JUNE: Driving across the country with my kids in the back seat, I had a lot of time to think. On a particularly long stretch of interstate, somewhere on Route 66, a thought came to me: Now you know Him.
Over the years, I’ve learned so much through my healing from abuse and betrayal. One of my favorite resources; The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Podcast has helped me throughout my healing journey. Betrayal Trauma Recovery has helped me deconstruct so many words or concepts that haunted me for years.
One such concept was “forgiveness.”
Growing up in the church, I never fully comprehended the Lord or the Atonement. I remember learning that Christ experienced all things. I always wondered how—how in the Garden of Gethsemane did He feel what I’ve felt? How could He understand what it feels like to be betrayed so completely by a spouse? And how could He feel such pain and still forgive those who betrayed Him? How could I? The thought of it hurt my heart, like a dagger stabbed through it. I had suffered profound abuse and betrayal—trauma that could break a person ten times over. Could I forgive?
Continue reading “Now I Know Him”
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”
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)?”
JUNE: I did the only thing I could do: defend myself with the tool I had. I was 5′ 5″ and 145 pounds. My husband stood 6′ 6″ and weighed 220 pounds. My physical stature wasn’t that tool. My instinct was. Continue reading “The Risk of Outsider Advice in a Domestic Violence Situation”
JUNE: “Bishop, I’m scared…in my own home.” He sat silently. “My kids shouldn’t hear me called a ‘F***ing bitch’ by their father. I am being…coerced sexually. He kicks me out of the car and leaves me on the side of the road if I upset him. I…I don’t understand what’s going on. We need help…please.”
My plea hung in the air while his eyes raked me over. In ironic foreshadowing, I found myself foolishly and hopelessly wishing my husband, my abuser, was there to protect me. He sat in the foyer. He’d had an hour-long chat with the bishop ahead of me. When he exited the office, I was invited in. I begged for help. Continue reading “A Bishop’s Authority, Sexual Harassment, and Me”
READER POST: Early in my marriage, I learned that my mother-in-law loves the temple. To her, it’s the pinnacle of family bonding time and the first thing she wants to do any time the family gets together. For instance, the evening before one family wedding, her sons had to explain why it would be insensitive for those of us with recommends to ditch the bride’s parents and the groom’s grandparents, who did not hold temple recommends, in order to attend a session together. On another occasion, my mother-in-law picked up family at the airport and informed her travel-weary relatives that they were heading straight to the temple for a 2-hour session. Yes, she loves the temple that much, and its a problem. Continue reading “When Women Use the Temple as a Weapon”
DEBORAH: I hear with different ears than those I heard with in my youth. As a new convert, then a wife and young mother, I heard the men at the General Conference podium through ears of hope and expectation. I relished their promises that following their counsel—being a wife devoted to the betterment of my husband in both career and church, being a sacrificing mother intent on raising my children in a new, exciting gospel—would result in a happiness unmatched outside the reach of the gospel. Every inch of my soul longed to please God and, with my whole heart, I trusted the men called to speak for Him.
I’m at the other end of life now. I’ve raised my children and am watching them raise theirs. I’ve lived as is prescribed for Mormon women. I earned an education—a bachelor’s before marriage and a master’s degree in midlife—but I’ve not had paying, full-time employment since my first child was born. I ensured my children learned the gospel; we attended our meetings, held callings, and lived an existence centered around the church and gospel.
When I listened to General Conference last weekend, I listened with the ears of an experienced Mormon woman and with eyes wide-opened by time. While most of General Conference was uplifting, some of it rang as a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Certain things said leave me wondering if some of the men who lead the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints understand women at all. Continue reading “Women, How Will You Travel the Covenant Path?”
HILDEGARD: Shortly after I married my husband, I had a troubling dream. In that dream, I had been carrying on an affair with an anonymous priest—an unknown man wearing a clerical collar. Waking up to wracking sobs of guilt, I felt like I’d been disloyal to my husband, like I’d betrayed him without even trying to.
I had no real understanding of the dream world, and I was new to the world of sexual activity. I felt the need to confess to my husband, so, as hives erupted on my body to accompany my tears, he listened and consoled me that it had just been a dream, and I’d done nothing wrong. Even my horrified reaction was a testament to my loyalty. We talked and laughed and mentally filed it away under “Weird Dreams and Learning Experiences.”
Now, more than fifteen years later, I think there was a message in that dream. Continue reading “Wedded to What?”
READER POST: I have been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormon) my entire life. I have served in numerous church callings. I am also a transgender member who came out in September of 2017. Continue reading “On Being a Transwoman in the Mormon Church”
READER POST: I sat in the Bride’s Room, listening to the temple matron, feeling very aware of my first pair of silky garments beneath my temple gown. The bottoms felt baggy, but the top fit well, except for a seam that cut right across my breasts. It felt a strange, having a bra on over the garment top, especially with that misplaced seam. I focused harder, trying to feel the spirit of what was happening. The temple matron quickly taught how to launder garments and told us when and when not to wear them. “Of course,” she said, “you’ll remove them for intercourse, but replace them right afterwards and always wear them overnight.”
I did a double take. What did she just say? Continue reading “What Comes Between My Husband and Me”