I am a second generation Mormon. My mother converted shortly after I was born and my father converted after that, but didn’t stay active very long. I don’t remember him ever being a church-goer. We were sealed in the Oakland temple when I was three years old. Only two of my five siblings are active church members.

My husband and I married in 1980 in the Idaho Falls Temple. He served his mission in Fukuoka, Japan 76-78. We met at BYU (of course). Two years after we were married we began our family and ended up with five children currently 27, 23, 21,19, and 17. We have two grandchildren ages 4 and 9 mos.

My church resume is typical; I spent countless years in Primary, did a short stint in YW (didn’t like it), and my last calling was Relief Society president. Well, my last “real” calling was a Primary teacher after RS president, but I don’t count it as a calling, because by that time I was awakened enough that I knew it was not a ‘calling’ at all so I asked to be released (gasp!). My husband was the quintessential priesthood holder.

I was true blue from the very beginning. I loved the church and did everything it asked me to do without question and participated in every activity and program available from the time I was a little girl up until two years ago. In February of 2006 I actually had some time to myself as my children were mostly raised and I began wondering why I was so unhappy with marriage, my life, and myself. I just wanted relief from the endless cycle of personal problems that plagued me and I was assured and taught that living the Gospel is the answer to all problems in life. So, I decided to put it all to the test. This began an intense personal spiritual quest for a ‘born again’ experience, which led indirectly to my leaving the church because I was certain that I would find what I needed in the church. Boy, was I in for a big surprise!

From November 2006 to July of 2008 I was a voracious reader and student of comparative religions and spirituality. I was a woman possessed! I threw all my beliefs under the microscope and dissected them thoroughly for truth. In the course of that study I found out the truth about religion in general and Mormonism in particular. My emerging beliefs from all this study did not gibe with what I was taught in the church and then the cog/dis set in and I knew I would eventually have to make the choice that I really didn’t want to have to make. How could I stay in the church now, knowing what I knew? I couldn’t.

In the summer of 2008, I finally unburdened myself of the yoke of the church. I took off my garments, turned in my temple recommend and wrote an email to all my family explaining my decision and gave a copy of it to my bishop. My son was on a mission at the time and so I wrote him a long letter so he would know from me and not find out accidentally through the grapevine. I didn’t have my name officially removed out of respect for my mother, who was terminally ill at the time and has since passed away, and my husband, to whom it was important that I not do it. I felt such a surge of personal power run through my body after making this decision. I knew I had retrieved a huge chunk of my spirit that I had left in the church.

In the ensuing weeks after the decision our family went through some very difficult adjustments and are still working through them. My bishop is a family friend and he offered love and support, as did most of the people in our ward. No one in our ward has ever treated me rudely. My extended family of siblings and their spouses, in-laws and friends were mostly supportive. My one brother showed his concern by grilling me about my salvation and that of my family. He meant well, but I was annoyed. We had some terse email exchanges that have put a strain on our relationship but we have made up and apologized. Ironically, it was my non-member SIL that showed the most interest in what I had studied that brought me to the decision and showed the most kindness and open-mindedness about the whole thing.

Today, the dust has now settled a bit and I find that I am in need of finding out who I really am and what kind of life I want to live. I am putting my Mormon experience in perspective and in putting two and two together I’ve realized that religion is one of the biggest illusions we will have to overcome here in Earth school and the truer one thinks one’s religion is the more effort it takes to put your trust in the Living God and not in an institution. I have never looked back- only forward!

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Wow, great story. I have a brother on a mission right now who my family has decided not to tell about my leaving the church. I am curious as to how your son reacted and how he is currently doing out in the field. My brother still has a year left and I would prefer to be the one to tell him but I don't want to rock the relationship I still have with my large TBM family. Thanks!
Hi Micah,

After reading your post I asked my son if he appreciated having the letter or would he have preferred to wait to hear about it afterward. He chose the former. Everyone is different, though. I opted for honesty because it had been sorely lacking in our family and I wanted him to know that I knew he would be able to handle it. My other son who had also served a mission encouraged me to write him and tell him. You've been on a mission, what would you have preferred? How would your brother handle it? What are your TBM family members afraid will happen if your brother does find out from you? Is it an important personal issue that you take charge of making this decision or do you feel the pressure from your family is benign? Will your brother be pissed off that he was kept in the dark? IMO, not telling him until he got home could be a real downer and wet blanket on what should be a happy occasion. Only you know the outcome of how this effect your family and your brother. You may also want to prepare yourself and consider what the reactions of your TBM family will be if you do decide to tell him against their wishes. Will it be worth it?

If you do decide to tell him, I would recommend finding as positive a spin as possible without compromising your integrity. I was extremely careful in my letter to be as positive as possible so as not to send him in a tailspin by discussing all the problems with doctrine, history, etc. I felt he needed assurance that our family would be there for him when he got home and that I loved him and was still basically the same old Mom he had always known more than he needed a exposition on what is wrong with the church. I explained my experience as a spiritual awakening and that I viewed the church as a stepping stone on a spiritual path that not everyone was ready to take. I also assured him that what he was doing on his mission was helpful to others- that is improving their lives. But, these were my feelings and may not be yours. I knew it would be best for him to finish his mission, but I must admit that I was very anxious for him to be out of that miasma of thought control ASAP! Only you will know best how to handle your situation and how to balance all the pros and cons.

His first reaction to my letter was the status of our eternal family and what were my plans now that I had left the true church. He accepted my assurance that I would never do anything that would jeopardize our family and that I intended to keep on growing spiritually. He showed my letter to his mission president and asked him what to do and, of course, he told him to keep working. My son wrote an email to each of his siblings asking them for their point of view of what was going on in the family, which helped him gain a perspective that everything would be alright when he got back. His sisters were a great help to him as they viewed it in a more positive light even though it had turned our family upside down. He told me that after a couple of days of feeling a bit depressed, he decided it was best to shelve it until after he got home and adopted a positive attitude for the last bit of his mission. It all turned out very well. His homecoming was joyous and in retrospect I would do it all the same way again.

Let's see, he's been home now for two months and we have had some good conversations about the church. Having served his mission in the Bible belt, he had come across about every bit of anti-mormon sentiment there is. When he asks me about anti-mormon stuff, I ask him if he wants to know the truth and then tell him if he does. He has said several things that give me hope that he has an open mind. He told me the other day that he could see how the church was just a preparatory vehicle and that if someone wanted more spirituality they would have to get it themselves, and last night he asked the question: What is the difference between seminary teachers and priestcraft? He now has a very realistic view of the human side of church leaders, thanks to his mission experience, and thinks a lot of the rules and regulations on the mission were stupid. He's always had an authority problem anyway-- compliments of his mother. :- ) He tried very hard not to get caught up in all the silly games that are pounded into missionaries. He could see through a lot of the insincerity and the mind control so, I have hope that he will one day embrace the light---

I hope this was helpful to you and I wish you a positive experience in whatever you decide to do.

Thanks so much for sharing this experience. I'm not sure what I should do. I want him to know, I want to be the one to tell him, but I don't want to start any sort of fight with the family. My parents and siblings have treated me alright for the most part since leaving so I don't think it would cause too much tension. Unless my brother ends up wanting to know more and decides to come home early, although I doubt this would happen, nor would I want him to do so due to the "failure" that he would be labeled as. I'll keep pondering on it and let you know how it goes if I decide to tell him. Thanks again!
This is a really difficult decision to make. I have a nephew who will undoubtedly be going on a mission next fall when he turns 19. He's also attending BYU. A few years after that, another nephew will go. All my nieces and nephews will undoubtedly be getting married in the temple, and of course, I will not be able to attend.

It just plain hurts to be the only member of the family who knows what's going on with the church and its pseudo-history. In my case, I have to just let it all go and keep my mouth shut. Not a single one of them wants to hear about it, and if I were the one they could pin responsibility on for one of my nieces and/or nephews going astray, there would be no forgiveness in this life or in the life to come! :)

So my decision has been to let them all follow along in untruth, hoping they'll get something useful out of it. At least two of my sisters got decent marriages out of it, anyway.
quote: if I were the one they could pin responsibility on for one of my nieces and/or nephews going astray, there would be no forgiveness in this life or in the life to come! :)

This is my biggest worry too. I don't necessarily want my brother to know the truth about mormonism, but I do want him to know that I have left it, along with my wife and kids. Mostly so I can be myself when I email him, and talk about the different things I am involved with now, etc (most of which would be considered wickedness or anti-mormon lol)
Another programming item we all have to jettison is letting others see our new authentic selves and taking the flak that will inevitably come with it. I'm still struggling with that, too! I can tell you from experience that every time I took the opportunity to be my new self, I gained more personal power, even if it was a small thing like drinking a cappucino or cussing when I felt like it. It is also true that every time I did so, those that held my power were not very happy about giving it back.

In some instances (like the cussing) it gave them permission to be themselves, too. (my husband NEVER uttered a swear word in all the 29 years we've been together until a few months ago during an argument I said a string of "horseshits" and then he turned around and said it back to me. We laughed about it and commented how good it felt to say the exact word that expresses our feelings. I thought it was great that he loosened up a bit and said a cuss word. This was a big thing for him because he prided himself on never saying a cuss word.)

"Living real" is the only way our situation with our mormon tribes can only change. When we are living as authentically as we can and with as much love and acceptance of them as possible when they storm and get upset at us, we show them that it is safe to be yourself. I encourage you to let your brother become acquainted with the new you! What's the worse that could happen? :- 0
I have found that even though I left Mormonism I still have residual effects of the thought control. One of the biggest residuals is the ability to let others live and let live and this has to be applied across the board. Just as I want them to be happy for me and my choices, I, in turn have to allow them the same privilege and be happy for what makes them happy. So much easier said than done, but it is a goal to shoot for.

>> I have to just let it all go and keep my mouth shut. Not a single one of them wants to hear about it,

I joined this group precisely because no one wants to hear about it and I needed some outlet for my own sanity's sake. I quit banging my head against that wall! OUCH! My dear friend told me that she needed cult deprogramming counseling after she left. I took her advice and did the same- tonight is my first appointment!

I wonder how many people wanted how to tell me that I was lost in ignorance when I was in the church and couldn't tell me because I was so close minded- I'm sure there were a few. I get very philosophical about it and tell myself that they just need more of this type of experience for their personal growth and these things have a way of working themselves out. I have to tell myself this many, many times... sometimes in one day! :- )

If you get 'pinned', count it as a badge of honor and wear it proudly!! Remember, if you save even one soul, great shall be your joy!

Wow, thanks for all of your great advice Catherine. You said, "One of the biggest residuals is the ability to let others live and let live and this has to be applied across the board. Just as I want them to be happy for me and my choices, I, in turn have to allow them the same privilege and be happy for what makes them happy.

I struggle with this too. I'm getting better at it though. I went through a stage where I wanted to through everything I knew at them, so they could wake up too. I quickly found that to not be effective at anything except driving wedges between us. I am coming to accept that we each have our own life path and for now and the foreseeable future, mormonism is the right path for them, but not for me, and I'm okay with that. However, I still like to stand up for causes I believe in and share things from time to time, but mostly only with those friends that are more open minded.

The other night I read this from this article: http://packham.n4m.org/prozac.htm
A few women are acquainted with a very famous, old Spanish saying: "A quien dices el secreto, das tu libertad." ("To whom you tell the secret, you give your liberty.") Wondering what secret this could be, one woman, knowing I speak Spanish, asked me. I answered that a Spanish academic I knew at the University of Madrid explained that if a person figures out that the Catholic Church isn't literally true and that even the pope is just a man in a fancy robe with a claim to a gift of infallibility that has fallen on its face on various historical occasions, having figured that fact out is "el secreto," which frees its discoverer from feeling guilt-driven to adhere to all the rules, rituals and financial obligations of Roman Catholicism, and feeling guilt-ridden if he/she hasn't been able to do it. And if the discoverer then explains that "secreto" to others, he/she makes the mistake of giving them his/her liberty to obey or not obey, to pay or not to pay, which the people to whom the secret is given don't deserve, because they have not figured it out on their own through their own study and effort, and which can backfire on the discoverer who discloses it, because such disclosures weaken the social structure of the religion and negatively affect the discoverer's new "libertad." So the meaning is that the discoverer should be prudent enough to keep quiet about it the secret, doing his/her part in keeping the "secreto" secret.

This goes along with the saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear". Until our loved ones have reached a similar point of desperation that we ourselves reached, they will not be "ready" for this new enlightenment.

Again, thanks for you comments and encouragement. Good luck in your journey!
I loved your "el secret" quote! A great reminder and so true. Tucked away in Alma 12:9-11 (can I say that here?) is the same principle. I think I'll go read that entire article.


And if the discoverer then explains that "secreto" to others, he/she makes the mistake of giving them his/her liberty to obey or not obey, to pay or not to pay, which the people to whom the secret is given don't deserve, because they have not figured it out on their own through their own study and effort, and which can backfire on the discoverer who discloses it, because such disclosures weaken the social structure of the religion and negatively affect the discoverer's new "libertad."

This is an intriguing idea. I hadn't thought of it this way, but it applies in my case.

I was starting to use the internet for more and more study over the last several years. I had been reading John Taylor Gatto's research into the origins of American government schools, a lot of libertarian thought, and anarchist as well. A lot of it makes sense from a logical standpoint, but there were so many areas where what I was learning seemed to contradict what the church taught, and what God supposedly said. I felt like I had to reject some of it, but how could I if it were true, or if it made perfect sense? Finally, when I learned the undeniable truth of Joseph Smith's multiple accounts of The First Vision, the church's hold on my mind and heart finally started to give way.

If I run after others with this knowledge to try and convince them, I am running the risk of driving them further from the truth. We are all individuals, with our individual freedom. I should not interfere, but just set example and let the truth speak for itself. The truth reaches everyone differently.
About the Cult deprogramming; I read Steven Hassan's first book on "Combating Cult Mind Control", are there other books you would recommend? How do you know if you need this deprogramming?
I haven't read any books per se but I did find the articles on Cognitive Dissonance by Bob McCue and The Double Bind by ?? very informative and revealing. These two concepts helped me put my finger on why I felt such an oppression in the church. Most helpful to me was a list of signs of cult programming posted on Mormon Curtain. I could relate to most of them. I had mistakenly thought that my TBM hubby could help and understand what I was going through. Wrong. It just caused a lot of arguments and additional pain. That's when I knew I needed some deprogramming.

What did you find in Steve Hassan's book that spoke to you?

PS BTW, that article on prozac and depression in Mormon women was very good. Does your wife relate to any of this?


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