Sara Smith

I went back and forth about writing this for a while. Not that I CAN’T talk about myself, but it’s hard for me to imagine HOW writing about myself could be helpful to anyone… but since C is the one person I most wish I could be actually helpful to, I’ll do it. I don’t really want any comments on this, unless they’re about YOU. Or if you want to message me and speak to me as a friend, please feel free. And if you don’t want to read it all... good hahah. I told myself that I can’t remove anything I write, (as much as I’ve wanted to!!!) only expound, clarify, or make information more accurate or truthful as I’ve gone back through writing this. There’s many much much words, much SUPERFLUOUSNESS, so if you’re planning on making it through… hold on to your boots!!

To explain about my discomfort with talking/writing about myself – this has all been at the forefront of my thoughts for many years. I’m a naturally extroverted person, but my experiences and my thoughts about those experiences have led me more and more to want to “train” myself out of many extroverted traits… and I think it’s worked. I am much more introverted in my daily life, feelings, and habits than I was even a few years ago. I need much less interaction with others outside of myself to feel vitalized, happy, and valued. And at this point talking about myself makes me feel very ….UGH. Lately, almost every time do I spill my thoughts to someone or realize later that I accidentally dominated a setting or conversation, I feel an emotional and actual physical regret that I didn’t instead listen to or observe the other person/people more, or ask them more questions, or that I overshared and possibly made any other person feel uncomfortable or unheard. Sometimes it’s still a fear that I shared something that they would judge or dislike about me. I still am not out of the habit of “taking over” at times, and I don’t feel like it’s fair to practice on my loved ones, (in my ego, I just want to get it all right in my head first so that I can be my “best self” around and for them) so I’ve found that I’ve distanced myself from many people as I’ve processed these thoughts and decisions.

I believe that many of my “extroverted” actions throughout my life have actually been an exercise in self-indulgence. Even writing this, talking about and expressing myself to others, falls under that category! Which explains my current aversion to writing it, and why I want to delete the whole thing. Self-indulgence has led me away from understanding Real Truth over the years, and it has often had the consequence of my causing pain to others. I feel like my personal kind of extroversion stems from wanting to be the center of attention, and from my ego/the desire to be liked. I ponder often on how many parts of my personality and talents are because I genuinely enjoy them, or if I simply developed parts of my mind, habits, and presentation that I realized would get me praise and attention. The awareness of the size of my natural ego has made me feel a profound sense of sadness and regret for many years. I think I’m a naturally very self-serving and self-centered person, and I have many times negatively impacted those around me. Feeling responsible for, or that I’ve somehow contributed to, others losing value in themselves has become my personal hell. I’ve put myself through this hell many times throughout my life. It has made me want to hide away, to protect others and myself (my ego again!) from the negative impact I might have.

I have a general fear of getting swept away in my self-centeredness and forgetting to look for ways of being considerate of others. I also have a fear of being manipulated through flattery. In recent years I have an immediate distrust in almost all praise or compliments. I began to sense while in the very moments of receiving attention how much my ego was being fed, (the endorphins are like a drug hit) and slowly decided that I do not want for that to be the reason I do the things I do (quitting my addiction). And I have witnessed, and participated in, much manipulation, deception, and self-deception with my peers. I have been hurt through either me or others being ingenuine to get what they want, when we’ve stroked each other’s or our own egos or selfish desires. To me, using people is very wrong, and I find all this inauthenticity for the sakes of our egos to cause many emotional problems. As I’ve come to all these personal truths, it’s become more difficult for me to trust most of the people I’ve met in my age group, or myself around them! So I’ve found that spending time with myself and enjoying being me, without worrying about how I’ll affect others nor automatically wondering what they think of me or if they like me, has recently been a source of comfort and peace.

Now into my life. Most reading this know my parents, Kurt and Monica Smith. You may think you love and admire them… but I tell you what. I’ve gotten them my whole life, and you have no idea! (I’m just kidding- you probably do! I just feel very lucky.) I’m their oldest daughter, born to them in 1991, when my mom was just 20 years old. It boggles my mind being a parent at that young. When I was born we lived in a trailer park in Moscow, Idaho. I have fond memories of twirling around on what my sister and I called the “umbrella pole” – just a metal post stuck outside in the ground, that we could hold one hand on to and walk and spin circles around. I remember diving into a snow bank and becoming stuck, and my dad pulling me out by my ankles. I remember us all sleeping on the floor in the living room near the franklin stove so that we’d be warm, and waking up my parents excited to show them that Barney was on tv. I remember my Barney pillow catching on fire from the space heater as my sister and I slept on the floor in front of it. Mom sewed the fire “bite mark” closed and we kept the pillow for many years. I remember getting mad that my mom used my special rainbow blanket as a backdrop to take a baby picture of my sister. I remember dad taking away the sugar we kept adding to our rice crispies, so I told my sister that we’d use salt instead, and PRETEND that it was sugar. What a lesson in the harshness of reality! We soon dumped our cereal into the trash. I remember going back to Moscow to visit after we’d moved, and stopping to visit the owners of the house my mom had house cleaned, seeing a stuffed bear, courtyard koi pond bridge, and an indoor pool, and feeling in awe and very confused (Someone lives here??). We lived for a while with my dad’s parents in Mountain Home, and my grandma read me Rumplestilksin, and gave me a mermaid book polly pocket. Over the years when we returned for visits, I played in the junkyard on the back of their property, where I built many forts and space ships, got in trouble for ring-leading all my cousins smashing all the windows out of a broken down school bus, and found my first very own scripture quad. It was brown and according to the gold inscription had belonged to someone named Bruce L... Something. Of course my parents looked him up and asked him if it was okay for me to keep it.

When I think about feeling free as a child, many moments come to mind, all before probably the age of 11. Most of them are about being on our farm in Melba. Most them are of being alone. I think of lying in the field with a pile of library books, on the spot of land where our septic tank emptied and the alfalfa grew noticeably denser and taller, watching a little red bug crawl across the page. I think of our lawnmower breaking, and our lawn getting nearly as tall, so I took scissors and cut a path so that I could run around in my long “pioneer” skirt and the wind would blow the grass and my skirt around my ankles, and I pretended to be “romantic.” I remember climbing the shelves in the garage library to collect a stack of books I hadn’t read yet, and trying to understand Francis Bacon essays and Plato, feeling like reading them would make me more “philosophical.” It was around this time that I started to have a proclivity for creative pursuits, and I practiced writing and art, and asked for art lessons. I didn’t like the lessons, because to me, the way my teacher (a lady in our ward who was very proficient at photorealistic portraits) taught me took all the fun out of it. I used much of what I learned from her later, at an older age when I was more motivated to “hone my skills” and become classically “impressive” at art (aka when my ego kicked in).

The first time I remember questioning myself was when I was a preteen (12 maybe?). We were still in the church, and my mom knew many other homeschool families across a few counties, mostly LDS, and many of them organized a weekly learning cooperative (we called it co-op) where we got together once a week and had multiple classes in different subjects, taught by some of the parents, to socialize with “like minds” and broaden our “knowledge.” (I loved my classes, especially when I was faced with mental puzzles, or asked to seek for deeper meaning. And I loved having friends to have challenging and theoretical conversations with. I can imagine now that we all sounded pretentious and ridiculous, but I loved getting to share that with others.) The first day was a kind of introductory gathering and we all were asked to take a personality test called The Color Code. (It’s silly now to think of all the personality tests I’ve taken over the years to try to use as tools to understand or define myself and others.. they’re probably about as accurate as the zodiac.) There were four colors - blue, yellow, red, and white – that supposedly indicated what motivates or drives you. To put it simply, blues are motivated by intimacy; yellows, fun; red, power; white, peace. I got red – motivated by power. Think CEOs, think control, think ego. I was unhappy to learn that about myself, because to me, even at the time, power is not a righteous goal.

I don’t know if I pondered it lots then, but I’ve thought about it much over the years and I have seen that part in me. The way my mind works has made it easy for me in the past to control or manipulate others without them knowing, or to present myself in certain ways to get what I want. Guile, I think!

In co-op we also were assigned to read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” which I think is an actual GUIDEBOOK to guile! I learned a lot of tricks from that book that I was never able to forget, and I got in the habit of controlling how others perceived me.

It was very easy for me in the church to get all the adult leaders to like me (none of the normal kids my age really did – understandable! I was not “cool” and probably just felt off to them). I was a teacher’s pet in our co-ops (though many of the other homeschool kids were too) and a “ward’s pet” at church. 😂 I was asked to give multiple talks during sacrament meeting, my sister and I were the only non-adults in our ward choir, a drawing I made of Gordon B. Hinkley sold at a ward auction to the bishops wife, and I earned my young women’s medallion before I turned 14 (for any who may not know, starting at age 12, most Young Women earned those with many assignments and larger service projects around the time they turned 18). I remember that in my mind it was a competition with another girl in my ward, who had been my friend but we fought and never made up – I’m sure I was mean to her. I wanted to be “better” than her and others, and to be important. To earn the medallion I don’t even think I was honest about fully completing all the requirements! But I had such pride in earning it.

I believed in the church and believed that I was a good and faithful person, but looking back, I laugh at myself for some things (like the time I did a front flip on the trampoline and my glasses flew off my face and got lost in the field, and I prayed and promised heavenly father that if he helped me find them, I would not watch any more Harry Potter movies. I found them! But after leaving the church I devoured all the movies, and the books too, so… whoops. 😂 I only keep promises to my REAL god now). But upon reflection over the years, I really think I used most of my involvement in the church to feed into my own tiny-big ego.

I remember getting in an argument with a pastor’s daughter, one of the few non-LDS kids I ever interacted with, about how her dad going on a mission was not what God wanted, because her church wasn’t the true church. I was so mean! I also thought I knew more than other people IN church, some from the whole homeschool thing, but mainly from having talked with and learned from my dad. I knew he studied the scriptures, and I knew he was looking for more answers.

He shared a theory with me one time about how the priesthood might actually, “scientifically” work, when it came to changing molecules to part the Red Sea or heal the sick. I remember that he thought that individual atoms each had an intelligence, and would choose to obey Heavenly Father’s will, for his creation of planets, or to be used by ordained members of the priesthood to physically heal the sick or bless food. In my mind this also answered “where we came from” to be first created as new spirits – an atom that always existed and was always an “intelligence,” was transformed by god into our spirits. Dad read me scriptures that backed it up, and I was so excited by it! Connecting the dots of physics and scripture was just so cool! I tried to share it with my Sunday school class, but I just kind of remember blank stares and the teacher wanting to get back to their lesson. In my mind my dad always knew more than the church leaders. It’s pretty hokey to think of his theories now, but I knew he was looking for truth! Yes my ego was in the way of many things, but I’ve always enjoyed learning, and finding answers to questions is a beautiful process to me. I felt like my dad knew how to get into the real meat of it, and I trusted him completely and wanted to learn from him. I remember him speaking of the brother of Jared often, and I remember wondering what all the mysteries were, and hoping that I would learn someday.

This all explains to me why when my parents showed us the Sealed Portion, I accepted it immediately, without reading it. I still have not read the whole thing, 15 years later. Scriptures quickly stopped being interesting to me after leaving the church. (Though I think sometimes about how I was a late reader, but finally learned how to read at about 8 years old just by following along and repeating phrases as we read the Book of Mormon as a family. I know it’s a powerful book! Thanks RI.) I’ve completely warmed back up to the scripture format since reading THOR, (the fulness of the gospel makes me cry every time I read it) and I just got a physical copy of TSP for my birthday and I’m finally going to dive in soon. But at 14… I asked my dad lots of questions about the plan of Salvation, asked a hundred questions basically reiterating the classic, “wait – that’s it?” (“So girls have the priesthood? So guys don’t have to go on missions? So we don’t have to go to the temple?”) and I was just all in. I did not struggle or question. I was 14 for fuckssake, and just as moldable as lil old Joe. I had my trusted family and new answers that made sense. I don’t remember where or the moment I met Chris! I just remember that I always felt incredibly comfortable around him, and loving how not-typical-adult honest he was and how much sense he made. We went to any MWAW gatherings possible, and it all became a consistent part of my life.

But the first years out of the church feel so weird to me now. I relate very little to how I felt or lived, as a kid who, once again, thought she had all the answers and acted with such ego. I lost most of my homeschool friends after trying to share it with them, but I really wasn’t bothered by it, except in theory, for the “drama.” I was typical teenage-angsty, and felt alone and misunderstood. We spent tons of time with the Dschaaks. I loved Harry, Jodi, Harrison and McKinzie. Harrison kind of took me under his wing (I since have wondered why – he’s around 5 years older than me and I’ve come to realize that’s quite a difference when you’re 15) and through talking to him I began to understand what other teenagers outside the church were like, and I decided I wanted to go to public school for the first time.

I got straight As, spent a lot of time with a lot of different kinds of people my age, finally learned about the existence of gay people, finally learned about sex (through spending time with guys who didn’t really see me as a potential romantic or sex partner… yet, and then through my high school boyfriend. I’d heard Chris talk honestly about it more than my parents ever did, but still needed peer context to understand what it actually was.) and I made just a few friends that I’m still in touch with. We were a kind of an eclectic crew. One fathered a child while we were Juniors and worked for years at Walmart; one became student body president and later the president of a fraternity I think, if that tells you anything about the “spectrum” of our little group. We all just accepted each other. I was the girl in the group who wasn’t there because I was dating any of the guys, and I feel like my role was pretty much the nerdy, persistent or annoying one - since the running joke was that rambling, or going on a lot about things which no one else cared, was called “pulling a Sara.” (you can maybe see by now how I can get on tangents and be very “stream of consciousness” with how I talk about myself) In retrospect, the way those friends treated and saw me was the beginning of feelings I’ve had throughout adulthood of my unfiltered self being “too much” to be understood or loved.

At the time, I felt a little self-conscious about it, and bemoaned that the guy I liked didn’t even really see me as a feminine “prospect,” but I felt very comfortable and close to those few guys nonetheless.

Those friends actually met Chris when he came to our house, I think to “kid review” the concepts in the Human Reality book. That’s when C kind of started spoiling me… I don’t know why he’s done that so much. He bought me a laptop and a video camera, to make a video about the WUF to “help the work,” though I have no idea now what I could have actually done. My sister and I had already made a silly video about the WUF for the YouTube “Project for Awesome,” where a couple prominent youtubers and their community following (called the nerdfighters) “took over” YouTube. The algorithm on YouTube was such in 2007 that by organizing a flood of views and commenting, we filled the landing page of YouTube with videos that all had the same thumbnail, and were each about different charities. Mine promoting the Worldwide Untied Foundation got on the list watched by the organizers, and it got a couple thousand views which was a ton to me, but I saw that no one who viewed it actually went to the WUF website and signed their name. And I think that was my first lesson in “trying to spread the word yourself does nothing.”

I soon dropped out of school because I wanted to help mom edit the Human Reality book, and I already had the friends I wanted and school felt like a waste of time. I don’t know if I really helped edit, but it was my excuse to myself to do what I wanted I guess. (I did design the cover of the book, using a photograph of my own eye for the graphic – taken with that video camera Chris bought for me, so I guess it contributed to the work for ONE thing!) The principal tried to convince my mom to force my sister and I to stay full time at school, but mom always held that we could choose for ourselves. I think that bewildered them a little bit. And I think they wanted to keep us there for funding or for our test scores… to help their average, because the classes only had about 40 students, and we both got good grades and scored high in our P-SATs and P-ACTs. My science teacher seemed to want me to be a scientist, and he told me in kinder words that I was throwing away my potential. I stayed in a couple creative classes that made me feel inspired and challenged, with teachers who I admired and who trusted and allowed me to be free with my assignments, and I just ignored a lot of adults/previous teachers there treating me poorly. I just felt free. I didn’t graduate or get my GED, but was accepted to the local university based on my test scores… but I decided not to go. I became a nanny and traveled around the US instead.

The first place I went for my first job was Maine – not intentional that I went so far from home, but after living with 9 other people and being around people to talk at every day, then having my own room and not having a car for exploring, it was my first experience with real loneliness and solitude. It was very unsettling to me at first, then I started to think about myself differently when I only really had my self to spend time with.

When I came back for Christmas I finally broke up with my high school boyfriend, my first sexual partner, through whom I learned a lot about being manipulated by and through sex, and blinded by wanting love and affection. Thanks to our relationship, which wound up including future flings and affairs when I visited home over a few years, I finally learned to be honest with myself about my sexual motivations and selfishness, and decided to steer either sexually or emotionally clear of most men for many years. I proved to myself that you don’t have to be in a church or believe it’s god’s will to feel sexually obligated to or to be coerced by a man – am I right, ladies? *cue finger guns* I rarely remember or reflect on this part of my life anymore, though I can understand how it shaped me, to be emotionally and physically manipulated for my first sexual experiences, and to feel emotional addiction. I learned about unhealthy sexual attachment, and saw the negative impact of my selfishness – on my boyfriend, on his later girlfriend when we had our affairs, and on myself. It was not okay!

I moved to California for my next job, was there just a few months, then New Mexico for my next. I was planning to follow a guy to Santa Fe who had been the one other non-LDS person in our old homeschool group (before we got kicked out for bringing in the devil). We became close for a while, and then he essentially changed his mind about me before I moved to New Mexico - so I met with friends online who were from there, who offered to help me get settled, and went along with my moving plans anyway. I applied to an art school there first, and they offered me a scholarship covering about half the expensive yearly tuition.. but I decided, again, that I didn’t want to go to college. I thought it was still a waste of money if I could teach myself - especially art, like I had already been doing. I nannied a bunch more instead, and wound up in Albuquerque live-in nannying a couple kids of a single dad who ended up not paying me for 5 months. But those five months were great – I spent tons of time with a few great friends, acting in music videos and going on adventures to the bosque or the mountains.

I went on a road trip with one friend to a concert in Denver, where he introduced me to an old friend of his, who was the first person I met outside my family and the Work who I felt an immediate magnetism towards. I don’t really like to speculate about past lives, but I’m more emotionally convinced of having known people before this life because of her, than I have been because of anyone else. Though it could be in my head and we’re just super compatible. 😊

I visited home for Christmas, got together with my high school friends and drank for the first time, slept with my one guy friend I’d really liked in high school, and got a kind lesson from my dad about financially supporting myself, since my parents were paying my two (2) monthly bills, - for my cell phone and car insurance- which I couldn’t afford to even pay because my non-paying job. A couple months and one long-distance heartbreak with that high school guy later, I finally quit my New Mexico job and moved back to Idaho. I nannied a bunch more, and kinda finally “bloomed” socially and physically, and began to be treated differently by the guys in my life. I’d spent so much time around guys in high school and had read the Diary of a Player, so I knew exactly what was going on, and it didn’t ever sit quite right with me that I was being treated differently now, because I truly was the same person – a nerdy weirdo in a cult. 🤣 But I enjoyed the attention, had flings, one of which led to my first actual orgasms, and had so many guys give me the whole “you’re not like other girls” shpill, and was told by quite a few that they would marry me some day. I knew there was no way. I stayed away from guys who I thought would emotionally invest in me. It became very easy for me to read people and predict and understand people’s actions, and I grew less and less impressed or excited by anyone around me.

It was at about this time that I started to think often about what I later related to the philosophical term/concept called “bad faith.” I began to see that almost everyone around me was nearly always operating on some level of self-deception, in order to feel good about themselves or to make their lives easier, or just in order to maintain their status quo without having to do any mental work. It drove me nuts that ALL THE TIME to sense that people weren’t just dishonest with me, but that they weren’t or maybe even *couldn’t* be honest with themselves about their motivations, because it would be uncomfortable to admit their true feelings or natures to themselves. I determined that I really didn’t want to do this, and began to constantly ask myself and at least tell ME what my motives were. And if I didn’t like the truth about myself, I started to try to change my actions and not allow myself to do things that didn’t match certain morals or integrity about doing unto others. Call it a viscerally brutal conscience I guess. Too bad I haven’t gotten it to always work!

The high school friend who’d broken my heart when I was in New Mexico eventually saw the attention I was getting and changed his mind, (he literally told me that in so many words 😂) and we dated for a while. That didn’t last though, and the following summer I was hired by Chris to move to Utah and work at Filtagreen as a graphic designer/”executive assistant.” Oh boy. When I tell you I’ve been spoiled… They gave me my first iphone, and the very Mac laptop I’m typing on now – it’s lasted since 2013 since C made sure I got one completely decked out with every feature. They bought a house for me and my friend to rent – the literal smallest house in Salt Lake county, that had a whole yard and everything I could have wanted. They gave me a company car to drive. I made a salary, more money than I’d ever handled. We got amazing health insurance, the actual best that the policymaker had ever seen a company give their employees.

Chris as a boss was quite an experience for me. It felt a little like a roller coaster.. I couldn’t always keep up. I fought my own ego a lot, and got frustrated. I felt often like I knew something wouldn’t work, but had to do it anyway, and then after I’d done it, and yeah, lo and behold it didn’t work, I had to redo it the way I’d wanted to do it in the first place. I feel like I got in trouble a lot, and just had to trust Chris and learn to do as I was told, whatever I thought of it – because he’s the boss. 🙃

The times I wasn’t in trouble, I was glad to get to spend time around Chris and everyone at Filtagreen. I think I’ve taken for granted how much time I got to spend with them all, pretty much just being people - friends.

I got to know Andrew lots better. I didn’t like Andrew when I’d met him a year or two before, but he and I grew close. We bought a motorcycle together and he started to teach me to ride – I told him I wanted to and he facilitated the whole thing, and just told me how much money I owed him. (And we made the exact same amount working at Filtagreen, so everything always felt so fair!) We went on many silly adventures together, and I learned about his childhood and emotions about his experience in the polygamist community. He did lots of work on the shed behind “my” house, so that he could live out there and pay rent with me, while still letting me pretty much have the house to myself. I think I didn’t like him at first because he challenged me – pretty intentionally. If I made a statement he didn’t agree with or think was true, he would pretty much laugh-yell at me until I backed down my ego and could admit that I was wrong and didn’t know everything. Holy cow – am I glad I had someone who pushed me back until I learned how to have some humility. He became like a little and big brother to me. Not that he doesn’t have plenty of great siblings already, but he listed me on facebook as his sister and it meant a lot to me.

We became friends with a girl I met named Kinsey, who approached me at a bar in Salt Lake and went on adventures with us and one other dear friend. Kinsey was also an apostate from the church and came to a park meet-and-greet and I think part of one of the public symposiums with us. She was into the concepts I shared with her, but never read the books as far as I know. We spent a lot of time just having fun together, and she was a break from long weeks at Filtagreen. We went to different restaurants and bars together with our other friend, and sometimes Andrew, or he would come pick us up if we needed a ride, or even uber to us and drive my car back - all I had to do was call. He was very self-sacrificing and took care of everyone around him, above and beyond what I’d ever seen from someone my age, every day.

When Filtagreen was later sued it was hard on him. We were all struggling to do the best thing, and Andrew was afraid he would say something that would get Chris in trouble. So he refused to go to a deposition, and turned himself over to the police instead. That made me uncomfortable, and I was asked to go on the stand and show pictures of the warehouse for some reason or another, and that wasn’t my favorite experience. It all felt like a lot of grown-up drama, and again, I didn’t quite keep up with the stress.

When my parents were hired to also help, I felt like I was needed there to report to my dad what was going on, and what observations I was making on clients, employees, and contractors, so that he and my mom wouldn’t have to make as many trips to oversee in Utah. It was weird to be a young woman, untrained in business or advertising, still thinking she knew what was best for everyone, surrounded by older professional men. I just don’t think I was my best or kindest self, or knew how to handle or balance everything at 22 years old. (I still don’t know if I’d be able to handle it).

It was around that time that we had learned that our earth experience is a dream or a game, which I loved and made so much sense to me, but it impacted me in such a way that I started to feel like I was a “glitch.” I felt like knowing that you’re in a game, ruins the game - that ignorance is an essential part of being able to live on and interact with the world and the people here, as it is. I really wanted to be able to connect to the people around me, whom I loved, but I could not feel a part of things. And I could not explain to my close friends how alien and alone I felt. And I struggled with believing I was of any help or had a real role or positive purpose in the world, to my self, the Work or at Filtagreen. And I wasn’t having fun or experiencing much joy in my day-to-day life.

I had been talking for years online to a guy who’s a sorta well known artist from Europe, who works on films and video games and travels and lives all over the world. We had met up once on a trip to New Mexico, and he and I spoke pretty regularly at that point and had grown close. He talked about us getting married, and he was one of the first people I could see myself marrying. I got a passport in anticipation of meeting up with him again, but he wouldn’t make a solid plan with me, and I was getting restless and frustrated.

On St Patty’s day 2014 I spoke to my friend Kinsey about how I was feeling. She and I were back at my house and I was telling her all the reasons I was needed by my parents at Filtagreen (I’m not sure if C was part of the day-to-day at that point) and she asked me why I was waiting for a guy to invite me somewhere, since I had everything ready and clearly wanted to leave. She pretty much gave me permission to be selfish. I really broke down and realized that I did want to make a change, and later attributed to her “changing my life.” It’s true that I and my life would not be the same if I hadn’t known her, though perhaps not in the ways I originally thought.

The next day I talked to whoever I talked to, and asked to be a contractor for Filtagreen instead of working there full time. Of course they said yes, believers in free will that all my “bosses” are. Within literally a week I had an amazing nanny job lined up on the South Island of New Zealand. My family heled me move my stuff out of the house in Salt Lake, Andrew and my sister and I went on a road trip to Canada, and then I spent a couple weeks in Boise before my flights out.

That’s when I got to know my husband. I’d met him once before but scared him away with the attitude I’d adopted to keep most men at bay. The 10 days leading up to my move across the ocean, however.. I fell in love with him. It very much took me by surprise. I was surprised I agreed to go to his house and watch sports alone with him, I was surprised I found myself attracted to him, I was surprised how comfortable and free I felt around him. I never felt like an object to be won or “convinced” like I have with most men; I felt like my autonomy was completely respected and intact. That feeling has been reinforced again and again, even though we have had times of pretty grand struggle. By the time I was supposed to get on a plane to go on my big adventure, I didn’t want to leave. I don’t remember there ever being a time before that when my heart felt unsure about a big decision I was making being the “right” thing. That feeling was so foreign to me, at the time I couldn’t even identify it. I was very overwhelmed, and even missed my first flight, and needed my mom to help me think straight and book a new connection. I had to repack, too, because there was not time to take any checked bags on my new flight. I got to see Dustin, my now husband, one last time before I left, because he speed-biked probably 5 miles in 100 degree weather when I asked him to come see me off. I had one laptop backpack by the time we got back to the airport, and off I went.

I lived in New Zealand for about 6 months, on a dairy farm taking care of 4 kids. Before that I was SURE I didn’t want my own kids, but something about how their mum parented them made me feel for the first time that if I wanted to be a mom one day, it could still be possible to have freedom and a sense of self. (If you can’t tell by now- feeling free is very important to me. I think realizing, at that moldable age when my parents found the work, that I could truly have full control over my future and who I would become, was the biggest and most defining shift I experienced. The Truth shall set you free.)

While I lived in New Zealand, I regularly Skyped with Dustin, and he essentially flipped his entire sleeping schedule to be able to speak to me more. I told him about my involvement with the work, and he looked into it, and basically read through the chapter headings of Human Reality. He concluded that there was nothing “bad” being asked of me by my cult, and that they had a noble message and goals, and he respects me to believe whatever I want. Basically we’ve left it at that ever since.

While in NZ I had the use of a car, and volunteered in hostels on weekends and traveled all over the south island and met lots of people I found interesting – travelers, artists, many minds who wished to travel and search around the world for different personal experiences and answers. People with very different perspectives of the world.

While there, the Ferguson riots were on TV, and I felt like the NZ News’ portrayal of what was really going on was a lot more accurate than what was being shown in the States. This was a beginning for me to dive in more online to reading about social justice movements. I familiarized myself with liberal members of my generation’s commentary on many many intersections of feminism, systemic racism, ableism, LGBTQ+ rights, xenophobia, cultural appropriation, BLM, and religious freedom. I wound up involved in these conversations for many years, and brought issues to the attention of many of my friends and family, ultimately “correcting” many people if they weren’t “up” on these issues. Another exercise in my pride and ego, judgementalness, and unkindness.

A few months in to my job in NZ, I had a couple weeks of vacation that I took to travel with a new, dear friend to Australia. There we met up with the brother of the artist guy I had spoken to about being married and fallen out of touch with. The brother knew exactly who I was and mentioned his brother talking about a future with me, and since they live in different parts of the world and rarely see each other, I took that information to mean that the guy really was serious about me in some way. I needed to find out if there was an actual future with him before it would be fair or honest for me to commit to Dustin, so I told Dustin about him. I wanted to stay friends, but it broke his heart and we didn’t speak for a few months.

Meanwhile I did reach out to that other guy, and we finally made plans to travel and spend some real time together. After 6 months with the wonderful family on the South Island, I headed north to explore Auckland and await my flights. (I stayed with a Brazillian mathematician who I’d met in a hostel a couple months before – wonderful and humble to be around and unlike anyone else I’ve met) While I was there, my mom sent me a post C had written and given her permission to share with me, about the next generation of MWAW supporters. It talked about a group of people who volunteered to give up their free will “to a greater purpose of serving the entire human race,” and as I understood it, said we were failing our true selves by following our dreams, and that unless we stopped doing so, we would not find happiness *in our lifetimes.* Traveling the world was specifically mentioned, so I figured it was aimed at me.

This really sent me into all sorts of emotional disarray. Among many things, I thought: “I didn’t even find the Work, my parents did! How do I know my upper self was someone who promised anything? For all I know I would still be in the LDS church if it weren’t for my parents. For all I know, this is just another way I’m being deceived and controlled. … NEVER find happiness?? If so, who the hell is my upper self to take my free will from me? All I know is Sara, and Sara is DOOMED to misery because of a promise made by another self, someone who I don’t understand, a promise over which I, Sara, had no control??” Free will was the most precious truth to me, and I was being told that I don’t actually have it, and I understood “never finding happiness” to mean that I would now be punished for being free. I was very hurt by this at the time.

I met up with the artist and had a few emotionally confusing weeks traveling with him in Taiwan and the Philippines, meeting some of the most incredible, dirt poor, happy people I’ve ever taken advantage of (many people let us stay in their homes and fed us because they were fans of the artist, and looked up to me as an American. I wish I had done it differently). As it turned out, the man I was travelling with said he had just met the first other woman who he thought he could marry one day, and since he’d already slept with her, basically she had dibs, hahah. So after finally meeting up in Asia, nothing really happened between us, which upon reflection of parts of his character and our compatibility, I’m ultimately grateful for. That other woman might have saved me a lot of time!

Near the very end of our trip, amid all my confusion, I got word that Ida had died. I had spent a little one-on-one time with her recently when I lived in Utah, and had great respect for her and loved her telling me about her more “feminist” ideals that she had brought into the church back in the day. Her death made me think for a while that I should go back to Utah and “help” however I was needed.. but back in the US, I still didn’t bring myself to do it. I was still confused. And I did not enjoy living in Utah, and I still hope I never have to again!

I got back to Idaho just in time and got permission from Dustin to see him before he moved to Thailand to teach English. I was risking hurting him more, which I usually have the self-determination to completely avoid when it comes to matters of the heart and having influence over men. But it was clear to me, as soon as he gathered the courage to come into the restaurant where we met, and I was in his presence again after 9 months, that I was again incredibly comfortable, and still in love with him. In the three days we had together before he left, I became more vulnerable and honest with him than I had with any man.

He didn’t stay long in Thailand – maybe a couple months- and as soon as he got back, we found a cheap basement room in a full house of 20-somethings in Boise, and we moved in together.

Dustin had never been in a long term or serious relationship before me. I don’t know if any of his relationships can be really compared to what I’ve felt with my friends and family over the years. He spent a lot of time alone as a kid, and grew up between cities, depending on which parent he lived with. Part of his childhood was spent in very diverse part of LA, and he was one of the only white kids, and he struggled socially and with self worth. I don’t think he ever quite got to be a kid, or feel safe, or to rely on others. I have been happy to be a safe place for him, and show him unconditional love, even during the times when, in turn from his upbringing I think, he hasn’t known how to make me feel safe or that I could rely on him. I have seen him put in more genuine effort in to self growth and improvement than I’ve seen in any of our friends and peers, and I have a deep admiration for how he conducts himself and how he chooses to treat others, especially after slowly realizing the kind of childhood he had. Maybe this is from how he was raised too - a huge appeal to me is that he doesn’t feed my ego! We just exist together, basically side by side, leave each other alone a lot, and admire each other, and meet in the middle to collaborate on art or experience the world. Whenever he compliments me, I know it’s coming from a place of sincerity, because he does not “flatter” people, he’s only honest. Since loving him and pouring into him, I no longer feel the urge to meet and meet and meet people to find someone to fill a certain void of loneliness and make me feel loved. I don’t feel like “too much” for him! I can talk at him for DAYS and he’ll listen and be able to FOLLOW and REMEMBER what I tell him, and contributes in a way that challenges me to look at or understand things from a completely different perspective. It’s been really cool.

It’s been a learning curve though! Within about the first year of living together, Dustin realized that he was unhappy, because there were things about our relationship and his role with me that wasn’t him being true to himself. It took great effort for him to admit this to me, but his deep honesty and my responding receptiveness to “restructure” to find alternatives together that might not be a traditional relationship but could make us both happy, set the tone for much of our future together. There has been a lot of trial and error, yet over and over my love for him reasserts itself, we get to know each other even more deeply, and it all (you’ll see what I mean later) has been worth it to me.

It was right after Dustin revealed to me that he was unhappy that led to the shift in our relationship, that I went to Utah for I think the introduction of the humanity party. I had a lot of distaste for the Anonymous presentation. It made me feel embarrassed, and I struggled to invest in it, and emotionally I wanted to be back at home with Dustin since I’d just learned he was struggling, and I left early. About an hour North of the Salt Lake library, borrowing my mom’s car, I was hit by a drunk driver going 100+mph running from a cop, and subsequently ping-ponged between about 4 other cars. The car was totaled, my driver’s seat even snapped behind my back, but I was completely fine. It occurred to me pretty quickly that if I hadn’t left the symposium early, I wouldn’t have been there or gotten hit and wrecked mom’s car. (I’d rather it be me than others though. And my mom’s involvement I think ultimately was lucky for the kid who was responsible.)

My dad picked me up from the fire station where I waited, drove me all the way home to Boise, then turned around and went back to Salt Lake. My parents have sacrificed much of their time for me, and have consistently been great examples of service and kindness. I actually really treasured that ride with my dad, and the things we got to talk about.

That I was in a big car wreck I think impacted Dustin too, and opened his heart to me a little more and this allowed us to communicate and decide to make the effort to stay together. It’s been a whirlwind and an interesting learning experience since then, as I’ll explain!

My love for Dustin is another big reason I started to question the extroverted space I take up. He is usually introverted, and socialization and playing “the game” of success does not come naturally to him as it does to me. He pursues music with a great deal of his heart, more than I have ever felt about any of my artistic pursuits. I think I could gain the praise/money/success that many desire, through many of the talents I’ve built up, if I were to desire and pursue that lifestyle. Since knowing Dustin I have struggled about the “morality” of it. I have not wanted to put my charisma or talents “in the way” of others who “need” success more than I do, in that their dreams and value hinge on their perception of the possibility for them to succeed that way. I’ve also become very frustrated that the world is run and the “rules” made by whoever has the loudest, most “likeable,” aggressive, or egotistical voices.

After lots of pondering and build-up of these thoughts since knowing Dustin, I was recently finally about ready to start selling a “line” of art, and then I read in THOR about how people want to sit around and make money from their thoughts instead of hard work, and I felt “wrong” again about falling into that category. I have felt guilty often for not living the gospel or putting myself in a position to be unequal to others. Or for exercising vanity or temporal pleasures. As an adult I’ve found that I care about making/buying/wearing clothes and getting tattoos that I feel express my personality, I love every piece of my strange thrifted and upcycled décor, take pride in how I can artistically transform spaces to “feel” comfortable or “inspiring.” Growing up poor, I think it gives me joy to now having the ability to buy or make and keep whatever pretty or comfortable things (that I usually get for cheap or free) I like to surround myself with, but then lately I think often about the verse in the Everlasting Gospel that says “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” I go back and forth between enjoying my hobbies and surroundings, and feeling like I have too much and that it’s not fair to so many in the world, that I spend too much time caring about it, and that I’m a dick. I also think of Chris saying to many of us a long time ag0, “for fucks sake, just do what makes you happy!” (I remember it because I planned for a while to get it as a tattoo!) yet I have not yet been able to find a balance between following my strange fleshly desires to be happy, with living the gospel to the degree which satisfies me to be happy. I have not discerned whether making money from any of my art would be good for me to do to make me happy, or would just make me more of a dick. I’ve been reading the Fulness of the Gospel to try to set my head straight, and I know reading more of the books will help me figure it out, so that’s my plan! And now I want to delete that whole diatribe, because it could become irrelevant any time, but I won’t because I’m being honest here. I wasn’t planning to write this until after I felt balanced with it, but I feel like my embarrassment is not a good reason to hold off if this could help Chris at all, so here I am.

Now that any reader might have some context, on to my storm of experiences over the last 5 years, where I pretty much lost myself from the Work and (hopefully) am making my way back again.

In the first couple years Dustin and I lived together, I had a breast tumor (that turned out to be benign) and I got pregnant and had an abortion. I felt that he did not know initially how to emotionally support me throughout these experiences, so I was very emotionally drained. (I don’t believe I should have looked outside mySELF for peace and reassurance anyway.) I think that the abortion was also a major test of Dustin’s trust in me, because getting pregnant was my fault – I stupidly thought I had figured out my (very irregular) cycle well enough to not get pregnant, and fully unprotected sex with him was an experience I wanted to have. Still the best, most emotionally “connected” sex of my life! But it fractured some of Dustin’s comfort with me, since he has his own fear of hurting others, especially women through sex I think, and contributing to my going through the emotional and physical toll that I did for the abortion weighed heavily on him, as well as his own turmoil over what would be expected of him in the situation. As we had before restructured the expectations in our relationship, it became clear to both of us that he in fact has no desire to be a father. He is neither interested in providing the kinds of stability a child would need, nor bringing a person into this world *without* offering that stability. Whenever I finally understood this, my respect for him deepened – so many men I’ve seen want children, and wives to bear them, for very selfish reasons, or simply because it’s “what you do,” or do not really care one way or another, and do not give a thought to the kind of accountability a parent should have/ I think children deserve ( theory. I know it’s an imperfect world and so no parent can be perfect, and the kids with messed up parents I’ve seen pretty much turn out “fine” anyway… according to the world). So that Dustin has acknowledged this about himself is really cool to me. Plus he just doesn’t feel comfortable around kids so… I get to be a nanny, hang out with kids all the time, love on them and bask in their purity, be PAID for it, AND not be responsible for bringing them into this fucked up world. AND I get to go home and do whatever I want nights and weekends! 😜

Often people ask whether, or presume that I do, want to have kids, since I have devoted much of my adult life to raising kids that are not my own. As far as I can be possibly aware though, I love the children I spend time with as if they ARE my own. Especially if I spend time with them when they are very young, and participate in their initial “becoming.” I am very thoughtful and intentional about trying to help them become more balanced so that they can deal with the world as adults, though I often feel a despair when I think of all the ways I know I’m just messing them up, projecting my own personality or insecurities onto them, or otherwise taking away from their individuality or chances at happiness. At those times I am glad to know that they aren’t completely my responsibility, and that they’re not here as result of my selfish self-expression. (I do worry that I’d have kids to serve me, rather than I them!) It brings me much joy though, to “work” with children and witness their sense of wonder and discovery. And after establishing some firm rules with them of doing unto others, and propelling them to hopefully feel supported and be self-sufficient in many ways, I feel like I basically get to sit back, and my job is simply… rewarding. I watch them be individuals, get to know them, laugh with them, and am reminded to be in the moment with them, which is something I still can’t believe I get to be paid for! If I ever were to decide I MUST have my “own” kids to raise exactly my way, I know I’d be free to and capable of finding a way to make that happen. But right now I know I choose Dustin, who’s already in my life and whom I already love!

Back to the timeline: Just a few days after my abortion, I was feeling pretty relieved and peaceful, as Dustin and I had spent some wonderful quality time together discussing everything and him taking care of me. We experienced a home invasion, that turned out about as well as could have possibly been hoped for. It was about 3am on a Monday night, and we woke up from a loud crashing sound upstairs, and yelling. Soon after, a couple guys with guns and masks came into our weird unfinished basement room and demanded that we give them our phones. Thankfully they couldn’t find the light switch, or they would have taken our cameras and computers as they did from may of our other roommates. They led us upstairs and put us in a room with the rest of our housemates and Couchsurfers at gunpoint, while they looked for drugs and money or whatever. They said they were looking for someone who none of us knew… we figured later that someone had used our house as a “burner” house, to avoid their dealer or something like that. It was the kind of wayward-souls house that could have easily been used for that. But these people were already here and invested, so they stole what they could find.

The main takeaway I had from this whole experience was Dustin’s reaction. He stood between me and the gun, humbly submitted to whatever the guys told us to do, and remained calm the entire time. It may sound crazy, but I felt completely safe. I have known many men who would have escalated, tried to fight back, argued, made intimidating faces, anything out of ego – but Dustin did nothing that made me feel anxious for our safety. That was very meaningful to me, and greatly grew my trust in and respect for him. The “invaders” left with our phones and threw them out the window down the highway so that we couldn’t call the police. I was able to track my phone with my laptop in the middle of the night and get ours back 😂 We found out later that the crash we’d heard was one of our roommates pulling out his gun and trying to fight back – they pistol whipped him and stole his gun. A lot of good it did us having it there – just gave the other guys an extra gun! That roommate and his brother downstairs were both military I think, or just anarchists (both maybe??) and the brother actually had some semi automatic in his room – he didn’t get to his either, but that just would’ve been another gun on us, or someone shot 🙄 I’m just not about the guns hahah. I’m very glad nothing worse happened.

Whoof, I feel so long-winded. Anyway, a month or so later, Dustin and I traveled to Europe with my best friend I’d met in Denver. Dustin’d had braces since I met him, and got them off just before we left, and I hoped he’d start to see himself as I did, with a little more self-love and see that he’s “worthy” and desirable, so I suggested that while we were in Europe we have an open relationship, so that he could see that other women would want him. He didn’t exactly agree, or really respond that I remember, but while we were there I kind of pushed him and my friend together, since I had such love for both of them and wanted them to experience each other as I had. It didn’t exactly work, yet it was the start to a very long, very messy experience that I guess I’ll get into later.

Meanwhile, we got back from Europe after a couple months and found another place to live. A few months later, it occurred to me that he’d soon want to marry me - even though I was already into the idea, I could sense a shift in how comfortable Dustin felt with me. Turns out he had indeed been thinking about it, and we discussed it mutually, right as some MDMA hit. One of the first things we talked about was still wanting to experience other people, which makes a lot of sense if you’ve ever tried molly 😂 But also we had it in our heads after Europe, and maybe as a result of our mutual spontaneous / adventure-driven personalities. We talked about it more later while sober of course, and I was always glad it was a conversation rather than a stressful yes-or-no proposal. Again, makes me feel more free and that our roles are equal!

A week or so later, I heard that my friend Kinsey had died. I didn’t know what happened for a while, because her LDS family was pretty hush-hush about it, and I imagined it was possibly an overdose or drunk driving accident. But I later found out that she’d shot herself. Another reason to not like guns. Even before I knew it was suicide, I was devastated. I hadn’t kept in great touch with her since living with Dustin, but we’d visited her, and she’d visited me a few times in Idaho and befriended some of my best friends and high school friends. I’d been annoyed with her and ignored her for some months. I’d finally reached out a couple weeks before she died, and we had a very brief text conversation. I couldn’t help but wonder then if I’d been kinder to her, or a listening ear, she could have turned to me instead of her gun, or even before it came to that.

I texted Andrew to tell him, since they’d been friends, and he called me two or three months later when he was on a short visit in the US. I told him what happened, and that of all things was the last thing I talked to him about. Iasked him if he was going to the Game of Mortal Life book review thing, and he said he didn’t know. We exchanged “I love you”s before hanging up, which I’m grateful for. (And now I’m digging in my memory to see if that’s a direct memory, or just a memory of a memory that I had or maybe created... oh well.)

I was motivated to go to the Game of Mortal Life book review, after kind of hiatus-ing the Work, because I wanted there to be a book that could have helped Kinsey. Her mind was messed up in some ways, she said because of doing a lot of ecstasy in high school, and she would sometimes speak with a slight stutter, or have trouble understanding things. I had in my head that the book should be simple and straight forward and “modern” enough in its explanations to give someone like her hope. At what was actually the peer review, I think unfortunately I was one of the ones who just wanted to hear themselves talk, and proved I wasn’t ready to receive the whole truth.

I really loved reading it though – I remember rolling around in the front yard at the new house we moved in to with some of Dustin’s old friends, and thinking about Dustin every time I read about kids being trained by their parents and the world, away from their true desires. Much of Dustin’s personality seems to me as “pure” as a little kid’s. Though it has made it hard for him to live in the world at times, I still have always felt like there’s a lot I’ve learned from him about being true to my desires for happiness as an adult. It made me want to marry him even more.

Dustin and I got married about a month after the peer review, on a Tuesday in the courthouse. That following weekend we planned a party at our house as a celebration, without any vows or things like that, because tradition is not Dustin’s style. I don’t mind sappy public displays of affection so much, but I was not interested in making him feel obligated to do anything he wasn’t compelled to. He told me that in his view he was married to me as soon as we decided to be (papers and parties be damned!). We both felt like a wedding would be more of a display for others than personal between us as the couple we are, so it was all pretty non-traditional. I bought my own ring/s and organized and decorated the party in our back yard with help from my family, made my cake and my dress, and all for cheap!

The day before the party, I already had friends in town, including my best friend who’d gone with us to Europe. (She actually officiated our marriage – she was ordained even before we went to Europe in case we wanted to elope!) We were having a small sort of party with our housemates, and she and Dustin disappeared for a while, and a few minutes afterward I found out that, after all my pushing in Europe, they finally slept together, then and there. I didn’t mind the sex so much, just that they’d been ashamed enough to sneak off, and didn’t talk to me beforehand to make sure I would be okay. The main thing for me was that I didn’t get the first “wedding night” with my new husband – the last few days we hadn’t had the chance! Or we just hadn’t desired it enough, I don’t know. Our sex life changed after the abortion. But I forgave them both quick, and even was compelled to reach out and take care of my friend so that she wouldn’t feel guilt or sorrow– whatever that says about me, or all our relationships, I don’t know – and we had our party and lots of fun together the next day.

Dustin surprised me by putting our song on to dance to, (I didn’t expect him to do any traditional thing that would make him the center of attention!) and I got to dance with my dad too. I was so happy that lots of people in the Work came, including C stopping by (spoiling me, again, with much large monies… That fucker. He’s going to make me work it all off one day, I swear. 😂). It was cool to see some of my LDS family and members of the MWAW in the same back yard… if nothing else, it made me feel that my aunts who were willing to be around the cult leader who lost their sister and her family from the church, must have really loved us enough to be there.

A few months later, I got word that Andrew was missing and they were expecting not to find him alive. When it was confirmed and I heard about what happened… I was a wreck. I hadn’t coped properly with Kinsey’s suicide 6 months before, and had placed the hope I had to not lose other friends to their sorrow, all in the Work… and here was another dear friend, who had access to all of the truth, who decided to end his life anyway. I could not escape the circles in my mind of there being no hope. My sense of loss was profound and enveloping, and I could not see any way out.

For a while, I distracted myself. There started to be lots of parties at the house we lived in, and I started to become attracted to our housemate who owned the house. I could tell my husband was attracted to another girl often there, and we had about a 6 month period when we were officially in polyamorous relationships. In theory... there’s love to go around, no one person can serve all our needs, we just need to have open communication with each other.. etc etc etc. Oh, if only I had read the Sealed Portion. But alas, I had this mess of an experience, that continued to be a mess long after Dustin and I had each broken it off with our other partners. This was a huge lesson for me in the consequences of exercising self-indulgence through sex, alcohol, drugs, and self-denial.

Had I been single, or had been making the effort to think clearly, I think I would have chosen to steer clear of the man who was my boyfriend, as I always had with other men of similar temperaments. But part of me is attracted to big egos and power.. and no lesson than this one had a more profound confirmation that I should not lean in to that side of me. This man made me feel justified in any of my narcissism, fed my ego and praised my talents, got me high-paying design work and tried to convince me to demand more from my nanny job. He showered me with gifts, expensive dinners, and affection. He made me feel attractive and desired, and strong. He was practiced at sex and knew how to push all my buttons. His sexual style and appetite was similar to my high school boyfriend’s, and there was a comfort there. He treated me like a queen... when it came to the “desires of my flesh,” and as long as I was serving his needs and desires the way he expected of me.

Looking back, I think it hurt him deeply to know that I loved Dustin more than I loved him. He volunteered many times that he accepted that my husband was my “priority,” but I can only imagine how emotionally confusing it would be to be on the other end of that, and I’m not sure if he was ever able to fully express his emotional needs to me (at least in any way I could wrap my head around). I felt like there was a lot of guesswork, and poor communication between us. At first I thought our communication was impeccable, and that he liked that I challenged and questioned and teased him for his ego, and he had moments of humility that were very attractive to me. But over time he started to become upset with me when I questioned his morals, or when I acted independently of his expectations for me. The way he laid out his expectations was very confusing to me and I really struggled to understand the “why” behind most of his needs. When we struggled as a couple and supposedly reached compromises, often it seemed to me that his agreed-to compromises did not align with his actions. When I tried to confront him about things he did that hurt me, he began to “hammer down” my perspective with what felt to be twisting my words or placing accountability for his actions on me. Due to the dynamic between us, I often felt around him that I had to compete with other women, sometimes my friends, to feel “bestowed” his attention or affection. That is not a typical feeling for me, and he maybe was unaware, or triangulates subconsciously, because when I brought it up he would deny it, or elicit my sympathy that he felt I was not satisfied with him doing his best. I did not think I’d ever become so deeply involved with a man who I’d have these feelings with, before acknowledging things that, for me, are red flags. I started to become afraid of having to deal with the kind of aftermath that would come with breaking up with him and hurting/upsetting him, since he was in a position of power over both me and my husband as our landlord, and because he is well-liked and well connected among our friends and community, and I’d seen how he’d treated and talked about others he’d personally ostracized. But we did have a brief breakup amid the experience, and I came to be surprised by his meekness and willingness to stay in my life even if he couldn’t “have me,” when I knew he’d immediately cut off and grown cold towards other exes. This warmed my heart and compelled me to want to make things work with him again for a while. I do think that for a time he deeply loved me and he might have done anything for me if I wanted it from him – but in many ways our relationship wasn’t balanced, and in others I don’t believe it ever could have been.

Meanwhile, I struggled with my husband’s relationship with his girlfriend. Together they and others drank lots and often used many drugs, and it got to the point when I decided that I wanted to split finances from Dustin. The more I saw them together and felt jealousy at the comfort and sexual attraction my husband had with her, the less I wanted to be around him with her there. This caused big problems in their relationship, though at the time I believed it should just be fine for me to stay away from them. But many times my actions upset her, when I treated my husband in her presence with love, and no longer felt comfortable interacting with her as a friend. Especially when this occurred after her and I had our own brief sexual experience. I think it hurt her that I didn’t seek that more from her, as most given the opportunity honestly probably would.

She is very beautiful and very sensual, and she acts meek and operates on what looks to me like a surface level of light-heartedness and desire. Many people are drawn to her beauty and mystery and want to stay close to her. I’m pretty sure she was LDS and had been married before, but not in the temple. I knew little about her family life, I just remember that it didn’t sound good. I reached out to her to try and repair things when I saw the emotional stress Dustin was under, and I thought she and I could grow to be on the same page. But I don’t know if she meant anything she said to me when we talked, because she volunteered to me that she did not want to undermine my and Dustin’s relationship, but due to events soon afterward that did not seem to be the reality. I saw many people I cared about hurt by how she treated them, and I grew protective over others from her. At times she treated Dustin and another good friend with what I considered verbal or emotional abuse, and I felt so protective over them, and hurt in my own value, that unfortunately my compassion for her ran out. By the time they broke up I was very relieved. A friend asked me about it in a public bathroom and the girlfriend overhead me saying how relieved I was. I was being truthful, but I regret that I might have hurt her more than she had been. I can’t speak much to her experience, because I’m not her nor was I truly very close to her.

A few weeks after breaking up, Dustin missed her, and they got together to talk. I was very apprehensive of this, but it was his decision. I was still with my boyfriend at the time, so I wouldn’t blame him for needing his own other partner, though I couldn’t tell you exactly what was going on in his heart. In their conversation, I guess she insinuated that Dustin should leave me for her - that they would work, but only if I wasn’t around. He wouldn’t talk to me for a day afterward, and when he at last told me what they’d discussed, I felt his resentment toward me over losing her, so in heartbreak I told him I didn’t want to be settled for and he should pursue her. Being very unwilling to become like a “trap” for anyone else is the other side to my “freedom” coin. We split up, but he said he still wanted to stay married to me. He has said many times, before and since, that I’m the only person he could ever marry. It was all very emotionally confusing, and I left town over a long weekend to distance myself from the whole situation! The girlfriend wound up not accepting that he refused to divorce me, and she soon moved in with a new boyfriend. It was all just a mess.

Just before everything got completely out of hand, and throughout us all just pretend-happily dating and partying together, I was really struggling already. I considered suicide myself for the first time. Nearly every time everyone in the house/group got together for a party, a couple drinks in I would become very depressed, feel that mortality was all a pointless experience, and separate myself from all my friends, and my two partners. I’d wonder if anyone would come and find me or help me, and my aloneness and all of our self-centeredness was continually being confirmed. I would just weep. When or if someone did find me, they didn’t know how to help me. Dustin and I had been growing understandably distant, my boyfriend essentially told me to get over it, I didn’t feel like I could trust any of my other friends with my vulnerability, including my (Denver-Europe) best friend who I had forgiven, yet still felt betrayed by and didn’t feel fully comfortable with. I thought of my boyfriend’s gun in the closet many times, and how easy it would be. (GUNS. AGGHHH) It was weeks of that. I finally spoke to my brother Christopher, and through conversation with him I at last found some semblance of perspective and stability, without which I don’t know how I could have hacked it through til the end. But thank god it’s over.

I traveled to Croatia with my still-boyfriend, as we’d already planned, though I was feeling that I just wanted to spend my time with Dustin and heal together. I realized when I met up with the boyfriend that he’d had an affair with someone while he was on a business trip overseas. He told me since I wasn’t caring for him, of course he would look elsewhere, and I still don’t know if he was being honest with me about whether she had been tested for STDs.. (considered a bigger deal of “accountability” when dealing with polyamourous relationships) and I was just… good lord. Exhausted. Meanwhile, Dustin slept with a different girl who’d been pursuing him, and who was essentially my boyfriend’s other girlfriend, a sexually-released ex Mormon and drug dealer who found her way into our circle and was living in our house and I’d already had lots of struggle with, namely when the boyfriend and I had briefly broken up because they really wanted to sleep together and I didn’t get the info in a pleasant way... sheesh, writing about all this it sounds so ridiculous. So by that point I was completely SPENT and I broke up with my boyfriend while we were together in Croatia, and was wise enough to admit the whole thing was completely my fault for trying to handle all this at once. I got back home, thankfully the drug dealer chick had moved out, and I didn’t have to see her, and my post-fling husband was an emotional wreck, and lost his job, and I* was an absolute emotional wreck. It was a hard few months, trying to emotionally support my struggling husband while sorting through my own hurt with him, while tiptoeing and trying not to upset landlord/ex-boyfriend, while still feeling attracted to him and navigating our breakup. (He (rightfully) refused my idea to be friends with benefits, then changed his mind when we were drunk one night and tried to… convince... me to sleep with him (I was at least clear enough to resolve that “we need sober intention!”) and then later as he brought other women into the house. Whew. I clearly was still… very unclear. And not in a good environment to try to GET CLEAR.

After a few months of attempted emotional repairs, I went on another trip, “for myself,” with my good friend who I’d gone to Australia with, this time to Costa Rica. While I was there my husband went on a bender and had a one night stand with someone else.. and that was enough for me. I said I’m moving out, and if we’re anything we’re monogamous.. but you’ve got to show me you’ve sorted yourself out. I gave him the choice, and many outs. I was also so so glad to have a good “excuse” to move out of that house that wouldn’t make my ex upset at me, to try to distance myself from the whole environment. It kind of worked.

My ex helped me move out, and I lived alone in a Christian couple’s basement. Around that point my ex asked if we would ever date again, perhaps thinking that I might be willing to leave my husband and he and I may be monogamous. He told me that he thought Dustin was addicted to molly and would overdose and die (Even though you can’t really “overdose” with molly itself as I understand it- you could just die from drinking too much alcohol while it’s affecting you). I held my conviction, and tried to have a friendship with him instead, which resulted in advising him about women he was having flings with - which as you can imagine did not go well! It got harder for me to feel comfortable around him, and at some point he told me I wasn’t allowed in his house (to visit my husband) if I wouldn’t submit to a conversation with him. I had reached a point where I became emotionally afraid of him, feeling that nothing I could do or say would help our relationship, and I would just lose value whenever I tried to talk to him. I expected that he would do things to “get at” me, through my friends or even through Dustin. (He provided lots of molly and did some with Dustin the night he kicked me out - after telling me my husband would overdose and die. This was especially hard on me.) I was often hurt in any case, whether he actually intended to hurt me or not.

I finally just spent half a year mostly alone. Finally a sanctuary! It had all been craziness. I really think I could have avoided it all by not pushing openness or polyamory on Dustin in the first place! And knowing what the sealed portion says about polyamory! And reading the books to help me cope with my friend’s suicides! Jeeeesus fuck.

Months of being away from that house, and most of the people who’d partied with us there, and having time to myself, eventually I was satisfied with Dustin’s conviction to be with me and be monogamous. We got an apartment together, living with NO ONE, and we had a very uneventful 6 months. Yay 😂

I got to a point where I was far enough out of the situation, and aware enough about how nothing I had done to “have fun” had brought me any kind of real happiness. I was drawn back to the Work, and decided that I wanted to Will everything to the Trust. I told my husband, even though I was terrified that he’d be really upset with me about it (I knew my ex would’ve been very angry-it took me quite a while to excavate his opinion of me out of my head). I explained to Dustin that I was not happy, and that I knew that whatever I had been doing had not been working. I thought the Will might feel unfair to him since we were talking about buying a house, but.. Dustin just held me and was like, you should do it! You obviously want to – you should! And he told me not to worry about him, he’s always figured things out for himself. I was reminded about how Dustin has always been the one who’s sharing and sharing and giving and giving whenever he can.. money is just an object to him. He’s always told me to do what I want with mine. And he is not possessive over me. This meant a great deal to my heart in that moment.

I had listened to the radio shows with Mark Bertrand and figured I’d better not selfishly partake of the Work if my wasn’t confident that my lifestyle or relationships would be harmful to Chris, so after setting up my Will, and adding my bank accounts and car titles to the Trust, and writing a new story, freshly coming out of all my haze of misery, I did not request to receive the password for the blog and still kept some distance.

Eventually last winter my husband held hands with a friend of mine while drunk one time and I was like, wait wait nope, I need to trust you… that’s not monogamy. We came close to splitting up again, and in conversation it occurred to Dustin to move to a new city and finally reset from the difficult history we have in Boise… and he really had been wanting to finally get out of his college town and see if there are opportunities for him to make music. I told him I had to consider whether that was just a bandaid, or according to his actions worth it to me to take the gamble. After all, I know who he is! So while he went ahead to Nashville in January to get established, I stayed behind to decide whether I wanted to follow him there.

It’s wild to realize how much I love him, and he loves me, how close I feel to him, when I think about everything we’ve been through together and because of each other. He’s my best friend, and there’s still no person I’d be as comfortable spending time with. Dustin’s equal parts stoic, and bouncing off-the-walls goofy. He seems very strong and kind to me, and I have great respect for him. Though he has emotional struggles, he’s still very resolved and with a strong sense of self. He typically relies on himself emotionally and doesn’t act needy towards me, but has shown me very deep honesty and vulnerability. I’ve learned that I don’t have to worry about whether he’s being honest with me about who he is, or what he’s done, since he’s told me about all his actions. I’ve never felt that he’s manipulated me, nor felt less free because of him. He’s left it up to me if I want to stay with him, checks in with me when I’ve struggled to make sure I truly want to be around him as he truly is now, and has told me he’d understand if I left him for some reason to help the Work. I’m very tied up in him and I can’t imagine not being around him or having him to myself! We’ll see if our relationship as it is will satisfy each of us – right now I obviously believe it will. If it doesn’t, I now know I have all the tools, strength, perspective, and peace I’d need to handle it!

So after time alone, living with one dear friend, making art, and traveling to Asia right as the pandemic hit, then experiencing quarantine, this summer I decided I did want to make the move to Nashville. Why not?! And I was tired with Boise too, and the life I built there.

I also got to go to the “cavity in the rock” a couple times with my family before the move, and see Chris for the first time in a few years. I didn’t expect to be invited. I knew for a couple years there that I was not a good reflection on the Work. I knew my emotional state about “losing” my free will was not stable. I told myself many times that I did not deserve to have access to Chris or the journals, because I was not willing to invest as much time and emotional effort as I see my parents do, or as I did when I worked at Filtagreen. I want Chris to be surrounded by people he can lean on for strength, and I did not be a burden to or even in the awareness of our messenger, as I knew I was not living and coping righteously in the world.

It’s just occurred to me that I’ve believed that about myself in large part due to my relationship with my mom. Maybe it has been a role of hers to protect Chris from me. But it has occurred to me that my relationship with her has been perhaps the biggest stumbling block for me wanting to be close to the Work. I’ve only ever expressed this to my brother Christopher before this moment. My mom and I have a lot of similarities in my mind, and I think that “mirror” has been a major test of my ego for much of my life. Feeling like she’s thought she’s known better than me about my life choices over the last seven years (mainly my relationship with Dustin (which is probably why I’ve felt compelled to share so much that I’ve loved about him while writing this)) has wounded my desire to be close to the source of what is perhaps her expertise, or perhaps her own flesh, or both. And since I know she is so trusted by Chris, if ever she does not approve of me, I’ve felt that he probably doesn’t either. It has hurt me deeply to sense that she’s thought I’m wrong or prideful, especially considering that her opinion of me was the FIRST outside my own that I “tuned in” to and valued, and much of my self-worth has been built upon it. I had to make sure that I was involved with the Work for myself, and not to earn more of her love or approval. Then I had to recognize that becoming defensive toward her, regardless of why, is another way I must learn to instead be humble if I want to be close to Chris.

There was some kind of shift in me on the ride home after being kicked out the last time from the cabin. It occurred to me that Chris had fed my ego. My mom had told me the day before how prideful I am, and part of my ego had already been broken down in feeling that she did not see or understand what I had truly been through and internally striving for for the past several years. On the ride home, so much that I’ve learned finally all kicked in… and I figured out how to be humble for a minute. I hope I’m humble enough for more. But every time Chris mentions my name to bring attention to me, my flags all go up and I feel like my ego is being tested.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever fully understand why he keeps calling me his “hero.” My brother asked me about it, and I had to think. The only thing I can imagine is that… I’m the EPITOME of a naturally egotistical and prideful person. I’m self-centered, self-serving, image obsessed, and judgmental. I’m lucky enough to be born into the United States, have good genes, a strong mind, talents, amazing parents, and the awareness and habits of absolute freedom to do whatever the fuck I want in this world. And with ALL THAT ego and freedom, I now choose to stand behind Christopher, the Real Illuminati, and the Marvelous Work and a Wonder, REGARDLESS OF HOW IT MAKES ME LOOK. Then others with an ego like mine cannot claim they had no chance of being able to do it.

In my Special Edition of the 666 book that I got in 2006, in part, C wrote, “The moment I first touched your hand, I was satisfied to know that you would grow to judge the world as your example shows: it can be done!”

To me that is what that means!

I’ve been judgmental of myself and others in so many incorrect ways over the years. But when I read that as I was unpacking in Nashville, it hit me right in the heart when I REALIZED - I was being no example whatsoever by keeping silent, IN MY EGO “waiting for the right moment,” when I would feel like I’ve caught up to everything I’m supposed to, or being a perfect example of the gospel, before making a statement saying that I support the Real Illuminati and the Marvelous Work and a Wonder. I already know that they are everything they claim to be! Even if I haven’t yet read every book or understand every concept, I know I want to do everything I can to RECEIVE THE FULLNESS OF THESE MARVELOUS THINGS and find my SEA OF GLASS. And I want for others to have the same opportunity!

So I finally wrote a public post to make sure everyone I know can know what I stand behind.

Here I am in a city I’d never before visited, having moved during a pandemic on a leap of faith… and I can honestly say that since focusing on the Work, on becoming like a little child and doing unto others, I have been the happiest, most genuine version of myself, and felt more connected to who I really am, than I have EVER before in my adult life. I’ve only had a couple “lapses” of low value.. and it might’ve been mostly hormones 😂 It’s struck me that I’ve been being MYSELF and just being playful with my husband and that I’ve been regularly laughing until I cry! That sense of humor has been lost from me for so long! I’m experiencing self-love and humor! I feel strong! I feel free! I feel less and less like I have to impress anybody! I love my life here! I have more questions and more to learn, and I continually question myself and try to be humble and honest with myself about who I am and how I want to stand for this Work. But the more I learn and listen, the more I feel my feelings of hopelessness and self-consciousness all slowly melting away.

Hopefully some insight into how my mind and heart operate can help someone.. anyone.. but hopefully Chris somehow.

Now thank GOD I’m done writing this. 😊

Sara Smith