This post has been stewing in my head for several months, but it didn't have the spin I wanted so I neglected writing it out. I was afraid it would turn into a justification of "but hey my life is great! I love my life! What are you talking about?" and sound really defensive, and that's not what I meant by it. I wanted more to reach out to others, while celebrating the path we have chosen to live a more authentic life that suits our needs rather than conforming to what mainstream American culture would have us live like.
I've had several people tell me lately that I seem sad... that I don't seem to be "myself" and that my lifestyle now is just an "act" and not who I really am. Besides that latter statement being incredibly hurtful, I found it puzzling. Honestly, I feel more exhilarated and satisfied with life than I have ever in recent memory. I live in this fabulously tiny apartment with very few possessions, we are car-free and loving it, we eat wholesome foods that we cook ourselves. I have this two amazingly delightful children. My husband cuddles with me and watches Call the Midwife after our kids (sometimes) drift off to sleep peacefully. We live in a pretty awesome city with the coolest activities for kids, the most amazing bike paths and natural trails. I get PAID to go to school and learn about awesome things like feminist theory and global feminism. I really cannot imagine what there is to not love about this life.
Then I found the bridge, on a not-so-recent but recently discovered by me episode of the FMH podcast, about darkness and light, Lindsey says something that really struck me. She said her family and friends told her about how she seemed so "dark" after going through her faith transition and doubting the Church. There is this rhetoric in the LDS church that Mormons look somehow different, more wholesome and good and full of light. Then, when they fall away, they just seem dark and empty because the Spirit has left them. I like what was said in this podcast about everyone having this darkness, but those of us courageous enough to confront it tend to wear it on our sleeves. There are many who seem full of light and happiness, and drown the darkness that is inside in unhealthy ways (note the high rate of porn addiction, drug abuse, eating disorders, and plastic surgery in Utah). Lindsey says everyone told her she was just so negative during this time, but she was feeling happier and more satisfied with life than ever before, as she says: "this is me being authentic and it feels so much better." This is exactly how I feel with my life. It feels so, so much better.