Hi, I'm Debra
I am a full-time working married mother of 5. I was a mormon.
I am the middle child of 11 children and was raised in a strict mormon home from childhood. We went to church every Sunday, fasted on the first Sunday of the month, paid our tithing, had Family Home Evening each and every Monday night, never drank caffeine or swore and only ever wore modest clothing. We stayed indoors on Sundays, never going outside to play or even watching TV or non-church videos. My parents made us attend General Conference (in church dress) at the church building, twice a year, where it was broadcast via satellite back in the days before you could watch it on TV or listen to it online. My parents served faithfully in every calling they were asked to serve. Coming from a large family, that didn't leave much time for my parents to pay much attention to each of their children and give them the individualized care they so desperately needed.
Growing up, our home was a loving one, though rules were strict and actions were closely controlled and monitored. I was often told "no" and not allowed to do many of the things my friends did - attend school dances, go places on Sunday, etc. I was told what to do growing up and the expectation was that I was to follow all the rules set by the mormon church and never deviate therefrom. I never made my own choices. We weren't taught about nor ever talked about sex or other "sensitive" topics that would make our parents uncomfortable. There were many instances of sexual abuse in our home which went undiscussed and unaddressed until all of us were well into adulthood.
At the age of 17, after graduating high school, I moved away from home and starting living on my own with my two older sisters. I began experimenting with dating and drinking and quickly found myself pregnant. My older sister had just had a baby out of wedlock and I was terrified of being a single mom at 18 years old. I went though LDS Family Services and placed my baby boy up for adoption with a wonderful, temple-worthy LDS family. We are still in contact to this day.
Within a couple years, I met my now husband who had never heard of the church. He took the missionary lessons and within 2 months we were married and he was baptized and our first daughter was on the way. After a year of being married, we went though the Chicago temple and were sealed "for time and all eternity."
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.
# Why I left More stories of 'Why I left' the Mormon church
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. This person had served in the young women's presidency and 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 watched multiple videos of individuals who shared stories of parents and grandparents who had this "Second Anointing" - a blessing that guaranteed them entrance into the celestial kingdom and godhood. These individuals discussed how their family members, even after receiving this blessing, were abusive, controlling, pedophiles, and so on. I could not wrap my head around the fact that we were always taught to "endure to the end", yet there was a blessing we could receive in this life that would allow us to not have to endure any longer. We could be guaranteed entrance into the kingdom of god and obtain godhood, no matter what we did for the rest of our lives.
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 tried cafeteria mormonism for a while - determined to live whatever part of the church felt good to me. But that didn't last long. I hated being a hypocrite and knew 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.
Questions about Mormons My Answers to Questions about Mormonism
#Link to this answer of 'Are you happy?' by debrac28 Are you happy? See more answers about 'Are you happy?'
I love this question. Of course 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.
#Link to this answer of 'Are you lazy? Is that why you left?' by debrac28 Are you lazy? Is that why you left? See more answers about 'Are you lazy? Is that why you left?'
I will admit that I was partially lazy. For over 35 years, I served in an absurd number of callings. I said yes to every request that came my way. I served faithfully and to the best of my abilities. I was always called upon because I was reliable and consistent. It took a huge toll on my mental state and ability to be a good wife and mother. After leaving the church, I was able to attend to the needs of my children, my husband, and myself, without the worry of pleasing my church leaders with how well I was serving a calling.
#Link to this answer of 'Did you want to sin? Is that why you left?' by debrac28 Did you want to sin? Is that why you left? See more answers about 'Did you want to sin? Is that why you left?'
Part of my experience with leaving the church is finding out what kind of person I really am and what kinds of things I really want to partake in. Alcohol, drugs, sex, tattoos, etc - all those things the church count as "sins". Some things I have tried, some I have not yet had a desire to. I am learning, for the first time in my life, at 40 years old, what kind of "sins" I like to partake in and which I don't care for. Its liberating and exciting and has made me a more understanding, patient, kind human being.
#Link to this answer of 'Have you had any profound spiritual moments in your life?' by debrac28 Have you had any profound spiritual moments in your life? See more answers about 'Have you had any profound spiritual moments in your life?'
I have had many profound "spiritual" experiences in my life (though I would call them something different now). I do not discount any of those even though I no longer subscribe to the church and its teachings. One experience in particular was when my husband and I went through the temple for our sealing. Our daughter was about 5 months old at the time. At that age, she was incredibly clingy and never did well with other people, constantly crying and unhappy unless I was caring for her. When we went through the temple, we had to leave her in the temple nursery. She was dressed and brought into the sealing room when it came time for that event. When they brought her into the room, it was the most amazing feeling. She was in their arms and had a huge smile on her face when she saw us. She was not fussy or anxious, but seemed calm and content. As we went through the sealing, she sat on the altar and just held our hands until it was complete. It was a wonderful experience and I will always hold it near to my heart.
#Link to this answer of 'What are your thoughts about leaving the church alone?' by debrac28 What are your thoughts about leaving the church alone? See more answers about 'What are your thoughts about leaving the church alone?'
This question is very sensitive for me. 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. But anyone who feels the need to discuss their issues with mormonism as part of their deconstruction has my full support.
Active members share constantly their testimonies on social media and even door-to-door, face-to-face. They don't worry about being offensive or off-putting in their declarations of truth. Those of us being just as verbal on the other side are trying to do the same as them - share our truth. They share was is meaningful and important to them - we are simply doing the same.