I am a 14 year old girl and I need help with a few things. A year ago my dad told us about his two year affair (my mom is Mormon but my dad is not) and he left for a few months. I closed myself away from my family and friends. Our family hadn’t been going to church for a while. Then, I had some family members die. I got mad at my Heavenly Father for the deaths and my dad leaving. My self esteem is in the negatives and I have done self harm to myself. I have stopped that though. My dad came back and our family is working it out. But I still don’t feel good. I have broken rules from the book of Mormon and the bible and most likely every book. I had gotten a boyfriend that was not Mormon and he was a ‘bad boy’ I guess. I held off from him for a while with kissing but he was so strong about it I was scared he would leave. So I let him take my first kiss and he didn’t stop there. I know I should have kept a stronger faith and self worth but I didn’t. I’m worried that I have done things that are inexcusable and my Heavenly Father won’t take me back. I have amazing friends now. Both Mormon and not Mormon. But I need some guidance. My friend told me about you and I felt like you were the person to ask. So I’m sorry if this is a confusing letter but I am more confused and scared then I thought was possible.
I wish I could wrap my favorite pink-and-purple butterfly quilt around your shoulders and sit you down at the kitchen table. Are you hungry? Do you like spaghetti and meatballs? That’s my favorite comfort food, but I’ll cook you anything you want. And after I make sure you’re warm and fed, this is what I’d like to tell you:
Of course you feel confused, scared, and alone. You are fourteen years old, and you’ve been dealing with some bigtime life challenges. People you rely on—including your dad—have brought a big dose of chaos into your world. And when our families get chaotic, we sometimes act out our feelings of frustration, sorrow, and anger by making choices that aren’t the best for us in the long run—like self-harm, and dating “bad boys” who may pressure us into kinds of intimacy we’re not ready for. Please know you are not the only Mormon girl from a chaotic family who has made choices she regrets.
And please know that lots of Mormon girls like you find your way back. Because my dear, you are loved, you are loved, you are loved. Heck, I don’t even know you, but my heart is bursting out of my chest with love for you right now. And if that’s how I feel about you, imagine how much your Heavenly Mother and Father love you too. You have the right to feel that love. Right now. No matter what has happened. I promise you that God is loving and merciful beyond our comprehension.
Today, I want you to focus on having the kind of day that will help you feel that love. Do not dwell on the choices you’ve made in the past. (In time, when you’re ready, you will straighten it all out.) Focus on today. Focus on taking care of your body, your mind, and your spirit. Give yourself a rest from all unnecessary drama (including boys), do your homework, spend time with people who will protect you and help you feel good, and shut out people who do not. Try to pray. When you pray, I want you to tell God exactly what you told me. Tell God that you are fourteen and scared and ashamed and alone and that you need to feel some love right now. I have said prayers like that, and I have felt God lift the hurt from my chest.
Now, a few more final instructions, while you’re still wrapped up in that butterfly quilt. I want you to print out this email and all the beautiful comments that will follow and stick them in your pocket and read them frequently. Then, I want you to think of one adult in your everyday life, someone you can trust—your mom, or your aunt, or one of your teachers at church, or the parent of one of your friends—and tell them what you told me. Finally, I want you to write back soon and tell me—tell all of us—how you are doing. Hang in there, confused. You deserve to feel safe and loved. If your family is a little chaotic right now, you may need to be the one who looks out for you for a while. But I promise that if you today do your best to take care of yourself you will find love and help from unexpected places.
Okay, lovely readers, it’s your turn. What words of kindness and wisdom do you have for “confused”?
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