Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Reflection: Under Pressure

Edit: This is a post I wrote a year ago, that I reverted back to it's "draft" form within a few hours of publishing it. But I think I'm okay with it existing in the universe now. Because I've been able to step further away, and the anger has dissipated. I don't feel the hurt so strongly these days, which I count as a major success in personal growth. I still feel like I'm disappointing people, but the truth is that the disappointment they feel isn't my problem/fault/responsibility.

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There's always been a heavy pressure for me to make something of myself. To make an impact. I'm trying to figure out where the pressure comes from. I know most of it is pressure I put on myself. Some of it is unintended pressure that I've received from others throughout my life. My mom will sometimes make comments about, "If I had just a thimbleful of your talent..." as though I'm wasting some precious gift. Lots of it was pressure from people I was told I could trust. Having grown up in the Mormon church, there's a lot of expectation placed on using one's talents- that if you don't use the gifts God has given you, that you'll lose them, which is, frankly, a terrible lie. No one has the power to rob you of your heart. That's something I always knew, even though I was threatened otherwise.

Every so often (fairly often, recently), I have these PTSD moments where I question my entire foundation. I get so angry. I hate feeling anger, more than anything else. I'm angry at the Church, I'm angry at the leaders who taught me these things, I'm angry at my parents, I'm angry at myself for being so trusting. I want to scream. I hate knowing that for the majority of my life, my kindheartedness was taken advantage of. I'm not sorry for having that trait. It's one of the things I like most about myself, but it also makes things difficult. When I feel this anger and my heart speeds up and I cry, I am so afraid. I'm afraid it will never be gone. I'm afraid that the things I was taught growing up (the wrong things, not the good ones) will never stop creeping into my mind. The pressure to be a mother because that's "every woman's calling in life." The disappointment I know my family feels because we plan on adopting... because that doesn't involve "multiplying and replenishing the earth." The judgment I know I receive because I choose to wear "immodest clothing" and sometimes drink coffee. The sadness my parents (Declan's, too) must feel because they truly believe that our "inactivity" in the church will bring the consequence of them not being able to see us in the afterlife.

Seriously, how awful is that? They really believe that our choice to "ignore the blessings of the temple" is going to keep us apart for eternity. Eternity! What god would do that? Yet, they continue to spend money and time to be part of an organization that is telling them that their children aren't good enough. And I know they believe it. And there's nothing I can do to get that love and pride back. They're always going to see me as less-than. A disappointment. I know my parents feel like they're the ones who failed. I hate that they feel this way- that they were made to feel that way by an organization that claims to support them.

I hate feeling guilty for making healthy and rational decisions. There's nothing sensible in feeling bad for protecting myself from doctrine that caused me pain. I hate that I have to regularly take stock of my life and realize that I am good enough, that I deserve to be happy, regardless of what the Church is telling our families- regardless of what the Church told me.

I am loving and kind and gentle and creative and those are traits that are mine- not talents on loan from God. I will cultivate them out of love, not fear.

I will continue to love my parents (and Declan's) even though they see us as somehow tarnished. Even though they undoubtedly pray daily for us to come back. But we won't. And that hurts them. I wish they could see that I am the same person I've always been, but better.

I know that in order to stop these repeated breakdowns, I need to work through the pain and anger and make something of it, before I can make peace with it. So, I'm going to make something. I might hate it, but it needs to happen.