Although I left, I'm thankful for my time as a member. Some of the other members where very kind and insightful. I loved learning about personal revelation.
Shame. Toxic perfectionism. Depression. Self-hatred. Intolerance. Highly conditional love. A very narrow worldview. Emotional immaturity. A tiny box to try and fit in, and pain from all the parts that didn't fit.
A mostly great experience as a missionary in Japan. Increased levels of self-discipline and work ethic.
In spite of my decision to leave Mormonism, I am still able to acknowledge and appreciate the beautiful things it brought into my life. There are many aspects of Mormonism that I continue to hold on to, and find commendable in my friends and family. For example, the selfless culture of service is something I feel strengthened me growing up, and I find it incredibly beautiful to this day. I also admire the growing emphasis on family roots and genealogy--I feel that it was largely due to this emphasis that I chose to embark on my career journey to be a historian and educator. Another beautiful aspect I feel Mormonism brought to my life is the emphasis on family. Though I no longer place boundaries on what a family should look like, I still find that emphasis beautiful and valuable. We continue to hold on to this emphasis, though now more inclusive and open.
Though I no longer hold to the Mormon belief system, I still consider the Mormon people as family and continue to love and respect them as individuals.
Though I had a painful exit, I did gain a lot from my "Mormon Period." I was taught leadership, another language, living in a foreign country, public speaking, friends (though most dropped away once they married), and the need to care for others. In that last one, I took Home Teaching very, very seriously, and needed to make sure my families (or individuals) were okay.
The church did bring me a tight-knit community. I moved wards several times growing up, and I never had to worry about finding friends. It also brought extreme expectations of conformity and severe social consequences when the expectations were not met. Leaders "care" about you and are "interested" in your well-being, but they only care about keeping you in the church. This was very damaging to me, and I am trying to unlearn this fact; I am trying to learn that people can be nice just because they are nice people. Growing up in the church gave me a frame through which to see the world. Now, I'm having to dismantle that frame and see it from a more objective point of view. The church has brought challenges into my life, and I wish I had never been involved in it.
I will never deny that in the 10 years I was a Mormon, I experienced many positive, happy, and uplifting times. I met so many wonderful and kind people; I found a strong and selfless community. I learned many ways and means to be a good person, to develop and maintain strong and healthy family relationships. Much of what the Mormon church teaches and preaches is positive, wholesome, and good.
But there is much about it that troubles me, and even scares me. There are insidious problems in the church, in its gospel, and in its doctrine. The church can bring a lot of happiness to people's lives; it can also bring sadness and the complete opposite of the Christlike love they preach.
There are so many well-intentioned people in the church, but I had even become so blind to how my words and actions could hurt others. There's an inherent pride in believing you belong to the "one and only true church on the earth;" the belief that what you have is right and what everyone else has is wrong or inferior; that you have a duty and obligation to educate and save anyone who thinks differently than you. I'm sorry for anything I said or did to anyone that hurt them, or made them feel judged or less than.