So much happened this weekend it’s going to take me the rest of the week to tell you about it. And it took half of this week even to wrap my head around it. It was everything I’ve been missing in my life all wrapped up in two neat little days of relief.
First, I have to try and describe what it was like to meet up with my new cohorts and do our first read-through for Listen To Your Mother. But that is a hard, hard, thing. How do you explain love at first sight?
Let me back up a ways.
Because of the activism work I do, I often find myself the object of a great deal of scorn. And worse. It’s a hard thing to try and describe but in this tiny tiny tiny little corner of the internet, I’m a public figure. It’s not a role I’m really even comfortable acknowledging because as someone who is also engaged in this mainstream world of blogging and writing and YouTube and trying to gain eyeballs, I am painfully aware that the corner of the world that cares about Mormon Feminism is miniscule. Laughably small. So so very tiny that it is pretty ridiculous anyone would think of me as public at all.
And yet, here we are. These issues are deeply felt, and activism for powerless or disenfranchised groups mean that any crumb of public attention matters a whole lot more than it would in any other group or situation. Which means that by being willing to engage with the press, I take a ton of shit. From every side. Mormons who think that I’m an apostate and go so far as to gather random comments I make across the internet to make the case for a church court. Secular feminists who think that a woman in a patriarchal religion is a beacon of internalized misogyny. Other Mormon feminists who think I’m megalomaniacal or representing things wrong or too aggressive or not aggressive enough.
There are people who monitor my every word. I wish I could say that was me being paranoid, but I’m currently paying the price for the truth of that statement. Around the internet there are whackjobs and bigots who are convinced I’m secretly trying to bring down the church with an elaborate conspiracy, but I usually find those people amusing. Locally there are people here in town who also monitor my facebook page and my blogging and report me to my ecclesiastical leaders. I find these people to be so vitriolic and attached to their own political principles over the teachings of the gospel that I think their apostasy court would be far easier to support than my own, but not according to my Bishop or Stake President.
I kept quiet about these things for a long time to try and repair the relationship and be discreet, but those efforts proved fruitless, and I’m now moving so…
For the last few years I haven’t been allowed to hold a calling, or speak without the stake president supervising, or teach a lesson, or even hold book club in my home without the bishop calling me into his office several times over my selection and then coming to chaperone the event. I still have a temple recommend because I’ve done nothing wrong and my conscience is clear, but nevertheless, I’m essentially being disfellowshipped for my actions. When I talked to the bishop about this he couldn’t name any problems and said that things would change, but they haven’t. I’ve lost friends I’ve had for years. People that I was there for in their own times of crisis have told me I should leave the church. But I keep at this because I believe it’s the right thing to do. And because I believe the true test of a Christian is how they treat the people who aren’t kind to them.
So with all that pressure, and all that emotional energy going out, I’m sure you can imagine that I’ve been feeling depleted. I think it’s shown in the blog here. My creative mojo has been gone, the words have not been coming. I am luckier than most in having many deep and true friends but I’ve been feeling a loss of community. Without my family in my life, I long for a group to understand me, to support me, to hear me.
And it was with that big aching need that I came to the Listen To Your Mother read through. As we sat around the table we poured out our most intimate feelings and experiences. Our emotion built on each reading, tears flowed, we laughed until we were sore, and we nodded and clutched our hearts and said, “me too.” Here was this roomful of funny, smart, passionate, present women, with vulnerable open hearts, and we filled each other up. In that one afternoon we did the work of years of friendship.
Margaret and Nichole thought they were selecting readers for a beautiful show, and that’s true too, but really, they were curating me a group of great friends.