2 days ago my mom sent me a review of Carol Lynn Pearson's book, "No More Goodbyes." It pointed out what the reviewer saw to be many inconsistencies, untruths, and misinformation. Since she read the entire book which was difficult for her (she found it to be very anti-mormon and "insidious"), she asked me to read this article though she thought it would be difficult for me. It was, but perhaps not in the way she assumed it would be.
After reading it, I felt very sad and demoralized. It was not because of what this lay reviewer had written, it was because my mom continues to pressure me after all the talks and letters we have shared. I feel like we have found a common ground and a mutual respect, and then out of nowhere she descends again to "help" me. I told her briefly how I felt and she asked in response to elaborate on my feeling demoralized and upset about her sending the review. This was my response:
" I almost don't want to tell you this, because I don't want you to feel bad or feel like you can't share things with me, but sometimes when you send me a letter about this issue, or for instance today when you sent me the review of this book, I just start to feel so hopeless, and I feel again like I wish I were dead. I don't entertain thoughts of actually killing myself, but I instantly start thinking-- maybe I should just start praying for death so I don't have to live in this life anymore which is clearly causing so much stress for my parents. Maybe I'm just not strong enough yet to face your disapproval of my life. I think I just value your feelings about me a lot (you are my mom!), so feeling like you just don't like what I'm doing and you don't seem to understand why I'm choosing to follow a more peaceful path for myself just makes me feel very demoralized and hopeless. I guess I just had this fantasy that if I came to peace with myself that you and dad would see that peace within me and say-- wow he is clearly more at peace in his life.. and that is what really matters. But your criteria is different-- it doesn't seem to matter at all that I prayed for death while I was in full fellowship-- while being worthy to enter into the literal presence of the Lord, in my quiet moments I hoped to die and felt disconnected from my own life on a deep level. It just wasn't my life and I don't know what else to say. I feel so much more engaged in my life now. I am where I feel at peace and happy and whole. Maybe you want me to stay in the church and continue to accept a broken reality for the rest of my life. But I don't want my whole life to be spent fighting that fight. I would rather fight other fights in my life-- fights that I connect with. The fight of being a celibate gay mormon, or the fight of being a gay mormon married to a beautiful woman are just not the things I want to fight for. I can select the battles I choose to fight in my life, but I can't really choose which battles I feel compelled and passionate to fight. I feel like I am just saying too much, but I also don't feel like I'm even scraping the surface.
I just want to have faith that I can help you understand me, if that is your wish.
When I start to think about death, I remember that everything in life is an invitation. When I begin to feel that invitation to die, I remember that I have made a commitment to myself to live out my life in full. Though we have been dealing with this for 10+ years already, I feel a lot of what I am feeling is very new. I know that the firmness of my current position must be difficult for you after the hundreds and hundreds of hours that you have spent counseling and praying on my behalf. I truly am sorry to disappoint you and make you feel uneasy about me. But Mom believe me when I say that I really do feel that I searched every corner of my own universe to try to find a way to make the Church work for me. I teetered back and forth and bounced back from the brink of apostacy to give it "just one more go" probably about 5 times. I really did everything I could for the first 30 years of my life to be a mormon. I don't regret those efforts. But I just couldn't make it work. I tried harder than many of the people I know.. I used my mind body and heart to try to find a way to be happy and fulfilled in the church. But it just did not happen. That seed just did not grow and blossom and flourish within me. I'm sorry about this, mostly for you who I feel has given so much to me, and also is so committed to the gospel. I know that the gospel is your life, so it must feel like a slap in the face for me to say that it is not my whole life.
I just really hope that you can love me with all your heart. I would like us to be close throughout our lives. I want you to know I honestly do respect you, even though I don't currently share 100% of your beliefs. I thank you for shaping me into a person who cares about others, and who has a soft and compassionate heart. Does any of this make any sense at all?"
Her response to this letter essentially that she didn't believe that I was happy as I am presenting myself. She reminded me of all the difficult times I had had in my year and a half relationship, and how I mentioned to her on occasion that I felt trapped in that relationship and again sometimes wished to die. (this wishing to die is a habit that I truly hope to bury). She then asked me if I wanted her perceptions of my life as it is now, and her view of my current choices. This was my response:
"I would love to discuss my life with you at some point, but with all due respect I don't feel right about having your feedback at this time. The truth of the matter is this, we all see what we want to see in life. My relationship with C presented me a new set of personal challenges that I never could have imagined. Perhaps I resorted back to some of my old hopeless and wishing for death feelings during moments of our relationship. But things are very different for me inside my body. They are safer and better, though still not perfect. But I know everyone that lives on earth whether they have the gospel or not is here to grow and face challenges. I feel like I have accomplished so much and become such a strong and wise person but somehow its of little value to you. (at least in compared to what you seem to want me to be) I know you love me and that you mean well, but I think you need to learn to celebrate who I am now. There is a lot of good about me and that is what I'd like you to focus on for now-- at least in front of me. Self improvement in this life never ends, and I depend on the observations of others to help me, but I think I am going to turn this role over to Don, Craig, Constantine and a few others. I think you want to see me as unhappy so you can validate your idea that I need to be in the church to be happy. Maybe that's you but its not me mom.
I want to trust you.. but I get nervous inside when I see an email from you in my inbox. That seems silly because 99% of your emails are just a quick question or a hello and family info that I love to hear. But that 1% when I feel that my hard earned values and the happy authentic full life I am trying to create (not perfectly sometimes) is under siege, I just have to take cover from you. I don't want that kind of relationship with you! I don't want to worry what is coming next from you. I want to hear from you often and just know that you are going to love me for exactly what I am. Im almost 31 mom. This is my life right now. I want your love, your friendship and as much support for me as you can muster. I need you to appreciate all that I am and not focus on what I have not yet accomplished. I know this question of religion is everything to you, so this will be a challenge. But I really have faith that you can do this. We have so few real allies in this life. I need you to be an ally-- a protector. I need it today. I hope you can understand what I am asking and why.
In conclusion I just want to reiterate-- I love you. I trust that you love me. I want our relationship to be one of unconditional love. I need you to celebrate what I am. I need you to learn to be happy for me. I need you to ask yourself.. what does Clark want. What are Clark's hopes and fears.. how can I be an ally to Clark on his journey. This is how I want to be treated by you. Will you do it?"