Sisters take care of each other, watch out for each other, comfort each other, and are there for each other through thick and thin. ~ Bonnie L. Oscarson
READER POST: I was in a toxic, abusive marriage. I felt profoundly alone because no one knew about my struggles as a betrayed and abused wife. I’d been thrown into murky waters without a life raft, so I clung to Brene Brown’s challenge to dare greatly. I forced myself to be truer to what I was feeling, experiencing, and thinking. I knew I needed human connection even though it’d require a vulnerability I feared, so I looked to the safest place I knew: the sisterhood in my Relief Society. Surely my sisters would lift me if I mustered enough courage to tell them I was being abused. I was wrong.
Continue reading “A Betrayal in My Religious Sisterhood”
TW: racism against black children
READER POST: My husband, Jeff, and I are white and two of our daughters are black, both teenagers. Until recently, we’ve lived in St. Anthony in southern Idaho. My girls have been quiet sometimes, feisty sometimes. They’ve argued sometimes and stayed silent sometimes. They’ve told their school teachers, administrators, church leaders, and therapists about the racism that has happened to them in their school and community. Without exception, every single one of those they have gone to (all white) about the racism they were experiencing—including their therapists—has told them that they are making too big a deal of: Continue reading “Mother of Mixed Race Family Decries Racism in her Town”
TW: Policy exclusion of transgender individuals
BRANDY: Several weeks before Christmas, I stood in my kitchen wrapping pralines. It’s tedious, monotonous, work, and the worst part of making the damn things. My mind was racing, stressing, about all the things I still had to do before bed, before tomorrow, before I left town for a few days, before Christmas. My husband walked into the kitchen and something in his expression made me ask what was going on. He said, “You have four sons.” And I felt the floor fall out from under my feet. Continue reading “My Trans Teen and the Sting of Being Active LDS”
DEBORAH: If you’re an LDS woman and you watched the January 2018 press conference that followed the formation of the new First Presidency, you likely have a particular moment carved into your brain—that prolonged moment when Pres. Russell M. Nelson responded to a question posed by Peggy Fletcher Stack (Salt Lake Tribune) regarding forthcoming advances in gender equity and diversity in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. First he gave a tribute to her family, followed by a salute to the diversity of men who lead the Church in 188 nations, which included a reminder that “somebody’s going to be left out, but it doesn’t matter because the Lord’s in charge.”
Once he finished responding, Stack, from her seat and without benefit of a mic, can barely be heard to nudge, “What about the women?” President Nelson’s response? “I love them.” (See 18:43 to 22:40 of previous link.)
A few days ago, By Common Consent published guest blogger Kenneth Merrill’s “What I Wish My Prophet Would Say,” which is his six-point wish list for change announcements to be made in the upcoming April 2020 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To recap, he asks the First Presidency to put its weight into commanding members not to kick one another out of the Church or their homes, to be inclusive, to be environmentally aware, and to admit the church has done some abusive things, including protecting sex offenders. By the close of it, Stack’s faint voice was ringing in my mind: “What about the women?” Continue reading “What About the Women (Again)?”
TW: transphobia, brief mention of self harm
READER POST: I file into the restaurant with my beautiful (and often difficult) children. I gave birth to several boys—all gangly limbs, misplaced aggression, anxieties, and intense grudges. But they’re mine, and I love them, though maybe I regret this particular dinner decision. As we wait beside the Christmas tree, I notice the host is staring at my oldest with a puzzled look, one that feels judgmental and borders on disgust. For my oldest child holds a deep secret that only we know: a hard, life-changing, devastating, and beautiful secret. With this look my firstborn is receiving from a stranger, I realize his secret is becoming less so. For my oldest “son” is a girl. Continue reading “Love and Respect My Trans Child as if Your Own”
READER SUBMISSION: My young family lived in poverty for years, but we attended church in a very wealthy area in Arizona. Our church arranges for everyone in the congregation to receive member ministers whose purpose is to make monthly in-home visits. These visits are both a well-being check and an opportunity to share a spiritual message. One day close to Christmas, my visiting minister (who lived much more comfortably than we did) called and asked if she could stop by. On her visit earlier in the month, she’d noticed our “Christmas tree” had been cut out of cardboard I found in a dumpster and taped to the wall, its ornaments drawn on with crayons. Our stockings were made out of old shirts, sewed together with yarn.
She brought her three grandchildren with her on this extra monthly visit—and a truck full of gifts for my toddlers. One of the grandchildren looked around our apartment in awe and asked, “Is this a hotel room?” We lived in a small, two bedroom apartment, but it was a normal apartment and didn’t look like a hotel. He certainly wasn’t to blame for his naive comment, but it was obvious he had never been inside an apartment before. Continue reading “A Story of Christmas Charity and the Gift of Humiliation”
TW: Mild themes of child sexual abuse and sexuality
MIRIAM: Just a few minutes after leaving the neighborhood pool, the summer sun had already dried my bare shoulders, but I still smelled the chlorine from the pool water on my skin and in my hair. I trailed home with other children ahead and behind me as we passed the local gas station. The moment that I neared the station’s payphone, it rang. At seven-years old, I loved to answer phones, so I hopped to it and answered the ring.
The caller on the line did not ask for someone else, he just started talking to me. He asked me to say something. The words he asked me to say were strange, but I said them. He asked me to say them again. I did. After a few times, I decided the man sounded unpleasant, and I hung up the phone. Continue reading “Protecting My Children by Honoring Their Privacy and Consent”
TW: Anorexia, eating disorders, domestic bullying
ATHENA: One Thanksgiving when I was about fourteen-years-old, beloved relatives came to share the day with my family and brought treats I’d never seen before. I took small helpings of each. When I reached for a second helping, my older brother said, “Don’t eat that; you’ll end up looking like <insert name of non-svelte teenage girl in our ward> and no one will want to date you.” Continue reading “Not Thin Enough for the Celestial Kingdom”
TW: discussion of body shaming, polygamy
DEBORAH: Immediately after being called as a Young Women’s president, a mother expressed she was pleased by my call, saying, “They usually don’t let bigger women be YW presidents. The girls need to learn their value isn’t tied to their weight.” Needless to say, I was taken aback. I still am, though more than twenty years have passed.
Continue reading “Female Body Weight and the LDS Culture”
TW: Eating Disorders, weight/numbers
JUNE: Since I was 16, I have purged every single Thanksgiving dinner I’ve consumed. Turkey. Mashed potatoes. Pumpkin pie. Flushed away before it has the chance to leave its mark on my body. I am now 37.
Smaller, smaller. Become less visible. Take up less space. All around me, the notion was reinforced. Just my mere existence was burdensome because it felt so unworthy. Less than. Shameful. Continue reading “Unpeeling the Trauma of Disordered Eating”