Chelsea Was a Mormon, an Ex-Mormon Profile Spotlight

Though Chelsea wasn’t a perfect example of a Mormon, she did hold herself to impossibly high standards, which eventually led her to therapy. Her journey away from the church began with unsettling experiences and growing doubts about church leadership and teachings. Despite her efforts to conform and push aside her feelings, Chelsea faced numerous instances of guilt and disillusionment, particularly around the church’s views on modesty, self-worth, and gender roles. These experiences eventually led her to question her faith and seek a life aligned with her true values and beliefs.

I am a lover of coffee, dogs, and life. I was born in raised in the PNW. I have 2 siblings, wonderful parents, and a life that I now love very much. I grew up Mormon. I wasn’t a part of a cookie-cutter Mormon family and I wasn’t always a perfect example but I held myself to impossible standards and landed myself in therapy all these years later. I was a Mormon.

The very first time I had an issue with church leadership was when I was 16 years old and brought into my bishop’s office to have a check-in “interview” where we talked about driving and, of course, dating. The two big milestones when you turn 16! I remember feeling so excited about those two new privileges. My bishop talked to me about general safety and joked that he would stay off the roads for a little while. Then we started talking about dating. He advised me to go out in groups and never be alone with a boy. Then he said something that resonated with me negatively. He said “please make sure that you dress in a way that will not distract any young man from straying from the path” I didn’t mind dressing modestly so that was fine, but why was it MY responsibility to keep HIM from going off the path? My bishop has good counsel, so I decide to push my feelings aside and just listen. My first item on the shelf.

A few months later, we got a new bishop in my ward. One of my leaders had asked me to give a lesson on self-worth and to include a small thing about purity because it might be less awkward coming from someone the girls really look up to. I said I would and looked for examples, but all I could find were terrible things involving fear. So I changed my plan and didn’t tell anyone. I taught a lesson and on the importance of standing up for what you believe in and determining your own worth for yourself.

I pulled out a brand new $20 bill and started to ask the girls what they would buy with it. After they gave me their answers, I crumpled it, stomped on it, rubbed it in the dirt, tore a small piece off of a corner, and taped it back together. I turned back and asked, “now what can you buy with this?” They all looked confused and gave me the same answers. I told them that it didn’t matter how dirty, broken, or crumpled they felt, they would always be worth the same amount. The female leaders thought it was great, but the priesthood leader who was listening did not and immediately called my bishop.

The next Sunday, I got called into my bishop’s office and he was very upset with me. I did not follow the teachings of the church and that “was simply unacceptable.” He told me I needed to apologize to the girls’ parents for telling them things that didn’t coincide with our leaders. I told him no and asked him to go and ask the girls who were in my group how the lesson made them feel instead. What did I do that was so bad? I walked out of his office and thought that maybe I should have just done what they asked so I wouldn’t have gotten in trouble. Guilt started to set in and I didn’t tell anyone. Another heavy item on my shelf.

Almost 2 years later, I was about to graduate from high school. I was the Laurel president and managed to not make any more waves since I got in a lot of trouble. Every time I felt the need to question something or speak up about something I disagreed with, I forced myself to push it aside because that feeling of guilt hit me. More little items were added to my shelf over those years.

The Sunday before we all graduated, our bishop came in to talk to our class about our next steps. It was filled with the most misogynistic bullshit I had ever heard! He told us that we would all be wives and mothers before we knew it (nothing about education except that it MIGHT be a good idea in case something happened to our husbands). He told us that we needed to make sure that our appearance was desirable and reminded us to maintain that in our marriages. He told us that we should wake up before our husbands and make sure we look pretty for them, make sure to get everything ready that they need for the day and make sure they have a nice clean home to come home to every day. I can’t make this up! But I didn’t want to get in trouble so I just set it aside yet again.


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