I met an old friend this weekend. This girl is my Mormon counterpart, the “what-if” version of a life spent inside Mormonism, rather than outside. Our parents are long-time friends; we grew up in the same ward and attended the same school. We were the minority Mormons in school, a fact that threw us together on a regular basis. We were both blonde, straight-A students who went on to study biology in college. Between early-morning seminary, our shared honors classes, and youth activities, she was the person that saw me the most. And so, when my belief in Mormonism began to fall apart, she was the first person to pick up on the tension.
I wish that I had a story of a friendship that transcended religious belief – but I don’t. The fall-out was messy, involving a seminary schism and the involvement of her uncle the bishop. I guess we both had our anxieties surrounding the Mormon faith - we were just on different sides of the spectrum. I was angry with her for a long time; now I find my anger is slipping away. And so, when I made the arrangements to visit my parents, I contacted her to see if she wanted to get together. She said yes and we agreed to meet at a bakery downtown.
We are now a little older, a little fatter, and more aware of life’s realities. Neither of us have the life we dreamed of in high school. I am OK with that; I like my life, even if it is not the life I expected. We have both had our struggles; a traumatic accident for me, an autistic child for her. She joked about her son, saying that he was the clone of Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory. I joked about my accident, saying that my thick skull came in handy. I have learned that life cannot be controlled; I suspect she has learned that too.
I have been running from my past for my entire adult life. I have avoided my high school classmates and most of my college-friends; they are a reminder of an angry, painful period in my life. I have kept quiet with my family, afraid to spark controversy or tackle the harder issues. I am not good at confrontation; I do not know the art of constructive argument. Avoidance is easy - but does not solve the issue.
I needed the space to sort out my thoughts, to figure out who I was and what I believed, to arrive at acceptance. Now that I have grown into my identity as a post-mormon agnostic girl, the time has come for reunions, for confronting the past, and for moving on to a future that includes all the facets of who I am.
Past, present, and future.
Rachel Velamur is the author of the blog "A Post-Mormon Life", where she writes about what life was like as a Mormon and what her life is like after leaving the Mormon Church.