I have wondered sometimes about what we could find out about ourselves if we could remember our lives from the very beginning. Not just as an infant, but the very, very beginning… Cramped and swimming in nothing but our prenatal ignorance.
Pop! Our eyes open and we realize with our sudden and jolting birth that the world we knew was darkness and everything new comes in with blinding light and cradling hands and voices, once muffled and distant, now sharp and deafeningly clear. Our cry is the panic of sudden change and the disappearance of the swaddling embrace of our previous definition of the universe. The cry of our first pang of hunger as our life blood is quickly and efficiently separated from everything we thought we were. The cry of surprise as the rug is pulled out from under us.
There was no camera recording my fall into the world. Much of it, I’m sure, was like the many others that happen every day. However, mine was the kind that every parent dreads. Silent. Nothingness. Only the rush of hands and voices of the doctors and nurses and the cries of my mother filled that room. Sounds that raised to panic as the frantic hands surrounded me to help me the rest of the way onto a new and frightening stage.
I was blue. Bluish purple like death – my clenched eyes and shaking fists the only sign of life – my blood and brain and lungs screaming for air. I somehow had not needed it before, but now, in this new place, air equaled life. I had none.
So I’m rushed off and, airway cleared, the well-trained and equipped staff (at that time in history anyway) give me stored air from a mask and machine which, fortunately for me, has been prepared long before I was born for just such an occasion… Lucky me. Slowly, I’m not blue anymore. Little by little, I get my breath and, for the smallest fraction of a second, I find peace. That moment when I finally have a pause between breaths that isn’t filled with a desperation for the next one. A moment of infantile clarity.
And as soon as it was there, it was gone. My brain, finally out of its previous distraction moved on to its next desperate need. I was starving.
I cried. My lungs echoed through those great greenish tiled halls of the hospital. Perhaps I felt that since those around me had solved my previous problem, they could get moving on my current demand. I was returned to my mother. Problem solved. But, it would not be the last time I would cry.
I cried when I fell off the fence and gashed open the back of my head. I wheezed for breath looking at the sky through tears when I fell out of a tree flat onto my back. I cried the morning after a childhood friend moved out of state. I cried in terror every time my brothers rigged some new idea for terrifying me. I have cried the hiccupping sobs of a child being beaten with a dowel. Tears have followed breakups, sad movies (Where the Red Fern Grows, I’m looking at you…), leaving home, betrayal, divorce, and the deaths of loved ones. I never knew it at the time, but my tears, and perhaps all of ours, are the outpouring of, “I’ve been moved from the status quo to a state of extreme and horrible discomfort. Please help me.”
I cried silently one night at the close of a day filled with realization and epiphany as forty years of mormonism fell like a dark, blinding shroud from around me to the floor. I had no sound I could make to give expression to the complexity of my grief. No air for the vacuum welling in my soul and I felt as though I were falling out of myself onto the floor. It was as though I had never made a sound in this world and had no idea how to make one. There were no hospital staff with anxious hands to assist me. There were no machines prepared in advance for just such a contingency. No language to describe this new thing that pierced me. I had been breathing lies… and when the truth came, my lungs failed me. In my arrogance, I had refused to breathe.
Slowly, I am finding my voice. I finally found and rejoiced in that pause between breaths that requires no desperation. I have found reflection and insight. I realized just how long the contradictions had been piling up in the neglected recesses of my mind until that moment finally arrived that I refused to ignore and apologize for it anymore. I shoved it out of me in a chaotic heap and I left it for the liars and the apologetics to dance on.
The recovery from this has been a few years in the making. I am forever thankful to my loving wife and a very dear friend who have helped me along the way to recovery. They each have had their own path through this. The common thread is just knowing that a commitment to the truth means refusing to stand for something that is false. Building on a lie creates more lies and covering those lies creates even more. The mormon church has an interesting challenge ahead of it and its not the one that they thought it would be. They didn’t realize their biggest opponent was going to be the truth.
My mind is starving. I owe a debt to those who for years now have been posting and publishing the facts in online forums where I could find them and slowly begin to piece together the bizarre tapestry of doctrines I had read in Journal of Discourses, Mormon Doctrine, Lectures on Faith, and others. From them, I have discovered that I am not alone nor am I in the company of evil-doers and apostates. The blogs, videos, and websites that I have found are full of sincere former mormons all trying to find their voice. What I thought before were angry apostates, I’ve realized are really just like the person that runs up to you to knock the cup out of your hand because they saw someone put poison in it. Rude of them, right?
I speak now to silence. For now, this is to bring clarity to me and that, on its own, feels complete somehow. Seeing the words come out of me feels like I am finally breathing. I hope it is helpful. Truth sometimes is painful before it is helpful.
This is my first sound.