Mourning Sawyer

Trigger Warning: Death of a child

READER POST: October 28, 2017 marked the one-year date of the death of my 10-year-old son Sawyer. It was obviously traumatic and shattered everything I knew about what was right and true and good In the world.

I sat in the piercing parlor that evening, looking around at the clientele, realizing how out of place I looked. I worried getting my nose pierced at age 41 would seem silly to everyone. I had to convince myself over and over it wasn’t about what others would think, it was about what I wanted.

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Abroad and Abused: One Woman’s Journey toward Empowerment

TW: Domestic violence, language

READER POST: The spring after I turned 21, I took on the task of teaching myself Polish by listening to language cassette tapes, writing down terms, and practicing. My husband and I were moving to Poland for a month, where he had served an LDS mission. Because he spoke fluent Polish, he helped me with vocabulary. I made sure to ask him how to say, “Help me.”   He quickly answered, “Jestem kurwa.”  I added it to my list.  Learning Polish and traveling back to his mission area were efforts to strengthen my marriage. I wanted a healthy marriage so badly and the truth was that my marriage was in distress.   

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When the Friend of My Enemy is My Friend

READER POST: Several years ago, we met a family through our LDS church. We immediately hit it off and, since they were looking for a new place to live, they moved next door to us. Now we attended the same ward and lived next door to each other, but nothing worked out how we had hoped.

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Speaking Up As A Mormon Woman

MIRIAM: “Cancel culture…”

“Gossip…”

“Karens…”

…all derogatory words for what are historically common levers of female power. “Cancel culture” is not only used to describe censorship but is also used to describe principled boycotting. ”Gossip” identifies chatting about others, not just malicious speech. The newest of these terms,  “Karen,” is frequently hurled out to deride any assertive female customer, not just women who act entitled and expect special treatment.

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A Betrayal in My Religious Sisterhood

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.
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Mother of Mixed Race Family Decries Racism in her Town

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”

My Trans Teen and the Sting of Being Active LDS

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”

What About the Women (Again)?

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)?”

Love and Respect My Trans Child as if Your Own

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”

A Story of Christmas Charity and the Gift of Humiliation

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”

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