Saturday, May 25, 2013
So I have seen a lot of videos lately made by "Ex-Mormon's" So I wanted to tell you the story about what it was like for me being an "ex-mormon" for almost 10 years of my life. Just to preface this, I'm not claiming that every person's experience is the same as mine, this story is mine and mine alone and I don't expect anyone to think I am judging them by how their own personal experience is or was.
I left the church at age 14 when my Dad was Bishop of my home ward. At 13 my Grandmother died, and I became very bitter and hateful towards God. I went to Young Women's one Sunday and the Young Women's president pulled me aside (because I hadn't been coming very regularly) and said, "You're the reason that young women in this ward are going to leave the church. You're a terrible example of what a "Bishop's daughter" should be." Right then and there I made up my mind that I was done. I was done being a "Mormon".
The next Sunday my parents came into my room before church to get me up to get ready, I politely let them know (as politely as teenagers are at that age) that I would no longer be joining them at church and to please not ask me again. I then pulled the covers back over my head, my mom shut my door, and I went back to sleep. Every single Sunday the same scene played over until I was 16. At the age of 16 instead of sleeping through church I would get up and drive to Starbucks and have coffee and read a book for the 3 hours. I would then make my way home and have dinner with my family.
I felt so empowered not going to church. I felt liberated. I felt like in my own way, I had taken my life back and told that Young Women's leader to go to hell (to put it mildly). No one was going to get away with treating me bad, and no one was going to tell me who I was, or what I was. I acted cocky, arrogant, like a know it all, and like nothing in the world could touch me. Little did I realize that my life had started to spiral out of control.
Once I graduated High School, and moved onto College, I had not only left the church, stopped telling people that I was Mormon at all, but I had also stopped praying to God completely. I had a very open relationship with my Savior and spoke with him daily, but I strictly refused to talk to God unless I was screaming or swearing at him for all of the bad things happening in my life. I was being horribly treated by men, dating guys who took complete advantage of me, and didn't respect me, but why would they? I didn't respect myself. I didn't like who I was, nor did I even really know who I was. I was drinking all the time, I was partying with guys much older than me, and I even got a tattoo (not saying tattoo's are bad, I just got mine in a act of rebellion.) Life was depressing and hard, and getting harder.
At age 19 I met a man and moved in with him. He was physically and emotionally abusive. He wouldn't allow me to speak with anyone in my family, he wouldn't allow me to do Real Estate (which is the career I had chosen for my life), and he controlled every aspect of my life. He told me what I could eat, and drink. He chose the clothes that I would wear. He picked out the people that I was allowed to spend time with. But the worst thing he did was he made me believe that I was worthless. He made me believe that I was lucky I had him because no man in their right mind would ever love me. I was scum, and I couldn't even understand why he was with me, but he felt sorry for me so he was trying to help me. It was at this point in my life where when I had no one to turn to, I got on my knees for the 1st time in years.
My boyfriend had left to go work for the day and I was home contemplating suicide (because I believed it was the only way out of the situation), when I fell to my knees in tears and 1st spoke to God. I started by telling him that I didn't know how to do this, but I didn't know where else to turn. No one knew the hell I was living in except him, and I needed his help. I didn't want to live this way, but I didn't know how to get out of it. I was scared of my boyfriend, but I was even more scared of leaving him. He had manipulated me into believing that if I left he would hunt me down and kill me. If he couldn't have me then no one else could either. I felt utterly alone in the world. I had no friends, I wasn't allowed to talk with family, and God was the only person in the universe that I could turn to.
I told God that day that I knew I didn't deserve him to listen to me. I wouldn't blame him if he had already cut me out completely, but if he was there and if he still did love me, I could really use his help. I didn't know how to end the prayer, so I just stopped speaking and sat on the ground for many hours sobbing my eyes out. I decided that, that was not the right day to commit suicide.
After one Christmas with this boyfriend spent in a Casino, I made up some elaborate story that I needed to go to Utah because my niece was dying. I would never forgive myself if I didn't go and tell her goodbye. I promised him that I would go and tell her goodbye, and I would drive home the following day. I was living in Las Vegas, and my family lived in Utah. It was 11 at night, and he let me go. I left with the clothes on my back and drove through the night. I got home at 6am only to be embraced by each member of my family, as they begged me to never go back. I was so scared that he would come kill me and hurt my family that after only 2 hours of being with my family, I got back in my car and left to Vegas.
As I drove in silence I cried the entire way. When I got to St. George, Utah (which is 2 hours from Las Vegas) I called my boyfriend to let him know where I was. He had already called about 25 times that day just to make sure where I was. When I reached St. George I had a thought to stop and see my Aunt and Uncle. My phone had just died, so I knew he wouldn't be able to call and see where I was since I wasn't allowed to see or talk to anyone.
I started driving around St. George, bawling my eyes out, and speaking to God begging him to kill me before I got back to Las Vegas. After 30 minutes of trying to find their house and being unsuccessful I decided I would screw it, and just head back to Vegas. I turned a corner and right in the front of this house was my Uncle. I couldn't believe it.
I jumped out of my car and ran to him and hugged him. He asked me to come inside, but I knew I couldn't because I was on a time schedule. He grabbed my hand and said, "Jilly, just for a second. It's Christmas,."
I went inside and was wrapped in a tight hug by my aunt who started to cry. They both sat me down at the kitchen table, and I knew a talk was coming. They asked me what they had to do to get me to stay and never go back. I told them that I had to go because I didn't have anything with me. Right then my Uncle said, "I will take you to the mall tomorrow and I will buy you everything new. No matter how much it costs, we'll replace anything just to get you to stay." I was shaking and crying because I wanted so bad for them to understand that if I didn't go back I was putting their, and my other family's life in danger.
After about 10min of trying to convince me, and having the worst panic attack because I was wasting time, I gave them each a hug and went and got in my car to leave. I climbed in my front seat,turned on the engine, and placed the car in drive. All of the sudden I had the strongest feeling that if I went back he would kill me. I would be dead before the next day. I NEEDED to stay. I HAD to stay. Through my tears, I turned off my car, got out, and ran to my aunt and uncle who were waving me goodbye. Through my tears I said, "I'll do whatever I have to do to stay. I just need your help. Please help me, I need your help to save my life."
A lot has happened from that day including multiple suicide attempts, hospital stays, and years of therapy. You would think that this experience of God sparing my life would've brought me back to the church, but it didn't. Even though I left my abusive boyfriend, I still was not ready to be a Mormon. You would think that would have been my rock bottom, but apparently it wasn't.
Over the next 6 years I gained 150lbs, was on the Oprah Winfrey show 3 times, and lost 150lbs. I partied with everyone you could think of in Utah, and I had the life that from the outside looked amazing. I had so many friends, I had a very successful career, and I had all the money I could have ever wanted. From the outside I looked happy, successful, and fulfilled. But that's only what people saw. If I would have let anyone close enough to know who I really was inside, they would have seen how horribly depressed and sad I was. I didn't know who I was, or what I was doing, and I wasn't ready to have any religion in my life at all.
So if an abusive boyfriend, suicide, and having to start from scratch wasn't my rock bottom, what was? Well I never really had one. I was sitting in a gym one night at age 24 when the cutest boy I had ever seen walked in. He was the first boy I had ever met that made me unable to speak. I would find myself just starring at him and the light that surrounded him. I never in a million years thought that this boy would bring me back to life.
After getting to know Dave, and researching the Gospel, and taking the steps I had to take to know if they it was really true, only then I was ready to not be an "Ex-Mormon" anymore. Dave was my rock bottom so to speak, and the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. All I knew is that I was happiest when I was with him, and I was going to do whatever it took to keep that happiness.
When I found that out, I found out that I was happier being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and that's why I decided to come back to the church. For me, my life worked better, and my emotional and physical well being was better when I was a member of the church. To put it simply, I was happier being a member then not being a member. That was all I needed.
Is life still hard at times? Of course. But having God on my side, and having him in my life makes it possible for me to get through anything. I can literally get through anything life throws at me with my Heavenly Father holding my hand, and for me that includes being a member of the church. Being an active member in my Faith makes my life better, and that's why I came back.
I belong to a church that I believe to be true, correct, and perfect. I also believe that there is a perfect church for every person, and God accepts and loves all. The people that make up any church are just people. They're not perfect, and they're just trying to do the best they can. To me, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is perfect, but the people are not. To overcome our imperfections all we have to do is ask for his help and love. That's what I did, and even with my daily trials, life is better then it's ever been, and it just keeps getting better and better.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
I just wanted to let you all know that I started a little Facebook page so you can follow along in my daily life and not just get the updates every once and awhile. I'll share my thoughts about the church throughout the day, week, or even hour!! (Totally kidding! I won't post more than every 2 hours). I hope you all "Like" my page so we can share our journey through this crazy life together. Feel free to talk about anything "Mormon" related. Any questions you have, feel free to ask me there. I will do my best answer quickly, honestly, and to the best of my knowledge. I hope to see you there, and have a great Sunday!!
Click below to go straight to my page