It's hard to slow down

by introvertedme dec 2011

I'll include some of this in my exit story, but was thinking about it this morning. I'm working on untangling what is truly part of my personality and what has been so ingrained and indocrinated in me that I think it's part of me when it really isn't.

My father was always a seriously driven person, though usually not in a good way. He is evil, but he put across a stunningly successful facade to everyone so ward members always thought we were so lucky to be related to such a spiritual giant. My mother was supremely gifted and talented, but was smashed down and emotionally abused by my father, so much so that she lost not only much of her personality and ability to function, but, in the end, some of her mind - literally, I mean. An MRI showed parts of her brain missing. I know, probably mostly due to genetic problems and such, but I'll always believe that he was at least partly responsible for her death. During her life, though, she was driven, though for different reasons - she felt she had to be the perfect Mormon wife (they converted when I was very young). She spent ungodly amounts of time trying desperately to do everything required, especially at that time (the 70's was the worst) - making bread, grinding her own wheat, making our clothes, looking perfect, keeping a perfect house, looking good to everyone even though her life was a living hell, etc.

So, now I reflect on who I am. I am constantly driven Do anything and everything. I have achieved great things in education and music, I do huge amounts of work at home (usually with projects I love, but still...), and can never really sit still and just enjoy life. I feel I always have to be doing...something. I can't just sit and watch a t.v. show - I'm researching online or folding socks or whatever. I find I usually just cannot stop. Is it me? Is it how I was raised?

So, my question to you all is - as you leave, or left, the "church" did you find it difficult to slow down and enjoy life? Did you feel you had to keep busy doing anything and everything because that's how members are treated - with endless busy work so they don't have time to think and act on their own? I'm working on allowing myself to enjoy life, stop working on things every minute of the day, taking a short nap if I need it, and so forth, but I feel guilt because I'm not...well, working on something. I've made my husband nuts for years because I can't slow down. I always thought it was just part of my personality, but now I have to wonder how much of it was pounded into me as a young church member. ?

Re: It's hard to slow down
Just a quick reply- the thing that remained most impressed in my mind was the huge sigh of relief and the feeling of true peace when it dawned on me that it was all a farce.

It does leave you wondering with the question 'what now?', but I've felt amazingly tranquil since my epiphany.

I'm with you on this . . .
I also can't seem to relax, but I do find ways to waste time (like spending too much time here and other methods of procrastination), so I'm not all productive. ;-)

Yeah, sometimes my husband feels uncomfortable, too, when he comes home from work and I'm running around doing house stuff and he just wants to relax. He wants me to slow down.

I've talked about this plenty with a sibling of mine, who also has similar tendencies. I'm not sure if it's genetic, or if it's because we both got the strong message--not even sure if it was spoken or just absorbed--But we both struggle with the feeling that it isn't okay to relax until everything is done (which is basically NEVER).

I was in family (plus church and music) culture where a person's value was very much performance-based. (BTW, music is another an area where you can never rest on your past accomplishments. You have to maintain your skills, you can never know everything there is to know, there is always some new challenge . . . which I actually love . . . but I always come up quite short of perfection, which is OKAY, but somehow I feel have fallen short of where I could be).

I've read all sorts of books that should help me overcome this, but it's still a problem. (Simple Abundance, The Joy Diet, Take Time for Your Life, etc). I guess now I at least have the idea that I should take time for myself, chill out a bit, and learn to enjoy life.

If you find a cure, be sure to tell me.

Think about the indoctrination you experienced
For years you were exhorted by the followers of former exhorter Joseph Smith to "always be anxiously engaged in a good cause." You attended seminars where you were taught that your day was like a glass vase filled first with big rocks (major top priority tasks), then medium rocks (less important but still vital tasks), small rocks (preparatory tasks which make larger tasks easier later) and then... (the speaker would demonstrate) LOOK! you can still fill the vase with rice!

Who knew there was so much empty time between tasks! Waiting on the phone? File recipes. Rocking the baby to sleep? Great time to dictate your oral history, etc.

I know because I taught those seminars.

Some of my fellow Super Moms have recanted and publicly stated they regretted following a daily planner so closely they pushed their children away during Big Rock time. Too late now, they say, those Big Rocks have given them a Cat's in the Cradle relationship with their children.

Sooooo...naturally, I have the same problem. I am almost always multi-tasking. Over time, I have tried to get to the underlying feelings when I do only one thing. Depending on the activity, if it is fun, I feel guilt.

For example, if I am seeing a beautiful sunset, I feel bad that I don't have a child with me. As though my viewing it by myself was somehow a waste of a good sunset. I'm exaggerating, of course, but you see the underlying mindset.

If I am watching a movie, since I should be always engaged and have many projects lined up, I better fold laundry or sort photos at the same time. This is the value that my time is not my own, that I have promised to hurl into the Mormon volcano all my talents, time, money and possessions.

The promise is long gone but years of conditioning do stay and some artifacts of Mormon brainwashing will always be with you. But, like having HIV, you can learn to live with it and keep it from limiting your joy.

*YOU ARE OK THE WAY YOU ARE. Realize that this is how you are today and that's OK. There is nothing wrong with you the way you are, and the improvements you make in the future will simply be icing on the cake.

*THINKING IS HUMAN. You were taught for years that the Brethren did the thinking, and if there were conflicts in their thinking, God would sort it all out in the hereafter, so you thinking about it is a waste of time. How do we stop ourselves from thinking? We keep ourselves too busy. Even when the need for avoiding thinking has passed, we have the habit. There is nothing to avoid now, but unfortunately, thinking doesn't seem like we are DOING anything. FACT CHECK: Thinking is an activity uniquely human--it's what elevates us above the animals and inspires human creativity. Ever wonder why Mormon art sucks? No encouragement for incubating ideas, pondering. All human achievement began with thinking, which looks like doing nothing.

*MEDITATION. Learning the technique of refocusing attention on the present pays off dividends. Lower blood pressure, less stress-related illness, calmer mind. I was amazed that I could sit and "do nothing" for twenty minutes and feel so much better. We are simply not designed to be "doing" every waking moment. After learning to relax after concentrating on the cold air in my nostrils, I now can relax when chaos is all around me by simply closing my eyes for a moment and feeling the breath in my nose. All my tenseness vanishes--seriously, it feels like a magic trick!

*NEVER HURRY. Allow one whole extra hour to be places for appointments or to pick people up. I call this Daisy Time (for allowing time to get there early and enjoy the present moment in the environment). As a huge side benefit, when I forget something and go back home, it's not a big deal. When there's a traffic accident on the way, guess what? It's no big deal. I used to set my alarm to be on time to appointments. Now I make appointments that include time for myself to relax and not be rushed.

*MORALS & VALUES. Sometimes leaving Mormonism puts people in free fall regarding their entire backbone of morals and values. We may feel anxious because we don't know what we believe. Or what we believe feels blurry and uncertain compared with the (phony) certainty of Mormonism. This underlying anxiety can be cured by Emergency Values. Pick up the book "THE FOUR AGREEMENTS" and keep it in the bathroom. It is very small and is ideal because you can say, "OK, I will live by these four principles until I sort out the existence of God question..." They are basic but very, very powerful. The author also speaks about how we became conditioned socially and how to break those lessons and free ourselves to become what we always were destined to be.

That's the person you are seeking when you ask, "Is this just how I am?" We became the Stepford Wife that the church wanted each person to be. They stomp out individuality and even demand compliance regarding trivia, like where hair grows and how many piercings, etc... What you are going through is what all people experience when we individuate as teenagers.

We have to do it again after being freeing ourselves from a cult . Thank goodness you were able to do that. So many are not--it is an amazing accomplishment and a tribute to your personal value of integrity.

Oh, I wanted to mention that I derive great satisfaction from crocheting. It is immensely soothing and keeps my children and grandchildren in slippers. Very productive work with a repetitive, soothing effect. I made peace with my brain, visualizing her as the proverbial hamster on a wheel. I am managing so far without meds. I design my life around maintaining a joyful mental state and the needs of my body FIRST, everything else second.



Re: It's hard to slow down
My ex was like this. I don't have a problem lounging. Lots of times I like to work on a craft while watching or it is a good time to fold the laundry. I'll run and do the dishes or other tasks during commercials, but I can lounge and watch a movie. My ex always took this as lazy. He would get so uptight when I left dishes to soak while I watched my show...whatever. What I observed from the Mormons is they're always busy doing stuff. When not trying to keep up after the mess a family of 7 can produce, you're off to some church function or school function or shopping or the home teachers show up...busy, busy, busy. It looked so exhausting to me.

Have you considered meditation?--just starting with a few minutes a day.
Or perhaps pick one task and deliberately do it more slowly than usual. You'll get some good information about yourself that way.

Re: Think about the indoctrination you experienced
Wow, incredibly insightful as always (I am now going to have to make a separate folder for Anagrammy's wisdom snippets in my collection of posts)

(1) Nomination for Exmo Conference speaker!

Raptor Jesus
Wine really does take the edge off.
It makes tasks that should be enjoyed but can be frantic a lot more fun and relaxing.

Re: It's hard to slow down
imaworkinonit - you're so right about music. It has always been my identity, how I validated myself, and how I showed worth to the church. I felt I could never do or play enough to make everyone happy. At one point I was ward organist, primary pianist, choir pianist, and filled in for R.S. and other functions as well. It was ridiculous. I do pretty well in my music, but I felt I still fell short of doing even MORE to get better and to play for a million more meetings. What a waste of time.

Anagrammy - I am knocked out by how similar we are, in thoughts and actions. When reading your post it was as though I was taking in my own thoughts. You're so wise, and I appreciate the time you take on posts like these - I really need them and gain more out of them than anyone would imagine. I remember the rocks-in-vases lessons so well. (sigh) I was telling my husband about this thread - he doesn't really get it, though he tries, and I told him one of the main reasons for that is that the young men in the church aren't forced to sit through lessons that teach you to be a super-kid and super-mom all the time. Girls are taught to strive for temple marriage and do insane amounts of good works, charitable efforts, homemaking skills, and so forth, but even back then I remember having some glimmer of an idea that it was all so stupid and self-serving by the church. It might be life-long, learning how to disentangle myself from the decades of indocrination in all this, but it is a journey I'm looking forward to. The freedom! The joy! Things I never had as a member. Your comments about sorting things during t.v. time and dictating an oral history during baby quiet time are spot-on - that is EXACTLY what I was talking about. Now that I'm pushing 50 I'm STILL doing these things, to the point of near insanity sometimes. I'm driving not only my husband crazy, but me too! I love to be productive and I have much I want to do in life, but I need to learn to balance things better and not feed into the "hurling of time and talents" that has been pounded into every woman's head.

BTW, funny you should mention crocheting - I recently bought a lot of supplies because I feel impelled to work on a quiet, comforting activity that produces tangible, productive results - I need to learn, right from the start, but I hope to make simple afghans soon. I do a LOT of scrapping (family history in scrapbook form), which I love and will never give up, but I recently realized that I don't have to do all the ancestor-type research and work. I chronicle my own family and work on related projects, and I'll never give that up, but oddly enough, crocheting has caught my attention and I'm determined to figure out how to do it.

Re: It's hard to slow down
Everyone is so spot-on here. What a relief to know it's not really just me. The frantically spinning hamster wheel never seemed right, never seemed appealing or desirable, in any way even when I was trying to be "good" and do all that was asked of me. It just didn't make sense and I often felt incredible resentment and anger, which then made me feel guilty because I wasn't glad for the "privilege" of spending all my time, money, and emotion on the "church". As is always the case with TSCC, you literally cannot win for losing.

ima mentioned Simple Abundance - I recommend that book highly to everyone, BTW. Excellent in every way. Another is The Reenchantment of Everyday Life.

There is a flip side to slowing down too much
I also was the ward musician for YEARS. That was my identity. I left the church over ten years ago. We moved overseas and never missed it. Recently relocated and thought I would check out going back, mostly for my child who was having trouble fitting into the school. Thought she would enjoy the youth, plus I knew the program. Long story short, it was a BIG mistake.

Now I find myself back on Again another long story.

Bottom line is I have slowed down to the point I'm bored! Beyond bored. I miss using my musical talent. I'm struggling to find my passion again and find something that "fits". I have long given up on religion which where I live is not easy to do. There are churches everywhere, and one of the first questions my kids were asked at school is "where do you go to church?" uh...nowhere..

So yes slow down and smell the roses, just don't forget to plant them first.

Re: It's hard to slow down
OMG, I'm in the same spot, basically! I miss doing music SO MUCH! I actually struggle now with a panic disorder, which has kept me from playing in public for 3 1/2 years, but I'm working on that and can hopefully perform again soon. Performing is in my blood - it's who I am. Although I've performed in a million different types of situations and venues I did church stuff most. So, now that I'm out I feel adrift - where do I play? How do I do music without the church structure there? It's so easy to network and move around within church channels - there are endless opportunities to play (though they use and abuse that till you're burned out), and without that I don't know what to do or where to go. I'm right where you are - what's next? How do we go about it? I can do lots of different kinds of music, but it's odd to strike out on my own and not have that LDS identity backing me up (we live near Logan - major Mormon town here, of course). If you figure it out let me know!

Even after going inactive
I was NOW a single mother and had to work 2 jobs and raise my twins (let alone take care of my extended family--I was always the enabler).

I got to a point that I don't enjoy what I used to enjoy like READING A BOOK. I was always thinking, "I need to be working, I need to be working." I could never measure up either--I always set my work goals waaaay too high and my two jobs made it possible (as I work production doing medical records) that I could work any time. It has only been in the past few years that I don't work 24/7, but I still can't enjoy reading a book and I always got all the awards for reading so much when I was in school. I finally enjoy movies again--outside the home. I sleep if I lay down to watch TV.

I do crochet afghans. I do have an easy pattern that I've used for over 30 years and made tons of afghans. It makes me feel I'm productive while watching TV and keeps me awake if there is something I really want to watch--

But I do have OCD in terms of every weed in my yard needs to be gone before I'm done with yard work. I just swept the gutter for the second time this week. That damn ice now has leaves in there I can't get rid of. I don't know where I got this from--but I don't know that it was necessarily mormonism.

Re: Wine really does take the edge off.
Thinking seriously about this, R.J. It's actually a big step for me - the indocrination is deep. Besides, I have a somewhat addictive personality and I'm afraid I might like it a bit too much. :) I keep trying drink coffee, though it upsets my system and makes me sick, and I'm considering trying some very, very lightweight beer and/or wine (proponents for both and against the other are numerous). I never, ever thought I'd get to this point, but I love it - at least I'm making decisions on my own rather than through fear and intimidation. Woot. :)

Raptor Jesus
I'm glad you're taking baby steps.
You won't like your first glass of either wine or beer. It takes some getting used to.

Statistically speaking, you will most likely not have any issues with alcoholism. But that indoctrination runs DEEP.

The board has great ideas for a first glass to try.

Perhaps you have thought of this but . .
One always welcome venue for performers is extended care homes, especially those that have large Alzheimer's residents.

I guarantee that you can call them up at almost a moments notice and the staff are always eager to have distractions or other amusements going on. It is a really great way to work on a set or just get out and perform with no concern about the audience, who will appreciate you no matter if you are good or bad.

Use some LDS material if it helps you get into the groove, no one will care (or be converted either).

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/02/2011 05:49PM by rodolfo.

Re: Perhaps you have thought of this but . .
Good idea. I've done that a lot, but haven't for a few years now. I'm odd in that the smaller the audience the less comfortable I feel - the more people the better. I've played in front of 15,000 people and in front of just a couple, and I'll take the 15,000 any day. Still, I need to start somewhere. I've done a ton of musicals, through high schools and community theater, performed for several years with a group very similar to BYU's Young Ambassadors, lots of choral stuff, accompanying soloists and groups, whatever. Doesn't matter - I love it all. It still feels weird, though, to look at performing in strictly secular situations.

Learning to crochet
Crocheting is easier than knitting and is far more forgiving, which makes it perfect for those of us who use it to assist with nerves or Anxiously-Engaged Syndrome (that's what I call it!).

It is FAR easier to learn if someone shows you how to hold the thread in your left hand. Someone told me there are YouTubes now that do this quite well, so you might consider looking for instruction there.

For those of you with eyesight problems OR who fidget as a passenger driving at night, crocheting is the way to go. You can do it by feel in the dark after a while and it really does soothe the passing of time by filling it with something tactile and productive.

I will post something about Time Management for those in Recovery in the future.


Re: Learning to crochet
Hadn't thought about YouTube videos as tutorials. I'll check some out. I'm a total beginner - don't even know how to hold the stuff, so I'm starting from scratch, but I'm looking forward to figuring it all out. :)

I was already balking at the amount of busywork, so when my life in mormonism ended it was peaceful, calm and quiet. Mormonism and its requirements were contrary to my personality.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/02/2011 10:32PM by jpt.

Re: It's hard to slow down
I'm like a lot of you! Driven and a workaholic more or less, first born, oldest grandchild, etc, etc. I was a pretty darn good Molly MO and had all of the prime church jobs that come with lots of work like RS pres, Primary pres, YW pres and several stake positions. I kept my house in great shape and had five kids AND homeschooled them while I did several of those major church jobs. I was TOTALLY NUTS and completely brainwashed!!!!

Along the way I had a few major bouts of depression and at one point wondered what it would be like to drive my car into a tree and just disappear! Total wake up call there!

A year or two before our family called it quits with the Morg I had a dream that I was paddling up the Ohio River, near where we live in a canoe by myself and I was very very tired but I could not stop paddling and just go over to the side and get out of the river. I was compelled to keep paddling upstream forever because if I stopped then my life would fall apart and scary unknown things would happen. Stupid really! Just another version of endure to the end.

My main drive in life now is to slow down and do things I enjoy doing. We're downsizing from our big house and getting rid of a lot of the stuff we needed to fill a big house. Stuff takes up so much time! It's also time to stop working so hard at my job and cut back there too. I'm ready to live a little!

We lived in Germany for several years and it was really interesting to watch how they lived. At first I thought it was crazy they could do without 24 hour grocery shopping. Everything there closed down not later than 6 or 6:30 (except restaurants and bars) in the evenings. They also took a long lunch breaks and everything closed down on Saturday afternoons and all day Sunday. Nothing was open! They even had laws about how much noise you could make on Sundays. No running your lawnmower or electric saw or even washing your car on Sundays. They have so many more vacation days too! I think they are way ahead of us in overall quality of life.

I think part of our problem is the whole Protestant work ethic. I think that world view came about as part of the changes that the Reformation brought and those changes eventually meant that work = Godliness. That's a very hard one to get over because it's so highly regarded in our couture.

I'm thinking it's time to move to Italy! They have the whole pleasure thing down!!

Re: It's hard to slow down
My biggest problem is that I can't sit still. I forget to take a break or to eat lunch. I forget to go to the bathroom until it's almost to late. I do construction work and get involved with the job and forget everything else. I go to bed two or three times a night. Guess I've got a problem but I forget it most of the time. There is one thing I am good at. I take my little dog with me every where I go. I always make sure she has food and water and is tied up in a safe place while I work.

Re: It's hard to slow down
I used to be like most of you describe. Then I got a bad case of mono. It developed into fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue,

I was in the best shape of my life when I got sick. From there I went to being about 75% bedridden.

Bishop gave me a blessing that I would be healed. Then he gave me a calling to teach 14 11year old girls. I told him i didn't think It was fair to those young girls to have someone who wasn't able to do the physical things they needed me to do. too bad....3 weeks later i quit in exhaustion. I was in bed for almost a month to recover from that. The bishop told me he didn't think i was really sick, and that i was making it up to get out of doing my part. He then asked me if i would go to girls camp. AAAAAAhhh no.

The gossip was that i was lazy. That really hurt, when i was well i would have and did do anything for any one, I was having a hard enough time losing the ability to do all of the things i love. I could no longer ride my bike, go for long walks, clean my house in a day,or work in my garden. I had to quit my job.I became very depressed, Which made me feel worse.

I have had to learn to love peace and solitude. I took up painting, it gives me a way to meet people. I have an attitude of one day at a time. Some days i can go grocery shopping, I have really become ok with it, Other people have a more difficult time with it than i do, I look perfectly fine so people expect me to do a o lot of things i can't do. they get angry when i say no. They will just have to work it out.
I've been this way for 15 years. No blessings, no snake oil that ward members tried to sell me, no guilt,and no shamming has been able to heal me. It does not matter what others think of my illness. My illness does not care....

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/03/2011 03:18AM by mia.

Re: It's hard to slow down
Wow, this thread has some great advice. I am similar to you other "beehive" women. I was an organist, also. I wonder if music has something to do with the way we are. I did have some insights about this.

First of all, I was taking myself way too seriously, so in order to lighten up, and get over my perfectionism, I did things "half-fast" for a while. I also did things out of sequence, and in a different way. If I made a mistake, I would do it again, to learn that a mistake is not fatal. (When I was little, I would get spanked, so I did think a mistake was frightening and painful.)

I have a disease that is aggravated by stress, and my doctor told me I had to slow down, or I'd keep on being very sick. If it is life or death--you slow down! It has been fun. For example I do exactly what annagrammy does, when she arrives early for an appointment, to avoid rushing. I always have paperwork to do in my briefcase, and a book to read, and an ipod. I have to speak at a funeral tomorrow, and I plan to park my car by a nearby creek, and relax for 15 minutes or so.

The newest findings in business, is that multitasking is counterproductive. You don't do any of the tasks really well. You make mistakes and often end up spending more time sorting things out, than you would by just tackling each job head-on, and focusing. I've been trying to not multitask. Ha-ha! I know what you mean, and I rush to the kitchen during commercials, and do the laundry while I'm cooking dinner, etc. Sometimes the food gets burned.

Yes, it is all about how we value ourselves. The cult does teach women all that stuff mentioned here. When I was a SAHM, I felt that I had to earn my keep, because I didn't have a job.

Introverted me--have you ever thought of playing the piano just for yourself? You wouldn't have to play that boring, assigned music, and you could branch out and grow, musically. Get some sheet music that truly inspires you, and revel in it!

When I quit going to church I was so burnt out on the boring music, that I didn't touch the piano or organ for 5 years--and I have them in my house! Awful? No one needed me. When I tried to play, I was out of practice. When my brother died last summer, I was upset and couldn't sleep for days, and the piano was the only thing that would comfort me. I played for myself. Now, I play for my grandchildren, and am teaching them to play, and to sing. Children who take music lessons get better grades in school--that is a proven fact. My grandchildren are more important to me than hundreds of strangers in an audience. Self-expression is more important than banging out a tune that any teen-ager can play. Give it a try. As you said, it is a part of you.

You asked if there is a cure, and I found one that worked for me. I took that busy-work activity, and channeled it into healthy exercise. I go outside, away from the house and yard, away from my busywork. I sometimes multitask by trying to figure out solutions to problems, but most of the time I clear my mind by thinking about the scenery and the birds in the forest. I had a dog who loved to hike with me, so I was doing her a favor, too. Now, I sometimes take my grandchildren with me. Oddly, they don't think it is boring at all. If you can't walk or hike, then swim, or do the simplest yoga stretches. If I miss my regular exercise, I get anxious. Seriously, exercise does take time, but I actually can accomplish more in less time, and I have more energy to do more. Sorry for the rant, but my illness is in remission, now, and I feel...peaceful.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/03/2011 05:11AM by forestpal.

"Recovery from Mormonism -"