I've been out of the church for about four and a half years. I was a convert after high school (after much vehement opposition from my parents). My high school boyfriend was LDS and I got totally sucked in. I believed it with everything. I didn't think it was true, I knew it. Anyway, he went on his mission and I proceeded marry the first guy I met in college. I went to Michigan State University and was heavily involved with the student ward there so I met a returned missionary at an institute dance. We got married when I was nineteen. I had my first baby at twenty-one. I knew my marriage was awful within months and was told by bishop after bishop that this was my trial in life. During the fifteen years of my first marriage I got used to looking at everyone else who seemed happy and knowing that would never be me. I was just enduring life and was not a happy person.
One day, my husband brought a book home from the church library that they were apparently throwing away because it was discovered to be an "anti" book. It was, "Emma Hale Smith: Mormon Enigma". What an eye-opener. That was the first moment I realized that the church could have been built on lies. I was determined to hold fast though. As I was searching for some faith promoting stories for one of my young women lessons, I accidentally stumbled upon exmormon.org. I was SHOCKED at what I was reading. I abruptly closed the window and decided that I was letting my mind go down forbidden paths. At one point, my dad asked me about a PBS documentary he had seen on Mountain Meadows. My party-line response was, "Oh that can't be true". At the moment I said that, I realized how programmed my thinking was. I asked my bishop about it and he claimed he had never heard of it. A little more digging into that story and I realized that it was true. I still justified it in my mind but my testimony was cracked. I struggled for two years with those cracks. I prayed and almost begged to regain my faith. I remained a "choice daughter" during this time. It's amazing how people assumed that I failed to regain my testimony because of worthiness issues. I actually had people tell me that later. And that I was going to hell. And that I take eternal matters "lightly" because of the conclusion I ended with.
I allowed myself to further explore exmormon.org. My ex and I one day just decided to be done with it. We both knew it was a crock and we just left in the middle of sacrament meeting, literally, and never went back again. In the midst of all this I had four close family members die within a few months. One of them was a favorite aunt to cancer at 42 then her daughter at 17 to a car accident. I realized during that time of hell that I didn't need the "gospel" to get me through life. That I didn't need to endure a horrible marriage to get me to salvation. That I only have one shot at this thing and I was blowing it. I was free to make myself happy. Part of that was a divorce (hardest thing ever). I found Jeff through an exmormon message board (exmo-social.com). He was going through a divorce at the same time so we became friends quickly. One long-distance relationship, two cross-country moves, six kids, and one wedding later, here we are! Thanks for listening to my story. It was actually pretty therapeutic to write it!
Wow Moesey, I enjoyed your story. Life sure can through us some curve balls. Looks like you were up to the challange and ended being true to yourself! My wife was 19 when we got married too. We had our first kid when she was 20. We both just left the church last year. I hope she gets on here and writes her story eventually.