Leaving Mormonism has been the best decision I’ve ever made, and I’m happier now than I’ve ever been, but I don’t think most Mormons are truly happy for me.
I am immensely grateful I have been able to maintain relationships with my family. This was very important to me.
I do struggle to make peace that people in my life know how much pain the church caused me but they still support and defend the church. No one has said the church was wrong, that shouldn't have happened, you shouldn’t have been treated like that. It makes me feel like I don’t matter. I don’t know how to reconcile this.
Peace of Mind
I told my parents, I told some close Mormon friends, I told my non-Mormon friends. I lost none of them. They, as true friends do, loved me for who I was and not what I believed. Our relationships have shifted but not changed in any significant way. I am nervous about telling some of my other Mormon friends, but am comforted by the thought that if they abandon me, they were not worth having in my life in the first place. Since leaving the church, to whom have I gone? To all the same people, but more at ease in my own skin, with a fuller heart and mind, and more able to offer love and support.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve had relationships that are likely irreparably damaged as a result of my leaving. It’s been heartbreaking every single time. But, I’ve discovered that by being authentic and honest with the people around me, I’ve made more meaningful and deep relationships. The friends I had before my transition who are my friends now are even closer and we’ve grown together.
I knew when I became public about my disaffection from the LDS Church that many people would not understand. In spite of the many negative consequences of leaving, I can say without reservation that I am happier than I ever have been in my entire life. My life is not perfect or without pain, but I feel more confident and equipped to handle my problems with the help of the new community I have created.
Four of our five children graduated from Mormonism ahead of us. They set a good example for us.
My wife and I; and the family, are happier than we have ever been.
I have family and many friends who remain devoted to the church, despite my disaffection. I cherish their friendship and the many happy (and funny) memories we created together. I hope they don't pity me.
I love being contacted by former students, friends, ward members, who wonder how me and my family are. I am happy to tell them why I left, but the majority don't want to know. That's okay. Live and let live.
I would say, that I have a deep affection for a great many members I associated with. That does not dim with time.
I've had to find an entire new social group. Multiple members of my family won't talk to me, and my ex-wife tried to take my kids away from me because I wasn't living like I did as a member.
For me, the most difficult part of losing my belief in Mormonism was experiencing the trauma of finding out all of the dark lies of the church, and discovering the tools of manipulation that had been used to control me, and not be able to share my experience with my family without being seen as a lazy, prideful person like the church teaches. I could not share my pain, my thoughts, or my experience with them. I have learned that as long as I keep my thoughts and experiences to myself, I can at least keep my relationships on a shallow level. There is no longer any shared understanding or authenticity between any of my active Mormon friends and family.
It's like the trauma of suddenly finding out your spouse has been lying and manipulating you for all the years you were married, and not being able to talk about it, or warn, the closest people in your life because everyone loves your spouse, doesn't believe you at all, and they don't want to hear another word about it. How do you have a relationship with people like that? You keep your mouth shut, and you keep your sadness and pain to yourself. That is what this so-called religion does to family relationships.
However, I did find people that wanted to hear my story, and could either relate, or were fascinated by, and held space for, my experiences. I found authenticity, love, and acceptance in new, beautiful, meaningful relationships. These relationships are closer and more fulfilling than the relationships I had in Mormonism. Looking back now, I realize Mormonism was never a space one could be authentic. When conformity and obedience is valued above all else; when you cannot question, criticize, research, or think outside of your belief system, there can’t be authenticity.