I was born into an active LDS family in Utah.
We had/have 11 people in our family. My parents were typical Mormon parents. They didn’t drink or smoke and they were committed to raising their children in the gospel. There were certainly good things that came out of belonging to the church. At first, our family did seem like the “Leave It To Beaver” family which is great for a kid. Most importantly, I learned about prayer which would be one of the greatest blessings in my life.
However, there were many cheats along the way.
The first cheat was our large, unwieldy family. The typical Mormon family had about five children due to the commandment to “multiply and replenish the earth”. We had nine children. We were highly ridiculed due to the excessive size of our family. “EWW it’s another ONE!” was a common phrase that I heard at school when I would pass by. I was one of the oldest children and after I was about ten years old I would cry and cry with each of my mothers subsequent pregnancies because I just wanted her to stop.
The burden of kids also took a toll on my mother. She wanted to be the perfect LDS mother (going above and beyond what was required of her), so she kept having more and more children and was involved in everything from PTA to Primary leadership. The problem was that she couldn’t handle it and she would take out her frustrations and unhappiness on us and my father. This was partly because my father wasn’t much help with the kids, although he did help around the house. We would get in trouble for random things and we could never stay on top of my mother’s volatile, raging temper.
Eventually, the younger children in my family became neglected because my mother just checked out and locked herself up in her room studying. Finally, to escape, because she felt she needed to, she went against the church’s standards and went back to work leaving us all with a nanny. Our nanny was a young, inexperienced woman who could not handle that kind of load effectively.
At the same time, this was going on, the very people who were supposed to be our best friends, our fellow ward members were terrorizing us with weekly pranks and vandalism to our home. This was being done by a group of some of the “popular” young men in our ward.
One particular boy from this group was my personal bully who would follow me home from school, call me foul and dirty names, push me in the mud, slam me with snowballs and all sorts of abuse. I felt it would be wrong to fight back or even say anything back. “Love your neighbor and forgive everyone” is what I would repeat to myself. I would come home and pray in tears for comfort every day. I found solace there. I never told my parents about the bully because we didn’t have that type of relationship.
Still, I was better off then the one Born-Again Christian girl who went to my all Mormon (or jack-Mormon) high school. In the scheme of low-lifes she got first place and was a target for all sorts of bullying and abuse. Ironically, the jack-Mormons were always the most popular.
I had a couple of concerns about the church at a young age. The first two concerns I had was when I was in grade school. I didn’t understand why I felt the spirit when I saw a Hallmark commercial or heard stories about Santa Clause doing kind things for children when I knew these things were not true stories. I thought- how can I know if the church is true based on feeling the spirit when I feel the spirit when I hear other stories that are false. My mother quickly dismissed these feelings, telling me the spirit I felt in church was different, but I couldn’t differentiate.
Next, I didn’t understand why all throughout the scriptures there was a plethora of amazing miracles, visitations of angels, people being struck dumb, people being destroyed in mass due to wickedness, people talking directly to God and all sorts of supernatural happenings, yet I saw nothing like that in the real world. When I asked these questions in Sunday School I was told that we didn’t see these things because of our wickedness, but it seemed to me that these things happened all the time in the scriptures around wicked people and righteous alike.
Due to the large number of children in my family I pretty much grew up raising myself. My parents didn’t pay a lot of attention to me and I was fine with that, but it also led me to be a bit wild into my teenage and college years. However, I had every intention of getting married in the temple and rearing my family in the church. I had a few boyfriends that I truly loved during this time, but they weren’t returned missionaries, so I ultimately rejected them.
Then I met a guy that had all of the requirements. He was a returned missionary and could take me to the temple. Also, his family was very religious. I decided that I should marry him because he fit all the boxes.
During our engagement I was visiting him at BYU where he was attending college. He was studying in the library, so I thought I would take a look around. I stumbled upon Jospeh Smith diaries. I thumbed through one of them and saw his writing about the First Vision. It was shocking to read that the story was completely different than the one in the Book of Mormon. I was also shocked to discover from reading his journal that he had already come to the conclusion that all the other church’s were wrong before the First Vision. Joseph also talked about a dream his father had, had which sounded identical to Lehi’s dream about the iron rod in the Book of Mormon. Later, I would find out there were several versions of the First Vision and the one that is in the Book of Mormon was not even written by Joseph Smith himself. This was very upsetting to me, but it didn’t shake my testimony.
As we neared the wedding date I started to panic because our relationship hadn’t progressed like it should have in my mind. Right before my wedding I told my mother that I didn’t think that I should marry this man because I didn’t feel for him what I thought someone should feel for someone they are about to be married to. We aren’t “in love” I said. I really don’t even know him.
My mother did not care how I felt, she just wanted to make sure that I would marry someone who could take me to the temple and ultimately the celestial kingdom. She told me that the kind of love I was talking about fades anyway and there were lots of different kinds of love. She made me feel like it was God’s will to marry this man and she would be very disapointed in me if I did not. She also made it clear to me that this friendship love was the type of marriage she had, had. The problem was that I didn’t even feel like this man was my friend.
I decided that I could do it, that I could go through with it. I just had to be brave and do the right thing. My wedding day and subsequent honeymoon was miserable, but I tried to put on a happy face for everyone else.
After we were married, I had envisioned a spiritual friendship. A partnership. He, on the other hand, had envisioned sex. This was unbearable due to my lack of feeling for him, but I thought that it was my duty to have sex when he wanted and it was also my duty to not put off having children. Puting off children to finish my education was/is considered selfish in the church. I had almost finished 2 years of college, but that would have to be put on hold to stay home with babies. I got terribly sick with my first pregnancy and my husband told me that it was all in my head and I was being overly dramatic. I finally couldn’t take it anymore and I got my stuff together and left him.
I wasn’t welcomed back at home. I was lectured and lectured by my mother, my grandmother and other ward members. It doesn’t matter how you feel, I was told, any righteous woman can have a good marriage with any righteous man.
I didn’t feel like I could go back, but eventually (about 1 year later) I had the strength to return to the marriage. Everyone was overjoyed at the reconciliation. In my mind; however, there was still something very wrong. He didn’t seem to care about me or my feelings. We didn’t seem to connect or relate to each other like I had with my past boyfriends. His plan for me was to clean the house, have babies and have sex with him every night. He saw his life as totally seperate from mine except for how I could serve him.
A couple of years later I discovered his pornography addiction.
This is when the sexual abuse got really bad. He would do things to me when I was sleeping, he would use sexual toys on me after I said no. He wouldn’t care if he hurt me. He would pressure me and pressure me to do things I was uncomfortable with. All of his free time was spent looking at porn. I didn’t feel like I could leave him because (1) I had already tried that and it didn’t work out (2) Porn addiction wasn’t the same as cheating in other people’s minds, but in my mind it seemed worse. It was going on every day, all the time around me. I couldn’t escape it. I didn’t tell my parents partly because I didn’t want people to think badly of him, especially if he changed (which has not happened 15 years later). Plus, we had kids now and I didn’t want the kids to grow up with a broken home.
I remained faithful to the church, although sometimes it felt so heavy to carry on. I taught our kids about the gospel. I single handedly did Family Home Evening, scripture study and got the kids ready for church each Sunday. My husband didn’t help with any of it. In fact he didn’t help with anything, not with the kids or with the house.
Due to the church’s counsel to have kids right away and not to put them off for education we found ourselves in dire poverty. I was home with the children while my husband went through school. At first I supported us as a nanny. I brought my oldest child to work with me. We lived off $500 a month. After my second child I could no longer keep the nanny position and had to stop working. The church’s counsel was to stay at home with my kids. Working moms are considered to be shirking their purpose as a woman which is motherhood so I could no longer work. We had nights where the only thing we ate for dinner was a potato. I found the mix between poverty, young children and an unsupportive husband to be devastating. My husband didn’t start out working until our oldest child was 8 ys. old.
I was very interested in church at this time and prayer was comforting. Church was my one time a week to be with adults and socialize and discuss deep topics. I was always making comments in Gospel Doctrine class and eventually I was called to be the teacher. I taught Doctrine and Covenants. I had never really studied this volume of scripture and I was surprised by some of the prophecies of Joseph Smith that were never fulfilled. When I would study some of the Doctrine and Covenant lessons, sometimes I would ask myself, “Do we all really believe this stuff?”
In the year 2000, I picked up a book about church history at Barnes and Noble. It didn’t look like an anti-Mormon book. It just looked like a history book written by historians. I didn’t know much about the history of the church, so I thought I should learn. Especially after teaching about the D&C, I wanted to learn more.
This is when my life changed. This is when I first learned about the realities of polygamy. It seemed like I had just found out that the prophet I revered my whole life was a child molester. The stories of polygamy sounded so abusive and horrible I couldn’t stand it any longer. Just the fact that Joseph was marrying and having sex with other women (one as young as 14 ys. old) without Emma’s knowledge and consent was unbelievable to me. I searched and searched for answers…for someone to tell me it wasn’t true, but it was true. There were also other things that I found out about this time, including inconsistencies in the Book of Mormon. It was equally upsetting to find out the great lengths the church went to hide a lot of this information. For example, the official church manual about Brigham Young that doesn’t mention he had multiple wives. His wives were invisible.
So after a few months of depression I eventually persuaded myself into being a Revived Mormon and I have been in that state ever since. My husband and I have grown closer over the years, despite his ongoing addiction and the instability that creates in our marriage. He has also become more helpful with the kids. However, I am still looking for answers to my questions. I am still trying to find someone who can give me a reasonable explanation for all of the problems I see in the LDS church because FAIR’s answers do not seem reasonable to me at all.