The reason for this post is because I have noticed that since leaving the LDS church I have had no interest really in befriending anyone I meet who is LDS, and was wondering if that is normal and how people move past that. I have maintained some of my friendships with those who are open minded, but lost most of them who either didn't like that I left the church, or thought that I should have left quietly and not spoke my mind about it.
Granted, I do live in Charleston, South Carolina. Therefore, running into Mormons isn't something that I do on a regular basis, except for at the grocery stores or something, because this being a bit of a more personalized area, generally you will be recognized by people in the ward that live near you. I have only been to my ward here once, but people know my family and those who were home teachers usually will recognize me and say hello, and even though I don't have a problem saying hi back, I am a bit reluctant to make small talk with them. The bishop of the ward was very nice when I asked for my membership records to be removed and just left a voicemail saying he wanted to get the matter behind us, and I called him back but I was very anxious to end the call, and I get rather nervous when missionaries are over.
In reality though, this isn't because I think since they are Mormons I want nothing to do with them and I am better than them or anything, it is more or less because in person I am more sensitive to other people's feelings than I am online and I hate to tell some female missionaries I no longer believed when I was the only one home and they came to the door, but I didn't really like doing that even though they were very nice about it. Also, part of me has a negative feeling towards them, because I don't really want to be around the kind of person I was as a Mormon, or around many of the Mormons like I knew in my old wards.
I know it comes up a lot in discussions about Mormons defriending people who leave the church or shunning them, but as much as we hate to admit it, many Ex-Mormons do the same thing to active members once they leave the church, and I don't want to be like the very thing I preach out against. So what are some successful socializing strategies you would suggest when making small talk, and then getting on a more personal level that would avoid building up an aquaintence that is only leading to be destroyed eventually?
While I am posting, I am also going to come out and make another confession in addition to may many other ways I have come out of some kind of closet. Many people suggested that I might have asperger's syndome in the past in either the chat room, in forums, or on facebook, and I will tell them that I do match many symptoms of both asperger's and obsessive compulsive disorder, which is not saying I actually have it, but it is possible. The reason that is relevant to this post is because it somehow leads to major obsession over few things, and having many one sided conversations with people that took my years of working on myself and developing to improve, so my obsession over debating religion and other controversial topics turns a lot of people off from me in person and has for many years, but many of my friends are people that generally agree with me on those sorts of things so it doesn't bother them as much.
I like your discussion topic.
You said the following:
"because I don't really want to be around the kind of person I was as a Mormon, or around many of the Mormons like I knew in my old wards"
I think it is a two way street and your statement applies both ways. I think it would be easier for an active Mormon to have a friendship with someone who was never a Mormon than someone who once was. Since my identity is no longer that of a Mormon, I will admit that I would tend to exclude Mormons from my group of friends. I don't think it necessarily a bias on my part or even mean spirited on either side. A freindship by nature should be with someone who shares common ground and who lifts you up. A Mormon friend ship at this point in my life would be like dragging a boat anchor across dry ground or an albatross around my neck. Either way, my days of boat anchors and albatrosses are long behind me and I'm happy to be on the other side.
I tend to avoid Mormons as well, so I am not tempted to blatantly tell them they are delusional and wrong. I also tend to think that in Mormonism friendships are for converting people, not actual friendship. That said, I have to admit some of my Mom (tbm) has a few friends that I doubt will ever abandon her. In fact, a few are moving to the town she moved to. I am in contact a few Mormons, but we rarely go beyond pleasantries. The one that I talk to the most is a convert, so he does remember the outside world and isn't a total ass.
It is very hard for me at work being surrounded by Mormons. I bite my tongue a lot for fear of screaming in their faces to just open their eyes and look at all the evidence of their false prophet and leaders. I feel no guilt in holding true to my saying of "Surround yourself with those you aspire to be like." It definitely at this point in the game is not a bunch of sheep trying to force their opinion on all "non-believers". I am polite and courteous, but I don't go out of my way to get to know them. All their hopes and dreams are the same. I need friends that have their own opinion and original feelings. In the end, it's just easier to not offend someone when you keep your relationship light and fluffy.
You could always ask them to not discuss religion in the work place if they would get upset over you sharing your opinion. I don't know what company you work for but if they are sitting there talking about their testimonies in the middle of the business day that has to be violating some kind of company policy.
You wrote beautifully. If a doctor hasn't diagnosed you with the conditions you described, and others tell you you might have it, I'd ask them where they got their MD from. And with Asperger's, you would have difficulty controlling your emotions, feelings, etc. Many kids at school with that disorder have regular "meltdowns", so I hope if that happens to you, you would get a chance to see a doctor. If you only obsess over things now and then, well, I'd just say bugger off to those who think they know your brain. I'm bipolar, and I know what it's like to have your brain prodded.
I don't know that I have it, and looking at people who do have it and watching videos of people who have it, I likely wouldn't be someone that people would simply talk to for a couple minutes and find odd.
What I found was that many of the diagnostics I failed to meet for Asperger's was because I grew out of them when I got older. I do have obsessions that most people wouldn't have seen normal for children when I was a child. Such as I memorized a bunch of facts of Elvis because I really liked his music to the point where I could have told you his favorite after-shave lotion. I didn't really have hand-eye coordination problems ever which is a key symptom I would lack if I did have it. I don't have sloppy handwriting now, but when I was younger I had to teach myself to use a pencil differently than normal so I'd have more control over my handwriting. I have an unusually extensive memory and can remember detailed events many that happened over 20 years ago, some as early as toddler age. I also had a lot of trouble interacting with peers and making friends with peers because I had a hard time communicating with them. I had obsessions with patterns of symmetry and would a lot of times stare at wallpaper art to find it's patterns. To this day I don't totally understand what people mean by body language either. I understand facial expressions and how to read them, and I understand things like if I'm talking to guests at my hotel and they are starting to walk towards the door they want to leave, but what people necessarily mean by just using body language when talking I'm not really sure.
So I guess the key things of why I might have A.S. are that I have had trouble making friends and socializing with people. I have unusual obsessions and a high level of knowledge over very few things.
The key factor of me not having A.S. though would be that most people who meet me don't usually suspect it until after knowing me for awhile, and people with A.S. are typically able to be spotted right away with things such as having rigid facial expressions, fidgety movements, and their speech pattern.
So maybe I don't really have it and it is just some other form of either unidentified neurological issues similar, or it could just simply be the way I am and had to learn to improve on what was unhealthy.
Whether or not I have it I am not planning on actually seeking a doctor for it anyhow so it doesn't necessarily matter.
You are on a high functioning level, so I probably wouldn't see a doctor either, unless you are one of the lucky who have excellent insurance. And people who don't go to the E.R, can't pay, so you and I pay anyway. Don't see the difference in universal healthcare, except everyone who have it, and we'd still pay. See how they keep increasing medical costs and insurance costs? If I didn't have converge, in my state, I could get insurance for $8000.00 a year. Gee, what a treat. Some people with high functioning autism have the symptoms you've described, but you're functioning, so who cares? The hand writing? Mine's been horrible my whole life. Every other family member is an artist, and has beautiful hand writing. And making friends? Lots of folks in that boat. My mother was cruel to me, and I always had trouble finding friends, until I found a wonderful substance in high school called weed.
I could just have some kind of emotional and anger control issues combined with having had social skills problems with making friends that is not that kind of neurological disorder. I didn't feel I threw normal tantrums when I was a child though, I felt as if they were uncontrollable meltdowns.
Like I said though, it would have been a bit hard to diagnose since I didn't have common traits of autistic children even though it is mild, and maybe I was just simply a strong willed child that was different from the average child and being gay could be part of the reason for increased emotion which is more of a feminine characteristic.
To answer your question about melt downs though, when I was a kid I had those A LOT, but I learned to manage my emotions with counseling and discipline. I wouldn't throw like crying tantrums so much after like the age of 7 or 8, but it was mostly turned into anger and violence over stupid things. Like once when I was nine when I wrestled a bit I got angry that someone took my turn and went up and kicked him in the stomach and yelled at him. I did things much worse than that and social skills problems along with emotional melt downs was a key symptom as well.
Nathan, I am sorry about your child hood difficulties. Life is hard enough without stuff like that being thrown in the mix. At least you can look back and see what was happening, which many people cannot do because they are busy blaming other people for all their problems. And maybe some other people were to blame for some of yours, but the good news sounds like you are managing much better now than before. I know it sounds really dorky, but when I feel all wound up like I'm gonna explode, I lay on my bed and meditate, sometimes with music. I don't pretend to have any answers for anybody, but I pray too. Toss that one in the trash if you disagree. I don't shove my beliefs on anyone, but I do battle with bipolar disorder, and battle it is. Were it not for the meds, I would have killed myself. Were it not for the pot in high school that lifted my spirited, I would have killed myself. My mother just didn't have anything nice to say about me, even as an adult.
I manage to maintain deep, rewarding friendships with a lot of Mormons. I can do this because I don't label them and make assumptions about who they are because of their religion. There are Mormons that I can't be friends with, but that's not because they're Mormon, it's because they're assholes. The Mormons I am friends with are wonderful, open-minded, open-hearted people who allow me to be myself. When I meet new LDS people some of them are really chill when they find out I've left (I'm light-hearted about it and joke about being an apostate) and others are uncomfortable. I find that I have a lot in common outside religion with the ones that don't seem to mind.
I also believe that we are made better by surrounding ourselves with people that see things differently than us. One of the big problems with Mormonism and Utah is that it allows you to insulate yourself with other people who see everything exactly the same way you do, so your perceptions and assumptions are never challenged. It's important to have people in your life that affirm and validate you, but it's equally important to have people who force you to look at things differently and maybe even test your patience and capacity for love. I have a friend who was my best friend in high school and I just *knew* she was going to freak out and hate me when she found out I left the church. Still, I sent her a heart-felt letter explaining where I was spiritually and expressing my hope that our friendship wouldn't change. It didn't. She barely reacted and we went on being great friends. It made me realize that maybe I am too quick to judge others in my own defensiveness (since yes, I have been hurt and rejected by friends and family members since leaving).
So...that's a really long way of saying that my advice is not to judge people based on whether they're Mormon. If they can't love and accept you for who you are, don't worry about them...and you may find that a lot of Mormons can't. I think the hardest part about it is that Mormons will talk about church related things like they're assuming everyone around them agrees with them. I would suggest being just as open about your opinion (in a respectful, non-confrontational way when possible). That will offend some people. Screw them. It will give others the chance to be your friend even if you disagree about some things.
And along those lines, try to find areas of common ground, understanding that there are some areas where you will disagree. Consider that being around people that you disagree with and have to practice patience and respect with actually improves you as a human being, and you may find that they are also cool, worthwhile people you can learn from.
I think part of the problem is that I didn't really like people in my church when I went, but our beliefs were what we had in common. Once I lost those, there really was no reason for me to be friends with many of them. However, there are many I still would happily be friends with if I was anywhere near them but I have only gone to my ward here in Charleston once on a Sunday and once more during one of my brother's scouting activities. So basically there are no local Mormons to be friends with and I haven't really had a chance anyway so I am just questioning whether or not I would be if I had the opportunity. Many people I was friends with in the past simply couldn't look past the fact that I was no longer a Mormon.