The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, by Sue Monk Kidd
This book is my beginning. It is about breaking free from a patriarchal society, discovering the feminine side of the Divine, and becoming a whole person. Technically this process already began a few months ago for me (and the argument could even be made that it began eight years ago)--but when I came across this book I became aware of the process, and discovered a path it might take.
"In order to voice the soul, we will have to balance our inner experience with an outer one... Having had a transforming experience within, [a woman] begins now to find the impulse and the means to express it."
I haven't undergone the transforming experience yet; I am only just beginning to search for it. But I've already been talking about this process as I've begun it, and even before I knew I was beginning it, or that there was anything to begin. I can't retreat inward at this stage, to have the inner experience before I address the outer one. In fact, for me I think this process will involve learning to balance the outer experience with the inner one, because the outer experience is what will come more naturally to me. I have never learned to connect, not with myself and not with any Divine, and that is something I now need to learn to do.
When I first began this journey, I was sure that no matter what happened to my feelings about the LDS church, I would always be Christian. I spoke to friends who'd become pagan when they left, or atheist, and I knew that that wouldn't be me. But for a few weeks now, I think about God and find myself unable to see how he actually could exist. As I've read this book, a little question has popped into my head every time Kidd has mentioned the necessity of accessing the feminine divine: Why? What does that even mean? What divine is there really, and why does it matter if there's a feminine one? The need to escape the patriarchal society, yes, that makes perfect sense to me. But the more I try to grasp the idea of divinity, the less probable it seems.
I don't like this. I'll be honest--it worries me. I don't want to be atheist; but then, deep down, I don't really think I am. I think what I am is disconnected. I want to believe in divinity, but I can't grasp it consciously because I've been cut off from it for so long (it's been almost four years since I stopped going to church, and seven or eight since the distancing started). My spirit, or whatever, is stagnant. Incidentally, I think this has affected my body, too--I thought about it yesterday and realized that my weight gain corresponds pretty darn closely with the times when spirituality started to fade from my life. (In fact, it also corresponds with some other kinds of stuck-ness in my life, including financial and educational. Interesting.)
I think I need to feel connected to divinity again--both to the God I grew up with, and to the feminine divine that I know must be out there too. If there is a Divine, I need to have it flow through me, to cleanse, to reanimate, to strengthen. Ultimately I need to figure out what I believe. We'll start with this divinity, and from there we can address my issues with being Mormon. After that... I guess we'll see.