Tag Archive: understanding


Advertisements

This podcast was recorded by John Dehlin in 2006. At that time he was a very active LDS member. Upon my exit of the church, I found his many podcasts, covering many controversial LDS subjects, to be enlightening and helpful on my journey. John is still a member of the church, but now considers himself an “Open Mormon”. To check out more of his podcasts, go to: http://mormonstories.org/

 

Posted 08/13/2005

In 1985, three years after moving to Mesa, Arizona, I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was a popular church in the area. I had joined lots of churches over the years. Rather lightheartedly, I agreed to be baptized before my hospital shift. Little did I know, I just threw away the next 20 years of my life and sentenced myself to a world of hard work, sacrifice and self-abnegation.

This church kept me very, very busy. There was so much to do and so much to learn. I was the only convert in my family who lived far away. The ward became my family. Six months into it, the ward split. I got settled, then it split six months later, then the whole stake split. This church was always changing. Being an agreeable person, and friendly, I was able to adapt. I always accepted whatever callings they gave me. Pretty soon, my husband joined. Before we knew it, we were swept into a rush to get us into the temple and get our patriarchal blessings, and then babies.

I was serious about doing all my new religion asked. Callings, babies, meetings, ward activities, family history work, temple work, family home evenings, prayer and scripture reading [both individual and family, both morning and night], fasting, tithing, fast offerings, relief society work, visiting teaching, kept me pretty occupied.

Food became a huge all-consuming deal. Mormon women are supposed to keep everyone fed in a big way. Buying huge white containers of food, constructing food storage rooms, cooking and baking the food from scratch, then storing, freezing or re-using the food was a big task. It wasn’t just for your family either. Clipboards went around relief society every Sunday requiring me to sign up to feed the missionaries or other families. I took classes on how to do this food storage, but I never felt I was able to become confident at it. Food became like a large, looming mountain I could never overcome. It was constantly overwhelming and defeating me.

I was completely dedicated to the point of giving firesides [church talks] when asked. It was common to give three firesides a month. Firesides are like viruses. I’d give a talk in one ward, and the next week, a family member would call and ask me to do the same talk in their ward. Mormons have huge families. I did firesides for 15 years. I finally had to stop doing them when my second son got so sick.

I was still working as a nurse, a career I dearly loved and had worked and studied hard for. Eight years into being a mormon, I was beginning to get a little tired. In 1993 I quit my beloved nursing career due to obeying the prophet who commanded women to leave careers and become full-time homemakers. I cried for two years. The talk I gave about that experience they called, “Seeking the Will of God, Bit by Bit” and was published in Hearts Knit Together, 1995, Deseret Books. They liked it so much, they published it again in The Best of Women’s Conference, 2000 and then again in Sunshine for the Courageous Latter Day Saint Soul in 2001. That’s why I entitled this myself, “Losing My Mind, Bit by Bit”, because that’s exactly what happened. I always wondered why they kept publishing the same old talk. Didn’t they want to know how I was doing since then? I would love to have filled them in on how exhausted and depressed I was. I thought if I kept working hard, I’d earn God’s peace. I was so focused on having eternal perspective that I lost perspective; the perspective that this life was worth living. I was living just to get to die soon, and get admitted to the celestial kingdom where all those hardy, enduring souls got to go.

I lost my identity. I lost all sense of who I was as an individual with a right to sleep, pleasure, fun, joy. Being a mormon, de-humanized me. I was just a worker-bee, like in that beehive thing they use as their symbol. Rather than rest, I plodded on, just like a good pioneer woman. I worked hard, read lots of church history, like my patriarchal blessing advised. I was obedient to every rule, every commandment: no alcohol, tea, coffee, tobacco, be chaste, wear garments day and night no matter how hot it was in Arizona.

I’d sign up to do extra work on those clipboards that went around the room in Relief Society: feed the missionaries, work in the cannery, take a meal into the three sick sisters, put up the temple lights, take down the temple lights, clean the church building, sew something for the humanitarian project, donate used items for the Deseret Industries, etc. Of course, there was always some meal to prepare for the Elder’s Quorum function because Men are so busy acting for God they can’t cook. Temple attendance was encouraged once a month, at least, twice a month was even better. Those who were celestial material attended once a week. Yes, that’s right, I went every week for years. That took up most of my Thursdays. I dreaded Thursdays. I’d spend the whole day just getting one distant relative cleared for celestial glory.

Fridays were devoted to searching for my ancestors at Mesa’s Family History Center. I had filled volumes of my father’s mother’s people, then his father’s people. I worked hard to gather in my mother’s father’s people and then her mother’s, mother’s people. I saved money to send in to courthouses for birth records, marriage records and death records. Family after family, I began to see that you are born, you get married, and then you die. I worked on my husband’s families also.

We were converts so there were thousands and thousands of ancestors who never got taught this busy, busy gospel, and whose only hope of getting out of their spirit prison was me. I agonized every week that all I had to give them was one Friday a week. But faithfully, every Friday I worked down at the Family History Center from 9am until my kids came home from school at 3pm.

When the kids were too little for school, and they would nap, I’d spread family group sheets and pedigree sheets over their little beds as they slept. These sheets would spill over even to the floor space of their rooms. At night I’d use a flashlight and keep working. I got every new computer program the church recommended and entered these deceased families into my Personal Ancestral File. Over and over, year after year, I worked on my ancestors until I knew every one, every life. I was busy with the dead, the dying and the living. Each hour I turned the crank on the film machine, I agonized over all the work at home that wasn’t getting done. I resented Fridays.

On Saturdays I’d cut my husband’s and sons’ hair, lay out all those white shirts, ties, black pants, sox and shoes. I’d get all those zipped-up scriptures out for everyone, snacks, and bags. I raced through all the laundry, groceries, cooking and cleaning for the week. I spent time teaching my boys all the chores because we were taught in Relief Society over and over how important it was to teach our children everything. I spent time on Saturdays putting the finishing touches on the lessons my husband and I would teach the next day. I always planned my lessons a whole week in advance, just like the manual said, so I’d really have the spirit. My husband was too busy to do his own lesson, so I always worked on his as well.

I was always sure to be a good woman behind the men. In fact in one of our family portraits, I made sure I was actually standing behind all three of them, to illustrate that very point. I always got the feeling though, that I was dragging all three, like mules up a hill. It was exhausting to do all this work, but honor the men, as the real spiritual leaders. Saturdays were a lot of work.

Then there were Sundays. Oh, my god, the Sundays. Depending on what time my ward got assigned the building; I was up either at 5am or 7am. Forget sleeping late on Sundays, there’s just too much to do. There are meetings before and after the normal 3-hour stretch of mandated meetings of Sacrament, Sunday school and Relief Society, Primary or Young Women’s. Depending what callings I had, there were the meetings to plan what to do in the next meeting. I would have such a splitting headache on Sundays.

Usually I was fasting for my youngest son, Zack, who had quit breathing as a newborn 5 times and was Severely Learning Delayed-Developmentally Delayed- Bipolar, and, well, just never fit in. I had advocated for him successfully in school where he finally got Special Education, but there is no Special Education in the Primary or Scouts or Sunday School or the Aaronic Priesthood, so he never mastered the art of sitting still, and was always being abused by some priesthood holder, so there were those meetings as well. I thought if I just kept fasting and praying for Zack, God would intervene for him. Every Sunday would end by everyone yelling at each other, followed by Kevin giving Zack a blessing, and we’d close in a prayer. I hated Sundays.

On Mondays, I’d start preparing the evening’s important Family Home Evening. I’d re-clean the house so as not to offend the Holy Spirit. I’d cook an elaborate meal, so as to appease my masters. [I used to tell people I was working for my “Masters”, all 3 of them: Kevin, Mike and Zack!] After awhile that joke wasn’t even funny. I’d take special time to fix the dessert, because that was the one hope that all 3 males would sit through this “prayer-song-lesson-song-prayer-dessert-The End” of this holy family event. I dreaded Mondays.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays were the only days I had to work on doing my Visiting Teaching for the month, doing a member-missionary project, taking notes at my Institute class, and on helping my oldest son, Mike, progress toward getting his Eagle Scout Award. Every day of the week belongs to the church since it steals your individuality.

Scouting is very important if you happen to have male children in the church. Only Eagle Scouts get the first pick of future marriage partners and good jobs. I was a very dedicated Eagle mother. I was mentored by an Eagle father, in another ward, who guaranteed any boy the Eagle Scout award by age 14. There were certain badges to get at particular times. We had to work every week, without fail, very hard. I was warned if my son did not get this award by age 14, to just abandon all hope for it. After age 14, boys don’t follow through, these days, due to other interests.

In the old days, scouting was all there was. The church doesn’t keep up well with modern times. Mormon boys are to get this award whether they have interest in it or not. Mike was a joy to work with. He always had a big smile on his face and a willing spirit. He’d do whatever ridiculous thing I had planned. Some weeks we were cleaning yards together. Sometimes we’d grab some scouts and play cards with old ladies at the nearest rest home. Sure enough, by following the rigid formula for three years, Mike and I got our Eagle Scout award! I’m suspicious the Scouting program is some kind of crazy, leftover Nazi bullshit. The leaders, with all their goofy feathers, songs, and chants, really need to get a life.

I loved Mike. I wanted him to have every advantage in this very competitive LDS community. It wasn’t Mike’s fault he had old convert parents. Kevin and I were from Illinois. See, we had the misfortune of being cursed and didn’t know it then. We had gotten married too late, at 28. Then, we were having such a good time with our careers, and each other, we had completely forgotten to even have children! If we hadn’t moved to Mesa, and met the missionaries, we would never have come to our senses! Mike wasn’t born until I was an old hag at 35. I had his brother Zack at 37. I’ve always thought Mike got off on the wrong bus in the pre-existence. He was supposed to go to some huge LDS Utah family that goes back six generations. I’ve always thought he was disappointed at our small, defective, convert family. No matter how hard I tried to please him, to please them, I fell flat on my face, and was always behind, trying hard to catch up.

Bit, by bit, I began to lose my sanity. The bipolar illness I had all my life began to get worse. My conscientious and persistent visits to our LDS family psychologist [doesn’t every family have one?] and my psychiatrist didn’t seem to help much. I tried many different medicines. I had my lab work drawn. I was enduring to the end. I was hoping the end was soon because this pace was killing me. Literally. I thought about suicide and tried a few times. I was no longer able to keep up with this marching band of christian soldiers. I hated the song, “Put Your Shoulder To The Wheel”.

Zack was also very suicidal. I caught him with ropes around his neck. He started fires. He jumped out of moving cars and off our roof. Once I grabbed him at the last moment as he tried to jump off the top floor of the mall. He wanted to fly over the treetops below, he said. He didn’t sleep through the night for eleven years. He was taking stimulants and anti-depressants, which only years later, we discovered made him worse. Zack was failing in school, in church, in scouts, in our family. There was never one single family function we enjoyed.

Zack dreaded going to Scouts on Wednesday nights. There would be a fight to get him there and then a fight once he got home. Zack couldn’t learn the scout oaths, codes or anything. His leaders couldn’t learn to just love him. I gave five workshops to the ward. No one cared or followed through. I read the Ensign faithfully every month. The General Authorities reminded mothers to get their sons to the Aaronic Priesthood activities, which was scouting, every Wednesday night. We battled. One night I was on my knees cleaning up dog pee in the carpet. I received a distinct feeling that Jesus Christ did not care one bit about those merit badges. A light went on for me at that moment. I decided to disobey. I stopped making Zack go to scouts.

The very next week, I unraveled some more. It was April 2003. I was taking notes in General Conference. There was a talk on “Raising the Bar”. It devastated me. The gist of the message was that the expectations were being raised for missionaries. The Stake and Bishopric leaders reinforced the “we’re raising the bar” message every other week or so. It grew to encompass the mothers. I was already stretched to the max trying to meet an unbelievably impossible high standard. The church leaders had now raised the bar so high I’d never be able to reach it, let alone get Zack up there. It was impossible.

I remember the exact moment I snapped. Just like a rubber band that gets stretched, especially when it’s old and stiff, maybe one that’s been weathered a little. I was listening to the Bishop, as I sat in the middle pew. He was talking again about this higher standard. I was alone. Kevin was out of town again. In my mind’s eye, I could see them all taking off, leaving Zack and I behind to fend for ourselves. Like in that movie, Open Water, where two scuba divers are left behind by their group. They bob around in the water for days until they give up, and are eaten by sharks. I began to think about all those pioneer mothers who died, under a bush, on the plains, with a dying child, so the dad and older, stronger son, could make it to the Salt Lake Valley. That week, an LDS family moved off our street, a few streets away in order to be in a different ward. Their boys were my boys’ best friends. We were being left alone.

The summer of 2003 I began to feel something big was around the corner but I didn’t know what it was. I began making all kinds of preparations as if I were going somewhere, somewhere for a very long time, somewhere I wasn’t coming back from. I felt real urgency to get my affairs in order. I called the Relief Society President and asked her to take care of my Visiting Teaching Sisters and other duties because I couldn’t do it anymore. I made all the preparations and appointments so that Zack got his Patriarchal blessing. I made sure Mike actually got handed that Eagle Scout Award and also his Deacon’s Duty to God Award.

I worked hard completing the group of ancestors I had been working on and got their names ready. The church encourages families to find their own deceased family names and have their own living family get the temple work done. baptisms for the dead, by the youth, are really encouraged. Mike had already been doing baptisms for the dead for two years now, as he was 14. Zack just turned 12, the exact age required to enter the temple baptistery. I made extraordinary efforts to get all four of us our temple recommends. I was determined to get our little family to the temple, and have one of those lovely family temple experiences I’d read about in the Ensign. The experience was a nightmare because Zack was being weaned off his psychiatric medications. He was irreverent in the temple and the men in white reprimanded us all. Mike was embarrassed one more time. I made a silent vow never to go through that again.

The next Sunday, Mike was doing his priesthood duties in the bread room when Zack barged in and ate the bread. Mike was mortified when a lady overheard the commotion and blamed Mike for his brother’s terrible behavior. I promised Mike he would never again have to be embarrassed because of his mentally ill brother. I promised to keep his brother home until he could obey.

I used to stay home from church sometimes, with Zack, so that Kevin and Mike could enjoy Church without the agony of trying to get Zack to fit in. Our bishop told me once, “Just keep Zack home. You can teach him the gospel at home.” I wrote to the church’s Special Curriculum Department and got materials and did just that. Over time, though, I got lonely. I guess I had gotten selfish, in thinking Zack could fit in just this one Sunday.

Zack was unstable all of September. His liver enzymes had spiked, making it necessary to wean him off his Tegretol medicine. I had just made sure his new school year would be a good one. He had a great IEP and teaching team in place. I had such high hopes. With this new instability, his school year unraveled within a few weeks. Teachers were threatening me not to keep him.

I was panic-stricken; I called his doctor, emailed her, and sent her the teacher’s pleas. I was in his psychiatrist’s office four times that month getting different medicines for him. His mania was scaring me. His doctor laughed at it though and said, “you’re going to have to learn to live with it.” I knew that was impossible. I called four hospitals to get him help. One hospital said we were on the wrong side of the county line. One hospital wouldn’t take him because he was under the age of 13. One hospital wouldn’t take him because he wasn’t also a substance abuser. The last hospital said they didn’t take children. I slid the white insurance book across the kitchen counter to my husband and begged him to get Zack another doctor. He said he wanted to keep the current doctor. I sank into a deep despair. I had failed. I was utterly exhausted. There was no way out. Our situation was hopeless.

The week leading up to Sunday, September 28, 2003, was especially taxing. We had gotten a frightening letter in the mail over some property we owned. I was very alarmed and wanted my husband’s support and kindness but he said it was nothing and he wasn’t concerned about it, and left on an errand. That month, I learned from another specialist that Zack was even more developmentally delayed than originally believed. He was going to need extensive orthodontic work to bring his jaw up to normal. In the doctor’s office, the assistant asked Zack which of all the knots in their nautical display he preferred. Zack said, “the noose. I’d like to hang myself.” I was used to this, but she wasn’t, she jumped up and got the doctor right away. He lectured Zack for quite awhile in how important it was that he continued his bipolar medications.

I felt like I was treading water in the deep end of a pool with Zack on my back. I had treaded water as long as I physically could, and we both began to drown. Zack was getting bigger and stronger and heavier, but I was weakening and couldn’t support us. I just couldn’t continue. It was too much for too long. Looking back now, I was going through menopause but so busy with Kevin’s needs, Mike’s needs, Zack’s needs, the church’s needs, the needs of the household, I lost sight of my needs. There’s a saying in Relief Society, “Don’t forget to fill your bucket”. I had lost my bucket years ago and had no idea where it was. I had a feeling if I were to ever find it, it would be full of holes and rust and be no good anyway.

The week of the 28th, I had gone to the temple that Thursday, as usual, and the Family History Center on Friday. That Saturday was the usual frantic blur of a race to get things done for Sunday. I think by Sunday my body and brain were already way passed the breaking point. There had been so little time over the years, for myself, I had forgotten that I was even there at all. I had died somewhere, along the mormon trail, with all the other weary, pioneer women, first in their family lines to join the gospel.

Looking back to that last Sunday, I got up early as usual, nothing out of the ordinary, except that I wore no makeup, and just let my hair fall in gray threads. I wore a black blouse, long black skirt, black stockings and black shoes. No color at all. Zack and I came home right after Sacrament, keeping my promise to Mike. We were changing into more comfortable clothes. Zack, very manic and animated, stepped out of my bathroom toward me. I was bending over slowly taking off my black stockings. “Mom, let’s kill ourselves!” He was smiling, asking, begging. I’ve never seen Zack so happy. He smiled from ear to ear. It was like he was going to Disneyland. We were like two weak ice skaters holding on to each other for support. When one falls he pulls the other with him. It never occurred to me to call anyone for help. Looking back, I think we de-stabilized simultaneously. I think he was in a manic state and I was in a depressed state.

There is no logical or reasonable explanation for what happened next. I felt like I was falling backward down a hole. The room got dark, somehow, even though it wasn’t quite 10:30 in the morning. Maybe it was a cloud covering the sun, I don’t know. My vision was going. I couldn’t focus. Everything was blurry. I was very slowed down and uncoordinated. The walls began to close in. I felt I was dying already. Talking was difficult, “ok” was all I could get out. It felt like some heavy weight was on my chest and I was smothering. I couldn’t breathe well, short of breath.

I felt it was my duty as a mother, since I had failed every which way here on earth to help Zack, to go with him to the other side. Neither Zack nor I would ever get better. If Zack was finally going to kill himself, I must somehow get over there, too. A few years earlier, my brother’s son, Charlie, had killed himself with a gun. I always felt so badly that he died alone. His death was something our family still hadn’t come to grips with. I didn’t want to kill Zack, or myself, but I wanted Zack to feel relief. I didn’t have the hand-eye coordination and thinking ability to effectively see my way to accomplish it. I didn’t have the ability, at the time, to get us to the other side. Maybe we could just sleep. I told him we could take our meds. We could take a little extra.

In the past, I had followed the advice of a therapist who told me when I was having a bad day, take my meds early, take extra, and take a nap. That had worked for me. I’d wake up the next day and feel ‘re-charged’, ready to go again. Her theory was a person didn’t really want to die, just black out. It had worked for me. About every three months I’d have a really bad day. I’d tell Kevin to take the boys and I would check out for the evening and the night. In the morning, I was myself again. I had never tried to help anyone else do this.

Zack was used to taking his medications four times a day. I didn’t have to help him. I wasn’t able to help him. At one point I remember him getting bread. I know he wanted to die. I was just exhausted. I was concentrating on swallowing as much Tegretol as I could. If Zack was going to the spirit world, I needed to be there for him. It was like I’d hold his hand as he crossed a busy street. I didn’t want him to be alone. I had stopped him so many times over the years from taking his life. This time, I was going with him, so he wouldn’t be alone. From the temple covenants I heard, “It’s time to sacrifice your own life if necessary.” From the New Testament I heard, “There is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend.”

Because I was fasting, the meds worked quickly. I was getting sleepy as we wrote our love notes to Kevin and Mike in case we made it to the other side. I always wrote notes to say goodbye in case I never came back. When I did come back, I would just tear up the notes and throw them away. Kevin and Mike would be better off without us. Their whole lives revolved around our mental illness. Without us, they could live normal lives. Zack wrote a note and put it on the door saying we’re just taking a nap. We both pushed a heavy dresser in front of the bedroom door and locked it. We didn’t know if we were going to have enough time to get to the other side. We took a picture of Jesus off the wall and laid it between us and lay down on the bed and held hands. It was the picture of Jesus holding a little boy as he is helping an older girl up out of the river. We slept. I lost consciousness.

When I first tried to open my eyes, all I could see was white. Then I made out a metal U-track. In spite of the fog, I recognized the metal curtain track common to all I.C.U’s. “Shit”. I never got passed the ceiling. I couldn’t use my left hand. It was tied to the bed. I was so sick. The next three days I was in and out of consciousness. I remember Kevin’s strained face, telling me Zack was ok and would be fine. I remember Mike’s face. A nurse saying, “Let’s clean you up.” There was a guy sitting by my bed all the time. I’d see him through the rails. He’d just sit there. He said he was a sitter. I had no privacy. I slept constantly but was still so tired. Occasionally people would come to the bedrail and ask questions. I’d answer as best I could, doctors, social workers, a chaplain, nurses, and policemen reading me my rights. I remember a visit from a friend, Jeni. She’s very tall. One groggy day, her long arms were suddenly on either side of me. Her face was an inch from mine, and she growled, “Why didn’t you call me”. She was like one of those large silver back gorillas in the forest, warning off predators.

Actually I had called her. I told her many times Zack killed an animal, set fires, kicked in a door, threatened to kill us. Zack was not sleeping. Zack was suicidal. Zack cut himself with knives just to see the blood. Zack did not fit in at church. I told Kevin and his friends. I told church leaders and friends. I told the doctors. I told the ladies who drew blood. I told the secretaries and receptionists. I told the specialists. I had called family over the years. I never hid the fact that Zack and I were bipolar and unstable. Every day was a fight for sanity. Looking back now, I should never have continued with Zack’s psychiatrist so long. I should never have worked so hard for the church. I felt so badly for my husband. He looked warn and tired and sad.

One night Kevin came to my room and told me Zack and I would be transferred to the same psychiatric hospital. I was strapped to a gurney with just a hospital gown on, barefoot. I was taken by ambulance to St. Luke’s’ Behavioral Health Hospital. I was terrified. I had never gone to a psychiatric hospital before. I was so cold. I was alone. I had no sox, no shoes, no hairbrush, no make up, no clothes, no money, no family, and no friends. I sat in the lobby of the hospital for many hours before I was admitted. It was dark outside and I didn’t know where I was in downtown Phoenix or I would have run out of there. I overheard the staff laughing about other patients and funny ways they had tried to kill themselves. This frightened me and I called Kevin to come get me but he never answered the phone. I was increasingly nervous and anxious. I had been on psychiatric medications for twelve years. Now it was several days without them, having been totally purged of them in the ICU. My teeth were chattering, my skin was crawling, I was paranoid.

Early in the morning, I was admitted to an adult locked psychiatric ward. I was petrified as I was shown my room where another, very large patient was sleeping. There were crickets jumping, the bathroom fixtures all dripped, dripped, dripped all night long. There was a red light over my bed that never shut off. The mattress was only an inch of light plastic, as was the pillow. I got to where I dreaded the nights. My medicines were never right and I never slept. It was like a Chinese torture chamber, never being able to rest or sleep, being manic, without meds, the red light, the dripping, the crickets, the miserable plastic. I tried to believe I was in a rain forest, but it didn’t work.

I was absolutely frantic about Zack. He was in the same horrible place somewhere on a children’s unit. Was he sleeping? Was he eating? Was he drinking? Was he as scared and lonely as I was? I was hysterical to get to Zack until one of his therapists came to me and told me Zack was doing well. He was eating and sleeping and had friends. He was sleeping? Zack had had night terrors for years. He had never slept well. He had friends? That was new. Come to find out, the first thing the hospital psychiatrist did was take Zack off all the antidepressants and tranquilizers he had been on that made him so awful all those twelve long years! Kevin would visit me after seeing Zack. Kevin was amazed how much better Zack was. Zack was on a new medicine called Geodon, an antipsychotic. Oh, and his liver enzymes were fine, after all, so he got his Tegretol back! Something inside me let go a little, but I still obsessed about him and prayed for him incessantly. [oh, by the way, we decided to keep this new smarter psychiatrist and dump the old stupid one. Zack hasn’t been suicidal once in two years and he’s been stable now for two solid years. Ahhhhhhhh. The wrong meds are dangerous, like gasoline on a fire. The right medications are absolutely life changing.]

Because I couldn’t sleep at night I was tired during the day. There’s a big difference between being tired and being sleepy. Normal people don’t know that. I was extremely tired, but wired, jumpy, exhausted. I dreaded the nights. I stayed up writing all night. I was so worried I’d lose my mind without sleep about the 6th night without it. Someone told me that no one had ever died without sleep, and then someone said you could die without sleep. I wasn’t concerned about dying. During the day I went to all the groups, and read the reading material and learned I had become enmeshed with Zack and that I had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as well as Bipolar 1 Disorder with panic and anxiety. I was encouraged to focus on myself and stop obsessing about Kevin, Mike, Zack and the Church’s standards. I learned I had compulsive religiosity.

I learned that all the hard working helpfulness I did was really controlling compulsiveness. I learned I had no boundaries with Zack. He had felt suicidal that day, not me. I was exhausted and yet acted with him to carry out his wish. My medications were changed every day. None of the medicine they tried me on for sleep worked. There was nothing strong enough. The last day there I was placed on Depakote1000mg twice a day with Restoril 45mg and Tegretol 600mg at night and Seroquel 300mg. I had an image of what had happened. I was a deep, ceramic bowl; a hard working bowl, holding several beautiful glass balls, among whom were Kevin, Mike and Zack. On 9-28-03 the bowl fell crashing to the ground, never to be repaired, the balls were ok, they just rolled across the floor. The bowl was in a hundred different shattered pieces and I had no idea how to fix myself.

After two weeks I was discharged into the custody of two police officers. I was arrested and handcuffed and taken to jail. I was charged with a 2nd degree Felony for Child Abuse which carried a mandatory 15 year prison sentence followed by 10 years of parole without seeing the children and faced a fine of $150,000 and many years of community service. Because my husband is a Lieutenant for Mesa Police Department, and a Commander of its Bomb Squad the Assistant Chief was concerned about liability. They prosecuted me fully so they could say there was no special treatment.

I did get special treatment though, because normally this case would have just disappeared. The original cop who investigated my case was taken off the case because she didn’t agree with prosecuting it. Two cops got reprimanded because they disagreed with the illegal search and seizure of our home. The arresting officer was having an affair with the unit’s doctor , who lied about facts to make the case stronger. Zack was awake and alert in the ambulance to the hospital. They sedated him in the ER in order to work with him. They interviewed Zack when he was still sedated and restrained in the ICU. Later, the toxicology report came back saying Zack had only taken four pills. I was arraigned before a judge. He let me stay at home, for now, but stipulated Zack and I could not be alone together. I had never had such a bleak future.

My head was spinning as Kevin took me home. I immediately tried to get back to normal, no matter how abnormal it was, and no matter how I was feeling inside. I went to work cleaning the messy house. It was obvious the unpaid domestic servant had been gone for two weeks. That day, Kevin sternly sat me down and told me I was going to have to get a job to pay for the expenses of this mess, maybe live somewhere else, and that he could never go though this again. He could never go through this again?

Those first days home, I was still reeling inside from everything. The Depakote sedated me and made me sick and made my hands shake. I wanted to please Kevin, the boys, and the Law. I felt lower than low for what I had done and the mess I had caused. The lawyer kept telling me I’d probably go to prison for years. I didn’t know how I could please Kevin; resume my nursing career, just yet, with this criminal problem, shaky hands, and sedation. The reality of mental illness is discrimination and blame. It’s the only illness we blame people for having. It doesn’t happen with a heart attack, just a brain attack.

I felt like I was in limbo. Shamed. I was a social reject, an outcast. Embarrassed, defeated. My life was beyond my control. My body was so sick on the heavy doses of depakote, tegretol, and seroquel. The fear and anxiety crushed me. I don’t think the police and courts understand how much worse they make life for the mentally ill. For the next year and a half, I went back and forth to the courts as a defendant. To help myself, I joined The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill [NAMI]. I took trainings and classes in mental illness. When I told the president of NAMI about my felony charge and indictment, he kindly said, “Eventually, everyone with mental illness ends up getting charged with something.” Associating with these very accepting people helped my feel there was hope for me.

The LDS psychiatrist, I had for twelve years, retired just when I got out of the hospital. It’s a good thing, because I got busy finding myself better psychiatric care. I mean, it’s pretty obvious I needed someone who would do a better job. I navigated the maze of Value Options and became a patient to continue some out- patient therapy. I got a new psychiatrist there and my own case manager. I took classes there as well. I was told to focus on myself. I had never done that before. I was so busy helping others. My confidence began to grow but my religious life began to fail.

For a year and a half I struggled to get back to normal. I cleaned, cooked and did laundry. I went to church. I obeyed all the rules. I took care of the boys and Kevin. But something was flat. Something was off. I hated church talks on sacrifice and service. When I went to the temple and heard, “sacrifice your own life if necessary” I never went back. Daily Scripture reading and prayer wasn’t fulfilling. The Relief Society president grabbed me twice, without even asking how I was, but asked me to resume Visiting Teaching and Family History work! I just looked at her in disbelief! It all seemed very strange. I called for two appointments with the Bishop who offered no advice other than “Go forward in faith.” He had no idea what to do. He acted nervous and afraid.

Something was wrong. The church and its people did not know what to do. The Bishop and the Stake President interviewed me for my temple recommend within a few months of my discharge and arrest. I was able to answer every question honestly and easily renewed it. Neither of them knew what to do for me. Here I was keeping all the commandments and was still uneasy and felt something was wrong.. Then I remembered that I was keeping all the commandments when I overdosed with my son!

The funny thing about that Sunday was no one had any revelation. The day came and went without revelation. Funny, huh? The whole time Zack and I were “napping” in the back bedroom, priesthood holders came and went. My priesthood holding husband and older son watched TV, made cookies, and worked on motorcycles, without checking on us in the back bedroom. The bishop even came by delivering an IEP the old bishop had in his desk and left without any revelation we had overdosed. September 28 was the last Sunday of the month so our home teachers came by that evening and gave the home teaching lesson. Here Zack and I were gorked out of our minds in the back bedroom during their visit and NONE of these men had a revelation that something was wrong? They all left after their pleasant visits! That’s odd.

If the church were true, where had been my revelation that day? I was wearing my garments. I had said my prayers. I had read my scriptures. I had gone to church. I had gone to the temple. I had gone to the family history library. We had paid our tithing and fast offerings and more. We read the Book of Mormon as a family. We held our family home evenings. And on and on and on! I had kept all the commandments, and yet look at the plight I was in. What had happened to me was way outside the ability of the church, that’s why they didn’t know what to say or do. Elder Morrison calls mental illness “a tsunami of suffering.” It’s just too much for the church to deal with.

January 2005, I zipped up my scriptures for the last time. I put them up on a shelf. I went through all my mormon books and threw them away. I stopped wearing those long hot garments, put them in a big bag on a high closet shelf. I bought regular underwear for the first time in twenty years. I bought myself a box of tea. I used to love hot tea and iced tea. I began talking to my husband and sons about what I wanted.

I began reading books: Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood

Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck

Breaking Point: Why Women Fall Apart and How They Can Re-Create Their Lives also by Martha Beck

Revolution From Within by Gloria Steinem

The Price of Motherhood by Ann Crittenden

The Meaning of Wife by Anne Kingston

The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner

He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt

Women and Madness by Chesler

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

The Joy Diet by Martha Beck

America’s Women by Gail Collins

Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem

The Woman’s Book of Courage by Sue Patton Thoele

Comfort Secrets for Busy Women by Jennifer Louden

No Man Knows My History by Fawn Brodie

Leaving the Saints by Martha Beck

With each encouraging word from these new female friends of mine, I began to piece together a happy life. I became selfish for the first time in my life. I collected bits of turquoise glass. It spoke to my soul. I got rid of the old heavy antique furniture in my bedroom that Kevin loved and replaced them with modern. I did the exercises in the books to discover what meant something to me.

I wanted to work with the mentally ill. I got a fabulous job as a Rehabilitative Associate for Triple R. Behavioral Health’s East Valley Clubhouse in Mesa, doing just that! I have two sweet women bosses who adore me. Within six months I got a raise! All those years of not working were not good for me. The hours are great. They know about my felony indictment. I was completely honest. I love my work. My co-workers are great. The atmosphere is very nurturing and feminine. Everyone is immersed in compassion, acceptance, kindness, going at your own pace, no competition. Religion is not allowed because so many mentally ill people have been harmed by religions. Yet, privately, most of my co-workers see their work as their ministry, an outcropping of their many and varied religious denominations. I know if Jesus came to Mesa, he’d definitely stop in the East Valley Clubhouse. He’d feel at home there.

Because my husband refused the expense of a trial, I pled guilty to child abuse. I’m serving ten years of probation now. It’s hard. I try to keep my head above the waters of the low self-esteem. I hate sitting on the dirty plastic chairs with the other criminals. I feel so badly for all of us in that disgusting room. I feel small, insignificant, and inhuman. I try to do things that help me feel better. I got my own banking account. I went shopping for clothes. I bought exercise equipment and use it every day. I stretch out in the sun, nude. I got my hair cut and professionally colored and highlighted. I stopped cooking all those meals! I’ve lost twenty pounds! I stopped doing all the laundry. I put a laundry basket by each male’s bed. They do their own now. I declared my freedom from the need to cook, clean and sew, laundry and iron their clothes. I am a freed slave!

It’s amazing how much time is available by just not going to church anymore and doing all that work! I still meet often with our family psychologist who has encouraged my leaving the church. I’ve kept my husband and sons posted on my new life and why I must take each step. I love having a female psychiatrist and female case manager. Even my probation officer is a female. It feels so good to be free of male domination. I’ve decided being under a male, authoritarian, patriarchal church was oppressive and depressing. It kept me from growing and expressing myself. Yesterday I mailed my resignation letter to the Bishop. It felt good. Mormonism was an interesting period of my life. I’m glad my service is over and I can move on with my new life.

The issue for me is not whether the mormon church is true or not. I don’t care one way or the other. It’s just too hard on me to live it. It’s just too exhausting. All that work and sacrifice and dedication is unhealthy for me. For me, the issue is living a healthy life. For the first time in many years I want to live! I’m happy waking up in the morning and having a job to go to. I’m not lonely anymore. I have a place to go, people to see, things to do. I have a paycheck again. There is something so satisfying about doing a job well and having people appreciate it enough to pay for it.

My husband is stepping in and being a parent. Imagine that. My boys are doing their own laundry and cleaning their own rooms. They cook for themselves or buy pizza. They are becoming more independent It’s good for them to see a happy mother. It’s good for them to rely on their father. Our family was out of balance. It’s better now.

We have more money. We laugh more. We like Sundays. We play cards and watch movies. We don’t freak out if someone is relaxing. We spend more time together. We talk about the church some. I make it clear I will not get sucked back into that vortex again. The church is harder on women than on men. I actually think it’s set up for men. They like having the women do all that hard work for them.

We still have family prayer and family home evening. But it’s different. We do an activity Zack and I learned at the psychiatric hospital. Everyone gets to choose a goal for the week and state how he/she feels. We listen and support each family member. The next week we check in with each other and see how the goal went and add the new feeling. We talk more and we respect boundaries.

Whether you are lds or not, I wish you all the very best in your life. Thanks for hanging in there with me and reading my journey.

Love, Pam Kazmaier August 7,2005

August 6. 2005

 

 

Bishop Stephen Thomas
2339 East Enrose
Mesa, Arizona 85213

Re: Resignation from church membership Pamela Ann Kazmaier

Dear Bishop,

This is my formal letter of resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, effective immediately, severing all relationship to the church. I hereby terminate my consent to be treated as a member of said church and I withdraw my consent to submit to the church beliefs and ecclesiastical disciplinary procedures. Please make the confidential changes in the church records, without delay, according to the Church Handbook of Instruction, page 130.

You must now treat me as a former member in all your dealings with me. Please forward this voluntary resignation to the stake president, within the week, as I waive the thirty-day waiting period, having considered this for six months. Due to health reasons, I can no longer sacrifice, and consecrate all my time, talents and everything to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I understand by doing this I cancel forever all hope of exaltation in the celestial kingdom.

I am not leaving due to some personal offense or doctrinal issue. I am grateful for all I gained over the course of twenty years of membership. I was able to break the cycle of alcoholism in my family line. I treasure the relationships developed with my husband of twenty-four years and two children. Over the past seven months of inactivity, we’ve gotten even closer. I gained leadership and public speaking skills in all the tasks I was asked to do. Though it got exhausting, I magnified every calling. I poured all my energy into each assignment. This excess use of human energy took a toll.

The sudden crisis and tragedy of September 28, 2003 caused me to wake up. Overdosing with my suicidal son was a wake up call. Stepping out of the LDS mindset has taken a full two years now. This week, August 10, 2005, marks 20 years of church membership. September 28, 2005 marks two years since my breakdown.

Waking up tied to a hospital bed, locked up in a psychiatric ward, and being arrested in handcuffs and taken to jail was quite a shock. I got all the way to age 50 without even a traffic ticket. Being a criminal, charged and indicted on a felony, and now serving the next ten years in probation is almost more than I can endure.

I wish there had been a warning when I joined the church: “This church will require you to meet more than you can humanly do. It is not recommended for those of you who have inherited mental illness, especially obsessive-compulsive disorder. You will work yourself into exhaustion and breakdown.”

All of 2004 I struggled to “get back to normal” in the church. Church talks on striving and dedication sickened me. All the hard work is too exhausting now. By not attending church, I am beginning to relax, and feel peace and happiness. I am beginning to heal. I wish you all the best and thank you for your time.

Respectfully,

Pam Kazmaier

Cc: Members and Statistical Records Division
50 East North Temple Street
SLC, 84150


True Happiness

True happiness comes from within. Its origins cannot be found in others. Try as we might, lasting happiness will never be found in anything outside ourselves. Fleeting happiness may be found in external sources, but can be nothing more than a temporary fix, a metaphorical band-aid on our soul. I have discovered so much about myself since I left the LDS church three years ago, and the greatest gem I’ve uncovered is my path to true and lasting happiness. Of all the searching for truth that I’ve done, the one universal truth that I stand by unequivocally is that true happiness only comes when:

  1. we genuinely know ourselves
  2. we are true to ourselves (no matter what opposition we face)
  3. we let go of any hope of an outside force (person, place or thing) providing happiness/peace for us

It may sound simple, but the more my eyes are opened to the world and the people in it, the more I see just how elusive this truth can be. I can only speak from my own experience, so I will share how my journey has brought me to this knowledge. Every one’s journey is different, but I believe that all journeys to true and lasting happiness will end in similar wisdom.

1- Genuinely Knowing Ourselves

My journey to know myself, like all humans, began at birth. And like all humans, I was immediately effected by the culture and society into which I was born. Most of the societal influences were harmless upon my emerging self and did little to hamper my growth. But, over time, certain pressures, teachings and influences (many of which came from my parents and the LDS church) came to distance me from my own self. For example, I was taught the extreme importance of unquestioning obedience by both the church and my parents. I was taught that adherence to a rigid code of conduct and checklist of works were necessary to win God’s love and eternal salvation. To some personalities, these influences might not be so rough, but for me, a questioner, a thinker, and a highly intelligent being, they were stifling. As I tried to shut down my own personality in order to comply with the expectations of my family and church, I became increasingly estranged from my own self. As an adult, this felt like a vague sense of dissatisfaction in my life, underlying frustration and a noticeable split between my private self and my public self. I found myself giving more and more energy to word choice and self-censoring.

A disassociation with oneself begins with a misfit between one’s true self and the expectations from others whom we see as meaningful in our lives. For some it may stem from a feeling of not living up to career expectations from parents or issues with being born homosexual into a family who is less than understanding.

Three years ago, I did not fully understand my dissatisfaction with life. The key to beginning the path to knowing oneself is to recognize the symptoms of living a life that is out of harmony with our innate selves. The symptoms can be depression, anxiety, dread, or anger. In extreme cases, symptoms can also look like acting-out behavior such as drug abuse, self-harm, and other risky behavior. Sometimes this disassociation can manifest as lying, bragging, or exaggerating.

Once we recognize the symptoms within, we can begin to take steps toward being true to ourselves. Even if we feel blind in the beginning, with every step of throwing off the chains which bind us, we will come closer to knowing ourselves. With this knowledge, we can cultivate a loyalty to ourselves that will result in true and lasting happiness.

2. Being True to Ourselves (no matter what opposition we face)

The first step in my journey involved throwing off one chain that had kept me in bondage for decades. That chain was a belief taught to me by the LDS church and strongly reinforced by my LDS family and friends. It was the belief that questioning church doctrine was evil.

I’d always been taught that God would not allow our prophets or other church leaders to lead us astray.  I was taught that Joseph Smith, and all the church leaders which came after him, were God’s mouthpieces. In other words, even the desire to question doctrine, could only derive from one source: the devil. This belief caused me guilt and agnst when I felt doubts about Joseph Smith, the book of Mormon, and other issues with the church surface. I’d prayed, studied, and even faked my way along for many years. I just didn’t feel that burning in my bosom that so many Mormons in my life talked about. I just couldn’t bring myself to publicly declare a testimony of these things. As my activity in the church became more active and broad in scope, I found myself increasingly dancing around certain doctrinal points, many of which were central to the church.

Hand in hand with the cultural norm of infallibility of church leaders, was the strict admonition to avoid any non-church sanctioned publication or source for information. Yes, it is taught and widely accepted in the church that it is only appropriate to seek information regarding church doctrine and history from the church, itself.

One day, I threw off this chain and began my process of questioning church doctrine. It began with buying a book (which was NOT a church sanctioned publication), and quickly exploded into a full-on investigation involving many books and internet sources. My journey brought my  doubts into the light. Since that time, I have learned not to stifle my doubts. I enjoy operating on all cylinders, so to speak. I no longer conform to any cultural norm which requires me to curtail my thinking or put on any type of mask (be fake, in other words).

I have faced opposition in the form of scorn and judgement from LDS family and friends. I have paid a price, but it is one I’d gladly pay again and again for the deep and gratifying peace that has come from being true to myself. There is much to be said, too, for learning to limit ones vulnerability to attempts to inflict pain, guilt or manipulation by those who disagree with our chosen path to peace. I’m still in the process of mastering this area of my life.

3- Letting Go of Any Hope of an Outside Force (person, place or thing) Providing Happiness/Peace

The only person I can control is me. Efforts to control another only end in frustration and in destruction of healthy relations. No matter how deep a love, peace and happiness can only come from within. When we know ourselves and are true to ourselves, then we are in a position of being ready for a healthy relationship with another. Only then, can our happiness stand on it’s own, independent of any outside influence. When we are true to ourselves, we will naturally gravitate to healthy relationships.

Happiness has to come from within to be of any real or lasting value. Listen to yourself. Know yourself and be true to yourself. When you do this, letting go of outside influences on your happiness will come naturally.

(Original Post: http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/11/sacred-writings-you-are-not-allowed-to.html)

How would you feel if you learned that the LDS ChurchTM claimed to be in possession of sacred writings that it didn’t want its own members reading?
Almost 500 years ago a German monk had similar concerns with the medieval Catholic Church that he served under. His name was Martin Luther, and today Mormons honor him for initiating the protestant reformation. We have long recognized that without Martin Luther’s reformation, there could have been no restoration under Joseph Smith.
Among the reforms demanded by Martin Luther was that the scriptures which the Church considered proprietary to itself should be available to all members.
Now someone on the internet has, in honor of Martin Luther’s birthday last Thursday, made available some records that the ChurchTM provides for its leaders but deems too “sacred” for ordinary lay members. Among other reasons given, the poster believes that since members are directly affected by many of the rulings contained therein, they have a right to know about them. This “sacred record” is the Church Handbook of Instructions, newly revised in a two volume, massive 402 page edition officially released just yesterday.
Although these volumes are said to represent the preeminent authority for all things relating to church government, policy, and doctrine, unless you are a bishop or stake president, the Brethren at ChurchTM HQ do not want you getting your grubby little hands on them.
Should a bishop be entitled to a guidebook that assists him in his calling?  By all means.  But I’ll refer you to the Martin Luther-LDS site if you would like to see just how ridiculously out of bounds that once sensible guidebook has become.  Once meant as a simple guide to procedure, it has completely slipped its tether.The real question is, why has the Church become so dead set against the regular membership seeing the contents?  Some of the policies in the current handbook are intriguing, no doubt, but there’s no question that much of it is directed downward at the lowly and mundane members.  This is the work they will be judged from.  Wouldn’t you think those members should be allowed at least a little peek at the contents? Well, too bad, Amigo. You haven’t been vetted. Only those holding rank, title, and office are privy to its secrets.

I’m guessing whoever is the author of the Martin Luther-LDS site is either a bishop or a stake president, as few others had access to the volumes before yesterday.  Then again, it may have been someone on the inside, someone from within the very bowels of the Morg. No matter; he’s not the only one who feels this information should be readily available to any who desire it.  Copies had already been leaked to the Salt Lake Tribune, and presumably other outlets already have it, just as previous editions have always been available to those who know where to look.  Thousands of copies go out to Church leaders every time there’s a revision, and thankfully not everyone in a leadership position shares the Church’s needless and silly corporate obsession for secrecy.
The Two Mormon Churches
Last month I suggested that in all actuality there may two “Mormon” Churches existing in pretty much the same dimensional space: One consists of the believers, you and me, the Saints as a people, or what the apostle Paul analogizes as the body of Christ. The other, as Paul Toscano has described it, is “a church that is preoccupied with exteriorities. It prizes “righteousness” over holiness, “image” over inspiration.””The Church,” states Toscano, is no longer the Saints, but an increasingly judgmental, puritanical, and authoritarian Corporate entity.”

“Unchecked power,” he continues, “has led Church leaders to believe that their authority is not limited by the gospel, but that the gospel is limited, and may be amended by their authority. (The belief evidenced in Apostle Russell Nelson’s Ensign article that arrogantly declares God’s love to be conditional.) Faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost are rivaled by obedience, respectability, denial, and sycophancy.  The Church is no longer seen as the object of salvation, but its source.””Christ is not so much author of redemption, as authorization for an aristocracy of apostles who serve less as shepherds proclaiming the gospel, but more as sheepdogs protecting the Church’s snow white image from the night soil of human nature.”

Standard Operating Procedure

The corporation that owns the trademark to the name The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsTM long ago abandoned the idea that the “church” consists of the people who make it up. Those mere members must now be ruled over, supervised, and kept in line by their leaders. Like the medieval Roman Catholic Church, the modern LDS ChurchTM has become a hierarchy that rules by fiat.  The Church Handbook of Instructions is the very proof of that.
Every major corporation has a book of Standard Operating Procedures, or SOP. This corporation calls theirs the CHI. You may not consider it scripture, but the ChurchTM certainly seems to. In an email from the ChurchTM to a local stake authority (I can’t quote the precise words from the message because the recipient fears it could be traced back to him), the manual and the work that it represents are referred to as “sacred.”
The Encyclopedia of Mormonism describes the CHI as “preeminent among Church publications in both its preparation and its use as an authoritative guide for local Church leaders.”
“Sacred.” “Authoritative.” “Preeminent.” That sounds like the the very definition of scripture to me.  And if the ChurchTM is keeping scripture from you, don’t you have the right to ask why?
Bishops are supposed to be guided by the spirit. Nephi taught that it is the role of the Holy Ghost to tell us all that we should do.  But what bishop has need of the Holy Ghost when he can just reach for the SOP manuals on the shelf behind him?
In discussing the secretive unveiling of the new Church Handbooks, LDS blogger Zo-ma-rah also posted a tribute to Martin Luther on Luther’s birthday Thursday, concluding:

“We should all take a lesson from him and seek to ensure that our church remains firm in it’s scriptural foundations. We may not have Popes and Councils in our church, but we do have Presidents and Committees. Let us not make the same mistakes as our ancestors by allowing such people to do and teach whatever they will, without ensuring that it is in line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Two days after links to the Church handbook were posted on the Martin Luther-LDS site, lawyers for the Corporate Church, claiming copyright infringement, were successful in getting the server to kill those links. It would appear that the LDS ChurchTM thinks it’s the Church of Scientology, whose members are not allowed to possess any knowledge above their rank.
Meantime, however, an unknown number of copies of the CHI were downloaded from Bishop Luther’s site.  Unfortunately for those bent on control, those copies will continue to multiply digitally until everyone who wants a copy of the manuals should be able to find one somewhere.Personally, I would advise you not to look.  The manuals are copyrighted by Intellectual Reserve, Inc., which is a subsidiary of The Corporation of the President, which is, of course, the corporation that owns the rights to the name of our churchI am not posting links here, nor am I advising anyone to download them for their own personal scripture study.  Intellectual Reserve maintains a slew of sharks attorneys in its employ, and nothing is as tenacious as a lawyer who thinks he is toiling on the side of God.  I do not wish to tangle with these people at this time, in light of my massive wealth and the substantial assets I stand to lose if I am sued by the ChurchTM. These assets consist primarily of my wife’s oxygen machine, some dehydrated bananas, and four cases of canned cheese, so you can appreciate my reluctance to draw undue attention.

(Yes, I’ve bought three more cases of cheese since last we spoke.)

So if you are inclined to download materials under copyright to Intellectual Reserve, Inc.,  I will offer you counsel similar to that which the Brethren have offered when shooing us away from materials they deem inappropriate and harmful (such as this blog, perhaps):Brothers and sisters, I say let it alone.  Do not bring such things into your home.  Doing so will only be destructive to your testimony of the Corporation and reap disappointment to you by and by.

Ain’t No Thang

Anyway, here’s the really big secret: Although the CHI contains some information every latter-day Saint should be aware of so you aren’t caught by surprise, most of the information is not that big a deal.  No sacred ordinances are revealed, and you won’t find instructions for eating babies in the basement of the temple.  No, the primary reason they don’t want you reading the manuals is just plain old fashioned corporate control.  This is the Mormon Talmud, and you ain’t no Rabbi.  So just move along, Moishe, and leave this religion stuff to the big boys.

The corporate bullies may have have stuck a cork in it for the time being, but nothing should stop you from reading about the CHI. The Martin Luther-LDS blog is still up, even if the links to the manuals themselves no longer work.  Catch it while it’s hot, because there’s no telling when even that may disappear, too.  The author delves into some of the more interesting topics from the CHI, along with an airtight argument as to why “scripture” cannot be owned, and why it is imperative that those of us who believe in the restored gospel should know what is contained within the pages of the material our tithing money paid for.
Then again, consider this: Just because you are LDS, you may think you have ownership of everything that comes out of the church. But keep in mind you don’t belong to that church.  That is the Corporate ChurchTM. It has a very exclusive membership, and they don’t care what you think.  The members of that Church will do whatever the hell they want.
                                                                     *****
Here’s that link again:

http://martinluther537.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/the-church-handbook-of-instructions-and-thinking-on-your-own/


View

The following letter appeared on Craigslist in March of 2009. It captures the reasons why leaving the Church is so painful. 

 

Dear Elder (Name):

As one who suffers from within, I write this letter to inform you of the magnitude of a growing problem. I am fully active, fully worthy, and fully apostate. I remain active solely for the sake of immediate and extended family unity, and to preserve my marriage. The fact that I cannot act upon my knowledge about fraudulent church history and doctrine has created a considerable dilemma for both the church and myself. The church is filled with people like me, and if you do not address this dilemma, the church will collapse from within. This letter, therefore, is an appeal for your consideration of my personal dilemma, and to serve as a witness against you if you fail to act.

I am writing this letter anonymously because I fear the power of your unrighteous dominion. It is not acceptable for you to claim that you personally would not wish for those like me to suffer or fear. The “Strengthening Church Members Committee” has proven its reach in the true style of “1984 Thought-Crime” investigations and “Ministry (councils) of Love” discipline. Yes, I fear you, I loath your tactics and I forcibly serve you. If you doubt my claim of forced servitude, then you would be wise to withhold your assessment until the end of this letter. I am writing with the futile hope that you (or anyone) will care enough to resolve this growing and unavoidable tragedy within the church; the tragedy of those who know the truth and cannot act upon it without destroying their families.

I come from 1837-convert lineage. I grew up in the Mormon Colonies in Mexico; I was hyper-valiant in my youth; I completed reading the full set of scriptures by the age of 16; I had all the missionary discussions and missionary scriptures memorized before even getting my call to serve; I served a very successful mission in Mexico; I attended BYU; I married in the temple; I served in four different bishoprics, high council, stake executive secretary, gospel doctrine instructor, young men’s president, high priest group leader, and various other callings; I was a student of the gospel, and was known for my answers to difficult historical and doctrinal questions; I have attended the temple more than 800 times, and virtually have the whole thing (all ordinances) memorized; I am a set-apart ordinance worker; I am currently serving in three ward and stake callings; IN OTHER WORDS: I deserve your respect, and am not engaged in any unworthy activity, so before you categorize me into some convenient slot, think again.

I have five children, two returned-missionary-temple-married, one attending BYU, and two active in the youth program. My wife and I have lived our nearly 25 years of marriage completely united in our commitment to a gospel oriented home. My wife is one of the most valiant, unquestioning, devoted members you will ever meet. Our happiness in marriage was centered in the gospel. We have faithfully performed all of the home-strengthening practices (FHE, daily prayer and scripture study, etc) throughout our married years. Our children are strong in the church because we as parents gave them that foundation. We are your typical success story.

This changed approximately two years ago. The story about how it changed is long, complicated, and spans years of personal study, personal observation, and experience. Rather than rehearse the entire journey, I will only summarize the end results. Suffice it to say that I have discovered reliable unchallenged facts about church history, church operations, church doctrine, and church culture that have brought me to the undeniable conclusion that the church is not true. Not only is the church not true (meaning that it is not what it claims to be), but the church purposefully withholds (even denies) vital information that would lead ANY thinking person to the same conclusion. Finally, church leaders even boast about the moral and ethical justification for acting this way. This is the behavior pattern of a cult; it is inconsistent with the church’s own articles of faith; and it is the central reason for the growing groundswell of revolt from within. To ignore this fact is the height of arrogance. You are either stupid or you are devious; whichever you choose, you lose.

I have a feeling (since I cannot imagine a different possibility) that you already know about this problem. You already know that the church is not what it claims to be; you already know that Native Americans are not the Lamanites of the Book of Mormon; you already know that the whole story of the BOM is not accurate or historical or even a translation of gold plates; you already know that the Book of Abraham is not a translation of the papyri that it claims to be; you already know that the first vision account is not reliable or accurate; you already know that church history is a warped version of real history and real history paints a pretty bleak picture of church origins and behavior; you already know that spiritual “special witness” experiences are not what the average member believes them to be; and you already know that as prophets, seers, and revelators, you do not possess any such gifts as they are understood by the average member. You receive and even encourage unqualified trust in your special abilities, and you know very well that those abilities are not special at all. You may be talented administrators, but you are not prophets, seers, and revelators, and you know it. Yet you allow members to revere and honor you as such. You are either self-deceived or you are willing deceivers. You know that members believe and teach that you have had personal physical visitations from Jesus Christ, and you know that you have not had this experience. Yet, you are willing to allow members to perpetuate this myth for unknown but unavoidably dishonest reasons. This is a pattern, not an anomaly. You know you are not what you claim to be (or what church culture teaches about you); and you allow this false perception to continue. What does that say about you and your integrity?

So, after coming to this awful realization that things are not what they claim to be within the church, what are my options? This journey was so disruptive and internally tumultuous that I chose to travel it alone. I was absolutely certain that there were solid faith sustaining answers to each disturbing fact. Finally, after I had absorbed the magnitude of the truth, I tried to share it with my wife. To her horror, she saw that her husband had gone into the unthinkable realm of “apostasy”. At first, she resented me for even looking; then she denied the possibility that any of it could be true; then she tried to stand on the shaky ground that even if it was true it did not lead to the conclusions I had made; finally, she clings to the defensive posture that I cannot be smarter than you (how can so many good men be wrong and her imperfect husband be right?). This is where you come into the picture. This is where the church comes between me and my wife in our marriage relationship. This is where the damage is done in countless other relationships. Do you think that you can escape responsibility for this damage? Do you doubt your complicity in creating this wedge? Can you understand how people like me come to a point of powerless resentment against the church? I suspect that you cannot understand such things, because if you did you would use your influence to make necessary changes.

There is nothing more ironic than the saying that “A man can leave the church, but he can never leave it alone.” The truth is that “A man can leave the church but only if he leaves ‘alone’”, or “A man can leave the church but the church can never leave him alone.” You would gladly split up my family rather than allow my knowledge to draw them away from the church. You have proven such intent in both policy and practice.

I am trapped in the church; of that there can be no doubt. And yet I perceive that you do indeed doubt such an idea. It seems foreign to you that I would claim to be trapped in an institution that glorifies agency. But surely you can see the cultural elements (which you support) that limit my options. Extended family relationships are high-pressure control mechanisms. My leaving the church for doctrinal or historical reasons would have a devastating and disruptive impact on the entire family network. You glorify those who leave their families to join our church and at the same time you demonize those who would leave the church for whatever reason. You stereotype those who obtain damaging “truth” as intellectuals and apostates. You encourage an atmosphere of exclusion against those who have information that would damage faith, even when that faith is founded upon false data.

Your efforts of withholding and denying truth have had the result of destroying personal integrity. I know things that I cannot openly speak about, even with those closest to me. I lie in temple recommend interviews so I can go to the temple to see my own children get married, and because my wife is comforted by the image of a temple worthy husband. I lie to my children when they question an aspect of church history or doctrine, because the truth would place them in the same pressure cooker I am in. I lie to my wife because she finds the truth so disturbing. I lie because telling the truth is more painful than a comforting lie. And I learned to lie from you. You are lying to the membership by your silence (and denial) regarding information that is vital to faith. People base their faith on incorrect information; you know this; and you remain silent. You lie for the same reason that I lie; because people prefer a comforting lie over a disturbing truth. I am trapped here because of the culture you have created, and I am reduced to using the same tactics you use at the expense of personal integrity.

Your understanding of the culture you created and perpetuate through established programs is dismal. You preach adherence to the guidance of the brethren; you promise blessings for obedience to programs and leaders; you build a structure of dependence and hierarchical authoritarianism; you inculcate an environment of conformance without regard to individuality; and you do all of this with the stated intent of blessing and improving lives, relationships and family bonds. Your programs have evolved into a culture with the opposite effect than the one you intended; members feel constantly inadequate regardless of their effort; families pressure struggling children with bad advice that comes from your talks and books; you raise the bar, a blatant slap in the face to those who do not fit within your misguided program. Programs flounder not because of poor execution but because they are poor programs. When such negative results reach your ears, you are saddened that the poor members just do not see the vision; that they cannot learn the vital lessons. It never occurs to you that your inspiration and leadership is the flawed element. Either you are uninspired or uninformed, but your leadership is causing more suffering than blessings. But this is not really about bad programs. Rather, it is about faulty foundations. I do not expect you to acknowledge that the church is not what it claims to be, but I demand that you acknowledge your part in the failures. Stop blaming failure on the members. It is cheap and dishonest.

So, I am angry to the point of despair. I do not expect you to do anything with this information, except try to track me down and deal with me through your secret “committees”. I would resign today if I thought my family could remain intact. But I will continue to coax my family closer to the truth with longsuffering and gentle persuasion, and when they can see the real story without demonizing their father, son, and husband, then I will relish our departure and be rid of you and your unrighteous dominion. Someday I will not be so afraid of your influence, and I will confront your abuse of power directly.

Your success is over. You had a small window of opportunity to be forthcoming and open, and you have missed it. History is against you. Science is against you. TRUTH is against you. As you become more closed and protective, you will appear more ridiculous from the outside. Even though you will probably interpret this result to be “prophecy fulfilled,” the result will be the same. Enjoy your last breath of illusory comfort, because it will not last.

I am not alone. I am part of a growing community of knowledgeable members who will not be silenced for long. You have no idea how to deal with us because you fear our power. You fear it because you know that truth is on our side. I would feel pity for you except for the inexpiable arrogance that you currently display without remorse. The law of the harvest will be your undoing. You have sown seeds of benevolent deception; you shall reap a harvest of faithful rebellion..

Disrespectfully:

Faithful Apostate

A common belief among Mormons is that good comes to those who are righteous, and bad ultimately comes to those who are wicked. This belief applies as much to this life as to the life to come. It is one of those subjective ‘truths’ that a devout Mormon uses to reinforce their own good standing in God’s eyes and their beliefs regarding the plight of those who sin against God. It is a belief system in which I, myself, was indoctrinated as a Mormon youth. Never mind all those bad things that happen to good people. Such events are often over-looked or brushed away as trials sent by God to strengthen one’s faith and character. But, when bad things happen to one who is a known sinner, well… that’s testament of God’s wrath raining down what one deserves.

As you might guess, bad things are happening in the life of this particular ex-Mormon, and, yes, all of the devout Mormons in my life are quick to point out that I’m ‘just getting what I had coming’. With the perspective of nearly 3 years out of the church, I can plainly see where this line of thinking is coming from and it simultaneously saddens and amuses me. The source of amusement, I would think, to any outsider, would be obvious. The sadness stems from the fact that this type of piety really gets in the way of compassion, mainly compassion from those who mean the most to me.

The fact is that bad and good things just happen. They happen to everyone, regardless of religion, politics, race or gender. Sometimes our choices bring on good or bad; sometimes they don’t.

Another fact is that I am better equipped now to handle anything life throws me than at any other time in my life, especially when I was a Mormon. You see, as a Mormon, I was constantly in a state of interpreting life events as reflecting my own worthiness in the sight of God. I continually asked myself, “Is this a sign from God? Am I being punished? Does this mean I’m on the right track?”. Now, I realize, crap just happens. How we deal with it is what matters. How we deal with it defines our path in life and the character with which we define ourselves.

Regardless of events that transpire in my own life outside of my control, I believe that God loves me unconditionally. He loves me the same as my Mormon counterparts, and the same as all other living beings upon this planet. He shows no favoritism. Likewise, I have learned to love myself without limits, without conditions. I have been freed from my previous pious beliefs and can now love others without favoritism and without conditions. How better prepared could I be to encounter the obstacles of mortality? Despite the hardships that I am facing at this time, I know greater peace than at any other time in my life. Sure, I feel sad at times. I cry. I am human. But when the dust settles, I am secure in the love that engulfs me from the inside out. Nothing can touch that.

Nothing is more beautiful than unconditional love. Nothing is more beautiful than compassion. Conversely, nothing is more ugly than piety.

%d bloggers like this: