Andrew Fegan is an ex-mormon with so many stories to tell that we couldn't choose just one. Kindra came across several of his posts in a Facebook group called Mormon Enlightenment. Through Andrew's writing, a picture of his childhood began to unfold and she shared the links to his posts with me.
We have decided to open our blog for survivors to write their stories in their own words and we will publish them to our blog. We are not necessarily interested in talent in writing, but more your heart… it just so happens that Andrew has both. Talent and heart!
In anticipation of him potentially writing another blog piece for us, we asked if, in the meantime, we could use a few of the posts that he has already shared in the Facebook group, compile them together, and post them here. He very graciously agreed.
Thank you, Andrew, for the words you have written! Thank you for your bravery in sharing. And thank you for being our first guest writer!
The following are just a few of Andrew's posts along with the link to where you can find them on Facebook. Please like, follow, and become a member of our website so that you can leave a comment. We live receiving feedback. Please share this blog to your social media and be sure to check out our podcast!
You can find our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/latterdaysurvivors/
TAKE ONE TO THE CHIN
By Andrew Fagan October 17, 2019
By the time I was five years old, I was abused in despicable ways--changed for ever. By the time I was 12 years old, I was told by a ruthless mother that I was "dumb, retarded," and that I "..would never amount to anything..." I was beaten and hated by people entrusted with my well-being
I lived in poverty for most of my childhood and early teenage years. I lacked self-confidence, positive self-esteem, and the opportunity to explore the world free from the oppression of my life. In short, I learned to survive. But, that is not the same as living.
One thing though, I always possessed a belief that my life would get better--that somehow, I would prevail against the effects of all that had happened, and worse, what meanings I attached to those experiences. I WAS NOT WHAT WAS DONE TO ME.
After serving a mission in Spain, I dreamed of going to BYU in Provo. I was an average student, at best, in high school. But, I always thought I had what it took to be a great student. In 1998, I graduated from Brigham Young University (magna cum laude).
I changed my economic mobility for the better by getting a degree. Next week, I will complete 20 years in law enforcement.
This job has allowed me to get professional counseling throughout the years; provide for my family; and allowed me to fix my very deformed jaw / teeth.
We fix ourselves when we invest in ourselves--when we BELIEVE we are worth our own time. This, in turn, will invite others to believe in you. And once you do, you look like the guy with the perfect smile.
I fixed the "shell" by honoring my soul when no one else would.
LITTLE BOY: YOU’RE NOT LOST!
By Andrew Fagan September 16, 2019
Albert Einstein once stated:
“The ideals which have lighted my way and, time after time, have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been KINDNESS, BEAUTY, and TRUTH.”
The move away from my Mormon thinking still leaves Ashlee and I living right in the middle of, arguably, the densest population of Mormons in the country—namely, Utah County. The freedom to think does not necessarily mean the freedom to live authentically. The culture is infiltrated, infected really, with a myopic worldview. We are left to raise our children in a bubble which requires us, daily, to have conversations about everything from literal Jesus to purity culture. Our older sons are at that age when existential queries begin. I am taken back in time to 1979. I was 12 years old.
What did I think about myself? How did religion shape my identity formation? Looking back, what was harmful? What was helpful?
For me, the retrospective is beyond poignant. What would I tell my 12-year-old self now?
Drew: The sexual abuse you endured is NOT your fault. You were not sexually abused as punishment for not being valiant in a pre-mortal life as was stated by that woman in your first fireside. Your status in this life is NOT the reflection of any spiritual malignancy or deficiency on your part. People in THIS life violated your boundaries which has nothing to do with God, NO god, or any version of spirituality.
I release you of the need for god.
Now, go meet yourself on the fertile landscape of shameless inquiry. BE KIND to yourself.
WE DREAMERS HAVE OUR WAYS
By Andrew Fagan December 1, 2019
It is 1972, in Penbrook, Pennsylvania. I am little boy standing on a sidewalk and shaking— trembling in fearful rhythm to the cadence of the vitriol and anger being hurled at me. My mother betrays her charge and berates the little soul before her—my soul. She hates my existence. I know I am not wanted.
It is 1974, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I am violated in ways that will forever mark me. The unwanted is now unworthy—a broken soul without redemption or recourse. I know I am different. My secret is toxically ineffable—the blunted expression of trauma.
It is 1978, in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania. I am getting older but growing small. The secrecy of shame is a repressed ruse that robs me of authenticity and innocence. I cannot un-know hurt any more than I can know how to love. My heart is paralyzed but, my spirit is undaunted.
It is 1980, in Hershey, Pennsylvania. An extraordinary upset takes place on the ice of a Lake Placid hockey rink. I am imbued with a belief that I am the source of my own miracle. I am simultaneously the proverbial underdog and villain. The life imposed is a seemingly invincible foe. My sister ran away from home. I miss her so much. She always makes me feel special.
OF FACING RAINY DAYS
It is 1983, my mother is relentlessly ruthless. She beats me bloody one last time. I demand to be legally emancipated and threaten to involve the police. My father has abandoned us—leaving us in utter squalor as the chocolate from the famous factory fills the air but not my hungry stomach. I have nowhere to go and plan to run away.
It is 1984, in Susquehanna Township, Pennsylvania. I have been adopted into a loving family. My mother can no longer hurt me. My sister, Laurie, ran away years ago. She lives somewhere in Harrisburg close by. I miss her as though she had died.
It is 1985, in Rochester, New York. I live with my father now. I am popular in school. I have friends. I am not a good student but, I believe I am capable of so much more. I graduate and leave for an LDS mission to Spain in 1986. In 1988, I come home to chaos.
It is 1989, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My life is without direction and purpose. The demons of depression portend the unresolved trauma of my childhood and adolescence. The pain seeks release. I seek asylum in the bastion of denial. I pack two suitcases (all I own) and buy a one-way, bus ticket to Salt Lake City, Utah. I have no place to stay. I have no money. Everything I own is being carried by two hands. My heart carries the hope of a thousand dreams.
AND SOMEHOW, WE SURVIVE
It is 1992, in Provo, Utah. An anonymous donor sends me hundreds of dollars to pay for tuition and books. I am a student at Utah Valley State College. I work full time—no car, no savings, and no doubt that I am going to get a college diploma. I have a perfect 4.0 GPA after one year of school.
It is 1995. I am married now. I am awarded a full, academic scholarship to Brigham Young University.
It is 1996, my wife left me. I am a co-dependent mess except, I do not know it yet. I marry again in 1997 desperate to shed the scarlet “D” of divorce—desperate to prove to myself that I have value. These poor women never have a chance. Why? Because it is not their job to fix me.
I graduate with honors in 1998. I have a degree—the ticket to upward, socio-economic mobility. Though psychologically, I am going nowhere fast. I am divorced a second time by 2000.
“DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?”
It is 2002, in Pleasant Grove, Utah. I am a two-time loser at love but a champion of my own success. Broken? YES! Beyond repair? Hardly! I walk onto a rec center dance floor and into my own love story. I go to counseling. I begin to champion the inner child. In doing so, a better version of me is unfolding.
I have been in counseling for seventeen years. I have believed in myself over forty years.
The years with Ashlee, Morgan, Carsten, Landon, and Maelee?
...worth every suffering; worth every indignity; worth every broken vow; and worth every "one more time."