Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Santa is not real... and neither is religion

When I was a little girl and I stopped believing in Santa, I didn't want my parents to know.  I was afraid they would be upset with me that I no longer believed something that they had told me to be true since I could remember.  This resulted in me "believing" in Santa until I was 11 or 12 and going to much length to have them believe I believed.
One year, there were no presents from Santa.
I remember turning to my mom and asking, "Mom, why didn't Santa come?"  She got a panicked look on her face and told me that Santa had come, but he didn't want to take credit for the gifts this year and instead told them to say the gifts were from one of them.  I readily agreed, but still wondered why my mom couldn't tell me the truth.

I have struggled with Mormonism for a long time, but mostly lived it out before I went to college.  Once at college it was easier to fake.  Sure, I went home a lot on the weekends, but I always went back to my apartment "in time for church."  My parents never needed to know that I was no longer attending.  Later, there was another blip on the radar when I got engaged, but I had a ready made excuse that we weren't getting married in the temple and it wasn't of a "immoral" nature.  You see, my ex had been married before me and we would have to wait quite awhile for the temple divorce to go through so naturally a civil marriage only made sense and my parents were more than happy to oblige because we were already having a long engagement... and you know how long engagements lead to premarital sex... :-P  We said we'd be sealed later and maybe one day I would have faked it down that road.
The beginning of this year while going through my divorce I set out on a journey to find myself.  The problem?  I had moved back home and for a little while went to the family ward with my parents.  It quickly became apparent to me that this was not the life I wanted to live and that I could no longer fake it anymore.
One morning, I got up early, got dressed and started to head out the door to a Foursquare church in the area.  My dad happened to be sitting there on the couch by the door and asked me where I was going.  I legitimately needed to go deliver a present for a friend and used that as my excuse.  He asked me if I would be back in time for church and I felt the panic spread to my face when I said, "No, probably not."
The next couple of months were full of near misses and confrontations with my parents.  I ultimately admitted that I was going to the Foursquare church with my friend's mom, but it was a journey and I gave no solid indication that I wouldn't find my way back to Mormonism.
Once moving in with my brother, things got easier.  However, it also became clearer that religion just wasn't for me.  My mom asked me to take my brother with me to a single's ward.  My mom asked me to take my brother with me to my friend's married ward.  All these things I brushed off and instead went hiking on Sundays with my brother.  Our own kind of church where nobody asks for my money and nobody tells me how to live my life... and nobody tells me the way they think that I will be happy.

Finally, in October of this year before introducing my new boyfriend (who happens to have a tattoo. GASP!) to my parents my mom asked me just exactly what it was that I was doing, why I was dating a boy with a tattoo, why I was going away from the church, why I was ruining all chance for our "forever family."

... and I looked at her and said, "Mom, Santa Claus isn't real."

Finally some honesty.