Sep 5, 2014

People Just Don't Understand

I'm sorry, but I can't do this anymore. I need to explode all over the place. It is time.
Regular readers, this is not directed at you, and I apologize in advance for drama and negativity. ANd also what will maybe seem to be an adolescent rehearsal of wrongs.

Recently my therapist (yes, I see one) (in fact, I see two if you count my bishop, who is more like a best-friend and Dad-figure but he's pretty much a therapist) told me something significant.

I really have struggled in my ward. OK. Full disclosure. I've tried not to write much about it, because even hinting at struggles with neighbors has caused some backlash and drama. But I'm at a sort of breaking point, now. I need to talk about it. So if you're reading this and embarrassed i would talk about something, maybe there's a reason. That's all I can come up with right now.

Since I came here, I have loved so many things about this place. There are great, great people in my town. SO many great people. More than I've ever seen collected in one place--down-to-earth, willing-to-serve, head-screwed-on-correctly people.

There's also this handful of people who enjoy drama, enjoy talking about others, and enjoy making others' life hard. You know those groups... mostly women, who function as a sort of hive, with a queen bee (or perhaps two, constantly engaged in a power struggle) and a bunch of satellites? Bees are actually not dangerous creatures. When there's one of them. But a whole hive can kill you with a hundred little stings.

One of my young women gave a very up-front, frank talk in Sacrament meeting on Sunday. She basically said, "you guys have a problem. IT's gossip and judging others. Stop it." She basically gave the distilled version of this talk, which I have, in the past year, been tempted multiple times to print off, roll up, and stick in certain doorways in our ward. And not just because of me. Because of what I've heard said about others, ranging from negative and snide speculation over a very tragic and painful divorce that occurred to condescending remarks about how a few young mothers are parenting their children, to discussion of mistakes people have made, to facebook conversations accusing people of dishonesty that involved several members of the ward.

So, to take things back several years. I went through something terrible when myfirst husband's confession became a matter of public record. What happened was, suddenly everybody was talking about me. Not just in the ward, not just in the stake... the entire state of Utah. In the newspaper. On the radio. On the television. And at school, too... I heard conversations, behind me in class, speculating on the tragedy that had just struck in my life. ANd speculating in joking, not-too sympathetic ways.

People failed me. Let's just say that. Even really, really nice christlike people judged me, and treated me like part of this was somehow my fault. And I realize that is just human nature--it's a way of them feeling safe, feeling like it can't happen to them, that they assume I did something to bring it on myself--I was a cold wife, perhaps. Maybe I wasn't accommodating in bed. Maybe I wasn't attractive.... that was the tenor of several comments on the article that appeared in the daily universe (and then was recanted when my picture was posted above the next article.) Maybe I knew about my husband's habit and gave him an ultimatum. Maybe I was emotionally abusing him. Maybe..... there's lots of maybe.

That's why tragedy should remain private, why you should be able to choose who to counsel with, who to trust with what you are going through. Groups of people can be cruel, and often are. Even nice BYU students.... the need to joke about something horrible, I understand that.

This is why gossip is such a bad thing. It hurts those already hurting. It makes their burden much bigger, and the burden's already too much. It spreads, and infects even those who have good intentions, and separate those hurting from their natural support group, from the sympathy of those around them.

Lies hurt.

And gossip, guys. Gossip is always a lie. Because you never know what someone is going through. You never know what's in their heart. You never know the real details of their situation and even if you did, you aren't putting yourself in a place to understand if your intent is to spread ill-feeling, or spread excitement about detailing the difficulties and mistakes others are going through.

So, to the person who is constantly calling different city departments about any and everything they've decided we aren't doing right, from deciding to irrigate our lot to having a dog that barks too much to building an attached greenhouse to not being able to mow our lawn as often as you'd like--

Stop it.

To the person who eviscerated me on facebook, and stalked out of meetings, and basically made me feel like crap for just imperfectly trying to do a job that is very hard, and who talked to several in my ward about how you thought my book had exploited details of your own personal tragedy (when I gave it to you as a peace offering, trying to reconcile and help you understand I am a good person)--

Stop it.

To the person who served with me and expected me to be perfect, and when I failed inevitably at being perfect, took advantage of that, worked around me, decided not to listen to me, and when I snapped and said something out of frustration, came over to my house and verbally eviscerated me for an hour and a half, and never responded to my attempts to reconcile afterward--

Stop it.

To the person who I reached out to because we were serving together, who I needed support from both in the calling and as a friend, and who rejected all attempts at friendship, made their distaste very clear and then, on top of that, accused me of "harassing" them for texting them a handful of times over the period of two years--

You hurt me. You were perfectly within your right to say and do what you did, but I don't think it's what Heavenly Father wanted. I'm still hurt by you.

Going back to the beginning. I have gone through a lot. And I'm trying, right now, to recover. That means I am visibly struggling at times... I can't always smile. I can't always function. I am trying *so hard*. And I feel judged for breaking, as I'm breaking.

People don't understand that.

I have had to seek a great deal of counsel from my bishop in order to restore a lot of my trust in priesthood leaders, and my relationship with him has developed into something like father and daughter.

People don't understand that, either, and have accused me of being selfish, using up too much of my bishop's time, and being inappropriate. One in particular yelled at me, "Go see a therapist."

You know what? I AM seeing a therapist. Thank you very much. I'm sorry that the fact that I was married to a porn addict who tried to kill me and my unborn child three times, and my story ended up in the newspaper, and my priesthood leaders failed me (not intentionally, it was hard for them, too), and people betrayed me, and I lived in a state of stress and blocked emotion for ten years, and am only just now recovering and a lot of times it ain't pretty, is a problem for you. Have you considered the fact that it's an even bigger problem for me? That faith is what I'm clinging to? That my husband and bishop are basically keeping me alive right now? That often, the fact that I've shown up on Sunday with a smile on my face, ready to plan a pile of things and invite a ton of people and coordinate the conflicting desires of several leaders, is an impossible achievement for me, made possible only by the antonement and the *support and counsel* of said bishop?

Do you see how hard I'm trying?

NO, because people don't understand. NOt even if they know my entire story, will they understand. SOme people just enjoy eating drama for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and in order to make their own difficult lives worth living, they stand on the tragedy and difficulty of others and find comfort in looking down on them.

The thing my therapist said to me: Even if they know everything, Sarah. Even if they knew every little detail--they still aren't in your shoes. They still don't feel what you're feeling. They still don't KNOW. And some, won't understand, and won't care.

The thing is... it shouldn't matter. We should all be giving each other the benefit of the doubt. We should all be reaching out to each other in love. We should all be proffering forgiveness.

So.... please, everbody. Person calling the city. Girl who ripped me apart. Girl who accused me of harassment. People who speculate about my divorce, my greenhouse, my lawn, my close relationship with my bishop....

Please stop it.


i will try to forgive you. But I am not perfect.


the nice one said...

Hugs from across the state! I love that you posted this. For weeks now I've been formulating a similar post in my head but am not bold enough to just write it. A friend suggested a journal or a notebook but it doesn't seem to be enough. So I'm going to live through you and this post and hopefully deal or get up enough courage to write and share what I really am feeling.

Sarah Dunster said...

it is hard. I know I am causing drama, writing tgis, but for me right now, external drama > internal drama.

mom2ky said...

I am fuming right now at how she has harrassed and abused YOU! You are a sweet and caring person!

It sounds as if SHE needs to see a therapist for her issues.


Sharon Rick said...

People are vicious and unkind, religiously oriented or not. I've walked away from my association with religious beliefs because of the cruelty of people and because in times of hardship, so often the most "Christlike" ones are the quickest to turn on you. I'm so sorry for everything you've been through. You have every right to hurt, and your therapist is dead on - they will never wear your shoes. You are still loved, respected, and admired though. You are dealing with the process and it is difficult! But even from across the states and years, you have at least one fan in VA who thinks you're a rockstar. You're kind and gracious and you try to reconcile when most people would say oh well and walk away. Don't doubt that whether they're there in your ward, your state, or great distances away, you have people who believe in you, believe in your fight for your life, believe in your pain and your right to work through it, believe in your goodness, and believe in your faith. Keep up the good. You are helping others in ways you will probably never know, not that that makes it okay or easier for you, but at least there's that glimmer of good in the darkness. You are the glimmer. Shine bright.

Margaret said...

I wrote you a comment and then blogger/google ate it. :( I'll sum up - I think you are a rock star. I really appreciate your honesty and forthrightness. You are LIVING the hard things that the rest of us only hear about, and yet you should be treated with respect and love NO MATTER WHAT - hard things or not hard things. I wish we could be neighbors so I could roll on your green grass and admire your greenhouse and love on your babies. Love you!

Luisa Perkins said...

Ach, Sarah. This hurts me. You are one of the bravest, truest people I know. *hugs*

(Move to our ward.)

John-paul Legerski said...

Sarah, I am so sorry people in your life are being so petty. We are in your corner Sarah, we are in your corner.

Joanna Legerski McCormick said...

Sarah thank you for continuing to try again and again. I'm sorry. Many love and root for you from afar. I think you are amazing.

Nate N Rebecca Scott said...

This makes me so sad. I am really amazed at how mean people can be to each other sometimes. I wish you the best as you deal with the drama...and I wish you much less drama in the future!

Hannah said...

I would LOVE to talk to you face-to-face again. I have had some intersting/frustrating things happen to me in my current ward as well. I have had to come to terms with choosing not to be offended. We *NFPs are so sensitive to interaction with others. Most people don't understand how we feel so deeply. Hugs!

Braden Bell said...

I am so sorry! Just wanted to send my support. I'm very glad you have a supportive bishop. I really believe that is a uniquely inspired calling and relationship. I'm sorry for your hurt. I admire you so much for choosing to go forward.