Women is a peaceful activist movement, organized by and filled with women (many with whom I am well acquainted) who are sincerely seeking an answer from The Lord via the LDS general leadership about the gender inequality that remains in the church organization, despite the wording in The Book of Mormon stating that “black and white, bond and free, male and female . . . all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33). Ordain Women’s proposed solution to this inequality is to ordain women to the currently all-male LDS priesthood. This would, in effect, offer women the opportunity to be involved in decision-making, leadership, and many other avenues of service and responsibility which are currently only available to male members of the church.

However, the church leadership has taken the stance that female ordination to the all-male priesthood is entirely out of the picture. Interestingly, President Hinckley, quoted in the above FAQ link, stated in the same television interview that at “present” (1997), there is “no agitation” for revelation concerning whether or not women should be allowed to hold the Priesthood, but that revelation from The Lord to change that policy is not out of the realm of possibility. Now there is agitation. Now women are asking the leaders to ask The Lord. They are trying to be faithful. But they are being turned away, without any answer except “it’s always been this way” and “stop asking.”

While I am not personally a member of the Ordain Women group, I fully support their desires and attempts to get doctrinal clarification from God on this important issue. I will be attending a vigil in a few hours to show my support for Kate and others like her.

The scriptures (that the LDS church claims to believe as the words of God) say “mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort“, not “tell them to keep their questions private and stop telling other people when they hurt”. Christ spent his time with sinners and those who were in pain. He loved them and taught them and persuaded them. Never did he tell them to stop asking because they might hurt someone else’s opinions, feelings, or perceptions. Sincerity should never be met with the command of silence.

We are asking for change, and the asking makes people uncomfortable, but the fact of the matter is that much change in the past history of the LDS church has come about by the questioning of the lay membership. For a simple example, take the creation of the primary, which was an idea started in a local area (by women, incidentally) and later adopted through the entire church. Or take, for example, some of the changes made to the endowment ceremony, which were done after surveying focus groups.

Change is seldom easy.

But wasn’t it Christ who questioned the inequitable actions of those around him, urging them to turn their hearts to God? The simple fact of the matter is that the inequality will never be addressed by the general leadership unless they hear from the local and lay membership. But there is NO process for feedback to make it directly to the general leadership. So we are left to agitate until notice is taken.

If you read the Nauvoo Relief Society minutes it is clear that the way women are regarded in the church now is not the way Joseph Smith intended. Joseph stated that it was acceptable for women to give blessings, and he in fact intended for the relief society to be autonomous. It wasn’t until correlation happened that this autonomy was taken away.

Along similar lines, the history of race and the priesthood is something Mormons are well acquainted with. From the LDS website:

During the first two decades of the Church’s existence, a few black men were ordained to the priesthood. One of these men, Elijah Abel, also participated in temple ceremonies in Kirtland, Ohio, and was later baptized as proxy for deceased relatives in Nauvoo, Illinois. There is no evidence that any black men were denied the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.

The article goes on to explain that this policy was changed by Brigham Young, who denied black men the ability to be ordained to the priesthood. This tradition was held until 1978 when the current church president, Spencer W. Kimball, received revelation from The Lord and the restriction was removed. Petitioning The Lord was what brought about this revelation. There is no reason to doubt that a similar petition on behalf of the daughters of God would bring about revelation and clarification, especially for a church that claims belief in continuing revelation (Articles of Faith 9).

If the LDS church is teaching truth, then what do they have to fear from people asking that the doctrines be examined to find reason for the cultural norms? Truth will win. There is nothing to fear where there is nothing to hide.

While I may not agree completely with the stated purpose of Ordain Women, I nevertheless feel strongly that all should be welcomed, loved, and accepted, regardless of their struggles and whether they choose to share those or keep them private.

Just because you don’t feel or understand the pain of the Mormon feminists – my pain – or their questions – my questions – or their sincere desires for the general leadership to ask God for direction in something that matters to them, does not nullify that pain, those questions, and that sincerity. We are daughters (and sons – yes there are Mormon men among our ranks) of our Heavenly Parents too, just like you. And we, like you, want to feel valued and accepted by the church organization, just as we are valued and accepted by God.

We may not agree. Your definition of “value” and “acceptance” may be different from mine. But that doesn’t justify meanness or snark or a blanket dismissal of our – my – concerns.

Have you had a real, sincere, open conversation with a Mormon feminist? Because I am one. And I am more than willing to talk with you. And I’m nowhere near as dangerous as mainstream Mormonism makes me out to be. Yes, I’m fringey. Yes, I may be more liberal than makes you comfortable. But you don’t have to agree with me to love me and have empathy for my very real, very sincere, and very deep pain.

Please remember when you share those condemning articles that are floating around the Mormon internet right now that you are talking about me, and that it brings me great pain to know that my views, concerns, and opinions won’t be considered or respected by you. I am a real person with real feelings. So is every other person out there. Just like you, we deserve to have our feelings and opinions respected, whether you agree with us or not.

Believe what you want – that is your right. I simply ask that you allow me to do the same without condemning me, especially since you can’t understand my position until you’ve tried. I believe God intends more for Their daughters and that They hear my pain and my tears and the pain and tears of so many others.

Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Show kindness, empathy, and love whether you agree with them or not. This is the way to be Christlike, which, if I’m not mistaken, is the whole point.

Posted in Feminism, Life, Mormonism, Spirituality | 7 Comments

Things Change

It’s inevitable – things change. Doesn’t really matter what you’re talking about, or who you are, or whether or not you actually intended for change to take place. The fact of the matter is that in this life, things simply don’t stay the same. This applies to work, school, family, friends, hopes, dreams, abilities, desires, needs, beliefs, and many more aspects of life. To be human is to constantly experience change.

Sometimes the changes are drastic. A new baby, a new job, the loss of a family member or an important dream, devastation from disaster (natural or otherwise), or any number of life-altering events – these changes alter the course of our lives in obvious, dramatic, and tangible ways.

But change is not always sudden or drastic. Some changes take place over a period of time, and can be so small or gradual that they are hard to notice unless you are looking for them. Children grow ever so slightly taller on a daily basis. The grass grows imperceptibly from day to day until it again needs to be trimmed. The moon waxes and wanes gradually until it either appears full or completely invisible. And people’s attitudes and opinions can and do evolve over time as well, sometimes so gradually that they don’t even notice the change themselves.

This change has been happening to me. I look at the things I’ve written over the last few years or so about feminism and pants and church and people, and I can see that my perspective, opinion, and attitude about many things has evolved. This doesn’t make any of the things I said before any less true for me at the time I said them, but it does mean that I may not feel exactly the same way now about some of the things I’ve shared in the past. Many of those things I still feel, understand, and identify with. However, my anger has subsided and my need to provoke change has certainly lessened.

Lest certain people should find false hope in what I’m suggesting, I feel that it’s important to point out that regarding my attitude and actions toward religion, things are still very much the same. I still find no great need to attend church. I still find the exclusion by the LDS church of women from the decision-making, authority-wielding, and opportunity-receiving experiences to which men are privy frustrating, demeaning, and quite frankly sexist and unfair. But I have found that where before faith in a god was nearly impossible for me to fathom, my hopes, desires, beliefs, thinking, and actions have evolved (in that order) in such a way that I am again falling on the side of “believer” in the great spiritual debate.

It is very interesting because I can look back over the last 6 months and see specific events in my life that were pivotal points for this change. At the time, I was unaware of their significance. But in hindsight, I can see that certain things have happened in my life that have shaped and molded who I am, what I think, what I feel, and how I react. In many ways, I am a much different person than I was 20 years ago, or 10 or 5 or even 1 year ago. Significant change is evident to me even so recently as from now to a month ago.

While I’m not comfortable sharing specifics right now in this blog post, I do feel a strong need to point out to the people who have interest in me and my journey that things are changing. And with that change is coming greater peace than I’ve felt in a very, very long time. I doubt I will ever be the “good” Mormon I used to be. I doubt very much that religious affiliation is ever again going to be a significant part of my life. But religion and spirituality are very distinctly different entities. I find my spirituality to be increasing on an almost daily basis, and the connection between myself and the Divine slowly becoming apparent.

I still feel very much that what works for you and what works for me may be very different. I have no problem with people who are very religious, and similarly no problem with people who are very anti-religion. There is a large spectrum of people and opinions in this world and I still very much feel that the path to happiness through this life is different for everyone. I have no desire to force change on others or shield them from the reality they will experience. But I do have a much deeper understanding of what is important to me in this life.

Live and let live. I think that is wise advice. Some of my most personally significant realizations came to me after I was able to finally let go of the need to be in control of the choices of those around me. You go your way and I will go mine. Our paths may cross from time to time, they may run parallel to one another, or they may take us far apart. But wherever your life leads you, I wish you the best this life has to offer. I hope you find the peace and joy you are seeking for. I’ve found that for me, this peace and joy has come as I’ve been willing to love, accept, and forgive myself regardless of what others may say or think about me. When I’m doing the things that feel right to me, I find myself more capable of love and acceptance of others, no matter their choices or actions.

As always, should you wish to discuss specifics I’m certainly open to doing so privately. I have no delusions of being able to guide or change your path in life, but I am certainly willing to discuss the path I’ve taken and where I see it leading me in the future.
Posted in Life, Spirituality | 1 Comment

Sundays: Why I’m Not at Church

It is very, very important to me that before you read this post you understand a few things.
1. This is my opinion and experience, and mine only. I’m not trying to convince you of anything or change your beliefs.
2. I have intentionally left out specific details. This is a much more nuanced discussion than I can possibly convey in a blog post. If you want to talk specifics, please feel free to contact me privately.
3. It’s not my intention to hurt or damage your religious views. If religion is working well for you, I’m glad. I know it helps a lot of people, and I’ve found that the best choice is to find what works for you and stick with it. Please read this as it is intended: a guide to understanding me. It’s nothing more than that.

It has recently come to my attention that there are some misconceptions about what has caused me to stop attending church. I don’t know that the people who hold these misconceptions will ever read this post, but I do know that many of the people I care about do read my blog. I have no delusions of my ability to stop the gossip that happens about me behind my back, but I do hope to at least set the record straight for those people who care enough about me to actually read my thoughts or ask me to explain my choices and decisions.

I didn’t stop going to church because of feminism. Yes, I had a feminist awakening right around the time I also went through a serious faith transition, but the two are separate and distinct.

As part of my feminist awakening, I realized that I matter. That I am not inferior to half the world’s population simply because of my sex (a misconception that society has done a pretty bang-up job of spreading around and that religion, in general, has held pretty tightly to in action though they profess otherwise with their words). That I am not any more or less important than any other human being on this earth. That I matter, that you matter, that the guy down the street matters, the kid who threw a baseball at your car window matters, the starving child in Africa matters, the NASA leader and the homicidal prisoner matter. The single mother, the gay man, the prostitute and the opera singer all matter. Hitler matters, Mother Teresa matters, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein matter, Harriet Tubman and Joan of Arc matter. All of us. None more or less than others. We all matter.

Does this mean I think everyone can do whatever they want and there should be no consequences? No, it doesn’t. I believe we are each accountable for our own actions and for the way we treat other people on this earth, no matter who they are or what they may have (or may not have) done. I believe in kindness, in love, in empathy, in compassion, and in trying to do the best you can with the knowledge you have. And, as part of my therapy (something I’ve been doing for years now), I have come to believe that anything contrary to love is an outward manifestation of fear, and that love is the only cure for fear.

An inevitable product of my feminist awakening (which, if you’re more comfortable, could be termed “humanist” instead of feminist – feminism seems to have a nasty negative connotation in our society that humanism doesn’t carry) was a reexamination of my life and why I do what I do. I let go of the long-held belief that my sole purpose on this earth is to bear and raise children. I let go of the guilt that I’ve felt for years and years because I don’t love being a stay-at-home parent, and the pressure I’ve felt (especially as a product of my religious culture – thank you, Saturday’s Warrior) to have a lot of children. I stopped trying to find happiness and fulfillment in something that simply didn’t make me happy or even begin to fulfill me. I allowed myself to explore my interests, my feelings, and to stop trying to be what I’ve been told to be. Instead, I learned to be who I already am and how to stop trying to hide that.

This intense examination expanded to my view of religion (specifically, to my view of the LDS religion). It became glaringly obvious to me that I wasn’t on equal footing in my church. That I had no divine female role model, and no human female role model whom I could emulate or look up to as a guide. That my only allowed connection to divinity is through a man. My church is run by men, for men, and about men. I just happen to be an appendage and a handy tool to use to raise more men. Wasn’t I lucky to have a good man as a husband? (This was actually posed to me by a leader as the obvious solution to my concerns: I have a good husband, so why should I even worry about having a direct relationship with God? This infuriates me on so many levels, but that is beyond the scope of this post.)

And once I realized this, once I allowed myself to want more and to feel that I deserved to know more, I started to look for answers. Where was this Heavenly Mother I’d been taught about? And what loving Heavenly Father could ever submit his daughters to an eternity of polygamy? (Honestly, polygamy has troubled me as long as I can remember, and I’ve never been able to come to terms with that one.) But even more personally, why would God tell me that there is only one way to be happy? That the only way I could ever find “true happiness” was to become a mother, give up everything else in my life, and clean up poop and get yelled at about how much they hate homework, drive them all over creation, and at the end of the day hate my life? Why would God tell me that the very thing that has fueled my anxiety, depression, eating disorder, and ultimately made me suicidal was the thing that was going to make me happy? I’m imperfect (extremely so), yet I am able to recognize and acknowledge that my children are all different and that they find happiness and fulfillment in different ways. So how could a perfect God miss this? And so I started to look for answers. I started searching for proof that God really does love women – really does love me, and care about me as an individual and not simply as a conduit for getting more men here.

What I found was not what I bargained for.

To make a very, very long story very short, I found myself in a place where I no longer even wanted to believe in God. Where I honestly hoped that there isn’t any such being. To me, it seems that if God does exist, he/she/they care very little for the human race. It pains me very deeply to think that such a being might exist, that this being is supposedly my “loving parent”, and even more to think that I may be expected to revere and worship said deity.

God, as I understood, was all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful. If you take away any of those three characteristics, then God is no longer who I was taught to believe in. The all-loving father figure. The omnipotent being, who knows my heart and my desires and only waits for me to express them so he can grant them. The being with the power to create and destroy, and to bind on earth and in heaven. Take away any of these things, and God is no longer God.

But there is so much unnecessary suffering on this earth. So many innocent people suffer unimaginable pain; so many innocent children suffer and die at the hands of other humans. I simply cannot convince myself to believe in a god who allows so much horror. If god is all-powerful, then god has the capacity to stop this needless and senseless pain. Yet it still happens, on a global scale. If god is all-loving, then god has the desire to stop unnecessary pain and suffering. Yet again, these children die terrible agonizing deaths. And if god is all-knowing, then god knows my heart and will not condemn me for not attending church or following the cultural expectations. But I’m shunned, avoided, and seen as dangerous, all in the name of god’s religion.

And so I don’t attend church any more. Because religion teaches me contradictory views of god. And tells me which people deserve to be loved and which people don’t. And because I am considered “dangerous” because I ask hard questions that no one has answers to. And because I’ve literally run myself ragged trying to be “good enough” for god, only to be told over and over that I will never be good enough, no matter how hard I try.

So you won’t see me at church much. You might see me in a tank top (scandalous, I know). You might see me at the store on a Sunday afternoon, or reading a book or magazine about Secular Humanism. You might find me marching in the Gay Pride Parade or supporting the Let Women Pray movement. You might see these things and assume I’ve “sinned” or been offended. That I left my church because I want to disobey the rules or I’m too lazy to do what it takes to be a “good” Mormon.

But I’ll ask you to withhold judgement of me and others like me. You have no idea what I’ve been through to get where I am now. You have no idea, unless you have experienced it yourself, the hell I endured in the midst of my faith transition. You have no idea what my heart holds. And no matter how much I want to make you understand, I can’t condense the last three years of my life into a simple blog post. I can’t convey to you the countless hours I’ve spent wondering and worrying and searching for answers.

Trust me when I say I’m happier this way. It’s not easy – I’m terribly uncomfortable when I know I’m disappointing people or when I’m not conforming, and it’s hard enough to navigate marriage and parenting without adding a difference in religion to the mix. But this is who I am. This is what I believe, and right now this is how I make it through each day without reverting back to my depressed, anxious, disordered, suicidal self.

I’m comfortable with who I am now. I’m finally at ease because I’m no longer trying to be something I’m not. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to like me, and you don’t have to be my friend. I’m not asking you to do things that make you uncomfortable. What I am asking is that you leave judgement of me to god, if there is such a being, and simply treat me like a good person. Because that’s what I am, religious or not.

Posted in Feminism, Life, Mormonism, Spirituality | 5 Comments

Dealing with the Diagnosis

Well, it’s finally happened. The thing I’ve been hoping for but praying wasn’t true, the thing I’ve been wanting and yet at the same time dreading: the diagnosis is in. On one hand, it is a huge relief. But at the same time, this new development is absolutely terrifying.

What, under the DSM IV, was termed “Asperger’s” is now, according to the DSM V, “Autism Spectrum Disorder”. And that’s what we’re dealing with. High functioning autism.

Finally, an answer that explains what we’ve been dealing with for the last 10.5 years. A way to communicate to doctors and teachers the issues we face on a daily basis. A name that they will hear and give credibility to. It took 5 years of therapy, doctor visits, tears, pain, worry, money, tests, sleepless nights, unending days, and heart-wrenching experiences to come up with this, not to mention all the tried medications, behavior modification programs, and the 3 long years prior to getting professional help when we tried to deal with this on our own.

My daughter – you may have met her. She’s extremely intelligent, creative, and witty. She has been described by her peers’ parents as “sweet”, “perfect”, “well-behaved”, and more. And yet for years I wondered how they could possibly be describing the child I was living with. How on earth can people say these wonderful things about my child, the one who terrifies us all, the one absolutely unwilling to accept praise or love, unable to tolerate even minute change (like moving a piece of furniture or hanging a new picture on the wall) without significant adjustment time, the one whose world crumbles should I change my mind about what to make for dinner or happen to catch her in a lie.

It started small. Things like not wanting to be held as an infant. Unable to sleep unless she was tightly swaddled and in her own crib. Her knowledge and vocabulary were astounding for someone so small. She was visually distressed by changes in her surroundings. Decorating for Christmas meant taking her to each room and showing her each change individually, explaining that it was good, that we were happy, that things were ok. Hyper sensitive to all things sensory (clothing textures, sounds, food textures and tastes – the list went on and on). All of this before she was 2.

And then she started getting older, and things became less small. The tantrums began to get out of hand. The older she got, the more obvious it became that it wasn’t something she was going to “grow out of”. I began to fear for the safety of my other children, terrified at the possibility of ever having another infant in the house because there was no guarantee I could keep another small person safe enough any more. And so we started taking her to therapists and doctors, looking for answers and help. Each one would begin by saying that yes, of course they could help, and then cut us loose after a few (or as many as 18) months, saying that there was nothing they could do. She didn’t want to be different, she didn’t open up, she wouldn’t do the work required. And so we bounced from one therapist to another, hoping to find the “right” person with the “right” solution.

Medication helped. Treating her for anxiety seemed to cut down on a not insignificant portion of her violence and erratic emotional responses. But after a certain point, increasing her anxiety medication simply wasn’t helping any more. Every time things would start to go well, we’d cut back on the therapy and immediately pay for that decision with a drastic increase in violence, anger, and outbursts. And finally, at around age 9.5, we realized that therapy is probably going to be a part of our week indefinitely. Stopped trying to wean her off it and started trying to figure out a way to make the finances work to keep taking her, week after week, month after month, year after year. Because when it comes right down to it, therapy seems to be the one thing that consistently helps.

The insurance was no help. 15 visits per year was the most they would ever cover (usually it was more like 12), and of course all that went toward our deductible. By the end of 15 visits we were barely into April. Still 8 months of the year to go, and they stopped applying the cost toward the deductible because we’d hit the limit. Quality therapy isn’t cheap, but we simply couldn’t afford not to do it. She was getting bigger, and it wouldn’t be long before she could overpower me. It was already a struggle to physically remove her when she started hurting her siblings. I knew it would be only a few more years and I would find myself in serious danger as well. I had hoped that Obamacare would help us out, but working for a small company precludes the insurance from covering the bulk of her care.

Shortly after her 10th birthday I got a job. Partly as a way to help with some of the financial strain, but mostly because I needed a break. I needed to be a person instead of a jailer, referee, and caregiver. I love my children – all three of them – but life had taken a huge toll on me and I was desperate to get out. Suicide had appealed to me in the past too much to continue life the way things were. I recognized that I was at my breaking point. Getting a job was one of the scariest and best things I’ve done for myself in the last 10 years. Suddenly I was no longer a slave to my child; no longer trapped in my home or my life.

But remember that change is incredibly difficult for this child. Despite the medication and therapy, within a few months I found myself in tears on the phone with the nurse at the psychiatrist’s office, begging her to tell me when enough was enough. When is it time to call 911? When is it time to drive her to the emergency room? When is the danger my other children, my husband and myself, and most especially this child are in enough to warrant emergency intervention? I just needed someone to tell me that her behavior was NOT normal. All her life, professionals, friends, and family had been telling me that she would grow out of it. That it was a phase. Speaking with this nurse I forgot about being afraid of what people would think of me and just asked her how much violence is normal. To my surprise, the answer was that at her age, this kind of violence is absolutely not normal in any way. Verbal fighting, an occasional half-hearted punch to an annoying sibling – these are “normal”. But violence that makes me afraid to leave her alone in the same room with another person? Absolutely not. The screaming fits in the car? A great way to cause an accident and hurt or kill us. I scheduled an emergency visit with the psychiatrist for the next week, and hung up with strict instructions to call 911 or drive her to the emergency room if things got bad.

Again, feeling like I had no way to help my child. Feeling like a failure, like my parenting and my personality had seriously messed up my child. It was a terrible way to feel. I began to regret the decision to work. I loved it, it was really really good for me, but it was causing this child so much distress and in turn the rest of us were paying for it. I counted down the days, holding my breath every time she came in the room, until the appointment with the psychiatrist early the next week.

The psychiatrist has been asking me for roughly the last 6-8 months, every time we go in for a checkup (which is generally every 4-6 weeks) if we’d like to try something new. “Behavior modifying” medication. And that was scary to hear. I’d been putting it off over and over, determined that with enough love and time and patience and effort we’d be able to get by without it. But this time I consented. “Please – I’m ready for anything. Anything to help my child and keep my other children safe.” And so it began.

It took months, but we got her to a point where the dosage seemed to be working pretty well. Still volatile, still violent, but instead of lasting for hours she was able to calm herself and apologize within minutes. That was a significant and blessed change. At the next checkup, we told the psychiatrist we were ready to stick with this dosage for a while. He wrote us a script, handed me a pamphlet and a few discount cards, and sent us on our way.

I went to the pharmacy a few days later to fill the prescription, and left with no medication. $700. That’s what they wanted to fill this prescription. 30 tiny pills. Enough to get us through 30 days. It wasn’t realistic to even hope to be able to cover this new addition to our financial situation. Even using all the money I earn from my new job in a month wouldn’t be anywhere near enough to cover all the therapy, medication, and doctor appointments for this child. It wasn’t going to happen. And I didn’t know what to do.

That same day, we received a notice in the mail that our property taxes hadn’t been paid for the previous year. Delinquent. Late fees. Nasty notices. The combination of the two (not to mention the news I’d received that morning that my middle child was born missing two teeth and would need braces, retainers, and implants to the tune of $3k per tooth) was too much for me, and I handed them both off to my husband. He made a few phone calls, worked his magic, and the insurance company agreed to speak with the doctor to see if this really was a necessity. The mortgage company apologized for their mistake of not paying the property taxes and promised to straighten it out. A few days passed and we were approved by the insurance for her medication. $250/month. Much more manageable. Still astounding, but the changes this medication has made in this child are absolutely worth that much to me. And then I remembered about the cards the doctor had given me. Turns out one of them was a payment assistance program. And suddenly we were down to $100/month. This is doable.

The next challenge is quickly presenting itself. School starts in two weeks, and her anxiety has risen dramatically. The outbursts are getting more frequent and more violent. I can only imagine what we would be up against without this medication. I am waiting as patiently as I can for the therapist to finish a report that we hope will prove medical necessity for an Individual Education Plan (IEP) at school. Waiting as patiently as I can for the school to hire someone to fill the special education teacher position that opened up over the summer, so that I can speak with this person to get something in place for my daughter. Because I know what the school year means. Anxiety, stress, adjustment, and an increase in the violence we deal with at home.

This report will hopefully help my child qualify for some services through the government as well. Someone to come and work with her in our home. Some help with the cost of all the appointments this child has over the course of a month. Some help with the cost of her medications. And a support network for us as parents.

And so I wait, and do my best to be patient with everyone who doesn’t live with this on a daily basis and therefore doesn’t understand why I so urgently need these things to happen. Try as best I can to help my child navigate her emotions and her life. Try to protect my other children and help them understand that we are trying to get their sister some help. And some days aren’t horrible.

I don’t know what the future holds for this child, for me, or for my family. What I do know is that for right now, we seem to be on the right track and there is some hope that this diagnosis will pave the way for more understanding, more empathy, more help for my child and more patience for my family when we jump and run unexpectedly from a social situation before anxiety translates to violence. Don’t take it personally; it’s not you, it’s us. I promise. But we’re working on it, often several times a week with professionals and always every single day here at home. And maybe someday we will actually get to sit through an entire event without jumping and running out 2/3 of the way through. I can hope, anyway.

Posted in Kids, Life | 7 Comments


I had grand plans for this week. I was going to get a lot of things done; I had a whole list of productive projects I was going to tackle and check off, killing time while my husband is on a business trip. But instead I’ve spent the night sitting, and worrying, and trying to soothe myself with TV and chips. (The good news is I finally gave up on the chips. The bad news is that I’m still awake and, though I was close to sleep about 30 minutes ago, due to an email chain with one of my kids’ teachers I’m wide awake now and my brain is full-steam-ahead.)

There are some things I have no control over. In fact, most things in this world I have no control over; really, comparatively speaking, my sphere of influence is very small. But when it comes to my kids, I’m not sure how much control I’m supposed to have. I feel like I’m responsible for teaching my children lots of things, including morals. So if they lack morals, does this mean I’m failing? And if I’ve failed with one, does that mean I’m doomed to fail with them all? I’ve always looked at parents of children who haven’t turned out “ideally” and thought, “Hey, it’s the kid, not the parent. These kids make their own choices.” But being on the other side of this, being the parent of the kid who isn’t turning out ideally, it’s a lot harder not to blame myself.

Tonight is one of those times when I feel like being a parent is more than I can handle. It’s time to throw in the towel, admit defeat, and hand the baton on to someone more capable. I’m ready to quit this gig. But it isn’t that easy, and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t live with myself if I just gave up on this child.

But at what point is it no longer my responsibility? At what point do I just turn this child’s actions and decisions completely over to them? And does that mean I’m giving up? Does it mean I’ve failed? And if it does, then does that make me a shitty mom?

Over the years I’ve come to realize and accept that I’m simply not cut out to be what I’m trying to be. I’m not the mother I thought I would be (to be truthful, I’m not the person I thought I would be either). And I’m trying really hard to accept that, and come to terms with it, and love myself in spite (because?) of it. But I still feel so responsible. Like I shouldn’t have brought them here if I wasn’t capable of taking care of them and teaching them properly. Hindsight.

I love my children. I do. They have added a new dimension to my life. But sometimes I think it would be better if they had a different mother. Someone more capable. Someone better equipped to teach them, help them, and love them the way they need. Because I’m only capable of so much. And right now it sure doesn’t seem like enough.

Why do I share these things with the world? Why do I tell cyberspace about my problems? I promised myself a few years ago that I wouldn’t pretend this was easy any more. So I write, and I share that because I think there are a lot of people who need to know that the battles they fight are normal parts of parenting, life, and existing. Because I need to know that I’m not the only one who isn’t stellar at this or loving every second of it (or even most of the seconds). And if I need to know that, I suspect there are at least a few other internet-savvy people who need to know it too.

I was hoping that by writing this I’d be able to calm down and relax enough to sleep. It’s not looking good. So I’ll go back to the TV. Another couple episodes of Suits might do it. Maybe three or four.
Posted in Kids, Life | 3 Comments


Raw and unfiltered. Sorry.

The pile of things I’m carrying around is getting too heavy for me to carry. It just feels like there’s too much, and I’m simply not capable enough of doing enough for enough people. It’s crushing me right now and I’m exhausted and feeling pretty hopeless about it all. So I’ve spent the morning laying in bed. Which is not helpful either. But I can’t muster the energy to even think about what I need to do, much less do anything about it. My kids are sick, again. And parent teacher conference last night for my son was a new heap of responsibility for me to come up with some fantastic homework that he will enjoy and that will engage him and keep him from getting into more trouble at school.

And then the therapist says we are likely looking at high functioning autism. Which is just lovely. One more thing. But, I guess we’ve been dealing with it all these years anyway, without having a name for it. So this should be a good thing, because this supposedly means that we can get a real diagnosis, which should (in theory) lead to us qualifying for more services and more specialized care assuming we can get someone qualified who will diagnose this. But we’ve been to all kinds of specialists for YEARS and nobody has been willing to diagnose that. So it just feels like another huge load to carry, and like I’ve got to find the right doctors (again – as though we haven’t seen enough already) and get someone to believe me when I say there is *something* that just doesn’t add up.

And I’m feeling less than stellar about the fact that I’m working. I love my job, but it’s not working out well with the kids being sick and now me feeling like I’m being told (again) that the best thing for my children would be for me to homeschool them. I don’t have that in me. So yet again I am a failure at that as well. And so I feel terrible, like I’m too selfish because I am working instead of devoting all my time to my children and making sure that they get the very best education possible (in a world that is NOT made to be friendly or accommodating to them in the least) and I just feel like a terrible person, a rotten mother, and I feel too exhausted and overwhelmed to even be able to figure out where to start with all this mess.

I’m tired. I’m tired, and I’m stressed, and I’m just feeling pretty darn hopeless right now. It sucks and I don’t know what to do about any of it.

It occurs to me that perhaps I haven’t taken my medication much this week. That would probably be helpful. And that I haven’t eaten yet today. Which isn’t beneficial to my mood either. Self care suffers when I feel like there are too many things. And when my self care suffers, so does everything else.

Posted in Kids, Life | 5 Comments


Interestingly, over the past few weeks I have been contacted by several people who are concerned for me. I can only assume most of this stems from my most recent blog post about pants. Extremely interesting to me is the lack of interest my post about suicide caused versus the amount over wearing slacks (not jeans – these are nice dress slacks) to church.

Before I start my tirade I want to say thank you to the people who have contacted me and actually been willing to put their name on that contact. I may or may not always agree with what you say, but I appreciate that you are willing to engage with me or at least contact me with your name so that, should we both be interested, we can have a real conversation about the issues that I’ve brought up. These issues are very, very important to me, and I’m grateful for your interest (whether or not we have a conversation, because I know sometimes I don’t have the energy, and sometimes you don’t have the energy).

Now, on to the rant.

On the one hand, I’m glad people care. On the other, way to choose what to care about. I’m thinking of ending my life? No big deal. Very few people reached out to me. Very few took the time to comment and tell me how they feel. But, I take a stand about women wearing pants to church, and suddenly people are concerned for my well-being, I’m being told I don’t “see” what I’m doing, that I’m heading “down a path” that can’t lead anywhere good, that I’m an “apostate” or that I’m simply being an idiot.

The very most interesting part to me about this whole situation is that there have been several people who have contacted me anonymously to tell me of their worry, concern, or disdain for me and my choices.

I don’t get it.

If you care, care out loud. If you really want me to know that I matter to you, stick your name on it. Call me on the phone. Email me or message me on FB or whatever it is you feel is the right way to contact me. But put your name on it. Stand behind your thoughts and feelings.

Do you worry I will disrespect you? Do you worry that you’ll hurt my feelings? Do you worry that I won’t like you any more? Or that I’ll put a curse on you (because obviously if I think women should be able to wear pants to church then I’m so far gone that I’m into black magic and those sorts of things now)? Do you worry that I’ll maybe even engage with you about your concerns? That maybe if I’m allowed to express my opinion to you personally, you might start to feel a tiny bit of empathy for me?

I’m a big girl. Turns out I’m even a grown-up. And I (usually – not always, but usually) know how to act like one. So if you hurt my feelings, or you make me mad, or you say something that I disagree with, give me the courtesy of assuming that I will handle it in a grown-up sort of way. I’m not interested in changing your opinion. I’m not interested in convincing you that I’m “right” and you’re “wrong”. I totally understand that your perspective and mine are vastly different. And I will give you the courtesy of allowing you to continue believing and thinking whatever you like without deciding you are an idiot or self-centered or anything, and especially without saying that to your face or behind your back. Whatever it is you’re worried about, stop it.

If you want to talk to me, please do. I engage with people on topics that I feel strongly about when I have the energy. If I don’t have the energy, I won’t (and I generally do get around to letting you know (sometimes it takes a LONG time but I do eventually get around to it)). It’s that simple. I’m not going to be mean to you, and I’m not going to start telling the whole world what a dork you are. I’m really not. If I was in 7th grade, maybe. I do recall doing some pretty idiotic things back then. But I like to think I’ve grown up enough to realize that my experience, my perception, my view, my life are not the only valid or real ones out there.

So please stop anonymously telling me what a mess I’m making of my life. Please own up to your words and actions. It’s tough to put much stock in something when you’re not even willing to let me know (privately) who you are. But even more frustrating is that you don’t trust me enough to be kind and civil to you. Give me some credit. I’m not that terrible.

Posted in Feminism, Life, Mormonism, Spirituality | 7 Comments

Why I Wear Slacks

It has been a while since I’ve felt strongly enough about something to take make the time to blog about it, but this weekend marks an important event (Sunday, December 16th, 2012 has been marked as “Wear Pants to Church Day”) that I simply cannot let pass without contributing my thoughts and feelings.

To that end, I will share my facebook status from a few days ago, also adding a bit more that I’ve been thinking about the last several days.

[Thursday, December 13, 2012] I’m watching, reading, and listening as a lot of my social media is filled with the Wear Pants To Church event started by several Mormon Feminists with whom I am well acquainted.

I will add my voice to those that have already spoken out in support of this movement. I have typically chosen to wear pants when I’ve attended church over the past year, partly as a way to express my unwillingness to simply blindly follow cultural expectation when it goes completely against everything I think, feel, and believe, and partly as a way to speak out for myself and start expecting to be treated as a full human being with valid (though often differing from my peers’) feelings and opinions.

As I look around and see women and men who are supporting one another in standing up for themselves and others who may feel marginalized or “less” in a community that teaches that God loves us all, my heart swells and my spirit soars to know that I am not alone.

If you feel you can support this movement, please do so by wearing pants to church this Sunday. If you already wear pants (men) or you simply cannot bring yourself to wear a pair of slacks to church, then please consider wearing a purple shirt, scarf, or tie in a show of solidarity.

If you feel, for whatever reason, that this movement isn’t something you can support, please take a minute and remember your empathy. Simply because you personally are not hurt by something doesn’t mean my hurt (and that of so many others) isn’t real or valid. I will respect your wish not to wear pants and I hope you will respect mine and that of others who choose to come to church in our slacks.

I am especially grateful for my wonderful husband, friends, and ward members who have continued to love me in spite of my slacks.

After I posted this status update, a few people asked me some questions and made some comments that I would like to go into more detail about.

#1: What is this movement really about? People keep saying it’s not about pants, but I don’t understand what it is about… Is it about women wanting the priesthood?

You’re right. This isn’t about pants. It’s not necessarily about women having the priesthood, either. This movement is about equality in the sight of God. This is a peaceful attempt to start discussions. To bring understanding. To find others who may also be feeling the pain of not belonging in a religion that teaches that all belong. This movement was started by Mormon Feminists, but it’s not just about women. It’s about anyone and everyone who feels marginalized, less, or alone in the LDS church. That includes feminists, LGBT people and their allies, people of different racial backgrounds, democrats (did you know there are a fair amount of Mormon democrats?), scientists, and a whole host of others who don’t quite fit into the Mormon mold.

#2: What’s the big deal? Why can’t you just be happy with things the way they are?

What was the big deal about slavery? What was the big deal about women wanting the vote, or to wear pants, to be able to own property? What is the big deal about gay marriage?

Truth is, each of these issues (and so many more!) are a very big deal. I am a member of a church that teaches that God is no respecter of persons and that we are all children of God. I am a member of a church that believes in a Jesus who spent time with the sinners, who blessed the outcasts, who loved his enemies, and who died that all might live again. Feminists. Democrats. Gays. Sinners. ALL.

What I want is an equal starting ground. I want to be allowed my opinions, and I want to be respected as a human. I want the same access to god that Mormon men are given. I want to know the Female Divine and what my role looks like after this life. I want to feel I am just as valued as a man to God, to my fellow humans, to the LDS church. And right now I don’t feel that way. If wearing pants to church can start a few conversations, help a few people understand how I might feel differently than they do, and show my support to those whom I know are supremely lonely, then I’m absolutely on board.

So why can’t I just be happy with things the way they are? Because I don’t believe the way they are is the way Jesus would want them to be. I don’t believe Jesus would approve of the ostracizing of those who are different. I don’t believe Jesus would condone our condemnation of others for their differences. So I feel I must take a stand, speak out for change, and be a voice for love and acceptance.

#3: You’re just a bunch of apostates who want God to agree with you.

It hurts my heart that anyone would dare say these words about anyone. Yes, you may think that about me, but I can guarantee you that if you think I’m an apostate, you really don’t know me well at all. I feel hurt. I feel marginalized. I feel I’m viewed as “less”. But not by God – by a culture. And cultures evolve. I believe that God already views me, a woman, Their daughter, as a full person. I am not less to Them. I believe God already agrees with me on this issue. In fact, I believe that Jesus was a feminist (I’m currently reading a book by that title). And what, exactly, you might ask, is a feminist? A feminist is someone who believes that women are people, too.

So no, I don’t want God to agree with me. I believe I’ve finally come to realize that God really is no respecter of persons. That God really does love us all, regardless of our choices. That God, our loving Heavenly Parents, love us because of and in spite of our differences.

#4: If you don’t like the way things are, just leave.

I’ve considered this. Seriously. And I’ve had to step back from the LDS church for the past year or so, because it has been too harmful and painful for me to engage the way I want and feel I need to.

But I am a Mormon. I was born that way, raised that way, and I’ve lived my whole life as such. It is part of me, and while I may disagree with some things and be hurt by others, the LDS church is still very much a part of my life and the life of my family. Do I agree with everything said by every prophet of the LDS church? Absolutely not. (On a lot of issues, they didn’t even agree with each other!) But I also believe that generally, the leaders and members of the LDS church are trying to do what they believe God would want.

And so I stay. Because I believe the LDS church is a valid way to God. A valid way to experience life, and a valid way to experience spirituality. I don’t believe it is the only way, but I do believe it is one of many varied and valuable ways a human can connect spiritually with something greater than themselves.

But just because I stay doesn’t mean I won’t try to make a good thing better. Progress was made in our society when women were recognized as human beings, when slavery was abolished, and progress is being made as people come to accept the differing sexual orientations of their fellow humans. For now, I will stay and do what I can to inspire progress.

For more information about Mormon Feminists, the Wear Pants To Church Day, and some of the issues that hurt me along with some suggested solutions, please check out the following links.

  • Click here to read about things that make me feel unequal.
  • Read here and here to find some suggestions for a more equitable religious community, without making any doctrinal changes.
  • Read this to understand why I’m wearing pants to church this (and every!) week.
  • Check out this link to hear more about what this movement is really about.
  • Read here to understand inequality.
Posted in Feminism, Life, Mormonism, Spirituality | 14 Comments