My parents were Mormon, or at least claimed to be. Blake’s (my bio father) family was and my moms family was, so they both decided, Mormonism was for us. However, it was far from perfect.
My mom married the first guy she dated. Mistake number one in my opinion. Blake is not called “Dad” because he wasn’t a real father to me. He was physically and emotionally abusive. To all of my siblings, my mom, and myself. We were constantly running from him. Moving in the blink of an eye. I never would get the chance to say goodbye to any of my friends from school because mom would tell us we were going for a car ride, and upon reaching our destination, tell us that we weren’t going back.
My mom couldn’t think for herself. Problem number two. She would talk to her bishop about divorce and the bishop would then tell her that Blake is the man of the house, head of the family, and she needed to support him. So after moving, a week, a few months, a year, whenever, she would find him, or he would find us, and we would be back to square one.
Blake has destroyed lives. He violently shook my little sister and that lead to a speech impediment. He’s threatened our lives with guns, broken fingers, and mentally scared my family. It was to the points that when I was in middle school, I had even tried to kill myself. Both times, my best friend had shown up unannounced.
My mom wanted 12 kids without in anyway, shape or form, planning on how to take care of all of us. Mistake number three. Thank god there were only six. Every day was a challenge. What were we going to eat? Is Blake coming home tonight? Where are we going to find extra quarters for the laundry machine? We’ve been out of soap for a week.
Mom didn’t have a degree. Blake didn’t have a degree. She was working as a maid he did everything and nothing. Blake never held a job for more than a few months. When he wasn’t working, he was at home.
My mom I think, is indeed a bit crazy. I a kid, she taught me that Ariel from the Little mermaid was sinning because she was immodest. She taught me that if I didn’t read the Bible and Book of Mormon that I would go to Hell. So even before I could read all the words, and would pretend to read it thinking that maybe I could trick Jesus into thinking that I had done my part.
And we went to church.
We were the poor family in the stake. The church gave us food once a month. It was awful. I had a hard time eating it because it was of the lowest quality. Bottom line, as a kid in elementary school, I knew it was shit.
Everyday throughout elementary school and middle school I prayed that Blake wouldn’t be home. I would make bargains with God. I told God that I was doing everything he told me to. I told God that I was a good girl and asked him to protect me. After all isn’t that was all the Prophets would say? “God will protect me because I’m righteous.” I told God that I would do everything 200% if he would just make Blake leave me alone. God said no.
I had one dress for Sundays. I wore it every sabbath. A jean skirt and white button-down. I wore old tennis shoes to church. Mormonism is for the “Saints” who can afford it. We were laughed at, scorned and ignored in our ward. It was always hard to make friends each time. Every other girl in my classes had the same “box head” hair cut with the same highlights, the same fake orange tan, and the same clear lip gloss. They wore the newest look every Sunday with a new matching purse to go with their shoes.
I remember overhearing comments such as, “I thought you were supposed to dress up at church to show respect! How come she (points at me) doesn’t? Is she not respectful of god?!” And, “My mom donated so much money to charities this year, how come they still look like that?!” And many others.
But that wasn’t the worst of it. I would see these people both girls and guys doing so many “inappropriate” activities at school and the boys would be up blessing the sacrament each Sunday. I hated it. I knew the blessing by heart, and strived my hardest to take care of my family, and obeyed every rule perfectly, and these boys who beat kids up at school, made out in the bathrooms, and smoked behind the building were more worthy of passing the sacrament than I was. Just because I was a girl.
Then when camp came around, the boys went on excursions where they swam, canoed, rode horses, and fished but the girls camp was at the same church-owned campsite where we were forbidden to go anywhere or do anything except paint pieces of wood, do our hair, pray, and make up chants for the morning and afternoon testimony meetings.
We were told over and over again that if you have a choice between marriage and a mission to get married and have kids. The same was encouraged for school.
I felt useless. These men were encouraged to do great things and to accomplish so much, and here I was told to obey the men and to love unconditionally, forgive everyone, be a mom, and at that point in my life I wanted nothing to do with kids. Mom had pulled me out of school (5th grade) to babysit her kids she she could go to work. I had to grow up at much too young an age.
I had my first boyfriend at age 16. He was the Japanese exchange student who attended seminary. Later after about a month of hanging out (we hadn’t kisses or established a relationship) I found out he was just taking it because he had nothing else to do that period and seminary doesn’t affect your GPA. My bishop at my “you just turned 16” meeting said that it was a sin to date a non-Mormon. So of course upon telling him that I couldn’t date him anymore because my bishop said so, he got me thinking. Why?
That’s a dangerous word for any mormon.
The day that set me rolling was the day that our Sunday school teacher decided that we were going to learn the roles of the woman in comparison to the roles of the men. After the lesson I asked if men and women were equal in the church and why the young men were given more than twice the funding for activities than the girls were. The result was a mess and I was told “because thats how god wants it.”
So I thought, how can I believe it if a man wrote it, a man leads it, and our Heavenly Mother is never mentioned? So I did what the scriptures told me. I prayed about it. I prayed about it for weeks with nothing. I cried. I had dedicated 17 years of my life to something that didn’t exist! I had been closed minded and I had guilted Kengo into taking missionary courses just so I could date him. I decided that I was fed up with it. I talked my mother into checking into a safe house after one nasty episode with Blake and to press charges. She just needed support and I was taught that keeping this family was a command from God.
It felt good to for once think, well fuck god! He wasn’t there for me when Blake beat pushed and spit on us, so now I do things my way.
In the end I graduated High school 8th in my class, mom married my step-dad Larry and had yet another baby, I ‘m working my way through college and my parents are still crazy Mormon who keep sending missionaries my way, and I send them theirs, crying. I’m not anti-Mormon, I’m ex-Mormon.
Editor’s note I got permission to post this story for you here after I received it as an email with the following preface:
I just wanted to thank you for the very accurate and beautiful piece you’ve put together called Ex-mormon. It is so well put together that I felt like I had been shot into the past.
I was “mormon” too at one point. Recently I’ve been putting my own historical story together, not just for me, but for others like me who have had that epiphany and need an outlet and to not feel alone. I was looking through Google in hopes to see an example or something for guidance and found it in your stories.
So far I’ve collected the dates from my many journals through 4th grade to present, and was looking to see how much detail is appropriate and I’ve decided after reading these stories, I want to say and express everything.
We look forward to hearing more from Jill!