Friday, December 23, 2016

A Little Update

I haven't been doing very well lately.

Things have been a struggle in most aspects of my life.  With my job, with my family, with my crippling lack of a social life...although I guess financially I'm doing okay, which is something to be grateful for.  And I'm still healthy, which is fantastic.  But the point is that, overall, 2016 has been my worst year, hands down, since the year I came to the slow realization that the religion I'd built my whole life around was a lie.

It's been fun.

But what's different about being miserable this time around is that I feel infinitely better equipped to change my circumstances and adjust my attitude.  As comforting as it used to be to say a prayer at night asking for everything to work out okay, I think that habit fed my sense of helplessness.  I'm sure it wasn't the same for everyone, but when I was in high school and everything was awful (at least it was in my eyes) and it was too exhausting to try to fix things on my own, it was a relief to feel like I was allowed to push that responsibility off onto a benevolent deity rather than hunker down on my own.  I think being a religious person enabled my natural tendency to resign myself to my fate.  It's a tendency I still fight, but I think I'm far, far better at it these days.

What I struggle with the most right now is the fact that I have very little to call a safety net.  I mean, my parents are good people—if I totally crashed and burned, they would let me move back in with them.  But that would be indescribably uncomfortable.  My family is more of a last resort than a safety net.  They're the metaphorical equivalent of dialing 911 while you're lying on the ground with two broken legs because there was no safety net.  Perhaps it's childish and prideful, but I despise the thought of accepting any support from them, whether it's emotional, professional, financial, or whatever.  So I feel like I'm pretty much on my own, which makes me terrified and anxious, but it also makes me prouder of my small victories.

One of the positive aspects of the church is absolutely the community.  The built-in safety net.  I mean, I could argue all day about the ineffectiveness of priesthood blessings, the insincerity of assigned home teachers, and the I-made-this-underprivileged-family-in-the-ward-a-casserole humblebragging and all the cultural snarls that come with it, but in Mormonism, the safety net is there.  It may come at a price and it may be frustrating, but it's there.  It would be nice to have that again.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going back.  I don't want that kind of safety net.  But it's certainly daunting to face a variety of problems without feeling like any person or any organization, no matter how flawed, has your back.

And I guess I don't know what to do about that, but I know I can do something.  I don't know how to walk the rope without the net, but there is a certain twisted thrill in learning by making it all up as you go.  Life by trial and error is much more exhilarating than life by rote.  And at least I know they're my trials and my errors instead of someone else's treasure map to eternal salvation.

So I guess I'll see how this whole life thing works.


  1. I have found that spending time making stuff, -art, dinner, beans, bread, beds- is the way to get through a lot of each day. I've spent a lot of this year sending actual letters to people: old friends, family, musicians I love. And that, too has been helpful. And here's looking at you, kid.

    1. Haha, thank you!

      I'm not much for cooking in my leisure time, but I like the idea of sending some handwritten snail mail letters. I should try that!

    2. Sending handwritten letters has caused me to improve my handwriting, which has been a positive bonus. I can say with pride: my handwriting is actually legible. Another thing I do that is really positive is getting rid of stuff. Old mags, playbills, receipts, check registers, t-shirts: buhbye!

    3. I've long since given up on any attempts to improve my handwriting! I could write a thousand letters and the last would be just as illegible as the first!

  2. So I’ve been thinking about your post for a while now and the idea of a safety net. I think we have many aspects of our lives where that comes into play: family, social, financial (job), etc.

    Family: It’s sad that the church puts a wedge between active and non-believing members of the family that makes thing very uncomfortable. Family should be a place where people can go for every type of support. It’s too bad that in many situations the only thing family members seem to be able to talk about is church when it would be way more interesting to talk about the weather.

    Financially: Probably the biggest comfort or safety net you can get is having a savings account available in times of emergency that can balance out the fluctuating demands. I’m talking 6-12 months of money. That way, there’s no need to ever have to ask the church or family for help. In reality, the church will provide some help for the short term, but that truthfully isn’t much of a safety. They do and will cut people off all the time. Another part of this is getting into the right career that provides stability and enjoyment. That may require additional training and a lot of hard work to gain the skills needed to get the right job.

    Socially: This is one area where in a church a person can feel a safety net of people who are like-minded and supportive, though often this is forced. I’m fortunate to have a wife to be my support to where I really don’t feel much, if any, of a need to have “church” friends. We are in the same place as far as belief goes, so we can talk about it and understand each other. Since we were both raised by strict Mormons, we totally get each other. It’s awesome. I know you broke up with you long-time girlfriend, which had to be extremely difficult. Hopefully you can move on from that relationship and find a lasting one. Associating with my co-workers brings me a lot of satisfaction. I’m glad to have many people I work with that I enjoy being around. In Utah, it’s tough to get away from Mormon stuff. Where you live, I would assume there are community groups and activities you could get involved in where you can meet people and gain friendships.

    Anyway, good luck for the New Year! Oh, and please keep up the writing. You’re smart and talented, and we really enjoy your blog.

    1. Thanks, man. Your thoughtful response actually means a lot.

      There's some good advice in there, too. I'm actually in the process of switching careers at the moment, so hopefully a new environment can help inject some enthusiasm into my life!

      I hope it didn't come off as whining. I feel better than I did a week ago and loads better than I did two weeks ago. I just thought that my current situation merited a few discussions on how Mormonism had affected and continues to affect my life.

      But thank you again. That was nice to read and it contains a few suggestions that I really want to work on!

  3. It didn't come across as whining at all. I didn't respond for several days, because your post was very thought provoking to me. I really appreciate that. You have no idea how helpful your posts, and in particular, your Book of Mormon posts have been to my wife and me. We read all of them and usually have some really good discussions.

    I hope your new career will allow you to have more of a social life and build some long-lasting relationships. I worked fast food for a summer. It can provide great opportunities for some, but it certainly cuts into evening/night time for socializing, it's can be quite stressful, and most of the regular workers are new to working and rather immature.

    I hope you're able to build a stronger relationship with your family that can be built on something other than the church. I know that may be tough to do, but it'll be well worth it if you can make it happen.

    I'm really glad to hear things are getting better. Have a happy new year!

    1. Ah, well, thank you again. Best wishes to you and your family in the new year, too!