I felt like writing something

I worry that this entry will sort of be like a pop star announcing their umpteenth farewell tour only to keep coming back, so forgive me, and forgive Cher.

I still don't know what to do with this space, but Spouseman is out with Clara, and I have a cold, and the weight of tomorrow seems very heavy. Tomorrow is the second annual Wear Pants to Church Day, and while I'm not in charge of anything, the magnitude of it all seems very big and heavy.

There are days where I feel very proud of what I did. I look at the way a very dumb and hastily orchestrated event I dreamed up at Target one night changed the landscape of Mormon Feminism, and I'm proud to be a small part of the past, present, and future of that heartbreaking terrain.

There are days where I am incredibly angry.  A few weeks ago Spouseman was watching a talk by Elder Holland. Elder Holland talked about how disappointed he was in LDS people for "leaving their religion at the door" when a former BYU basketball player switched teams. A basketball player had some mean comments and Elder Holland writes a talk. I received hate mail and threats, and got Elaine Dalton telling me not to lobby for rights. I cried and made Dan turn off the talk.

I am angry too, at members of the Mormon Feminist community who made Pants a big part of their community, who listened to my endless questions on the phone, who I genuinely considered friends who were very quick to betray and abandon me when they realized I was not the Mormon Feminist they wanted me to be. I am working to forgive, but Lord, that hurt more than the dozens of nasty emails and comments online.

I'm mad at myself. For countless errors and missteps and hubris.

There are days where I know my anger simply masks sadness, so I let myself feel sad. I've moved to a new house since pants, and while every single member I've meet in this new neighborhood has been astonishingly kind to me, I left a "neighborhood" (read: ward) function a few months ago shaking and almost in tears because it is only a matter of time before they discover who I am, and in my experience so far, that leads to all sorts of rejection and pain that I'm not sure I'll survive.

But weirdly of all, the thing that got me through this last is a scripture from the Book of Mormon. Isn't that strange, and funny? The universe is weird. But whenever I've felt overwhelmed with sadness and anger I remind myself of King Benjamin. I remember that he was a kind king, and that he wanted his people to be happy. I've always liked King Benjamin, and I'm okay with carrying his story with me as I move on from orthodox Mormonism. In Mosiah 4:19 King Benjamin reminds us, "For behold, are we not all beggars?" And in Mosiah 4:30 he pleads "Remember, and perish not."

It has been one year, and I have not perished, because each time I felt worn down and defeated I remembered that we are all beggars. Our actions, even our unkindest ones, are driven from our status as beggars in a confusing world. The people who wrote me mean letters, and the women who felt threatened by sudden entrance into Mormon Feminism, and most especially myself, we are all begging for something to make us whole. It's hard to think of other people when begging for survival.

The world seems less scary,and pain easier to forgive, when I remember we are all beggars. Because in the heyday of my literal belief I also loved the "As Sisters in Zion" hymn. I loved remembering that "the errand of angels is given to women." I've learned now that the errand of angels is given to people. To find the things our neighbors beg for, and to forgive them when their begging hurts us. I remember this, and I perish not.

Lastly, in the midst of a year of sadness I've also experienced remarkable joy. There were long days where I was given reprieve from begging and been blessed with happiness. I'm grateful for the people who heard me begging and gave me what I needed. From my Spouse, who is out buying a purple shirt for Sunday tomorrow, because he still believes yet loves me anyway.  To my sweet toddler who does this entirely disgusting thing where she licks my face because she loves my exaggerated response: don't gross your Mama! To my friends who know that spending the evening watching Kayne West's Bound 2 video over and over is true joy, and that mindless crafting is immensely therapeutic. To all these people with the errand of angels, I remember you, and I perish not.


smalldog said...

I'm sure there's nothing I can say at all that is adequate, but I do want to try and express how much I'm grateful for and respect this unintentionally big thing you did, and how much I admire you as a writer, and from what little I know as a person. I know that cannot possible make up for any of the crappiness, but I needed an opportunity to say it and this felt like a good one.

Stephanie said...

Thanks small dog. Now stop posting pictures of London. It stresses me out with envy.

gurrbonzo said...

Oh friend. I like how your brain works. Give yourself a pantsload of time and room to process and to grieve and just ride the wave. I love you so much I just burped the alphabet.


MJ said...

Heart you, woman.

Redd Riding said...

I loved your blog and how you express yourself from the first one I found over a year ago. Thank you for sharing .. And fear not.. Karma is alive and well..

Courtney B said...

We don't know each other, but I'm grateful for you anyway. And if you were in my ward I'd make a point of saying thank you by buying you a diet coke from the drive thru of your choice. I'm good for it if you're ever in the DC area.

Kimberly Wilson said...

Ooh, I wish I could "like" some of the comments!

Just wanted to say, this post is the epitome of why I've always loved you so.

You are a real human being, and your heart is big, and your feelings real and raw, and you're willing to share that journey with us, and you're still able to grasp the good that comes out of so much hurt.

We are all beggars. I remember an eccentric lady with piercing blue eyes and this awesome short haircut who stood up in a testimony meeting and described, with great feeling, how we are all sinners. (Or beggars; I agree with that as well)

How you described it in this post should be considered poetry.

For years I have gone back to that that lady and her words, and just realized how very, very true her words were; we're all making our mistakes right alongside each other.

The cool thing as well, though, is that we're also making our discoveries and our triumphs alongside each other, too, and even through the hurts of people interaction, we grow through and from those hurts.

I love that your heart is open enough to try to forgive many who have hurt you so deeply.

I wish I could be there in person. I'd go crafting with you. :-)

smalldog said...

Our flat is small but always open to friends - in case you ever feel the need to suddenly flee the continent ;)

Lena said...

So, I will admit that I didn't read this post till after Pants Day 2 was about over, but I did notice the chorister in primary wearing a purple shirt with slacks and thought about Pants Day 1. I didn't realize it had been a whole year, but I am happy to know that others did. And to see it extend to my ward, even in the form of just one woman, makes me happy. I didn't participate this year, mostly cause I didn't know, but also because I wear that exact uniform to work every day. And I feel like I am doing myself a disservice by not wearing something a little nicer to church. And as far as my slacks go, my skirts are a much, lets say, improved. I am sorry that any part of this caused you grief. You don't deserve that. I hope you know that anytime you want company for mindless crafting you can call me. Cheers!

Tasha said...

This. Goosebumps. I still love King Benjamin too.

Reba said...

I've missed your posts. You have been an inspiration to me as I discovered feminism, and as I've transitioned out of an orthodox Mormon mindset. I wish we were friends. You're amazing and I hope you post again soon. Made my day.

LC said...

You and I still don't agree on everything, but I still think we could be cyber friends. I've had a had tough church year, too. I was called as Young Women's president a year ago this past week and it's been my most painful time in the church. (How have high school girls and their parents not evolved?)

Anyway, I like what you said about forgiveness, because I've learned much about it the hard way. It's a shame that we don't always remember that to chip away our own rough edges, we usually run into someone else. Forgiveness is a much deeper principle than I'd ever realized.

Shannon said...

I discovered your blog recently and reading what you've written makes me think, makes me happy, and makes me wish you would write more. I haven't been to church in many years but resigned my membership after seeing what happened to the OW group at conference because it broke my heart to see you turned away. Oddly, this has made me feel more connected to my Mormon sisters than I ever had.

Rachel said...

We don't know each other, but I have followed your blog since way back when that guy we all hated was on The Bachelorette.

When I first heard about Pants Day, it was mostly on facebook and included a few laced comments. Reading your words and seeing your feelings brings a face to the feminist movement. Instead of what others say about "those people", I picture your tears and I feel your hurt. Although we may have different views on some things, I appreciate your honesty and openness. Thank you, Stephanie.

ChristyLove said...

So I totally saw this post and before I read it thought, "She's pulling a Janet. Or a Betty." Jackson, White, respectively.

Melody said...

Can I offer one piece of advice? Don't let it define you. You are much more than your questions and doubts. Have fun. Be you.

Linnea said...

I wish I could be in your ward. I don't know you, but have loved your blog and would love a neighbor like you.

If you do ever drive through DC and Courtney B from a few comments up takes you for a diet coke, I would like to come. (Another Washingtonian here.)

Yolanda Liberty said...

I heard you on the CBC this morning, and thought, "oh, I head of her before..."

It takes a lot of guts for you to stand up to what you feel is right, especially being in such a heavily LDS region.

I was thinking as well, come to Vancouver! (I been wearing pants to church for the last 10 years whenever I feel like it, lol)

Anyways, I hope you find your place and I appreciate your vocality at this time of the church's history.

I remember that statement, that women who dress inappropriately is considered to be "walking pornography" and coming to my own conclusion that we as women are absolutely not responsible for the temptations of men, endless times I have been called a "temptress" by members of the church I have long since dated...a comment I have never appreciated and hope that my future daughter(s) won't have to feel that they are at fault for someone elses desires.

There are other women and I would like to think men out here that feel the same as you. You are not alone and you are giving support to the women who aren't as courageous as you to be as vocal!

Keep doing what brings you joy and peace, much love, Yolanda :)

em said...

I just heard your interview on the Tapestry (CBC) podcast. It was very moving; your words really resonated with me. I cycle through times of comfort and distance with my church (Roman Catholic), with parallel experiences to what you have described. One thing that gives me hope is the knowledge that it is always my church, always my home. I may choose not to engage at times, but I know that it is waiting for me when I need it and find something positive from it. No one can take that from me, because it is something higher than human institutions and rules.

I've actually never commented on a blog before, but I felt like I had to reach out when I heard you on the podcast. There don't seem to be many kindred spirits in this effort for inclusion in religious institutions, because so many who fight for equality seem to have given up on churches. I respect their choice and may make the same one some day, but for now I'm not going anywhere! They (the oppressive forces within the church) can't get rid of me that easily :)

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cristie said...

i was the sister missionary at dinner last night. i wanted to throw my arms around you and express care and concern. your pain matters to me. you matter to me.
continued blessings to you dear one. xox

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