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. :)
I joined one discussion group about ten years ago, when I was still peeling the onion. It was a very different discussion group then -- much more supportive of members who had just left the church.
I left for a few years, until something happened that left me feeling I needed to peel the onion a little more, so I tried going back. The focus and tone have entirely changed -- it's much more judgmental rather than supportive, but then there seems to be a lot less people posting there who just left the church, or are wanting to investigate leaving the church. I can't help but feel if I had come to that particular group now, as raw and bleeding emotionally as I was originally, I'd have run away rather than join it.It doesn't seem to be a place for healing any longer, which is why I recently unsubbed from it.
The videos and discussions here are much more...forward moving...if that makes sense. I draw strength from the people brave enough to look at the camera and tell their story.Whenever I need to, I come here. I don't need to come every day, but I'm reassured that when the need is there, lifeaftermormonism will be there to help.
I am so very burned out on group activities, whether they be religious or elsewhere in society, and that's a direct result of my 18 years as a Mormon. I have no patience with egos, or sitting through planning meetings, and I'm extremely wary of anyone wanting to climb in my head and improve my life/work performance/ etc. So I'm still circling around that issue and am happy behind my walls at the moment. Am not eager to repeat the sort of "put yourself under a microscope, set goals, and get to it!" pseudo-psychoanalysis the church put me through. So I'm not in a hurry to discover who I am or where I'm going.
I am journaling every day...because I've found it helps me identify the things I need to change. But that's it. I'm too emotionally and mentally tired to do much more than this at the moment.
Wednesday, I'm about where you are in my life. What resonates with me most is your following comments:
"I have no patience with egos, or sitting through planning meetings, and I'm extremely wary of anyone wanting to climb in my head and improve my life/work performance/ etc."
"Am not eager to repeat the sort of "put yourself under a microscope, set goals, and get to it!" pseudo-psychoanalysis the church put me through. So I'm not in a hurry to discover who I am or where I'm going."
Another oldie but goodie book is "Real Moments" by Barbara De Angelis. Written by a psychologist who is wide open about the mistakes she's made )some were doozies), and about learning how to enjoy the "now". It helped me a lot as I was contemplating divorce and leaving the church.
Duchess, I wanted to cry reading your post. I feel exactly the same way. In fact, just an hour ago I was talking to my husband about this. I have been thinking about leaving some of the groups and moving on. I think I'm ready. But I do want to keep some of the friends I have met. Anyhow, I see so many people making fun of the beliefs of others and it bothers me. One thing I have learned on my journey and that's to be accepting of others and whatever they may believe. I don't try to change anyone. If they are happy the way they are and believing or not believing in whatever why should I make fun of them or speak negatively of them? Isn't that, in a way, some of the things we all disliked about the LDS church?
Where am I now since leaving the church? I don't really know how to define myself but I am a Liberal Christian. I stay away from churches and organized religion because those are run by man. I am studying other religions or philosophies and I am incorporating them into my life. I can be whatever I want to be. But mainly I am happy. I am understanding of others. Yes, I can have and enjoy honest discussions. I will live my life with integrity and honesty and yes...faith.
Duchess, I thank you again for this post. It's really made my day :)
"Anyhow, I see so many people making fun of the beliefs of others and it bothers me."
If you can't make fun of the beliefs of others, then whose beliefs can you make fun of?
No one. I don't think you should ridicule anyone.
Not sure if you are trying to be sarcastic.....
Personally, I respect a person who can make fun of themselves as well as others. :D That's why I love South Park. They don't discriminate. :)
I enjoy your humor.Each of us, as individuals, must enjoy the freedom of lfe, of expression. When we see someone spouting an idea that is so obviously self serving and pretentious, we need to draw attention it thru open, honest,....eyeball to eyeball ridicule. If we allow others to tell us what we can say, do and think then we have traded a master in Salt Lake with a Master that we have not even met and have less in common with. At the point that we seem to need a master to drive us like a stage coach driver drives a stage coach the problem ceases to be the old bobble heads in Salt Lake and it become us.... We, WE become our own problem by replacing one crap with another similiar piece of crap.
What the hell good os Freedom of Speech is we are to chicken shit to use it, or to educated for our own good to share it. Noone controlls your mouth, mind or motivation other than you. Do a great job of it.
I never make fun of people, but I will be over aggressively cannibalistic eatingtheir ideas while looking them in the eye. No apologies. M. Russel Ballard ask me one time how I felt on his comments on a subkect. (Fishing for compliments, weak dude I guess). He got really uncomfortable when I told him eyeball to eyeball that I thought he was "full of pig shit." He quietly walked away, dazed.
OK, Have a frakin great day and live this one and only life you have! :)
Robin, I think you and I relate to each other very much. :) Not to make a plug or anything, but this is one of the church communities I have visited since leaving. They are Christian, but very accepting of anyone including me (not so sure Jesus was real, but liking what he taught) and my husband (blatantly agnostic borderline atheist) and opens up every lesson to discussion where people actually discuss and disagree openly. They also pull from other religions to make a more complete spiritual picture, and focus on Jesus' teachings about being accepting and loving. I don't usually go to church, but I frequently listen to the podcasts and they usually resonate with me a lot. So sometimes on Sunday mornings I eat waffles and listen to church, which is nice. Just thought you might be interested! http://www.northraleighcommunitychurch.org/audio/
Thank you! I will listen :)
Since leaving, I've learned a lot about secular Buddhism and Skepticism. I've learned a lot from studying them, and I like that neither require my full-on complete mindbodyheartandsoul commitment.
I am also trying to meet most of the ideals that Mike posted, and best of all, I'm starting to recognize ways in which I can take responsibility for making those changes.
Most of all, I've been trying to find a new place from which I can love my family - my wife who is still a believer and my children who are growing up in the church. I've made a lot of mistakes in leaving, and I honestly don't know if it's possible to leave without hurting the members who care about you, but I've spent much of the last year or more trying to figure out how to save and improve my relationships with my family. My ultimate goal is to leave the anger behind. So they can pray and read scriptures without me feeling like I'm being stabbed in the chest. So I can be as accepting of them in their beliefs as i want them to be in my lack of belief. So I can have reasonable and rational conversations with my wife and children without any of us feeling attacked and angry and defensive.
That's what I'm about. And I still have a long way to go.
Good luck getting there, Daniel. It sounds like you are sincere and compassionate toward your family, and that is a lot more than many of us can say when we have felt so hurt by the church. And that is awesome that you have looked into some other philosophies and ways of looking at the world. It's kind of neat being able to consider all options and make a real decision about what is right for you. :)