18 January 2011

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

My brother-in-law has a sister who is getting divorced.  She is living with my brother-in-law and my sister in their extra bedroom.  Since my mom talked to my sister today and got some of the details, we had a small discussion about it too.  I've been there.  Going through a divorce is not the easiest thing in the world.

I think my mom likes talking to me about stuff like this because I have a way of seeing things that is different than she does.  I heard her telling my sister that divorce is like a death, and you have to go through a time of mourning.  When talking about it, I told her that was right to a certain extent.  But there's more to it.  When you grow up in the Church, marriage is the "happily ever after."  If you get married in the temple for time and all eternity, that's how it will be.  No matter what happens, you'll work it out, because families are forever and you commit to each other forever.  I certainly bought into that.  I knew that marriage wasn't easy, and there would be times where we didn't get along, but because we had gotten married "the right way," we would somehow be protected.

Not so.  Divorce is also broken promises, not only from your spouse, but from the situation as a whole.  You are surrounded by people who make it work--siblings, parents, cousins.  But it didn't work for you.  It wasn't love and happiness.  And it's ending in tears.

It happens.  But unless it happens to someone you know personally, it's never talked about. 

My mom told me about when my dad was in the Bishopric.  We all knew it was really difficult for her that my dad had that calling.  She wasn't even really sure why.  But she talked to her cousin about it at some point, and he reassured her that her feelings were normal.  It's a difficult thing, but it's one of the unspoken things.  It's not talked about.  It's not shared with others.

I told my mom that this is something that I find so frustrating about the LDS culture.  Bad things happen.  Not all of life is perfect.  But no one wants to admit that.  Here we have the Gospel and this great truth, and it's suppose to fill our lives with sunshine and spiritual strength and flowers and joy.  So that's all we plan on, all we teach about, all we talk about.  It doesn't come from actual doctrine.  It isn't a message read over the pulpit.  But it is perpetuated and felt as part of the culture.

And it's really a shame, because the LDS community is set up in a way that it could be such a great support system for people who need it.  Instead, those people are surrounded by an entire group of people that they don't feel they can turn to, because it seems like no one can possibly relate to their struggles. 

That is just sad to me.

But what surprised me is that my mom completely agreed with me.  She sees it too.  Which was very unexpected for me.  But it was also a very interesting and enjoyable conversation to have. 

Sometimes I wonder if my mom feels alone within the ward when it comes to my situation, even though I know someone else who grew up in the ward who is gay.  But I bet my mom doesn't talk about it with his mom.  They probably don't know that the other one is going through or has had similar experiences as mother's of gay kids.  They could support each other and talk about their issues and compare notes if they knew about the other person.

But they don't.  Because you're not supposed to pay attention to the man behind the curtain.  You're supposed to only look at the show he puts on.

Such a shame.


Gay LDS Actor said...

I really liked this post a lot. I think so much of what you say is true. It is too bad that too many members put on the brave face of "everything is perfect," when in fact there are problems and issues in their lives that no one gets to see. And I agree that it is a shame that we could use our fellowship with one another as a great support system, but sometimes that falls by the wayside because people are too concerned (probably justifiably) that they will be judged because of whatever issues they are going through. It's unfortunate, because that shouldn't be what the gospel is about, but sadly the culture sometimes makes it that way. Thanks for your thoughts.

jen said...

I really liked this post too...
I'm reading a book called The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. She actually talks about this very thing... All of us caught up in looking perfect: It's like a twenty-ton-shield that doesn't protect us... It's just heavy.

Most people find it refreshing when we open up and share our hurts, but there are those who will judge.

Thanks for writing this!!