So, I've started to feel a little torn about my involvement in this and other ex-Mormon communities. On one hand, this community was vital in helping me get through the months following my decision to stop going to church. People have been amazing as far as offering advice and talking out issues with me. It has been a good place to vent and to connect with people now that I don't have church anymore. And I have talked with so many completely amazing people and made friends, and I love the great conversations I have with the people on this site and want to continue making those connections.
On the other hand, there is one thing that makes my constant involvement difficult for me. It's that this community is all about being not something. As a result I feel like I am constantly bombarded with negativity - understandable, justifiable, and sometimes necessary negativity, yes. But still. Every day now I'm looking at another post or comment tearing someone or something down. Disproving religion, mocking Mormon culture, criticizing religious people. Let me be clear right now: I am not suggesting that anyone on this site or anywhere else is too negative or that you need to be or feel anything other than you are! It's not you, it's me. It makes my whole mindset and the way I look at people different...more cynical.
You see, I'm an idealist by nature. I can be critical and analytical, but at the end of the day I just want to make the world a better place and people to get along and be happy, however that works for them. When I was LDS, I was about something, I wasn't against something. I deeply connected to Christ's message of charity and love. I made my life about it. About giving to people where I can and trying to look past my initial impressions of people to see them the way I believed God saw them. And that belief and that purpose truly made me better. I never met a single person that when I looked closer, I didn't learn to understand and love. There have been plenty of people I've disliked in my life, but when I lived up to my ideals and really got to know them, I couldn't hate them. I had friends that I wouldn't otherwise who truly made my life better. This belief was so powerful that it was actually the biggest factor in helping me overcome years of painful and debilitating depression. Along with my faith, I've lost some of that focus and peace. And I really want to get back to a place that is more loving, more generous, gives people more room to disagree with me. I would say it was that motivation that actually influenced me to leave the church. The treatment of women and gays was not in line with my perception of God's love.
I don't want to define my life by not believing in something or not being something. I want to find ideas to connect to that inspire me that aren't about bringing someone else's ideas down.
So this isn't a post to get advice about how involved to be in this community. I'll figure that out. What I want to know is what your life is about since leaving Mormonism? How has it changed? How is it the same? What inspires you? Really interested to hear your insights. :)
Note to self: buy motivational posters to help form post-mormon identity. Thanks Erin!
Thanks Erin. :)
Good post Duchess. Involvement on LAM or any other site will only define you one way or another if you choose to or let it define you in that way. We chose the name "Life After Mormonism" for that reason, because it doesn't use the more oft heard terms of what we used to be (ex-Mormon, post-mormon etc). As the mission statement suggests, this site is here to help us arrive at the point in life where we no longer care about Mormonism any differently than they would care about Catholicism, JWs or what have you, and define you by yourself, as Erin opined. My involvement here has evolved to mostly that of keeping social ties to the friends I've made here and less so to discuss or resolve all things Mormon. All topics are open to discussion here and nothing needs to be related to Mormonism if the poster doesn't want it to. In other words, there are no "off topic" topics. That's also why many sub-groups exist here that aren't necessarily related to Mormonism, as places to explore other aspects of life beyond mormonism and ex-mormonism.
That all said, I'll respond to your questions .
Perhaps this video of yours truly sums up some of what my life is about now: http://youtu.be/O03SruVEWHU?t=36s
So what am I about now? What inspires me? These adjectives and personal definitions come to mind:
This video also sums up much of what I am about now.
In many ways I'm still the same me that I was as a Mormon, but like an onion, have removed many of the outer layers that used to obstruct to myself and others who I really am at my core: me.
First of all, I love love love your I am an ex-Mormon video. I love what you said about taking the good things you learned from Mormonism and pretty much everything you have to say about what inspires you now. That video really did answer my questions perfectly. :) And those are exactly the things I'm talking about. I'm not talking about finding another dogma to follow...but still trying to live for something higher - like love, integrity, compassion - rather than focusing all your energy and attention on what you aren't anymore.
I do want to clarify one thing. When I refer to the "community" in my post, I am talking about the ex-Mormon community as a whole, not just LAM. I think that a community that is about moving past Mormonism is inevitably going to include a lot of discussion about why we leave. We need validation for a decision that many of our friends and family probably don't agree with. But I think you do a great job, Micah, of letting us have that when we need it without judgment but making the community not all about that. That, along with the chat that is fun and always has diverse topics of conversation, is why this is the community I'm most involved in and the one I expect to remain involved in. Even if I have to back off certain forum topics for awhile. ;)
Just in the past week I left all but a couple of the many Facebook groups for ex-mormons. I don't have a problem with those who need or enjoy those groups, it's just getting beyond where I am in my path away from Mormonism that I don't benefit from those feeds on Facebook. I whittled my Facebook groups from over 100 down to just 19, keeping those that are primarily social connections with the exmos I got to know best and who primarily journeyed out of Mormonism around the same time period I was exiting. Even then I frequent LAM and the chat room here for my social interaction more than any other online social network or forum. Glad to have the many great friends I've made here too.
I think joining a facebook group and "friending" a bunch of ex-Mormons on facebook is what has pushed this over the edge a little for me. I'm on facebook a lot when I'm at work, and now my regular news feed is littered with the same kind of anti-religious stuff I see in ex-Mormon communities. There's something about going to an ex-Mormon site when I know what is going to be there and seeing it constantly in a space I don't normally go to for that, if that makes any sense at all. I don't blame my facebook friends either, they can post whatever they want, but it has just made me more aware of the negativity everywhere I think. It's hard because I like the social aspect of the group so I don't want to leave, but it does bring me down somewhat. :(
This is fabulous, THANK YOU!
You're welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Dutchess. I too have felt the same about the site. At first is was nice to get information and see what everyone is discussing and getting advice on how to move on...but the site (at least for me and my husband) creates stagnation. In order to move on past mormonism and LIFE AFTER MORMONISM you kind of have to move past the things that keep you tied to it. It is great to continue to learn and seek knowledge about the religion even after leaving like my husband and I have but to continue to dwell on these things I think creates stagnation in the mind and in life. So use the site for what is helpful to you and you then move on to bigger and better things.
I totally understand what you mean! When I first left Mormonism 5 years ago, I was very involved with exmormon.org and other similar boards. I met up with local exmormons and just submerged myself in it. Then I had to take a step back and just focus on rebuilding my life and my entire world view. I had to do this on my own. I basically became a hermit for about a year. Granted I was going through a lot of transitions at that time with a divorce and going back to school and adjusting to being a working mother. But I literally had to cut ties to most everyone in my life at that point. Now, I have a healthy perspective of who I am, what I'm about and what I want to achieve in my life. I can step back into the exmormon community and offer my insight with my own experiences. I don't feel the same negativity that I once did. It's almost as though I'm looking back on my childhood and objectively looking at the good experiences with the bad ones and seeing what I learned from it all. Some days though, the anger does creep in (probably as a result of still living in Utah and having to deal with an abusive LDS ex). When that happens, it is comforting to have fellow exmormons there to empathize with me. So as they say, it does get better. Time is what helped me. But for many, they leave the mormon church, heal and move on and never look back. Honestly, if I had my choice, I would have packed up and left Utah years ago and never looked back. But my journey for now is here so if I can do some good and help others then I feel like I've done some good in the world. So that's what keeps me going.
I relate to your thoughts. I relied on postmormon boards to help me figure things out and appreciate the support and non judgement I received there. I have come to belive that I don't have to define myself any way in particular. I have true blue mormon friends whom I love and adore and I have my old regular friends who I also love and adore. Just because they are mormon or not mormon doesn't change who they are and how I feel about them. I have my family and am looking forward to returning to the workplace in the fall and all the lessons and joy my life will bring me. I am just me, no labels. I don't need to identify myself with a group or be about something, I just need to love who I am, where I am and appreciate the things around me. I don't need to believe anything that doesn't resonate with me I just am enjoying playing with my kids and appreciating their littleness and the joys of losing teeth, growing another size, jumping on the trampoline, pulling weeds in the garden in the sunshine and throwing a ball for the dog. I am good enough as I am and I always will be. I live in integrity and truth. I am honest and kind and compassionate to the best of my ability and when I don't live up to who I really am I don't beat myself up, cry, repent and live in fear that I will lose my family, I just wonder what is really going on and how I can adjust things to make it better and to continue to align myself with light and truth. I don't worry so much, I don't beat myself up for every mistake, I don't feel like crap because I am not a Molly, I consider myself an expression of god's many diverse creations and I am continuing to create who I am, trying to be present and aware and learn and grow. I am able to choose my life now instead of having it defined by someone else.
This is wonderful. Being present in each moment is something I want to focus more on. Thank you so much for your wise words. I think we are all in the process of creating who we are and that is actually kind of what life is about...it's a constant process, and learning that it's about the journey, as cliched as that sounds, is key.
An excellent book or set of books on being in the moment is "The Power of Now" and "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle. Check them out. You'd probably love them.