To truly understand my Mormon experience, you have to know that I was raped by an older man when I was 16 years old, a traumatic and life altering event on it's own. I never told anyone (it's complicated) but soon afterwards, I learned a prophet, Spencer W. Kimball, taught that sexual assault victims (those who don't fight off their abuser) bear some responsibility for the sin and it's better to die defending your virtue than to live having lost it. Because I believed prophets spoke for God, when I learned my virtue was more valuable than my life, I believed it. I grew up believing that I was worthless and better off dead and every lesson on chastity reinforced this belief.
From a young age, I was taught my life's work, my purpose and fulfillment would come through marriage and family. It's statistically impossible for every Mormon woman who wants a temple marriage to have one and my failure to marry and have children left me feeling like my life was meaningless, devoid of value, and that I had failed spectacularly. I blamed myself for not being worthy or righteous enough for the blessings of marriage and family. I doubled down on my efforts to be 'perfect' so I could qualify for the life I was promised, that I could finally be worthy to have a happy life and make my god and family proud. When marriage and family still eluded me well into my 30s, I was consoled with 'I could be happy and blessed when I was dead'. This reinforced what I was taught in my youth, that my life had no value, that I was worthless and better off dead.
It's no surprise that after decades of feeling worthless and falling short of God's (and the church's and my family's) expectations of me, that I became extremely depressed and suicidal. I blamed myself. I had no choice but to blame myself because God and the church are perfect. Any failure, any unfulfilled blessing was because of my lack of faith and righteousness despite the fact that I never committed a single sin that required confession.
When I stopped dating Mormons because I ran out of options, I was shamed for lacking faith and for compromising my covenants and exaltation. But my options were to die, be lonely until I die, or try to find some portion of happiness. No matter what I did, I always seemed to be doing it wrong.
The Mormon church sells a plan of happiness but provides happiness to a select few and poisons the rest. When I say I left the church to save my life, I mean it.
Something of emphasis in the church is the notion you can’t turn off and on your identity as a member, that you represent it in all circumstances. There is also a strict commandment to obey the prophet. This became burdensome as I tried to consult myself on life choices but hadn’t learned the skill of thinking for myself or critically outside of what authority figures deemed important and what my indoctrination laid out for me. The church took up so many hours of my free time and interfered with my academic motivation. It was also implied that my role in life was to be a wife and mother and because I had that intention, as well as the charge to marry a Mormon boy, I lost opportunities to develop in my sense of self and question what I wanted for my life aside from these goals.
Dress code, dietary restrictions, limitations of speech, time commitments, forced to fast as a child, sleep deprivation, child labor, limited sexual education. Groomed to be susceptible to abuse- for example routinely being interviewed alone by older men alone as a child. Trained to not question authority, deceived by teachings that have been blatantly untrue (method by which BoM was translated, historical inaccuracy of the BoM, Joseph Smith’s crimes and misdeeds, etc.). Other ways I’ve been harmed are through consequences told to me if I choose not to be in the church, including losing my relationship with my family in the afterlife, or being a single person who can only minister as an angel if I don’t marry in the temple. Just in general at the whim of the mystical ideas of a guy from the 1800s.
Beyond the political stances (which should raise the ire of the IRS), the one part that harmed me professionally was from several local leaders.
At the time, I was working in home hospice during the AIDS crisis. Nearly all my patients were dying of HIV infection and AIDS. I was told by these LDS leaders that I should not be caring for these sinners because they had gained the appropriate punishment for their chosen lifestyle. Let me tell you, the horror of AIDS is that it does not LET you die until there is nothing left. I was appalled at them telling me to turn those patients away. It was during the time that Boyd KKK Packer encouraged parents to NOT let their LGBTQ children stay overnight in their homes as it could provide tacit approval of their lifestyle.
I loudly refused their "guidance," and told them where to put it (I was really mad). I was then told, "Your compassion will condemn you."
Let me repeat that, "Your compassion will condemn you," caring for the sick and dying.
I did call the Stake President a "fucking bastard" for saying that, and I think the "F" bomb curled his garments! I hope it did. I remembered those words each time when I was the only one with a patient when they drew their last breath, one of those happened to be a gay excommunicated LDS returned missionary. Nearly all those that died alone had been thrown out literally and figuratively by their families.
Is that the kind of church I would want to be a part of? This all happened before the story above, but I believe it put some of the first "cracks" in my shelf.