Content warning: suicidal ideation
I’m at church, stalking the winding halls trying to find a bathroom. I enter and it’s filled with women—many holding babies—and young girls.
I squeeze my way through and enter the stall. I try to close it but it’s not wide enough to cover the stall. I nervously laugh to the women, apologizing for my confusion. I try other stalls but none of the doors fully cover any of the stalls.
I can’t tell you how many church bathroom dreams I’ve had like this one I dreamt last night. They aren’t identical but the details are the same: I’m at church, it’s filled with people and in searching for the bathroom, I’m lost, confused and embarrassed.
I decided to get super scientific and consult online dream interpretation dictionaries. DreamsCloud said:
“Basically, bathroom dreams may be addressing your need to relieve yourself emotionally and/or psychologically. You may be dealing with a dirty, messy, toxic or crappy situation in waking life or are under a lot of stress. A public bathroom or restroom may suggest the dream is dealing with your social or professional life or relationships … If you can’t find a bathroom, it may indicate your inability to release and express your thoughts or emotions to others, or you may be afraid to reveal your true feelings … If you find the restroom, you may discover there are others waiting and there no doors on the stalls or no stalls at all. Having no privacy, you are forced to do your business in font of others. In this case you may be feeling you don’t have enough time to yourself or you have no personal space in waking life. If you are reluctant to take care of business in front of others you may be afraid to tell others how you really feel or to let others see you as you really are.”
BAM. Of course. My dreams are about my feelings relating to church. Up until two years ago, I was a lifelong TBM (“true believing Mormon”). Then I had a breakdown. (I’ll go more into detail about this in future posts.) My abusive sister (who has abused me emotionally and physically my entire life and had done and said emotionally abusive things to my son) was called as Den Leader in Cub Scouts. My abusive sister was now in charge of an organization my child was a part of and I could do nothing about it. My father was a counselor in the stake presidency and my brother-in-law was branch president (both of whom practically worship the ground my sister walks on). I lived with my parents at the time because of money problems and I felt I had no say in how I was treated in the church and in my family. This lead to a returnto a habit I had during my postpartum depression 5 years prior: I fantasized about dying. When my baby was young, the only way I could sleep was by imagining I never had to wake up. Only this time, my suicidal ideation was much stronger. I began to think about which pills I could take and how many would comfortably kill me as opposed to winding up in the ER to get my stomach pumped.
At that point, I scared myself enough to realize I needed help. I talked to my husband and I got a therapist via LDS Family Services. Despite the bad reputation of this organization, I somehow lucked out and got a wonderful, empathetic therapist whom I still see. He helped me see that I do matter. As I learned to listen to and honor my voice, I realized there was a ton of messed up stuff about the Mormon Church I had simply ignored as a means to preserve my own little family’s place to live: my almost militant TBM parents.
Then came November 5th.
The near constant ringing of cognitive dissonance in my weary ears gave way to one sentence I felt penetrate my mind and heart:
”This is wrong.”
I haven’t been the same since. I’m currently still trying to figure out where I fit. I haven’t attended church but 3-4 times this year. And yet, I miss the socializing, the certainty and reverence of church. My only real social life revolved around the church. I’m in desperate need of friends and people around me to fill and energize my extrovert soul. Sometimes I think I could make it work; I can attend but I don’t have to believe it all. Right?
Then I saw quotes from Dallin H. Oaks’ talk from General Conference this weekend and I immediately felt that my gut—that there’s so much rotten in the LDS church—is right. I have philosophical whiplash. And deep down, I know myself. I can’t pretend to be something I’m not even if it was something I once was.
My dream illustrates this back and forth so clearly. I’m terrified to do my totally natural, healthy and completely vital “business” in front of Mormons. My “business” being, figuring out what I truly believe and how that should fit in my life. Anyone with a teaspoon of knowledge about Mormons knows I couldn’t show up to church and say, “I don’t know what I believe any more but I sure as hell know that the church is homophobic, racist and sexist.”
But it’s more than that. I fear my old friends and fellow Mormons truly seeing ME. Is it because I fear them seeing that I’m a fraud? That I’m a failed Mormon? I suppose I fear rejection which is hilarious because I’ve faced more rejection in the past two years than most people do in a lifetime (future post!). Why should I care when these people have not only ignored my absence but worst of all, my Primary aged son? He got a new teacher this year and he hates her. So he stays home with me. I didn’t receive a call, a text or even an email about his absence. Not even after he didn’t show up to practice for the Primary Program. We live in a branch with not even 2 dozen Primary kids. My kid has been active his whole life. He stopped coming and no one said a word. What the actual hell?
So why do I give a shit what these assholes think of me? I guess I’ll have to keep dreaming to find out.