Saturday, March 19, 2011

On Feeling Alone and On Having Options

I've written before about being alone.  Previously, I wrote about how belief in a personal deity means one is never alone. I wrote about how much that terrified me - the thought of never being alone, of never being unknown, of no privacy and no boundaries.

I have a strange relationship with this word alone. I'm an introvert.  I'm content alone.  In fact, I love being alone.  I must be alone.  I get irritable when I don't get to be alone.  But, I also get extremely lonely at times.  I guess I love aloneness and suffer from loneliness. I’m rambling.  I apologize.  Pardon me.  Humor me if you will while I work through this one.  I’ve been thinking again about the Church and alone.

"You can leave the Church, but you can't leave it alone." Is this a threat? Like, "You can leave but we'll never really let you go."  Is it meant to convey something like, "You'll be back." Is it a complaint? "You've left the Church, but you insist on bad-mouthing it." Or is it a command? "You've left the Church, now just leave it alone!"

"You've left the Church, but it won't leave you alone." That's been my experience.  I want to get to the point where I can go days without thinking about the Church, the Faith, the Gospel. But, I know I never will.  It haunts me like so many generations.  My grandmothers thought that the great sacrifices they were making were for me - so that I would have the Fullness of Truth - when they pioneered to Utah.  I suppose they were. Making great sacrifices, that is.  They thought the Gospel was for my benefit.  And here I am. Ungrateful.  I don’t believe that the Church, the Gospel, that they sacrificed for has been good for me.  I’ve discarded it.  I resent it.  I’m angry.  I can’t leave it alone.  And leaving it makes me feel guilty.

And here I am. Grateful. I am here and I know that would not be the case had my foremothers not sacrificed and moved, married and made babies in Utah.

And here I am, pioneering in my own way for my daughters and granddaughters - undoing what the Church has done - finding my own Truth.  I am willfully abandoning the model of womanhood the Church and the Gospel has dictated to me. In doing so I am abandoning the models of my mother and grandmother, women I love like there are no words to describe, women I admire.  But, I need to be – no, I just am - something other than that model of womanhood. Not more, not less. Just other.  You know? I need my daughters to know that there are other options. I need them to grow unburdened with the guilt of wanting something other.  I need my daughters to know that it is not selfish to forge one’s own path, to pioneer in one’s own way.  No.  I need for my daughters to grow up in such a way that it never even occurs to them that choosing one’s own life path would be selfish.  I don’t want them to see other options. I want them only to see options.

But, I feel alone.  I don’t know how to be other.  Unlike my mother, and hers, I don’t have a model to follow.  I don’t know how to pioneer this model-free path.  Is it ironic that I am lonely for a model for pioneering a model-less path?  Will I be setting my daughters up for the same loneliness? Or, will they appreciate the aloneness of having nothing but options and pioneering of their own to do?


  1. Beautifully said. I think it is so ironic that I felt like I was the odd man out when I was a kid because I did not live in a mormon community and now my kids are the odd men out because they are non-mormons living in a mormon community. Funny how life goes.

  2. I love this: "I don’t want them to see other options. I want them only to see options."

    I know what you mean about not having any models to follow. It's tough. And I've already got the kids, so I feel like I've gotta figure it out pretty damn quick so they get a decent model, because there aren't any in our extended family.

    I'm an introvert too who loves being alone but then gets lonely. I just have no patience for superficial relationships. I want deep or nothin'. I told my therapist a few weeks ago that I'd like a few more close friends. She told me I was going to have to cast a very wide net to find the right friends for me because I'm such a unique person... I'm choosing to take this as a compliment.

  3. I hear you.

    I remember looking around my church for women to emulate. The ones who got out and did stuff had such a different personality than I, and the ones more like me were at home and depressed. I couldn't do either.

    I've been finding my role models in children's adventure books. 12 year old heriones kick ass!

  4. I totally agree. This post is so similar to one I wrote a couple of weeks ago. I think you have to be a certainly personality type to fit comfortably into 'the fold' and I'm not one of them. I am happy, but I still feel lost and alone because my Church friends don't understand my life choices, and my non-Church friends don't understand my Gospel background. It sucks.