The LDS church has dominated my life for just shy of the last three decades in one way or another. Chances are, I'm no different than you. I was born and raised in the church. My parents still have the microcassette from my baby blessing, for crying out loud. Baptized at 8, priesthood at 12, mission at 19, BYU after the mission. I was headed for a fairy tale TBM life.
Then something started happening. It was so slow, and so imperceptible at first, that I didn't notice. In hindsight, with all the thought I've given it, I couldn't even pinpoint when it began. The walls of the fortress I had shut myself in started to crack. I don't know they had always been there, or if they started forming before, during, or after my mission. Then there was that one thing. The straw that broke the camel's back. That one thing that brought my entire faith crashing to the ground. Having realized that one thing meant none of the rest of my testimony could continue to stand.
I did what I've always done when confronted by something that doesn't make sense. I started researching. I started learning the things that the church had hidden in plain sight. The church relies on people to be dumb. Well, maybe not dumb. Perhaps lazy is a more appropriate word. Churches have always relied on the laziness of their lay members. If they work us to death with calling and home/visiting teaching, and three hour blocks, and auxiliary meetings, and YM/YW, and all the other stuff that goes along with being a good member, then we won't have time to do the proper research.
But now, I'm out. My identity for a long, long time was Bryan the Mormon. Since I'm out of the church, you'd think I could just leave it behind, but now there's a hole in my life where the church used to be. The only thing I have to fill it with is being Bryan the ExMormon. And it's right for me to need to be an ex-mormon. I need to grieve. My entire identity has been fundamentally changed. Being and ex-mormon is allowing me to heal. Don't get me wrong, I love these little communities I've found. LAM has accepted me unconditionally, and I've grown to truly care for some of the people here. You have been monumental in changing my life for the better.
I hope to one day drop the descriptor ex-mormon, and be content to just be Bryan. I hope to one day not need this community. I hope to one day be the Bryan people talk about here more or less in the past tense. Hopefully, I'll be remembered fondly as that guy who always had something kind, or funny, or insightful to stay.
I'm starting to recognize how highly transient the community here is, and am trying my best to be grateful for that aspect of it. This seems to be like a triage unit for the soul. To those of you who have moved on, I salute you. To those of you here who have accepted me, I thank you.
Thanks, Bryan. You beat me the punch on some of the things you said. I can relate. I still may say my piece, so stay tuned...
I feel much the same, Bryan. Nice to know there are so many of us out here.
This is an excellent post, Bryan. Thank you for saying what a lot of people I think may be feeling right now.
I think we all process our experiences differently and no way that we process is right or wrong. We are all perfectly imperfect individuals each doing our best in any given moment to find and follow our truth. I may always view myself as an "ex-mormon" because there is huge part of me that is proud of my courage to leave behind faulty, crippling dogma and be true to myself.
All communities and relationships are temporary. That is simply part of human nature. I will miss those who have felt the need to move on from this community. For the time being, I find being here a very validating and encouraging experience. My hope is that we can accept each others' respective places in this journey. I am glad you are part of the community. I know that you and others here have much to contribute. :)
I was married to an alcoholic for 5 years in my early 20's...married in the temple and all that jazz. He was a gem...long story.
Once I was done with him I went to Al-anon and found true help and true peace, something I never found as a TBM. I also went to counseling. My counselor told me that the trick was to use Al-anon for a time, get the picture and then move on or it would become the next "alcoholic" in my life. Hope that makes sense.
I get what you are saying about someday not needing the LAM community, I hope so too but with my husband and I both having huge devout TBM families it is going to take a long time. My husband still won't denounce the church, he just doesn't want to follow along. I have had my name removed.
I truly believe that if we want to move on, we can, its just allowing yourself a matter of time and then moving on and filling your time with other things.
I'm thinking that you then get some nice quiet time with the house to yourself and thoughts to yourself, while he is off at church and meetings?
The thing is, I would never look at you as "Bryan the Ex-Mormon." You left the church. Congrats! I did too! But I'd just call you Bryan, you know? Because, truth be told, I don't give a rat's ass what your beliefs or anyone else's are. That's your business. :P
Good post Bryan. I've tried to make this site a place that allows for as smooth as transition possible from being mormon, to ex-mormon, to ex-exmormon. The name of the site used to be "Life Beyond x-Mormonism" to emphasize the life that we go on to live after moving beyond ex-mormonism. It is my hope that the community can continue to be here for everyone, regardless of where each my find themselves on the journey.
Mormon, ex-mormon, ex-exmormon, these are just labels and no more describe who you are at your core than describing a tree solely by it's color to someone who can't see. Labels can be useful in communicating in as few words as possible where you are in your journey right now, or where you went or want to go, but labels generally miss the mark when choosing how to identify ourselves, as the interpretation of labels often differs from person to person. For that reason, I find it least damaging to apply labels only skin deep in how I identify myself and below that impermanent surface, I try to self identify by what I am at my core essence: primarily life energy and consciousness itself, something indescribable and untouchable. Where ever you are, find peace and enjoyment in it.
my story is similar.
I could not have said it better myself.
Well said, Bryan.
But like Teramia said: I may always view myself as an "ex-mormon" because there is huge part of me that is proud of my courage to leave behind faulty, crippling dogma and be true to myself.
Only another "Ex-mormon" will know the integrity and sacrifice that word requires.