The Patriarchy vs. Me

Patriarchy has taught me that I need permission to exist.

Patriarchy taught me I’m not enough, all by myself, standing alone in front of my maker.

Patriarchy taught me I needed a man to be a whole person.

Patriarchy taught me I can’t get into the highest level of heaven without one.

Patriarchy made me feel ugly.

Patriarchy made me feel guilty for first having needs, and then meeting them.

Patriarchy bosses me around, tells me what to do, what not to do, what questions to ask, how to ask them, and what the answers are.

Patriarchy tells me how to feel, and tears me down when I don’t meet it’s definition of whatever it’s telling me to be.

Patriarchy has done nothing good for me.

F*ck you, Patriarchy!

What’s In Your Testimony?

My friends over at Feminist Mormon Housewives have a new post up that asks, “What’s your testimony?”  They’re posting a new question each month and inviting their readers to respond.  At the end of the year they hope to have a good picture of what’s going on in the feminist/progressive/liberal/queer Mormon community that we all make up.  I’ve decided to participate in the activity because I am in an exciting place spiritually and I think it will help me define some things that are up in the air for me right now.

I thought it would be fun to post the questions and my responses here, but I keep thinking about a conversation Honey and I had yesterday.

As I have begun my quest for truth and knowledge about God, I’ve wondered if it was necessary for me to write a letter or call my (LDS) family members to tell them I don’t believe what they do any more.  I’ve wrestled with this for over two years – how, what, or if I should tell them what’s going on with me.  Then I had a couple of thoughts that make me thankful I had the wisdom to sit on this question for a time.

My younger self was more self-centered and assumed that people wanted to know these things about me and would overshare on the regular.  Sallygirl today knows that sure, my family and close friends do want to know these things going on in my life!  But they don’t want to find out in a pre-prepared statement that just shows up in their inbox one day.  Just yesterday it came to me that it’s actually pretty arrogant of me to randomly announce or give a statement to my family and close friends about my deeply personal religious/spiritual beliefs, without being asked.  It’s like when a celebrity publicly announces their divorce/bankruptcy/addiction/sexuality.  They make these hugely awkward public announcements; and then everybody feels weird like when you walk in on your parents “taking a nap”.

The other thought that came to me was, actually, I do still believe in a lot of the same things my LDS and christian family and friends do!  I have a different perspective than I did before, and yes; there are some huge things that the LDS Church teaches that I no longer believe or interpret differently for myself as an individual.  I’ve done a lot of searching and praying and I know that my truth is only for me.  I’m not going to be concerned if my truth doesn’t fit you, because I know you.  You and I, we are the same.  We’re all here on this big rock, doing the best we can given our individual circumstances, and all we want is to be happy.

I’m here to tell you, I am happy.

When I look at the big picture, I feel nothing but peace, joy, and hope for the future.  I live with mental illness and sometimes it makes it hard for me to maintain those feelings, but everything about my life is so good how can I feel otherwise?  I don’t often talk about the positive parts that come from having mental illness, but there are some.  They are few, but they’re there!  Even though my intense feelings are usually the crappy ones, the good ones are also just as strong.

I love learning from others.  If you have concerns for me, let’s talk.  If you have questions about my beliefs, ask me!  But don’t go through my husband or children.  I have my own voice, and it doesn’t sound like them.

What A Whirlwind!

I’ve been trying to write for the longest time, but my life keeps getting in the way!  So many stories I’ve wanted to share, so many things I’ve wanted to talk about; but my new herbal medication has me feeling mentally awake and alert for the first time in a long while, and I find myself being a more active participant in life than I ever have before.  All of a sudden I find myself happily volunteering to drive kids places or help out with something at their school and not resenting it.  The best part is that now that I feel more whole, I have more to give.

We had an amazing Christmas in Oregon with my cousin K and her wife C! They invited us up to their rural property in Eugene where they have horses and chickens and cooked breakfasts.  We played games and shopped local, it couldn’t have been more perfect!  After we arrived home, we didn’t stop with the fun.  We finally had time to go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens and it.  was.  AMAZEBALLS.  Words fail further discussion on the topic at this moment.  Except to say that I totally cried as soon as the title flashed on the screen and the word wall began to scroll, letting us know what’s up since Episode VI.  And that I saw the THING coming.  Called it as soon as I found out about the family connection.  Wasn’t sure if it would be this film or a future one, but I called it all the same and now I will accept my gold star on my crown and move on.

We visited Honey’s family in San Jose to ring in the New Year.  His parents had made it to town for an extended visit with Grandma & Grandpa so we got to see them, too.  It’s always nice to visit and we are so lucky to be able to spend as much time with them as we do; but this time the visit felt a little strained and that was a bummer.  I’m sure it’s because of the… eventful… year we’ve had, but also because Grandma & Grandpa continue to decline in health and it’s hard to watch that.

New Year’s Day, Honey and I were able to visit with another cousin in Walnut Creek; who was here visiting from Colorado.  It was very fun to catch up on family news and a nice way to wind up the holiday season.  I’m sad for all the writing material I lost by not being able to find the time or place to write without distraction, but I don’t regret spending the time with my family and kids that kept me from doing this.

Life is good my friends.  I hope 2016 brings good things to you.

When Rebuilding The Church Looks Like Destroying It*

When Rebuilding The Church Looks Like Destroying It *

I have been accused of believing that the heavens are closed and that God does not speak through his servants today, but that is simply not true.

I believe in the promise and idea of what the church is supposed to be, but that it has been bogged down with policies and cultural preferences that do not reflect the love of our savior Jesus Christ or his mission.  I believe that the church can be what it says it is and I want to help make it better.  If you have no problems or issues at church, I envy you.  I’m not sure whoever said “When the prophet speaks the debate is over”, but they obviously are comfortable with a lot of things I’m not.

Brigham Young said:

“What a pity it would be, if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blink self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken the influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.”

For me personally I feel that past and present LDS leaders (local and at HQ) have continually dismissed, covered up, and outright lied about things in the history of the church; and this is in no way acceptable to me as representatives of the Lord.  I am left to wonder what words are theirs, and which are from the God.

I believe these men are godly.  They love the Lord and they love us.  I do not fault them for their imperfections.  I know the Lord works with what he’s got.  But when the people in charge refuse to humble themselves and instead power forward with statements like “We do not apologize” and ignore the damage they’ve done; I no longer trust every word out of their mouth to be from the Lord.

I am no longer content to go through life accepting stones instead of bread.  I am far from perfect in my quest to live a life that is pleasing to my creator.  I believe that he is my judge, and regardless of whether I ticked off all the boxes on a list of rules set forth by imperfect men leading through a glass darkly or not, he will judge me fairly.  I accept that I do not have all the answers.  I hope that if my words or deeds are hurtful or harmful to you that we can have a conversation about it to understand each other better and make changes where necessary.

I struggle now to find the words to end this statement of belief, so I leave you with this:

Merry Christmas, my dear friends.  My words fail me just now as I try to thank you for all you do and all you are to me.  I wish peace and contentment for you all your days.  It is my prayer that when we wake each morning we remember that “Kindness Begins With Me”.  I pray that more suffering will end than begin, and that I can have the strength to do my part in making that a reality.

Xoxo, Sallygirl

*Click and read the link, please.  It’s relevant and germane to my thoughts here.

World AIDS Day – December 1

Today is World AIDS Day.  I remember first learning about AIDS in the late 1980’s.  Finding treatment and a cure for AIDS was a cause important to me then, and it is still important today.  Here’s my experience with how AIDS has affected me:


 

When I was a kid, I had an unusually large and incredibly awesome village that helped raise me.  My widowed mom was involved in the local theater; and as one does in that community, I came to know and form friendships with a few men that are gay.  I knew about gay people way before I knew about Ryan White and others like him (basically anybody who got AIDS without having gay sex).

I also knew that AIDS was something you got if you were a gay and had sex.  I knew that if you got it you were pretty much dead within a year or two at most.  I was scared because I didn’t want my friends to get sick or die; and I was scared because the culture of that time said that these people deserved what was happening to them.  That they deserved all the pain and suffering they were getting because they were “unnatural” or “perverts”.

These men were shunned by their families, friends, and colleagues.  They were kicked out of their homes, disowned, disavowed, physically abused, sexually harassed, lost their jobs – some were even killed by total strangers.  Some were killed by a loved one.  Others died by their own hands out of shame.  The world just watched as their bodies grew weaker.  They were ravaged by AIDS and left to die alone in their suffering.  I still grow physically ill when I think of the possibility (and actuality) that there can be so much hatred and fear of one group; that they are somehow deemed SO morally abhorrent, that we will deprive them of basic human care and dignity.

It disgusted me to think of how these gay men were treated so I got involved the only way I knew how –  I volunteered at the Utah AIDS Foundation.  It was the first time I ever volunteered anywhere other than church!  I was newly licensed to drive and still figuring out how to get from one point to another on a map.  There I received training and education about the virus.  I learned how to take precautions against accidental infection and how best to give care to those we served.  I participated in the Annual Utah AIDS Walk for awareness and volunteered at the Awards Night at the Oscars fundraiser.  I was able to attend and help with a viewing of the Memorial Quilt that is preserved and presented by The NAMES Project Foundation.  It was one of the most moving experiences of my young adult life.  All those names… those people… gone.  It was devastating and crushed my young, tender heart. 

 



Today is about awareness.  In the US, AIDS doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore.  Only 0.00375% of Americans live with the HIV infection.  Practically nothing!  But globally there are an estimated 34 million people who have the virus. Despite having only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

We are all bumbling along on this planet.  Each of us hurtling forward through life with all of its ups and downs.  It’s not a contest to see who suffers or hurts the most, and it’s not important who ends up at the top.  What matters is that we all get there.