I shared this email with my dad via email in a PDF format. My parents’ knew about this relationship and they watched the ups and downs for about a year before they didn’t want to hear about it anymore. It got to the point where my mom wouldn’t talk to me and I didn’t want to talk to my dad because he was very negative. I recognize now that their behavior occurred because they felt helpless and didn’t know how to help me; they also felt my behavior was aimed at them as a way to hurt them (which it wasn’t). I felt hurt that they weren’t there for me when I needed them most and they made the experience about them, but when I decided to kick him out of my life they came right back into my life and were very supportive.
Sending him the essay felt like opening that wound a little bit because it brought out the sadness he and my mom experienced. But I hadn’t told him about the dream so that clarified things for him and we were able to talk about it through email and then more in depth when I got home. My favorite quote from him about the situation was this: “It probably goes to show how blinded in bad relationships people can become; as perplexing as it is, the loving explanation of one or both parents sometimes don't shed light on the situation for the person involved - even creating resentment which is of course, exactly not what is needed.”
I also sent the PDF (and later the link to our blog page) to my friend Macie who had been a part of the relationship for a long time too. I mentioned in my sharing plan that I wanted to send it to her so she could see I’m doing better and to thank her for all of her help throughout the experience.
My favorite thing she and I talked about was the balancing act of writing about something so raw without the reader feeling like it was too much information. Macie said, “I thought you did a good job with talking about a really hard subject without making the reader feel uncomfortable- you helped the reader see into your soul without them feeling like they are intruding because you were the one that invited them.”
I think that’s what this project did, especially the one-minute introductions: we invited people into our lives, even the messier parts of them.
In Mormon culture that’s not something we often do; we have to have the clean house, the perfectly dressed families, the eloquent and sunny Christmas card, etc. I think we sometimes fall into the trap that the darker or less pleasant sides of our lives aren’t Mormon, that they’re sinful. But that’s not always true. We are each human, fighting the natural man and sometimes that entails falling on our faces as we travel the life of progression Heavenly Father asked each of us to live.
Falling down isn’t bad. It’s not anti-Mormon. It’s real, and if we want to move away from the Molly Mormon and Peter Priesthood façade of Mormonism we need to learn how to embrace reality.
I just read the Christmas card from my home ward’s Relief Society president and she spent a paragraph talking about her struggles with post partum depression. What a bold, courageous and AWESOME thing to share! My mom questioned why she would include that, but I asked her to think about how much help this woman might have given the sisters of our ward by sharing such an intimate and hard struggle. She is saying: it is okay to be human and to be Mormon.
That’s what we did with our essays, and in my opinion that is what will bring more people to our faith and the goodness of the gospel. You don’t need to be a walking Strength of Youth pamphlet to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. You can have a mom who plays video games, you can lose your grandma to suicide, you can be afraid to leave for your mission, and you can perform in a luau. Our class grew so much closer than we would've in a traditional educational setting because we were real with ourselves and with each other. We learned that being real isn't something to be afraid of; rather it is what brings us together.