38. LEAVING THE CHURCH

Excerpt from “My Lovedance”

Judgment made me leave the church. It happened about nine years after baptism. I was in grad school, commuting to UCLA three days a week for class and to work the weekend night shifts at the medical center. Steve was a police officer for the city of Santa Barbara. We lived in Ventura. We didn’t get to see much of each other…working opposite shifts to be home with our two-year-old son.

I asked my husband how he felt about my becoming a nurse practitioner. With a master’s degree as an advanced practice nurse, I would be out earning him. And our school counselors had been counseling the grad students on the possibility of marital instability. Steve wasn’t very communicative then.

It was stressful. We had been together for eight years…never having explored any other possibilities…just following my plan. College, marriage, house, baby…in that order. Now grad school, a career shift, then another baby…too planned. Too idealistic. My fairytale life needed to get a reality check. Right before the semester started I knew we needed a break.

So we agreed to keep our son at the condo. I would stay with Steve’s Gran who lived closer to UCLA when he was with Jarys and he would rent a room in Santa Barbara when I was with Jarys. Because of our shift work, we still needed childcare. The next morning, I brought Jarys to the sitter—a nice lady from the Mormon church who ran a home daycare. When I announced the change in our schedules, she promptly handed my son back to me. “I won’t be party to adultery.”

I was shocked. Granted I had taken off my wedding ring and we had agreed that whatever happened during this “break” would be a learning experience for both of us. But we hadn’t done anything yet. I asked if she could recommend anyone else to watch my son. She couldn’t recommend anyone outside of the church.

That was it. My last moment of being Mormon. Without the church to depend on,
then what?

Feeling very much lost, I took Jarys with me to class. He was very good. My professors were understanding. And thankfully, his great grandmother was delighted to have him. When Steve needed to work, my father was the one we depended on. He had just moved to Ventura. We were back to depending on family. And Jarys. Well, he still remembers those great times he spent with his grandparents!

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