August 17, 2015

My conversion story part 6: my return to Christ

I started attending church little by little
my questions and beliefs had not changed, but my heart was open to the possibility that I was wrong.
It was an odd sort of realization that I wanted the church to be false, but I avoided doing the work to really figure it out; which is the predicament I am currently in. I Sat in sunday school and would be furious about how they taught specific things- one of which was a bashing session on people who had left the church. Somehow they were all experts on the intentions of people's hearts, and assumed the motives for leaving were always selfish. Even as I type this, I want active members to know that they need to stop assuming people's motives for leaving, and realize it is much, much  harder that it appears to be. We don't just wake up one morning and stop coming to church. We don't always base our decision because someone offended us, or because we sinned and felt guilty but didn't want tot change. It's not a lack of faith. Oftentimes, we explore other options- praying to god it will lead us back to church and re-affirm our testimonies. The possibility that Joseph Smith may not have done the things he said he did hurt to even consider. So the point of my rant being- stop judging. heaven forbid you have a crisis of faith and everyone just assumes you have a lack of faith, and uses your story as an example in sunday school for the class to pity.

The Turning point.
I sat in sacrament meeting, listening to people get up and bear testimonies, and even though my mind was going 100 mph with skepticism and bitterness towards all these ignorant people; my physical body was calm for the first time in weeks. Tears uncontrollably ran down my face, and I had to get up and leave. I was really confused, and honestly a little pissed off that this was happening. I had worked so hard to get as far away from Christianity as possible, and now this?

But it made me curious, and so I kept going back.

I got really sick.
Sicker than I had been in a long time, and the ramifications lasted for nearly three months. I have been well my whole life, and this took up much of my thoughts. It was devastating.
I was dizzy all the time, and nothing seemed to help. I was dehydrated and wasn't eating enough due to the dietary limitations my doctors had put me on, in order to manage my anxiety. But really the only thing that helped was staying off of facebook.

It was at this time that I realized that I had lost my gift of discernment and the presence of the Holy ghost, because that intuition thing I called the holy ghost was failing me. Normally I am dang good at diagnosing what my body wants, but I was so lost in fear. I didn't know what was wrong. I didn't know if it was my blood sugar, or my iron levels, or a sensitivity to chemicals... and it didn't help that the doctors didn't know either! that concerned me the most. I also couldn't seem to communicate my symptoms adequately, which was probably the most frustrating.

The days were miserable. I was alone with the kids and left to push through this dizziness during the day. I was dizzy in my sleep. I was dizzy sitting, standing and walking. but driving seemed to be fine.
it was hell for a long time, and I started earnestly praying and seeking God for the first time in a while. I was willing to have the Lord prove me right when I asked for his help. I begged to be healed. I sought repentance for the things I had done. I started reading my scriptures. I did everything in my power to make things right with My father in heaven again. And up until that point, I felt no shame or guilt for my mistakes.

Somehow, when I decided to be humble enough to turn to God for help instead of figuring it out on my own, I felt the godly sorrow surface. I knew I couldn't do this by myself as I had originally thought.

I finally understood why I needed a savior.
I was willing to buy into the Christ myth if that meant I felt peace about the things I had no control over, and the wrongs I had done.I slowly started putting him to the test, and when I started getting answers to my prayers...
 I needed him more than I needed air.

and it wasn't just my prayers he answered. No, he would grant things that appeared in my thoughts or in comments I would make. I remember being at my dizziest, and hadn't slept in a few days. I was texting my mom, talking about the things I associate with comfort and said to her " I wish I could sleep. I would kill for a soothing rainstorm right about now."
I put one of those rain sound apps on my iPhone and played it that night to see if it would help, but it's not the same.
and the next day, it rained, and I had the best nap that afternoon- and I knew heavenly father was listening.

That was when I handed my heart back to him, piece by piece.

The peace and comfort I feel now is unprecedented. I have a sense of calm that I never thought I would get back again. I had to taste the bitter to know the sweet.

 I still have not re-developed a testimony for Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon, and I purposely hold off on doing that work until emotional stability sets in. Even though I don't yet believe that  Christianity is the only way we are guaranteed salvation, and many other things that most Christians DO believe, I take refuge in Christ and his atonement, now more than ever. My conversion isn't over yet.

August 10, 2015

my conversion story part 5: turning around from rock bottom

It was two weeks after coming home that I just couldn't do it anymore. I told john I wanted a divorce. I didn't think I could survive the wait for things to get better. My beliefs were on the back burner and I wasn't practicing anything that resembled worship to God.

I had been feeling really strange, and looking at my calendar, felt total despair as I realized I needed to take a pregnancy test- hoping it was negative. It happened that it was very positive, and Trying to keep myself from a total meltdown at the thought of raising three children as a single mom; I decided to reconcile and really try to work on things with John. I knew I couldn't do this alone, and I was so afraid that if I sought a divorce, I would be left hanging out to dry.

I was so far from the light.
I was trying hard to fight it, but I was immersed in darkness. thoughts about abortion, hoping for miscarriage, resentment, taking my own life- consumed my life for days upon days. We were meeting with our marriage counselor weekly and it just wasn't working.

I couldn't communicate anything. My hopes and dreams, nor my fears. I couldn't even ask for a drink of water. I didn't know what I needed because I constantly ignored it. When I finally had the courage to speak up, I got ignored.

I finally reached my breaking point when I had my first panic attack, and knowing John was the trigger, I couldn't let myself be around him during my pregnancy. So in my lack of connection to the lord, and not seeing that John was trying to help me, I asked him to leave.

Well, he never made it past packing his stuff, because I had a long conversation with god for the first time in a long time. He told me to let my heart take over because my head wasn't getting it right. If i was supposed to be a good "witch" then I was supposed to do all things out of love, and let it be my guide. The truth was, I was consumed with fear. And there was no room for love when I was constantly afraid.

I had another panic attack and struggled with depression even though John and I were making some headway in our relationship  and were surprisingly stable. I didn't know how to help myself. I didn't know what comforted me. I couldn't feel peace.

I was desperate. I would do whatever it took to feel comforted and off the cliff of anxiety, even if that meant going to church because it was familiar. So I got the go-ahead from my bishop to wear my garments again as an experiment to see if it helped with managing my anxiety. I changed midwives because the office location was familiar. if I couldn't be comforted, I could at least start with surrounding myself with things that were familiar.

August 5, 2015

pregnant ramblings.

Today I've gotten up, put on clothes, put on makeup, had a protein shake, eggs and bacon; and I am already wanting to take a nap. The exhaustion is overpowering and I wonder how I get anything done at all. With almost 5 weeks remaining in this pregnancy, I am not sure how I am going to make it to delivery day without either being in pain and injuring myself, or up to my eyeballs in unfinished projects and housework. As I type this, Emberlee has climbed onto the dining table and is tap-dancing in milk that she has dumped from her cup .

I had my home visit with the midwives last night. It was a wonderful reunion with my midwife Crystal, and my previous Midwife Jen, who will be attending my birth as an assistant. I still can't believe I am so close to delivery. This pregnancy has seemed to drag on through the first and second trimesters, but now that it's nearly go time, I can't seem to stay on top of all my tasks, and I am slightly freaking out about the process of getting this baby out.

It doesn't matter how many times I have done this, or how amazing the experience is each time; I seem to be filled with a lot of fear. I'm working on that. I keep reminding myself that I while I may be alone in my physical sensations, and those cannot be taken from me (by choice) I will have more beings in my presence to aid me, more than on daily basis. I've had angels minister to me during my births, and I know they will tend to me again and again.

I feel this pull towards groups of women who have done this before. over and over. Like I did with Emberlee. I crave female companionship, and not in a lesbian or sister-wife way,  but more like having Many hands to hold me and witness me in this time of my life. A thousand voices to reassure me. like my own little private counsel of "elders" if you will. I sought after this once before and it lead me down a path that was dark, because I sought the wrong people.

I'm trying again, and I feel like I have identified the right ones this time. 

I am just so tired of feeling alone.

August 3, 2015

My conversion story part 4: The pit of despair

Even though I had tons of "support" in my new beliefs, my reality was so frustrating, I was trying constantly to escape it.

I am still really tender and healing from this time in my life.

I was feeling absolutely out of my mind. I knew what was right in my heart, and somehow the disconnect between John and I became a canyon of distance, despite our efforts to build a bridge.
He was convinced I was experiencing a mental illness, and the trend in our marriage has been that I can't seem to articulate my feelings or defend myself successfully and so I just stonewall.

I came to really resent John more than I ever had, because I felt like he had no place to judge me. He wouldn't listen to me and what was on my heart without criticizing me or dismissing me. I'd like to say that it was all because I told him I wanted to be a witch, but this was a common exchange throughout our marriage. He was convinced that I had evil intentions in my heart and that I would hurt our children, and when you call yourself a witch and are married to a Christian, you cannot convince them otherwise no matter how much they should know you.

I was constantly trying to hide that part of my life and keep it to myself as requested but it seemed to only make things worse. I couldn't stand how I was being treated, and how I had been treated throughout our marriage. I was convinced I deserved better- and there were times when I did.

We were falling apart. There was no trust. I asked for a divorce and his only response was " a divorce isn't going to make you happy. it's not going to fix anything" which I took as being completely ignored. Nothing got better. And then it would get better briefly just as a means of survival.

I went to Florida for a month, over Christmas break.
3 weeks without John was paradise. I cannot begin to express how nice it was to be free from those feelings of constant judgement and belittling like I was an enemy set out to destroy our family- when all I needed was unconditional love and patience and to be left alone to figure things out for myself. I still get angry when I think about all the hurtful things and words and feelings during that time.

When I say I made mistakes, I mean I did things that even my inactive siblings raised an eyebrow about. Mainly being that I had initiated inappropriate conversations with two different men online; one of which I met up with in person while in Florida. I made decisions purposely  because it felt wrong. We met in a public place, and I never touched him aside from a brief hug, and I remained faithful to John. After saying goodbye to this guy, I just broke down crying. In the car, driving home at 11pm with tears streaming down my face. I felt so many different things. I was on fire with anger. I was confused. I was so,so sad. All in a matter of seconds. I spent so much time talking to this person and developing feelings for them that were based on a completely false reality, it made me sick to my stomach.  What had I just done? What was I hoping would happen?

I broke contact because basically, I was tired of lowering my standards to accommodate a fantasy about this guy. Other than his appearance, there was nothing desirable about him.

I made other mistakes that were more just a bad judgment call, that I have made restitution for and talked with my bishop about.

I tried alcohol and marijuana for the first time. Even though I had no issues at the time with the use of either, it just did not appeal to me other than fitting in with everyone else. I had every intention to get used to the taste and smell of both substances when I got home.

John came to Florida and after my initial excitement to see him, we fought or were licking our wounds nearly the whole time. Our anniversary was awful. I tried so hard to be a good sport and to be happy about spending time with him, but it seemed like all he was trying to do was pick a fight. So I faked a smile and pushed through the 24 hours alone with just he and I, and tried with my might to just be happy. And I had little glimmers of that, but it wasn't enough to make me fall in love with him all over again.

We fought all the way home to Arizona, and were desperate to get our feet underneath us so that we could start thriving together, but things got more intense. I started talking to guy #2 and eventually felt safe enough to share details about my relationship with John. It was a different experience from the first, because this guy had his life together in comparison. It wasn't long before I had started hoping that these conversations would be the seed to a deeper relationship if I went through with a divorce.