Finding out that the church wasn't true a few years ago was a huge blow for me. It's funny now that I look back I can see all the steps - (granted this took awhile)...
1st there was Denial. - "No way what I just watched is true. That can't be. Joseph Smith IS a prophet! I AM a child of God!...."
2nd there was Anger - " I can't believe this is happening! Screw the church. Screw Joseph Smith and his manipulative cunning ways! How could this happen to ME?"
3rd there was Bargaining - " Well... maybe if I keep going back to church... I'll still have my friends, my family won't have to deal with this... I guess I could keep going back and forget everything that I saw and heard. Yes. I will buy me some more time! How hard could it be to pretend?"
4th there was Depression - " No one understands me. I'm all alone and with no religion, no friends, no God, and my family judges me."
5th there was Acceptance - " I have a full life ahead of me. I grew up in a church that helped me in so many ways. It's okay to move on and just be me, even if my friends or family disapprove. I know I'm a good person. I don't have to be bitter or angry. I can take the good...and leave the bad. This doesn't define me - I define myself."
I'm grateful for the challenges I went through coming out of the church. I'm a stronger more empowered woman because of it.
I am grateful for the KNOWLEDGE I have received because I went looking for it. I'm in love with learning! With science, and philosophy, history and humanity! How could I EVER be angry at where I am now? How could I ever blame an organization that only HELPED me get to where I am now :)
I want everyone to know how grateful I am to be a part of this wonderful community. We're here to help and inspire each other, to listen to learn... we're here because we all know what it's like to leave something that was so dear to us. We relate to the pain, and most importantly we relate to this new awareness . Thank you for the laughs, thank you for the deep conversations.
For those of you who are having a rough time. I just want to say, Yes it sucks. Yes it hurts. Yes family and friends can back-stab you so fast. But you're not alone. I know of at least 1 friend you have - and that is me, always. It gets better.
Thanks EW. So true! All those steps are the same thing my family and I went through. It has been over a yr now, and we are happier every day! It is so nice to be able to look back and see the progress!
Because of my age and my location when I was a member, I knew very few people who were "born in the church (TSCC)" - unless they were a lot younger than me or small children.
Those 'born in the church' that I knew, were mostly people from the USA and/or missionaries. So when I first met the missionaries way back in the early 1980's. it was always fascinating to hear their take on things, which I have to admit was most probably my first experience of things up close and personal American. We had no internet at the time and I had no interest in reading up about such.
Now probably because I was/am fiercely patriotic of my own Country, I always had this strong feeling that the church was "An American thing" and so many things didn't always sit well with me. (I had huge problems in the 8 year old being ready for baptism because I really felt our children who were not "born into the church" were different to the ones in America who had grown up LDS, just being one example.... but baptism at 8 was pushed as the norm).
Another thing that got to me was the imposing of some American culture and customs on the Black people of our Country who they got into the waters of bapitsm and even making them give up some of their own culture and customs (not all being bad ones). This did slowly change over the years and I saw many of our Black women attend church later in their cultural dressess which are very beautiful.
Men, unfortunately had to conform to the shirt and tie (can't say suit because most of them could not afford such and passing the Sacrament often meant borrowing a jacket if you were in the position to do so).
I also began seeing the young Blacks (being called Blacks here is totally acceptable) adopting typical American ways (not difficult to do when you have young American missionaries befriending you) and in my personal opinion, saw them losing their own identity. Those that went on missions even came back with an American 'twang' (that applied to our Whites as well) lol.
So where am I going with this? - well according to the discussion here, I personally went straight into the Acceptance stage once I found out what my then religious beliefs was really all based on. "thanks internet" (something Mormonism COULD NOT control).
So yes, maybe it is a bit different for someone who was converted to one who is born into the church (TSCC). Maybe a convert has less problems leaving than someone who grew up in the church. This is just my experience and it would be interesting to know how other converts transitioned.
Great posting E.W. - looking forward to all the responses.
It does get better! I've been out for over 3 years now, came out to my family right after leaving and am in a much better place now. I have found that extending to others the respect to let them believe as they will, mostly allows for that respect to reflect back at you. Understanding that Mormonism is not just a religion but a culture, and expecting to hear family talking about their life in the church can go a long ways to being in acceptance of them just as they are and should in turn make them comfortable and safe in your presence, which I feel is mostly a good thing. My family still invites us to the monthly birthday dinners/gatherings, baby blessings, baptisms and such. We don't always attend the church rites with them but I like not feeling left out when the invites go out. Trying to get family to wake up from Mormonism is mostly fruitless and will more likely damage than help your relationships with them. Wait for them to come to you and then only share what they seem to be genuinely ready for. That said, live your life authentically and be yourself as much as each unique situation allows.
On the journey,
Well said E.W.! This is exactly what I am going through right now. I enjoyed the chats we had and hope to still be able to converse with you.
Thanks for your post and the replies as well-so true. I've seen each member of my immediate family as well as myself, go through those steps at different times in different ways with all the emotions involved the in process-anger, frustration, sighs of relief, learning to see the world through new eyes, allowing yourself the freedom to think without needing to consult someone else, letting go of the need to tell others how to live their lives and giving yourself permission to live life you want to.
I've learned how to appreciate my friends and family who are still very active in the church for the good people that they are trying to be and recognize that we are all at different stages of understanding and experience. I have to remind my father, who wants his brother to understand the history of the church and the practices of the church leaders, that he was once in exactly same place as his brother when I tried to have a conversation with him about why I couldn't accept practices and beliefs held so dear by so many mormons.
I've been able to appreciate different beliefs of different religions and find some good things to take away from them that I find useful and I can also see how much, in one way or another they are also like mormonism. I finally understand and see the beauty John Lennon's song Imagine. I now meditate on a regular basis and it brings a lot of peace in my life. I no longer have to worry about the concepts of heaven or hell and who is or is not going, nor do I focus my energy on the past or the future-today is what is important. I am amazed at the random conversations I have with complete strangers when I no longer catergorize them.
I can accept and understand the limited friendship with my mormon friends because they are uncomfortable with being with someone, who in their mind is not living the way she should. I have sympathy for the mormon misssionaries who are just trying to meet family or cultural expectations while they walk or ride a bike in the rain (I live in Seattle) and knock on the doors of people who know more about the mormon religion then they do. I always tell them if they ever want baked goods-just let me know. My brother was, when he was active, a missionary, and I hope that there were other people that saw him as something other than just a missionary. We are all at different levels of understanding and challenges are what help us change.
Someone replied that the steps of withdrawl from mormonism are simillar to the steps of someone who is terminally ill. And they are right-I experience both and have to remind people that we are all terminally ill. : ) For my other brother who died 3 years ago at the age of 28 to cancer- I only see how blessed I was to have had him in my life and still smile when I remember all the crazy things he did-I feel his presence in my life everyday. For myself, I was also diagnosed with cancer and told that I had a year to live-that was 4 years ago. I no longer belong to a religion (although I never did anything about my membership in the church) but have found a much more meaningful way to live- but this is only my perspective.
you hit it right on the nose.
It gets better is a phrase I used to believe in, but I dont anymore. Trust me, none of you would ever want my situation. Five years out and thought back then I would be in the clear by now. But the hole is actually deeper. I dont even know why the universe sees it necessary I live through this. I can honestly say the freedom of being out doesnt outweigh the pain of all I have lost and the daily endurance test I am subject to. Sorry I have no words of cheer.
Since I left the Church my life has never been better. I have been more successful since I tild them to go take a hike. These was no mighty swishing sound as the spirit left the room. I am happier, I can think and operate better, I am more successful. I love being an ex-mormon. I say this in the humble name of my laptop, Amen.
i love this. i wonder what stage i am in. most likely anger. I just had the most traumatic experience of my life. i blogged it http://breakingmormon.blogspot.com/