I'm finding myself. I was a mormon.
I was 39 years old before I started addressing the questions about the church that I had struggled with most of my life. I was adopted through LDS social services at 2 days old and grew up in a faithful LDS family. I did all of the things a faithful member of the church does – I attended BYU, went on a mission to Rome, Italy, and married my best friend in the Salt Lake Temple. I had three beautiful children and faithful LDS family and friends whom I loved. However, I could not ignore the growing unease I felt whenever I reflected on my relationship with the church. I cannot say I had ever felt “the spirit”. I often felt contentment and happiness, but recognized that it came from a place of privilege and luck, with some hard work thrown in there as well. I could not ignore those who did not have the same advantages that I did, and questioned how a loving God would allow so many innocent people suffer and struggle, without intervention.
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When I began my faith crisis, one that began with resentment over the church’s stand on social issues and quickly delved into the validity of its history, it led to many long overdue and necessary discussions with my husband. One of the things that arose out of those discussions, while being honest with each other and ourselves for the first time in our lives, was that my husband is gay. I had married my best friend, and any issues we had were easily overlooked by the belief that sacrifice was necessary while building and maintaining our eternal family. The night he came out to me, I saw one overwhelming emotion in his face: relief. Even though we knew life would never be the same, the pain and suffering we were told was just a difficult but temporary journey to our eternal salvation, could finally be addressed and we could, over time, truly be ourselves. The year that followed and many moments since then have been difficult. However, I hold on to that moment when we both realized that, as we let go of the church and the belief that we were broken people, we could finally love the people we were born to be.
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I officially stopped going to church 2 ½ years ago, and I have gone to places that have brought me true all-encompassing happiness. I met the love of my life in an Ex-Mormon Facebook group and have been able to discover what it feels like to be seen – not because of my sweet spirit or my stalwart service in the church, but as stubborn, open-minded, irreverent ME. I met incredible people as I transitioned, and found a group of friends who have shared the same journey and would have my back anytime I called upon them. Plus, they are a hell of a lot of fun. I am raising three gorgeous, brilliant, tolerant children with my ex-husband, and the anxiety of fitting them inside a narrow box of shame and fear is completely gone. Even though my relationships with my active LDS family are strained, I am filled every day with peace. It is beautiful here on the other side. It is full of people who are wise and loving and help me believe our future is in good hands. I am finally happy being me.