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!