Thursday, November 15, 2007

garment memories

I sifted through some archives from the old foyer, finding some posts I wrote, oh, so long ago, as I was transitioning out of the church.

When I took off my garments (the date I now consider my anniversary of leaving: General Conference weekend of April 2005), I was terribly conflicted about it. This is what I wrote:

"I bought new underwear today--at Target, not at Beehive Clothing. But I'm feeling really conflicted, jumping from one world view (no one can tell me what kind of underwear to wear) and the mormon world view (I've made a convenant and will be damned now; I should just obey and hope I'll understand someday). I'm thinking maybe I wasn't ready. But will I ever be ready? Is this conflicted-ness just a part of it? Should I go back to Jesus jammies and wait until I've completely lost hope that there's any significance to garments besides Joe's magical world view, being a part of a select, secret group, etc, etc?

I should also note that my husband also changed out of his garments today too. He felt ready. He is not conflicted. He has reasons that work for him. He was waiting for me to be ready (not giving pressure), and I didn't want to hold him back. We made a day of it, even our toddler got new big boy pants (his first, starting potty training [Ack!]). I guess I don't want my reason to stop wearing garments is that my husband was ready. But if it's not going to be any easier later, why wait?"

Someone commented that there is no actual temple covenant to wear garments; it is just expected. So taking them off is not actually breaking a covenant. I replied:

"Actually, that nitpicking does help. I feel less like I'm breaking a covenant when now I realize I didn't even make it. (I never did any initatories for the dead--once was enough.) And I understand the concept that we didn't really make covenants when 1) we didn't even know what covenants we would be making until the moment of making them, 2)we really had no choice to make them (has anyone ever seen anyone actually stand up and leave at the point the officiator asks?), and 3) we didn't know what they really even meant."

I later added:

"I've been in and out of G's the past week (I had some regular underwear handy even before the Target trip). One day I wanted to wear a short-ish shirt and some low-rise pants, but my garment tops showed in the middle. So I found a [garment] top that was short and let my belly peep through a bit. It felt quite good and liberating. But I was also paranoid about seeing any Mormon buddies (quite a few live near by). DH thought I had just gone "spiritually topless" and asked me if I'd been hit by a train while I was out. It's incredible (and ludicrous) the thoughts that come to my head...that something bad will happen w/o the G's. Duh. I don't believe in amulets and protective hexes and things (expect for a placebo affect in some cases), and yet I believed in garments. And, yes, normal underwear is way sexier."

That first weekend when I changed out of garments, I wore them for church the next day. But then took them off again in the afternoon when it was hot outside. The next day was the day my mom found out I was questioning. I stood there on the phone with her, feeling awful and guilty and oh-so-naked wearing my evil underpants as she told me I was being deceived by the devil. I felt dirty and exposed. She didn't know I didn't have garments on, but I felt like my body was screaming it out loud enough for her to know through the phone. After the conversation, I put garments back on and felt comforted. Ah, the power of those ugly underclothes. I took them off again that night, and have never worn them since.


C.Rag said...

To think that special garments would have that much control is amazing.
That's why you being able to emerge from control like that is amazing too.

from the ashes said...

c.rag- Yes, the hold that garments have over people is astounding. I have relatives who were jack-Mormon (believing, non-practicing) practically their whole lives, but continued to wear garments. Taking off the garments is basically turning yourself over to Satan. Might as well tattoo 666 on your forehead. Looking back, I think "for underwear!?!?!?" But within the paradigm, it's positively frightening and it was a huge deal even this summer when I found myself in a sleeveless top around my parents.

(chandelle) said...

it's weird that people ever ascribed such talismanic physical protection to the garments. as far as i know, JS only meant that as a quasi-masonic emblem of polygamy and the idea that they could protect you physically only popped up when john taylor survived being shot because he was wearing his. (JS's were conspicuously missing, but you don't hear too much about that.) i find it fascinating how ideas like that catch on. of course, now you hear all kinds of silly stories about people who were burned in house fires everywhere except where the garments touched!!! gasp!!!

taking off the g's was a significant moment for me, too. i wore them right up to the day i turned in my official resignation. it was so freeing! i loved how dramatically my sensuality increased, the simple joys of feeling the air on my skin and the grass under my legs and my husband's hand on my back. i would never dream of going back and feel sorry for myself now that i let them numb me to simple physical existence like that.

(chandelle) said...

oh, that should have said "AND he was wearing his", not BECAUSE.

ps: i love your blog and will be back regularly. :)

hm-uk said...

It's amazing how the mythology of garments prop up the doctrine of doing temple work. I'm sure that when the story of the person who was burned except for areas protected by garments was made up, there was an intention to infuse the garment with as much power as the symbol of the cross or the fish. There are thousands of tales and urban legends where either talisman or sacred relics protected people -- the Mo's just have their version.

Good post FTA.

from the ashes said...

chandelle- Welcome! Hope you stick around a while. Isn't it wonderful to be garment free?

hm-uk, Those garment urban legends, what a crock.

Julia said...

Hi there, I just wanted to comment on this...

I'm still attending the LDS church, but only wore my gs for about a year. I just hated myself in them. Is that weird? I feel guilty because I know when my mom hugs me she can feel whether I wear them or not. Is that weird?

My husband hasn't ever really worn his so he doesn't care. I still get that guilty feeling when I get dressed for church, but not any other day. I hate, hate them. They make no sense to me. I feel like I can't say anything to anyone because everyone thinks you are crazy if you don't love the feeling of taking a piece of the temple with you. I don't know...

Thanks for your posts. I wish I were braver and could post such...but...not yet.

from the ashes said...

Julia- Welcome! Thanks for commenting. No, I don't think your experience with garments is weird. I bet you'd find other attending members who also dislike the gs or wear them only on Sunday, etc.

I completely understand that guilt when your mom notices you aren't wearing them. It took me a good two years before I didn't feel guilty about wearing a sleeveless shirt while talking to my mom on the phone. On the phone! She couldn't even see me, but I was still always keenly aware of not wearing gs. I still am uncomfortable wearing sleeveless in front of her; I just got over the phone thing.

I also know what you mean about having a hard time finding people who understand you non-orthodox style. I was always at a loss on being able to talk about churchy things in any meaningful way--until I met the right women, who were non-orthodox themselves. The trouble is, most of them are in hiding about it.

You are absolutely welcome here, so don't think I'm pushing you away, but I suggest you try out New Order Mormons if you haven't already. There's a discussion board that is for people who disbelieve some or all of the church teachings, or who feel they are more on the fringe. I trust you will find others there who still are or want to be part of the church, but approach it in their own way, like you not wearing gs.

When I first started posting there, I considered myself a "liberal, Sunstone Mormon."

G said...

I remember the night I first tried to sleep without garments... I tossed and turned all night, my mind and body would not rest. so I finally got up and put them back on.
it has taken me a while to be able to put them behind me. (I still occasionally I will put them on, 'just because').
there can be A LOT of baggage that comes with reevaluating a belief system, especially when it it the system you grew up believing.
it's good to get experiences of others who have walked similar roads. thanks

from the ashes said...

g- Welcome! I remember the first night I went without garments, too. I actually slept naked, which I'd only done I think 2 times before. I liked the freedom, actually, but it was weird, and I put the g's back on the next morning.

Yes, there is a lot of baggage and things to sift through, emotional, psychological, socially, spiritually, etc. I'm glad to know there are others who identify with my experience.