Letter to LDS Singles

*This was written by a friend of mine who wanted to get this message out. --JL

To Whom It May Concern:                                                                               June 28, 2011

 The inactivity within the Church for singles over thirty is at least over 80%.  It’s unreal. It’s surreal. It’s tragic. And it is largely invisible.  Without a doubt, I am convinced that this is the largest problem the Church faces today. It is a legitimate crisis.  If you have come to believe otherwise, then you have been acclimated and blind to the biggest problem in the Church today. The problem with age thirty-plus singles inactivity affects every other program in the Church.  It touches missionary work, temple work, Home and Visiting Teaching, the ability for wards to fill callings, and the list goes on.

I think I have a solution to the singles problem for people over age thirty in the Church. In my experience, I have both seen and heard many people complain about the Mid-Singles Program (and for obvious reason.)  It seems painfully obvious to me that no matter how many problems exist in the program, there remains one problem which, if fixed, would make major improvements to the program as a whole and, hence, people’s lives.

Here it is: If we found a way to get small numbers of singles together on a regular basis to have actual fun, while simultaneously allowing them to meet new people on a constant basis, then we will have done something.

The reason the standard activities are non-effective is because they are geared toward large numbers of people. No sane person would ever go on a first or second date to a Church dance or Fireside. Ever. They are anti-social, confusing, usually embarrassing, and usually no fun. And most importantly, they are no place to meet or get to know anyone. Yet, this is really all the Church offers at this point for singles over thirty. Those activities do not provide an atmosphere conducive to finding an eternal companion.

THE STAKE ROTATION SYSTEM:  Let’s use my city as a template. For example, there are some sixteen stakes throughout the Denver, Colorado region right now. What if each of these stakes was to be paired off to have activities with another stake in the same region for three months? Then three months later, each stake could switch and pair off with another stake in the same region for another two to three months. This process could be repeated throughout the region until all stakes have spent time with each other. For Denver, on the three month model, everyone in the region would have the opportunity to meet every other single in the region within a two year period. Then, hopefully, the number of singles would shrink for the right reasons, for once.

Granted, the corresponding stakes would have to communicate with each other in order to plan activities, (and get permission from whomever), but the advantages are clear:  

1)      The numbers would be smaller by far. I believe that 20-25 people are a perfect number.  There is real potential for good conversation, along with the ability to get to know someone.
2)      Anyone who went would be meeting people they already knew from their own stake, as well as new people. A perfect mix!
3)       Because the stakes would be paired off for two-three months, anyone who was interested in someone would have the opportunity of meeting them two or three more times…even if the two stakes met only once per month (three activities.) Who can’t get a phone number in that amount of time?
4)      Because the groups are small, they would have more freedom to do things that actually foster good conversation (i.e. game nights, hikes, restaurants, etc….)

*Number four is important. People need something to get them talking…something that makes them be their fun self. Dances usually don’t do it. Firesides never did it. (How could one person talking while a hundred others sit and listen ever be anything remotely social? And don’t give me that bit about meeting in the foyer afterward! The very definition of lame.)  And, honestly, volleyball barely works either, say what you will.  I swear, if all we did was game nights with this rotating stake idea, we would improve the collective situation 1000%.  Believe me; I have seen evidence of this so many times at game nights with less than twenty-five people.

And now for the rest of the story. I pitched this idea in a letter to Church leaders in 2007.  One of the Seventy called me about it several months later. He seemed to like it a lot and mentioned that they might try it in Boston as a test city. Obviously, I was very excited.

The General Authority also told me that the Brethren had some reservations about it because they preferred activities be held in Church buildings as opposed to people’s houses.  That way they could have more control over potential mishaps like stalkers, immorality, and whatnot.  I sent him another letter disagreeing with that idea. I told him that I personally felt that there was more control in a home because stalkers can’t really do their thing, and as far as immorality goes, people tend to leave the party before anything like that happens. But I could be wrong. Anyway, that was the last time we spoke.

Nothing ever came of my idea.  There was no test in Boston and I have not heard from them again.

I know personally that the Brethren care a great deal. They are running a worldwide Church, however, and singles are just one element of what they are called to manage.  But there remains a palpable gulf between them and the singles. And the wheels of change seem to be a bit gummed up. Somehow, the communication lines between Church leadership and the singles in the Church remain a bit inoperable.  The result feels as if we, the singles, have no real representation within the Church at all. Yes, we have plenty of people to tell us that they care, and we believe that they do. And we all know that, yes, if we do not find a spouse in the world, we will find one in the next. Still, some of us cannot help but look over the situation and think, “Yeah, but does it really have to be as bad as that? Can’t we at least make some sort of collective attempt at fixing the problem now (in this life), so at least some of us might enjoy the fruits of marriage in this life? Isn’t it logical to believe that if the program got better, then maybe some of the inactive singles might come back, thereby improving the program just by adding to our selection of potential mates?”

 It is for this reason that I ask each reader who agrees with me on this, to please pitch it to everyone who will listen. Everyone in the Church should be aware of both the problem and its potential solution (s). Once we have a collective conversation, something might just get done. We, the active singles, must stop being ashamed of ourselves. We have to make our local leaders and the members of our wards recognize us as a force to be reckoned with… that we are neither an embarrassment nor a tragedy, and that we will not allow ourselves to be disenfranchised. In fact, those of us who are active remain some of the most devout people in the Church. Our call to worthiness is a higher one than those who are married. We work, raise kids, and perform the business of life, without the blessings of a spouse. We deserve to be respected and heard.  If we are expected to be married eternally in order for us to fulfill our desired destiny, then we deserve a functional means to bring that to pass. 

Please, stop being scared. Open your mouth. You will not get excommunicated for telling the truth in a respectful way to the very people who claim to care and who have the means to help make good changes. You will not go to hell for stating the obvious in an effort to help the Church retain its members and help them get married.  Let’s not let another generation of single Mormons suffer this deplorable situation. Finally, if you believe that the idea I have shared with you might make a difference, please give it a try. Present it to local leaders, and do what you can.

Thank you and Godspeed,

Jess Lang



I feel better today. Not for any good reason.  Nothing has changed. I'm still in the exact same circumstances as yesterday.  My bi-polar mood switch flipped in the night. I actually smiled at people today. And I got my grades submitted on time. Yay, me.  

This has been the pattern for the last two years. Under the extreme duress of my dire circumstances, I'm taken to the very edge of the precipice of emotional pain. I beg God to kill me in my prayers, to spare me from living with myself. That goes on for a few days or weeks until I reach the point where I can no longer take it, when I feel myself begin to break. And then my brain switches back to normal. I'm very grateful this one only lasted 4 days. 

Whatever happens to me, is whatever.  I'm going to try to enjoy this time off to work on the book.


I'm not doing well. I hung in through the end of the semester and hoped and prayed for the best. I hoped that I would get summer classes or that my lawsuit would settle in time. Neither of those things have happened. There's no more unemployment. There's nothing.  I'm scared. 

I may have to move back to Florida to live with my parents. The shame of that makes me want to vomit.  I probably won't be able to ever move back to NYC if I leave.  And I certainly won't be able to find another rent controlled 2 bedroom apartment in a nice neighborhood that's 10 minutes from Times Square.   There is nothing for me in Florida. There are exponentially more jobs here. Ditto with the men. I have friends and a life here. And I have the dignity of living in my own apartment.    

The problem is that I was an achiever. All my self-esteem was based on my achievement. I went to a nerdy magnet school. I got a scholarship to go to an exclusive liberal arts college. I got a fellowship to get an M.A. in an extremely difficult field. And then I got into one of the Top 25 PhD programs in my field. And then I went mad and dropped out. It's been 5 years and I've done nothing but flail about and hang on by my fingernails to my sad existence.  That I've become this loser who can't even support myself is almost unbearable.  Add to that the fact that I can't find someone who wants to love me and marry me and the self-loathing grows. 

It makes me hate myself with a violent loathing.  So it's harder to fight for myself.  I'm in this weird vortex where I know I desperately need to do something to fix my life while at the same time I feel that I don't deserve any better and there is no point in trying.  I don't understand how or why I could have let this happen.  I worked so hard in my 20s to have an academic career.  I made a lot of sacrifices.  But I believed in myself.  I loved what I was doing.  And I wore myself out. Then it all went to hell in 04/05.       

I've been crying for 4 days.  The bishop called me last night to check in. I told him how I am doing. That I feel like I'm just waiting for death. He sent my home teacher's over to give me a blessing.  Bless their hearts but they are both young, so it was a short prayer. It didn't even make me cry. Which is surprising considering the free flow of tears this weekend.

I also know I'm responsible.  I haven't been going to church this spring. The last few times I went it made me feel horrible. So I haven't wanted to put myself through the hassle only to come home in tears. I've been feeling resentful toward the church, which is bad.  I've let Satan in and given him a strong hold on my heart.  That is not going to serve me well, especially with my temporal predicament. I don't deserve the miracle that I need from the Lord.  Which is why my faith is so low, which is why I feel so hopeless, which is why I am so disgusted with myself, which is why I can't find the motivation to pull myself out of this, which is why I'm not bothering to go to church, which makes me feel undeserving . . .  and down the vortex I go . . . I don't think I have to strength to fight it this time.  I need some glimmer of hope and I can't find it. 


On and On Again

So. My life won't be changing any time in the next year.  
 Of the 3 schools I applied to:

PhD 1 said No.
PhD 2 said Yes, but it was too late for funding. There's no way I can go to graduate school in London without funding.  The reason there was no money left for me?  They said something went terribly wrong on their end and they don't know why they didn't review my application until April. 

MSW: Big FAT No that I just got today.  After paying their criminal $125 application fee, which, if you ask me, that amount of money ought to guarantee acceptance. I was also subjected to a 2 hour group interview that was TORTURE. Sitting in a circle with a social worker and a bunch of college senior girls, all competing to have the best answers to the same questions.  Such questions as: What would you do if you had a formerly homeless client who cooked you your favorite meal. I said I would eat it, that it was too rude not to.  All the simpering mealy mouthed girls said they would be as nice as they could but turn it down.  Yeah, good luck with that. 

I don't know what to do. I can't go on living my crap life this way.  Yesterday was a great day because I got to buy groceries, like I actually spent $80 on food that I want to eat. It's been 12 months since I was able to do that.  But the semester ends soon and I'll be back to eating church storehouse food.  Last month I had to duct tape my front bumper back on to my car.  Which officially moves me down one socio-economic level.  I had to stop volunteering at the zoo because the toll costs $8 and it takes too much gas to get there.   AND, I have to go to a hearing to have the unemployment I collected last year revoked.  Unless I get a lawyer for that. I already have two lawyers for my other crap. How am I supposed to hire another one? 

 Yes, things could be worse. Much worse. I am very blessed to have my physical health, to have my apartment and my friends and my family that has been helping me out a lot this year.  And extremely lucky to have a car that still runs. 

But. REALLY?  When will this end?  It's not like I'm not trying. I've already given up on ever getting married and I've definitely let go of the fantasy of having children.  It doesn't seem like it's too much to ask that I have enough of a successful career that I can support myself and my basic needs. That's all I want. I don't want to have to keep praying every month that my rent check won't bounce. And that my landlord has a soft heart towards me so I don't get evicted.  Clearly, I am doing something very wrong. I just wish I knew how to fix things.



Songs of the Moment

 Parts and Labor: Nowhere's Nigh.
Favorite song from last year.  A band out of the Brooklyn scene. The trend is to play synthesizer a la 80s New Wave with punk guitar and rhythms. Also, very reminiscent of 90s Shoegazer music.  It's the perfect combo and makes me very happy.  Hooray for the death of Emo music!!! 

Warning: The songs below are not happy. They make me happy right now, but if you are in a cheerful mood, you might not want to play them. 

Crystal Castles: Not in Love.  
Can you tell who Featured the singer is? It's the inimitable Robert Smith from The Cure, of course!  It sounds like the perfect Cure tribute song, almost as though Robert Smith wrote it himself.

Low: Point of Disgust. 
This song actually came with my Windows Media Player, it's fairly old. I played it by accident a few nights ago. It felt  like my life put into song.  I played it on repeat for 3 hours.  It inspired me to write a scene in my novel.  Which worked so well at setting the tone that I've decided to always put on a song or songs with the mood I'm trying to evoke in whatever scene I'm writing.  

I've been busy lately. Teaching two classes, dealing with more legal and financial crisis, ebaying everything in my apartment that might sell and writing the novel. I wrote the synopsis last week, 9 pages. It includes a detailed outline of all 25 chapters, a character study of the heroine, and a description of the world  (It's a dystopic fantasy.)  I did that so I can start working on selling the book. From what I've read, it takes so long that you should start shopping it before you're finished with the book.


Happy Birthday to Me!

The big 3-5 today! Yipee. Funny thing is turning 34 was more of a crisis. It messed me up for a month. I guess I got it out of the way.

This is the year I am changing my life. I can not keep living this way.  I have to stop the unstable seasonal employment without benefits. And I can't live with my unfinished doctoral work hanging like a millstone on my neck. I have to let it go. I can't finish for reasons I do not understand. So, I either start over in a new doctoral program or move on.

I had a rough night. I woke at 4:30 a.m. because I have a lot of worries at the moment.  Then I had a hard time falling asleep.  When I did I had a semi-conscious nightmare. I remember all of it:

I was living in the Brooklyn brownstone again with the same roommates I had before. Only now they hated me because I lived in the best room of the house with my own bathroom. My mother was visiting. Which angered the roommates. My mom got mad at me and yelled then threw my dishes on the floor breaking them. Then my best friend that I have been estranged from for the last 2 years, came to visit and there was no room for her. The roommates were not thrilled and they started using my bathroom which became repulsive. We had to use the bathtub as a toilet, it was backed up and had floating feces in the water. And there were  extra cats everywhere, so they were making me get rid of my cats, but I wouldn't. The other cats were fighting with my kitties, I had to keep rescuing them. And the little one got stuck in a huge piles of her own vomit. The landlords were a lesbian couple that were threatening to kick me out because of the cats and my mother. 

 I remember all of that because I kept waking up at the worst parts then falling back to sleep into the same dream. I'm worried about a lot of things which explains the dream.  But I have dear friends coming up from Philadelphia to spend the day with me. They're surprising me with special plans for the day. We are guaranteed to have a good time.


Closure 2

My closure is progressing. I have passed the crisis point I reached last week. [I also needed to deal with my feelings because one of the gentlemen pursuing me returns from the west coast this month. He already asked me to go out with him when he gets back. He is a good prospect (not Mormon), if he loses the ponytail.]

I wrote a closure letter to xbf last week, it's mostly an apology. I worked on it in the middle of the night, but did not finish. Then I started mourning the loss of that relationship. I didn't complete that process the first time around because A)I was too emotionally unstable to deal with it last spring and B)I did not believe it was over, over. So. Now I know.

On Wednesday, things changed. I simply woke up feeling differently. I attribute that to prayer and divine intervention. The weight of my sorrow and distress was completely gone. I just knew, all of a sudden, that everything would be okay. I no longer have to worry about him, or us. I have nothing more I need to do. I do not need to talk to him or see him. I feel comforted, and know that I did not ruin my life by pushing him away, nor with any of the mistakes I made. That part of my heart feels peace.

Oddly, it's not a moving on type of feeling. It is a resolution, so I can get on with my life. I am not waiting for anything from him anymore. But it feels like whatever is supposed to be between us will be. Somehow, I feel undeniably that our story is not over. Whatever that means. Maybe in a few years we can be friends for real. That would be awesome. He is a beautiful person.

Part of me gets fidgety at the thought, that there will be more to come. Rationally, I know it's dangerous and unhealthy. Like I'm still holding on to something I shouldn't. And I hate the term 'supposed to' implying our lives are guided by an unavoidable destiny. I don't like the idea of destiny. I think it's a crutch and a way to avoid responsibility for one's life. However, not believing in destiny makes life a lot more scary.

Can you really believe in an omniscient benevolent God and not believe He guides our lives to some ultimate conclusion for our own good? That belief is built into the Western concept of God. It's almost necessary in order to reconcile oneself to the evil God allows in the world. Ah, but this is a complicated and millenia-old question.

The point is, I'm okay now. I no longer feel tortured by the way things ended, or the waiting. This is one of the gifts of faith.


Radio Song

Many of you know that music is very important to me. I am very picky.

I found the best radio station I've ever heard. NY Public Radio broadcasts their morning show, John in the Morning, from 9-1 EST. It's a Seattle station. They generally play independent/alternative/punk/new wave songs. Old and new. From 1977-now. I wholeheartedly endorse the John show. The DJs program their own playlists, and this man shares my musical brain. The rest of the time the station is good, but not as superlative.

Stream it here: http://kexp.org

It's a public station with no advertising, so they are having their Spring Drive this week. It's a little annoying, but you should contribute $ if you like the station and become a listener. The Senate will soon vote to cut all Federal funding of public broadcasting. So, they are all at risk.




I've suffered through some anniversaries lately. It brought back the pain of losing my xbf all over again.  The one year anniversary of our first break-up, Valentine's Day when we had our first fake friendship non-date that ended with a lot of kissing and ultimately disaster.  Even the Egyptian revolution tortured me with memories. (There's a story  behind that.)  I never stopped hurting for him, but it has a new urgency.  My body aches for him again. And I've been crying.  All year I hoped he might change his mind and come back to me.  No one else ever loved me the way he did. Now I know that's never going to happen. 

What I need is closure. Our last breakup was such a mess, he just ran away and left me hanging. He gave me a line about needing space on the phone, but said it wasn't forever. I didn't know what that meant. I gave him a month. Then I couldn't take waiting and constantly checking for emails or phone calls.  I emailed him to find out what was going on. He did not reply. I tried several times over the next two weeks, asking him to tell me to leave him alone or give me a time line or breakup with me for good. Nothing. I finally got psycho with a nasty email, an apology, and one more begging him to tell me it was over. No reply. I finally threatened to go to his house to make him talk to me. To that, he replied. He told me he could have no contact with me and I especially could not go to his house. It was over. Hallelujah! That was a relief. And really, really, painful.

Still, I didn't believe him. He couldn't even say the words out loud. I didn't understand how someone could walk away from what we had.  Maybe he just needed more time. And I felt so horrible about how I behaved.  I hated what I had done.  I hated knowing he probably hated me.  For a year I've been regretting that and everything else I did wrong with him.  That, along with pining for him has been miserable. Now it's all making me angry on top of everything else. This has got to stop. 

My first attempt to deal with it was an email to his friend, the one who set us up.  I asked him to tell me my xbf was happy now.  If I knew he was happy with a girlfriend who gave him lots of sex, then I could move on.  I would be happy for him, and it would mean our break up was a good thing. --No reply. 

Like a lunatic, I began to think maybe it was time for me to make a move. Maybe he was as unhappy as I was.  I could ask him to come back to me. I fantasized about going to his house, imagining he would cry and kiss me and we would never part again. I got over that foolishness.  He doesn't want to be with me, the end.

But I did need to talk to him. I need his forgiveness. I want to know he is happier now. I want him to tell me he has no regrets.  Tell me that we're better off apart.

I sent an email.  It was short:Hi there. Are you amenable to a chat?

He replied: I don't know if that's a great idea. I hope you are doing well but I don't know what we would have to talk about. I'm sorry, I know this sounds harsh. 

It was a punch in the gut. I got livid.  Like being rejected yet again. He should have asked me what I had to say instead of arrogantly declaring we had nothing to talk about.  He could at least help me with closure. And how insulting that he tried to nice it up and water it down. Just say: No, I don't want to talk to you.  I could handle that.  But his condescension, I can not. I was thoroughly disgusted with him.

This could mean he is not over me and that's why he doesn't want to talk to me.  But maybe not.

I have been on a roller coaster all week.  First I was furious that he wouldn't talk to me.  Then I was okay. Then I got angry thinking that he might be alone and unhappy. That would make our breakup pointless and even more stupid.  Today I am very sad. I don't want to let go of him but I have to. It breaks my heart, again, and still.

My therapist is making me write a letter.  Say what I need to and be done with him.  She said it's the only way to get over it. I hope it works. I'm ready to move on.


Catching Up 2011

I have a lot of things going on in my mind these days.  That's what happens when my mood stabilizes or goes manic, whichever.  (I got back on meds in December).  When that happens it feels like I am waking up from a hazy sleep, from not being fully alive -- a sort of sleepwalking.  It's creepy. And stressful, because when I wake up I have to clean up the mess I made by sleeping. This post may be boring, but I need to review things. 

I don't want to waste one more year of my life rotting away in my stinky apartment living on the edge of ruin. So I've  made plans.  I'm trying to hedge all my bets, to give God lots of opportunity to make something good happen.

Plan A. My PhD: At the beginning of last fall I had new plans to write my incomplete papers, with help from others, so I could get myself back into the PhD program I dropped out of a few years ago.  Plan A. To continue what I started.

I also tried this in the fall of 09. After 6 months of struggle and no completed work, I decided it was impossible. My emotional baggage was greater than I could overcome. (I fainted one night while trying to work.) So, Plan B.  At the last minute in January of 2010, I applied to new schools to start over.  It was a very traumatic process, facing the demons of my failure, reading my old work, and asking for recommendations.  It took a few nightmarish weeks but I did it.  It was a massive triumph.  Though I missed some deadlines which meant I didn't qualify for funding for the program that accepted me.

So it didn't work out. And I turned back to Plan A in August 2010, to finish my Incompletes and grovel myself back into my old program.  I started two papers.  I felt great, I was excited.  Then my insurance was canceled, my medicine ran out and I fell apart.  No more work.

At the end of December I started getting better and I started getting ideas.  It was probably time for me to give up this PhD thing.  There was a reason I haven't been able to do any work in 4 years.  Either I didn't want to do it, I couldn't do it, or God didn't want me to do it. If that's the case, then I needed a new plan.

Plan C: Get MSW and LCSW to become a therapist.  I can have my own practice so I won't ever get fired. My friends have always said I would be a good therapist.  I have 20 years of practice on the wrong side of the couch, making me an expert. And, here's the weird part.  My Patriarchal blessing said I should help people in the way that a psychiatrist does because I have the gift of healing. That horrified me when I was 16.  But I always planned to do something with my PhD sort of in that vein on the side.  Maybe that wasn't good enough.  Maybe I've been acting like Jonah and running away from my responsibility?  Every time I started to get things together for my PhD, something went wrong.  For years. So maybe I should swallow my pride and give up. Fine.

The last week of January I made the final decision to do it, to apply for a social work program. That was on a Tuesday.  I found one nearby that was affordable, and checked requirements and deadlines, Feb. 5th.  I  started it that night. Then, on Wednesday I came across an ad for a studentship in my field, at the school that accepted me last year.   I popped over to their website and checked their deadlines. Feb 1.  I already had all the work done, it would be easy to send it all in again.  They accepted me once, maybe this time I could get funding.  And while I was at it, there was another school in London similarly ranked that I might as well apply to too.  I started those on Wednesday night.

Which puts me back on Plan B.  The PhD apps were due first so they took priority.  I spent the next week working on them, sending emails for recommendations, revising my writing samples, writing a personal statement, and re-working a research proposal.  I didn't sleep for 3 days before the due date.  I enjoyed it.  This is what turns me on.  I don't expect to get funding, it was probably a waste of time.  But it was good for my self esteem to see my qualifications all in once place. And, I'll know that I tried.
Now it was time for Plan C again, the MSW app.  Groan.  I didn't know what to write for the personal statement.  I put it off until one hour before the deadline. I didn't know who to ask for recommendations and procrastinated that too.  Saturday afternoon I painted my bathroom floor instead of working on the app.  I finished the floor at 10pm  and told my friend I wasn't doing the app.  I just didn't want to.  But I said a prayer that the Lord would help me do it if that's what He wanted.  I sat down at 11 p.m. and whipped a personal statement from my rear, then entered the names of referrees I hadn't heard back from yet.

After hitting the submit button, I found out the fee is $125!!!  I don't have that!  It's extortion!  But I checked the box saying I would mail in a check.  If this is what the Lord wants from me, then He can make it work out.  To better my chances, I spent the early part of this week looking for other MSW programs nearby.  There were some with open deadlines but they require work experience I don't have.  And the fees all range from $60-125.  Plan C isn't looking good.

Then there is Plan D.  I started this in December.  I'm applying for disability.  My shrink and my therapist have wanted me to do it for years.  I didn't want to.   I'm not that sick.  I don't want to be that person.  But it would qualify me for Medicaid, which I need.  My meds cost almost 2k per month at retail price.  Maybe if I go on the subsidy, I'll have the stability to finish my research.  Or, it could put me in a situation to go back to school for a few years and get the MSW.  And/or, give me the opportunity to continue with Plan E. 

Plan E is my novel. I worked on it all summer.  Then, after I had 70 pages I realized it was crap.  I don't know how to write fiction.  I got discouraged and quit.  But over Thanksgiving I was inspired and wrote a new first page.  I started over completely.  I made an outline of the whole book this time.  It was much better than the mess I had before.  It's going slowly, I have to re-write, re-write, re-write, because this is a new skill and I'm learning as I go.  But I think I might be able to make something good with enough time. 

That's what I've been doing the last two months.  I also started dating, but that was by accident.   And that's for another blog post.


Another discussion of 'Where's my Op-Ed piece'-- or harmful sex

Savvy Single Christian continues our discussion on her quality blog HERE

By the way-- the woman who wrote the Op-Ed got a book deal about finally giving it up. Ahem . . . so I am not having sex AND have no book deal. There is no justice.


The missionaries stopped by . . .

After writing my last post. I decided it was time for me to pray to see if I should or could leave the church --Maybe it just isn't for me anymore. I felt good about that, it felt like the right thing to do. But that is not a casual prayer, I wanted to wait. I would wait for Sunday and fast, if I still had the guts to do it by then.

Saturday morning I woke up feeling a bit forlorn. (Not uncommon.) I did nothing about my decision the night before. I went about my Saturday business of cleaning, making lunch, ignoring my stinky laundry, watching a Netflix DVD (It was Wire in Blood from the BBC -- way too icky, I do not recommend it), and dreading a party I had to go to later. When I got off the phone with my friend in Texas, my mother called. We chatted and then my door unexpectedly buzzed.

"Who is it?"
"It's the missionaries."
That was not unusual. I'm always on the missionaries radar because of my semi-active state (spotty church attendance). The missionaries have played a large part in keeping me active in the church (attending). Two sisters re-activated me in the summer of 2007 by visiting me once a week.

The summer of 09, when I was in the depths of extreme despair, the sisters came by to share a scripture. It was something about surviving our trials, how the Lord will get us through. It made me cry. Then a few days later, the boy missionaries stopped by to share a message with me. They read the exact same scripture. I assumed it was something they were assigned to do that week, or what they had been studying together with the other missionaries. So I asked, and they said 'No'. That was just the one they picked to do that day. That made me cry again.

This summer when I found myself unemployed, getting food from the church storehouse, and stir crazy from being home all day, I volunteered to go on splits with the sister missionaries. ('Splits' means that you go out with them to appointments, because two women missionaries are not allowed to visit a single man without a third.)

I went out with the sisters once or twice a week. It was difficult for me because I felt weird about trying to convert people. My own belief was wavering and I knew that the single people were not likely to find the joy they were seeking. So I didn't speak. I mostly just enjoyed the girls' company. The majority of their appointments were no shows, so we just rode around in the car. That ended when the sisters were replaced by men a few months ago. I haven't had a missionary visit since they left.

So, yesterday the cute elders rang my door. They brought me a Christmas present from the ward (congregation). They apologized for forgetting to bring it on time. Then they shared a message about how all of our trials are for our own good, that we are blessed to have difficulties that will make us grow and the atonement will get us through. Then one of the elders threw in D&C 122, when Joseph Smith was in jail and pleading with the Lord to rescue him. He was told to have patience because he was not yet like Job, he still had friends. I teared up, but did not cry.

I took that as a sign that my prayer was unnecessary. The Lord knew the thoughts of my heart. What I am suffering will benefit me in the long run. --It takes a lot of faith to believe that. The verse that says, "Ye are not yet like Job . . ." has been in my mind often this year. It humbles me and I try to remember how blessed I really am. I have good friends who love me. And my family has been eager to help. My mother especially. I don't have any serious physical problems. I've been able to keep my apartment and my car. I have two awesome cats. The Lord came through with a job for me at the last minute. I'm surviving without having to take a hideous job that drives me insane. I've been able to get back on my medication and I'm stabilizing. I need to be more grateful.

Life is hard, church is hard, but that's the way it is supposed to be. I don't get a free pass from church just because I don't like it.


Where's my Op-Ed piece?!

Read this, if you can stomach it. I just found it while checking my traffic stats. Although, it says nothing new. It's also 2 weeks old, ancient in blogosphere time.

A woman wrote an Op-Ed piece for the NY Times about being 35, and a single, celibate Mormon. Then she explains why she is giving up the law of chastity. I didn't read the article. I don't need to. I know exactly what she said, because I am living it. (Hey! Where's my Op-Ed piece? I wrote about this stuff before anyone else.)  I actually got through most of the 120 or so comments. Skimming through the inane. People said exactly what you'd expect them to say. What they have said on here, what I have said, etc.  Some marrieds criticized the woman for being too whiny. Singles sympathized. People discussed the disenfranchisement of singles in the church, blah, blah, blah. 

I was quoted. I'd like to respond to a responder to my quote. 

danithew Says:

CitC had a 7/22/2009 post titled “My Little Corner of the World” in which she wrote some pretty profound things, I think:

“I do need to say that I am still fully committed to living the gospel and the law of chastity. I do not resent it anymore. I do not feel like it has caused me any suffering. Quite the opposite. I see how much suffering it prevented. It’s an instant jerk-not-worth-your-time-man revealer. Tell the man you won’t sleep with him and see what happens. His character shines through, like a light or a stain. When he runs, thank the Lord you escaped a hideous relationship with that one. Really. How many bad relationships go on and on because the two are entangled in a physical affair? Masking the problems in their relationships with sex. How many people married the wrong person because they were so enamored with the sex, only to pay the price later? Not me. Thank you Jesus. I’m lonely and bruised, but…. so much better than I would have been. It has blessed me. I can’t speak for others. I see now how fragile I was. How devastating sexual affairs with abusive men would have been. The non-sexual ones were bad enough. My injured soul attracted vultures. That couldn’t have been otherwise. What I was spared certainly could have been.”

Here was the comment in response:

Anon (from #10) Says:

17 – thanks for pointing out the CitC is accessible again. I’ve always liked her writing and her life experiences. The paragraph quoted makes some really good points – the law of chastity can and does protect us from harmful and unhealthy relationships. However, it does so in the same way that abstaining from eating food will protect us from food poisoning, or abstaining from ever leaving our houses will protect us from drive-by shootings. Obviously she is happy with her decision to remain celibate, and I congratulate her, Ardis and others who find joy therein. Ms. Hardy description of her celibate lifestyle includes the words “spiraling further into a disconnected life, feeling abandoned, being discounted.” I felt the same.

Sure the law of chastity prevented me from some bad relationships in my teens and 20s, but it did so by preventing me from having relationships at all. Common sense and taking great care with one’s dating choices can also prevent bad relationships and heartbreak.

I mostly agree with Anon. Except when she states that I am happy in my decision to remain celibate.  That was and is not the case.  I resigned myself to it and gave up the anger.  That's a far cry from happiness.  I wrote that post in 2009 after having just escaped what could have been the most disastrous relationship of my life.  When I finally cut off all contact with him, I was relieved.  I was in the process of learning to be content with my life and myself and my choices. And that post is where the process led.  I haven't lost that bit of growth, I'm not angry.  But the resignation is difficult.  Things aren't so simple.

Anon makes a good point that celibacy can exclude good relationships as well as the bad.  Shortly after writing that post, I met a wonderful non-Mormon, the best man I've ever dated, who was willing to date me sans sex.  It didn't last very long.  We probably would have lasted a lot longer if we were having sex.  Because of his romantic and sexual history, our lack of sex hurt him.  Things are not simple when it comes to sex and relationships for people over 30. Anyone who is single past that age has been damaged and has emotional baggage.

Add to that the fact that for the majority of non-religious men, asking them to date you without sex is ridiculous.  They spent their entire adult lives having romantic sexual relationships, and loving someone without sex is unimaginable to them.  They don't even know how to do it.  After I told one man about the chastity thing, he said we couldn't date because sex was too much a part of the way he fell in love.  I think that is true for most men.  Of course it's not necessary, but why would someone want to bother with that when they can go out and find someone else who puts out?  It doesn't make much sense for them, so they don't get involved with the "nice" LDS girl. 

Losing my last relationship over chastity seriously hurt my testimony.  I've had a very rough year.  I've been closer to giving up the church than I have ever been in my life.  More and more, it feels like the church and the gospel are separate things.  I have problems with the church's politics, culture, and some of the GAs.  And then there is going to church, it feels like an alternate universe filled with strange people who have strange lives that I cannot relate to; and they are running an organization that feels like it has nothing to do with me.  It's kind of like visiting a new school and sitting in on a class for one day, you can't really follow what's going on because you haven't been there-- and all the other kids are looking at the weird new kid. 

It's hard to remember why I'm doing this to myself, living by these rules and dragging myself to the torture of church.  But I do remember. I made a covenant and I love my God.  Yet, I don't believe I will ever be truly happy while single and alone.  Under my current circumstances, I am not likely to ever marry, either LDS or non-LDS.  So, am I willing to condemn myself to a single life of solitude and sadness for my faith?  That's a hard thing to ask of someone, and it seems unfair.  So, yeah, I get why the sister who wrote the essay gave it up after she turned 35.  I'm not sure she should have announced that to the whole world, but I blog so I'm one to talk.  I'm also turning 35 soon.  I don't know where my life is going, but it needs to go some place else. 


Dear Celibate: Advice for a 24 y.o.

Dear Celibate:
I am 24 years old, almost 25, and am a recent convert to the Church.  I live in the NE, where there aren't many members.  This summer though, I am moving to Arizona where there are lots of singles (hopefully my age?).  I recently had a very hard break up to a guy that I was supposed to marry.  It has been very tough for me, but I am starting to move on and realize that there has to be something better out there for me.  I know I shouldn't say this, but I feel old (according to Mormon standards) and I am worried about meeting a guy in Arizona my age or older.  My question to you is, what would you tell your 25-year-old self if you could go back and do it again?

Dear 24 year old,

 Congratulations on joining the church. The best way to get over a lost love is to find a new one. So, good for you for getting out there.
First, YOU ARE NOT OLD!!!!!  Snap out of it. I know it seems that way at church. But that is a warped perception of reality.
Second:  There are tons of Mormons in Arizona. You should be fine out there. However, coming from the east coast and being a convert, you will find dating Mo'men tricky.  Honestly, I still don't know how to date them.  They do not behave the way east coast non-LDS men do.  In my experience GENERALLY, I've found that they don't ask women out, they have no assertiveness and they prefer to date/marry below themselves, and they fear accomplished independent women.  Also, they like cheesy home-crafted gifts from women-- at least, the women seem to think so.  I wish I could tell you more about them, but it's outside my expertise.  The best thing to do is find some good girlfriends in the church who aren't jealous of you.  (That means that have to be as pretty as you are or prettier and have healthy self-esteems.)   Sadly, you can't trust some of the other single women because some of them can be vicious when it comes to dating.  That's what happens when you raise women to be desperate for marriage.  Try to find a nice western LDS friend who could explain how to date Mormon men.   ***MOST IMPORTANTLY: Don't feel bad about yourself if they are not asking you out.  It's not you, it's them. ****

What would I do differently if I could go back?  If only I could have the last five years of my life back!  But I've got ten years on you so here's what I've learned.

  • NEVER sell yourself short. Don't think that because you are old (which you are NOT) or a convert or whatever that you have to date/marry someone below yourself.  Demand equality in your partner.  Equal intellect, equal education, equal values. Otherwise, you are wasting your time.  I wasted a lot of time on losers because I thought that was the best I could do.  My standards get higher as I get older.
  • Don't date someone just because he is there. I did a lot of this in my 20s. The guy was okay, he asked me out so I said yes because there was no one else around. You are wasting your time. Don't. 
  • Learn how to say 'No'.  Just say no if you are not interested in seeing someone.  Say No when he wants to go further physically than you do. I had a boyfriend I never liked for 6 months because I didn't know how to say 'No' the first time he asked me out and then I didn't know how to dump him after I kept saying 'yes'. 
  • Don't make excuses for him.  If he is treating you badly, there is NO EXCUSE.  We have a tendency to explain away men's bad behavior so we can make them seem better than they are, so we can see them the way we want them to be.  If he is treating you badly in the beginning, it will only get worse later on.  RUN--Do not walk. 
  • Take control.   Take control of the relationship and make him come to you. Do not call first, do not always answer, do not try to advance the relationship in any way.  Always try to keep your hand.  When you give him too much, they have a tendency to run away.  I learned this the hard way because I don't like playing games. But you have to do it. Do not be too available, always leave them wanting more. Always be the one to end the dates.  You say when it's time to go home, not him. You be the one to end phone conversations, etc. Your life will be much better this way, I promise. 
  • Don't be a pleaser.  It is not your job to please any man. You should NOT try to make him like you. He either does or he doesn't.  If you try to win him over, you will lose.  He will think you are throwing yourself at him and be repulsed. 
  • Your friends are ALWAYS right.   If your family and friends don't like your boyfriend, then there is a reason.  He probably isn't good enough for you.  They have your best interests at heart and they can see the dude objectively. I've never heard of a case where the friends were wrong.  Save yourself some heartache and listen to them.
  • If chastity with him is easy, move on.  That means you don't have the right chemistry, and you will wish things were different after the honeymoon.  (I learned this from two married friends.) 
  • Make sure he likes you enough.  A man who likes you enough, or likes you the right way, will feel privileged to be with  you.  He will feel the need to be worthy of you and behave accordingly.  He will court you and make you feel like the most special woman on earth.  If you get the feeling that he thinks you're privileged to be with him, dump him immediately. It will only get worse.

I hope this is helpful.  Good luck.  My sister got married in Phoenix at age 28 or 27. You really have nothing to worry about.

P.S. I'm sorry this took so long, I was busy for the holidays and have internet issues again.