I figure to get a full idea of where I’m going you need to know where I’ve been…
So my dad was a lot of things growing up but stupid was never one of them. He raised both my sister and I as a single parent and always tried to do the best he could. One of the smartest things he did was joining the Mormon church when I was 12 years old.
To this day he will say one of the main reasons why he did this was to keep up from getting pregnant. He knew the strict rules of the Mormon church and our tendency to follow them would help ensure that we became the kids he imagined.
Dating in the Mormon church is very structured. At the age of 14 you are able to go to church dances. Now you may have these images in your head of wild grinding and drinks being poured into the punch… but let me tell you those images are far from the real scenario. I was 14 in the mid 90’s and the hits that were played at these dances were songs such as “Lady in Red” (1986), “Wild Wild West” (1988) and other 80’s classics. These dances were a lot of fun and this is where I learned my signature moves; the shopping cart, sprinkler, and reeling in a fish! However, the main purpose of these dances is to get comfortable with those of the opposite sex in a controlled environment where you can be ensure that you don’t fall into “temptation”. You even have rules as to what you should wear and how far apart you should dance (Book of Mormon apart – not the cd version).
At 16 is where dating REALLY happens… by really I mean you are encouraged to double or group date and not exclusively date. I loved this time! Dates were about doing fun and creative things and the guys were always challenged to think of new dates. I can say that my first date in the dating world was with a good friend of mine. We were supposed to go out to dinner and then bowling together with another guy and girl. I was so nervous! He showed up at my place with his friend about an hour or so late. I would blame the poor guy but it was honestly it was the other girl who kept them waiting for an hour while she got ready and talked on the phone. By the time “princess” was ready we only had time for dinner. LL (Lesson Learned) – Don’t keep a guy waiting and if it takes you that long to get ready…are really setting up a realistic go forward expectation for your looks?
This type of dating happens until you graduate from High School. Then for a girl it is marriage and baby time! For a guy it is mission time (they send those guys off at the perfect horny time). So I was knee deep into the church when I was 18. I was so dedicated I had spoken at some of the smaller conferences and had a personalized license plate that said LDS on it. I knew I was going to marry myself a Mormon man had have lots of little babies. That’s what I wanted and was my goal. I had many good dates with Mormon guys all with the exact purpose of checking them out to be my husband and babies daddy.
Bring on 2001, I was sitting in the church parking lot before a church dance at a local college (yes same dances somewhat updated music) and seen the hottest guy looking at my through the passenger window. I thought “Hubba Hubba he sure is Hott!” Well shortly after we were an item! He was not active in the church but he was definitely a keeper. About a year and a half later we welcomed our child together. Now you may want to stop me and say.. “What Jill you forgot the part where you get married?”… Nope nope I didn’t… that came shortly afterward along with my decision to leave the church.
After 11 years together we went our separate ways. It was a very painful time for me and during the separation I felt sadness like I have never felt before in my life. I had many drop down to my knees tear sessions, crying all night, and so sad you can’t even cry days. I used that time to really work on myself and to learn how I can be a better version of me. I went to weekly counseling to help deal with the grief and to learn how to best handle the difficulties that even the best and most amicable divorce can throw at you.
I was so scared for the day of my divorce. So many people had warned me of the tears and emotional breakdown I would have after everything was final. I took the day off, had the tissues ready, and had some beer waiting for me when I got home in the fridge. (Hey I said I stopped going to church- stop judging). The moment the judge asked me if that was my decision and I said “Yes” I immediately felt relief. I drove home ready for the sadness to come and it never did, now I have had moments of sadness since, but NOTHING like I experienced before. I drove home and watched 30 for 30 documentaries and slept. When I woke up I had multiple text messages, tweets, and messages of hope and kindness from the people I loved. I knew that the sadness was not coming. I called my sister that night and said “Is it too early to start online dating?” and created my first profile…