Today (well, yesterday by now, but I haven’t gone to bed yet, so it’s still today) I had my second appointment with my therapist. I filled out the evaluating quiz again, rating how often I felt anxious and depressed and the numbers confirmed what I suspected—what I’d felt—that my anxiety has gone down the barest amount, but my depressive symptoms have gone up.
A couple weeks ago, my anxiety kept me from going to an event where Andrew Torres was speaking about secularism and the law, even though I had every intention of going the previous day. This was another thing that I spoke to my therapist about: the “fortune telling” about my fears that I wouldn’t fit in, I’d be socially inept, that parking in an unfamiliar town would be a nightmare. Just as last time, my emotions were running high during the meeting with my therapist, which stayed with me as I left and continued on with my day.
It was only a couple hours until I was at the second atheist gathering that I’d ever been to (the first was the GAM Live in Chicago back in January). My friend Ris had a live show for her 100th episode on her original show, the Inciting Incident Podcast. The same anxieties reared their heads, but the need to seek out community, to go outside the house and build new relationships, had me fighting these feelings of awkwardness.
Just like the first meetup, I was again struck by the friendliness, openness, and acceptance in the atheist community. I wasn’t sure if I should introduce myself as my given name or as Molly. I have to admit, I was more than surprised that when I said Molly, there were a couple of people who recognized that. “Oh! You were just on Bryce’s show!” (Well, yes and no. I gave him the audio of his guest visit and he tacked it into his show.)
I started chatting with another ex-Mo, and it was so wonderful. She offered emotional support and encouragement. “You’re born with your family, but friends are the family that you choose. These—” She pointed around the auditorium. “—All these people are your family now.” It’s a saying that’s been repeated through the ages, but when you don’t feel that you can tell your family that you don’t believe the tripe that you were raised thinking was “holy” and you’re in a fairly new area in which there are very few you know outside of work, it can be comforting to be reminded of this fact.
I especially enjoyed speaking with Heath of Scathing Atheist and God Awful Movies fame after the show. I’ve found it to be very therapeutic to share some of my experiences of being raised in the Church, especially with those who haven’t had much Mormon interaction. We spoke a bit about the magic underwear, the temple bouncers, and my resentment that I couldn’t attend my sisters’ weddings. Can I be blamed if I feel validated in my feelings when someone else is offended with me at the injustices that the Church has inflicted?