My mom is first generation Filipino. Her side of the family in the Philippines were Iglesia ni Cristo so she always had some sort of organized religion. My dad’s entire family is Mormon. They were descendants; meaning, they had family members who travelled west with Brigham Young. Even though I was born into the church, I never really thought of that history as my history.
In a way, our family was broken from the beginning. My parents met in the military and my dad converted my mom. They were never sealed in the church and really, their marriage never felt like a real marriage. They never shared a room, when we were growing up they fought all the time and my dad was super abusive to me and my brothers. Even though he was just as awful to her, my mom would always take his side.
My brother and I never sat with my dad during church, and I always suspected people in our ward knew what he was doing to us, but they never felt like people I could confide in. I stopped going at fifteen and at that point, I wasn’t close with anyone in my family. I felt absolutely alone and just so angry. I was fighting constantly but really, I desperately wanted love. It was around that time I moved in with a boyfriend. He was so sweet the first couple of months but then he turned. I just thought that’s what love was so I put up with it.
I was sixteen, pregnant, scared, and alone, and moving back into my parent’s house. Even though she forced me to have the baby, my mom was so ashamed she wanted to hide it from everyone. She made me wear baggy clothes until I was showing too much, then she pulled me out of school. When family came to the house I had to hide in my room. My pregnancy actually pushed me back into the church. Missionaries befriended me and asked me to come back. I was feeling so lonely and looking for community and the missionaries were being friends.They were very sweet and helped me through that time. It was very difficult raising a child. I fully left the church when I was eighteen. I was angry with my family, with the church, and with the world. My mom thinks she saved my soul by stopping me from having an abortion, but that decision was so forced and painful.
It took a lot of work for me to see my mother as a person after that. Now I understand she experienced so much trauma growing up. She had my older brother through an arranged marriage when she was 14. She couldn’t even consider what that meant for her because that’s just what women did in her culture. She never had the chance to process all the trauma that she’s been through so instead she passed it along to me. I have always been very big on giving my son choices because I wasn’t allowed choice growing up. I wanted all of that trauma to stop with me.
I think forcing a child into religion is abusive. When we’re children we just blindly trust that the adults in our lives are right about everything so we soak everything up that they tell us. Then, when we get older, it’s hard to part from what we’ve learned. I’ve soften to religion since, but I definitely think Mormonism is a cult, I absolutely do.