An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation


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.

  • Heather, you are a braver woman than I. Never ever ever will I scan and post my pathetic teeny bopper diary entries or a photo of me at age 14 with a highly gelled and very short poodle perm.

    Sitting out here in the apostacy that is Bendover, NV, I get excused for being for gay marriage by my Utah County buddies. I’m blinded by neon, dontcha know. (And what’s hilarious is that this comment was interrupted by a phonecall from the missionaries.)

    My older sister and her GAY, VERY GAY, partner have just purchased a house in Utah County suburbia. Oh I worry about that. But, on the other hand, it could be taken as a sign that things are a changin’, even in the land of BYU.

  • Megan

    1) So, as always – thank you Heather for your limitless & self-deprecating honesty!! As a daughter of a gay man who spent my high school years in a Baptist school in the South…I have a somewhat unique perspective on the issues. I was always the “liberal” among my friends though so my writings from high school are mortifying in a completely different way =) But I so thank you for your ability to show the transition that we all (hopefully) go through as we enter adulthood and begin questioning what we have been taught in order to learn what we truly believe.

    2) Though others have responded to this quite well already, I would like to follow in their footsteps and respond to Kristin:
    Separation of church & state is precisely what allows you to embrace your religion so completely. If government were given the right to impose laws based solely on religious precepts or given the right to mandate a national religion – this would infringe upon your religious rights, as there is no guarantee that the government’s religion would match your faith. You, as a result of free will, choose to believe in your faith, just as everyone else has been given that same choice to make – and it is not one that the government can or should make for you.

  • Meg

    As a Christian I must be really sinning b/c I read your blog. Oh the Horror! How open-minded of me; who would have thunk that a Christian could actually step outside the box?

    I may not always agree with you but love your writing. And, FWIW, I don’t believe Mormons are Christians. I think its a cult. We may not agree on everything. How boring would that be! But you have helped me in more ways than you know, Heather.

    Great writing.

  • I’m pretty much of the opinion that if you remove religion from MOST issues, they would no longer be issue.

    But to so clearly display to us that you overcame The Crazy and The Religion, and actually experienced growth only serves to remove the idea that you are NOT like the characters on TV who never evolve or become better people.

    Thanks for bursting my bubble. Seriously.

  • Heather, the Mormons certainly don’t have a monopoly on this. Your diary reads like Bible Belt girl stuff. I had a college roommate, a transfer to Small Liberal Arts College from Large Baptist University, who would pray for her lost checkbook instead of look for it.

    Why’d she leave “LBU” (NOT Liberty, BTW) ? Little breakdown when she walked in on her “good Christian Boyfriend,” so good he’d never “tried anything ungentlemanly” with her, kissing another boy.

    She really found the CRAZY.

    I’m so very glad you lost it!

  • I was reading some of my teen diaries while packing for a move, and one entry about an argument I’d had with a high school friend made me laugh out loud. I wrote, “I will NEVER forget what Amelia did to me.” Of course I had no recollection of the incident. Oh, THE DRAMA.

  • Ha, you said “blatant fornication”. That’s freaking hilarious!

  • Z

    I was almost too astonished by the albino raindrops to keep reading. Bless your young heart, you must have been so pleased with the imagery. If I’d kept a diary at that age, I’d be keeping it to myself now, so congratulations for sharing it and letting us raise our eyebrows for one reason or another.

    And not all Christians think that homosexuality is a sin. Some of us are a bit bemused that so many who hold a religious faith are so interested in other people’s sex lives and sexuality. I’m as annoyed by Christians who profess to speak in my name as by those who hate Christianity on principle, as if it matters to them what I believe.

    And the hair, gosh, the hair. I feel strangely jealous.

  • Wow now that is one hell of a picture. This is one of the reasons I have never personally kept a picture of myself. Everyone is crazy in there own way I never took crazy pills but maybe I should be . Without crazy people where would the world be?


    It would probably be no where the greatest minds are crazy or insane by definition. Everyone else is more like a social drone going from day to day.

  • Anonymous

    I wrote terrible things in high school, too. I wouldn’t have the nerve to publish mine.

    I scrolled back up to find the handwritten words “blatant fornication.” 🙂

  • Megan

    Regarding gay marriage, I once heard someone say:

    I don’t think the world’s biggest problem is two people who love each other so much that they want to spend the rest of their lives together.

    That about sums it up.

  • Katrina

    I used to be a right-wing fundie. Even went to a QUAKER high-school. When I first stepped out into the real world (college!) I met a new group of friends. One of them asked me what I thought about gay people. I TOTALLY knew the answer to this one! Jumped right up onto my soap box and started spouting off the lines my teachers ‘n’ preachers taught me to say. Felt good, felt all self-righteous, right up until the point when one of the guys burst into tears and walked away.

    There was a bit of awkward silence before someone blurted out, “He’s gay.”

    Right then and there I reexamined what I’d been taught. Homosexuals weren’t evil, weren’t “of the devil”, they were real honest-to-gosh people just like me. I’m pretty sure that was the point when I started to realize that being a christian wasn’t for me. If I couldn’t love ALL people, no matter what, I didn’t want to be a part of it.


  • Lauren

    More than anything I was SUPER DUPERLY proud of the journey you’ve made. And think it takes a lot of balls to say to the whole entire internet (no pressure) that you were once this and now you’re that. It gives me hope that people can change and that the cycle of ignorance doesn’t have to continue regardless of background.

    Nice hair though. Wow.

  • Anonymous

    Kristen – your religion should not dictate if other people can marry each other or not.
    Your religion can tell you not to be gay but it can’t tell someone else.

  • My favorite line: “They, too, are human beings with real human emotion and real human moms and dads.”

    You don’t say!!

    This is totally hilarious. In 7th grade, I wrote a poem in defense of OJ Simpson. What??

  • Edward

    Awesome post. Your website is as much part of my day as brushing my teeth or needing to pee.

    Entertaining as always and thanks for supporting my right to marry.

  • Heather…

    I have commented on only a few occasions, usually to remark at your humor or add a few names for a friends dog. But today I had to comment to say that I resonate with your experience with religiosity. I have a deep and abiding faith, but have had to really look at the way that religious culture alienates people and hinders the very idea of community that all “the good books” talk about us entering into… I’ve come under a good deal of scrutiny for starting to question the assumptions (just yesterday I was blogged about for this reason) and be vocal about the harm many are experiencing at the hands of those who are called to love.

    I’ve journaled since I was 13… my logs of life from then til now have been interesting mile markers to consider as I strive to grow in the years to come. I’m glad you shared yours, I was provoked toward contemplation.

    Best of everything,

  • OOOOH! But what made Karen an agent of Satan?

    I like to imagine her with one of those McDonald’s-size lattes in one hand and a crack pipe in the other.

  • Caitlin

    OH. MY. I happened to dig up my diary from 7th grade a few weeks ago, and that was apparently a pretty angsty year. From what I could glean from the scribbled mess, being 5’11” when I was 12 did me no favors in middle school.

    I went to high school with a Mormon friend who spent most of his first hour for four years telling me that I was hell-bound if I didn’t change my stance on gay rights, abortion, etc. etc. He was pretty pleasant aside from the condemning me constantly thing.

    I absolutely love your blog. You give me and my husband plenty of laughs. By the way, we watched the Ben Bernanke video, and it seems that we are a match made in weird heaven.

  • Christina

    There is no way that is your real hair…there is no way that could be anyone’s real hair??? is it???

  • Listen, everyone who’s been bashing comments #11, 28 and 32, obviously you haven’t considered the extreme consequences of supporting gay marriage. A conservative commentator made the following excellent argument against gay marriage:

    “So if we allow gay marriage, what’s to prevent a gay guy from sneaking into my house while I’m asleep and just gay marrying me?”
    -Stephen Colbert-

    Would you want that to happen to YOU? HMM?

    But honestly, we don’t take the dangers of anything seriously enough, anymore. Just look at this link:

    And I thought bread was safe. Rookie error.

  • Actually, the essential you hasn’t changed. Many people slog through the years without thinking much about how to apply the principles of right and wrong to what they do in their daily lives. Your old journals show that you were always a critical thinker who struggled to incorporate your beliefs into your actions, and who used writing as a tool to figure it all out.

    You’re still doing that. It’s just that along the way, your beliefs became bigger and kinder, and your writing began to allow you the room to laugh–at yourself first–so many people can’t–so that your laughter at the foibles of others would be the laughter of commiseration, not mockery.

  • Carrie

    Those entries make me thrilled that I didn’t keep a diary.
    And also, AZ has one – No on AZ 102, please! There are enough things to hate about this state without adding constitutionalized bigotry.

  • Amanda

    Hey #71…stereotype much? Way to show how open minded you are!

  • Anonymous

    really interesting insight into your mormon days.

  • Rob

    I am sure you are going to have some smart response but here goes anyway: You don’t agree with your former church any more, GET OVER IT! Move on, get a life, make your own decisions stop living in the past. Are you so desperate to sell this site that you feel the only way you can get readers is to continue to bash religion? What a unique idea!

    Are we supposed to feel sorry for you because your church ruined your life? Wait maybe it was your severely deranged parents that totally ruined your life?

    Last time I looked you travel the US, have a nice house, and really aren’t suffering for anything you want. Poor, poor Heather. I wish I could sit at home all day and spend 2 hours a day writing a blog entry and drive my kids to school and pick them up every day.

    I laugh at all the commercialism on this site…how many things are for sale? And yet you are not selling out, you are just keeping it real, its all about a Mom who suffers with depression and finds a way to cope right? HA! You sure have a tough life with 1 kid and that terrible church that mercilessly persecutes you EVERY DAY. And oh that horrible snow, I am sorry dear princess that the weather isn’t 80 and sunny every day. How do you survive? Oh the horror of going shopping with 1 child. How do you manage!?!? Have you hired help yet? Someone to clean your house or watch your child so you can have some ‘alone’ time?

    The only real thing about this site is that it pays for your very comfortable life.

    Now I am sure your ‘fans’ will flock to your defense. They will tell you how perfect you are and how stupid this post is. Gee, you could call that the church of Heather and maybe get classified as a charity! Oh speaking of which, its so noble of you to give $20 to a homeless person. That totally makes you a philanthropist! Why don’t you use some of your power as a web persona to create a charity to help Mothers who are experiencing the same issues you do? Or are you too busy designing the next product to sell on your site?

    Now lets hear all about how you know how tough real life is because you lived in LA and got fired once……

    Once upon a time there lived a princess…….

  • Kay

    You are so brave to publish the skeletons in your closet. I have been a journaling fiend since 1996 and the crap I wrote back then is so shaming to me sometimes… but I like to see where I have been and it helps me to listen to others and not judge them because they will be different in another year or two. I just love the fact that I am not the only one who delt with THE CRAZY in my life and that we all can gorw up and get over ourselves. Love you and your blog!

  • suewanda


    Look what a big girl you’ve grown up into, Heather. I only know you from Dooce, but what a difference.

    It makes me feel like there is hope and promise for some of those who still may feel this way.

    Rock your vote, America and get some change goin’ on down there.

    signed a friendly canadian, sue

  • This is why I burned my college journal(s) many years ago. I was mortified by some of the shit I wrote. I never kept a journal in high school for fear my brother or sister or parents would find it.
    I sometimes wish I had it back, to reread some things, but I’d be mortified all over again and take the same spy-mantra. Destroy all evidence!

    Now, I have a blog instead. Hmmm….

  • Bravo! Although I must say you have probably changed more than most, it is great that you can look back on your college self/experiences and laugh. As a completely new reader and non-follower of your writing, I must say that I really enjoyed this.

    PS: Whatever did you do with all your luscious locks of hair? Was it cut off in one fell swoop or gradually over time? I am curious…is there a story lurking in that hair?

  • Denise

    Diary entries are hysterical, aren’t they? I read mine and just laugh. OTOH….Mormons are NOT hysterical. They are scary!!! My ex-husband was a Mormon. A smoking and drinking Mormom, but a Mormon, nonetheless. While he was cool, his crazy Mormon family was too bizzare for words. I don’t miss any of them now….expecially that wacko-family of his! I never want to be near that much weirdness again!

  • AnEmily

    I just really want to marry albino raindrops now.

  • Angela

    Even when you take religion out of the issue – marriage was never just between 2 people who loved each other. Marriage is between ONE man and ONE woman.

    Your journal entries are awesome Heather. Thanks for sharing.

  • yunomi


    There is a seperation between church and state. Plain and simple. Why this is even a question at this point in time is mind blowing. Since when did a religion dictate one’s civil liberties?

  • Wow. It is scary how brainwashed you were. I mean, completely and utterly brainwashed…

  • Karen

    I love hearing from straight people who really care about this problem. I think if even half the people who say “I don’t really care if gay people want to get married, what does it matter to me?” would get up the gumption to care a little that we CAN’T, this issue would be settled rather quickly.

  • ellen

    hahaha! the diary entries from my baptist period are the ones of which i’m most ashamed. the entries were riddled with guilt and self-hatred about the most innocent youthful things, and yet i had zero guilt about the truly hateful opinions i had toward others. it was all regurgitated robot-speak i’d been taught in my youth group. it’s amazing how much i have changed, and i like this version of myself a whole lot better. i’m glad i’m not the only one – thanks for sharing!

  • So glad that you mentioned Prop 8 and the fact that it is a civil rights issue. It deserves more attention in that matter, and you are certainly one to get it!

  • Jessica

    Heather, I am so with you on having to look back with the same mortification of the world inside my head growing up. I read your blog because I can relate, and because you capture the humor and horror of looking back at who I was, along with the gratefulness of how much clearer I’ve gotten since. Thanks.

  • pfffft good luck marrying your dogs! I’m gonna pass a law saying only I can marry your dogs! We’ll make a giant reality show about it and the finale will be the beautiful beautiful wedding.

    Loved the journal entries. I’ve never been good at keeping a regular journal, but when I go back and read my attempts…whoo I can be a total weenus on the page.

  • This is a really really good point. My family is all Mormon and (having been born and raised in Utah) I grew up placing stock in ignorant -fear based – beliefs such as this. Gay marriage is just as sacred as straight marriage and anyone that loves someone else enough to want to spend their life with them should be allowed to get married. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

  • Just writing to say how your growth – from “ignorant, intolerant, pig-headed adolescent” to the person you are today – gives me hope for Americans and humans in general. Whenever I encounter such narrow-mindedness, my first instinct is to run the hell away… it seems completely impossible that someone so entrenched could ever come around to reason. You’re living proof that they can. Thank god.

  • Anu

    I think your last journal entry actually shows that despite your conservative upbringing you were still willing to question the ideals of your faith and not blindly accept them. You should be proud of yourself for thinking about issues larger than you at a time when self-obsession is the norm.

  • And this is why I am no longer mormon either!

  • draper mom

    Can I just say, I love you…and that’s in a completely sane, heterosexual, admiring way. You make me laugh. And one should never revisit old journal entries without A LOT of wine.

  • i threw out ALL my college journals (threw out meaning BURNED, RIPPED AND SHREDDED) when my first child was maybe 2. i just couldn’t risk dying and having him find that stuff. it was very similar to yours. but with much more detail of the crazy that is an emotional college girl.

  • Love the concept of the book!

    To be honest, I think you’re being too hard on yourself. What I saw in that last entry was that even through your struggles, the CORE of you was there and strong. You had compassion when you were taught to have none. You questioned when you were ordered to obey. Those are things to be proud of.

    The “albino raindrops” are kind of inexcusable, though… 😛

  • Anonymous

    I agree with comment #41. Having returned to being a Mormon in my late 30s, I can honestly say that that choice was made because it is right for me, yet I understand that it is not right for everyone. What concerns me with your post is your general stereotyping and categorizing of those in the Mormon faith.

    Living in Washington, DC and having experienced the world through my travels and experiences, I feel that I am neither ignorant nor naive, so it bothers me to be lumped into that category. Most of us have friends who are not of our faith or belief system and we are completely capable of being both nonjudgmental and tolerant.

  • Sheila

    I love that little girl who wrote these journal entries. She was genuinely struggling with the way she was expected to behave, the world she wanted to believe in and all the contradictions that she faced. It is a very special thing that even today that little girl didn’t give up her struggle to be genuine.

    During my first date in 9th grade, I was sure that my date was going to try to have sex with me. But I was going to be strong and firmly keep my precious virginity. Poor Andrew. He had no idea who he was dealing with!

  • What a gorgeous waterfall of golden locks! Last year at my 10-year HS reunion, I pulled some righteous Catholic ruminations from the reunion trunk – things that I wrote when I was 15. I CANNOT BELIEVE the intolerant person I used to be. I couldn’t even read the whole thing – too cringe-worthy! Which is why I think making these old journal entries public is kind of brave of you, Heather.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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