When I Suffered Alone: A #MormonMeToo Post about a Bishop Who Should Have Known Better
I found photos on our home computer one night when I was searching for some pictures of the kids–they showed my husband and another woman on vacation together, clearly enjoying themselves.
That night he confessed that he’d met up with her several times for professional conferences and he begged for forgiveness, ensuring me that he would never let it happen again. I believed him because of the sincerity of his forgiveness, but of course I insisted that he confess to the Bishop so he could make things right with God. It was then that an already-awful experience became even worse for me.
The bishop and my husband worked out a plan together for him to forgo the sacrament, to meet weekly for counseling, to read the scriptures, et cetera. The Bishop called me into his office and explained to me that I must never tell any of my family members or friends about what had happened, because it would tarnish my husband’s reputation. My bishop explained that my husband’s repentance process would go much more smoothly if no one else was aware of the circumstances.
While perhaps that was good advice that benefited my husband, it did not help me. He took the car to work every day while I was home tending our young children. We lived far away from family. We were in a neighborhood in a weird far-off corner of the ward where no other LDS families lived. Most of the time I was alone all day with the kids and alone all evening with the kids (he often worked late). I became more and more isolated and the fears built as I rehearsed over and over in my mind the images that I’d seen on our computer.
After a few months of growing depression and loneliness, I went to the bishop by myself and explained that I was depressed, had lost 30 lbs, and sometimes burned and cut myself. I asked if he could help me find some counseling. I knew we didn’t have the money to afford it ourselves, but hoped that the bishop would be able to give me a referral to someone who could help me find some hope again.
Instead, he told me that I should call him if I ever felt sad or felt a need to self-injure. He did not offer any professional counseling and reiterated that I should not share what I’d been through with my husband or with anyone else.
The months after that are pretty blurry for me now, and the story has a fairly-circuitous-but-eventually-happy-ending which includes divorce, remarriage, and gaining a strong feeling of self-worth.
The recent #metoo movement has had me looking back on some of what happened all those years ago and how shabbily I was treated not only by my husband, but by my bishop. That bishop supported my husband’s repentance process, left me to suffer alone, and caused me years of unnecessary anguish and depression.
I suspect that there are many other women in that ward who were given this same counsel, by this same man, and who desperately needed help and were not given it. It’s some comfort to know that women in crisis can now choose to have another woman with them when they meet with the Bishop. At least that means that they will never be as alone I was. I suspect that if I had had an ally at my side that she might have stressed the need for the bishop to get me help, too.