Hi, I'm Lindsy.
I was a mormon. I now find peace in meditation, travel, ACTUALLY connecting with my kids instead of seeking to control/indoctrinate them, and movement.
I was as true-blue as they come. I was born and raised in the church. I went to church every Sunday, went to each and every youth activity that I could, attended EFY all four years, and applied for and went to BYU. I followed every rule religiously and could say that I truly believed. I strove every day to live up to what I thought were God's standards for his people. I have journals FULL of notes from my scripture study sessions, mostly consisting of me reminding myself of where I could improve or where I was lacking. I married in the temple, started having kids right away, and from the start, we had FHE every week, attended the temple weekly (this only lasted for the first two years of our marriage, but we made it a point to attend monthly after that), had family prayer day and night, and companion and personal scripture study daily. We both felt we would be blessed for these behaviors, and we were. Life wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible either overall (other than "trials" that come to everyone).
Why I left
Over the years, some doctrinal things started to gnaw at me. I couldn't square our clear doctrine of eternal families with my personal experiences with LGTBQIA+ friends and family. It just didn't make sense to me that God would ask them to live a life on this earth without ever being able to experience romantic attraction and love with someone they truly wanted to be with and make a family with. I cried about it many times, just thinking about what a cruel situation it was. I also remember feeling sympathetic to the "Ordain Women" movement, although I didn't know enough about feminism and wasn't brave enough to join them at the time. Polygamy didn't always bother me, but I did feel very negatively towards Joseph Smith after reading more about him and his personality and what he put Emma through (in a book called "'The Mormon People" by Matthew Bowman. After that
Life sort of continued as usual until my husband (through his own chain of shelf-breaking events) read the CES Letter. He told me about it, and other things he was finding out about church history. It didn't shock or bother me too much, but I felt that he was overreacting. For a while I would just listen to him, and then I decided I should probably read it myself to gain a better understanding of where he was coming from. Once I did, that was pretty much it for me. I felt after reading it that Joseph Smith had just created a cult back in 1830 that has now turned into something less cult-y. But the most important thing I took away was that it was all made up. That combined with the other issues I mentioned in the first paragraph shattered my shelf.
I continued going to church for a while until the cognitive dissonance became unbearable, and then I asked to be released from my ward organist calling and told my bishop I didn't want to attend anymore. (He is amazing, and so is our whole ward. They've been very respectful of our journey.) It's been a very trying year and a half emotionally. I've been dealing with depression and feelings of intense existential crisis (not sure if that's the right term). Basically, it's really effing hard to live your whole life with certainty and then to come to the realization that it's all an illusion. But therapy and many long, raw talks with my husband have helped. It's been extremely therapeutic to let my family know where I stand in a non-confrontational way and to answer their questions with confidence, although I know not everyone is so lucky.
Questions I've answered
Honestly, belief is really hard for me. I guess I have come to the realization that we all have confirmation bias, and ultimately most of our beliefs are just that--ideas that we come up with to make ourselves feel better or to motivate ourselves. So now my new journey is examining my beliefs and deciding which ones serve me and which don't. Many of the ideas I grew up learning in Mormonism still serve me, many do not. But I now definitely believe that there are many ways to live a good life, not just one pre-prescribed set of beliefs.