THE MORMON CURTAIN
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EX-MORMONISM SECTION 22
A very large selection of posts made by those in recovery from Mormonism. Culled from throughout the Ex-Mormon Communities.
| As a TBM, I always wanted to "know". I feigned knowledge (as I suspect most do), but I was never really convinced that I had a certain confirmation that the TSCC was God's one true church restored.
As I've had conversations with TBM friends and family as an exmo, I've noticed a certain arrogance and haughtiness associated with their assertion of "KNOWING". As if saying "I know TSCC is true..." immediately makes their position stronger than my claim. Which is usually along the lines of "I'm not sure what the hereafter has in store, but seeing no compelling evidence otherwise, I suspect my consciousness will cease when I assume room temperature."
I would guess trading knowledge (however disjointed, ambiguous, self-manufactured, unfounded, and unlikely the evidence) for uncertainty is second only to social pressure in keeping otherwise rational people from seeing what has become so obvious to the exmo community.
Instead of getting all wound up and wasting this life chasing pie in the sky, isn't it great to appreciate this life for what it is. A temporary gift of chance. We are free to live life to its fullest. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Make the most of it my enlightened peers, we still have today.
| Since leaving the LDS Church and getting myself 'Un-Mormonized" (my list of 50 + new thinking scripts!!) in my process to take my power back and own it, I found I needed to set some new boundaries for my own protection (emotional, and physical health) and privacy.
After trying over and over to make some relationships work, and being treated badly over and over, it became clear that something needed to be done.
So, I set some new boundary limits - drew a clear line in the sand. I made a list of what I call: Toxic Behavior. It is the kind of behavior that makes you literally sick when they let loose on you. It is the kind of stress that many health issues cannot tolerate as it makes blood pressure to go up, blood sugars to go out of control, heart problems, and on and on.
Anyone, LDS or not, who commits any infraction of those boundaries is put on limited contact, and if it continues, on NO CONTACT. I have no need for them in my life. This was new for me, something I had to learn how to do. Living in the Mormon culture for three decades, with loose or no boundaries and invasive questioning the norm, it required that I learn to think differently about what I would tolerate from others.
I refuse to be a victim of other people's manipulation tactics, negative attitudes, nastiness, hatefulness, vulgar name calling, calling me a bigot, or a racist, any kind of name calling, making absurd claims I have some kind of mental disorder, yelled at,lied about,treated with disdain, denigrated, slammed, use me as an emotional punching bag, hurl insults, personally attack me, verbally abused in any manner whatsoever.
I am .....oh so done with that !
I learned quickly to never, ever take any of if personally.
I have many, many friends and loved ones; LDS and non LDS that know how to behave in a mature, adult fashion and treat people with civility, respect, honor, and decency. Those are the people I spend my time with! If I need to delete and block emails. I will. If I need to cut off contact with friends or family members, I will.
And now nice it is. Peace! At last!
As I don't know how many years (or days) I have left, I have decided I will spend my time with my loved ones and friends that I can laugh with and be candid and enjoy fully. These are people who know the meaning of love and show it. These are people who enrich my life.
Probably one of the best things I learned from leaving the LDS Church and getting out of the Mormon culture, was the importance of boundaries and protecting privacy issues.
Ahh..what a relief.
| Much has been said about the common "exit" (or "deconversion") narratives of former Mormons, some apologists seeing similarities among the narrative structures as invalidating the narrative itself, as if the "angry exie" adopts the narrative as a form of personal disguise with which to conceal the "real" reasons for departing the faith. Adopting the narrative, the theory goes, creates instant validity for the narrator and firmly establishes him or her within the community of unbelievers.
In his book Language and Self-Transformation (Cambridge UP, 1993) , Peter Stromberg explains that a conversion is not "something that occurred in the past and is now 'told about' in the conversion narrative. Rather, the conversion narrative itself is a central element of the conversion." He suggests that we "abandon the search for the reality beyond the convert's speech and ... look instead at the speech itself, for it is through language that the conversion is now re-lived as the convert tells his tale" (3).
Stromberg describes common Evangelical Christian conversion narratives as describing "the duel effect of the conversion, the strengthening of [converts'] faith and the transformation of their lives" (3). But it is the adoption of the symbolism of Christian conversion narratives that is itself transformative. He explains that "symbol use within a particular tradition can give the actor a sense of self-transformation" in much the same way that "self-understanding is constructed within the larger society" through language (4). And, he tells us, "the central task of the believer ... is, through his or her interpretation of Scripture, to find a meaningful link between the symbol system (the Bible) and his or her experience" (6). Thus the conversion narrative adopts the symbols and language of system (here the Bible) in order to contextualize the experience and bring the believer into the community fellow believers.
He goes on to describe "ritual" as consisting of "two sorts of messages": The "indexical" concerns the "present state of the participants," whereas the "canonical" concerns "enduring aspects of nature, society, or cosmos, ... encoded in apparently invariant aspects of liturgical orders." Ritual (in this case the conversion narrative) is the attempt to bridge the two levels and place the here and now within the context of the enduring: "Ritual is always a point where God and humanity come into contact" (11).
Most of us have heard Mormon conversion narratives throughout our lives, and many of us have given our own versions of the same. Unlike Evangelical conversion narratives, which Stromberg tells us are rarely shared outside of small groups, Mormons are encouraged as part of their worship to share the personal, the moments in their lives where the present met the transcendent.
Perhaps the most well-known conversion story among Latter-day Saints is the story of the boy-prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph describes himself as a seeker of truth "in the midst of [a religious] war of words and tumult of opinions" (Joseph Smith--History 1:10). Accordingly, he first reflected seriously on the subject of religion, his "feelings ... and often poignant" (1:8). Having then decided to acquaint himself with the various sects, he found himself completely at a loss to determine which was true: "I often said to myself, What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?" (1:10).
In this moment of confusion, Joseph turns to the scriptures, and as we should be familiar with by now, he finds the promise of "wisdom" through prayer in James 1:5 especially powerful: "It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did" (1:12). It is this powerful experience with scripture that leads him to the Sacred Grove, where in his first "attempt to pray vocally," he has an ecstatic encounter with the divine. First he is "seized upon by some power" which envelopes him in "thick darkness" and despair (1:15). Just at his lowest point, he is overcome with a vision of the divine. He describes the vision as a "pillar of light" that descended from heaven (1:16-17), and within this light appeared God the Father and Jesus Christ to teach him the truth about religion: "I was answered that I must join none of [the churches], for they were all wrong" (1:19).
This narrative is quite different from traditional Christian narratives, which tend to emphasize the prior, sinful nature of the believer and his or her conversion to a new self, made clean in the blood of Christ. Joseph Smith makes mention of his sins and their subsequent forgiveness in earlier versions of the First Vision narrative, but in the canonized version, the emphasis is on the search for truth and its ultimate reception by divine means.
Not surprisingly, it is this narrative of the seeker of truth and wisdom that is most often represented in Mormon conversions. I will take my examples from a web site called, conveniently enough, mormonconverts.com. The converts come from a variety of backgrounds, from Anglicans to atheists, Catholics to Unitarians, but the narratives usually follow the same pattern of seeking and enlightenment that we see in Joseph's narrative.
Most of the narratives describe a search for truth, for something that is missing. And, like Joseph Smith, they seek the truth in various religions.
"There are times in your life, no matter how old you may be, that you feel you are looking for something. Maybe it is keys, that missing sock or for me, it was a search to fill an empty hole inside me."
"My desire to marry and my growing disillusionment with the Catholic Church put me on a long path of searching. I realized that I never really had a personal relationship with Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ and I searched long and hard where I might find that relationship. That began a long period of spiritual wandering. I worshipped with Lutherans, Episcopalians, Baptists, and Pentecostals. I visited Hindu Ashrams and practiced Zen Buddhism."
"I spent a lot of years looking for a religion. I was raised without one, my mother is an Atheist, and I always felt incomplete when it came to religion. I believed in God, but that was about all I knew. "
"When I visited all those churches over the years, nothing ever felt right to me. I always felt that there was something missing. I'd go to a church, and just feel...empty and lost. Nothing ever touched my soul."
"I made the choice to try to find God. I know some people have said in my life that it isn't hard, you would be surprised. Growing up most of my family and my family’s friends were involved in many different genres of Christian churches. None of it made any sense to me."
"But there has always been something missing, no matter how I have tried and no matter how I dug I could never really find what I was looking for."
When the religions leave them confused, many turn to the scriptures:
"I needed God. I knew He was the only one I could trust and the only One who could help. I picked up the scriptures and read the first 4 books of the New Testament."
"Many years passed when ... I would read my scriptures in hopes to hopefully pin point the perfect verse that would sum it all for me."
"On September 12, 1999 I made the decision to turn my life over to Jesus Christ, and trust in Him. This was the result of being given a free miniature Gideon Bible. Having spent every spare minute reading it, and finding a new sense of happiness in what I found there, I began to believe in the Savior. But just how does a person turn their life over to the Lord?, I wondered, and I prayed to know."
Having decided that the scriptures alone are not sufficient to "fill the holes" in their lives, they turn to prayer in hopes that God will impart wisdom to them.
"For the first time in many years I prayed on my knees and I knew in the deepest depths of my soul that Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ knew me and loved me. I found my direction home."
"With tears streaming down my cheeks I knelt by my bed and prayed for probably the first time in my life. Truly prayed to Father in Heaven to show me what He wanted me to do."
"The first time I got on my knees and spoke to our Heavenly Father I was afraid, but I felt something I had never felt before, that he could hear me and he knew me!"
"My prayers were desperate pleas for something more from my life. ...I had no idea how to ask for what I needed, or where to find it. I was dissatisfied, and trapped. I often cried about it, and begged with God for the answer to my problem."
As with Joseph Smith in the grove, some report opposition from Satan preventing them from acting on their desires to believe.
"When I finished my [baptismal] interview I had an overwhelming feeling come over that could only be caused by one thing, and it wasn't God. The feeling that I should not do this and that I would be criticized and all the awful doubts that could possible come up did."
"It hit me. Whoa. They want me to do what. And in the back of my mind my dad’s words echoed again, 'It’s of the devil.'"
"I was outside the church and I felt that there was a barrier preventing me from going in. The girl I was hoping to date was already inside teaching a Primary class at Sunday School. A friendly policeman (well, he was in civvies at the time) and his fiancée, saw my predicament and asked me what the problem was. Apparently, the barrier I was encountering was Satan's way of using an earlier innate shyness."
A vision of light
The narratives usually conclude with an ecstatic, spiritual experience, often mirroring Joseph's description of light and truth descending.
"During a showing of a film depicting the First Vision, he has a similar ecstatic experience: "Then it happened, as Joseph was kneeling in the grove and saw the two separate personages who's glory defied all description, I had felt it! For the first time my heart burned, chills ran up my spine and tears rolled down my face. The spirit hit me so strong that I didn't care if I was the only blubbering fool in a theater of about 100 people. I knew that the church was true and that I had to be baptized."
"As I read my entire being was filled with LIGHT, and I knew that Joseph Smith had seen Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ."
"Several times the Spirit gave me that warm feeling. And finally I was woken up one morning. I sat straight up in bed with the words: "The Book of Mormon is true! So stop asking me!" ringing in my head."
"As [the missionaries] began to explain that we lived with our Heavenly Father before birth, I began to remember my conversations with God as a young child. I vividly remembered living with my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I remembered walking with my other brother, Lucifer and begging him to listen to Father and not to be so stubborn. I remembered crying when some of my friends were cast out of Heaven."
"At that moment, a sheet of light dropped down from the doorway, obscuring the two young [missionaries] from her view."
Do these common narrative structures mean that the conversions themselves are not valid? Not in the least, but they do suggest that as humans we do ritualize our experience to weld it to the eternal, as Stromberg suggests. It is interesting that Mormon conversion narratives follow such a different structure than traditional Christian and Evangelical conversions. This suggests to me that the conversions are seen in terms of cultural and religious expectation, so the narrative is structured to satisfy the needs of the larger community.
| It took me a long time to "get it" -- religion does not require "facts" only beliefs that are well established faith promoting miracles, and the like.
The beliefs in Mormonism are established and cemented not by reading reliable factual information but by listening with "the spirit" and "knowing" it is true. Like many others, I assumed I was given actual facts: real Golden Plates of ancient records, for instance. Who knew they didn't exist? I didn't!
There is a basic principle of religion that works for all of them:
Emotional bonding to traditional beliefs, even if they are weird superstitions, overrides logic and reason if one is constantly immersed in talk that is "truth."
Ignorance (lack of information) and superstition require one ignore the questions of an honest skeptic.
Human beings in general, have for millions of years gravitated to the supernatural, the superstitious and given them more power to convince and inform than facts and evidences. Polls show that more people than not believe in angels, ghosts, and the like.
The power of the emotion bond to the belief is so strong and well established and the thinking so well programmed (sometimes from birth) that it will almost always over ride any challenge.
Why have so many left Mormonism? What is the difference? Why are some folks able to disconnect from the superstitious, metaphysical thinking?
That is the question that has haunted me for years.
The emotional bond to the thinking is so strong, that we observe, over and over, that when a person leaves the Mormon church, they will very often be rejected, personally by members; a response that is almost always emotional, not intellectual.
Mormonism, like all religion is predominately a very powerful emotional bond to a belief that is not easily disconnected.
That disconnect process is why this board is so helpful.
The code to the disconnect snapped when I found the truth: no ancient records, no translations, Book of Mormon is about imaginary people, places and things.
Then the laborious Exit Process began: rewriting automatic scripts from Mormon teachings.
The idea that someone they love can assault their "testimony" can only be dealt with by exclusion.True believers do not have the capacity, in my view, to understand it on any significant level. That is why they often take their business elsewhere, denigrate and belittle their friends and loved ones, cut off family members, institute divorce and on and on. Suddenly, it's OK to treat loved ones with disdain and lie about them. That will always baffled me.
As a young woman convert, I have a different personal experience, of course , but even the belief in God is so well imprinted in the mind of most humans that disconnecting from that emotional bond/attachment is very often not even considered a reasonable notion.
Believers in general are more apt to accept someone claiming to be agnostic than atheist. To many, the idea there is no god is unimaginable.
| I was never what one would call a "joiner." I never had any interest in trends, doing what I was "supposed to do," or following the crowd. I am not sure how I developed such tendencies, but I suspect it came from being raised a Mormon, and not liking what I was supposed to do.
What I remember most about Mormonism was being told what I had to do---and what I had to do was what the group did. You did not really "live your religion" for yourself, you lived it for others-----and what they said, and thought.
My mother was a slavish follower of the ward, the neighbors, and the
current "group think" fashions. If anyone in her family stepped out of line, she became hysterical, and screamed and belittled until the correct behavior became manifest (to use that Mormon word).
She was not alone, of course. The neighborhood gossip and correction machine had the same ability to catch, admonish, and correct others. Mormons never practice catch and release, its always catch, admonish, and correct.
I rapidly came to hate this, because it stifled happiness, creativity, and, God help us all, fun. Nothing in Mormonism was fun, and precious little that I ever saw was much concerned happiness either.
The need to follow reached its culmination in the temple and the mission field. There, absolute following was demanded and enforced. By God, you did what you were told, even if it alarmed you, scared you, or humiliated you.
And that is where my separation from Mormonism began. I learned you cannot be a Mormon and an individual. That is fine, one supposes, for some, but it did not work for me. I was myself, wanted to be myself, and was fairly happy in my own skin. If you don't need people telling you what being happy in your own skin means, you don't need Mormonism.
You can give up many things----personal desires, money, and time. But when the organization wants you go give up your individuality, you are finished.
| I remember being a little troubled at the exmo conference when Steven Hassan told us to rely on our guts. I was still smarting from the relatively recent realization that my feelings had betrayed me.
When I was a TBM, I was frustrated with my inability to distinguish the difference between my own thoughts/feelings and the promptings of the Spirit. I believed the Holy Ghost would tell me the truth in my mind and in my heart. I was told that as I became better and more diligent about listening to and heeding the voice of the Spirit, I would hear and recognize that voice more often.
God's thoughts are higher than my thoughts, I was repeatedly reminded. In other words, what I wanted was not necessarily what God wanted. Thus, I was subtly trained to listen for those "higher" thoughts to guide me in making choices I would not have made had I just chosen to follow my own desires. In this way, I was taught to suppress my own desires, my own feelings.
(Note to self: Cult Rule #1: Show a man a "miracle" and you have an adherent for a day. Teach the man to delude himself and feed him the content of his delusion, and you have a loyal adherent for a lifetime.)
When I discovered the betrayal, although my recovery took some time (is still taking ...), I abruptly abandoned my former beliefs and never looked back. I also abandoned my feelings as a reliable source for truth. After all, they had betrayed me. They had told me Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon was a true record of an ancient people. Thus, when the lie was exposed and my prior feelings were invalidated, logic and reason became my only friends and the only trusted path to truth. I no longer trusted my unreliable feelings.
I was so cynical about relying on feelings to determine truth that any time I heard anyone say, "I know ... because I feel ...", I quit listening as the speaker's credibility plummeted. I had firsthand knowledge that feelings are easily manipulated and thus are handy tools of cult control. This fact was repeatedly highlighted as I met exmos who had joined a New Age cult, who claimed they could feel the energy in crystals, they could feel the energy of the guardian angels who surround us. Feelings were a powerful source for their delusion.
I had progressed from trusting in feelings to learning to trust my mind. And the mind, I thought, is superior. I quit trusting my feelings. But somehow, this idea that I could not trust a part of myself didn't sit well. Did my feelings have any validity? Where, if anywhere, did they fit in to the truth-finding process?
I recently had an epiphany, a happy thought, perhaps a sign of my continuing recovery: My feelings, i.e. my gut, were right all along. I should have listened to them. I should have trusted them. In fact, if I had, I would have left the cult years ago.
The problem wasn't my feelings. The problem was I was systematically taught to suppress them in favor of something "higher" or "better." Hence, my marriage at a young age before I was ready, no birth control, payment of a full tithe. I allowed the cult to dictate my life into a path that was inconsistent with what my feelings, logic, and reason told me was right. If I had paid more attention to *my* feelings, rather than suppressed them in favor of what I was told my feelings were supposed to be, my life would have been completely different. In a good way.
I've learned that my feelings are like my dreams in the sense that they tune in to my subconscious and pick up on clues -- facts, signals -- that my conscious mind may ignore or may not understand. My feelings are intimately connected with my ability to use logic and reason.
For example, I always hated going to church on Sundays. I hated the fact that my Sundays were monopolized, but I went and told myself what a blessing it was, how uplifted I was by the lessons and talks, because I was supposed to be. God's thoughts are higher, after all.
Another example. I hated Girl's Camp! Hated it! I thought it was ridiculous that women had to give up an entire week with their families or take a week of their vacation time from work, to spend five days trying to keep a bunch of girls entertained. I even expressed those feelings to a few people, but always with the caveat, "I just don't have a testimony of this program. I guess I need to humble myself and God will help me understand ..."
I hated Homemaking/Enrichment Night. I hated Relief Society -- teaching it I felt like I was a square peg trying to make myself fit into a round hole. At the time I felt unworthy for having those feelings. Now, I understand it was just who I really was.
I remember sitting through countless lessons taught by others thinking, "What's wrong with me? I hate this", or while sitting through yet another lesson on the Word of Wisdom, "All these overweight women on anti-depressants or prescription pain killers really think they're in a position to judge someone who drinks coffee?"
For that matter, I hated sitting through Primary as a kid. I was a smart ass. I remember telling myself every week that I would not give my Sunday School teacher a hard time, then simply being unable to tolerate the boredom and the inane repetitive lessons (more than one Sunday School teacher demanded a release from teaching our class; we were known as the hellions and even had a couple of female teachers break down in tears; true story). I remember sitting through countless lessons when the same drivel was being pounded into our heads and I hated it. I simply could not contain myself and would challenge things the teacher said. I was encouraged by my classmates who would either laugh at my apparent brazenness and the teacher's resulting discomfort, or would ask their own uncomfortable questions.
I remember feeling so out of place in Young Women's. I had no aptitude for crocheting so my teacher made the damn hot pad to give to my mother during the mother-daughter dinner. Yeah, that was fulfilling. I remember thinking I was definitely not cut out to fit the stereotypical Mormon woman role. (And I thought it was a problem!)
For a period of time, our YW teacher was one of Boyd K. Packer's daughter's, and at the conclusion of more than one lesson, she was in tears. I just assumed it was because she thought there was no hope for me, because I challenged the idea that my greatest calling in life was to be a wife and mother. That never felt right to me. In that particular class, my questions were legitimate and sincere. I was really trying to figure out who I was and how someone like me could fit into God's kingdom. Even then, I had a helluva time swallowing the idea that women were put on this earth to, ultimately, serve men and help the men magnify their callings. The real me violently rebelled against that idea. But the real me was at war with God's will.
I hated seminary. When I enrolled in seminary for the first time in 9th grade, my seminary teacher was a member of the Utah National Guard. He was also a little-big man who loved to affect the Spirit by using a soft voice, tears, and false self-deprecation. I had no respect for him and often made comments to undermine his lessons. He would roll his eyes and shake his head while some classmates laughed and others sighed in exasperation at my "obvious immaturity." At the time, I wondered to myself why I felt so compelled to be a smart ass and why I couldn't be as "righteous" as those who could stomach the teacher's daily dose of brainwashing bilge.
My feelings, *my* feelings, have always tried to express who I really am, even when I was an immature smart ass. My feelings have consistently told me when there was a problem. I only got into trouble when I suppressed them, when I didn't listen to them, when I didn't act on them.
Perhaps most important, my feelings are what ultimately led me out of the cult. Before I knew the ugly facts about polygamy, the Danites, the Counsel of Fifty, the BoA, Lamanite DNA, etc., I was FEELING frustrated, dissatisfied, and telling God that I had to FEEL his love for me if I was going to continue giving my life to him, that FEAR and GUILT no longer had a hold on me now that my children were adults. I told God I FELT no FEAR for my own salvation, that GUILT was a non-starter for me. I needed to FEEL his love for me, or I would leave.
It wasn't an ultimatum. It was a simple fact. I had no other options.
God didn't answer, so I left him. I figured if he didn't give a shit, neither did I. Then I discovered the truth, and it validated my feelings. I also learned that as long as the cult was working for me on an emotional level, I didn't question its veracity. This fact has caused me to realize that as long as being a TBM works for someone emotionally, the truth isn't particularly important to them. While learning the truth can affect feelings, it's not always dispositive.
So I have a different perspective on feelings now. I no longer consider feelings unreliable. Part of the reason for that is I don't consider feelings as a means of communication with some external source, or God, as it were. Rather, my feelings play an important -- even a critical -- role, in the cognitive process. When I "don't feel good" about something, a little thoughtful reflection will reveal those facts my conscious mind may not have picked up on.
Feelings are not some mysterious means to communicate with disembodied voices from some unseen dimension. Rather, they are a wonderful and somewhat complex tool that helps us sort through the barrage of bullshit we each encounter on a daily basis. They are perhaps a remnant of some previous ancestor's animal instinct. As the ability to use logic and reason advanced, perhaps instinct was replaced by or evolved into our complex feelings.
When do our feelings get us into trouble? When we don't listen to them. When we allow someone else to persuade us about what they should be. When we suppress them.
But when used in harmony with logic and reason, they tell us the truth.
| Have you ever seen the movie 'The Truman Show'?
For those that have, you know that the movie is about a man named Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) whose whole life has been a reality T.V. show unbeknown to him.
At the very end, when he is trying to sail away on a boat, they try and stop him by creating a huge storm on this T.V. set that is the world he has always known. He weathers the storm and next thing you know the boat he is in hits the wall of the set and pokes a hole through it.
He gets out of the boat and realizes he can walk on the edge, and the 'sky' is actually a wall painted to look like a sky. He finds a set of stairs and walks up them, and is standing in front of an 'exit'.
As he is about to open this door, there is a great voice from above 'the director and creator of the show' and it tells him the things about his life and how it is really good and how he brings others joy and how the world is no better out there than 'in here'. It basically tries to sugar coat it and convince him to stay.
When he just stands there the 'director' gets curt with him and demands he say something, as he is on national T.V.! Truman turns to the camera and says the great line, "In case I don't see you, good afternoon, good evening, and good night..." He takes a bow, and walks out!
As I am leaving I see so many hidden parables and messages in this movie. The fake world that was Trumans is so much like the mormon church, nothing is as it seems and nothing is real. But when you are in it, how do you see that? It is much more difficult. At the end when he tries to leave, first he is almost drowned, then they try and convince him he does not want to leave because the world out there is so bad. Does this sound like a certain group we all know? I feel as free as I imagine it would feel to walk out that exit door!
| Formerly "My Weird Claim to Fame: What I Once Won from Dialing for Dollars"
The thread with the top ten most famous hoaxes got me thinking about this.
I never really bought the whole God-and-Jesus story, much less the Mormon version of it. Even as a child, I had serious doubts. I remember thinking the Book of Mormon could have been made up.
That said, it didn't occur to me that Mormonism was a deliberate scam until long after I'd blown it off, in my forties, after I'd been brutally scammed by a sort of love bandit. (I say "sort of" because, once he was in my house, he was rarely more than civil. He was more like a big stinky sponge than your typical love bandit.)
Anyway, despite my disbelief - maybe because I hadn't given the church much thought in 20 years, maybe because I was still quite gullible until the giant stinky sponge landed on my doorstep - it didn't really hit me that the church was a hoax until I read Under the Banner of Heaven, after my run-in with the sponge.
I expect for most people, figuring out that the church isn't true is a process or series of things that lead you to suspect, little by little, until one day you're sure it's not true. I'm wondering, how many of you figured it out all at once - as in, one minute you believed and the next minute you didn't?
Was there one thing that you saw and went, "Oh, wow - I've been had"?
I imagine stumbling onto that list of famous hoaxes with the Book of Mormon at the top could be such a thing.
I imagine it would feel like I felt one day after school in the fourth grade, when the phone rang and I thought it was Dialing for Dollars. I answered the question - easy question, don't remember what it was - and was told I'd won a horny bastard.
Well, I didn't know what a horny bastard was, but I knew a bastard wasn't a good thing and I hadn't won any money. My nice grandma wouldn't tell me what a horny bastard was and told me to call my mom. She wouldn't tell me, either.
Perhaps that experience made me just skeptical enough to get through the next 25 years without a major incident.
So, what was your "horny bastard" moment? Yes, I know it's ironic, but that really is what I won.
| The idea of being "worthy" influences our lives in myriad ways. Years of being asked if you are "worthy" ultimately influences how you think of yourself. Rather than being asked if you are worthy by another person, one internalizes the question and asks oneself: "am I worthy."
"am I still worthy"
How does this dialoge with church authority weep into the common vocabulary and meaning of life within day to day experiences? And when does the effect of living with one's own humanity, gain some inability to accept one's humanity as taught by the church?
when does the question "am I worthy" change into the assumption, if I am not still worthy, then perhaps I am not a person of worth at all.
How did you experience this while raised TBM or living with a TBM struggling with issues of worth?
How did you rise above it value someone in you- that, or even when others, did not see you as a person of worth *worthiness ? When were you able to rise to some level of self efficacy, believing in your personal capacity- rather than continue floundering in a judgemental status- wings clipped- awaiting others judgeing your 'worthiness' and you judging your 'worthiness' as well?
How do you think this lack of graceful acceptance of a person's humanity (worthiness interviews, the 'worthiness' concept within mormonism) impacts the development of self concept, self esteem, and self efficacy? How did you grow and change anyway?
| I had to overcome cult brainwashing with critical thinking. I love the fact that I developed the ability to think for myself against such formidable odds. This ability has helped me in every other aspect of my life.
I learned to trust myself more than authority. I love the newfound knowledge that I can trust myself and that I was right all along -- that even my feelings are valid and a critical tool as I live in accordance with my own truth.
I love Sundays. Had Sundays not been stolen from me for most of my life, I would not love them like I do now. Sundays are a joy!
I had to find the courage and the integrity to leave and to tell my family. I love that I had the courage and the integrity to be true to myself.
When I no longer had a god looking over my shoulder and scrutinizing all my thoughts, words, and actions, I suddenly became the only person solely responsible for my conduct. I own my choices, good or bad. I love being an adult.
I learned to appreciate a good alcohol buzz on the weekends. Nothing like a good margarita after hiking 9 miles in the beautiful Uintahs. I love living and enjoying life's abundance.
I learned to enjoy coffee when I was 44 YO. I learned that coffee is not going to send me to hell, is relatively healthy in moderation, and gives me a burst of energy during a heavy workout. I love coffee!
I look back on that tiny little box of faux reality I used to live in and it makes the world I've discovered since leaving that box more beautiful, vibrant, and awe-inspiring than I could have imagined.
I've learned that every life is complex, extraordinary, beautiful, and finite. It is more precious. I can't rely on god to save this earth from global warming or greed. It is my responsibility to do what I can. I'm glad that my former belief that "all is in God's hands" no longer hides my personal responsibility to protect my planet.
I found RfM and consequently found strength, courage, inspiration, humor, and a motley family of sorts. I'm glad to be a part of it.
Because I was a Mormon, I have learned how not to be one, and I like who I am.
| Since I left the Church, LDS friends always begin conversations with, "How are you and your family doing?"
My response? "We're doing very well, thanks." And I really mean it. We're doing better than we've ever done. We're happier than we've ever been. And honestly, our spiritual lives actually feel enhanced now that we're not bound by the unintelligible doctrines of the LDS Church.
After hearing my response, there's a brief moment of silence, followed by some variation of, "Well, if there's anything I can do for you, please let me know."
I've come to realize that I and my whole family are all expected to fail. In the faithful LDS mindset, some apocalyptic event is going to befall us in the very near future. They don't believe anyone could possibly be happy after leaving the Church. They probably think that my current happy life is just some sort of calm before a devastating storm. Or they think I am lying.
The fact is, most people who choose to leave the Church are happier outside it. And those I know who have chosen to remain spiritual or religious, feel much closer to God than they did in the LDS Church.
The duty of a cult is to minimize the number of doors to the outside, make sure those doors are always shut, and then to create stories about horrible monsters living just outside those doors. Then it's their duty to teach cult members that anyone who has walked out the doors has been eaten by those monsters. The LDS Church is no different.
That's why faithful LDS people don't see the Church for what it is, because if the Church is not what it says it is, then all that's left are the monsters outside. It's easier, and far less scary, to believe the LDS Church is everything it says it is.
I am never surprized by the bitterness my faithful LDS family members show when I am around and spirituality or religion is discussed; I represent everything they've ever been taught to fear. I've made the same covenants, served a mission, married a returned sister missionary, sealed in the temple, served in high callings, and have been the poster child of "righteous" LDS living until the moment I walked out the door of a chapel as a member for the last time.
My little brother explained it to me this way in an angry, ranting e-mail, "You were my rock. You were the one that would never fall away. You were faithful like Joseph. You were the most Christlike person I knew." Every good thing I ever was to my brother is now referred to in the past tense. In his mind and the minds of my family members, I no longer have any redeeming qualities.
Things have calmed down a bit with my family. They don't talk about Church around me or my wife. If I attempt to give them perspectives on life situations, they blow me off and change the subject.
But they always ask the same question, with a hint of pity; "How are you guys doing?" To which I answer, "We're doing really well." And because they expect me to fail, and probably even hope I fail, they hang their heads a little, and change the subject.
Failure for me and my family is the only option they are willing to accept.
| From the day I left the mission field, until 20 odd years later, I felt guilt.
I always felt my mission was a failure, that if only I had worked hard every minute of every day, if only I had lived a perfect missionary life, if only I was more devoted to the people with whom I served, if only i had prayed harder, If only I had kept every mission rule, if only I was completely at one with every single companion, if only I had baptized more.
It wasn't until I discovered the authentic history of the Mormon church that I was set free. When I came across the actual verifiable cold facts of Mormon history, the truth set me free. Knowledge lifted a great weight from my mind and heart.
The Cult damaged my happiness for many years.
As a child, i always spent Saturday afternoon in bed, because I wouldn't toe the line at primary. It was a weekly punishment, inflicted on me by a typical Mormon mother who did her best, because she too was a victim of the Cult.
As a missionary and then in my post mission years, I was miserable.
Since leaving the Cult, I've discovered that prayer and meditation continue to produce results, if you want them to. Leaving the Mormon god, or I should say, the godless Mormon Cult, has set me free.
I am happier than I have ever been.
Goodbye to the post mission guilt.
Goodbye to all that shit.
Good riddance to bad rubbish.
| I've seen this topic come up over and over here, and having been through this rather awful and painful process, let me just give you the simple answer:
Put your marriage and your love for each other ahead of the need to be "right" about the church.
That doesn't mean that you have to compromise on your beliefs, but you have to make sure that your spouse knows that the relationship is what matters most.
If you focus on making love, not the church, the focus of your marriage, you might just make it. Those marriages that are based on having the church as the third spouse are going to have trouble. In that case, you have to work out ways to have a marriage where it's just two people, not two people and an intrusive organization.
It's been almost 4 years since I left the church, and my marriage has been anything but easy, but things are good, in fact better than they were when we were both TBM. But that's because we learned to put the marriage and each other ahead of religion.
| That's nonsense in my opinion when we're talking about mormons who show up to harass exmos who want to be left alone.
I tend to fall back on teaching experiences for my examples. I knew teachers who would not allow a young child to call them "teacher" because it was rude and disrespectful. From the first day of school, these kindergarten and first grade teachers demanded that children say "Mrs. Jones," or "Mr. Wilson." The students learned that if they wanted to get along with Mrs. Jones or Mr. Wilson, they had better not not say, "Teacher, I need to go potty." They'd say, "Mrs. Jones, (or whoever) I need to go potty." It's foolish to offend a teacher needlessly.
I didn't mind being called "teacher" instead of my name. I had other priorities. Still, I'd hear stories in the faculty room about how certain teachers would enforce good manners. Everyone in their class learned to call them by their proper name every single time they spoke one on one.
Was I morally corrupt for letting these kids call me "teacher" Nope, I think not.
Were my friends in the faculty lunch room mean and rude for setting boundaries and demanding proper more formal protocol in this instance? Nope, I think not.
Playing word games about "giving permission to hurt your feelings" is waste of words.
The reality is that we are all different. Some of us are bothered by things that don't phase anyone else. We have an absolute right to set our own boundaries wherever we need them to live well and be happy.
Mormons thrive on saying that everyone MUST put up with visits and harassment from them. If we don't get over our objections, we are bad and deserve whatever they dish out. That's crazy!
Here's the reality. Every adult who has their own home or apartment is allowed to make the rules for who they will allow to visit them and under what circumstances.
They can leave the door unlocked and keep soup on the stove for anyone who happens to wander in, including the meter reader or the homeless if they want.
Or if they value their privacy, they can insist that no one can come to their door and expect cordiality, unless they have a formal written invitation two weeks in advance.
Our homes are our castles. Mormons and many exmos don't get it, but it's the legal and moral reality.
| Sometimes life hands you little successes. Let me explain.
I was raised Mormon. Neither of my parents were really raised Mormon, but were instead converted a few years before my birth. When I was born, they still had the glow of the newly converted and I being their first son, embodied their hope for a future missionary. They named me Jared.
My parents were always strict members; paid their tithing, always attended their meetings and insisted their children did also, faithfully attended the temple, etc. In my teens, when I was inactive, my mother would attend the temple regularly and share her experiences with me, in what I now see as an attempt to bring me back into the fold. We all grew up amidst stories of miracles and spiritual experiences. Their world view was the Mormon Church's world view. Neither of my two older sisters were excited about the church, in fact later in life, my father told me one of the greatest validations he received as a parent was watching my missionary farewell.
I married in the temple. My parents were obviously very excited for and involved in all the customary preparations that are mixed up in such an event. My wife was very Mormon and fit in very well with my Mormon family. So there we were, one big happy Mormon family.
But then I decided I didn't believe the church was true. At first I think everyone just thought it was a phase, that I would grow out of it and eventually come back. But then I never grew out of it. I may act like a fool a lot of the time, but I wouldn't say I do foolish things. So my parents started to take things a bit more seriously and this in turn caused my wife to do the same. My wife resigned her membership some time later.
Which brings us to today. I'm sitting in my office, staring at the screen, drinking a little bit of coffee. My dad calls. Apparently they received their letters today stating they are no longer Mormons. He said it felt wonderful, and he thanked me for helping him see that the church he brought us all up in was a lie. You want validation as a son, get your father to say that to you. I am quite proud of my parents. I think it must get harder to see the church as a lie the older you get, but they faced the music.
I can't say this was ever a goal of mine, but it's nice when life hands you little successes.
| I had a thought today that I thought I might share and hopefully get some perspective on.
In my adult life, after leaving the church, I am finding I need to re-learn certain aspects of how to live in the world as a moral individual. For example, I have noticed that my first instinct when confronted by an uncomfortable or difficult question is to make something up. To lie. Not for the purpose of misleading the other person, but kind of to make the conversation 'easier'. I can't really think of an example right now, but it seems to happen from time to time. When I catch myself doing it, I usually recant and try again to tell the truth.
I don't know why my first instinct is to lie, but I'm pretty sure I picked it up growing up in this culture (Utah mormon). There is a pressure to have thoughts/words/actions fit into certain categories, and when they don't, our brains have learned to make them fit somehow. It's like a reflex. (There's no malicious intent, except probably for an unnecessary self-defense thing going on.)
I remember learning a bazillion times in church to pay tithing, or whatever, for the 'spiritual blessings'. I don't remember, however, learning a whole lot about relating to the world and to others with honesty. I'm not talking honesty in the sense of a T.H. Monson feel-good "I stole the candy and I'm real sorry, mister" way. I'm talking about being able to see the world how it really is, to see ourselves how we really are, and to relate to others in a real, honest, non-judgmental way.
(This is something that mormons don't really learn, and it may be one of the reasons they/we have trouble growing up/moving on/letting go... because we can never really accept things as they are in the present moment, and therefore get stuck in the 'glorious [make-believe] past"... but I digress.)
Anyway, I just think it is strange that I have a lying reflex, and I was wondering if any other ex-mo's out there could relate.
| DW and I were visited by the Stake President last week in our home.
When arranging the visit, he told us that he would be coming with absolute proof of the truthfulness of the church.
DW has really been hurt by the process of finding out the church's history, and I think she held out hope that the SP could come and offer genuine answers to our concerns.
As most of you would guess, the absolute proof did not materialise. His proof was a mixture of personal experiences and a belief that so many people who testified of the BOM's authenticity could not be wrong.
Our Stake President is a kind man, a convert of some 30 years. He is simple in his view of the Church and this was evident from his approach to the meeting. He knows very little about the full history of Mormonism, and to be honest I couldn't find it within myself to let him know. He left our home on positive terms, and said he would continue to pursue the General Authorities about the issues we have.
I still find it surpsising how little a lot of members know about the church, the development of it's doctrines and the logical issues with the plan of salavation, never mind DNA evidence and the lack of clear archaelogical evidence for the BOM.
The further I go away from the church, the more I realise there will be no spiritual hero to save me from my unbelief. There isn't anyone to give me the answers to the questions I and DW have. The Church is not what it claims to be. It saddens me to think I am not sealed to my wonderful children and my wife. It saddens me to think that maybe there isn't a life after this.
But the sadness doesn't make the church true!
One of Kori's favorites Marcus Aurelius says "The Universe is change, life is Judgement"
He missed out the bit about how much change can hurt, and how judging can be so very hard to do.
| Whether you're an exmo of many years or a lurker questioning their religion, you are all very courageous people.
Something very fundamental in you changed: the way you think is different now, and this fundamental change has had real-world consequences for most of you. Depending on your circumstances and where you live, it may have changed your relationships with your spouses, parents, cousins and other relatives. It may have affected your employment. It may have affected your friendships. It may have affected your world view and your ability to trust. I've read so many heartbreaking stories about what leaving TSSC has done to people that I'm amazed anyone leaves at all. You are brave.
Maybe that's why I hang around so much. There are parallels between being Mormon and being a fundie Christian, so I benefit from reading about people's experiences that almost mirror mine. You guys are some of the nicest, funniest, brilliant, caring and loving people I've met -- albeit online, but I've met some of you IRL, and that was awesome.
For some reason I feel like I need to justify my presence here. So there you have it, and thanks for making me welcome. And I'd like to make one observation. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross developed a model for dealing with grief. I've lifted this off of Wikipedia:
* Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of situations and individuals that will be left behind after death. 
Example - "I feel fine."; "This can't be happening, not to me."
* Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy. 
Example - "Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; "Who is to blame?"
* The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the person is saying, "I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time..." 
Example - "Just let me live to see my children graduate."; "I'll do anything for a few more years."; "I will give my life savings if..."
* During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect themself from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer an individual up that is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed. 
Example - "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm going to die . . . What's the point?"; "I miss my loved one, why go on?"
* This final stage comes with peace and understanding of the death that is approaching. Generally, the person in the fifth stage will want to be left alone. Additionally, feelings and physical pain may be non-existent. This stage has also been described as the end of the dying struggle. 
Example - "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it." "
I think some of you go through these stages when you leave, and I hope that when you're feeling denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance that you'll not stuff it down but let it out. I'm a stuffer, and let me tell you, it's no good. What you've stuffed eventually comes out and bites you in the rear. And maybe your exit was worry free. That's awesome, and I'm glad you didn't suffer. But there are people here who have suffered or are suffering. :'( I know how you feel, especially if you think you've dealt with it, and then something happens that brings back the old emotions and memories.
But no matter what, no matter where you're at in your recovery, you are brave.
| To my former friend who I served with in various auxiliaries, who still pretends to be my friend on the surface but really isn't: Thank you for calling my TBM daughter yesterday and talking about me behind my back. Thank you for telling her how wrong I am and how I've "taken a bad path." My TBM daughter was offended, she thinks you're weird, and she found your comments to be offensive and inappropriate. She was so bothered by your social ineptness she had to call me and vent. You are one more shining example of Mormon weirdness. Mom - 1; LDS Inc. - 0. (BTW, stop asking my TBM daughter to hang out with you; you're 30 years older, she likes boys, and you don't; quit the act and come out of the closet already).
To my TBM sister who has spent the past 20 years stabbing me in the back and never called me: Whatever motivated you (guilt?) to start being nice and to call me and bear your testimony after you found out I no longer believed, I am grateful for it. My TBM daughter was with me when you called and it left a bad impression on her. In fact, it bothered her a lot more than it bothered me. She still talks about your hypocrisy. Mom: 2; LDS Inc.: -1.
To my TBM daughter's TBM roommates who started treating her like a charity case when you learned of my apostasy: Wow. I can't thank you enough. And when you invited her to your family's Thanksgiving dinner because you thought that if I left "The Church" I must have stopped celebrating holidays ... well, TBM daughter and I really laughed about that. Thanks for the loud laughter. You're awesome! Oh, and the way you switch from bitchiness to spiritual piety in the blink of an eye has done more for my TBM daughter's (ahem) testimony than almost anything else. Again, I can't thank you enough. Mom: 3; LDS Inc.: -2.
To my TBM daughter's institute teacher who is feeding her bullshit when she asks sincere and honest questions about the more troubling aspects of LDS Inc.'s history ... See, she doesn't really buy the idea that Joseph Smith was a true prophet while he was boning a bunch of married women. In fact, she thinks he's a fallen prophet but "the church is still true." She just hasn't connected all those dots yet. She will. Thank you for laying such a crumbly foundation for her testimony. One little puff and that thing is a gonner. Thank gawd for the flimsy foundation of practiced apologetics. Mom: 4; LDS Inc.: -3.
To my TBM daughter's stake president, you know who you are ... yeah, you. The guy who is always harping on marriage and how being a wife and mother is my TBM daughter's road to fulfillment and eternal destiny. Yeah, you, the guy who joked about how women have no priesthood keys ... just (at best) the keys to the building. I'll bet you didn't know that your sexist and short-sighted comments have been the topic of several conversations when my TBM daughter has called me because she was angry and offended. See, my TBM daughter was raised by a single parent. Thus, she knows her identity comes from within her and not from any external relationship, as important as some of those relationships are. And you thought you were funny! That's hilarious! Mom: 5; LDS Inc.: -4.
Finally, my TBM friends, by all means exclude me from my TBM daughter's temple wedding. Your heads are so far up your a$$e$ you can't see how much this is going to hurt her. I know her. While I can find peace in knowing your silly ritual means nothing, my daughter will be hurt and angry with you for depriving her of her mother and her best friend on her special day. That anger will fester and over time, it will be the final straw. I know it. I know her. There will come a time when she will not be angry with you anymore -- not because she will forgive you, but because she will see how silly your rituals are, how controlling your doctrines, and how dysfunctional your cultish ways.
Thank you, all of you, from the heart of my bottom.
| I think I was out of the church long before I was out of the church. Being out mentally is not the same as packing up your marbles (the few the church leaves you) and going to a different game.
Things kept swirling around in my mind, and I could not shake them. I knew, if you went back in time just a little, there was something really creepy about early Mormonism. I also knew a lot of it had carried over.
My awareness started as a kid, when I first learned a few things from my father.
Father was in the church, but went through a very honest phase. He did know early Mormon history, and then, when he felt a need to return the fold, forgot it. But some of the things he told me stuck. And over time, they were
I learned that Brigham Young used to make a chalk mark on the door of the bedroom he was going to sleep in that night. The lucky wife knew ahead of time when it was her turn for one of his conjugal visits. Dad knew about this, because a family member had been forced to leave her husband, and marry Brother Brigham. The story was passed down. Her marriage to the Lion of the Lord had not been happy. She missed her husband.
I also learned about Mountain Meadows at an early age, and made a trip there in 1960 with my family. The road went through the river, and our car stalled in the water. We barely got the car out. The State of Utah went to great lengths to make sure a visit to the place was very hard to pull off. Not many made the trip.
Later, a girl in our ward made the mistake of mentioning Mountain Meadows in an MIA class being taught by Margaret McConkie Pope, sister of Bruce.
Old Margaret hissed "We do not talk about that in this church." Indeed.
You did not cross Margaret, and you surely did not talk about Mountain Meadows.
As time went by, I learned of other things-----blood atonement, the origin of the temple ceremony, and the conduct of the early Utah brethren. I came to realize that there was something really creepy about early Mormon history.
Things did not add up. Too many things were violent, unhappy, or scary.
People were forced to obey. Hell, they were forced to obey in the 1950s, too.
I never had a choice. Others did, but Mormons did not.
It became very hard to justify all of the things I had learned. Too much of it was, well, scary. Something was just not right about it. Later, when I the full accounts of the history of Mormonism, it all made sense. I left.
It is very hard to keep your mind from wandering where it is not supposed to go. Facts are, indeed, "stubborn things," and you cannot just dismiss them.
I was often told to dismiss them, but I could not do it. Eventually, facts gave way to freedom.
| When I state "believers" below, I mean any possible belief. It is OK to believe in whatever you wish, of course. My problem is when anyone's beliefs infringe upon my choice of beliefs. All my opinion...
My personal problem with the various "believers" is their proselytizing. And, I am not confining this to Christian beliefs or even religious beliefs. I believe some do this in a passive aggressive manner, where they do not even realise they are preaching. For me, if a statement is not predicated in "this is my opinion", it is a "preachy" post.
Wow, you are all very angry. I am at peace. I do not understand your anger. I have found the path to peace.
The above statement probably does not register as preaching, to the person that posted it. However, the way I analyze this statement would be;
I believe in "A"
You do not believe in "A"
You are not at peace
I am at peace
Whatever you believe must be false
"A" = truth
I also have a problem with anyone saying they have found the method to recovery. "The" method. Well, what you have actually found was your own personal method. If every person had the exact same experience within Mormonism, maybe there could be one recovery method. My father beat me bloody several times, in the name of his Mormon God. Unless you were beat until you bled, I do not see how you could offer me your personal recovery method. My youngest brother is gay, and my father and mother put intense pressure on him to change. Unless you are gay, and were called Satan's minion because you are gay, how could you possibly offer him advice on his personal recovery? My wife was told by a bishop that she could not receive assistance, years ago while I was ill, if she took the initiative and worked outside the home. When she did, she was villified by my parents, by her parents and several of her close "friends." Now, she sometimes feels guilty about her great success in the workplace. Unless you were a female and had many misogynistic acquaintances, how can you tell my wife how to go about her recovery?
The above examples are why I bristle, every time someone comes on this site and either says they "know" what an individual is going through and tell me/us how we should recover (or have nothing to recover from). Or, outright tell us all we "should just get over it, because it really wasn't all that bad".
| Anger is a normal, natural emotion. How do we deal with it and do we know how it can impact our heath and relationships.
One of the emotions we all seem to deal with, from time to time, is anger. A lot of anger is often directed at the LDS Church and it's members, personally by former Mormons.
Is all anger justified? And if so, how much and when?
One of the emotions that has been studied a lot is anger.
How much, and what kind is going to negatively impact your health?
How we manage anger determines a lot about our health. Prolonged hostility, anger, rage, has an impact that we may not have considered. I know I didn't!
You might find something in these comments and links that may be useful to you in your Exit Process from Mormonism / Recovery. I know I did! This is the kind of info that I need to review and remember.
Anger management FAQ: The good, the bad, the ugly
Take a look at what causes anger, what makes some people snap, what anger management classes are all about and how to defuse conflicts.
What is anger?
Anger is a feeling of displeasure or hostility. It's a normal, healthy emotion, just like any other feeling you have.
Anger has several components:
Psychological. This is the emotional component of anger, how you feel, such as sadness, disappointment or frustration.
Physiological. This is how your body responds to anger, such as developing muscle tension or an increase in heart rate and blood pressure as your body releases adrenaline – the fight-or-flight hormone.
Cognitive. This is what you think as you experience anger, such as acknowledging that it's OK to be frustrated, or, on the other end, thinking that the world is out to get you or that your spouse "never" does what you ask.
In essence, anger is a warning bell that tells you something is wrong in a situation. It's a natural response to perceived threats.
In fact, medical researchers have linked the stress response of anger to:
elevated blood pressure
increased heart rate
low back pain
shortened life expectancy
Unexpressed–and expressed–anger impacts a person’s mental health as well. Studies have linked anger to loneliness, chronic anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sleep disorders, obsessive-compulsive behavior and phobias. Anger’s harmful effects spill over into a person’s personal and professional lives, undermining a person’s capacity for emotional fulfillment and personal and professional achievement. In other words, anger can hold you back and keep you down.
Anger inhibits the development and maintenance of intimate relationships, often resulting in marital and occupational instability. Angry people frequently blow misunderstandings and minor grievances out of proportion and are more inclined to end relationships with people, even close friends, than work to resolve problems. Other people find their demeanor and mood unpleasant to be around. Consequently, angry people often alienate themselves from others–even their own families. Angry people have trouble being effective parents and spouses.
Anger: it can be like slow-acting poison, robbing you of mental and physical health.
Anger can work like a toxin in your body. Hostile feelings are apt to harm your health. These are the findings of Dr. Redford Williams, professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center. After spending more than 20 years studying the impact of the mind and emotions on health, he concludes that hostility, in the long run, is a threat to health. However, Dr. Williams, author of The Trusting Heart and Anger Kills, believes that anger can and should be controlled.........
Q: Does this mean that every time I blow my stack I am damaging my health?
A: Most of us get angry at times. Our bodies are equipped to handle emotional upheavals from time to time. The real harm comes as a result of frequently recurring hostility.
I should add that many hostile feelings can be avoided, especially those that arise from matters over which we have no control. For example, when standing in a slow-moving line at the checkout counter in a supermarket, instead of getting angry, why not read magazines on the rack or talk with others in the line?.....................
Q: Are there not times when you have to assert yourself, especially when you have been wronged or harmed?
A: Absolutely. Controlling your anger does not mean ignoring injustice. Martin Luther King, Jr., for example, preached brotherly love but stood up against laws that deprived people of their rights. Your goal in learning to control your hostility does not require you to become insensitive to injustice.
Before asserting yourself, ask yourself if it is worth the effort to try to get the perpetrator to change. Sometimes it pays to take a few slow, deep breaths before you speak. This may result in a calmer voice, which is apt to elicit a similar response.
Other links I found helpful.
"Anger is both a physiological (body) and psychological (mind) process. Because of this, anger can have a negative impact on your physical and your emotional health. This is particularly true of the relationship between anger and heart disease. "
"Chronic and intense anger has been linked to heart disease, cancer, stroke, colds and flu as well as depression, self-harm and substance misuse, the charity's Boiling Point report said."
While anger is natural, it can cause great harm to us.
| When I was a small boy, we lived about half a block from a rather large park in Southern California. My mom would take us over there almost every afternoon in the summers after my youngest brother had his nap. But we never went on Sundays. Returning from church each Sabbath, we would see other kids playing happily on the playground equipment and wonder why we couldn't play with them.
"We keep the Sabbath day holy," my mom would say. "It's a commandment from Heavenly Father."
"But those kids are having so much fun. Why wouldn't Heavenly Father want us to have fun, too?" we protested.
"Well, they're not really having fun. They just look like they're having fun," she would say.
As I grew older, I heard variations of this thought: People outside the church may think they're happy, but they aren't really happy. Only church members can truly experience real joy. Everyone else just looks happy "on the outside."
"Happiness is the object and design of our existence," Joseph Smith wrote in a letter proposing plural marriage to Nancy Rigdon. And we spent an awful lot of time reminding ourselves of how much joy and happiness the gospel had brought us. Numberless testimonies were given of how the gospel had blessed people, and conversely, of how they would have wandered in dark paths had they not known the truth.
I thought I was happy. I had everything a Mormon boy is supposed to aspire to: a loving wife, lots of kids, a postgraduate education, a professional career, and leadership positions in the church.
But then my faith in Mormonism collapsed, and I saw it for the manmade organization it is. But that realization wasn't nearly as devastating as the realization that I wasn't really happy and hadn't been for a very long time. I had accepted the church's definition of happiness without ever considering whether that kind of life really meant happiness for me.
I had held suspicions that I was dealing with depression during my church years, but it wasn't until I got out of the church that I began to deal with the problem. I remember filling out a questionnaire to determine the level of depression, and one of the questions was, "How long have you felt this way?" I could only check the answer, "I can't remember when I didn't feel this way."
Of course, I've had some church members tell me the depression is a direct consequence of my apostasy, but that's what I would expect them to say.
The church provides a framework for interpreting experience, and in many ways that rigid framework is comforting in giving us a consistent approach to life. However, I had to break out of that framework to figure out how to be happy. At 40 years old, I had for so long lived by what others had told me that I didn't know what I wanted out of life. I didn't know who I was.
And in the end, that's the only way to be happy: to know who you are and know what you want out of life. I'm sure some people can find true happiness in Mormonism. I didn't, but then I didn't really understand what happiness was.
So, yes, I may look happy on the outside, and that's probably because I am happy.
| I was sitting at my desk yesterday afternoon when I noticed that an instant message had popped up on my computer screen. (OK, I confess that the conduit for that message was Facebook, which was open on my web browser at work.) The message was from an old friend from high school days. She and I had dated just a few times. Mostly, we had just been good friends. Since graduating from high school and leaving my hometown, I can count on a couple of fingers the number of times I have seen her. I knew that she had married a mutual friend and I was aware of where they were living.
Of course, Facebook has raised my level of awareness about the current whereabouts and activities of this friend. That’s what Facebook does. Still, it seems like many of those rediscovered friendships on Facebook don’t do much beyond the initial “Hey, great to find you here” greeting and a passive observance of those things they choose to share. Thus had it been with this friend.
Chronic extrovert that I am, my Facebook page makes it pretty obvious that I’m no longer among the Mormon faithful. For my religious views, I state something that is pure parody of theology in general, but I also make frequent comments about our family’s participation in a Unitarian Universalist church and I have posted a number of photos from there.
So, I was somewhat surprised at my friend’s instant message. She told me that her close friend’s son was about to enter the Missionary Training Center on Wednesday as a first step toward a mission in Japan. She said that this young man was feeling discouraged, as was his family, because several people had told them that Japan was a terrible place to go on a mission and that he was going to hate being there. My friend knew that I had gone on a Mormon mission to Japan, but that I had also spent a lot of time there, starting before my mission and going up to as recent as last month. I’ve logged something over seven years of living there and even had a child born there. It’s as much of a second country to me as I could have.
She asked me if I would consider making a brief phone call to this young man to offer a counter-perspective to the things he had been hearing and to let him know from someone who really understands Japan that it’s a wonderful place to spend some time.
My first reaction was hesitant. I wasn’t sure what she had factored into her decision to ask me for this favor. I told her that my mission ended a long, long time ago and that I had to wonder if anything I could tell him about my mission days Japan wouldn’t be outdated and largely irrelevant. I also mentioned that I didn’t know whether she had gathered as much from my Facebook page, but that I had made a decision a number of years ago to leave the LDS church, and that I might not be the right person to help.
She backed off almost immediately and said it was OK if I didn’t want to do it, making me think that her decision to ask me in the first place might have taken a lot of guts. She told me that she was indeed aware that I was no longer Mormon, but that she thought I might be able to share some positive thoughts about the experience of being in Japan. So, I thought about it very briefly, then told her that if she was looking for someone who could honestly and enthusiastically tell this kid what an amazing experience it is to live in Japan, I would be happy to do that.
She thanked me profusely and sent me the young man’s name and his mother’s cell phone number. I told her that I was touched that she would ask me for this kind of a favor, as so many of my Mormon friends and family don’t seem to be comfortable going anywhere near the topic of religion, let alone acknowledging my personal conclusions and decision to leave the church.
She wrote, “Mujun, I love you for who you are, not what you believe.”
I sneaked out of my office for a few minutes and made the call. The mother answered, said they were in the car and that her son would be happy to visit. I told her that I knew the hours she had left with him yesterday were precious and that I wouldn’t take much of his time. This young man and I talked for about fifteen minutes. I asked him about his background. He seemed mature, friendly and polite. It didn’t seem to bother him much when I explained that I was an apostate. Maybe it gave me more credibility for what I was telling him. I told him just a few of the things that always amaze and impress me about Japan, all of which spoke to the order, harmony and earnestness of the people there. I talked about the way the trains run and how I had planned trips with four-minute connections, having full confidence that I would be there on time. I talked about the harmony and security of the place, and how you can find vending machines in the middle of nowhere, and how nobody vandalizes them! I talked about how nearly everyone in Japan seems to really care about the jobs they are doing, regardless of how mundane some of those jobs seem from an American perspective. I also suggested some things to actively observe when he gets there to confirm what I had told him.
Finally, I told this young man that, as an apostate, I had no interest in seeing him convert a lot of Japanese people, but that I did think it was fair even within the context of his purpose to ask him to regard them with utmost respect. I urged him to please not be condescending as he goes about his mission. I told him that nobody there deserves to have him look down upon them as poor, sinful wretches who need to be brought up to his level. I told him that the Japanese have a rich cultural heritage that includes many meaningful spiritual practices, and asked him to please never think of those as “the foolish traditions of their ancestors.” He agreed with me that he didn’t want to approach his mission in that way.
It is entirely possible that in two years this young man will be as indoctrinated and assimilated as any Mormon I know. For a few minutes yesterday, however, he was polite, respectful and appreciative while an apostate shared a few honest thoughts. Who knows? Either way, I enjoyed talking to him and I’m grateful to my friend for seeing beyond labels and categories to what she thought was the value in my doing so.
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