Wow Erica, that's quite a story to have lived through, laced with heartaches and addiction. I'm glad you have found us and are now recovering from your church "addiction". Congrats on your up coming wedding. A book I might suggest to aid recovering from the cult mind control is "Releasing the Bonds" by Steven Hassan. Good luck with your new life and freedom.
ahahahahahahahaaaaaahhhhh it gets funnier every time i think about it....the hat, that is.
I can understand how you feel .....
I was once very much in love with a mormon and i though he better represented the christian values of love and kindness ...... i think it was both his religion and my religion (catholicism) or more particularly their views on relationships between men and women which brought a lot of trouble into my life ..... I could list a few of them : ban on dating or being friends with women, sexuality as taboo or sin (in lieu of a realistic, moral, safe and responsible approach and discussion), mormons shunning other christians and viewing them as members of Babylon, polygamy in the mormon church which, in my view, has hurt so many women and children (especially when it was forced upon the members), and so many more ..
I am glad that you found someone to truly love you and rescue you from the pitfalls of religions.
I myself still think there are some good moral values in religions such as monogamy and fidelity (mainstream christianity), healthy lifestyles (mormonism) and wise choices (basic common sense) but i think religions can also bring a lot of misery and evil (subservience, submission and siliencing of women, having too many babies too early, ban on contracetion which, in these day and age, is totally irresponsible,insensitive to the plight of women, and very selfish in many ways, cruelty of blood atonement and other religious practices such as sharia law) .... etc ;
In the end, finding someone who truly loves you and whom you truly loved and making sensible and wise choices in your life such as healthy lifestyle habits, managing once finance, having the number of children one can really takes care of and one truly wants, getting proper education, making our family our priority and caring for them (mutually) and being faithful and respectful to each other as well as loving and caring seems to me to be a good mix of the principles that should lead to a healthy, happy, fulfilling and safe life..
This is say from experience (mostly bad) and watching and learning from others believes, lifestyles and experiences.
The most difficult part is to find someone who truly loves you and whom you truly love and who believes in the same principles of leading such wise, sensible, healty and safe living.
I converted to mormonism when i was in my 20's but never was active so dont have the guilt burden and programming that you have when it comes to being in the true church and folllowing all its diktat ... I am still a mainstream christian (a far easier religion than mormonism and less guilt building or controllling or extreme) but i must say that i have learned some good things in mormonism (of the very little i know) : healthy lifestyles, focus on family (though family has been my greatest hurt and damage) and wholesome activity as well as understanding the benefits of chastity and monogamous commitment ..... maybe i knew this all along ... except that in this world where love is so brittle, we are bound to be hurt and make mistakes unless we have the right values from the start and are careful whom we associate with ..
All the best