I grew up (otherwise known as, the reason I won’t be attending my high school reunion)

(This blog was originally posted on a FB group about my 30-year high school reunion. Yes, I am that old. I felt it warranted being posted here, as well.)

Since Janie was so brave, and brought out some of the horrors of high school, I feel that I should be honest here.

I don’t want to come to our high school reunion. I’ve put off registering for reasons I didn’t really understand until now.

My experiences reconnecting with old classmates has been hit and miss. Some “friend” and then “de-friend” me on FB just as fast, once they figure out they can’t tell me what my belief system is. I still want to be friends. I don’t really care what they cling to in terms of religion, and I’m glad they have it to get through the dark nights. But if one more person gossips about me, or looks down on me, or votes me MOST CHANGED I am going to scream. Loudly. Let’s just get it out there now. I do NOT believe the Mormon Church is the only true church, and I have legitimate and valid reasons for this belief. I do not: a) have an axe to grind, b) just want to party and have promiscuous sex or c) have some feelings that just happened to get hurt by someone and so now I left.

I left because I do not believe it is true. That said, I still believe you are all true. Some of you just can’t get past “the gospel” enough to be real, breathing, living human beings.

I just watched a show called Cyberbully, and it left me in tears. High school should be the most carefree, fun, and exciting time in your life, because it ALL GOES DOWNHILL from there. We all know that. But it rarely is, because no one can fit in. This is especially rampant in our community, where everyone knows who is and who isn’t Mormon. I’ve seen other people tiptoe around this, and frankly, it’s time to stop tiptoeing through the tenets.

Kent wrote a blog about the “bigger picture” and people thought he was being negative. I’m certain that was not his intent.

Rather, he was trying to point out how difficult life really is. And how brave some of you really are. Some of you have gone to war and killed people. Some of you are gay, with same sex partners, and fight a war every single day just to be accepted. Some of you have fought lethal illness, lost friends and family members to suicide, or cancer, or devastating tumors. Some of you have been abused by a spouse, or found yourself abusing drugs or alcohol to escape from the horrors of being YOU. When YOU really isn’t all that bad.

I laugh at my Farrah Fawcett hair and D’ette boots, and cry when I think of some dumbass jock knocking Janie’s books out of her hands as she tried to get to class. And I think I had some pretty good coping mechanisms. I am proud of how I turned out.

I can still find something to admire about almost every single one of you, religion or no religion.

It’s sad that the favor cannot be returned. I am no longer a Mormon. Yes, I suppose I am an apostate. And I owe a huge apology to a lot of people, because I’m pretty sure I made them feel an outsider, when the truth was I didn’t even believe it myself. I was just too scared of being ostracized to be honest.

Maybe this is why I am so vocal now. Because I didn’t have the courage to do it back in high school. Life is not, nor will it ever be, black and white. There ARE no absolutes. You can go to church every single Sunday, and serve on every single primary board or relief society presidency, and your child can still DIE while you sit and watch.

I have a friend, a good LDS woman, who lost her son last week. It was an inoperable brain tumor. He just became nothing in front of their eyes, until he passed in his sleep. Less than six months, and it took him away. If he had lived, it would have been a Mormon miracle. Because he died, it was because God needed him. When the reality is, IT’S JUST LIFE. It happens to all of us.

So I don’t think I’ll be coming to the reunion, because I’m tired of just shutting up and pretending to be something I’m not. I’m tired of censoring myself on Facebook because if I don’t, some of you will “defriend” me. I even have two FB pages, one that is diluted, and I never post on it, because it’s NOT ME. Why have I done this? Why do I care? Why SHOULD I care? I am not a mean person, and I will open my house and my heart to any of you who should need it.

So, if you want to find me, you know where to look. I’m easy to contact. I’d love to sit down and talk about where your life has taken you. I’m so fascinated with people, and the paths they take. The decisions. The stories.

Everybody has a story. No one has an ideal life. Something very, very bad has happened to every single one of you. And I’m sorry that it happened, whatever it was. Maybe we can share a cup of coffee, a soft drink, or a glass of wine and just talk about it. Or maybe not. Time will tell.

Godspeed.

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About Natalie R. Collins

Natalie has more than 30 years writing, editing, proofreading and design experience. She has written 20 books (and counting), has worked for the Sundance Film Festival, and as an investigative journalist, editor, and proofreader. She embraces her gypsy-heart and is following her new free-thinking journey through life. Follow her as she starts over and learns a bunch of life's lessons--some the hard way.
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3 Responses to I grew up (otherwise known as, the reason I won’t be attending my high school reunion)

  1. Loki says:

    Thank you for this, it is true and blunt and lovely and needed to be said… I may use some of this someday with my own family and friends. Just thank you!

    Like

  2. M.E. Anders says:

    Natalie,

    Thank you so much for posting this. I made the mistake of attending my 5-year-high-school-reunion. Nobody seemed to have changed much, except for me. I was voted the “most spiritual girl” in high school, and I am now a “frequently-defriended” atheist. I grew up in one of the independent, fundamental, old-fashioned, Bible-believing Baptist Churches, and I remember leaving all of it – my family included – to search for the truth. I do not regret each step I have taken to distance myself from the past, but Facebook can still be a painful place for me, since I am still “friends” with many of my high school peers.

    Anyways, I truly appreciate your blog. It gives me a sense of connection with someone who has endured a similar situation.

    All the best!

    Like

  3. David says:

    I too was raised LDS and can totally relate to your experiences.

    I’m enjoying reading your blog!

    Like

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