I left the church about 4 years ago & its brainwashing rules/morals still have their affect on me. I can't seem to get past them & everyday I feel guilty for the things I do against those set rules. I used to be a totally commited, full blown Mormon. I followed every rule in the book exactly. I became a Mormon Fanatic. It's taken me 4 years to realize my denial that these things still have an impact on who I am. It took an outsider to point out these things to me. I feel depressed everyday. I can't seem to figure out what to do. I want to do things in life feeling free-spirited and not always influenced by those little rules in the back of my head. Does anyone have any advice as to how you can get rid of these brainwashings or even experience on things you did to do so? I would really appreciate all suggestions or advice anyone has.
What I want more than anything is to be able to find people on here whom I can relate with. I really need some stable friends/support from this trauma I went through leaving the church.Thanks!
Positive affirmations outloud or in your head. Whenever you find yourself thinking the guilty thoughts/feelings programmed by Mormonism, instead assert to yourself that you are a good person and there's nothing wrong with doing <x>. Repeat at least three times or more as necessary to get through that episode. The more you do this, the less often you should experience the old programming. Also, forgive yourself for experiencing the old programming. Don't get down on yourself, as that can potentially make them worse. Love yourself just as you are, an ex-mormon still learning the ropes of life sans mormonism.
Don't under estimate how difficult it is to leave the church but still have those teachings haunt you for years. I am over a decade out of the church and I still struggle daily with all that was pounded into me for over 20+ years.
The way I saw it when I was in the slow and painful process of leaving the church is programming. It took my entire childhood to program all those things into me so I was going to have to endure the painful process of un-programming those ideas out of me and re-programming my mind with healthier ideas. It was slow, long, & painful, and I still feel the effects of it every day.
I highly recommend counseling if you can find a good counselor who can help you in this process.
As off-the-wall as this sounds, one of the most helpful things I found when I was leaving the morg was Al-Anon. I was married to a righteous convert who obviously converted for the glory, but not the reality, and he just couldn't leave the drugs and alcohol alone. I do owe him the thanks for giving me that final push out of the morg. I ended up in Al-Anon because I needed help and surprisingly it helped me get over my addiction for idiots like my ex-husband and the silent addiction I was forced into as a child - the LDS nightmare. Al-anon gave me a framework for a MUCH healthier way to live and be at peace with myself and the world. It was still hard but I had a support group and a framework for living well and that made a HUGE difference. I never got any of that in the morg, in fact all I got was quite the opposite!!
the biggest thing that helped me when doing things that is against the Mormon rules was to think about what was supposed to be bad about the activity or action, and see if without the Mormon theology it was still considered bad or immoral. it is easier to break the programming if you give yourself reasons why it isn't an immoral thing to do.
Sari has a great idea - for her Al-Alon helped her find a community. You need to find yours - if you drink coffee consider stopping by a coffee shop once a week. People there seem to start up conversations quickly. Many ex-church people (who have left various faiths) are very reluctant to start up with another church (we can all see why). Depending on your community, see if you can find people who like what you like (hobbies?) that are not Mormons and while you are with them you can all relax.
I found that surrounding myself with people who genuinely don't judge is the best medicine. I left the church, move to Alaska and met amazing wonderful people who showed me how life can really be, how free I really was and listen, I think the biggest part is accepting the LDS side of you. I will never speak bad about the church because it is a part of me and always will be. It had an effect on who I am today and I'm thankful for the strengths I got from it. I also have a very close, loving family who are all very faithful and although it took time, they accept me and I think i got lucky on that part but it's important not to shut that side of you out. Embrace it and you will be set free.
Yes it is a trauma to get out of the church. I went through the steps of mourning after leaving the church and that helped deal with the loss of my entire support system. You are not alone, I suffer from the guilt of 'sinning' every once in a while too. I agree with malachia_florida to reason the action out. Why do the Mormons see this as a sin, and go from there. I can be very empowering to take back your own emotions. There is nothing wrong with me because I enjoy doing something that another person sees as wrong.
I know how odd this is going to sound, but in some strange way I really admire you for who you used to be when you described yourself as a Mormon fanatic. The minute I read that statement I pictured two or three women I used to know and I held them in the highest esteem. They just seemed to be in a place I knew I would never ever be and they seemed classier and more clever and intelligent than everyone. All of the ones that came to mind were women from my youth, some who I grew up with. The only one I still know about is a complete mess and still a Mormon, but divorced and dealing with mental issues. I think it says a lot about you that you lived your religion to the fullest, something few people have ever done.
I like what Rajuncountrygrl said the best. She said the following:
I will never speak bad about the church because it is a part of me and always will be. It had an effect on who I am today and I'm thankful for the strengths I got from it. I also have a very close, loving family who are all very faithful and although it took time, they accept me and I think i got lucky on that part but it's important not to shut that side of you out.
That applies to me as well. I have come to embrace the Mormon side of me that will always be there. It no longer defines me. I wonder if you are a perfectionist and perhaps it is as much about feeling like you need to be doing more than anything else. I think many of us who left did so because we had to either be 100% Mormon or nothing.
This site is full of wonderful supporters and very strange people. I'm not sure if I'm in the wonderful supporters category or strange people category, but you have my support either way.