I'm going to post this in parts so I don't overwhelm people with a novel. :)
I’ve always been a picky person when it comes to what I want to do and who I want to spend my time with. I was raised in the Mormon church. My mom converted in college, but my dad's family goes all the way back to the beginning when the church was founded in New York. My great-great grandfather was even a bodyguard for Joseph Smith and was the person who engineered how to get wagons across the Mississippi river when the Mormons left Illinois for Utah. Another great-great grandfather came from Denmark to Utah.
I don’t remember when it started, but from an early age, I became uncomfortable at church. I had a lot of questions and no one would answer them. “That’s how it is.” My dad is a bit of a scholar so he is always interested in the history of things. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t believe in something; it just interests him. No one else would talk to me about it, though. I was good at pretending to be interested in church. We frequently had to give talks during sacrament meeting and Sunday school. Everyone would tell me and my parents how wonderful what I said was. But it was a lie. I just knew what people wanted to hear.
I had a friend who felt the same way, Mellisa. We would ditch Sunday school sometimes and hang out in the bathroom or the parking lot. It felt good to have someone on my side. Some girls were mean to us in that underhanded “Mean Girls” way. Most girls were nice, but I didn’t feel a connection with them. I didn’t want to be a Molly Mormon, someone whose aspirations are marrying a return missionary and having as many kids as possible.
When I was 15, Mellisa moved to Portland, OR to live with her mom. Her dad and step-mom were emotionally abusive; she had become bulimic and started having sex. I was glad she was getting away, but I couldn’t keep going to church without her. I stopped going. Before, my parents wouldn’t have stood for it; they would rather I be at church and skip class than not go at all. They knew that this was a sensitive time, though, and they were worried that if they made me go, it would just drive me further away. They would rather have me be a good person that doesn’t go to church than someone who rebels and potentially messes up her life (as Mellisa was in the early stages of doing). I’ve always been very grateful that they did that. I am so lucky to have them. In a way, though, it makes me feel worse that despite how great they are, it still isn't enough.