Last week I received my contributor’s copy of Cringe: Teenage Diaries, Journals, Notes, Letters, Poems, and Abandoned Rock Operas. My friend, Sarah, put together this compilation of real teenage diary and journal entries, and it is screamingly funny in an OH MY GOD WHY DID NO ONE PUNCH ME IN THE FACE kind of way.

The entry I submitted is from the diary I kept during my freshman year in college, the year before I started taking meds for The Crazy, and there were so many choice excerpts that I had a hard time deciding which one was the most humiliating. Take for instance this entry from February 11, 1994:

It reads:

Ryan called the other night. I sent him a barney valentine card. Satan does live. He gets his vitality in Ryan. Satan himself called at the most vulnerable point of my entire semester yet. And how did Heather do? But of course she prattled to the tyranny of Satan and his servants. Without going into detail, I’ll just relate what I’ve learned: I need to justify myself to no one except me and my Heavenly Father. No one else. The only opinion that counts is that of God. All else is foolish. And Ryan/Satan is just that.

Ryan/Satan was my boyfriend in high school, the first boyfriend I ever had, who broke up with me after three months because, oh, I WAS INSANE? I think he was calling me when I was in college to see if maybe I had grown any alien appendages, like a tree trunk jutting out from my brain, because certainly that was inevitable.

Then there’s this one from February 8, 1994:

It reads:

Tuesday afternoon. But not by much. 12:38pm. I have a few before my daily carnal indulgence — Guiding Light. I think the weather has a lot to do with these complacent feelings I’m experiencing. Is it snow or just albino raindrops? Can’t tell. Okay, about yesterday. First off, I was walking to the computer lab at about 7:30am yesterday when *bum ba bum* the National Anthem began to resound across campus and the flag began to ascend its pole. I was walking with my head down and happened to look up. There were about 20 people out there on the quad that early. Every single one of them stopped dead in his tracks, placed his hand over his heart, faced the flag, and contributed to the silence of the moment. It was a goose-bumping experience — one I could experience no place else. Saluting God’s country at God’s University. Brother Hedengren was discussing the source of “numerous perceptions” in Phil 110. Do we experience these warm fuzzy sensations from God, from Satan, or from ourselves? He then related the story of his nine year old daughter bearing her testimony of Heavenly Father. She lost her rabbit and after a few weeks of fervent prayer, a kid in her class at school showed up with a rabbit he had found for show-and-tell. Her rabbit, no doubt. God lives.

HOLY CRAP. Saluting God’s country at God’s university. If that isn’t the creepiest thing I’ve ever written, right after ALBINO RAINDROPS.

Finally, the one I am most embarrassed over, from February 3, 1994 (that was a particularly bad month for The Crazy):

9:24am Thursday morning. Ooh yeah. I can feel the latent fatigue so eager to rack my body. Calculus is in a half-hour and since I don’t know how to use the table of integrals, I’m not going to waste my time nor my paper. I got about four-five hours of sleep last night — after seeing a movie like that sleep doesn’t come easy. Philadelphia. Homosexuality and aids. Poignant film, must say. Made me reconsider some of my hard-core conservative bias. These homosexuals with aids — yes, they choose the lifestyle, but not the disease. They, too, are human beings with real human emotion and real human moms and dads. One could say, and I probably would have also, that in choosing the lifestyle they choose the disease. But many of them do not have the protective agent of the gospel in their lives. Many of them genuinely don’t know that it’s wrong. How can justice be accounted for in these cases? These people are suffering for their wrong choices, but what if in the first case they don’t know that it’s wrong? How does anyone who is not homosexual know that homosexuals choose to have those tendencies? Yes, it is true that homosexuals can choose not to act on those feelings, but how can they choose the right of a situation they don’t know implicates wrong? Homosexuality isn’t any worse than blatant fornication, is it? Just because heterosexuality is “natural” doesn’t mean that heterosexual promiscuity is justified. Both cases seem equally wrong to me. Karen is coming to Utah on the 28th of this month to stay for a week. I really love Karen. She has been one of my greatest friends. It would hurt me if she was hurt. So many wonder how I can embrace the gospel and return her friendship at the same time. Exactly the way I return all of my other friendships — cliche, I know, but love the friend, not the sin. If we persecute homosexuals, we are Satan’s tools.

No, really. SOMEONE HIT HER. I cannot believe that I actually wrote such bullshit, and this should prove that whenever I make fun of Mormons, I’m just making fun of the Mormon that I was, the ignorant, intolerant, pig-headed adolescent who needed a big one up her pooper.

And because I feel so bad about who that person was, I’m just going to go ahead and link to No on Prop 8. Gay marriage has become such an important issue to me, as it should be an important issue to everyone. It’s a civil rights issue, period. And the only reason anyone wants to deny homosexuals equal rights is a religious one. PERIOD. Your God says it’s a bad thing. But what if my God disagrees? If you take religion out of the equation, THERE IS NO ISSUE. And don’t even get me started on the slippery slope end of the argument, because you know the only reason I’m writing this is because I want to legally marry my dogs. Both of them.

  • Liz

    I thought I was going to marry Chuck! Please don’t take my man. You can keep Coco…

    p.s. I’m glad you’re normal, now. Whew!

  • Kathleen

    My mother is a very Christian woman, but she fully supports gay marriage. She really doesn’t believe that it is a choice that people make, but more than that it’s an equal rights issue for her. During the last presidential election they put banning gay marriage on the ballot where she lives, arguing that gay people were afforded the same rights but that they just didn’t call it marriage. As soon the gay marriage ban passed, the state began stripping away all the rights it had previously afforded to gay couples.

    Personally, I don’t know why anyone gets worked up about gay marriage. If you don’t like it, don’t marry a gay person.

  • kerry

    at least you had nice handwriting.

  • Sarah

    Those are AWESOME. I was just thinking recently that I really don’t want people holding against me at the age of 31 what I did and thought when I was a freshman in college… I think the sentiment is pretty much universal.

  • Giyen

    that is so brave. i love the crystal gayle hair.

  • Jawnbc

    Hi Heather,

    While my Oirish Catlick upbringing didn’t feature the same…interesting…turn of phrase, it did lead me to register as a member of the Right to Life Party when I turned 18.

    And now I”m the poster child for same-sex marriage:

    Shame they didn’t include the photo from the print version of the magazine: most people would find my husband and my’s balding beaming countenances more doughboy than demon.

  • KT

    You’re right. Someone should kick Heather of the past’s teeth in.

  • PJ

    I’m quietly proud to live in a country that has legalized gay marriage. The world didn’t end; people didn’t marry their mules; long-term committed couples finally went ahead and tied the knot. Ho hum.

    So rock your vote! I just voted in the Canadian federal election; only 58% of the voters turned out. Appallingly low. Let’s see Americans do way better than that.

  • Amelia Sprout

    I just recently threw out all of my diaries from high school. So very very glad that I did too. It was before the crazy meds for me too.

    My god says gays should marry. She says so, so it must be true.

  • Kristie

    I’ve been a reader for many years, before Leta was even born and I’ve never commented until now.

    I’m tempted to show this to my ex MIL who puts so much faith in God that she forgets that people are important, too.

    Also, I admired your tact and grace and BlogHer. Bravo.

  • Anonymous

    Being gay isn’t a choice. People are born gay or straight, as they’re born with blue or brown eyes. It’s not a “lifestyle choice” any more than heterosexuality is. I’m just sayin’.

  • Tootsie Farklepants

    Swear to God I just drove by a group of Yes on 8 supporters with their signs and their young children standing on the corner outside the Mormon church down the street. One of the signs read “Yes on 8 to preserve our religious freedom”. And I was all, lady who is stopping YOU from practicing your religion to marry the man you love?

    Well, maybe I didn’t say it but I thought it really REALLY loud from behind my steering wheel.

  • April

    “[Homosexuals] are human beings with real human emotion and real human moms and dads.”

    When I read that I wondered if prior to watching “Philadelphia” you maybe thought homosexuals were alien robots immaculately conceived by the Virgin Boy George and Xenu. :)

    I really must find my teenage diaries and burn them…

  • Anonymous

    Officerlove, what you’re not getting is that no one is going to make you marry a gay person. No one is imposing their beliefs “on” you. They are not seeking to take away your heterosexual marriage, force you to attend a gay marriage ceremony, or turn your kids gay. What the fundamentalist religious communities are trying to do is actively take a right away. Should religions have had the right to say “God doesn’t approve of interracial marriage, so stop imposing on us your belief that a black person and a white person can get married!!”??

  • Heidi

    You had me at the hair. And then again at “Satan’s tools”. Thanks for posting these here Heather, it’s so interesting to have a glimpse into the person you used to be, given how different (and more awesome) you are now.

  • Jaime

    I’m a big fan, but I was disappointed in the tone of this post. You of course have every right to share your opinion, but to dismiss anyone who disagrees with you (and religious people in particular) as either ignorant, bigoted, or brainwashed is just wrong. I’m a Mormon and a firm believer in the separation of church and state, but my understanding is that that separation was enshrined in the Constitution as much to protect religion from state interference as to protect government from undue religious influence. I don’t live in California, but if I did I would probably vote yes on Prop 8. Not because I think gay people are evil (which I don’t) or that their relationships shouldn’t be recognized, but because of cases like these:

    For those who say that gay marriage doesn’t affect other people, these examples to me prove otherwise. The government should not be able to require people to violate their consciences. If there were legal safeguards in place to protect people from being sued for invoking their first amendment rights, I would have no problem with gay marriage.

    As a fellow Obama supporter, I’m also saddened by how this post has fed into the ugly stereotypes that people have of each other. From the comments alone, it’s clear that liberal readers have left with their suspicions confirmed that conservative, religious people are all whack-jobs, and any conservative, religious readers have probably left with their suspicions confirmed that liberals are all smug, condescending religion-haters. Part of the appeal of Obama for me is that he wants us to move beyond the culture wars….I wish that this post had made more of an effort to do that too. I’ll admit you were plenty kooky back then :) , but I don’t think it’s fair to imply that other Mormons are all like that.

    I still love your blog. Probably will never stop reading. Just wanted to put in my 2 cents.

  • InfamousQBert

    okay, terrifying as all that 19/20 year old angst is, i wanted to say that your thoughts in the last one were actually pretty interesting. while i don’t dig being “tolerated” or the whole “love the sinner, hate the sin” thing, i do like that you were already starting to see the humanity and inherent hypocrisy in what you’d been taught.

    and, to kristin, that’s what the whole separation of church and state thing is about. taking religion out of our laws. no law can make you recognize a homosexual marriage as “right”, only legal. Christ said “give to caesar what is caesar’s”. this wasn’t just referring to taxes, but to the laws that the government imposes. your beliefs are inherent to your life, just as mine are to my life. i would never try to make a law that forbade you from worshipping in the way you believe, so why would you want to make a law that keeps me from expressing my beliefs in the way i see fit?

  • Genevieve

    I feel for you… But the important thing is that you evolved. I think the only thing one can truly blame someone for is not learning and evolving.

  • Stephanie

    In response to Logan and Logan’s dad: (Assuming they weren’t simply being sarcastic. Can someone with a PhD really be this ignorant?)

    “Heterosexual marriage has clearly demonstrated over millennia of human experience that it is a very positive institution conferring great advantages to society!” Really? So heterosexual marriages are nothing but wonderful? With 55-hour long marriages, the sky-high divorce rate, infidelity, and spousal abuse? Those are some damn fine contributions! (Notice I didn’t say that none of these things can happen in homosexual relationships. I’m sure that they do. But that’s exactly my point: neither type of relationship is superior to the other.)

    “Likewise, homosexuality offers absolutely no value or benefit to society.” Gee, and here I thought that two people loving and caring for each other was invaluable. Oh wait, that’s just another way of saying that people who can’t reproduce shouldn’t be allowed to get married. Very clever.

    “Those who support homosexual marriage want the same societal recognition and rewards without ever having earned them!” So did people that supported African-American rights. Black people were brought into this country as slaves. They did not have time to “earn their place” in this society. But they didn’t need to! They were human beings, and that was enough. Do you think *they* should have taken the time to earn their rights, too?

    “Therefore governments enact laws and policies for the purpose of encouraging and supporting an institution that has proven its worth.” As I stated above, the institution of heterosexual marriage is in shambles. So does that mean the government is going to stop making laws and policies (or revoke them altogether)that support heterosexual marriage?

    “It is a reproductive dead end.” Guess what? So am I. I *may* be able to have children with the help of extensive reproductive treatments. Yet my marriage license is proudly displayed on my wall and I am fully covered under my spouse’s health insurance.

    “Major depression and suicide rates are significantly higher in a homosexual population.” I don’t even have my Associate’s Degree yet and even I can figure this one out. Homosexuals are tired of all the bullshit that they have to put up with while living in a society full of people like Logan and Logan’s dad.

    “If I were to resist any and all efforts to find a permanent cure for diabetes, then it would be the equivalent of me choosing to be diabetic – and choosing to increase the risk of my posterity being diabetic.” Your point is…? Believe it or not, some people in this world do have diseases and, for whatever reason, choose not to treat them. Others may think this choice is foolish, but the people are not discriminated against in any way. By itself your analogy makes sense, but not in this context.

    “I have known and dearly loved a number of homosexual individuals. But I cannot support or champion the cause of accepting homosexuality. It is simply not a good thing.” I think that statements like this irritate me even more than the outright anti-gay statements. I believe that this statement is a lie: a futile attempt to somewhat pacify gay supporters. (A little guilt creeping in maybe?) Either that, or people who say this must hide their true feelings while in front of these gay friends.

    I am simply blown away. And that doesn’t happen often.

  • Mark

    Wow. Just Wow.

  • TED

    I’m gay, and I find it galling that people concern themselves with who I want to marry.

    But I’m entirely willing to sacrifice my fundamental human rights and those of homos everywhere if it will keep Chuck and Coco from having to marry you. And if that doesn’t work, you’d better make sure to keep the “speak now or forever hold your peace” bit out of the ceremony because if you don’t, I’m going to show up and object. Vociferously.

  • Laura

    Amazing. You’re a much braver soul than I. I found my old journals from high school, the rambling bullshit that spewed forth from my pot-addled teenaged self smacking me in the face like, well, steaming shit.

    Yours….good stuff.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know if you read my comments (I’ve never really posted many) or if I’ll ever hear back from you. But, again, I want to thank you for your stories on your fight with depression, your experiences in family life, and the world around you. I read this blog and, while I know it does not represent/discuss everything about your…you have been one of the only bloggers that has kept my attention for as many years as you have. Thank you. Your stories resonate.

  • HDC

    Maybe that’s the problem with Utah. The Crazy. Time to pipe some Prozac into the water supply maybe?

  • Sistah from anotha Mistah

    Ya done gone and growed up, well… good on you! I can’t tell you how much I look forward to the glimpsy into The Crazy, it’s hysterical. We’re all so damn full of ourselves aren’t we? Thanks for sharing you, your pictures, your dog, yo flavah. Hey, you pretty much pimp yourself out don’t ya, Ok, you’re a ho. ;)

  • Dana

    Ah…teenage angst has paid off well.

    I have looked back over all of my teenage writings on occasion…and I always have the feeling that it wasn’t me that wrote all of that crap…but some alien being that took over my brain for several years…how could I have ever been so shortsighted? So bratty? So concerened with such trivial matters? So concrete in the thought that I was right and everyone else was wrong?

    Just goes to show what a little age and experience can do for a person. Everyone and anyone can change…but you’d never have been able to be the person you became without all of that angst and turmoil.

    And I personally think it was the weight of all that hair that was pulling your brain in a weird direction.

  • Lisa

    I remember not having much of an opinion when I was a teenager. My daughter is 14 and is very passionate and opinionated about a lot of things and I love that about her. Who knows what she will be like when she is an old jaded Mom like me.

    I think we shouldn’t judge ourselves too much in our developing years, because we are still “developing”. I think journaling is a great exercise no matter what your age or mental state.

    As for Rob #127…you tuned in and no one forces you to read this site. As for #Kim #259…very Roblike. I hope neither one of you has children.

  • Rich

    Ha Ha, you are like most every girl I dated at BYU.
    You were a compete loon! A total freak!
    Then again, so was I.
    And the sad part of it is, there are thousands of these loons out there right now, roaming the halls of the library wreathing in their righteous indignation of gays and lesbians.
    That school is one fucked up place.
    A true breeding ground for hate and ignorance.
    Isn’t it strange, you go there to learn, but the only answers you find are the ones they give you or ones that you come up with that just happen to agree with your belief system? How fucking convenient.
    Brain washing? Yeah, Every day and 3 hours on Sunday.

    Of course you hear the stories of all those that left the church and were so unhappy. Of course they were unhappy, after 20 years of telling them somethings are wrong, they have no other way to feel but guilty for all the ‘sins’ they are committing.
    I agree with you Heather,
    It is the most horrible place on earth.

  • Stephanie

    You look back on your former life and think it was misguided, but it’s only because you have different opinions than you do now. I thought your writing and your thought process was good, so you weren’t ignorant. You were doing what every college student should do . . . searching out the opinions that you grew up with and figuring out if you really believe them.

    Please don’t reduce other people’s opinions to ignorance, pig-headedness and intolerance. Being a Mormon does not automatically mean that you are any of these things.

  • Melissa

    I live in California and I am voting NO on prop 8!

  • jb

    I don’t know if it’s as black and white as religion being the only thing that condemns gay marriage. My parents are atheists–always were, growing up without a religion–but they’re homophobic. I personally can’t understand their point of view because it lacks an argument, and because i’m a vocal ally. They just say it’s “unnatural” and “abnormal.” And i just yell back that there is no such thing as “normal.” Yep, we don’t get too far.

  • Carrie

    Actually I think that last passage is very interesting — we can see you challenging your own bias and thinking it through. You can’t blame a young person for believing what she has been taught — on the contrary you can be proud to see your young self begin thinking for yourself and challenging what you have been taught.

    Most people who are taught bias and hate stay right where they started.

  • Kristine

    You were a great writer back then too! I too took the journey of discovering what I choose to believe. I did this in accordance with my morals and values instead of blindly adopting that of my parents or church. It wasn’t easy. There was the “fear” of going to hell. I am still a Christian, but a liberal one.

    - historically an arranged financial transaction/peace agreement. Later becomes a sacrament in the Christian faith. Then in medival times enters “romantic love”.

    Other religous and legal issues with marriage now and in history
    - Orthodox Jews do not recognize inter-faith marriages. Inter-faith Jewish marriages aren’t allowed in Isreal. Inter-racial marriages in the US used to be illegal.

    So really, when it comes to marriage, it is what you want it to be depending on your religion or culture – arranged, contractual, religious, gay or straight.

  • Bells

    i just read this and thought, oh thank God I wasn’t the only crazy one in my 20s. Thank God we grow up.

  • Maxine Dangerous

    1. WHOA.

    2. Cool hair! :)

    3. Thank Goddess you don’t think like that anymore. :)

    4. Thanks, as always, for sharing. :)

  • ModernGearTV

    I think it’s incredibly brave of you to share these with the world…I would definitely NOT be as brave. No way, no how. I cringe, too much, and wouldn’t want others to have the same reaction. But the hair, I can get behind! I had a similar hairstyle (and loads of it, too) and THAT is something we can be proud of!

  • Rozie

    There is no need for face punching. You reflect very much how I was raised, how many of my closest friends were raised, and yet we have crossed over to the realm where we’re explaining to our parents that electing Obama will NOT incur God’s wrath.

    Lets both wish each other patience.

  • Velma-NotDaphne

    It is so comforting to know that other women went through this period in their lives. I was brought up in Kentucky, in a strict Southern Baptist religious environment. (Fundamentalist, much?) Throughout my teenage years I struggled with what the church and “God” were teaching, and the way that I felt, which led to tremendous guilt and shame. Growing up and in the process becoming more educated, coupled with the absence of weekly endocrination, I was able to escape that way of life…hopefully, emerging as the open-minded, thinking individual that I am today. What we are taught as truth, during those all-too important formative years, is never as genuine as what we are able to learn for ourselves.

  • Ang171

    You were the scary kind of cult member…I MEAN good little Mormon girl my parents always wish I’d become.

  • Eve Grey

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen the word homosexual written so often in any one piece of writing. I must say you were very consistent.
    Don’t be so hard on yourself. We were all know-it-all dweebs with super long hair and tight ankle jeans.
    Props to you for putting this stuff out there. I know I wouldn’t have the tolerence for some of the comments.

  • Courtney P

    It is amazing the contrast between your current self and that crazy person! I am still chuckling because it is unbelievable. Glad you really took the time to figure out who YOU were without continuing to accept the beliefs that were being forced upon you. Thanks for sharing!

  • ibis

    I love these journal entires, particularly the one about “homosexuals and aids,” because I can see in them the same process I went through at the same age of just beginning to have that spark of critical thinking about religion and all the so-called beliefs that had been ground into me – that I had accepted out of hand as mine without really looking at them. I guess I understand being embarrassed, but I think they are actually rather wonderful, with their glimmer of the more enlightened person who would later emerge.

  • Bethany

    Dude. Your hair lives on in legend. It’s like a living breathing creature there. BEHOLD IT. It looks in to my very soul.

    Also… I have a diary from around the 5th grade that is priceless. One entry basically says “Well, it’s been nice knowing you all. I am pretty sure I have leukemia and probably will not live through the night.” Then on the very next page it says something like “Bobby likes me. I am really really glad!” And the next page? Something like… “I wonder what would happen if I shoved a peanut all the way up my nose and left it there for a few months?” So yeah…. it’s a wonder I did not drown in the shower before I hit the 7th grade. I will have to dig that thing out of my parents basement the next time we visit and post a few of the more choice entries on my blog. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Hilary

    When I first read those entries, I thought you were already mocking your faith — the rabbit as proof that God lives, Ryan as Satan, the goose-bumping flag salute. You could have written those same words today, with only a slightly different spin!

    Makes me terrified to re-read my 15 years worth of diaries, yet I can’t bring myself to throw them out. Someday I imagine myself bedbound, helpless to stop my children from reading them out loud.

  • Jodi

    There is a reason I didn’t keep my diaries. You just re-inforced that for me.

    I cannot believe the thoughts you had. Do they teach that in the Mormon church or was it all “The Crazy” as you call it?

  • Anonymous

    This reminds me of a Dar Williams song called Teen For God.

    The girls have looks and the girls have rules
    They came here from their Bible schools
    They can make you pay attention
    To the way you dress and eat
    Make you trip over your own two feet and they
    Kneel down on their towels at night
    Their nightgowns glow with a Holy light
    And we pray for the sinners
    And their drunken car wrecks
    And vow that I’ll never get high
    And have sex
    I’m a teen for God

    Help me know, four years from now
    I won’t believe in you anyhow
    And I’ll mope around the campus
    And I’ll feel betrayed
    All those guilty summers I stayed
    But then I’ll laugh
    That I fell for the lure
    Of the pain of desire to feel so pure
    And I’ll bear all the burdens
    Of my little daily crimes
    Wish I had a God for such cynical times
    Far from today

  • Jen

    Wow. Your gay rant made my head spin! Hilarious entries! I can’t tell you how amusing it is to read this from you. I had the impression that you were always the rebel. So it gives me hope for a Catholic friend of mine who condemns her own father for his homosexuality!

    P.S. What exactly are albino raindrops anyway??

  • Matin

    I can’t believe you wrote those things, it’s so not like you. That sounds like a great book:-)
    I admire you for being so honest and brave about everything, thats what makes you such a great writer.
    Ps: I like the 90’s hair:-)
    XX M

  • Nhiro

    My god, your neat ass handwriting. Are you the valedictorian of everything?

  • Kelly

    #663: Tootsie: before you start yelling out your window, check out #644 NPR link.

    Unless of course, your belief in people’s religious freedom only goes one way. I’m getting so sick of people who loudly tout their politically correct opinions when they have virtually NO idea what the real issues are.