I am valuable just because I'm alive.
I know how to decide what is right and what is wrong for myself.
I said this to myself over and over one night as I was curled up in bed, sobbing. This was the moment I realized it. All of this shame? This heart-wrenching, soul-crushing guilt? It was all in my head.
I had focused on the humanizing Mormon scriptures when I was a believer:
"The worth of souls is great in the sight of God" - D&C 18:10
"Men are, that they might have joy" - 2 Nephi 2:25
I thought Mormonism viewed everyone this way. God loves everyone, and we are all meant to be happy! But what I didn't realize until I left is that in Mormonism, that happiness only comes to good, obedient members. And if you CHOOSE to walk out of the church like I did? Well, see you in hell, you family-wrecker. You have no business taking part in happiness now because you just wanted to sin, you were just offended, you're influenced by the devil, or you weren't trying hard enough to be faithful. Your marriage will be sub-par because it's not in the temple. Any bad things that happen to you will be because you left the protection of "the one true church", and you will deserve them. And any happiness you have? Well, that's just the world's happiness. Church members will pity you and feel bad for how naive you are in thinking you could ever possibly be happy as an apostate. Some of these things were said to me literally. Others were expressed through social pressure and implications of the doctrine. But the emotional gut punch was real to me, no matter how it came.
I was weighed down by so much unnecessary guilt when I left the church. I don't need that guilt. I don't deserve it. No one deserves it! To feel like nothing you do is good enough or that everything is all your fault? That's no way to live. I don't need to believe that I'm damned because I left "the one true church". I don't need to believe that my life is going to be less beautiful or enriching because I've chosen a different path. I don't have to be a Mormon to be a good and happy person who likes learning and growing and trying to make the world a better, happier, more welcoming place.
The rest of this blog will be posts to help me keep "unpacking" as I try to unload the weight of Mormonism and as I bring my authentic identity, which Mormonism shamed me into hiding, up to the surface. I hope to do this by discussing why leaving the church was the right thing for me to do and why I can never go back. I'll talk about the information and thinking that led me to that decision and about why I don't need to carry the pain of leaving anymore.