Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Being Alone

I was reading this book, by Austin Dacey today and I was inspired by this section:

"The belief in a personal deity - a being with whom the believer can have a personal relationship - is a denial of the private self.  If there is such a being, then it knows us better than we know ourselves, and we are not alone (even when we might prefer to be.)"

So, are we then free to decide what is best for us or obligated to defer to the will of the deity? Are our thoughts our own or are they controlled? A deity inclined to be always with us - always monitoring our behaviors, thoughts, and feelings, couldn't possibly be above controlling those thoughts and emotions, could it?

I had a mini panic attack when I read the words "we are not alone." As an introvert, the thought of having insufficient time and privacy to sit with my thoughts and think about what I think literally makes my palms sweat. When I was a member, the concept that my every behavior, thought and feeling was observed, recorded, and judged (see Book of Life) offended me - not because I had a guilty conscience - but because it made me feel violated.  Apparently the thought still makes me feel violated. But, immediately after I had an indignant rant to myself about the "right" I believe I have to observe and interact with nature and the universe as I please and privately (thank-you-very-much), I thought, "I shouldn't want to be alone.  Being alone is the great human fear.  I should want to take peace in the thought that there may be a loving deity ALWAYS with me." Fortunately, I was able to quickly talk myself out of this reasoning because I really believe that it should be up to me to decide when I want to be alone with my thoughts and emotions and when and with whom to share them.  If there were a deity, I'd prefer one who waited to be invited into my head.  Why should it be black-and-white - all alone in this scary, bleak world or constantly watched and critiqued? (The obvious answer, we all know too well, is that teaching someone that God is watching them is a great way to control people right down to causing them to CENSOR THEIR OWN THOUGHTS and doubts.)

It annoys me that thoughts like the one in blue above even pop into my head to begin with.  I hate that I still, after 10 years away from the Church, censor or confront myself in this way - that I replace my own thoughts with fallacies, learned too well in my youth, meant to keep me in the Church and believing that it is what I want or what I need to feel peace and joy.  What a waste of time and mental energy to have to think/talk myself back out of those fallacies!  What better use might I find for those precious wasted moments?  What reflections do I miss out on when my normal stream of consciousness is so abruptly and rudely interrupted by these programmed thoughts I've been taught?  It just makes me so darn mad (fucking bat-shit angry!).


  1. "I had a mini panic attack when I read the words "we are not alone.""

    Also creeped me out. Very nice post, that's a really interesting insight. I never thought of it that way before.

  2. It is a violation and one that we were taught was acceptable. Maybe this is one of the reasons Mormons have such a difficult time grasping the concept of appropriate boundaries? God is always barging in to our personal lives so I guess they can too, as long as it's for God?

    Love the quote and your post.

  3. Great post. It makes me mad too, that I have to waste time "unprogramming" myself from crazy Mormon-think.

  4. The doctrine of the "Book of Life" is by definition spiritual abuse. Of all the shit I got out of Mormonism, that one concept fucked me up more than any others. I'm free from believing in it now, but the damage to my self-worth, and sex life has been long lasting.

  5. TGD, I am just realizing that all of the other stuff that always made me uncomfortable with Mormonism, the religion, and the culture of Mormonism, can be traced back to this doctrine as well. My sense-of-self has most definitely suffered significantly and this affects everything from my (in)ability to let offenses roll off of me without internalizing them and my ability to trust my own thoughts and instincts to my ability to set and defend my own emotional and physical boundaries. We weren't really allowed to have boundaries in the church, were we? We were expected to open the door to any missionary, bishopric member, VT, HM, or any ward member who chose to drop by unannounced and then expected to open up to them and reveal our most private struggle.

    And, how invasive were Bishop interviews as a teen? I don't resent them but I think back on that and wonder what my parents were thinking to let me go alone into a room with a man they barely knew JUST because he was called as a Bishop. And knowing full well that he was going to ask me personal and violating questions that no grown man should ever ask a teenage girl. Misplaced faith makes people do some pretty stupid stuff.

  6. Bishop interviews are absolutely abuse. Makes me sick to think of the things I told middle-aged men because I feared burning in hell if I wasn't 100% honest. I still have issues with boundaries.

  7. Whenever I see the words, "We are not alone", I immediately think that it means others are going through the same struggles we are. We don't have to face our crisis alone and we have the support we need to get through it. Going through these blogs helps me to not feel alone, and validates my feelings immensely.

    I don't think we will ever know if we're alone regarding God, spirits, etc. How can we know for sure? I guess we can believe, but we honestly don't know, which is OK.