A question to long time exmos - fear of leaving

Bartok Aug. 2013

Hello my lovely exmormon posters! This is my first time posting and I have a question i was hoping you guys could answer. So long story short is I was preparing for my mission and I came across the book of Abraham problem that really shook me, and also led to a downward spiral of finding Everything out about the church.

So here is my question, after finding everything out all I feel is fear. Total paralyzing fear , I am not quite sure why , I was hoping someone on this board might be able to help me. I feel fear and guilt for knowing the things that I know. Is this part of the "grieving process" people who leave the church are known to have? Its not fear for my immortal soul or anything, its more like fear of knowing. Knowing too much. Fear of people finding out I know, and......well I don't know. Its quite irrational I know, but I was hoping someone could explain it.

The mormon church uses fear & guilt to control us.
It's been programmed into us at an emotional level, so that logic can't touch it.

We have to learn to constantly remind ourselves of the facts when these programmed feeling well up.

Let's say on a Sunday Morning you get a slight panic attack and feel you must go to church or be overwhelmed with guilt and fear that someone will call you weak and lazy. Counter that feeling by reminding yourself of why you're no longer Mormon. Is it polygamy? Golden plates? Joe Smiths conflicting visions?

Then make a nice breakfast and go for a lovely outing and have fun! Fun is a perfect anecdote for mormon imposed dreariness.

Welcome to the board.

(You might want to choose another name as we've had a regular poster using that one for about ten years.)

Fear of the unknown
I think for me, with discovery came the realization of how much I didn't know. That uncertainty is very unsettling. You're in unexplored territory and are more on your own than perhaps you've ever been. Without the comforting confines of church based definitions of what life is all about, you are now personally responsible for deciding what is meaningful,what is wrong or right, what is truth, and what is beauty.

In other words, you've just been handed your own life to live as you see fit. That is pretty scary, and many people decline the opportunity.

Re: A question to the long time exmos
Long, long time exmo here.

There are as many reactions to finding out the church is a lie as there are lies being told by the church.

Some go through a grieving process, some are freaked out and shaken, many, like me, feel an enormous weight lifted off of their shoulders and suddenly feel light and free. Many will tell you they felt euphoric because they suddenly felt like they got their brain back--their self back.

Of course you are shaken. Who wouldn't be to find out what they thought was a solid foundation wasn't even sand, but more like styrofoam?

I believe what you are feeling is the insecurity of suddenly having a blank slate. That is a good thing you know. We rarely get those in life. I have been handed several, and let me tell you, it is the real baptism. Your sins weren't washed away. Misinformation was washed away. Deception was washed away. You are now free to truly seek truth, and facts, and weigh them against your own intellect and your own heart and conscience. Yours. Not anybody else's.

The butterflies will leave, and you will have your real self to start writing your own self onto your blank slate. It won't be without complications, but it will be real.

I am so happy for you that you found out. It represents great mental strength.

Re: A question to the long time exmos
If you were BIC then you have had a number done on your head and you have been trained to hate yourself if you go against the cult.

You have been programmed with a redirect virus and you need to get your hard drive scrubbed.

Think of it as a Trojan Virus that causes you feelings of guilt, remorse etc. if you have bad thoughts about the cult or their phoney baloney god.

Smoke some weed. Drink some beer. Go to a strip club. If there is a god s/he would want you to be happy and enjoy your brief stay in this dimension. Don't waste your life sucking the fumes of this dying monolith that was built on a mountain of lies.

CA girl
Re: A question to the long time exmos
I agree that the fear you feel is fear you were taught to feel. Of the unknown, of the known being something you didn't expect, of what you know having been a lie. It's scary when your world turns upside-down like that.

My advice is to take it one day at a time and, in spite of your fear, learn more. Being educated will help build your confidence in your perceptions and your reality, which has taken a big hit, hasn't it? Find replacement comforts, like hiking, gardening, music, massage, join a new social group, make new friends etc. But take it at your pace and choose for yourself. As you build confidence in yourself, your fears will fade.

Vote for Pedro
Re: A question to the long time exmos
I'm hardly a long-time exmo, but I do want to say something that might help:

In the church, you think you have all the answers. For a young person, it's pretty comforting to know you're going into your adult life with everything figured out and a wonderful life ahead of you. It's extremely unsettling to have that upended at such a critical stage.

When I was 20, I had everything figured out. Now, in my early 30s, I realize I don't know anything. And you know what? I'm okay with that. For me, there has been tremendous relief in admitting to myself and others that I don't know everything.

"I don't know" is a fine way to approach life. It's an honest place to start figuring things out. It keeps you open and flexible. Once you admit you don't know, you can start really learning.

So relax. It's okay not to know. Actually, it's kind of fun to find out how things actually are instead of forcing everything and everyone to fit the paradigm of Mormonism.

It really helped me to study cult characteristics and mind control so I could realize what had been done to me, and remind myself that any "guilt" was a mental booby trap I'd laid to keep myself "on the strait and narrow."

Good luck! You're in good company here.

Re: A question to the long time exmos
Sweetie, you've been brainwashed . . . and the fear of horrible consequences if you ever leave the church is programmed into your brain. What you are experiencing in very normal. I remember feeling panicky and guilty. I had a fear that Satan would "get" me. I worried about possible retribution from Heavenly Father: Illness, financial disaster, catastrophes etc.

Just breath darlin'. As your mind relaxes over time and you come to realize that nothing horrible has happened, you will return to a state of new normal.

Hang in there. And keep posting. Good luck!


It's called "deprogramming".

The first time I left the house without garments I felt some fear....."what might happen to me with out this cotton/poly protection?"

The first time I said "Fuck you god" I felt some fear of being struck by lighting. Ouch!

And when I told my father that I thought Joseph Smith was a lying, stealing, adultering, pedophile of a con-artist I felt complete terror that I would be dissowned by my parents.

Long story short......5 years later I haven't had a piano fall on my head or been struck by lightning. I'm 10% richer than I would otherwise be and healthier, happier, and more relaxed. And my relationship with my parents is better than ever because we are now more honest with each other.

My only wish is that I had left the cult sooner and saved myself precious time and money.

After fear comes anger so get ready for the next step in the process.....

Raptor Jesus
Fear is completely normal and part of a grieving process.
You may feel anger later.

The church would hijack these feelings and tell you that they come from Satan; therefore, this newfound knowledge is bad, and the church is still "true."

However, this is all wrong. It's not your feelings that make the church "true" or "false." Feelings are very different things, and you'll most likely experience a lot of them as you exit out.

Good luck with your journey. We are here to help.

Re: A question to the long time exmos
Long time exmo here. I have been free of the fear that comes with the beliefs in that or most any religion. I did take a while to be deprogrammed. I now live a life free of the cultish lifestyles associated with the morg ( Mormon organization). The more you practice at being unmormon the easier it gets.

Re: A question to the long time exmos
For me it was deprogramming from the Mormon God of punishment and journeying to the Loving God outside of the Walls of Fear,Guilt, and Expectation. Realization that I was much more then what any organization could label me. Hello Fear Good Bye Fear became my Motto!

Re: A question to the long time exmos
"I feel fear and guilt for knowing the things that I know."

Very likely a symptom of psychological enmeshment - and certainly not a sign of "deserved" guilt for an actual transgression.

It will take time, study, and introspection to relieve the symptoms, maybe even counseling.

But the first step is to recognize it as a psychological by-product of mormon inculcation mechanisms - in other words, brainwashing.

One of our august members (chuckle) has even given it a formal designation: Mormon Enmeshment Syndrome.

Stick around, folks at RFM can help ...

Re: A question to the long time exmos
I agree with what CA Girl suggested.

The most difficult thing is leaving much of the Mormon past behind, and finding your own path in the broader world on your own terms. Yes, you'll have to grieve out Mormonism, but try not to let that consume you. Because you can also look forward to a new kind of life.

That can be difficult and frightening, and progress is often uneven. It's difficult, because that's not the world BIC Mormons were raised to inhabit.

Having said that it's well worth it, so go and explore new things to do, new social circles, and other experiences. You own your life now--for better or worse.

The more comfortable I've grown in my own skin, and living on my own terms, the less concerned I am about what my Mormon relatives think of me. If they think I'm a nasty sinner--ok. I know the foundation for that opinion (Mormonism), and don't think there is much to it. People outside the Mormon bubble don't form their opinion of others based on these things, so it would be irrelevant to them what the LDS Church thinks of you.

Re: Fear is completely normal and part of a grieving process.
True this.

I've found one of the responses to decompressing from the cult is an intense rage that can be directed at yourself and/or the stupid mormon Sky Tyrant and his loyal dupes.

Totally normal but needs to be mastered.

Don't play golf if you have this issue. You will break a lot of your clubs and give yourself a heart attack.

Re: A question to the long time exmos
The indoctrination from TSCC is cancerous. It is something that can be removed but often times brings terror for fear you made a bad choice. That cancer robs you of the joy that comes from living a life free from guilt and shame. Go forth and live.

Re: A question to the long time exmos
Im assuming you're young. That will help. I think part of the fear is the fact that we tend to build this belief system, and all its cultural attachments up around us as our life.....not just part of our life, we are trained so that it becomes all consuming. The older you get the more entrenched you become.

Your faith has gone through a transition. Its scary wondering how others will react.....wondering howto handle it.....and all kinds of uncertainty. But I think you have a lot to look forward to also....you'll hit the point where you accept that the church has no authority over you, and all the guilt that the church heaps on you will be gone....and that is wonderfully freeing.

Good luck, you are definitely not alone.

top ten ways to leave mormonism
Listend to a great podcast (you can search for this in the title) about what now, re-establishing yourself after moism.

Many people had to go to prof. therapy to work through the mind f*ck that mormonism can be with some families, culture, geography. Recently I've been talking with a friend who was JW. Surprisingly, we went through similiar things.

It gets better. I've been out 20 years now. I've learned to recognize and accept my feelings...the guilt and fear are very normal and natural.

The Oncoming Storm - bc
Re: A question to the long time exmos
Good luck with your journey. I have three things to tell you:

1) This is part of the experience but it will pass. It will be uncomfortable, sad, and scary for a while, but it will not always be that way. There will be a time when there is no fear, no doubt, no worry left. When you pass through this tunnel you will have a better life than you ever imagined.

You can only being to understand the chains that Mormonism has attached to you and the ways it has weighed you down. It will be a process of slowly casting those chains off. But when you are done you will find that you are free - truly free in a way you never imagined. You will also find that after all those unnecessary burdens you carried for so long that you are strong and you can handle anything.

2) There are reasons you feel this way. The LDS church has evolved to become very very effective at keeping people in while being one of the most obviously false churches in the the world - partly because it is so young and its disgusting history is so well documented. You have been taught since you were 18 months old that if you doubt there is something wrong with you and that you are in the grip of Satan. You have been taught that you need the church to be happy and to progress. You have been taught to fear even considering that it may not be true and the path to happiness. You literally have been in the grips of an organization that employs mind control to keep you in, largely using fear. It's like "The Village" or the "Emporers New Clothes". The more you study and learn, the more you stand for what you believe, and the more you interact with and receive support of others who have broken away the more confident and less scared you will become.

3) Congratulations! You are one of the rare ones who has figured it out. That makes you special and capable. I am somewhat envious of you for figuring it out so young. You will heal and have a much better life ahead of you than you ever imagined.

you are protecting your paradigm

Buddha taught as one of the four eternal truths that “life is suffering”. But it is through that suffering that we grow and develop. We escape the traditions and dogma of our parents and their parents by virtue of that growth. It is through this process that we create our own unique spirituality.

The real answers to life do not come from a pulpit or from between two blue book covers. We are all born originals; unfortunately, too many of us die copies. We tend towards the path of least resistance.

If we are truly wise (and none of us are) we will welcome problems and work for the solution and in the process we will become more than we were. Most of us spend our time just avoiding the problems.

It is the nature of most people to decide the truth of all things at a very young age. From then on, life becomes a struggle to support and strengthen those “truths”. The paradigm must be preserved at all cost. Supporting evidence is exaggerated, detracting evidence is belittled, discounted or ignored. It is painful to shift a paradigm. It causes personal discomfort, even sometimes suffering, to redraw the map that guides our lives. It is even harder to disappoint those we love should they choose to not go with us on that journey of personal and painful growth.

It is a shattering and devastating event to alter core beliefs. For many of us our religion was not just a way of life, but a set of core defining values taught to us from our earliest memories. We have fought for our beliefs, and sacrificed greatly of our time, talents and money. We’ve put our families in second place as we devoted our all to the building up of a fantasy. We’ve followed leaders with the strength of conviction, only to find out they don’t really speak for deity, in fact they lie in the name of Jesus Christ.

Now a choice of integrity vs. personal comfort must be made. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, together with its doctrine, dogma and origins are exposed as fraudulent, modified and untrue. It’s hard to believe at first, and even harder to accept. As the clandestine search for truth begins the searcher is skeptical. Heretical thoughts are dismissed at first, then apologized for later. We do what we can to protect our paradigm, our life map, our personal definition of how we see the world. Then the evidence becomes overwhelming, factual and without need of interpretation. Things are what they are. A choice is made. Some bury their new knowledge in a panic and return to their life as usual. They reject the invitation to personal growth and pain. They follow the path of least resistance and the search for truth is over, buried, never to be reexamined. Others, dedicated to personal integrity and truth also must make a choice. Do they make their new knowledge known, do they keep it to themselves, how will they alter their lives? How will they alter the lives of those they love? These are personal and deeply difficult choices. There is no right pattern, we must not look to others for answers. We must search deep inside ourselves, weigh all consequences, then decide on a course of action that balances wisdom, pain, and integrity.

Common is the person who faced with that evidence will dismiss it. It is just too hard to face. Common is the person who will scorn, blame, ridicule and deride the truth. The truth to that person is an inconvenience. He or she would rather go on in his or her fantasy than face the hardship of truth. Anyone who would discount that hardship only need read the stories of those that have traveled that road.

Rare is the person who will look that monster in the face and say “I will change my life, my paradigm, my life map”. “I’ll admit I was wrong all those years and I’ll face the consequences of those that will scorn and ridicule me”.

Rare is that person.

Thank you.
Wow, thanks everyone for your thoughts and advice, I honestly didn't think anyone would care enough to respond to my post. You guys are....just thank you. It really means a lot. Why didn't I join this place sooner?
Okay sappy feelings aside, thanks for telling me about The name, probably will take your advice on that one. I guess I should have explained my background more, I am a BIC 20 year old, I have very devout parents, and I do have a fear of telling them. (There I go again with the fear) fear of getting disowned like NoToJoe said.
I also live in my very small, very Mormon hometown, I am moved out , but not far enough away to leave the church. So I feel like I am stuck. A lot of you said I will feel anger next , but good things are to come, I hope I can make it through long enough to get there. :) @ava what podcast are you referring to? I have listed to Mormon Expression, and they have a similar one " top ten ways to transition out of the church." Is that it?
So to recap, fear was taught/ programmed into my brain, ( which I agree, and can see it now.) Fear will fade, anger will surface, find new outlets. I know its easy to say , but I need to work through it, and I'm sure this board will be a lot of help.:)
sorry for my long rambling rant. I just want to thank you guys for your help and support and that I will definitely be a long time member here.

Re: A question to the long time exmos
This. So true. The brain washing takes a while to wear off. I still feel pangs of guilt when my parents try to lecture me. It's so engrained in there that I have to keep telling myself that is just the reaction to years and years of brain washing

Re: Thank you.
nightengale Wrote:

>thanks for telling
> me about The name, probably will take your advice
> on that one.

Hi Nightengale. This is Nightingale. Welcome to the board. Hope you get all your questions answered.

You say you "probably will take ... advice" about changing your board name. I think it is imperative that you do as it's the name I've been using for over a decade here. However, mine is after the famous nurse Florence Nightingale. I note that yours is spelled "nightengale". Not sure if that is done on purpose to be different from mine or is just a spelling mistake. That error, of using an 'e' rather than an 'i' occurs frequently here when posters are referring to me ("Nightingale"). Those are two major reasons that you need to change your choice of board name.

Thank you!

Re: Thank you.
Hello nightingale! It was actually a spelling error. I apologize, I am going to change it (as soon as I figure out how) I should have been more affirmative :)

Re: A question to the long time exmos
I left before the internet, and really didn't have much information. But there was just too much that didn't make sense. For a long time I was 98% sure it was all false, but there was just that tiny little "but what if it is true" fear. What got me past that fear was when I realized that if it was true then heaven would be full of mormons, and I didn't want to be there.
Then along came the internet and my daughters told me about RFM. I spent weeks just reading and finding out the real truth. I can't count the number of OMG moments when I learned about even more of the crap we used to believe.
The fear does pass and as it does you will gain a life that is truly yours to live in whatever way makes you happiest. That makes all the struggle to get there so worth it!

Re: Thank you.
Thank you so much for understanding, Bartok! I appreciate it. We tend to be protective of our board names around here. Even though it's "just" the Internet, many of us still want our online personalities to be under our own control as much as possible.

Again, welcome to the board and I'm sure you'll find plenty of information here to answer your many questions and help you through the transition.

I'm sure to remember you now and will read your posts. :)

Re: Thank you.
Nightingale Wrote:
> nightengale Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
>However, mine is after the
> famous nurse Florence Nightingale. I note that
> yours is spelled "nightengale".

And when I got my new name....FLORENCE....I thought I'll never forget my new name because of Florence Nightingale because I'm an R.N.

Re: A question to the long time exmos
Watch this presentation to the Ex Mormon conference by cult expert Steven Hassan. He gives great information on phobia indoctrination that cults program their members with, and how he personally worked on deprogramming himself from the Moonies cult.

"Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Cult Awareness expert Steven Hassan discusses how cults opperate and how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fits the profile of a cult in both practice and organization."

Re: you are protecting your paradigm
"Buddha taught as one of the four eternal truths that “life is suffering”. But it is through that suffering that we grow and develop. We escape the traditions and dogma of our parents and their parents by virtue of that growth. It is through this process that we create our own unique spirituality."

This is beautiful, thanks for sharing

Re: A question to the long time exmos
Humans exist because they found ways to survive.

One of the greatest means of survival is joining a group for protection and support.

If membership in a group is threatened, one may feel fear for their survival.

There are many ways to pressure people to be loyal to family, church, political party, teams or whatever. People fear going into public without the latest cool clothing because they think they might be mocked and rejected. This fear is used to sell us endless crap.

Anyway, Mormonism uses the fear of rejection to get you to cling to the group. You face potential rejection by friends and family members should you leave their cult.

You have to understand this animal behavior in order to deal with your fears. Once you understand the manipulation, you can handle it. I mean, do loving parents pressure you to do what they want (to boost their social status), or do they want you to do what makes you happy?

Does an 8 year old child really understand baptism, or do they just want to please mom and dad so they aren't rejected and die. Pretty easy to control a kid when they are dependent on you for survival. "You need to pray, go to church, etc, etc, or mommy won't be happy with you".

To a kid, this sounds like threat of rejection, which means potential death.

Here is a good article on tribalism:

Re: A question to the long time exmos
By the way, the degree of dependence on a group depends on personality.

And my observation is that group dependence is a greater determinant of whether you will leave the morg than any knowledge gained.

Amazes me to no end the excuses people can make for the church if they feel their survival depends on it. That's why the arguments are irrational - they are based on fear.

Re: A question to the long time exmos
At one point, I found myself sitting in the public library reading Deborah Laake's book Secret Ceremonies. As I read the section where she described the pre-1990 temple ceremony (which I had gone through years earlier) I realized that my pulse was racing, I was gasping for breath, and I felt like lightning would strike me at any instant. Intellectually I knew I was safe in this public place. But the fear and panic were very real. I then asked myself "what in the hell have they done to me?" (They being the church). That was the start of my self-deprogramming. Life is good now and has been for several years.

Re: A question to the long time exmos
Fear is just a stage of recovery. I think the fear stage is the one which lasted the longest for me.

It'll get better. The cure seems to be more and more studying of the true facts. The more you study, the more you realize that it really is 100% not true.

Once you reach that stage, any residual 'what ifs' leave you and the fear leaves as well.

Oh, and welcome. :o)

Richard Packham's 12 steps may help.

"Recovery from Mormonism - www.exmormon.org"