I think that it’s about time to fess up about some past misdeeds. At this point in the story, I was “going” “back” to church. The quotes make sense in my head, so we might just have to roll with it for now. I didn’t know what it meant to be going to church or what I hoped I would find. I was full of angsty trepidation.
The absolute debilitating fear of stepping into a church would probably have been more than enough to occupy all the emotional and mental energy I had. However, I was also tossing around in my head the idea that I my silly puppy love feelings for MoBoy might actually be real and if those feelings were real, that I must be doing all of this (ripping open old wounds) for him in which case I need to cut him out of my life and run as far away from every church as I possibly could. I was not about to do all this because of a boy. No. Way.
All that being resolved in my head (do not do religious scavenger hunt for MoBoy), I couldn’t help but admit, if only to myself, that I actually had questions that needed answering and that I actually had wounds that needed healing. I couldn’t help but admit that I was actually feeling something.
I mean, let’s be real. The reactions I had to that sermon at the UCC was not because I was feeling conflicted about a crush on a missionary.
During this time I was living what felt like a double life and it’s time I came clean:
LIES I TOLD and SECRETS I KEPT
Missionaries: I told them I didn’t believe in God. I told them that I wasn’t reading the Book of Mormon. I told them I didn’t want religion back in my life. I told them I didn’t have questions, that I had everything I needed all figured out, that I knew everything I needed to know. When I started meeting with the sister missionaries (for reasons I will explain later), or going to church in a different ward in a different city, I never told the Elders. I was starting to feel things that had nothing to do with a missionary, but I was not about to tell them that.
My roommate: I completely hid my questions and activities from her. How do you go about figuring out who you are or what you believe in while also keeping those discoveries from being discovered by someone who stands so actively against the things you’re trying to figure out? I came up with crafty stories and half-truths about where I was and who I was with. I tried to explain away the fact that I was leaving every Sunday morning around the same time, and dressed up not in yoga pants and a sweat shirt (my normal downtown study attire). I told her that I was going downtown to study with S, but really I was at church. I told her I got some freelance interpreting jobs, but really I was at church. I hid my copies (yes, copies) of the Book of Mormon, my Bible, programs from church in my dresser. I wouldn’t read FMH anywhere except in my room when I knew she wasn’t home. I’d hide my Bible or Book of Mormon behind a magazine to make it look like I was reading Cosmo or something. If she made any comment remotely Mormonish, I played stupid. “What does that mean?” I knew full well what it meant. I had to watch my language, too. I realized that my vocabulary was changing and that I was learning about a world completely foreign to what was comfortable or familiar inside our little grad student religion free home.
My family: While it is not easy to lie to your family, it was the most convenient group of people I lied to/ kept secrets from during this time. They all live across the country and are not generally privy to my daily experiences. They only knew what I told them, and at the beginning, I didn’t tell them much. But I also didn’t have to hide the physical evidence of my soul searching which made it easier for them to not know. It took a while for me to be able to start asking them questions about religion, our family’s religion, what they believed, what I used to believe… yadda yadda. I never told them why. When I told them about the missionaries, and they said, “Just don’t become Mormon,” I told them, “You have nothing to worry about.”
There is a long list of other individuals I had to lie to or keep secrets from, but all of those lies fall under the big umbrella of, “Just don’t tell anyone anything about this.”
I put a lot of effort into keeping my two lives separate and one of them completely hidden. I had to make sure I used the right words, was in the right place, said the right names, hid all of the evidence, remembered who I told which lie to, and never ever ever told anyone anything. It was such a strange feeling to be working so hard to mend a broken heart back to something resembling a complete being while at the same time splitting my brain into two spheres that had to operate completely separate and independently from each other. In an effort to become whole, I was fracturing myself.