I failed to do a therapy assignment for almost a year. And now it’s too late.
In August of 2017, I had just come out to my husband and my bishop. No one else really knew (except for the Relief Society sisters that would happen to catch me when the prescribed Xanax was working a little too well. Boy those visiting teachers got an earful!)
I was just starting conversion therapy, having been recently told by a prominent Mormon marriage counselor that if I ever came out to my kids, it would destroy them. I was reading my scriptures for hours each day, searching for the right combination of service I could do to prove to my bishop that I was worthy of being reinstated to my full privileges as a member.
On August 21, 2017, the internet made things even worse. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints started promoting a video they had made. It featured a lesbian couple, Courtney and Rachelle. One of them had grown up Mormon but had left to embrace her sexuality. She had gotten married to her love and years later, the Mormon Missionaries found them. They decided to get divorced so they could be members of the church. True story.
And that’s fine. We all have individual paths and I hold no grief towards these women, whoever they are. I firmly believe we’re all making the best choices we can with who we are at that moment.
But the propaganda video. It was sent to me dozens of times every day, by so many friends. “They did it. You can too!” I think it was meant to be inspirational. I think my friends and family were trying to tell me that it would all work out and if these two lesbians could return to the fold, so could I, so don’t give up hope!
At the time, I couldn’t feel the love my friends were trying to express to me. I couldn’t watch the video because I spent ALL of my time pushing thoughts of Kristen out of my head. Do you know how many primary songs I screamed in my head for months on end, trying to keep her face hidden? Go ahead, you can picture me. Driving the minivan for hours a day in kids’ carpools and yelling “Families can be together foreverrrrrrrr!!!! Through Heav’n’ly Fatherssss PLAN!!!!” but silently. In my head. (You can laugh, I promise I do now!)
I thought I could handle it. Until my husband started asking me to watch the video. I had to refuse, which felt horrible because it was such a simple thing, just watch a 7-minute video for this poor man whom I had disrespected so badly. He’s asking me out of love, how in the world can I refuse him? But I knew I had to, for the good of our recovering marriage, I had to stay far away from anything that would remind me of her.
So he watched it himself. Every night, in bed next to me. I had to hear it. I wanted to get up and walk out of that bedroom. But I couldn’t. Not then, not ever. I heard the voices, proclaiming love for each other, but more love for God. Obedience. Worth. Blessings. Eternity.
Fast forward to February 2020. I get done speaking at a conference and one of the men that shakes my hand afterward asks if I had ever gone onto the (now defunct) MormonAndGay.com website. Of course, I had. I had scoured it once I had filed for divorce, in the months of researching and praying with God to know if I myself should be “Mormon and Gay”.
Turns out he had designed that website, had written all of the copy once the videos were given to him. He was no longer a member and he had heard through the grapevine that Courtney and Rachelle, the poster children of lesbian righteousness, had not stayed active in the church either.
The conversation put me into a massive tailspin, which is what therapy is for! My therapist, Erica, said she had seen the video back in 2017 and she suggested that I now watch it with fresh eyes, as the person I am now. She felt it would be empowering. She said the gaslighting and cognitive dissonance would be obvious to me now and I would be able to see how much progress I’ve made.
I chickened out, still too trapped in the fear. It’s now September and just this morning, I had the guts to try to find it. As far as I can tell, it’s been scrubbed from websites including YouTube. I guess I’ll never have that experience, and I’m okay with that.
I know now that obedience doesn’t determine my worth or my worthiness. I know now that marriages with a straight partner and a gay partner almost always end in sadness for everyone including the kids. I know that I am not the only one to go through this, BY FAR. In fact, I’m one of thousands and thousands. And I know that God loves me.
I still scream songs in my head in the car. But it’s not to drive out thoughts of Kristen, the church, my ex-husband, or anything else. My head is a safe place to be now. My hope for you and your family is that you’re able to experience the same freedom.