October 26, 2016

11: Time to Talk About Feelings

The information I've shared on this blog is a drop in the bucket when it comes to discussing Mormon history and doctrine. There are many books, blogs, podcasts and other forums dedicated to discussing Mormonism (just start googling and you'll find plenty information or jump right into CESletter.com for a popular 80-page list of controversies). Based on the information I've read, as well as other experiences I've had, I don't think Mormonism is the one true church, as it claims to be. As I understand it, churches and religions have acted mainly as political structures throughout the course of humanity, for good or bad, and Mormonism is no exception.

But I don't want my blog to be about the church's truth claims.

This blog is for me. I write to help myself better understand the crazy emotional roller coaster I've been on and to help me unpack the reasons why leaving Mormonism was such a painful experience for me.

Up to this point, I've given a high level overview of some of the information that stands out in my memory as damning evidence that the church is false. It's definitely not a comprehensive list of the items on my "shelf", but it felt good to write out some of the major points, and I will probably discuss other major shelf items in the future. (Click here to read my post explaining the idea of a mental shelf)

The posts I've written so far are biased towards historical information and away from personal experiences. Figuring out how to write more about the personal/emotional side of this experience has been road block for me as I try to write more posts. Historical information is historical information, and it provides context, but the emotional punch it carries really pales in comparison to painful personal experience.

So why are personal experiences so hard to write about?

First problem: I've seen the hurt that Mormonism has caused people I love. The experiences of close friends and family members have deeply affected the way I view Mormonism and my reasons for leaving. But those stories are simply not mine to tell and I want to respect the privacy of others.

Second problem: Talking about my own pain is difficult because it requires being vulnerable and admitting my own weaknesses and insecurities. Who wants to admit to that stuff?

Third problem: Since leaving Mormonism, I tend to be hyper-vigilant when anyone talks about their feelings. Human feelings can be easily manipulated, and I've found that's it's better to trust evidence over feelings, especially when talking about religion. Religion is a loaded topic. It brings up a lot of emotions, and my feelings about things are not always an accurate way to measure the reality of a situation.

So between privacy concerns, dislike of vulnerability, and mistrust of feelings, it's going to be tricky writing more posts. How should I write about experiences with family and friends? How can I trust myself to remember things right when my memories are probably influenced by my feelings? Do I really want to dig up my insecurities and write about them?

I do want to write about them. Writing helps me wrangle my emotions and force them into an organized narrative instead of letting them float around chaotically in my head. As much as I would like to stick to the facts, there are times when it's helpful to talk about feelings, which is why I will be trying to bring more of a personal/emotional vibe into in my posts moving forward.

October 06, 2016

Sharing My Experiences with Mormon Problems is not Mocking Mormonism

I recently had a conversation with a Mormon family member. They told me that they felt I was mocking them and their religion by being open about the problems I see in the church. I let them know that I'm not trying to mock, I'm trying to share my experience and talk about the problems that I see in Mormonism. That conversation led me to making this Facebook post that I decided to share here on the blog as well: "Please understand that I don't post church stuff on Facebook because I want to mock the church. I think people who chose to believe are sincere in their belief that they believe it is the one true church and that they are trying the best they can to do good. I was in that position too! I believed it was true and had spiritual experiences that felt so real! I prayed and read scriptures every day, I went to church every Sunday, I served in callings, I based my life on the teachings and doctrines. I'm not trying to mock the church when I know how sacred it is to believers. But I am not a believer anymore, and it has been a long, painful, and sad journey. It still makes me sad a lot of the time that now there are some relationships that are strained or ended because I'm not a believer anymore, and I'm sincerely sorry that my posts have hurt people. I don't want to convey anger, even though there is no denying that I have felt a lot of anger in this process. I can't go back, and I can't "leave it alone". Once you've seen the problems, you can't unsee them. I share because I want people to understand that I didn't just leave because I got offended, or wanted to sin, or just gave up and stopped believing. I share because I think problems should be brought to light, and there are many problems in Mormonism. I share so that other people who are hurt by the problems in Mormonism know that their pain should not be dismissed and that I care! You are not alone! You don't have to go through the sadness and betrayal on your own. I'm here. There are whole communities of people here for you. Don't let a controlling organization tell you that church is the only way to be happy. You can be happy without an organization that hides information from you and shames you for never being good enough. You don't have to keep suffering in a system that doesn't work for you, especially because it's a religion built on easily falsifiable truth claims and doctrines that come from fallible human beings." The same thing goes for this blog. I want to be able to tell my story. I want to share the problems that I have seen and bring them to light by writing about it. I'm really glad when people reach out to me. It let's me know I'm not going on this journey alone. I want to reach out to others as well. None of us need to go through this alone.