My up-bringing taught me to fear the outside world. Coffee, tea, alcohol, sleeveless shirts, premarital sex - all were considered to be very serious offenses against God. When I left Mormonism, I had little to rely on as a guide to right or wrong. I associated fear and shame with actions that mainstream culture accepted. And so I found myself navigating a strange road as I examined my own internal values.
I have never been a wild personality; I am not one for partying or crazy stunts. Even as a freshman in college, out of my parents’ home for the first time in my life, I was still tame by the standards of my peers. There were some drunken escapades that we laughed about afterwards but overall, I was a student who spent most of her time in the library studying. My evolution was slow and a practice in studied moderation; I didn’t want to be defined by what I did and did not do. As a Mormon, I had been defined by what was considered sin. As a post-Mormon, I did not want to be defined by what I no longer considered to be sin.
So my experimentation was gradual. I started with cursing, to vocalize my emotional turmoil. I was eighteen when I wore my first tank top; the feeling of a breeze on my shoulders was both foreign and liberating. My first beer was Keystone Light, at a frat party my first week of college. I hated the watery horse-piss taste of Keystone but later discovered I loved hefty beers such as Guinness and Young’s. Coffee was a delightful surprise, as I discovered the joys of well-brewed coffee (the discovery of which coincided with the joys of romance). Intimacy was harder, as I was very shy and had never been taught proper boundaries. But contrary to all of the dire threats I grew up with, I learned to navigate my sexuality in a safe and respectful manner. And when I did meet my husband, our pasts were simply something that added depth to our character. My mother was quite distraught when we moved in together but living together before marriage was important to my own personal values. I view marriage - and family - as commitments that should not be entered without careful reflection and research.
Bit by bit, I sampled the different options available to me. Over the years, I have evolved into a beer-drinking, coffee-sipping woman who believes in taking responsibility for your actions. As long as no one gets hurt, the choices of an individual should be respected and allowed.
I enjoy excess - in moderation.