I realized recently that my relationship with the LDS Church is very much like a relationship with an ex-spouse. We've been separated for six years now, though I didn't officially file divorce papers until a little over a year ago. That's a long time to wait before making our separation official, but then we had been together for a long time--eighteen years of marriage, and eight years of courtship before that. It was an arranged marriage, but in many ways a good one. By many standards, the Church was a good husband (husband rather than wife because the LDS Church is fundamentally male and because it amuses me to think of my marriage with the Church as a same-sex marriage). The Church is generally kind, loving, and in all things a gentleman.
But there was a dark side to our marriage, too. One of the things I loved about the Church was that it inspired me to be a better person, but the problem was that he wanted me to be a different person. I spent years trying to be a better me for the Church before finally realizing that there was no version of me that could be what the Church wanted me to be. It was in some ways a co-dependent relationship--I bent over backwards to please the Church, even to the point of defending him when he hurt me. When I realized how unhappy I was in my relationship with the Church and stopped looking at him through rose-colored glasses, I realized that it was not only the truth about myself he had hidden from me, but also truths about him and about the world around us. (He has a different version of this story, but then that's how it goes with most divorces.)
|Nothing says "We're done" like ripping the word girlfriend out of your comic book title|
So I left. For a while, I was angry. I wanted nothing to do with the Church. But we'd been together for twenty-six years, so untangling our lives was no simple matter. We had--and still have--a lot of mutual friends and family. For the sake of our shared loved ones, I did my best to be civil toward the Church, but then he'd do something to open up old wounds, like campaigning for Prop 8 in California, and I'd lash out in return. It was a transitional period for us, trying to figure out what our relationship was now that we were no longer lovers. There were a lot of bumps, but eventually things smoothed out.
Now, a few years later, we've finally achieved a comfortable distance. We see each other fairly frequently--I do live in Utah, after all--but by now those old wounds have scabbed over and healed. Occasionally he does something to upset me, but I get over it quickly enough. Ultimately, what he does or says doesn't have much effect on me. And why should it? Now he's just somebody that I used to know.