Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What It Looked Like.

I was married once before. It's true. I never talk about it. Some of my best friends don't even know anything about it. My ex-husband recently found me on FB and I have been thinking a lot about our marriage since then. I usually try not to. I was 21. I didn't know my own mind, I was sad and terribly heartbroken. I was "inactive" in my church, I had no support system, no job, no money, no Kurt Cobain. I was trying to stop drinking and I was trying to leave my party friends. I was in an apartment near BYU and so I started walking to Annie's Video and renting 3-4 videos a day in an attempt to not drink or see my friends. I decided that I was broken and I would never be in love again, that I should just find someone who could accept me, someone I could be friends with, and I should settle down. Yes, that must be the answer to all of my problems. I should get married.

He was a friend of my roommates. And we had fun together. We'd play tennis and he got my weird humor. We were good at partnering up and taking care of each other's problems, which mostly seemed to be getting by financially. He said we had to be married in the temple, which I didn't really want but I went along with. I was off the church at the time because of a few factors. First, when I was 18, exactly 20 years ago, I had been in a serious physical relationship with a young man we'll call "Bill". He was funny and affectionate and sincere and adored me and Bill was a return missionary. Now, I had not been raised in the church, and I had activated myself when I was a teenager. I had a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon, which I had read many times, but I didn't know doctrine. I knew nothing about the Temple either. I just knew that Bill had been through it before and that it was somehow more serious for him to mess up. So we tried not to. But have you all seen The Notebook? Read Twilight? Daniele Steele? I actually had that. In real life. For one year. And then Bill left me for another girl he felt impressed to marry and I was devastated. I never wanted to take another breath ever again. I laid in the fetal position and cried for three days. To make matters worse, he got remarried in the Temple before I was even allowed to take the Sacrament. You read that right. Most people said, "Oh, he must have lied to his church leaders." He didn't. They let him. Even though he had made temple covenants and I wasn't even raised in the church and I activated my own self. Now, for some reason, from then on, every ward I moved into the Bishop would ask to meet with me. And in 100% of those meetings they would say, "So tell me about this young man." And I was like, "WTH, do these dudes have a friggin FILE with this stuff in it??" And why isn't this just going away for me like it went away for Bill. I bet he doesn't still have anyone asking HIM questions about what happened. It felt humiliating and it felt unfair and it made me feel like it was all my fault. Like somehow I was the one that was designated to pay for that situation and he was given a free pass. It felt like the message was that men can just move on without consequence. And this made me SOOO angry. And I thought I was no longer the kind of girl that anyone that I would really want would really want. And this made me feel hopeless. And none of these sweet caring Bishops knew what to say to me in any small way. And it went on like this for years.

Second factor, My mother was in a homosexual relationship. Which was a trendy concept in the 90s but only if you were in your 20s and on the CW. I had supportive people, confused people, consoling people, angry people, and condescending people come up to me and tell me how I should handle the situation. The more I tried to figure out what to do, the more confused I got. I knew this woman, I knew she was not gay. The relationship happened because Helen said she loved my mom, and my mom loved people to love her. I knew I should just wait it out until it was over. And I knew it would be over. But something about it just broke my spirit. Knowing that whatever it was that made other people's parents understand the importance of being respectable and normal and having boundaries and standards, my parents would never have that. I was mourning the childhood I never had, the parent I would never have and the man I would never have. Who would want to marry someone like me, with a family like mine? And for all of these reasons I began drinking a large amount of alcohol at frequent intervals.

So you can see why I was happy to find a nice boy who wanted to marry me. We got engaged in a comedy of errors kind of way and then we began weekly meetings with our Bishop, because it's what I did professionally at that point, meet with Bishops, and he tells us we have one-on-ones with the Stake President before we can get married. Sigh. But I decided to go through with it even though I was frustrated with the entire process. I walk in and the S.P. says to me, (all together now), "Tell me about this young man, Bill." My jaw hit the floor. I explained my story to him and then, he did what no one else did. He pulled out a notebook, asked me where Bill was and asked for his information. I asked him why he wanted to know. He said he wanted to find out what had happened with Bill's Bishop to erroneously allow him to be married in the Temple when he was clearly not worthy. Now I was really confused. I mean, it was over, Bill was married. What were they going to do? Pull him into meetings with his current Bishop and make him answer for it all these years later? Were they gonna put him through Church Court because of me, if I "turn him in"? Is that even what he is asking me to do? I secretly kinda wanna turn him in but I can see this will just not do, to be vindictive about this. I tell him I don't know where Bill is or how to begin to find him, which was true. I am laughing out of nervousness and also the absurdity of it all and because I am becoming super duper uncomfortable. And the man then tells me to my face that I am clearly "...too immature to get married". And he won't sign the recommend. He says we have to wait six months. I have family members flying in from out of the state. They already have their tickets. I leave even more apathetic towards the church than ever before.

I try and talk my future spouse into not getting married in the temple. He says his little brothers and sisters will be looking up to him and he can't get married anywhere else. Fine. My bishop hears about what the Stake President said and he is mad. He doesn't agree with him at all so he calls him to tell him he thinks he's making a mistake and they GET IN A FIGHT. So here is my last straw testimony breaker right here...why would two men, with this kind of stewardship over me, disagree over something they both receive revelation over? Why would they both get two different answers about something as huge as my future? I thought that if the spirit was real, they both should have gotten the same answer.

Part of coming back into the church required me reconciling the things that happened during this time of my life. And one day after prayer it just downloaded into my head that I kept being asked about "that guy" because God wanted me to come back. I wasn't being hounded because it was all my fault, I was being hounded so I could repent fully for the situation and get it off my back because it was ruining my life. I made about 100,000 bad decisions as a result of this one bad relationship, where he was able to turn around and marry the right girl and move on with no long term consequence, other than the guilt and the weighty conscience that I hoped that he had. I still hope he had. It just didn't effect him long term the way it effected me. And only God would know that. About Bishop v. Stake President, after 15 years I can see that they both were right. The wedding should have been called off, we should never have gotten married, neither of us were ready, and I certainly didn't love him the way I should have. (Sorry Dev.) But my Bishop knew the Stake President didn't handle it right and he could feel we weren't being supported and helped in the right way. And my Stake Pres. was right that it was wrong but he was wrong about why it wasn't right. Well maybe he was a little right, I was pretty immature. In the end this actually built up my testimony. I was trying to be inactive, trying my darnedest, and God was calling me in and making me talk about my problems because he didn't want to let me go. Gods a pretty cool guy.

7 comments:

AzĂșcar said...

You are so great. And I so needed to read this.

Cristina HW said...

You are SO friggin' honest, and I LOVE it and am jealous of it! Not that I'm not honest, but I keep the past deep inside unless asked. Wish I were more ballsy like you!

Emily said...

All I can say is wow. You're amazing. And I loved this post.

Tanya and Tom Quinn said...

I'm impressed by you, Amelia.

Tom

Jewels said...

I am blown away by you more and more. You are the most solid, honest person I know. LOVE you.

Amelia Merritt said...

Thank you, kind people, for calling my tendency to overshare, "honesty"! I blame my grandmother, she raised me to have no modesty, and in fact walked around I'm the buff an used the bathroom with the doors open. That attitude formed a lot of my inability to conceal.

Amelia Merritt said...

*in the buff.