Sunday, July 22, 2012

If it weren't for that one thing...

I think if the church could still be the church without the sexist gender roles and incredibly unhealthy attitudes toward sexuality, I might stick around even though I don't believe. I don't really care about not believing any of the other stuff—it would be just like attending any other church, where I don't expect to internalize everything that's taught. I don't think I'd have a problem going just for the experience of going to church (assuming that I end up deciding that's an experience I feel I need in my life).

But I know firsthand how damaging the church's attitude toward sexuality is. I know how destructive the gender roles are to people who grow up being taught that they are God's Intended Way. There's no way I feel okay about exposing children to that kind of garbage, and I don't care to expose myself to it either, because it makes me angry and sick to hear.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


I'm having a mid-life crisis at 27.

My depression has been flaring up lately... which is a weird way to describe depression. Life is simultaneously utter crap and really great right now, and I have days where I just love everything, but then I also have days like today where I wake up feeling inexplicably sad, do some work for an hour, and then go back to bed because my bed is really comfortable and I just would rather be in it than not.

We went and saw Rock of Ages tonight, and it became a really unlikely catalyst for all the things I've been feeling for the last couple years since I started the transition away from who I used to be. One of those things is that I feel like my life before college was a complete waste.

I have social phobia, and most of what I remember about my teen years involves agonizing awkwardness. I got picked on a lot, especially by boys making fun of my hair and calling me Chia Pet. When people talked to me, I started at the ground with my face on fire, and I didn't respond. When I was called on in class, or considered the idea of raising my hand, my stomach contorted itself so tightly that I could've thrown up, and I would have a several-minutes-long internal monologue running in which I told myself, "Any second now I'm going to speak up." I would imagine myself raising my hand, hear what I was going to say—but I almost never did it. And then it would take my heart about ten minutes to slow back down to normal afterward.

So I was weird. And I didn't get invited to do things. I had school friends, but I'm not exaggerating when I say they almost never invited me to go out with them after school. I didn't hang out at their houses; I didn't go to the mall; I didn't go to the movies until my junior and senior year when I worked there and had friends among my coworkers. (I did hang out with friends more my senior year, but before that, it was literally almost nothing.) I never had a date to a school dance, though I went because I was on Student Council, and I held everyone's cameras during the slow songs. I had one date when I was 16, and then nothing else until my first boyfriend at 18. I did a lot of stuff in high school—marching band, Literary Criticism, AP classes, being in the class presidencies in my Young Women's groups, and the last two years, working. But none of that was with friends, and none of it was anything that stayed important after high school.

I'm more than two thirds of the way through my twenties now, and when I think about what I'm going to have to show for this decade, the answer's pretty depressing. I've done three things of long-term significance so far: acquired, all told, about $75,000 of debt and no degree; got married; and had my faith transition. Two of those things are great, and one sucks eggs. But even those two great things don't feel like they should be all I have from this entire decade. (Based on the way life has gone in the past few years, I just don't have high hopes for the last three before my thirties.)

I spent the first 25 years of my life completely surrounded by the LDS church, and suddenly I don't have that framework anymore. Now I'm 27, I'm married, I'm technically unemployed with no prospects, I have anxiety and depression, I'm constantly fighting with myself to stop posting things online that people judge me for, and I don't even know how much weight I've gained in the last ten years because I have been too afraid to look at a scale for the last three (but I know it's probably more than 50). I've been fighting with myself about that, too, going back and forth between determination to lose weight and determination to learn to be happy with myself no matter what I look like. Neither one of those things has happened, though I've worked hard at both for years.

So we saw Rock of Ages tonight, and I really loved it. I was so proud of myself when I realized that there'd been a scene in a strip club going for several minutes and I hadn't been watching Mike out of the corner of my eye. I had so much fun with Tom Cruise's character, who probably would've been enough to make me walk out of the movie five years ago. More than one scene made me almost cry, because I was wishing so hard that I'd had experiences like that in my life. And I loved the soundtrack (aside from the fact that movie covers are always kind of lame) so much that when we got home from the movie and Mike asked if I wanted to go to the track, I borrowed his phone and created a Guns N' Roses station on Pandora.

Going running tonight was amazing, guys. I felt awesome. Just listening to that station, hearing those songs that I hadn't heard in so long, and feeling a weird... strength, almost, that's surfacing and making me really want to just COME OUT and let everyone know where I am and who cares what they think. I wanted to run in my sports bra but sort of chickened out because Mike's parents were still around when we left, so I wore a shirt to the track. When we got there, though, the wind was blowing so beautifully and I hadn't put my hair up so it was blowing everywhere (and it's straightened right now, because I ran out of mousse two days ago and can't afford to buy mousse for a while, so it's even longer than usual and that made the wind-blowing even greater) and I was listening to Aerosmith... So I left my shirt on the bleachers and ran in my sports bra. And I ran. I usually do 95% walking and 5% running, if that, because I just haven't really gotten there yet. But I guess the last month of really good walking has prepared me better than I thought, because I ran further than I ever have at once and I still felt great, and I kept walking and then I ran some more, and then I kept walking and ran some more, and then I kept walking even longer. Mike was feeling somewhat the same way, I guess, because we kept looking at each other and saying "One more time around?" And then we finally left, but we still weren't ready to stop because I was listening to Poison and Nirvana and Metallica and Mike was listening to whatever he was listening to, so we walked the longest way possible through his neighborhood before finally going home, and I was still in my sports bra and feeling so great.

And now I'm still listening to that station, to AC/DC and Bon Jovi and Journey and Motley Crue, and my legs are really sore and even my lungs feel tired and my laptop is overheating because it does that now. I've been thinking lately that I might officially tell people soon, about my no longer believing in the church, and the thought has been fairly stressful. But tonight I'm thinking... You know what? I talk a lot. I talk way too much, sometimes, actually. And I feel like maybe this is one thing I want to just shut up about for a while.

So maybe I'll show people instead. Mike and I started experimenting with drinking several months ago, and we have fun with it, even though I haven't actually liked anything I've tried so far. So maybe I'll just let a picture of that happen, and post it on Facebook for everyone to see. For a long time now I've wanted to stop wearing Mormon-modest clothes, but haven't been able to do it because I feel super self-conscious about the way I look and haven't had money to buy any new clothes anyway. But maybe I'll find some cheap tank tops, and maybe I'll get some pictures taken in them. Maybe I'll post those pictures on Facebook. Is this passive-aggressive? I don't know. I don't care right now. I'm just so sick of explaining myself all the time. People keep calling me "negative" and "anti-Mormon", as though they don't know what "anti-Mormon" really sounds like. Honestly, if they knew a quarter of the things I think and don't say—and I'm not even anti-Mormon. I explain myself until I can barely think anymore, but it doesn't seem to have made anyone understand me even better... Probably because it feels like they're not really trying to understand, they just want to look for ammunition so they can bitch about how "negative" I am. Well, whatever. I'm tired of explaining myself for now. And also, it's killing me to keep so much back from people. On the one hand, I think it's really good for me to learn that I don't have to share my every thought with people. But on the other hand, it's also making me feel so unauthentic, so dishonest, to have all these feelings that I don't admit to having. I want to be able to be honest, if not in words, then at least just in living my life.

As for what to do about the mid-life crisis aspect of all this—the fact that I watched Rock of Ages and wanted to be at those concerts, the fact that I really want to get to know the 80s again because they feel like the youth I should have had (even though that's stupid because come on, I was born in '85, I wouldn't have had that anyway); the fact that there's a big part of me right now that wants to just do what I want and stop caring what people think about anything... Well, I don't know what to do about that. I don't know how to do anything about it. For tonight, running in my sports bra and listening to 80s rock was exactly what I needed. For tomorrow... I guess we'll see.