The truth is, I’m lost. I feel like I’m clinging to a piece of driftwood on an endless sea. The sun is directly overhead, and I don’t even know which way the shore is. I don’t know what I want, or how to get there. I feel so powerless. I have no control over my life. But even if I did, do I even know where I want to go?
I have amazing blessings, amazing gifts, amazing people in my life. Why do I feel like walking away from all of it? Why do I feel so trapped in a life I’m not sure I want, even as I recognize that there are people around me who would love to trade for what I have? Why am I so dissatisfied? So hopeless? So sad?
Why do I want to make drastic changes to my life when just a year ago I told myself I was the luckiest man alive? Not much has changed. Except for my perspective. My desires. My understanding of what life is all about. And my impatience in having to live a life that isn’t what I would choose today, if I could choose fresh.
Maybe the life I would choose would even be better than the life I have now. I can’t guarantee that. Probably it would be worse. But it would be my choice.
I know I can’t get there from here without hurting a lot of people. Is the pain of those around me worth it to me? Is the pain that I would no doubt experience worth it to me? I don’t know.
I’m tired of having to pretend. I went to church yesterday. I wanted to spend time with my family, so I told them I’d attend sacrament meeting with them. I had to sit quietly while they asked everyone who could sustain Thomas S. Monson as a prophet, seer, and revelator to raise their hands. I had to sit even more quietly while they asked anyone who was opposed to that idea to raise their hands.
After sacrament meeting was over, I was going to go back home, but my wife followed me out and asked if I thought the neighbors were done moving yet. I realized that she needed confirmation of my commitment, so I said, hey, you know what, I think I’ll just stay here for the rest of church. I sat through two more hours of church, and was called upon to pray. Maybe next time I’ll be more prepared, but I didn’t know what else to do but to let instinct kick in and I recited a really bland prayer. Nobody was listening, anyway, but I hate that I had to pretend again.
At home, my family prays. We read scriptures. I can distance myself from everybody and let them do it anyway, or I can be a part of the family and join them. In the interests of family unity, I am learning that it is better to join them. It’s awkward when we sit for a meal and Dad has always been the one to kick off the meal by asking someone to pray, and Dad just sits there and stares at his plate and waits. So I have resumed my job of calling on someone to pray. It’s awkward when we read scriptures and everybody takes a turn except for Dad. So I have rejoined my family in scripture study.
My understanding of the world has shifted, but I am trapped in my life, unable to make any fundamental changes. I can’t change my lifestyle and set a bad example for my children. I can’t engage in activities on the Sabbath day. I can’t even teach my children about the way the world works from a scientific viewpoint, because I’ll be seen as trying to undermine their religious upbringing. I suppose I should just feel lucky I was able to change my underwear.
I love my family. I love being married. But I wish, somehow, I could just walk away. A few days ago my wife asked me how I’d like it if she left me. I couldn’t stop grinning long enough to answer her. I didn’t know I felt that way. When it comes down to it, I don’t think I really do. But I’m tired. Tired of living a life that someone else convinced me was the life I should live. I didn’t make my own choices. I followed the plan of the church. I wanted that plan, or thought that I did. It wasn’t out of coercion; it was out of devotion and dedication that I made the choices I did. I was told at church what was best, and I wanted what was best, so I did it, without knowing if it was what I really wanted.
Now I’m left wondering. What do I want? Is it what I have? Is it something else? And who pays the price if changes are to be made? Do I have the right to force my children to suffer for my desire to break with choices that the religion of my parents spoon-fed me in pre-wrapped little packages?
I’m lost. I’m adrift in the sea of my own confusion.