Facebook Happened. I am not sure how else to put it. I found people that I had been looking for for the last twenty some years. Some were high school classmates, some were from college.
I found the companion on my mission that had the biggest affect on me. I found the girl that I knew from my favorite area whose family helped me overcome my longing to feel normal, wanted and appreciated. She had such an impression on me that I named my daughter after her. I had written a heart-felt letter to her, to try and express how much her friendship had meant to me. I took a trip out East and tried to get in touch with her but our schedules didn't mesh.
The biggest effect was it opened up emotions, feelings that I had held down for so long. I guess it was a life changing moment, facing all these memories, embracing them.
I was at the farm on vacation and I was using the facebook app on my phone, checking my feed and a friend had posted something....and in the comments section was a comment from from my old girlfriend. The rush of emotion hit me like a 2x4 aside the head. There were a few people that I had determined I would have to wait to the afterlife to let them know all that they had done for me, how they had changed my life. Most I had found and let them know. Here was the woman that changed my life the most (aside from my wife), although she probably didn't know it. Her leaving made me change the person I was, to claw my way out of depression with the resolve to be a better person, to never treat anyone like that again; never to treat myself like that again. The need of forgiveness, to talk to the first person I ever opened up to, to be honest with myself, her, my wife...It all struck me with a wave of desperation, wanting. I can't speak to how detached I became from everyone or everything at that point. My life was at a moment of change, and I could feel it. I felt so vulnerable, alone, yet my chance to make my life right, to let go of the burden I had carried so long. How painful it was!
I can't remember how long I ruminated over what I should do. I was besides myself. I wanted to do what was right, and make sure I wanted to do this for the right reasons. How long I wanted to talk to her, to ask her to forgive me for how I had acted, that my life was different and how much it had changed my life. I was still ashamed at what I had done. I had to overcome my pride. I needed to!
One day, on the way home from work, I broke down, crying. I pulled off the road and I needed to get this out of my system. I needed to let her know how sorry I was. I still thought she was mad at me, which is probably silly after such a long time. It was horrible to think that my one-time best friend was mad at me for so long. Still, it was my most important relationship I had had to that point in my life, and I failed miserably at it. It was unbelievable how much this had affected me, how deep I drove this down because it was so raw. Was my life to this point so empty? Had I been dishonest with my wife? Would she understand? Where will my life be after I let this go?
I composed myself sometime later and wrote a note to our mutual friend. I didn't want this to be misinterpreted. I figured I could ease into this. I'm not sure if anyone really knew how tortured I had been because of this. I opened communication with her, with my wife's knowledge, and I hope that we are continuing a good friendship. I was actually giddy just because of the burden that had been removed from my soul.
It opened a tsunami of other things though. I opened up with the difficulties of my mission. My struggles with the church became more pronounced. My musings on the nature of sin took center stage, because of what I went through I couldn't attribute to Christ, and if we have eternity to forgive each other, why was the atonement needed? Why can't God do what we do every day, meaning, forgive each other? I spoke with my friends, my wife, the internet...I needed to see why the atonement was really necessary, and I wasn't getting an answer. I knew what the scriptures said, but I needed something real, not just conceptual. Since I wanted to become a better writer, I took to several exercises like free form writing. In one exercise, I decided to write those things that I never before gave any voice to. It shocked me the concerns, and thoughts I had. A close friend had confided in me with her church status, and it was someone that I couldn't dismiss. Dismiss is the word I purposefully use. I had dismissed my other friends who had left, and the bitterness that they felt. I couldn't dismiss this friend. She was important to me. I wanted her in my life, in whatever level, and my friendship wasn't founded in church status.
I had asked my High Priest Group Leader to be released from any teaching assignments, as I didn't want my views to bother any others, and I felt that it had affected a few of my friends there. I spoke with the bishop and was "dismissed" by him but he agreed that I shouldn't have teaching assignments. I studied, and I did not read any "anti-LDS" materials at this point. LDS sources were troubling enough. In one post on a board, the writer mentioned that we preference our sources. If the sources were correct, what difference does it matter the point of view of the author? I had read "Rough Stone Rolling" and that practically admitted that Joseph Smith was guilty of adultery and that was written by an LDS historian. I decided I wasn't going to preference my thinking. Besides, I needed my rest. My working through this was keeping me up at night, and it was having a bad effect on my relationships.