I thought my story was about meeting my star-crossed lover, falling in love young, and getting married against the odds.
I thought my story was about becoming a Mormon feminist, working inside the system, and being the change I wanted to see.
I thought my story was about being a working mom, defying expectations, and making an unjust world work for me.
I thought my story was leaving the Mormon church, breaking my own heart, and voting with my feet.
I thought my story was about getting sober, doing the unexpected and impossible-seeming thing, and getting free.
I thought my story was about getting mentally well, untangling myself from the narratives that I wove into the fabric of my life after other people handed them to me.
I thought my story was about losing God and finding God and losing God and finding God in the places I never expected God to be.
I’ve lived other stories that I knew, even as I was going through them, were not for me: self-harm; bad men; infertility; pain upon pain upon pain.
My story is all of these things but none of these stories are all of me.
Being a Mormon girl means knowing you need a husband to get to heaven.
Being a Mormon girl means overhearing your young, healthy mom make your dad swear he won’t marry anyone else if she dies because she doesn’t want to be a plural wife.
Being a Mormon girl means telling your mom you’ll make sure your dad doesn’t remarry after she’s gone.
Being a Mormon girl means not wondering why your dad never tried to exact the same promise even though, statistically speaking, he’ll die first.
Being a Mormon girl means having that same conversation with every person you date, Mormon or not.
Being a Mormon girl means not knowing what your family will look like in heaven. Exactly how many moms and grandmas will you have?
Being a Mormon girl means wondering if your family is good enough to get to heaven in the first place and whether you’ll like being tied to each other for the rest of forever.
Being a Mormon girl means missing every family wedding, thinking it’s what you deserve, and knowing it’s a preview of what’s waiting for you in the world to come.
Being a Mormon girl means hiding who you are, hiding who you love, and making commitments to a church you don’t even like because you’re afraid of ruining your family’s afterlife.
Being a Mormon girl means worrying about your own moral failings, and your husband’s too, because you need him to get where you’re trying to go.
Leaving the church means living a life that is no longer ruled by made up rules about what might happen after you die.