Subject: Discovery of who I am Date: Dec 04 17:00 Author: greenbean
I read a comment from CalGal about having a problem with understanding exactly who you are, especially when you start to doubt the church.
I am currently in this situation and wonder if anyone else can shed some light on what they did to achieve self-discovery. It's like I was someone else all the time, trying to be someone or something just to keep in line the all the gospel precipts, laws, ordinances, covenants etc. I think at times I am going crazy and maybe if the chruch isn't true, what purpose is there to life?
My wife is probably going to divorce me because I don't know who I am anymore. I am trying to pray, fast, study, etc. to get answers, rely on the usual Mormon stuff to find truth and yet feel so confused at times. I don't really know anyone who I can talk to about how I feel. We are going to a marriage councelor, but sometimes I leave feeling so depressed and insulted. The few times I've talked with the Bishoop, I learned real quick that was wrong, only if I like self abuse and to be put down...where was the LOVE that is suppose to be there?
Anyone out there who can relate? What can I do to gain my confidence back without feeling like a failure??
Subject: Oh yea, I've been there Date: Dec 04 17:30 Author: Sebastian -:
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- and I'm still there a little bit sometimes. My whole identity was wrapped up in the church. I was trying so hard to mold myself into what I thought my HF wanted and I beat myself up to no end for failing. The church gave me guidelines to follow and when I reached that level of expectation I was told I had more to do. I was constantly walking uphill and never fully catching my breath to finish the climb. I was Mormonism, or at least I was trying to become that. I became extreme in my behavior. I even quit wearing makeup because I thought it was too worldly.
I liken my relationship to the church as being in an emotionally abusive relationship. Since I had been in one before I could make comparisons. I was trying to find favor, to not upset the abuser, and when I did I felt a little bit of peace but then a slap on the wrist quickly put me in my place once more. I was a very unhappy person but I was so accustomed to the misery that it became my lifestyle. I didn't have a hint of what true happiness was so I thought my misery was happiness. I struggled with depression and I couldn't figure why I was always so blue. I thought it was just me. I mean depression does run in my family so I thought it was just the genes kicking in.
I met someone and the physical attraction was very strong and I ended up having sex with him. I was in the process of being disfellowshipped and feeling oh so very repentant when something inside of me clicked. I stopped feeling guilty, I stopped feeling the hurt, I stopped feeling the confusion and had a sense of freedom come over me. I began to do my research and within a matter of months I sent my letters in. I don't know what that moment was but I'm glad it ocurred.
Since leaving I had to rediscover who I was. I mean, who was I outside of the church? Did I exist or was I just a shell of my own unrealistic expectations? I felt lost for months. I read all kinds of self help books, all kinds of feel good books and did a lot of self-examination. I wrote in my journal a lot. I thought about how I used to be before I joined the church. I thought about who I would like to become. I tried to push the process along but it wasn't in any hurry to get to where I thought it should be. I finally learned to breathe. I mean all that uphill walking made me out of breath and I finally could stop and say, I'm tired, I need to catch my breath. Little by little I began to emerge outside of the Mormon mold and I found that I wasn't as bad as I thought. I followed my natural inclinations and began to pick and choose what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to throw away.
It's a long process and it goes very slowly. Don't try to get there in a hurry. Let the process happen and you will evolve with it. Write a lot, if you write. Talk a lot if you like to do that. Get it out. Accept who you are whether you like it or not. You can't please everyone so don't listen to anyone but yourself. Be kind to yourself. I learned how to pamper myself, finally. There are some things I think I deserve, like Starbucks coffee. Don't beat yourself up anymore. A good book I read, simple but it made me feel good was "The Mastery of Love" by Don Miguel Ruiz. Read about self love and learn how to do it. Start off with learning those things and soon you might discover that you want to carve out your own path instead of reading about how someone else did it in a book. Embrace yourself, you're worth it.
Subject: I think I know just how you feel (long). Date: Dec 05 00:58 Author: Michelle -:
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is the situation I have been in recently. Since so much of my identity has been formed by trying to conform to the ideal LDS woman, it's hard to find myself outside of that. In some ways, it is comfortable having an organization tell you that they know just how you should live (down to what you can drink and what underwear you can wear), and that if you do you will be blessed in the next life and that you are a "choice spirit of heavenly father," blessed in the past life to be able to be Mormon now.
For many people, though, as we have become adults, we have realized how much the church demands of us, that it does indeed want to control and monopolize our very lives through time-consuming church callings, tithing, etc. etc. Perhaps this would be OK if Mormonism really had been revealed from God. I would suggest that you research the many sites on the internet to find out what you haven't been taught about Mormonism.
For me, just in the last month I have realized (through almost constant study) that the BofM is plagiarized from other sources, that the Book of Abraham (Pearl of Great Price) is a fraud, that J.S. and B.Y. started the church just to gain power and money and to be able to have sex with a lot of women, that the church has changed its supposedly essential and eternal temple ordinances drastically, that much of Mormonism comes from Masonry, that the current "prophet" has admitted he doesn't get revelation ("I don't know what's going to happen"), that the church hides its historical records from the public, that the G.A.s are interested in living pampered lives at the expense of the tithe payers, and that the church is not honest and up-front about its finances.
Unfortunately, praying and fasting, etc. won't get you any answers because--as much as some of us who have spent our lives in it would like it to be--Mormonism is not true. People may feel emotional, but they can feel these same feelings about anything. I had suspected this for awhile and prayed so hard to get an answer. I never did; I just got nothing. I prayed that God would strike me with a curse (like dumbness, really!) just so I could know if he were there and if Mormonism is true.
Eventually, I started asking if Mormonism was not true, and I got a "burning in the bosom" the way I used to when I was a teen about Mormonism. Do I think there's some God telling me this? I don't know; I doubt it, but it just shows that a person can get a "spiritual feeling" about anything. I received a very strong feeling like this in the Unitarian meeting I went to on Sunday, and they don't necessarily worship God, let alone Christ or Joseph Smith. I also have tried praying to various gods/goddesses and have had spiritual feelings. You may want to try this.
Another thing that has helped me is to research the methods of cults. Be suspicious when an organization wants you to fast/starve, as this is a characteristic of cults, as it breaks you down to where you may be willing to submit to the group. If you're interested, I can find some good websites I've checked out.
I know what you mean about feeling like life can't go on outside of Mormonism. But don't worry; this feeling WILL pass--it has for me already in this short time. You'll realize that there are so many people who live happy and fulfilling lives outside of Mormonism, and if you're like me you may realize that life WITHIN Mormonism isn't worth living.
Remember that Mormons don't have a monopoly on morals or truth or goodness (actually, IMO, they may have less of it than most people). You can hold onto the good parts of Mormonism (loving your neighbor, for instance) while letting go of the bad parts (blood atonement, sexism, etc.). Seek out the good in life and follow your own heart. Hold as a principal the determination not to hurt others and to do good with your life.
I'm not sure what to think about an afterlife anymore, but I'm letting go of it. If there's not an afterlife, there's nothing I can do about it. Surprisingly, I am accepting this possibility, and it is encouraging me to live this life to the fullest. Just think of all the good you can do in the world with the time and money you've been giving to the suits in Salt Lake.
I'm sorry about your wife. Is there any chance that she would leave Mormonism? It seems that a lot of women on this board, in particular, have left the church when their husband has--once they see that he can leave without being struck by lightning. If you can show your wife that you can be happy without Mormonism, she may realize this, too.
I think the fastest way to start on the journey of figuring out who you are is to decide your opinions re. Mormonism and to make those opinions known. If you decide you don't believe in it, let everyone know. This is very difficult, but once it's over, I think the worst is truly over.
It's hard when you don't have anyone to talk to about these issues. For me, this board has been a great place for support and a listening ear, as there is no one in my personal life who has left Mormonism (plenty of TBM and never-Mo friends, but it's not the same).
I would say start building a life outside of Mormonism. Volunteer for a charity, take up a new interest, or revive old interests.
As far as the situation with the bishop goes, I think many people have been disappointed to realize that their Mormon support group (bishops, TBM family members, etc.) become very un-understanding and critical when a person doubts the church. Perhaps this is one of the best indications that Mormonism truly is a cult.
Good luck to you, and God, or the universe, or whatever bless! And let us know how things are going.:)
Subject: Re: Discovery of who I am Date: Dec 05 02:19 Author: imaworkinonit -:
greenbean wrote: > I read a comment from CalGal about having a problem with understanding exactly who you are, especially when you start to doubt the church. > I think everyone who leaves goes through that. It takes a while. For me, it took many months of soul searching to figure out what my REAL purpose in life was and what I truly wanted for myself (as opposed to what I was SUPPOSED to want). I also had to rethink almost every opinion I had ever had on any topic political, scientific, ethical, you name it. It changes everything when you realize your basic assumptions are false. I read an analogy recently that compared it to building a house of blocks, then removing some of the foundation pieces. The whole thing crumbles and you have to start over.
> I am currently in this situation and wonder if anyone else can shed some light on what they did to achieve self-discovery. It's like I was someone else all the time, trying to be someone or something just to keep in line the all the gospel precipts, laws, ordinances, covenants etc. I think at times I am going crazy and maybe if the chruch isn't true, what purpose is there to life? My wife is probably going to divorce me because I don't know who I am anymore. I am trying to pray, fast, study, etc. to get answers, rely on the usual Mormon stuff to find truth and yet feel so confused at times. I don't really know anyone who I can talk to about how I feel. We are going to a marriage councelor, but sometimes I leave feeling so depressed and insulted. The few times I've talked with the Bishoop, I learned real quick that was wrong, only if I like self abuse and to be put down...where was the LOVE that is suppose to be there? > You're not crazy. But I remember wondering if I was, too. It was very confusing, and my feelings were still very easily manipulated and I was very weak and didn't trust my own judgement for a while. This type of feeling isn't uncommon among people who leave cults. This feeling of self-doubt goes hand in hand with controlling organizations and abusive relationships.
Also, I must add that you shouldn't come away from therapy feeling insulted. I'd bet money that it's an LDS counselor who is trying to stuff you back into the Mormon Mold. But regardless of the counselor's religion, counseling shouldn't be about forcing you to become what your spouse or the church wants you to be. It should be about helping you to understand each other and yourself, and to deal with the problem at hand.
You have a right to think for yourself. It is not a shortcoming, a weakness, or a sin of any kind. It isn't YOUR fault the church isn't true.
It's almost mandatory for a believing spouse to want to "fix" an unbeliever. Just remember that her whole proscribed goal in life (getting to the CK) is being threatened. She'll have to figure out if that's more important than having a spouse and a father to her children. She'll have to decide if celestial glory takes precedence over true love. But that will be next to impossible for her to understand.
> Anyone out there who can relate? What can I do to gain my confidence back without feeling like a failure??
That's tough, without support at home. But I would definitely stop subjecting yourself to interviews with abusive bishops and counselors. You are vulnerable right now, don't make it worse. Perhaps find a counselor who specializes in cults or religious abuse.
And just try to be the best husband and father you can be. Tell your wife and kids how much you love them. Don't be afraid to blow your own horn about your strengths as a husband. Try and be as supportive of your wife's beliefs and church activity as you can without jeopardizing your own well-being. My husband attended church with me and paid tithing (he was a closet apostate, even from me) for almost 2 years before I came around. That might work for you or not. Try not to be a "bad influence" for now, and let the dust settle a bit. Don't change your diet or basic habits of life, even if you think some of the rules are stupid.
Hang in there. Read Brad and Erica Armstrongs' story on this website and see how their marriage nearly broke up, but then she saw the light. Things might get worse before they get better, but don't give up easily.
Subject: Re: Discovery of who I am Date: Dec 05 02:28 Author: M@T -:
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A lifetime of Mormonism can take a while to untwist from "every fiber of your being". The church is a mother that will never wean you from her breast if you are content to suckle. It is your souls yearning for something more substantual that will cause you to refuse the milk.
At this point the problem for me was that I didn't know what it was I craved. I just knew I lacked. I knew I had to separate myself from it without knowing for sure where I was going. I could not at the time of these changes in thought, site any of the historical problems, the doctrinal problems, or the contradictions of the church that I have since become aware of. It made explaining my reasoning difficult to those who still clung to one and true living teat on the face of the earth. I just needed too. Thats why.
For a while, fear of the Mormon God, his earthly authorities, and his church members, kept my true feelings from being outwardly manifested. They still had a mental hold over me. Obligation and guilt were the motivators that kept my butt on the bench for a time. (Not what any Godly father would want to be his son's prime mover -I think). Secondly, my wife had made it very clear early on in the marriage that she would not remain married to an innactive man. Talk about fear.
It has been stressfull for sure, but it is also a wonderful occurance in my life personally and spiritualy. It was the right thing to do for me. And I am still happily married. She freaked out at first but she has seen the life come back into my soul and she understands now.
Continue to follow your heart and your intellect. The best part is when you begin to excersize your OWN free will, not the churches.
Subject: The Dance of Life Date: Dec 05 02:43 Author: Danse Macabre -:
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Start with a simple Mormon idea: Man is that he might have joy. Doesn't matter if you are Mormon, Buddist, or a democrat, we can all live with that.
If you like, take it as a commandment: "Man must have joy". Got a nice sound to it. Clear, decisive, life affirmming type of stuff. Okay, joy, if you ain't getting it, you ain't doing it right.
It is important to define joy correctly. Let me suggest a simple place to start and that is balance. Man has needs: physical, intellectual, relational, spiritual (I am not saying religious), sexual, whatever. If one of those needs is not being met then you get out of balance and you are on a less than perfect footing for your life to be joyful.
Adjust your life to bring balance and if that mean re-examining you religious beliefs, or your intellectual under-pinnings fine. Look inside to ensure that your heart and your motives are in the right place and move forward. Maybe that means a more contrite spirit of seeking or maybe it means drawing back and redirecting. I would put more stock into what your own heart tells you than what the board here tells you or what your Bishop tells you, although I wouldn't ignore either. Recently I got some of the best advice of my life from my Bishop and I have learned a few things here to. Check you motives and don't be afraid to act.
Subject: Thanks for the advise Date: Dec 05 09:11 Author: greenbean -:
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It has helped to read and now participate on this board. I've visited maybe about over a year every now and then but only started to contibute my opinion within the last few days. I've read probably around 30 -40 books as well as internet sites within the last year that has helped and some that haven't (especially if it was an LDS author) some of the best books I'd recommend so far are:
1. Hooked on Life, Tim Timmons 2. 5 Love languages, Dr. Chapman 3. Born that Way? Erin someone?(LDS) 4. If the Gospel is True, Why do I hurt so Much (LDS)
I'm still searching, seeking and trying my best to discover again who I am and develop my own belief system. I recognize that the most important thing is to be honest with myself. One experience I had that was really good, to some degree was a group called "Impact", the church came out with a statement not recommending members participate in such groups, I found that ODD, since it was really beneficial I thought to my own increase of belief in who I am. I realize a lot of what I learned, probably shut out because I felt it was not in "harmony" with the church.
Thanks for everyones suggestions and relating personal experiences....