Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Of the (Mormon) world, but not in it

How many "mainstream" Mormons are there now? Anyone who watched conference know what the current claim is?  I know it's really BIG and impressive.  They always make it sound that way.

It really isn't. Mormonism is really pretty tiny and insignificant in the larger scheme of things.  The fact is that it isn't a Mormon world out there.  I'm in Boston!  I've only met two Mormons here if I don't count those who were sent to my door or fulfilling a calling*.  So, why does it feel so huge(!!!) to me? If Mormonism suddenly ceased to exist, most of the world wouldn't even notice, but there would be a huge hole in my psyche. When I initially left the church, at 20 (21?), I kind of just stopped thinking about it.  I mean, I thought about the immediate effects of leaving and the drama with in-laws, etc.  But, I never really thought about how it had affected me, how it had shaped who I was.  I might even go so far as to say that I, in my na├»vete, thought it hadn't affected me at all, that I had just managed to avoid becoming tainted my it, and I could just be on my way.  Then around 2006 or so, thanks to therapy, I realized that uh-uh, I had some serious issues to explore.  A major reassessment of my values and where they really came from was in order.  Five years on, I'm still exploring.  I doubt that I'll ever stop seeing the effects of Mormonism in me.  So, while I'm no longer in that Mormon world, I'm still of it.  It's part of me, for better and/or worse. It seems somehow crucial that I figure it all out, that I be able to recognize when the Momon-girl in me is surfacing. Maybe it really isn't. 

But, I catch myself falling into old patterns now and then like:
  • Cowering to passive-aggressive behavior when I would like to be confronting it assertively.  And even, regretfully, behaving passive-aggressively myself. 
  • Feeling guilty when I am assertive.  
  • Allowing others to manipulate me with guilt.
  • Black and white thinking.  
  • Feeling guilty because I'm not being the perfect wife, daughter, sister, friend, (new puppy) mother.  I'm not all things to everyone. 
  • Thinking that there is some sort of perfection that can be attained.  Forgetting that, while I can be better, I'll never be perfect in everyone's eyes and least of all in my own.  Better should be enough.   
I'm sure there are many more.  (And, yes, I do recognize that none of these are specific to Mormonism. But, for me...So, I don't want to argue about it.)

*Technically, I actually met one of the two at a grad school interview at UCLA, but I'll count her because I encounter her in a non-church setting because we both ended up coming to the same division at HMS.  I met the other when he was interviewing for a post-doc position in my lab.  I didn't even have to hear him speak and I "knew" he was Mormon, and most likely from Utah or Idaho.  Modar!