10.08.2007

Back to church, with a broken heart, again

The ironic thing about meeting Farmer Ted is that he has scared me into going back to church. Knowing how close I came, how much I wanted to give up this chastity thing, and how resentful it made me, showed me how far I have gone from the Lord. He showed me I need to get my behind back on the pew every Sunday.

So, I did go to church, on that Sunday after he told me about his 'new girl'. The ward completely ignored me again. As I sat there before the meeting, I watched the bishopric walk around introducing themselves to all the new people. The bishop glanced at me. No one came over. No one said hello. I knew they didn't know who I was. Some missionaries sat next to me because they had no other choice. I had spent the entire weekend in my apartment doing nothing. I already felt lonely and rejected, and this happened at church again! I needed some attention, I needed some love from somewhere. I was not going to get it here, in the 'house of the Lord'.

By the time sacrament ended, I felt so bad I couldn't stay any longer. I got up and walked out of the chapel. As I came through the lobby, I saw the huge painting of Jesus Christ with his open arms extended in love and welcome. I burst into tears. The irony! I started running down the stairs to get out of there. "Wait!" I turned and looked up. One of the missionaries. He had followed me out. He asked my name. What was my phone number, could they come visit? I choked out a yes, said that the sisters had been visiting me. I tried to hide my red blotchy face from him. He told me to call if I ever needed anything. Ok...bye. What a sweetheart...Then I drove home.

Instead of waiting for Farmer Ted to not call, I went to bed and cried myself to sleep. When I awoke, I semi-waited, but I knew. The call never came. He was getting serious about the girl. It was not even about him, really. He wasn't that great a catch, I could do better. It was the rejection, again that hurt me. Having my hopes destroyed once again caused an unbelievable pain that wrenched through my body. Alone again, while he was having lots of sex with the boring girl. I screamed into my couch pillows and beat the floor in frustration. Would this never end?!! How much heartbreak can one person take!?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??? Then I sobbed for hours.

There was something seriously wrong with me. I am 31 years old and could see no end. The hours and force of my tears made my chest hurt, my lungs sore, and my head throb...the thought of the rest of my life continuing this way... a loveless life seems absolutely unbearable. As I choked on my sobs, I wished I could stop breathing. I wished I really would choke, so this could be over...Then I pictured myself filling the bathtub and holding my head under the water, flooding my lungs and escaping the pain. Surely hell is better than this... No one is meant to live this way.

Suicide fantasies?! Holy crap!--it's been 10 years! Someone help me!...This is very very bad. I called my Bishop but got no answer and no voicemail. Of course. I remembered the sweet missionary from church, I dug out his number and called. I left a message, the words stuttered with sobs. Finally, the Bishop called, who had heard from the Elder. He asked what I needed? I told him that I felt so alone I didn't think I could go on anymore. This was it for me. It was too hard. I didn't know what more to do. The Bishop didn't understand me. After some talking, he agreed to come over.

They came. He gave me a copy of the 'Every Single One' story from the Ensign, which I had read. He wanted to know what I thought of it. I told him it didn't go far enough. I told him that church was the loneliest place in the world. He wanted to know why. I said that as a single person, I am alone all the time. No one cares if I come or go, get sick, or anything. So when I go to church, I need to be noticed instead of completely ignored. I told him no one had said hello to me that morning. Then he said he remembered seeing me but didn't know why he didn't talk to me.

I explained that I needed a family, that I found no support at church. I had no home teachers, nothing. And because church was not a source of comfort and support to me, it made these men who wanted me all the more tempting... how was I supposed to keep resisting them and the "love" they offered when I had no other place to go? Then he understood. He hung his head in shame and his eyes filled with tears. He admitted that he had been negligent with the singles. He wanted to know what they could do. So I told him. I gave him a list, starting with Family Home Evening. He promised to do something.

Then he gave me a blessing. The other brother offered to be my hometeacher.

I did feel better. I did feel comforted. I didn't drown myself in the bathtub that night.

14 comments:

Triskit said...

If the church were a person, I'd tell you you're in an abusive relationship. To keep going back to something that brings such pain to your life; to articulate your needs over and over and over and never have them met; to be so....stunted. It's sadistic.

Triskit said...

Or masochistic.

Can never keep 'em straight.

NF said...

I respectfully disagree with triskit. I am so floored and proud of you (can I be proud of you w/out knowing you?) for asking for help and talking w/the Bishop and telling him what you need. I think you are amazing. More people need to do what you did. Your Bishop isn't perfect-no one is. But, to me, the church is still true-people aren't. Congrats to you for your accomplishment of getting the lines of communication open.

chris said...

JL,

Keep your head up. Get up. ...and stand up!

cvb

arbee said...

I also respectfully disagree with triskit. I think it's awesome that you reached out for help and your bishop was willing to listen. Also, that you were brave enough to express your needs. (I'm a 31+ single adult - FYI)

Sometimes I feel really lonely at church also, but other times everything's just fine. I guess it depends on my frame of mind, or probably a little bit about the lessons/talks that are given on any particular Sunday. Although I can totally relate to your angst...singleness sometimes equals invisibility and it hurts, A LOT.

Anyway, back to my point. I occasionally wonder if all of the YSA/SA people in the wards around the world actually were brave enough to express to their respective leadership what they NEED if it would make a difference. I know that married people do not have the same point of reference we do and definitely have different needs than we do too. Most leadership cannot empathize (though they probably sympathize) with any of the singles, since they have not been single for many years and probably married at a "normal" age. I think this sort of goes back to wishing somthing would change, but not doing anything to change it! I know am guilty of this more than I want to admit, and I also know that the programs of the church are often not meeting my "needs". Have I expressed this to anyone that can do anything about it? No! Should I? Yes, most definitely. The real question is am I brave enough?

NF said...

Arbee: I love your name so much that I was going to read your blog, but I see that it's not public. So, taking up space on JL's blog (sorry!) I wanted to tell you that your nickname RULES! (Is it based on Arby's?) ;)

arbee said...

nf - my "name" has nothing to do with Arby's, it's just my initials spelled out RB = arbee

my blog is www.ar-bees.blogspot.com

JL said...

Arbee,

One thing I have learned in the devastation I've been through the last two years, is that when you have lost everything, you no longer have anything to fear. It was not an act of bravery on my part, the only thing I that scared me was my own desperation. I NEEDED HIS HELP! And it helped me that I was prepared, by blogging about this subject, I already had a list in my head of things that I wished the ward would do. And, the bishop has already started doing most of them!

We have CES missionaries now, I don't know if that was already in the works, but it's interesting that 6 weeks after my discussion, we suddenly have them for the first time ever. One girl was telling me how great it was to have institute classes finally. I got to smile to myself and think, "They're here because of me! We've also started having monthly FHE because of me. The bish promised me that night he would get on it. And, the missionaries stopped by last week just to check on me. Which was awesome.

Please talk to your bishop. I promise you that he hes NO CLUE what singles need, but he probably wants to help. My bish said he had never considered the things I told him. Now he is changing everything! If you are afraid to talk to him for your own sake, then do it for the other singles who are struggling exactly the same way you are. See it as an act of service.

Good luck!

Gritty Pretty said...

Brava JL! You are a mover and a shaker. Sometimes i think that our strong emotions and the capacity to feel them, abide them, and then have them be so unbearable that SOMETHING must be done, is a very effective way to create change in the world. or that's what i tell my latina self when i seem to be leaps and bounds more emotional than my comrades.

Kathleen said...

*hugs* You captured the feelings of loneliness that I tried and failed to convey to my family recently when I explained to them that I was not going to continue to force myself to go to church once I get "kicked out" of my ysa branch in a few years. My parents chalked up my feelings of unhappiness in the church to "you must not have enough of a testimony" and insisted there was a place for singles and that I'm wrong for feeling like there isn't.

I spent my early 20s in a family ward because there wasn't a ysa ward accessible to me at the time. I became less active because of the way I was shunned and treated in that ward. There was only one woman in that ward who would even speak to me.

I wasn't able to attend a ysa branch until 26 and it's been a good experience but men both in and out of the church avoid me so I know inevitably the time will come when I will have to go back to a family ward as a single woman.

I have yet to meet a bishop or branch president in any ward whether it is a regular family ward or a singles one who really has a clue what singles need. I think my current branch president really believes the "any worthy person can get married to another worthy person so stop slacking" theory that is preached so often. He also really seems to believe that everyone there is going to get married no matter what anyone has said to him and doesn't seem to take worries and fears to the contrary seriously.

Kevin Barney said...

JL, I'm glad you took the initiative to actually talk to your bishop. I was sitting with my bishop on the train the other day, and I was expressing to him how difficult I would find it to be were I in his shoes. I only know maybe 20 percent of the people in the ward, and as bishop I would feel the need to try to know everyone, and to me that would be just overwhelming.

There's no sense leaving the poor bishop to guess about your needs; if you actually tell him, as you did, he surely wants to help. Which is to say, you did exactly the right thing.

J.L. said...

Kathleen,

They don't have any idea. How could they? I think some of that is our fault, obviously, not enough of us, if any at all have been speaking up. We've been made to feel like such pariah's, that the moxie is drained out of us. We feel the church leaders either don't care or live on some other planet and practically speak another language. I guess the only way to fix this, is to speak up for ourselves. Make your bishop cry like I did!

Joe said...

JL--

OK, I DEFINITELY feel this pain. I know that after my first several years in the Church I started dating outside again and fell away, before getting scared straight by a bad relationship. I'm in a YSA ward, and I still feel that our needs aren't being addressed properly all the time. You're right, it's difficult in a church of families to relate to the singles.

I think, even though I'm in a singles ward, that I get some of the same invisibility because even though everyone's single, I don't have the RM badge :). Gotta love being a convert.

Good for you, though! I hope your bishop is able to start addressing your needs in a more productive way, and soon.

TRS said...

Yay! I'm so happy that you made your bishop cry!
That means that his soul and his heart were opened to hear what you had to say... and understand. He recognized FINALLY the need.

And as others said... it's so good you've been blogging about it because that gave you the right words at the right time.
What a blessing!
YOU are a blessing now to other singles.
Yay!