I'm angry at the Mormon church.
Most of the time, I'm okay with that. I think it's a good thing. It helps keep me wary so that I don't fall for similar traps and fictions. It motivates me to spread the word--or the anti-word, I suppose. It helps remind me of what my life used to be, what it is now, and what I want it to become.
But it would be nice, I think, to eventually have peace. I don't want to be angry forever.
But I can't just stop being mad. Every time I interact with my family, I'm reminded of the sources of my anger. Every strained conversation, every time one of us inadvertently trips over the elephant in the room, every lie I tell to spare my mother the "horrible" truth, every time I bite my tongue to keep from screaming at them, from admonishing them to wake up and be reasonable...I remember my anger. It's not something I can let go of.
It would be easier if my family were more willing to accept my lifestyle. To be fair, I haven't given them much of a chance to. As best I can gauge it, if I were to tell them that I live with my girlfriend, that I swear when I'm pissed (and even when I'm not), that I watch porn and listen to death metal and drink coffee, I'd face a variety of unpleasant circumstances. My dad would be depressed but continue prodding me with unsolicited offers for counsel and advice. My mom would be flat-out heartbroken and probably a little scared of me for a while. My oldest sister would be angry--she'd express shock that I could act so foolishly and she'd lash out a little. My middle sister would perhaps calmly bring the problem up once and never speak of it again. And my youngest sister, with whom I used to share a close relationship, would leave me those horrible voicemails in her distant, plaintive and pitiable style telling me that she doesn't understand but that she misses her little brother.
And I'd feel so guilty.
And the guilt would make me angry all over again, because I shouldn't have to feel guilty. Leaving the church was the best decision I have ever made in my entire life--period. I know it was the right thing to do--period. I'm so much happier now than I was before--period.
But all the periods are becoming semicolons. It was the best decision I have ever made in my entire life, semicolon, it's had some of the worst consequences of any decision I have ever made. I know it was the right thing to do, semicolon, I can't convince my own family of that. I'm so much happier now than I was before, semicolon, but so much still hurts because I had to take the journey alone.
I wish I could talk freely on any subject with my family. I wish I could show my parents the apartment I've had for the last two years, since it's only ten minutes from their house. But then they'd see all my girlfriend's stuff and the bed we share. I wish I could discuss entertainment without constantly checking myself to make sure I'm not talking about something they'd disapprove of. If I can't remember if a movie was rated R, I better not tell them about it. Hell, I'd love to tell them about my novel and to hear what they think of it--if I knew they wouldn't be horrified by the language and the casual references to sex. I can't even tell them half of the stupid stuff that happens at work without mentally combing through the stories first to make sure they're still amusing to a conservative Mormon audience. It doesn't feel like a family when I feel the need to censor my own existence for their consumption. I do it to avoid the confrontation, to avoid the judgment, to avoid the worry, and to avoid the frustratingly self-righteous pity. What else am I supposed to do?
Yeah, all that makes me angry. The church, by its design, has manipulated my family into turning on me. There's no sense of "well, Alex is happy, and he's still a good person, so we're happy for him" without the sense of loss and disapproval. In his emails, my dad may tell me that he's proud of me, but it rings hollow when I consider the fact that he firmly believes that because of my choices I won't be with the rest of them in the afterlife. You can't really be happy for someone if you're convinced he's destroying himself. You can't be proud of someone for doing what, in your eyes, equates to burying his head in the sand. You can't have a normal, healthy familial relationship with someone you think has squandered the gift of life and needs to be fixed. You can't really be a family when differences of eternal gravitas have built walls between you. Can you?
The situation sucks. I know I'm not the only one in this situation. And I know my case is far from the worst of its kind. But there's plenty to be pissed about.
The only thing I can think of that could ever alleviate that anger is my family leaving the church. At best, that's a long shot. I'd like to make it happen--another long shot. If I were ever successful, the shock would be pretty hard on some of them--my mom in particular. I'd feel pretty guilty about that too.
I haven't tried to get any of them to leave, except for a few little jabs at my dad here and there. I think overtly campaigning for their apostasy without provocation would make me just as self-righteous as some of my least favorite Mormons--it would be considering my own belief that no one should follow a false religion to be a higher cause than whatever my family wants for themselves. If they find meaning in their existence, regardless of whether their faith is misplaced, who am I to discount that?
So I guess I'll have to wait patiently, always swarmed with reminders of my smoldering wrath, until one of them sends me an email asking to talk about the church. Then maybe I'll start trying to tear down a faith that's already wavering. Maybe.
My plan is doomed to failure. I may always be angry. But at least I'll feel like I'm doing the right thing.