Yesterday, I got stranded a long way from home with no way back.
Content note: A longish story about the hidden costs of being poor, the inhumaneness of "personal responsibility" teachings, and how jewelfox learned to be mean to herself from her abusive family of origin. Contains swearing, transphobia, and poverty-shaming.
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I'm not writing this because I bear a strong grudge that I haven't let go of (although that may be part of it). I'm writing this because this is stuff that has really affected me, and has changed how I see myself whether I want it to or not.
My family of choice, my real loved ones, don't see what I did as unreasonable, and don't want me to see myself as "irresponsible" and a "burden." I don't want to see myself that way, either. So I have to deconstruct why I feel that way, so that I can maybe move past it.
I hope that this helps someone else, who needs to do the same thing. I hope you can learn to value yourself as a person.
* Willful ignorance is the defining trait of religious and political conservatism, as near as I can tell. It is also the defining trait of evil alignment, IMO.
We've talked about them a lot in our previous posts, but those are kind of scattered through our journal and some of them were written in various states of incoherent rage. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; anger is a sign that your boundaries are being violated, and is as natural and necessary as physical pain is. Expressing it should be a warning to other people to back off, or to help so your pain goes away.
Unfortunately, it also made us hard to understand sometimes, especially when each post usually addressed one particular thing and assumed prior knowledge of what we'd been writing about. So here's the condensed version of why our "family of origin" and "family of choice" are two separate things, and why it would not be healthy or possible for us to change that.
Content note: We don't go into too many details about their physical and emotional abuse, but the ones we do mention might trigger some people. We also talk about their homophobic, transphobic, and sexist religion some, and the things that they've done because of it.
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We currently have no contact with our parents of origin, and don't have online contact information for our siblings even if we wanted to talk to them. We don't want to have contact with any of them until they demonstrate self-awareness, and apologize and try to make amends for their behaviour, instead of just sweeping it under the rug and pretending like nothing has happened. Because as long as they think that it's normal and okay to hurt other people the way that they do, but harmful and deviant just for me to exist, they are dangerous.
Content note: Bad religion, intolerant atheism, and implied homo/trans/everythingphobia.
What do I do if I have presented these questions to bishops and leaders and anyone and everyone who will listen to me and nobody has any answers but when I go quietly in prayer to the Lord and I hear the entire and total opposite of what you are asking me to do? And what if that answer gives me relief and peace and makes me a better mom and wife and sister and friend? And what if that peace is interrupted every single time I am “called to the battlefront” for this cause? What if it destroys my family, President? That’s what I am really asking. What if “defending the family” ruins my own?
Sometimes, the people who attack bad religion (or all religion) on the grounds that it's logically abhorrent remind me of people like "Brett," in the comments on the above-linked article. Who replied to the author by telling her that "defending the family" by attacking other people and destroying their families is right, despite the obvious harm it does to her and people she cares about, because the Mormon prophets have said so and God says they will never lead anyone astray. QED.
Logic is useless or even harmful if you are operating from faulty premises. The most abusive religions, in my experience, actually rely very strongly on the kind of logic that "Brett" uses. They have no use for feelings and spiritual experiences that prompt people to abandon this logic even when they don't know how to argue with it, or hearts and minds that are open enough to listen to people they "know" are wrong about everything.
When I am determining whether or not a belief (or belief system) is harmful and abusive, I don't look at whether it's theistic or not, or at which god it worships. I look at whether or not it shuts down questioning, inoculates people against empathy and understanding, and tells them to do things that they feel are wrong.
In the human social circles we've been inside, there is enormous stigma against saying that you've been hurt, especially by someone who's part of the circle.
The assumption is that you've brought it on yourself. You chose to take offence. You chose to be victimized, or your choices left you susceptible to it. You now choose to play the victim, and it has to be a role that you play because no real victims exist. Not here, not in our circle, not as a result of our kind.
The second-fastest way to lose friends is to point out who they victimize.
The fastest way to lose friends is to require them to take responsibility for having hurt you. Especially if you're too hurt by them to do it in a polite way, because politeness is the social grease that's smeared over violence to mask it.
A bit of a run-on sentence, from http://stormsandpower.blogspot.com/2014/
For me this work raises other questions especially at this time when so many people seem troubled by the facts of Mormonism’s past and the politics of its present as to whether that ex- of ex-Mormon means you can no longer define them as part of the experience of the Mormons as a people.
I think that for a lot of people, that's true. Being "Mormon" doesn't necessarily mean being a member in good standing of the modern, correlated Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, no matter what its leaders say. It's more of a cultural identity, like being Jewish, and there are people who cherish and embrace that identity even as they question Mormonism's basic doctrines or historical foundations.
Personally, though, I see myself as less of a participant in the Mormon identity, and more of a victim of Mormon culture and institutional Mormon religion.
Politically incorrect, adj.: "True, but we pretend it isn't"
It's politically incorrect to use the v-word in today's society, where everyone is an ubermensch and can breathe lightning and decide whether or not something hurts them. But you can't really have a conversation about things like "victimization" and "victim-blaming" without there being victims.
The word has come to mean "morally deficient person who dwells on past grievances and blames others for her own flaws," when it really just means "person who's been wronged." And while I'm okay with some people I'd otherwise call abuse victims choosing to identify as "survivors" of abuse instead, I also think that term places abuse in the realm of natural disasters and acts of god. Things that just happen on their own, that you can't prevent and can only learn how to deal with.
It may seem that way to abuse victims / survivors, since abusers choose people who can't fight back as their targets. But in my experience, the reason abusers blame victims -- and telling them they can't call themselves victims is a form of victim-blaming -- is to keep them in an abusive situation, both mentally and physically. If they're the ones causing the abuse, there's no need to try to escape or seek redress; they just need to make themselves worthy of not being abused anymore.
And that's what Mormonism does
To a lot of people outside the institutional Mormon church, with its political activism, and to a lot of people inside it. Who don't fit into Mormon culture, but don't have a meaningful choice about what culture to participate in.
I wanted to call myself Mormon, but kept being reminded that I made a very poor one.
I was "unworthy" of their sacred ordinances and coming-of-age rituals, because I was honest in Bishops' interviews. I was constantly reminded of how different I was from the hand-shaking, back-slapping, neurotypical Mormons around me, and when my mother of origin saw me cringing from physical contact she chastised me for it.
I don't know how many youth dances and "young single adult" activities I spent pacing in driveways, parking lots, and darkened hallways, either listening to my MP3 player or watching the shadows get longer.
I don't know how many lessons and talks I sat through where people told me that the technology which enabled me to live a halfway fulfilling life, connect with people who valued me for who I was, and have experiences I never could otherwise, was an irrelevant worldly distraction.
And when I finally left the Mormon church, and started telling people about the abuse I received at the hands of my Mormon family, all the Mormons I talked to about it had two reactions: They felt very sorry for me, and they distanced themselves and their culture from the abuse, with canned statements like "not all Mormons are like that" and "our church teaches against that." Even though my parents of origin were, and as far as I know still are, "worthy" members who were never chastised or held accountable by the church for their actions, and who used its teachings to justify (and its power structures to enable) hurting me.
Meanwhile, my interactions with church members and leadership were major factors in my becoming suicidally depressed.
So if a non-mormon leaves the Mormon church
... can she still be called an ex-mormon? I don't know.
I know I've always been fascinated with Mormonism, but it's become more of a morbid fascination since I left. Their culture, doctrine, and practices basically embody abuse and rape culture and kyriarchy, and any time I need an object lesson for "what not to do" I can use them.
I also know Mormon culture has influenced me. My method of prayer is still very close to theirs, even if the object of worship is different, and their teachings on sexuality are the reason that I'm such a prude. :P Not because I'm okay with slut-shaming, rape victim blaming, and having adult men ask kids of all genders about their sex practices one-on-one behind closed doors, but because the shame I internalized from those teachings is something I may never be rid of.
If there's anything (arguably) positive I got out of Mormonism, it's being unafraid to be different in public. Nowadays, the institutional church's PR machine is spending millions of dollars to make Mormons appear normal, or at least bring them up to Mitt Romney levels of normalcy. But I was raised with the thought that I was supposed to be part of "a peculiar people," with beliefs very different from everyone else's, and I should be unafraid to share those different beliefs.
I like to think I've learned some about boundaries since then. But as you can see from the sidebar, I'm still okay with being different, and with explaining my differences to others. It helps that the only way we know how to describe ourself truthfully is to use different words, and pronouns, than others use.
And get this update written before we collapse ...
(Content note: Personal and slightly TMI-ish discussion of physically transitioning genders.)
Despite some kind of "hairy Benjamin standards of care" gatekeeping stuff, along with some painful blood-drawing and unexpected (and painful) groping between our legs >_o we apparently S-ranked our first hormone appointment thing.
Which was today.
Which we announced that it was in a post that was locked at the time, so that we wouldn't get stalked and our parents of origin wouldn't freak out and order a tactical nuclear strike on the apartment complex or something. Because unlike our heart, soul, romantic love, and creative writing endeavours, our primary and secondary sexual characteristics are very important to them, and there is no telling what lengths they will go to in order to terrorize us for thinking we own our "sacred parts" instead of having them on loan from God.
Anyway, the lab results from those huge vials of blood that they drew from our arm will be in a couple weeks from now, at which point we will hopefully be prescribed the synthetic estrogen we need to achieve a fuller physical / mental / emotional gender transition. Which apparently has its ups and downs, especially those last two. So if you're playing Magic against us sometime next month, and we suddenly burst into tears and exclaim stuff like "These lyrics are soooo deep ;; " ... don't say we didn't warn you!
... of course, if we don't get a prescription at that point, we may just burst into tears regardless.
So, how's life treating you all? >_>
Author's Note: This story is inspired by Murrquan's Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction. You can still find it on archive.org if you know where to look. If you don't, she's not going to tell you.
The character named Shadow, in this story, is a black cat who had no relation to this Shadow when Murrquan created him in 2000.
Content Note: Contains lots of graphic physical and emotional violence, including some that's inflicted on children. Also discussion of suicide and self-injury, mild profanity, and disturbing imagery, including torture.
It's Tachyon, your former peregrine "pet." I was a tiercel, but now I'm an actual falcon. And speaking of changes, I'm pretty sure that you're dead, but maybe that will make it more likely that you get to see this. It's not like I knew your mailing address, or anything.
Anyway, do you remember the Eighth? The emerald I can't use the full name of, since it's a memetic trigger for you? Well, it is for me too, now. Because it got to me, the same as it did to you.
It wasn't anything like I thought it would be.
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