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I think Real Truth can set us each free, and help us save the world.
See my face and hear my voice while I curl up in my coziest sweater and try not to feel awkward. I’m not the smartest or most well-spoken person, but I do know what I’m about.
Being introduced to this information as a teen opened my whole world. I finally decided to study it for myself 15 years later, and now it has opened my whole heart. Over the past year, my inner balance and outward attitude have changed dramatically. Everything I’ve learned has both humbled and empowered me. I’ve sensed every day that my reflex to judge others weakens, and my compassion, love, and endurance grow in ways I didn’t even know I could be capable of! My anxiousness, bitterness, depression, nihilism, and denial of self have virtually disappeared. The outward changes I sense and peace I feel within are literally beyond words.
If you do decide to look into any of this information, I just hope that you do yourself a solid and not simply skim, nor turn away at the first thing you read or hear that doesn’t align with your current mental paradigms. I firmly believe that the only way to truly test this information is to read pieces in their entirety. If you pick whichever book or document most captures your attention, and read the entire thing, and afterwards you don’t think it’s profound and positive, I would be grateful if you’d take the time to reach out and explain why, or what you think is wrong with the message and goals, for me to consider.
All my love!
Oct 3, 2021
I went back and forth about writing this for a while. Not that I CAN’T talk about myself, but it’s hard for me to imagine HOW writing about myself could be helpful to anyone… but since Christopher is the one person I most wish I could be actually helpful to, I’ll do it.
If you want to contact me and speak to me as a friend, please feel free. And if you don’t want to read it all… good (hahah). I told myself that I can’t remove anything I write, (as much as I’ve been embarrassed and wanted to!) I can only expound, clarify, or make information more accurate or truthful as I’ve gone back through writing this. There are many-much-much words, much SUPERFLUOUSNESS, so if you’re planning on making it through… hold on to your boots!
To explain about my discomfort with talking/writing about myself – this has all been at the forefront of my thoughts for many years. I’m a naturally extroverted person, but my experiences and my thoughts about those experiences have led me more and more to want to “train” myself out of many extroverted traits… and I think it’s worked. And at this point talking about myself makes me feel very ….UGH. Lately, almost every time do I spill my thoughts to someone or realize later that I accidentally dominated a setting or conversation, I feel an emotional and actual physical regret that I didn’t instead listen to or observe the other person/people more, or ask them more questions, or that I overshared and possibly made any other person feel uncomfortable or unheard. Sometimes it’s still a fear that I shared something that they would judge or dislike about me. I still am not out of the habit of “taking over” at times, and I don’t feel like it’s fair to practice on my loved ones, (I just want to get it all right in my head first so that I can be my “best self” around and for them. Maybe that’s egotistical.) so I’ve found that I’ve distanced myself from many people as I’ve processed these thoughts and decisions. I’ve become much more introverted in my daily life, feelings, and habits than I was even a few years ago. I need much less interaction with others outside of myself to feel vitalized, happy, and valued.
I believe that many of my “extroverted” actions throughout my life have actually been an exercise in self-indulgence. Even writing this, talking about and expressing myself to others, falls under that category! Which explains my current aversion to writing it, and why I want to delete the whole thing. Self-indulgence has led me away from understanding Real Truth over the years, and it has often had the consequence of my causing pain to others. I feel like my personal kind of extroversion stems from wanting to be the center of attention, and from my ego/the desire to be liked. I ponder often on how many parts of my personality and talents are because I genuinely enjoy them, or if I simply developed parts of my mind, habits, and presentation that I realized would get me praise and attention. The awareness of the size of my natural ego has made me feel a profound sense of sadness and regret for many years. I think I’m a naturally very self-serving and self-centered person, and I have many times negatively impacted those around me. Feeling responsible for, or that I’ve somehow contributed to, others losing value in themselves has become my personal hell. I’ve put myself through this hell many times throughout my life. It has made me want to hide away, to protect others and myself (my ego again!) from the negative impact I might have.
I have a general fear of getting swept away in my self-centeredness and forgetting to look for ways of being considerate of others. I also have a fear of being manipulated through flattery. In recent years I have an immediate distrust in almost all praise or compliments. I began to sense while in the very moments of receiving attention how much my ego was being fed, (the endorphins are like a drug hit) and slowly decided that I do not want for that to be the reason I do the things I do (quitting my addiction). And I have witnessed, and participated in, much manipulation, deception, and self-deception with my peers. I have been hurt through either me or others being ingenuine to get what they want, when we’ve stroked each other’s or our own egos or selfish desires. To me, using people is very wrong, and I find all this inauthenticity for the sakes of our egos to cause many emotional problems. As I’ve come to all these personal truths, it’s become more difficult for me to trust most of the people I’ve met in my age group, or myself around them! So I’ve found that spending time with myself and enjoying being me, without worrying about how I’ll affect others nor automatically wondering what they think of me or if they like me, has recently been a source of comfort and peace.
Now into my life. Many reading this know my parents, Kurt and Monica Smith. You may think you love and admire them… but I tell you what. I’ve gotten them my whole life, and you have no idea! (I’m just kidding- you probably do! I just feel very lucky.) I’m their oldest daughter, born to them in 1991, when my mom was just 20 years old. It boggles my mind being a parent at that young. My parents and their families were lifetime members and faithful followers of the Mormon (Latter-Day Saint) church. When I was born we lived in a trailer park in Moscow, Idaho. I was home-schooled for my entire childhood.
I have fond memories of twirling around on what my sister and I called the “umbrella pole” – just a metal post stuck outside in the ground, that we could hold one hand on to and walk and spin circles around. I remember diving into a snow bank and becoming stuck, and my dad pulling me out by my ankles. I remember us all sleeping on the floor in the living room near the franklin stove so that we’d be warm, and waking up my parents excited to show them that Barney was on tv. I remember one night my Barney pillow catching on fire from the space heater as my sister and I slept on the floor in front of it. Mom sewed the fire “bite mark” closed and we kept the pillow for many years. I remember getting mad that my mom used my special rainbow blanket as a backdrop to take a baby picture of my sister. I remember dad taking away the sugar we kept adding to our rice crispies, so I told my sister that we’d use salt instead, and PRETEND that it was sugar. What a lesson in the harshness of reality! We soon dumped our cereal into the trash. I remember going back to Moscow to visit after we’d moved, and stopping to visit the owners of the house my mom had house cleaned, seeing a stuffed bear, courtyard koi pond bridge, and an indoor pool, and feeling in awe and very confused (Someone lives here??). We lived for a while with my dad’s parents in Mountain Home Idaho, and my grandma read me Rumplestilksin, and gave me a mermaid book polly pocket. Over the years when we returned for visits, I played in the junkyard on the back of their property, where I built many forts and space ships, got in trouble for ring-leading all my cousins smashing all the windows out of a broken down school bus, and found my first very own scripture quad. It was brown and according to the gold inscription had belonged to someone named Bruce L… Something. Of course my parents looked him up and asked him if it was okay for me to keep it.
When I think about feeling free as a child, many moments come to mind, all before probably the age of 11. Most of them are about being on our farm in Melba. Most them are of being alone. I think of lying in the field with a pile of library books, on the spot of land where our septic tank emptied and the alfalfa grew noticeably denser and taller, watching a little red (or was it neon green?) bug crawl across the page. I think of our lawnmower breaking, and our lawn getting nearly as tall, so I took scissors and cut a path so that I could run around in my long “pioneer” skirt and the wind would blow the grass and my skirt around my ankles, and I pretended to be “romantic.” I remember climbing the shelves in the garage library to collect a stack of books I hadn’t read yet, and trying to understand Francis Bacon essays and Plato, feeling like reading them would make me more “philosophical.” It was around this time that I started to have a proclivity for creative pursuits, and I practiced writing and art, and asked for art lessons. I didn’t like the lessons, because to me, the way my teacher (a lady in our ward who was very proficient at photorealistic portraits) taught me took all the fun out of it. I used much of what I learned from her later, at an older age when I was more motivated to “hone my skills” and become classically “impressive” at art (aka when my ego kicked in).
The first time I remember questioning myself was when I was a preteen (12 maybe?). We were still in the church, and my mom knew many other homeschool families across a few counties, mostly LDS, and many of them organized a weekly learning cooperative (we called it co-op) where we got together once a week and had multiple classes in different subjects, taught by some of the parents, to socialize with “like minds” and broaden our “knowledge.” (I loved my classes, especially when I was faced with mental puzzles, or asked to seek for deeper meaning. And I loved having friends to have challenging and theoretical conversations with. I can imagine now that we all sounded pretentious and ridiculous, but I loved getting to share that with others.) The first day was a kind of introductory gathering and we all were asked to take a personality test called The Color Code. (It’s interesting to me now to think of all the personality tests I’ve taken over the years to try to use as tools to understand or define myself and others.) There were four colors – blue, yellow, red, and white – that supposedly indicated what motivates or drives you. To put it simply, blues are motivated by intimacy; yellows, fun; red, power; white, peace. I got red – motivated by power. Think CEOs, think control, think ego. I was unhappy to learn that about myself, because to me, even at the time, power is not a righteous goal.
I don’t know if I pondered it lots then, but I’ve thought about it much over the years and I have seen that part in me. The way my mind works has made it easy for me in the past to control or manipulate others without them knowing, or to present myself in certain ways to get what I want. Guile, I think!
In co-op we also were assigned to read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” which I think is an actual GUIDEBOOK to guile! I learned a lot of tricks from that book that I was never able to forget, and I got in the habit of controlling how others perceived me.
It was very easy for me in the church to get all the adult leaders to like me (none of the normal kids my age really did – understandable! I was not “cool” and probably just felt “off” to them). I was a teacher’s pet in our co-ops (though many of the other homeschool kids were too) and a “ward’s pet” at church. 😂 I was asked to give multiple talks during sacrament meeting, my sister and I were the only non-adults in our ward choir, a drawing I made of Gordon B. Hinkley sold at a ward auction to the bishops wife, and I earned my young women’s medallion before I turned 14 (for any who may not know, starting at age 12, most Young Women earned those with many assignments and larger service projects around the time they turned 18). I remember that in my mind it was a competition with another girl in my ward, who had been my friend but we fought and never made up – I’m sure I was mean to her. I wanted to be “better” than her and others, and to be important. To earn the medallion I don’t even think I was honest about fully completing all the requirements! But I had such pride in earning it.
I believed in the church and believed that I was a good and faithful person, but looking back, I laugh at myself for some things (like the time I did a front flip on the trampoline and my glasses flew off my face and got lost in the field, and I prayed and promised heavenly father that if he helped me find them, I would not watch any more Harry Potter movies. I found them! But after leaving the church I devoured all the movies, and the books too, so… whoops. 😂 I only keep promises to my REAL god now). But upon reflection over the years, I really think I used most of my involvement in the church to feed into my own tiny-big ego.
I remember getting in an argument with a pastor’s daughter, one of the few non-LDS kids I ever interacted with, about how her dad going on a mission was not what God wanted, because her church wasn’t the true church. I was so mean! I also thought I knew more than other people IN church, some from the whole homeschool thing, but mainly from having talked with and learned from my dad. I knew he STUDIED the scriptures, and I knew he was looking for more answers.
He shared a theory with me one time about how the priesthood might actually, “scientifically” work, when it came to changing molecules to part the Red Sea or heal the sick. I remember that he thought that individual atoms each had an intelligence, and would choose to obey Heavenly Father’s will, for his creation of planets, or to be used by ordained members of the priesthood to physically heal the sick or bless food. In my mind this also answered “where we came from” to be first created as new spirits – an atom that always existed and was always an “intelligence,” was transformed by god into our spirits. Dad read me scriptures that backed it up, and I was so excited by it! Connecting the dots of physics and scripture was just so cool! I tried to share it with my Sunday school class, but I just kind of remember blank stares and the teacher wanting to get back to their lesson. In my mind my dad always knew more than the church leaders. It’s pretty hokey to think of his theories now, but I knew he was looking for truth! Yes my ego was in the way of many things, but I’ve always enjoyed learning, and finding answers to questions is a beautiful process to me. I felt like my dad knew how to get into the real meat of it, and I trusted him completely and wanted to learn from him. I remember him speaking of the brother of Jared often, and I remember wondering what all the mysteries were, and hoping that I would learn someday.
This all explains to me why when my parents showed us the Sealed Portion, I accepted it immediately, without reading it. Scriptures quickly stopped being interesting to me after leaving the church. Only recently have I completely warmed back up to the scripture format and beautiful symbolism (as long as it’s understood properly). But at 14… I asked my dad lots of questions, and was an apostate literally overnight.
Just 5 days before, I was awarded my young women’s medallion in church sacrament meeting. Our whole extended family came to town for the baby “blessing” and name-giving of my youngest brother. I remember that the blessing my dad gave my brother did not have the typical “that you may be a worthy priesthood holder” “serve on a mission,” “have a celestial family” etc, but instead called for something like my brother to understand the universe and have the truth and answers to all his questions. It was very abnormal. Maybe I’ll ask my grandma one day if she still has the notes she took of what he said! Then when I came down from the pulpit from being presented my medallion by the bishop, expecting my parents to beam with pride at me, they instead had blank expressions on their faces, to the point that I actually asked them as I was passing them in the pew “aren’t you proud of me?” To which my dad responded flatly, “pride is bad.” With those two clues it should have been obvious that something was up!
I also remember there being a time before then, when my dad was reading the Sealed Portion pdf on his work computer set up in the living room. I didn’t know what I was reading at the time, but I stood over his shoulder and read a few verses. I think it was the Sealed Portion because I specifically remember not recognizing any of the names. Yet I didn’t question what was going on. I just wonder now what he thought of me reading, and whether my mom noticed or was nervous on the other side of the room! There was also a time that my parents left town to go to Utah for a weekend, and wouldn’t tell us why. I sincerely thought at the time that they wanted to conceive another kid, and they must have been on a private romance schedule, and I told my sister as much 😂 Pretty sure the actual truth is that my mom was going to meet Chris for herself for the first time, and we were in the dark, and that’s why all the secrecy.
So the Friday after I received my medallion, my parents told us two oldest kids (me and my sister Diana) to stay up late so they could talk to us. After all the younger kids were sent to bed, dad asked us to go get the big black binder next to his bed, and bring it out to him. We brought it, he told us to open it, and turn past a few pages (he’d nested the SP either after the 116 lost pages or the fullness of the gospel, or both). I saw “The Sealed Portion of the Book of Mormon – A Final Testament of Jesus Christ” and then “translated by Christopher” and my VERY first thought was, “this is a sign I’m supposed to be nicer to my brother Christopher.” 😂 Again, I trusted my dad completely, and did not doubt that what I had in front of me was the real deal. We stayed up until 6 am, talking about the plan of Salvation, and we asked a hundred questions basically reiterating the classic, “wait – that’s it?” (“So girls have the priesthood? So guys don’t have to go on missions? So we don’t have to go to the temple?”) and I was just all in. I did not struggle or question. I was 14! Just a kid, and just as moldable as lil ol’ Joe. I had my trusted family and new answers that made sense.
I don’t remember where or the moment I met Christopher. A basement in a strip mall maybe? I just remember that I always felt incredibly comfortable around him, and loving how not-typical-adult honest he was, and how much sense he made. We went to any MWAW gatherings possible, listened to each radio show and followed yahoo discussion groups, and it all became a consistent part of my life. We sent letters to the church and asked them to remove our names from the records, I think in order to avoid any kind of apostasy hearing or bad feelings among the local church leaders who we’d been friends with for the 8ish years we’d lived in Melba.
But the first years out of the church feel so weird to me now. I relate very little to how I felt or lived, as a kid who, once again, thought she had all the answers and acted with such ego. I lost most of my homeschool friends after trying to share it with them, but I really wasn’t bothered by it, except in theory, for the “drama.” I was typical teenage-angsty, and felt alone and misunderstood. We spent tons of time with the Dschaaks. I loved Harry, Jodi, Harrison and McKinzie. Harrison kind of took me under his wing (I since have wondered why – he’s around 5 years older than me and I’ve come to realize that 19-year-olds usually see 15-year-olds as dumb babies 😂) and through talking to him and spending time with his family, I began to understand what other teenagers outside the church were like, and I decided I wanted to go to public school for the first time starting my Sophomore year.
I got straight As, spent a lot of time with a lot of different kinds of people my age, finally learned about the existence of gay people, finally learned about sex (through spending time with guys who didn’t really see me as a potential romantic or sex partner… YET, and then through my high school boyfriend. I’d heard Chris talk honestly about sex more than my parents ever have, but still needed peer context to understand what it actually was.), volunteered as the sole librarian at the tiny hometown library every Wednesday, and I made just a few guy friends that I’m still in touch with. We were a kind of an eclectic crew. We all just accepted each other. I feel like my role was pretty much the nerdy, persistent or annoying one – since the running joke was that rambling, or going on a lot about things which no one else cared, was called “pulling a Sara.” (you can maybe see by now how I can get on tangents and be very “stream of consciousness” with how I talk about myself) In retrospect, the way those friends treated and saw me was the beginning of feelings I’ve had throughout adulthood of my unfiltered self being “too much” to be understood or loved. At the time, I felt a little self-conscious about it, and internally bemoaned that the guy I liked didn’t even really see me as a feminine “prospect,” but I felt very comfortable and close to all those friends nonetheless.
Those friends and my later high school boyfriend actually met Chris when he came to our house, I think to “kid review” the concepts in the Human Reality book. That’s when C kind of started spoiling me… I don’t know why he’s done that so much. He bought me a laptop and a video camera, to make a video about the WUF to “help the work,” though I have no idea now what I could have actually done. My sister and I had already made a silly video about the WUF for the YouTube “Project for Awesome,” where a couple prominent youtubers (the Vlogbrothers) and their community following (called the nerdfighters) “took over” YouTube. The algorithm on YouTube was such in 2007 that by organizing a flood of views and commenting, we filled the landing page of YouTube with videos that all had the same thumbnail, and were each about different charities. Mine promoting the Worldwide Untied Foundation got on the list watched by the organizers, and it got a couple thousand views which was a ton to me. But I saw that no one who viewed it actually went to the WUF website and signed their name. I think that was my first lesson in “trying to spread the word yourself does nothing.”
I dropped out of school after the first quarter of Junior year because I wanted to help mom edit the Human Reality book, and I already had the friends I wanted and school itself felt like a waste of time. I don’t know if I really helped edit, but it was my excuse to myself to do what I wanted I guess. (I did create the final design for the cover of the book, using a photograph of my own eye for the graphic – taken with that video camera Chris bought for me, so I guess it contributed to the work for ONE thing!) The principal tried to convince my mom to urge (or force) my sister and I to stay full time at school, but mom always held that we could choose for ourselves. I think that bewildered them a little bit. And I think they wanted to keep us there for funding or for our test scores… to help their average, because each class year only had about 40 students, and we both got good grades and scored high in our P-SATs and P-ACTs. My science teacher seemed to want me to be a scientist, and he told me in kinder words that I was throwing away my potential. I stayed in a couple creative classes that made me feel inspired and challenged, with teachers who I admired and who trusted and allowed me to be free with my assignments, and I just ignored a lot of adults/previous teachers there treating me poorly. I just felt free. I didn’t graduate or get my GED, but was accepted to the local university based on my ACT test scores… but I decided not to go. I became a nanny and traveled around the US instead.
The first place I went for my first job was Maine – not intentional that I went so far from home, but after living with 9 other people and being around people to talk at every day, then having my own room and not having a car for exploring, it was my first experience with real loneliness and solitude. It was very unsettling to me at first, then when I only really had my SELF to spend time with, I began to introspect and think about myself differently. I’m glad I had that sort of shock to my system.
When I came back for Christmas I finally broke up with my high school boyfriend. We dated Senior year and he was my first sexual partner, through whom I learned a lot about being manipulated by and through sex, and my own potential of being blinded by wanting love and affection. Thanks to our relationship, which wound up including future flings and affairs when I visited home over a few years, I finally learned to be honest with myself about my sexual motivations and selfishness, and decided to steer sexually or emotionally clear of most men for many years. I proved to myself that I don’t have to be in a church or believe it’s god’s will to feel sexually obligated to a man – am I right, ladies? *cue finger guns* I rarely remember or reflect on this part of my life anymore, though I can understand how it shaped me, to be emotionally and physically manipulated (whether or not that was his conscious intent) for my first sexual experiences, and to experience emotional addiction. I learned about unhealthy sexual attachment, and saw the negative impact of my selfishness – on my boyfriend, on his later girlfriend when we had our affairs, and on myself. It was not okay!
I moved to California for my next job, was there just a few months, then New Mexico for my next. I was planning to follow a guy to Santa Fe who had been the one other non-LDS person in our old homeschool group (before we got kicked out for “bringing in the devil”). We became close for a while, and then I suppose he essentially changed his mind about me before I moved to New Mexico – but I met with friends online who were from there, who offered to help me get settled, and I went along with my moving plans anyway. I applied to an art school there first, and they offered me a scholarship covering about half the expensive yearly tuition… but I decided, again, that I didn’t want to go to college. Because of listening to Chris, I’d realized that having a formal education didn’t determine my value or real success, and considered that it might be a waste of so much money, especially if I could teach myself, like I had already been doing. I nannied a bunch more instead, and wound up in Albuquerque live-in nannying a couple kids of a single dad who didn’t pay me for the entire 5 months I was there. Those five months were truly great though – I spent tons of time with a few great friends, acting in music videos and going on adventures to the bosque (forest around the river) or the mountains. I was lucky that the family who in a sense adopted me kept me fed and feeling loved.
I went on a road trip with one of those sons to a concert in Denver, where he introduced me to an old friend of his, who was the first person I met outside my family and the Work who I felt an immediate magnetism towards. I don’t really like to speculate about past lives, but I’m more emotionally convinced of having known people before this life because of her than I have been because of anyone else. Though it could be in my head and we’re just super compatible. 😊
I visited home for Christmas, got together with my high school friends and drank for the first time, slept with my one guy friend I’d really liked in high school, and got a kind lesson from my dad about financially supporting myself, since my parents were paying my two (2) monthly bills, – for my cell phone and car insurance- which I couldn’t afford to even pay because my non-paying job. A couple months and one long-distance heartbreak with that high school guy later, I finally quit my New Mexico job and moved back to Idaho. I nannied a bunch more, lived with my best friend from high school and his family, and kinda finally “bloomed” socially and physically, and began to be treated differently by the guys in my life. I’d spent so much time around guys in high school and had read the Diary of a Player, so I knew exactly what was going on, and it didn’t ever sit quite right with me that I was being treated differently now, because I truly was the same person. But I enjoyed the attention, had flings, one of which led to my first actual orgasms, and had so many guys give me the whole “you’re not like other girls” shpill, and was told by quite a few that they would marry me someday. I usually immediately knew that wasn’t a possibility for me. I stayed away from guys who I thought would emotionally invest in me. It became very easy for me to read people and predict and understand people’s actions, and I grew less and less “impressed” or excited by anyone around me.
It was at about this time that I started to think often about what I later related to the philosophical term/concept called “bad faith.” I began to see that almost everyone around me was nearly always operating on some level of self-deception, in order to feel good about themselves or to make their lives easier, or just in order to maintain their status quo without having to do any mental work. It drove me nuts ALL THE TIME to sense that people weren’t just dishonest with me, but that they weren’t–or maybe even *couldn’t* be–honest with themselves about their motivations, because it would be uncomfortable to admit their true feelings or natures to themselves. I determined that I really didn’t want to do this, and began to constantly check in with myself and try to at least tell ME what my true motives were. And if I didn’t like the truth about myself, I started to try to change my actions and not allow myself to do things that didn’t match certain morals or integrity about the Work’s strongest tenant of doing unto others. Call it a viscerally brutal conscience I guess. Too bad I haven’t gotten it to always work!
The high school friend who’d broken my heart when I was in New Mexico eventually saw the attention I was getting and therefore changed his mind, (at least that’s what he told me – that he was afraid I’d date someone else) and we dated for a while. That again ended in my heartbreak after just a few months. To this day, I don’t know why he dumped me either time.
The following summer I was hired by Chris to move to Utah and work at Filtagreen as a graphic designer/”executive assistant.” Oh boy. When I tell you I’ve been spoiled… They gave me my first iPhone, and a mac laptop completely decked out with every feature available in 2013. They bought a house for me and my friend to rent – the literal smallest house in Salt Lake county, that had a whole yard and everything I could have wanted. They gave me a company car to drive. I made a salary, more money than I’d ever handled. We got amazing health insurance, the actual best that the policymaker said he had ever seen a company give their employees.
Chris as a boss was quite an experience for me. It felt a little like a roller coaster.. I couldn’t always keep up. I fought my own ego a lot, and got frustrated. I felt often like I knew something wouldn’t work, but had to do it anyway, and then after I’d done it, and yeah, lo and behold it didn’t work, I had to redo it the way I’d wanted to do it in the first place. I feel like I got in trouble a lot, and just had to trust Chris and learn to do as I was told, whatever I thought of it – because he’s the boss. 🙃
The times I wasn’t in trouble, I was glad to get to spend time around Chris and everyone at Filtagreen. I think I’ve taken for granted how much time I got to spend with them all, pretty much just being people – friends.
I got to know my coworker Andrew LeBaron lots better. He was one of the few people around my age who was involved with the Work at the time. I really didn’t like him when I’d met him a year or two before, but he and I grew close. We bought a motorcycle together and he started to teach me to ride – I told him I wanted to and he facilitated the whole thing, and just told me how much money I owed him. (And we made the exact same amount working at Filtagreen, so everything always felt so fair!) We went on many silly adventures together, and I learned about his childhood and emotions about his experience being raised in a polygamist community. He did lots of work on the shed behind “my” house, so that he could live out there and pay rent with me, while still letting me pretty much have the house to myself. I think I didn’t like him at first because he challenged me – pretty intentionally. If I made a statement he didn’t agree with or think was completely true, he would pretty much laugh-yell at me until I backed down my ego and could admit that I was wrong and didn’t know everything. Holy cow – am I glad I had someone who pushed me back until I learned how to have some humility. He became like both a little and big brother to me. Not that he doesn’t have plenty of great siblings already, but he listed me on facebook as his sister and it means a lot to me.
We became friends with a girl I met named Kinsey, who approached me at a bar in Salt Lake and went on adventures with us and one other dear friend, her coworker. Kinsey was inactive from the Mormon church and came to a park MWAW meet-and-greet and I think part of one of the public symposiums with us. She was into the concepts I shared with her, but never read the books as far as I know. We spent a lot of time just having fun together, and she was a break from long weeks at Filtagreen. We went to different restaurants and bars together with our other friend, and sometimes Andrew, or he would come pick us up if we needed a ride, or even uber to us and drive my car back… all I had to do was call. He was very self-sacrificing and took care of everyone around him, above and beyond what I’d ever seen from someone my age, every day.
When Filtagreen was later sued, it was hard on him. We were all struggling to do the best thing, and Andrew was afraid he would say something that would get Chris in trouble. So he refused to go to a deposition, and turned himself over to be arrested by the police instead. That made me uncomfortable, and I was asked to go on the stand and show pictures of the warehouse for some reason or another, and that wasn’t my favorite experience. It all felt like a lot of grown-up drama, and again, I didn’t quite keep up with the stress.
When my parents were hired at Filtagreen to also help, I felt like I was needed there to report to my dad what was going on, and what observations I was making on clients, employees, and contractors, so that he and my mom wouldn’t have to make as many trips to oversee things in Utah. It was weird to be a young woman, untrained in business or advertising, still thinking she knew what was best for everyone, surrounded by older professional men. I just don’t think I was my best or kindest self, or knew how to handle or balance everything at 22 years old.
It was around that time that we had learned that our earth experience is a dream or a game, which I loved and made so much sense to me, but it also impacted me in such a way that I started to feel like I was a “glitch.” I felt like knowing that you’re in a game, ruins the game – that ignorance is an essential part of being able to live on and interact with the world and the people here, as it is. I really wanted to be able to connect to the people around me, whom I loved, but I could not feel a part of things. And I could not explain to my close friends how alien and alone I felt. And I struggled with believing I was of any help or had a real role or positive purpose in the world, to my self, the Work or at Filtagreen. And I felt that I wasn’t having fun or experiencing much joy in my day-to-day life.
I had been talking for years online to a guy who’s a sorta well known artist from Europe, who worked on films and video games and traveled and lived all over the world. We had met up once on a trip to New Mexico, and he and I spoke pretty regularly at that point and had grown close. He talked about us getting married, and I could actually see myself marrying him. I got a passport in anticipation of meeting up with him again, but he wouldn’t make a solid plan with me, and I started to get restless and frustrated.
On St Patty’s day 2014 I spoke to my friend Kinsey about how I was feeling. She and I were back at my house and I was telling her all the reasons I was needed by my parents at Filtagreen (I’m not sure if C was part of the day-to-day operation at that point) and she asked me why I was waiting for a guy to invite me somewhere, since I had everything ready and clearly wanted to leave. She pretty much gave me permission to be selfish. I really broke down and realized that I did want to make a change, and later attributed to her “changing my life.” It’s true that I and my life would not be the same if I hadn’t known her, though perhaps not in quite the ways I originally thought.
The next day I talked to whoever I talked to, and asked to be a contractor for Filtagreen instead of working there full time. Of course they said yes, believers in free will that all my “bosses” were/are. Within literally a week I had lined up an amazing nanny job lined up on the South Island of New Zealand. My family helped me move my stuff out of the house in Salt Lake, Andrew and my sister and I went on a road trip to Canada, and then I spent a couple weeks in Boise before my flights out.
That’s when I got to know the man I later married. I’d met him once before but scared him away with the attitude I’d adopted to keep most men at bay. The 10 days leading up to my move across the ocean, however.. I fell in love with him. It very much took me by surprise. I was surprised I agreed to go to his house and watch sports alone with him, I was surprised I found myself attracted to him, I was surprised how comfortable and free I felt around him. I never felt like an object to be won or “convinced” like I have with most men; I felt like my autonomy was completely respected and intact. That feeling was reinforced again and again, even though we had times of pretty grand struggle. By the time I was supposed to get on a plane to go on my big adventure, I didn’t want to leave. I don’t remember there ever being a time before that when my heart felt unsure about a big decision I was making being the “right” thing. That feeling was so foreign to me, at the time I couldn’t even identify it. I was very overwhelmed, and even missed my first flight, and needed my mom to help me think straight and book a new connection. I had to repack, too, because there was not time to get any checked bags on my new flight. I got to see Dustin, my later husband, one last time before I left, because he speed-biked probably 5 miles in 100+ degree weather when I asked him to come see me off. I had one laptop backpack by the time we got back to the airport, and off I went.
I lived in New Zealand for about 6 months, on a dairy farm taking care of 4 kids. Before that I thought I was SURE I didn’t want my own kids, but something about how their mum parented them made me feel for the first time that if I wanted to be a mom one day, it could still be possible to have freedom and a sense of self. (If you can’t tell by now- feeling free is very important to me. I think realizing, at that moldable age when my parents found the Work, that I could truly have full control over my future and who I would become, was the biggest and most defining shift I experienced. “The Truth shall set you free.”)
While I lived in New Zealand, I regularly Skyped with Dustin, and he essentially flipped his entire sleeping schedule to be able to speak to me more. I told him about my involvement with the Work, and he looked into it, and basically read through the chapter headings of Human Reality. He concluded that there was nothing “bad” being asked of me by my cult, and that they had a noble message and goals, and he respects me to believe whatever I want. Basically we left it at that ever after.
While in NZ I had the use of a car, and volunteered in hostels on weekends and traveled all over the south island and met lots of people I found interesting – travelers, artists, many minds who wished to travel and search around the world for different personal experiences and answers. People with very different perspectives of the world.
While there, the Ferguson riots were on TV, and I felt like the NZ News’ portrayal of what was really going on was a lot more accurate than what was being shown in the States. This was a beginning for me to dive in more online to reading about social justice movements. I familiarized myself with liberal members of my generation’s commentary on many many intersections of feminism, systemic racism, ableism, LGBTQ+ rights, xenophobia, cultural appropriation, BLM, and religious freedom. I wound up involved in these conversations for many years, and brought issues to the attention of many of my friends and family, ultimately “correcting” many people if they weren’t “up” on these issues. Now I believe that was another exercise in my pride and ego, judgmentalness, and unkindness.
A few months in to my job in NZ, I had a couple weeks of vacation that I took to travel with a new, dear friend to Australia. There we met up with the brother of the artist guy I had spoken to about being married and fallen out of touch with. The brother knew exactly who I was and mentioned his brother talking about a future with me, and since they lived on different continents and rarely see each other, I took that information to mean that the guy really was serious about me in some way. I needed to find out if there was an actual future with him before it would be fair or honest for me to commit to Dustin, so I told Dustin about him. I wanted to stay friends, but it broke his heart and we didn’t speak for a few months.
Meanwhile I did reach out to that other guy, and we finally made plans to travel and spend some real time together. After 6 months with the wonderful family on the South Island, I headed north to explore Auckland and await my flights. (I stayed with a Brazillian mathematician who I’d met in a hostel a couple months before – wonderful and humble to be around and somehow unlike anyone else I’ve so far met) While I was there, my mom sent me a post C had written and given her permission to share with me, about the next generation of MWAW supporters. It talked about a group of people who volunteered to give up their free will “to a greater purpose of serving the entire human race,” and as I understood it, said we were failing our true selves by following our dreams, and that unless we stopped doing so, we would not find happiness *in our lifetimes.* Traveling the world was specifically mentioned, so I figured it was aimed at me.
This really sent me into all sorts of emotional disarray. Among many things, I thought: “I didn’t even find the Work, my parents did! How do I know my upper self was someone who promised anything? For all I know I would still be in the LDS church if it weren’t for my parents. For all I know, this is just another way I’m being deceived and controlled. … NEVER find happiness?? If so, who the hell is my upper self to take my free will from me? All I know is Sara, and you’re saying Sara is DOOMED to misery because of a promise made by another self, someone who I don’t understand, a promise over which I, Sara, had no control??” Free will was the most precious truth to me, and I was being told that I don’t actually have it, and I understood “never finding happiness” to mean that I would now be punished for being free. I was very hurt by this at the time.
I met up with the artist and had a few emotionally confusing weeks traveling with him in Taiwan and the Philippines, meeting some of the most incredible, dirt poor, happy people I’ve ever taken advantage of (many people let us stay in their homes and fed us. I REALLY wish it had occurred to me to do it differently). As it turned out, the man I was traveling with said he had just met the first other woman who he thought he could marry one day, and since he’d already slept with her, basically she had dibs, hahah. So after finally meeting up in Asia, nothing much happened between us, which upon reflection of our compatibility, I’m ultimately grateful for.
Near the very end of our trip, amid all my emotional confusion, I got word that Ida Smith had died. I had spent a little more one-on-one time with her recently when I lived in Utah, and had great respect for her and loved her telling me about her more “feminist” ideals that she had brought into the church back in the day. Her death made me think for a while that I should go back to Utah and “help” however I was needed.. but back in the US, I still didn’t bring myself to do it. I was still confused. And I did not enjoy living in Utah, and I still hope I never have to again!
I got back to Idaho just in time and got permission from Dustin to see him before he moved to Thailand to teach English. I was risking hurting him more, which I usually have the self-determination to completely avoid when it comes to matters of the heart and having influence over men. But it was clear to me, as soon as he gathered the courage to come into the restaurant where we met, and I was in his presence again after 9 months, that I was again incredibly comfortable, and still in love with him. In the three days we had together before he left, I became more vulnerable and honest with him than I had with any man.
He didn’t stay long in Thailand – maybe a couple months- and as soon as he got back, we found a cheap basement room in a full house of 20-somethings in Boise, and we moved in together.
Dustin had never been in a serious or long-term relationship before me. I don’t know if any of his past relationships can be really compared to what I’ve felt with my friends and family over the years. He spent a lot of time alone as a kid, and grew up between cities, depending on which parent he lived with. Part of his childhood was spent in very diverse part of LA, and he was one of the only white kids, and he struggled socially and with self worth. I don’t think he ever quite got to be a kid, or feel safe, or to rely on others. I was happy to be a safe place for him, and show him unconditional love, even during the times when, in turn from his upbringing I think, he didn’t make me feel secure or that I could rely on him. I believed that he put more genuine effort in to self growth and improvement than I’d seen in our friends and peers, and I had an admiration for how he conducted himself and how I perceived that he chose to treat others, especially after slowly realizing the kind of childhood he had.
Maybe this is from how he was raised too – a huge appeal to me was that he didn’t feed my ego. We just existed together, basically side by side, left each other alone a lot, and admired each other, and met in the middle to collaborate on art or experience the world. Whenever he complimented me, I felt sure that it was coming from a place of sincerity, because I never saw him “flatter” people to manipulate them, only ever be honest. Through loving him and pouring into him, for the first time I didn’t feel the urge to meet and meet and meet people to find someone to fill a certain void of loneliness and make me feel loved. I never felt like “too much” for him! I could talk at him for DAYS and he listened and could FOLLOW and REMEMBER what I told him, and contributed in a way that challenged me to look at or understand things from a completely different perspective, usually without threatening my worth whatsoever. I felt seen and loved.
It was a learning curve though. Within about the first year of living together, Dustin realized that he was unhappy, because there were things about our relationship and his role with me that wasn’t him being true to himself. It took great effort for him to admit this to me, but his honesty and my responding receptiveness to “restructure”–to find alternatives together that might not be a traditional relationship but might make us both happy– set the tone for much of our future together. There was a lot of trial and error, yet over and over my love for him reasserted itself, and I felt like we got to know each other more and more deeply. It didn’t end up working out, but I don’t have regrets.
It was right after Dustin revealed to me that he was unhappy that led to the shift in our relationship, that I went to Utah for I think the official introduction of the Humanity Party. I had a lot of distaste for the Anonymous presentation. It made me feel embarrassed, and I struggled to invest in it, and emotionally I wanted to be back at home with Dustin since I’d just learned our relationship was on the rocks, and I left early. About an hour North of the Salt Lake library, borrowing my mom’s car, I was hit by a drunk driver going 100+mph running from a cop, and subsequently ping-ponged between about 4 other cars. The car was totaled, my driver’s seat even snapped behind my back, but I was completely fine. It occurred to me pretty quickly that if I hadn’t left the symposium early, I wouldn’t have been there or gotten hit and wrecked my mom’s car. (I’d rather it be me than others though. And my mom’s involvement I think ultimately was positive in a way for the kid who was responsible.)
My dad picked me up from the fire station where I waited, drove me all the way home to Boise, then turned around and went back to Salt Lake. My parents have sacrificed much of their time for me, and have consistently been great examples of service and kindness. I actually really treasured that ride with my dad, and the things we got to talk about.
That I was in a big car wreck I think impacted Dustin too, and opened his heart to me a little more and this allowed us to communicate and decide to make the effort to stay together. Our relationship was a whirlwind and an interesting learning experience from that point forward.
My love for Dustin was another big reason I started to question the “extroverted” space I can take up. He is usually introverted, and socialization and playing “the game” of success does not come as naturally to him as it can for me. He pursued music with a great deal of his heart, more than I have ever felt about any of my artistic pursuits. I think I could gain the praise/money/success that many desire, through the talents I’ve built up, if I were to desire and pursue that lifestyle. Especially since caring for Dustin, I started to struggle about the “morality” of it. I did not want to put my charisma or talents “in the way” of others who “needed” success more than I do, in that their dreams and value hinge on their perception of the possibility for them to succeed that way. I also became more aware of and very frustrated that the world is run, and the “rules” of success made by, whoever has the loudest, most “likeable,” aggressive, manipulative, or egotistical voices.
After more study of the books created by the Real Illuminati more recently, my own perspective of the arts, clothes, furniture – all the things that I have gathered around myself to try to express my own individuality – has changed dramatically. I still have vestiges of caring about those things all around me and in my habits and hobbies, but my need to feel seen and understood through the physical STUFF I’ve spent so much time focusing on has waned as I’ve learned to love myself more, because the works I’ve read.
Now on to my storm of experiences that were the next 5 years of my life, where I very much lost myself, from my own peace and from the Work, then finally made my way back again.
In the first couple years Dustin and I lived together, I had a breast tumor (that turned out to be benign) and I got pregnant and had an abortion. I felt that he did not know how to emotionally support me throughout these experiences, so I was very emotionally drained. (If I had had the tools then that I do now, I don’t believe I would have felt as drained, even without external support. I’ve been empowered to have peace and strength within my SELF. But would prefer a partner who supports me if I do struggle, as is human to do.) I think that the abortion was also a major test of Dustin’s trust in me, because getting pregnant was my fault – I stupidly thought I had figured out my (very irregular) cycle well enough to not get pregnant, and fully unprotected sex with him was an experience I wanted to have. It was great sex! But getting pregnant fractured some of Dustin’s comfort with me. Contributing to my going through the emotional and physical toll that I did for the abortion seemed to weigh heavily on him, as well as his own turmoil over what would be expected of him in the situation. As we had before restructured the expectations in our relationship, it became clear to both of us that he actually had no desire to be a father. He was neither interested in providing the kinds of stability a child would need, nor bringing a person into this world *without* offering that stability. Whenever I understood this, my respect for him deepened – so many men I’ve seen want children, and wives to bear them, for very selfish reasons, or simply because it’s “what you do,” or do not really care one way or another, and do not give a thought to the kind of accountability I think children deserve (..in theory. I know it’s an imperfect world and so no parent can be perfect, and the kids with messed up parents I’ve seen pretty much turn out “fine” anyway… according to the world). So, that Dustin acknowledged this about himself was cool to me. Plus he just didn’t ever feel comfortable around kids so… I filled my own desire to hang out with kids all the time and love on them and bask in their purity by working in childcare.
I have devoted much of my adult life to raising kids that are not my own. As far as I can be possibly aware, I love the children I spend time with as if they are my own, especially if I spend time with them when they are very young, and get to witness their initial “becoming.” I am very thoughtful and intentional about trying to help them become more balanced so that they can deal with the world as adults, though I often feel a despair, knowing they will inevitably struggle no matter what, and when I thought of all the ways I might just be messing them up (projecting my own personality or insecurities onto them, or otherwise taking away from their individuality or chances at free will or happiness). At those times part of me feels grateful I am not accountable for them existing in such a hard world, but that instead I can try to enrich the lives of children who already exist. And I truly wonder if I have kids, if it will be because I selfishly want to be surrounded by them to serve MY happiness, rather than I, theirs. It brings me so much joy to “work” with children and witness their sense of wonder and discovery. And after establishing some firm rules with them of doing unto others, and propelling them to hopefully feel supported and be self-sufficient in many ways, I felt like I basically got to sit back, and my job was simply… rewarding. I watched them be individuals, got to know them, laugh and dance and play with them, and be reminded to live in only the moment with them. It was a miracle to me that I got to be paid to do something that brought me so much joy.
When I finally read the Sealed Portion and came to a specific part about children, I cannot tell you how much it impacted me, and how much I wept. I’m in tears now just thinking about it. And thinking about an incredible moment of proof I experienced earlier the very same day I first read it, when a baby in my arms woke from a dead sleep and smiled looking into my eyes. Getting to be around kids really fills my lil ol heart immeasurably.
Back to the timeline: Just a few days after my abortion, I was feeling pretty relieved and peaceful, as Dustin and I had spent some quality time together discussing everything and I felt at last that he was being very caring toward me. That night we experienced a home invasion, which turned out about as well as could have possibly been hoped for. It was about 3am on a Monday night, and we woke up from a loud crashing sound upstairs, and yelling. Soon after, a couple guys with guns and masks came into our weird unfinished basement room and demanded that we give them our phones. They couldn’t find the light switch, or else I think they would have taken our electronics as they did from may of our other roommates. They led us upstairs and put us in a room with the rest of our housemates and Couchsurfers at gunpoint, while they looked for… whatever they were looking for. They said they were looking for someone who none of us knew… we later assumed that someone had used our house as a “burner” house, to avoid their dealer or something like that. It was the kind of wayward-souls house that could have easily been used for that.
The main takeaway I had from the experience was Dustin’s reaction. He stood between me and the gun, humbly submitted to whatever the guys told us to do, and remained calm the entire time. It may sound weird, but I felt completely safe. I have known many men who would have escalated, tried to fight back, argued, made intimidating faces, anything out of ego – but Dustin did nothing that made me feel anxious for our safety. That was very meaningful to me, and greatly grew my trust in and respect for him. The “invaders” left with our phones and threw them out the window down the highway so that we couldn’t call the police. I was able to track my phone with my laptop in the middle of the night and get ours back 😂 We found out later that the crash we’d heard was one of our roommates pulling out his gun and trying to fight back – they pistol whipped him and stole his gun. A lot of good it did us having it there – it just gave the other guys an extra gun. That roommate and his brother downstairs were both military I think, or just anarchists (? both maybe??) and the brother actually had some semi automatic in his room downstairs – he didn’t get to his gun either, but I think that just would’ve been another gun on us, or someone shot. I’m very glad nothing worse happened.
Whoof, I feel so long-winded. Anyway, a month or so later, Dustin and I traveled to Europe with my best friend I’d met in Denver. Dustin’d had braces since I met him, and got them off just before we left, and I hoped he’d start to see himself as I did, with a little more self-love and see that he’s “worthy” and desirable, so I suggested that while we were in Europe we have an open relationship, so that he could see that other women would want him. He didn’t exactly agree, or really respond that I remember, but while we were there I kind of pushed him and my friend together, since I had such love for both of them and wanted them to experience each other as I had. It didn’t exactly work at the time, yet I believe it was the catalyst to a very long, very messy experience that I’ll get into soon.
Meanwhile, we got back from Europe after a couple months and found another place to live. A few months later, it occurred to me that Dustin would soon want to marry me – even though I was already into the idea, I could sense a shift in how comfortable he felt with me. Turns out he had indeed been thinking about it, and we discussed it mutually, on St. Patty’s day right as some MDMA hit. One of the first things we talked about was still wanting to experience other people, which makes a lot of sense if you’ve ever tried molly 😂 But also we had it in our heads after Europe, and maybe as a result of our mutual spontaneous / adventure-driven personalities. Maybe part of me knew he wasn’t all I wanted in a partner. We talked about it more later while sober, and I told myself I was glad it a conversation rather than a “stressful” yes-or-no proposal. I told myself that meant I was more free, and that our roles were equal. Really on some level, I knew Dustin wasn’t willing to make classic romantic gestures and didn’t want them expected of him. I went and bought an engagement ring for myself at an antique store a couple months later.
A little over a week after we decided to get married, I heard that my friend Kinsey had died. I didn’t know what happened for a while, because her LDS family was pretty hush-hush about it, and I imagined it was possibly an overdose or drunk driving accident. But I later found out that she’d shot herself while drunk. Even before I knew it was suicide, I was devastated. I hadn’t kept in great touch with her since living with Dustin, but we’d visited her, and she’d visited me a few times in Idaho and befriended some of my best friends and high school friends. I’d been annoyed with her and ignored her for some months. I’d finally reached out a couple weeks before she died, and we had a very brief text conversation. I couldn’t help but wonder then if I’d been kinder to her, or a listening ear, she could have turned to me instead of her gun, or even before it came to that. This led to a lot of guilt and feeling accountabile for her death.
I texted Andrew to tell him, since they’d been friends, and he called me a couple months later when he was on a short visit in the US when living in Russia. I told him what happened. That, of all things, was the last thing I talked to him about. I asked him if he was going to the upcoming Game of Mortal Life book review event, and he said he didn’t know. We exchanged “I love you”s before hanging up, which I’m grateful for. (And now I’m digging in my memory to see if that’s a direct memory, or just a memory of a memory that I had or maybe created… oh well.)
I was motivated to go to the Game of Mortal Life book review, after I’d been hiatus-ing the Work, because I really wanted there to be a book that could have helped Kinsey. Her mind was messed up in some ways, she said because of doing a lot of ecstasy in high school, and she would sometimes speak with a slight stutter, or have trouble understanding things. I had in my head that the book should be simple and straightforward and “modern” enough in its explanations to give someone like her hope. At what was actually the peer review, I think unfortunately I was one of those who just wanted to state my own opinions and perceptions, and proved I wasn’t ready to receive the whole truth.
I really loved reading it though – I remember laying reading on a quilt in the front yard at the new house we moved in to with some of Dustin’s old friends, and thinking about Dustin every time I read about kids being trained by their parents and the world, away from their true desires. It seemed to me like much of Dustin’s personality was “raw” –it came from his own desires instead of from others, because he’d been alone so much throughout his childhood. Though it made it hard for him to live in the world at times, I felt like there was a lot I learned from him about being unfiltered, and doing what I wanted instead of trying to impress others. It made me want to marry him more.
Dustin and I got married about a month after the peer review, on a Tuesday in the courthouse. That following weekend we planned a party at our house as a celebration, without any vows or things like that, because tradition is not Dustin’s style. I don’t mind sappy public displays of affection so much, but I was not interested in making him feel obligated to do anything he wasn’t compelled to. He told me that in his view he was married to me as soon as we decided to be (papers and parties be damned). For our relationship didn’t want our wedding to be a display for others, and it was all pretty non-traditional. I organized and decorated the party in our back yard with help from my family, made my cake and my dress, and all for cheap!
The day before the party, I already had friends in town, including my best friend who’d gone with us to Europe. (She actually officiated our marriage – she was ordained even before we went to Europe in case we wanted to elope). We were having a small sort of party with our housemates, and she and Dustin disappeared for a while, and a few minutes afterward I went looking for them and found that, after all my pushing in Europe, they finally slept together then and there. What hurt much more than the sex itself was that they’d snuck off, and didn’t talk to me beforehand to make sure I would be okay. The main thing for me was that I didn’t get a “wedding night” with my new husband – the last few days we hadn’t had the chance. Or we just hadn’t desired it enough, I don’t know. (Our sex life had changed (majorly waned) after the abortion.) I decided quickly to forgive them, not wanting them to feel guilty, or for anyone I was going to get to see at the party the next day to have a negative experience, or admit to myself that I was already in a marriage that was hurtful to me. I realized “how it’d look” if anyone else knew what had happened. I felt ashamed. I don’t think it even occurred to me to get the marriage annulled. I was compelled to reach out and take care of my friend so that she wouldn’t feel guilt or sorrow, and at the party the next day I just acted like nothing had happened.
Dustin surprised me by putting our song on to dance to, and danced a song with my mom, (I didn’t expect him to do any traditional thing that would make him the center of attention, and have since wondered if he did romantic things throughout the day because he felt guilty) and I got to dance with my dad too. I was really happy that lots of people in the Work came, including C stopping by (spoiling me, again, with a large financial gift). It was cool to see some of my LDS family and members of the MWAW in the same back yard… if nothing else, it made me feel that my aunts who were willing to be around the man who lost their sister and her family from the church, must have really loved us enough to be there.
A few months later, I got word that Andrew was missing and they were expecting not to find him alive. When it was confirmed and I heard about what happened… I was a wreck. I hadn’t coped properly with Kinsey’s suicide 6 months before, and had placed the hope I had to not lose other friends to their sorrow, all in the Work… and here was another dear friend, who had access to all of it, who decided to end his life anyway. I could not escape the circles in my mind of there being no hope. My sense of loss was profound and enveloping, and I could not see any way out.
For a while, I distracted myself. There had started to be lots of parties at the house we lived in, and I became attracted to our housemate who owned the house. I could tell my husband was attracted to another girl often there partying with us, and we had about a 6 month period when we were both officially in polyamorous relationships. In theory… there’s love to go around, no one person can serve all our needs, we just need to have open communication with each other.. etc etc etc. I wonder how different things would have been had I read the MWAW books. But instead, I had this mess of a learning experience, that continued to be a mess long after breaking it off. This was a huge lesson for me in the consequences of exercising self-indulgence through sex, alcohol, drugs, and self-denial.
Had I been single, been making the effort to think clearly and act with intention, or wasn’t suffering from my own un-dealt-with sorrow, I think I would have chosen to steer romantically clear of the man who was my boyfriend, as I had with men of similar temperaments in the past. But part of me has always been attracted to confidence and power (said the woman). This lesson ultimately gave me a profound confirmation that it doesn’t work for my lasting happiness to indulge that side of myself. Through my relationship with that man, I began to feel justified in any of my own narcissism, as he praised me and my talents, got me high-paying design work and told me I deserved to demand more pay from my nanny job. He showered me with gifts, expensive dinners, and affection. He made me feel attractive and desired, and strong. He was practiced at sex and we had great chemistry. His sexual style and appetite was similar to my high school boyfriend’s, and I was very physically drawn to him. He treated me like a queen, when it came to the “desires of my flesh,” for as long as I was meeting his needs and desires the way he expected.
Looking back, I wonder if it hurt him deeply to know the depth of my love for Dustin. He volunteered many times that he accepted that my husband was my “priority.” From my own experience in polyamory, I think that’s a very emotionally complicated position to be in, and can pretty detrimental to self-worth. And I’m not sure if he was ever able to fully express his emotional needs to me–at the very least I failed to wrap my head around his needs. Ultimately I felt like there was a lot of guesswork, and poor communication between us. At first I trusted that our communication was impeccable and honest, and that he liked that I challenged and questioned and teased him for his ego. And he showed me moments of vulnerability that were very attractive to me. I was in love with him. Over time, he started to become upset with me when I scrutinized his morals, or when I acted independently of his expectations for me. I was judging and placing expectations on him, too. I think in many ways we both were trying to mold the other, and we created a very transactional relationship. After a time we struggled to reach compromises or understand one another. Due to the dynamic between us, I often felt that I had to compete with other women, sometimes my friends, to feel “bestowed” his attention or affection, even at times after we broke up. Competitiveness is not a feeling I like to have, and it might not have been his intention, because when I brought it up during our relationship he would express disappointment that I was not satisfied with his doing his best.
I was introduced to the concept of gaslighting as it circulated on social media, and I started to believe that’s what I was experiencing with my boyfriend. I started to feel that he was blaming me for his actions that hurt me. I did not think I’d ever become so deeply involved with a man I’d experience such feelings with, before acknowledging our incompatibilities. I started to become apprehensive of facing the kind of aftermath that would come with breaking up with him and hurting/upsetting him, since he was in a material position of power over both me and my husband as our landlord, and because he is well-liked and well connected among our friends and community. I’d seen how he’d treated and talked about others he’d personally ostracized, and knew that he’d immediately cut off and grown cold towards past exes. But we did have a brief breakup amid the experience, and it became clear that I might be wrong, because he showed meekness and willingness to stay in my life even if we didn’t have a romantic relationship. This warmed my heart and compelled me to make another effort with him. I do think that for a time he deeply loved me too, and he might have done anything for me if I wanted it from him. But in retrospect there were many ways our relationship wasn’t balanced, and I don’t see now how it could have been.
Meanwhile, I struggled with my husband’s relationship with his girlfriend. Together they and others often drank lots of alcohol and used many drugs, (at some point I’d had enough of drugs, and my boyfriend and I would go to bed earlier in the night while the others continued drinking) and it got to the point when I decided to split finances from Dustin. The more I saw them together and felt jealousy at the comfort and sexual attraction my husband had with his girlfriend, the less I wanted to be around him with her there. This caused big problems in their relationship, though at the time I believed it should just be fine for me to stay away from them. But many times my actions upset or hurt her, when I treated my husband in her presence with love, and no longer felt compelled to, or comfortable with, interacting with her as a friend. Especially when this occurred after her and I had our own sexual encounter. It may have hurt or confused her that I didn’t seek that more from her, since most given the opportunity honestly probably would.
She is very beautiful and very sensual, and she has attractive mannerisms and operates on what appears to me to be a level of light-heartedness and desire that makes people comfortable. Many people are drawn to her beauty and mystery and want to stay close to her. I’m pretty sure she was LDS and had been married before, but not in the temple. I knew little about her family life, I just thought at the time that it didn’t sound healthy. I reached out to her to try and repair things when I saw the emotional stress Dustin was under, and I thought she and I could grow to be on the same page. But I struggled to trust her. I saw many people I cared about hurt by how she treated them, and I grew protective over others from her actions. At times she treated Dustin and another good friend with what I considered at the time to be verbal or emotional abuse, and I felt so protective over them, and hurt in my own value, that unfortunately my compassion for her ran out. I did not have a lot of fortitude or love within me at that point. By the time her and Dustin broke up I was very relieved. A friend asked me about it in a public bathroom the next day and the girlfriend overheard me saying how relieved I was. I was being honest at the time, but I regret that I not being kind, and might have hurt her more than she already had been.
A few weeks after breaking up, Dustin missed her, and they got together to talk. I was very apprehensive of this, but knew it was his decision. I was back with my boyfriend at the time, so I couldn’t blame Dustin for wanting his own other partner, though I couldn’t tell you exactly what was going on in his heart. Dustin told me that in their conversation, she insinuated that he should leave me for her – that they would work, but only if I wasn’t around. He wouldn’t talk to me for a day afterward, and when he at last told me what they’d discussed, I sensed his resentment toward me over losing her, so in my hurt I told him I didn’t want to be settled for and he should pursue her. Being very unwilling to become like a “trap” for anyone else is the other side to my “freedom” coin. We split up, but he said he still wanted to stay married to me. He said many times, before and after, that I’m the only person he could ever marry. It was all very emotionally confusing, and I left town over a long weekend to distance myself from the whole situation. The girlfriend wound up not accepting his efforts, and she soon moved in with a new boyfriend.
I was such an emotional mess. I had already really been struggling before our polyamorous relationships started to fall apart. On the surface and on social media, I was seemingly happily dating and partying with everyone, but in reality I had intense drops into depression. I considered suicide myself many times. Nearly every time everyone in the house/group got together for a party, a couple drinks in, I would truly feel that mortality was a pointless and negative experience, and separate myself from all my friends, and my two partners. I’d wonder if anyone would come and find me or help me, and my aloneness and all of our self-centeredness was continually being confirmed and amplified in my mind. I would just weep. When or if someone did find me, they didn’t know how to help me. Dustin and I had been growing understandably distant, my boyfriend told me I could decide to be okay, and I didn’t feel supported. I didn’t feel like I could trust any of my other friends with my vulnerability, including my (Denver-Europe) best friend who I had forgiven, yet still didn’t fully trust. It was weeks and weeks of that. I knew exactly where my boyfriend kept his gun. (GUNS. AAGH) After a hard experience for me with my boyfriend pursuing another girl and not acknowledging it to me, I finally reached out to my brother Christopher for help. Through conversation with him I at last found some semblance of perspective and stability, without which I don’t know how I could have hacked it through til the end. He’s been a support for me in some profound ways over the years.
I traveled to Croatia with my still-boyfriend, as we’d already planned, though I was feeling that I just wanted to spend my time with Dustin and heal together in the aftermath of what felt like him choosing someone else over me. When I met up with the boyfriend I asked about a hickey he had, and found out that he’d had an affair with someone while he was on a business trip overseas. He told me since I wasn’t caring for him, of course he would look elsewhere. I still don’t know if he was fully honest with me about some of the situation. And I was just… whoof. Incredibly exhausted. I felt like I deserved to be hurt. At that point I was really questioning my worth, and didn’t feel truly valued by anyone who was claiming to love me. So much of this looks to me now like the negative affects sex can have.
Meanwhile, Dustin slept with another girl who’d been pursuing him, and who was also essentially my boyfriend’s other girlfriend, an ex-Mormon who was our drug hook-up who was staying in the house. I’d already struggled over her, namely when the boyfriend and I had briefly broken up–I realized in a crash-course of a day of finding them together, that they wanted to sleep together, and I felt overwhelmed and like my boyfriend was really unwilling to communicate with me about it. I was very emotionally all-over-the-place. So by the time we were overseas together, I was finally completely SPENT and I broke up with my boyfriend, and was thankfully at least self-aware enough to admit the whole thing was completely my fault, and that I wasn’t cut-out for handling all this at once.
I got back home, was relieved the other girl living in the house had moved out in the aftermath of sleeping with Dustin, and my post-fling husband was an emotional wreck, and lost his job, and I* was an absolute emotional wreck. It was a very difficult few months, trying to emotionally support my struggling husband while sorting through my own hurt with him, while tiptoeing and trying not to upset landlord/ex-boyfriend, while still feeling attracted to him in many ways, and navigating our breakup, and then later as he brought other women into the house. I clearly was still… very unclear. And in that mental state and environment I didn’t know how to GET clear.
After a few months of attempted emotional repairs, I went on another trip, just for myself, this time to Costa Rica with my good friend who I’d traveled to Australia with. The night I left, Dustin started a bender and had a one night stand with someone else in the peripherals of our group of friends. That was a catalyst for me. I told him that I was moving out, and that if we were anything we were monogamous, and that if so, he needed to show me he’d sorted himself out. I gave him the choice, and many outs. I was also incredibly relieved to have a reason to move out of that house that I knew wouldn’t make my ex upset at me, to try to distance myself from the whole environment. It kind of worked.
My ex was a big support in helping me move out, and I lived alone in a Christian couple’s basement. Before my move out, the ex told me that he thought Dustin was addicted to molly, and wouldn’t change unless he “hit rock bottom,” but if he did hit rock bottom, he would die. With the recent suicides and my own emotional turmoil, that really impacted me. I held my conviction not to date again, and tried to have a friendship with him instead. He still took care of me in a lot of ways, and that even wound up including that I totaled his mom’s car. I was borrowing it and on the way to pick up my own car from the shop, and got in a wreck with someone making an illegal left turn. I wasn’t “at fault” and the ex told me not to feel guilty about it, but I saw how much work it caused him and his sweet mom, and I did feel very guilty. And with that and since Dustin was in the passenger seat and could have been hurt, powerful feelings were reignited in me that there was no part of life I could control to protect people I care about.
After a while my ex’s and I’s relationship evolved to where I was advising him about women he was having flings with – which as you can imagine did not go emotionally smoothly. It got harder for me to feel comfortable around him, and at some point he told me I wasn’t allowed in his house (where my husband still lived). He just wanted me to have a conversation with him, but I had reached a point where I was so emotionally fragile that I was fearful of talking to him, and had become completely discouraged, feeling that nothing I had done, or could do, or say, could ever help our relationship. I always strive for “ends” to be as positive as possible with partners, who’ve clearly meant a lot to my heart. So as I lost hope of being able to repair our relationship, I profoundly felt like a failure. And I would just lose value and confidence whenever I tried to talk to him. Then I feared that if I didn’t talk to him, he would still do things to “get at” me, through my friends or even through Dustin. The night he kicked me out he provided molly and did some with Dustin – after telling me my husband was addicted and could die. That really stung. I was often hurt in any case, whether he at all intended to hurt me or not. It was months later when I let my pride and ego dictate my actions over damn MONEY and he and I finally completely stopped communication for a few years. I felt bitter and resentful, and for a long time convinced myself I was justified in blaming him for things not ending positively between us. Now I know it’s on me that I didn’t find a way to let go of judgments, and be more humble and loving. The negative feelings I suffered for the years afterward was a hell I created for myself.
After spending half a year in the basement I rented, having space away from much of the environment and the people of the previous party house, eventually I was satisfied with Dustin’s conviction to be with me and be monogamous. We got an apartment together and at last had a relatively uneventful 6 months.
I got to a point where I was far enough out of the situation that I began to grow aware that nothing I had done to “have fun” and feed my self-indulgence had brought me any kind of real happiness. I was drawn back to the Work, and decided that I wanted to Will everything to the Trust. I told my husband, even though I was terrified that he’d be really upset with me about it (I knew my ex would have been–and it took me quite a while to excavate his opinions of me out of my head). I explained to Dustin that I was not happy, and that I knew that whatever I had been doing had not been working. I thought the Will might feel unfair to him since we were talking about buying a house, but.. Dustin just told me, “you should do it! You obviously want to – you should!” and not to worry about him, since he’s always figured things out for himself. I was reminded about how Dustin was not possessive over me or the things I own. This meant a great deal to my heart in that moment.
I was listening to certain MWAW radio show episodes in that era and decided not to “selfishly” partake of the Work if I wasn’t confident that my lifestyle or relationships would be harmful to Chris, so after setting up my Will, and adding my bank accounts and car titles to the Trust, and writing a new story, (not this one) freshly coming out of all my haze of misery, I did not request to receive the password for Christopher’s blog and still kept some distance.
Eventually my husband held hands with a friend of mine while drunk and I went, “wait wait nope, I need to trust you… that’s not monogamy.” We came close to splitting up again, and in our conversation Dustin had the idea to move to a new city and finally reset from the difficult history we had in Boise. He’d already really been wanting to leave his college town and see if there are opportunities for him to make music. I told him I had to consider whether that was JUST a bandaid, or according to his actions, worth it to me to take the “gamble.” So while he went ahead to Nashville in January to get established, I stayed behind to decide whether I wanted to follow him there.
I spent time gathering my thoughts, living with one dear friend, making art, and traveling to Asia right as the pandemic hit, then experiencing quarantine. I found I was still struggling emotionally and judgmental of people around me, if I considered their actions to be “unsafe” or “irresponsible” during the pandemic. I still had a lot of hurt and anger and hadn’t found any semblance of real peace. I did decide to make the move to Nashville, largely because I was tired with Boise too, and the life I built there.
I got to go to the MWAW Mountain a couple times with my family before the move, and see Chris for the first time in a few years. I didn’t expect to be invited. I sensed for a couple years there that I was not a good reflection on the Work. I knew my emotional state was not stable. I told myself many times that I did not deserve to have access to Chris or his new writings, because I was not willing to invest as much time and emotional effort as I see my parents do, or as I did when I worked at Filtagreen. I want Chris to be surrounded by people he can lean on for strength, and I did not want to be a burden to or even in the awareness of our messenger, as I knew I was not living and coping correctly in the world.
It occurred to me that I believed that about myself in large part due to my relationship with my mom. Maybe it has been a role of hers to protect Chris from me. But I realized that my relationship with her has been perhaps the biggest stumbling block for me wanting to be close to the Work. My mom and I have a lot of similarities in my mind, and I think that “mirror” has been a major test of my ego for much of my life. Feeling like she’s thought she’s known better than me about my life choices over the several years before wounded my desire to be close to the source of what was perhaps her expertise, or perhaps her own flesh, or both. And since I knew she was trusted by Chris, if ever she did not approve of me, I felt that he probably didn’t either. It hurt me deeply to sense that she thought I was wrong or prideful, especially considering that her opinion of me was the FIRST outside my own that I “tuned in” to and valued, and much of my self-worth was been built upon it. I had to make sure that I was involved with the Work for myself, and not to earn her love or approval. Then I had to recognize that becoming defensive toward her, regardless of why, is another way I had to learn to instead be humble if I wanted to be close to and involved with the Work.
There was some kind of shift in me on the ride home after being kicked out the second time I went to the cabin. It occurred to me that at one point Chris had fed my ego, and offered to pay me to write something for the Real Illuminati, because I showed that in a way I thought I knew better than them. My mom had told me the day before how prideful I am, and part of my ego had already been broken down in feeling that she did not see or understand what I had truly been through and what I was internally striving for for the past several years. On the ride home, so much that I learned finally all kicked in… and I figured out how to be humble for a minute. I hope I’m humble enough for more. But often my flags all go up and I feel like my ego is being tested.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever fully understand why Chris called me on multiple recent occasions his “hero.” My brother asked me about it, and I had to think. The only thing I can imagine is that… I’m the EPITOME of a naturally egotistical and prideful person. I’m self-centered, self-serving, image obsessed, and judgmental. I’m lucky enough to be born into the United States, have functioning genes, a strong mind, talents, strong and loving parents, and the awareness and habits of absolute freedom to do whatever I want in this world. And with ALL THAT ego and freedom, I now choose to stand behind Christopher, the Real Illuminati, and the Marvelous Work and a Wonder, REGARDLESS OF HOW IT MAKES ME LOOK. Others with an ego like mine cannot claim they had no chance of being able to do it.
In my Special Edition of the 666 book that I got in 2006, in part, C wrote, “The moment I first touched your hand, I was satisfied to know that you would grow to judge the world as your example shows: it can be done!”
I’d been judgmental of myself and others in so many incorrect and unloving ways over the years. But when I read that inscription as I was unpacking in Nashville, it hit me right in the heart when I REALIZED–I was being no example whatsoever by keeping silent, IN MY EGO “waiting for the right moment,” when I would feel like I’ve caught up to everything I’m supposed to, or being a perfect example of the gospel, before making a statement saying that I support the Real Illuminati and the Marvelous Work and a Wonder. I already knew that they are everything they claim to be, even if I hadn’t read every word or understood every concept.
I decided at the time to make a bit of a leap to stand for what I believe in, and wrote this post: https://www.facebook.com/mortalhusk/posts/10160400815834741
I don’t know now whether making any kind of announcement was the kindest way to “do unto” my facebook friends, but at the time it represented a shift in my willingness to embrace the Work regardless of how it made me look to my peers.
After moving to Nashville, I began to pick up more and more momentum to read and study the books and pay close attention to all the information presented through Christopher. Living in a new city during a pandemic did lend some emotional safety in my relationship with Dustin, and in the peace and through focusing on the work, I began to really reflect on what brings me the most true, lasting happiness. Within just a few months my mental and emotional state began to heal, and my inner balance and even sense of humor began to flood back. Then I started to enact tangible changes in my life to be brave and more aligned with my honest self, and to do what makes me happy. I was finally able to acknowledge to myself and then to Dustin that I would like to have kids someday, and I realized that I want to devote my life and attention to supporting the Work. So we decided to divorce.
I moved into my own little attic apartment in Nashville in 2021. As time has passed, I feel like I’m continually learning, and evolving into a version of myself that I feel such peace and JOY in being. After 16 years out of the church, I finally read the Sealed Portion, and even just that one book (of SCRIPTURE nonetheless) affected so much change over my heart and mind. The Work has not only helped me understand myself and others in a way of love and patience I’ve never before experienced, but it’s also unravelled every layer of hurt and anger and guilt in my past. I’ve pondered and worked to apply the simple Fullness of the Gospel into my daily life, and have felt immense relief and peace facing recent situations that could have devastated me a few short years ago. I’ve been empowered to heal past relationships and treat myself and others with an authentic love that all human beings deserve, and that I understand to a dimension I’d never before even conceptualized, and still can’t describe. All that’s not even to mention feeling like all my questions and curiosities about the nature of whole universe are being answered. Meanwhile my humor and playfulness have returned to me, and I get to spend my days serving whoever I come across, serving the Work, and serving the authentic SARA.
My whole life and heart feel like they’re filling with light. I feel like I’ve finally found myself.
Hopefully some insight into how my mind and heart operate can help someone.. anyone.. but especially Chris somehow.
Now thank GOD I’m done writing this. 😊