To tell in-laws or not?

This is for encouragement, ideas, and support for people going through a faith transition no matter where you hope to end up. This is also the place to laugh, cry, and love together.
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MerrieMiss
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To tell in-laws or not?

Post by MerrieMiss » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:34 pm

I came clean about my non-belief with my husband about six months ago. He very much wants me to keep it hidden, particularly from his family, because he is worried about how they will treat me. I’m getting to the point I just want to live my own life and I don’t want to hide and pretend any longer. It’s exhausting. In the past I wanted to hide it because I was worried about how they would treat the kids, and I guess that could still be an issue, but it is no longer a main concern for me. (As someone pointed out to me, if you're worried they're going to talk about you, they probably already are. I figure they're going to proselyte to my kids whether or not they know about me simply because we're not the "right" kind of mormon anyway.) If we lived far away I could probably handle it, but we live close by and there are family dinners, holidays, birthday parties, drop ins, and hiding my non-mormonism is wearing on me (this mostly regards clothing although I worry my kids are going to drop something at some point too, like how we don't read scriptures or family prayer etc).

The question is, whose decision is it for his family to know about me? It’s his family, so in a way I can respect his desire to control how much they know but at the same time it’s annoying to keep it hidden. It’s probably not a black and white answer, but I’d like some ideas on how people approach this and whether it matters to be honest with them or not. But maybe it doesn’t matter - in a couple months the sweaters will come back out and maybe I can go another year pretending.

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Emower
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Re: To tell in-laws or not?

Post by Emower » Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:30 pm

Oh jeez, I'm sorry you have to even go through this. I think on principle, its unfair to ask anyone other than yourself to hide anything, especially for the benefit of someone else. Secrets are dumb, dont ask people to keep them. Some might be necessary, this one is not.

But I realize that relationships are messy and complicated, especially when you live in close proximity to such a strong social network. I guess I would wonder what the timeline is he expects? Until great Aunt Edna dies? Until after some family event? Until you die?
It’s his family, so in a way I can respect his desire to control how much they know but at the same time it’s annoying to keep it hidden.
I get that, kind of, but ultimately this (sounds like, maybe its not) is him trying to control you. If there is something specific he wants to avoid (awkward convos, questions about you, home teachers coming by, etc.) then those specifics are things that need talked about and strategies/compromises to be worked out that can include you living how you now want to.

My two cents.

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Linked
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Re: To tell in-laws or not?

Post by Linked » Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:23 pm

I am in the exact same situation, 4 years down the road. DW doesn't want me to be open to the ward or her family. She is afraid, and I have felt like the right thing to do is to let her have some control over the relationships we share significantly. I have told my family and close friends of my transition. This puts my friends and family in the unfortunate position of me asking them to keep it quiet, which is lame like emower said.

At some point I expect I will let the cat out of the bag. For a long time I wanted to send an email or letter or have a discussion, but I'm getting more comfortable with the idea of just being post-mo me and letting them figure it out. I am open about my moral and political views which are not TBM friendly (though I avoid throwing it in anyone's face). We discuss non-church stuff we have in common. I have been garmentless at their house a few times and eventually they will figure it out. One key is that I don't have a super close relationship with any of my in-laws, my relationships with them really are thru my wife.

But I am there with you chaffing at hiding myself. It is easier for me though because my outer clothes don't really change from TBM to transitioned.
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

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oliblish
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Re: To tell in-laws or not?

Post by oliblish » Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:44 pm

I am going through something similar right now. I have not believed for going on 7 years now. I told my wife about it a couple of years later. I have not been attending church for about 3 years.

My brother-in-law invited us to his daughter's baptism in a few weeks. My in-laws and other extended family will all be there. My wife is extremely concerned about how to handle this situation.

I have always been invited to stand in the circle at these events, but my wife doesn't think I should participate any more. I don't really want to either. But if I sit out, I am sure everyone will wonder why. My wife has other siblings that have been inactive for decades, so that maybe gives me a little cover.

I could maybe come up with an excuse to skip it, but right now I just think I will go and be supportive. If I am invited to participate I will say something like "Thanks, but I am going to sit this one out" or something like that. It may be the start of some uncomfortable conversations. I have a feeling that they already may have suspicions anyway.

In addition to all of this, I have a son who has been inactive since turning 16. I never really talked to him about the reasons I don't go to church. He stopped going after I stopped believing, but before I stopped attending. He is now in his early 20's (no mission) and has moved out of the house. I talked to him recently and he mentioned that he might start attending a singles ward. He has friends at work that are members and I think he is having trouble with his social life living in Utah County as an inactive member. He has asked women out but they have turned him down because they say they are going to marry in the Temple. I am afraid he is going to get pressured back into the church in order fit in.

I would really like to discourage him from going back to church, but I guess he is an adult and can he can decide for himself. He has friends coming home from missions that will add additional pressure. Right now I am thinking I will recommend two things to him: Don't give them any money, and don't go into the bishop's office.
Stands next to Kolob, called by the Egyptians Oliblish, which is the next grand governing creation near to the celestial or the place where God resides; holding the key of power also, pertaining to other planets; as revealed from God to Abraham

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Red Ryder
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Re: To tell in-laws or not?

Post by Red Ryder » Mon Jul 15, 2019 4:08 pm

I prefer the don’t ask don’t tell policy. They don’t ask, I don’t tell. Yet they all know something is up.

Honestly you’ve probably already said enough by what you aren’t saying or doing.

Honestly ask yourself if telling the in-laws is for you; are you seeking validation and understanding?

If it will make all relationships better than go for it. If it will only make them worse then hold off.

I haven’t told my in-laws (who live in town) but they know I have issues because I don’t wear the fundy undies or attend the temple. They haven’t asked. I haven’t told.

I’m also happy to save my emotional energy for my hobbies rather than trying to get them to understand my religious position when they’ve been conditioned to NEVER understand my religious position because it disagrees with their position.

Mormons will never understand until one day they do and find themselves out with you.

Kill the need for validation. You’ll never get it because you’ve simply been deceived by Stan.
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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Red Ryder
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Re: To tell in-laws or not?

Post by Red Ryder » Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:09 pm

One more thought.

You could always tell them you’re following Denver Snuffer or some really crazy movement now.

Let it be so far off the crazy path that they don’t know how to interact with you.

Like your suddenly joining a frontier sex cult in the spring of 2020!
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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Emower
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Re: To tell in-laws or not?

Post by Emower » Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:26 pm

Red Ryder wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:09 pm

Like your suddenly joining a frontier sex cult in the spring of 2020!
Then you will be a member of 2 frontier sex cults! Now that's something to tell the grandkids... Although neither one is much fun.

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alas
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Re: To tell in-laws or not?

Post by alas » Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:54 pm

I suspect that many family members prefer the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach. That way, they can pretend as long as they need to that everything is fine with your testimony, or pretend it is just a phase, or blame you for being offended. It allows whatever they need to believe to keep their own testimony intact. If you tell them, then they are confronted with the idea that you think it is something wrong with the church rather than appropriately feeling guilty about your inactivity, while accepting that it is something wrong with yourself. If you just don’t bring it up, and go about your post Mormon life, they will eventually figure it out, and by then, it has been so long that they are embarrassed to bring it up, and you just never bother to bring it up. You listen politely when they talk about church stuff, but don’t respond with your own church stuff, nor do you try to ell them bad stuff about the church. You just listen like it is their hobby they are excited about, that you don’t share the same hobby, but understand it is important to them. Sort of like I do with my kids Cos-play, or mermaid to entertain kids, but no real pay “job”, or their dogs, or their latest fad. “Oh, that s nice.” “I bet you enjoyed that.” “It sounds like a spiritual experience! I am glad you enjoyed it.”

Just decline things like attending the temple, with no real explanation. If they ASK, then you can say something noncommittal, like, “I let my recommend laps.” If they ask further, just answer the direct question, but don’t elaborate. Say, if their response to, “I let my recommend laps,” is, “well you better hurry and see your bishop,” just reply, with, “I let it laps on purpose, so no point is seeing the bishop because I really don’t want a recommend.” You can say that you would like to attend the wedding, but it is the church that keeps people out. Keep it friendly, loving, but a simple statement that you would rather not. That says that you really don’t want to talk about it, which maintains your boundary, but blows the stereotype of angry apostate.

See, there is no reason for leaving the church that they are going to see as valid, so why give them a reason they can argue with you about or blame you for.

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Mormorrisey
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Re: To tell in-laws or not?

Post by Mormorrisey » Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:59 pm

I agree with RR and alas about the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, especially after I read what you posted about your family and appearances. Your husband is very different, and I think it was a great idea to tell him. But your in-laws? Maybe it's better to keep it in a lower key. That's what I do, and it works very well. They don't WANT to know why I think the way I do, and it won't help to have that discussion. So we don't have it.
"And I don't need you...or, your homespun philosophies."
"And when you try to break my spirit, it won't work, because there's nothing left to break."

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wtfluff
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Re: To tell in-laws or not?

Post by wtfluff » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:16 pm

Red Ryder wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 4:08 pm
I prefer the don’t ask don’t tell policy. They don’t ask, I don’t tell. Yet they all know something is up.
Ah yes... The Passive Aggressive MORmON Ignorance of the Elephant™. My family has this down to a "Capital T."



alas wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:54 pm
Just decline things like attending the temple, with no real explanation. If they ASK, then you can say something noncommittal, like, “I let my recommend laps.”
I'm still waiting to use: "I'm allergic to fake green silk."

(I don't remember which NOM came up with that one, but I've kept it in my pocket ever since...)
Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions. -Frater Ravus

Keep the company of those who seek the truth - run from those who have found it -Václav Havel

We are secrets to each other

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glass shelf
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Re: To tell in-laws or not?

Post by glass shelf » Tue Jul 16, 2019 4:29 am

I always find these discussions so interesting because I would never have been able to live with a "don't ask, don't tell" policy for the long term. Just not my personality. It's not about seeking validation from other people for me but about not having the 1,923 awkward interactions where Mormons wonder what the heck is wrong with me that I'm not acting Mormon enough. Probably some strange off-shoot of my upbringing of being raised to be a people-pleaser.

I guess I'm a "line in the sand, don't identify as Mormon" kind of person. I'm also perfectly happy setting boundaries like "don't take to me about the LDS church" or "stop saying things like that to my kids or you won't be able to see them anymore." Did it make for some awkward interactions for a little while? Sure. But a few years have passed now, and it's way better for me.

In any case, this sounds like a marriage issue for me. I wouldn't be okay with my spouse telling me that I had to hide part of who I am and continue to put on a Mormon face.

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Red Ryder
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Re: To tell in-laws or not?

Post by Red Ryder » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:52 am

Emower wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:26 pm
Red Ryder wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:09 pm

Like your suddenly joining a frontier sex cult in the spring of 2020!
Then you will be a member of 2 frontier sex cults! Now that's something to tell the grandkids... Although neither one is much fun.
What about a space frontier sex cult?

SpaceX rocket shuttle to Mars, Jupiter, or Uranus? As long as Poppy can bring me home?

Image

Jokes aside I think glass shelf is ultimately right! God, how many times have I said that over the years here? Pull hard and rip the bandaid right off! Everyone will feel the pain for a split second and then your wound will heal and you’ll have a small scar.

Your marriage needs to survive the fallout so build it up first and who knows, maybe hopefully you’ll both be telling the family your all out together.

My bro did this and the family has adjusted even though mom and dad still pray, fast, and list his family on the prayer roll of every temple in North America, South America, and Utah.
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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alas
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Re: To tell in-laws or not?

Post by alas » Tue Jul 16, 2019 7:28 am

glass shelf wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 4:29 am
I always find these discussions so interesting because I would never have been able to live with a "don't ask, don't tell" policy for the long term. Just not my personality. It's not about seeking validation from other people for me but about not having the 1,923 awkward interactions where Mormons wonder what the heck is wrong with me that I'm not acting Mormon enough. Probably some strange off-shoot of my upbringing of being raised to be a people-pleaser.

I guess I'm a "line in the sand, don't identify as Mormon" kind of person. I'm also perfectly happy setting boundaries like "don't take to me about the LDS church" or "stop saying things like that to my kids or you won't be able to see them anymore." Did it make for some awkward interactions for a little while? Sure. But a few years have passed now, and it's way better for me.

In any case, this sounds like a marriage issue for me.I wouldn't be okay with my spouse telling me that I had to hide part of who I am and continue to put on a Mormon face.


The part I put in bold is where I differ with your view of “don’t ask, don’t tell”. See, I don’t put on a Mormon face. I just don’t discuss why not. I don’t go to church much. I don’t wear polygamy panties. I openly drink coffee and tea. But if a TBM asks, they don’t get a real answer. They get a very polite form of, “None of your business.” Now, I don’t say, “none of your business.” But I also do not try to explain my disbelief. I had a visiting teacher ask why I quit attending and I just said that Mormonism doesn’t work for me. My son who is still believing and married to a TBM has never even asked.

Remember the advice on telling your kids about sex. You answer their questions simply and honestly, but you don’t overwhelm them with information that is beyond their comprehension. And I feel like explaining a long list of why I do not believe is overwhelming them with information they cannot comprehend.

I don’t pretend to believe. I don’t do Mormonism in any way shape or form. But I also don’t waste my breath explaining what believers don’t want to know. I I honestly thought they wanted to know, I would tell them. But not a one of them has acted like they want to know why I left the church. I don’t feel any overwhelming need for them to understand me. My husband accepts and that is all I need. I think my son and daughter in law may wonder and if they ever ask in a sincere way, then I will answer as many questions as they want. I would be completely open with all the whys. But they don’t act like they want to know.

Now, I think MerryMiss is in kind of a different situation. Her husband is kind of asking her to pretend to still believe. Not only don’t tell them, but pretend. So my answer to her is that it is hard to pretend to still believe for the rest of your life. And as others have said, it is kind of keeping secrets and secrets have a way of biting you in the butt eventually.

So, my suggestion to MerryMiss is not to explain, but also not to pretend. You slowly drop the Mormon markers of garments and full activity. But unless asked in a sincere way, you also don’t explain. You just be you and let them accept you for you or not. You may have to draw a line at them preaching at you. But by not explaining you kind of give the message that you are not open to talking about why you don’t go to church. They can’t jump in to fix you if you don’t give them a clue as to what to fix. And if them email you conference talks, you ignore it and if they try to lecture you like you are a child, you cut it off with a glare from hell, and walk away. You don’t allow them to preach at you, and you don’t give them ammo to shoot at you with.

It takes a lot of strength to not care what they think and love them enough not to confuse them with “why” you don’t believe. If they WANT to know why you have left the church, they will ask. But most TBMs do not want to know.

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Emower
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Re: To tell in-laws or not?

Post by Emower » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:24 am

alas wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 7:28 am
So, my suggestion to MerryMiss is not to explain, but also not to pretend. You slowly drop the Mormon markers of garments and full activity. But unless asked in a sincere way, you also don’t explain. You just be you and let them accept you for you or not. You may have to draw a line at them preaching at you. But by not explaining you kind of give the message that you are not open to talking about why you don’t go to church. They can’t jump in to fix you if you don’t give them a clue as to what to fix. And if them email you conference talks, you ignore it and if they try to lecture you like you are a child, you cut it off with a glare from hell, and walk away. You don’t allow them to preach at you, and you don’t give them ammo to shoot at you with.

It takes a lot of strength to not care what they think and love them enough not to confuse them with “why” you don’t believe. If they WANT to know why you have left the church, they will ask. But most TBMs do not want to know.
Agree. I also think it would be healthy to discuss exactly what it is that he would like to project to his family, and discuss ways that it might be
accomplished in an authentic way. Maybe it cant be, and that needs to be daylighted if so. That involves a high level of trust and communication however.

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glass shelf
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Re: To tell in-laws or not?

Post by glass shelf » Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:09 pm

alas wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 7:28 am
glass shelf wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 4:29 am
I always find these discussions so interesting because I would never have been able to live with a "don't ask, don't tell" policy for the long term. Just not my personality. It's not about seeking validation from other people for me but about not having the 1,923 awkward interactions where Mormons wonder what the heck is wrong with me that I'm not acting Mormon enough. Probably some strange off-shoot of my upbringing of being raised to be a people-pleaser.

I guess I'm a "line in the sand, don't identify as Mormon" kind of person. I'm also perfectly happy setting boundaries like "don't take to me about the LDS church" or "stop saying things like that to my kids or you won't be able to see them anymore." Did it make for some awkward interactions for a little while? Sure. But a few years have passed now, and it's way better for me.

In any case, this sounds like a marriage issue for me.I wouldn't be okay with my spouse telling me that I had to hide part of who I am and continue to put on a Mormon face.


The part I put in bold is where I differ with your view of “don’t ask, don’t tell”. See, I don’t put on a Mormon face. I just don’t discuss why not. I don’t go to church much. I don’t wear polygamy panties. I openly drink coffee and tea. But if a TBM asks, they don’t get a real answer. They get a very polite form of, “None of your business.” Now, I don’t say, “none of your business.” But I also do not try to explain my disbelief. I had a visiting teacher ask why I quit attending and I just said that Mormonism doesn’t work for me. My son who is still believing and married to a TBM has never even asked.

Remember the advice on telling your kids about sex. You answer their questions simply and honestly, but you don’t overwhelm them with information that is beyond their comprehension. And I feel like explaining a long list of why I do not believe is overwhelming them with information they cannot comprehend.

I don’t pretend to believe. I don’t do Mormonism in any way shape or form. But I also don’t waste my breath explaining what believers don’t want to know. I I honestly thought they wanted to know, I would tell them. But not a one of them has acted like they want to know why I left the church. I don’t feel any overwhelming need for them to understand me. My husband accepts and that is all I need. I think my son and daughter in law may wonder and if they ever ask in a sincere way, then I will answer as many questions as they want. I would be completely open with all the whys. But they don’t act like they want to know.

Now, I think MerryMiss is in kind of a different situation. Her husband is kind of asking her to pretend to still believe. Not only don’t tell them, but pretend. So my answer to her is that it is hard to pretend to still believe for the rest of your life. And as others have said, it is kind of keeping secrets and secrets have a way of biting you in the butt eventually.

So, my suggestion to MerryMiss is not to explain, but also not to pretend. You slowly drop the Mormon markers of garments and full activity. But unless asked in a sincere way, you also don’t explain. You just be you and let them accept you for you or not. You may have to draw a line at them preaching at you. But by not explaining you kind of give the message that you are not open to talking about why you don’t go to church. They can’t jump in to fix you if you don’t give them a clue as to what to fix. And if them email you conference talks, you ignore it and if they try to lecture you like you are a child, you cut it off with a glare from hell, and walk away. You don’t allow them to preach at you, and you don’t give them ammo to shoot at you with.

It takes a lot of strength to not care what they think and love them enough not to confuse them with “why” you don’t believe. If they WANT to know why you have left the church, they will ask. But most TBMs do not want to know.

I guess I read Merrie Miss's post as saying that her husband wanted her to still appear to be Mormon which is different than doing what you want and not justifying it.

I'm pretty sure there is no one correct answer out there, and it's impossible to accurately predict how everyone will react. For me, though. I would rather say once, "Hey I'm not Mormon anymore" than have to keep getting the side-eye and PA comments. If people can't handle the fact that I'm not Mormon anymore, that's on them. I only explain for people who legit ask, and there have been very few of those.

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Re: To tell in-laws or not?

Post by Kishkumen » Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:24 pm

No DEER allowed

Do not Defend, Explain, Excuse or Rationalize.

You do you, whatever that is. If you want wear garments around them, great. Bikini Top, that's fine too. There's no right or wrong way to go about it. Yes, we interact with others, some matter more than others. But do what you wanna do and forget about the rest.

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MerrieMiss
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Re: To tell in-laws or not?

Post by MerrieMiss » Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:26 pm

A lot of interesting points of view and ideas here.

I should probably clarify, by “telling” them, what I really meant was just being myself and letting them come to whatever conclusions they want to – I’m not really an email the whole family or have a serious conversation with them kind of person. I don’t genuinely think most people want to know so I don’t see the point in expending my energy.

I can’t decide how much of a marriage issue/control issue this is. On the surface, it seems like my husband is controlling me and telling me what to do, but I really do think he’s doing it because he knows the way his parents treat people and doesn’t want them to treat me that way. (And I suppose what he’s really doing is protecting himself from experiencing pain seeing his parent’s behavior towards his wife.) In a similar situation, he doesn’t tell his parents information about my siblings, even when they ask, not because my siblings embarrass me, but because they are very obviously not “on the covenant path” and it would just give my in-laws an excuse to talk bad about people they don’t even know to boost their own superiority complex.

My in-laws have an inactive son who they speak very poorly of, gossip about, and have made into a project, and of course NO ONE has ever asked my BIL what his deal with the church is, they all KNOW what it is. It has made my husband angry and turned him off – it’s probably one of the bigger pieces of cog dis that he has.

For what it’s worth, I know my MIL caught a glimpse of my heathen underwear over Christmas when I contorted myself to help one of my kids who was stuck. She saw that I saw her looking at my backside and neither of us have brought it up. It made me feel weird for a while, knowing that she knew what kind of underwear I was wearing and making a judgment call about it. I don’t particularly care, but I know that the charade I’m putting on can’t hold up forever.

I appreciate that I’m not the only one who struggles with all of this. And as for belonging to a frontier sex cult, you’d think it would be a hell of a lot more fun!

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