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 enjoy your comments. Live life, we will all be in a box someday. :) I am proud of you!
Don, in Vegas and Memphis.
What do I define myself by now? Nothing. What I make of myself defines me.
There have been times where I have felt like maybe moving on or not spending as much time here is the point where I'm at. We all get to that point. Sometimes it seems like everyones so negative but sometimes everyone can be real positive. I love how we can come here and get on chat and just talk about anything and everything and most of the time for me anyway it doesn't involve Mormonism. I love to spend lots of time with my kids and husband and dogs and fish. IRL I don't get the amazing conversations I do here. I come here still for the friendship and sometimes if a Mormonism question pops up I'll come here and ask who knows or someone to refresh my memory because I honestly don't think about it much. There are many people here (including you duchess!) who I have met that are just amazing. Many of you have become my best friends, where I feel accepted and where we can talk without judgments and bounds. Sometimes we're just goofy as hell but sometimes we have stimulating conversations (intellectual even) that I just cannot get from the people I know IRL, no matter how intelligent and witty they think they are (minus my husband and kids, sometimes my kids logic and wit astound me considering the oldest will only be 5 in two days! Is that sad? I get better conversation from my kids than the majority of adults that I know?).
Some people only want to define my from the fact that I was raised Mormon. I honestly don't think I ever was Mormon (isn't that the ultinmate question of those BIC who never felt the connection to church?). I am just Misty. And that makes me happy!
Aw Misty, YOU are amazing. And I agree with you...people here can be so much fun and there is a quality of conversation that you sometimes get here that is atypical in most of my relationships. Aside from a couple of close friends and my husband also. :) I'm happy that you are Misty too!
Misty, your comment that: "I honestly don't think I ever was Mormon" made me think that maybe I never was either.
Even though I was a believer for 55 years, I don't think I was ever 100%. I can remember as a teen or 20er saying "if the church is not true...."
Sounds like a good topic for a new blog.
Thank for posting this, you pretty much said everything I've been feeling about this site and other ex-mo communities!
I am a recovering Mormon, who still has problems knowing what I actualy believe in religion wise. I definitely believe in Jesus Christ and God, and salvation. I have a lot of guilt and doubts about God's love for me cause of how much pressure I felt in my personal life when I was in the Church. I have found these Ex-Mo communities pretty enlightening and they definitely shored up my belief that I made the right move in leaving the church. I just a lot of times feel like an outsider because I still believe in Christianity as a whole.
I have tried to make my post-Mormon life all about love, I love everyone and accept everyone. I've always been this kind of open person even when I was LDS, just now I can be more open about it without judgement from the "members"
Thanks again for posting this, I actually breathed a sigh of relief when i finished reading your post cause I was gonna post something similar, but you put it in such a lovely manner!
This is an excellent post. I had already completely removed myself from the church when I happened upon this community and that is probably one of the reasons I'm more of a lurker than a member. I was past the point of needing to discuss leaving the church with anyone. I know there is a lot of bad feelings and even hatred about the church out there but that stems from anger and hurt as someone is coming to terms with leaving something that's become a huge part of their life.
That said, I do not consider myself an ex mormon. If it comes up in conversation I don't say I used to be Mormon, I say I was raised Mormon. I was. I didn't leave the church until I was well into adulthood, although I had doubts about it since I was a Beehive. But I was raised Mormon and now I'm not. You could see it that way about many things. You were raised a girl, now you are not-you are a woman. You may have been raised (for example) a New Yorker but now you are not, you may be a Californian. You may have been raised a musician (I was) but now not so much-that faded with childhood as well. That doesn't make me an ex-musician, it just means I don't have much to do with music anymore. (I do regret that though.)
I do not make fun of people still in the church, I do not make fun of other churches. To each his own. I see myself now as someone who has moved beyond the emotional need of a church. In fact, I have moved beyond the emotional need of a god at all. That does not make me better than anyone else, not my family who is still active, not the agnostic trying to find her way, not even the JW who keeps trying to save me from certain damnation. All it makes me is ME.
Am I grateful that I found my way out of the church? YES! I found it insufferable and a huge crushing weight on my psyche. But that is only me. The church is right for some people, it is wrong for others. The same could be said of anything in this world.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that you don't need to see yourself as an ex Mormon if that brings a feeling of negativity to your life. See yourself as enlightened, as free, as happy and open and spiritual enough within yourself to know that Mormonism did not work for you. I did not leave the church in a fit of rage or filled with hatred. I left it to better myself in th same way I quit smoking to better myself or read books to better myself or exercise to better myself. It is a very positive thing in my life and I feel joy knowing that I was able to realize that the church was not good for me and that I was able to eventually walk away from it. How can doing something that makes you feel better be a negative thing? Do not let others' anger and hurt they display while going through the process of leaving turn your own process into a negative thing as well. Their negativity is only their way of dealing with the same thing you are going through and it will most likely pass and become peace and acceptance of their new life as well.
Duchess, you make some valid points. On the one hand, blessings on the people who form communities like this. Post-Mormon.org was a huge help to me as I struggled to find like-minded people and some sanity while stuck in the Morridor. But what you refer to, letting EXMORMON define you, is precisely why my husband doesn't belong to any online ex-post-lifeafterMormonism-type groups.However, he wasn't raised in the cult and the emotional blackmail over church things was not present in his family (he converted to the church at 17 and was pretty much done with church by his mid-twenties). I, on the other hand, was the child of two desperate people who had just buried a son and liked the Mormon answer to where he was, what he was doing, and yes we'll definitely be together in the next life, so it was much harder for me to leave all this shit by the side of the road where it belongs. I feel most of the church baggage has been dropped but that doesn't mean there won't be people--family members, collegues, etc--who won't try to sneak rocks back into that backpack I believed to be empty. I've disappointed my family, and some of my colleagues and former friends refuse to speak to or associate with me.
As for what I'm "about," here it is, briefly and in no particular order:
Exploring beautiful places
Trying new foods
Surviving day-to-day (sometimes a challenge with my health/emotional issues)
Reading and studying
Laughing with my kids and who cares if the jokes are dirty
Public education and my role therein
I also enjoy movies, photography, music, and supporting my husband's and kids' hobbies
I am passionate about human rights, protecting our environment, and women's issues
I have had no problems filling the "void" my still-believing friends and family think leaving the church has left. If I had known I'd be this much happier and at peace, I would have left many years before I actually found the courage to do so.
As for whether or not online communities help or hinder the healing process, I would say that depends entirely upon the individual and what you add or take away from your experiences here. Take a break if you need to. Don't read threads that you know will affect your mood or attitude. Some people need to read and even write books about church issues or about their personal journeys out of the cult. I will never write my ex-mormon memoirs. (You're welcome.) I have read enough to convince myself that my decision to leave was the right one. I'm interested when new information surfaces, but I don't seek it out. I do what I need to in order to maintain balance in my life. If that means staying away from Farcebook or ex-Mormon sites, then that's what I do. I would love to be one of the stalwarts of a community like this one, but sadly I'm still too effed up myself to be much help to anyone, so I sort of hang around the periphery and mostly blend in with the wallpaper.
Good luck to you in your search for balance. How empowering is it to find it ourselves rather than rely on fear or superstition.
I completely appreciate what you have shared.
It is hard not to be bitter when one feels deceived and lied to. Whether or not we want to suggest that the Mormon Church Leadership actively LIES and DECEIVES its membership is not the point I am making; but rather, that is what EXMOs often FEEL! This drives their anger and frustration and their need to express it, even in unpleasant ways, such as making fun and making jokes.
I was and still am much more appalled, really, that such intelligent people (I include myself among them) could be so tremendously railroaded by the "loveliness" of it all... I feel a huge sense of personal guilt about my NOT really and truly "investigating" the Mormon Church back when I was an "Investigator." I just loved the idea of forever family and eternal increase, and the whole idea that there is a Heavenly Mother, that women could become "Goddesses" in the next life, that they together with their eternal Husband could create worlds of their own. That was very cool and very lovely to me. I swallowed it... hook, line and sinker... well, for awhile anyway. It all unraveled over time, as my intelligence slowly worked on my emotions. My smart me won out over the gullible me and I was able to untangle myself from the web of deception which I had been entangled in. It took 17 years... but nevertheless, I was able to find the courage and fortitude to leave.
Having said that, I have come back to my original, childhood relationship with "God" ... more innocent and pure... less tangible and yet, very, very personal. I have no religion. I have a moral code of sorts, but it is far broader than our societal definitions of morality. I have, for the most part but not entirely, moved past my anger and hurt to a place of "being" and or moving on with my life and my relationship with spiritual things. I struggle with the "wasted time" I still feel that I could have devoted to a more worthy effort (such as my own education, perhaps) and I have a huge sense of quilt over the people that I helped to convert (deceive) along the way.
And yet, the time I spent as a Mormon was a good time in my life. I lived worthy of all that Mormonism teaches... and for the most part, it was lovely. My challenge, as I discovered the lies, revisionism, and deceptions (origin of the Pearl of Great Price, for example) was continuing to "live" with it all... I became a hypocrite inside myself. I didn't sleep well. I had nightmares about being disemboweled for having the second-thoughts about the Church... it was very hard. But I had to be true to my heart and mind. No matter the consequences... I could not remain a member. And so I resigned.
My relationships have more or less healed over the seven years that have passed by (with the exception of one sister, who still struggles with my decision and feels that I am a lost sheep who is being deceived by the Adversary and that it is a test and challenge for her and her own family to endure... UGH!) Of my four children, only one remains TTTF and is likely to be married in the temple next year (gag me)... I remain hopeful that her own intelligence will be strongly challenged by the temple endowment, although I fear the leadership has "watered it down" such that she will just glaze through it... after all, it is her wedding day! My other three kids are all EXMOs.
I want to make an, "I am an Ex-Mormon" video and plan to write a book... I wish that I could figure out how to earn a living by speaking about the "Mormon Deception", but that will have to wait for another time in my life. I talk with people about it when the opportunity arises, but I am respectful of members and their beliefs... after all, I once believed it and would have been highly offended by anything contrary being leveled at me.
It IS hard not to be cynical and angry. I still find myself "returning there" from time to time... but then I remind myself that I am not a Mormon anymore and that I am a better person having traveled the path upon which I had trod. Hmmm...that sounds like a HYMN !! (I can't seem to completely escape it, no matter how hard I try... so I just let it be...) It is part of my life story and I am OK with that. I have learned HUGE lessons in compassion and unconditional love as a result of my departure (apostasy) from the "Church"... I am more a disciple of Christ, as it were, because I have been the stranger on the road which the Samaritan happened upon.
Religion? No, not organized religion anyway... Yet, Touched by Truth... absolutely... More sensible, more compassionate, more reasonable... Definitely.
I LOVED your post. My feelings and experience with the church are so similar to yours. It was encouraging in a way to see that someone else felt the same exact way I did, and even accepted the church in the same manner and for the same reasons. Now I just hope that the phase of your life after the church can be what mine is like. I am still in transition because I have not been able to tell anyone except my (never members) mother, sister and my TBM husband. So, I'm still being that hypocrite because I'm taking my kids to church, helping them with their prayers, answering their questions from the perspective of the church, etc. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I really connected with what you said, and wish you the best with your book!
Thank you ... I have "friended" you here so that we can talk.
I understand your challenge and your inner-conflict. I welcome your friendship here and hope I can be some help and encouragement to you.
I haven't read the other comments yet, but wanted to respond anyway. I see the ex-mormon community as an invaluable community with a lot of knowledge and care for each other. I don't see it as defining myself as what I'm not. I was a mormon, I believed it, I lived it! Now I've been liberated! That is a huge deal to me! I would like to continue to define myself with that label. I feel it is being true to my heritage.
Having said that.. I have redefined my values. I understand what integrity is a lot more now and value it. I still care about other people, I still yearn to be involved in something helpful to the masses. I understand that redefining myself and reaching goals takes time... its a deeper process than I ever realized... before it was always shallow.
I think you get out of things the same energy that you put into them. If you are only seeing the ex-mormon community as being negative it might be because you're only looking at the negative stuff... look for the fun stuff... the uplifting stuff... or put that stuff up yourself.
What has inspired me is realizing I can ask myself big questions and come up with answers that are amazing to me! (I've noticed what I think is amazing may not be amazing to anyone else) I'm inspired by science!! The knowledge people have gained through scientific methods is amazing! And science continues to grow, they don't get stuck on outdated beliefs.
So much good advice! I just wanted to comment on the making fun of others' beliefs. I think of the Bill Cosby quote,
No matter how much or how little involved we all were in Mormonism, leaving is painful. I've yet to meet someone who brushed it off without any discomfort. Most of us went through a brutal tortuous time as we saw our entire world views collapse around us and our entire social network unravel. It cuts a person very deeply. Finding the humor in it often helps one heal. When I find myself getting angry, I'll come across one of those funny exmormon de-motivatinal posters or a funny exmormon parody blog and I can laugh through the tears of having been duped for much of my life. I can look back and say to myself, "Yes I sure wore some butt ugly funny looking underpants and I did some silly gestures in a big silly wanna-be castle, and I knocked on people's doors and told them all this non-sense was necessary for eternal happiness. But oh well, at least I can laugh it off now!" When I see the Mormon missionaries walking the neighborhood or the members walking to church I can laugh and say, "Well, at least I'm not wasting my Sundays anymore!"
So, just saying that even if the humor can be harsh at times, it's how many of us heal and move forward.