Debra Was a Mormon, an Ex-Mormon Profile Spotlight

Debra was raised in the faith in a large, strict Mormon family. She didn’t feel like she ever made her own decisions because she was to “follow all the rules set by the church and never deviate.” After some exploration as a teen, she helped convert her husband and raised a faithful Mormon family herself. Things started to unravel when she faced inappropriate bishop interviews with her children and then more so when she started to notice troubling posts on social media by those sharing their questions and experiences leaving the church. She learned about “topics and concepts I had never heard of as an active member for 38 years!” After investigating and confirming these issues, she concluded that leaving the church was the right thing to do. She’s now at peace with who she is and finds healing in paying it forward by discussing her own journey out.

I was a Mormon. I am the middle child of 11 children and was raised in a strict mormon home from childhood. I was to follow all the rules set by the mormon church and never deviate therefrom. I never made my own choices. We went on to have a total of 5 children. My husband and I served in many callings, from nursery leaders to ward choir director to primary teachers to ward clerks and my final calling was in the Relief Society presidency.

In 2020, when in-person church services came to a halt, I started to examine my feelings about the church. My children were getting older and starting to experience things that every normal, healthy teenager experiences. Things started unraveling for me when my oldest daughter discussed with me having her annual bishops interview and discussing masturbation. The thought of my minor daughter discussing her private sexual habits with a grown man (untrained to discuss such topics) was utterly appalling.

I had an acquaintance from my ward that was posting on social media about their feelings on the church which made it clear they were no longer an active member. I was surprised, intrigued, and bothered, all at the same time. I wondered how someone who seemed so “faithful” could have left the church.

I started seeing video clips on my social media feeds of Mormon Stories and people sharing their experiences with leaving the church. They were discussing topics and concepts I had never heard of as an active member for 38 years – issues about Joseph Smith translating the gold plates using a rock and a hat, inconsistencies in the book of mormon, and the straw that broke the camels back – the Second Anointing.

I went on to learn about the church finances and how they hoard money, property, etc. all while bleeding their membership dry financially. As a very young married couple with a brand new baby, my husband and I struggled to make ends meet. We went to our bishop for financial assistance. He agreed to help us pay rent as long as we went to the church building for multiple weekends and pull weeds – with our only months old baby in tow. It was demeaning, humiliating, and we were still expected to pay our tithing, even while struggling to put food on the table.

I was setting a terrible example for my children – claiming to believe in the church, but only bits and pieces. I knew I had to be true to myself and live the life I knew was right for me, my husband, and my children. The CES letter was the nail in the coffin and confirmed to me that my decision to leave was the right one.

As an active member of the church, we are taught that if you leave the church, you will never be happy. I was shocked to find out that this is, in fact, not true. I am happier now in my life than I have ever been as an active member of the church. I am free to make my own decision and live the kind of life that feels true and genuine to me. I am a better wife, a better mother, and a more well-rounded individual since leaving the church.

Being a mormon was everything to me for 38 years. I was my entire identity. I had no identity outside of being a mormon. Everything I did was because of my religion. After deconstructing and learning the truth and lies about the church, I was devastated. Everything I thought I new and held as truth was in question. It has been immensely helpful for me to research and discuss and share about my experience with the church.

The more I talk about my experience and what I’ve learned, the more I become content with who I now am and at peace with where I am at in my life. There’s no way, at this time, I could “leave the church alone” because it was all I was for my entire life. It is possible that some day I won’t feel the need to discuss mormonism or its effects on me, and I hope that day does come.


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