Subject: Do you find yourself wishing you could go back? (long)
Date: Jan 18 19:43 2003
Author: The Walrus
Mail Address:

I've been in a bit of an emotional dilema lately. Intellectually, I was convinced of the falsity of the church almost two years ago, but the rest of me is still playing catch-up.

A little back story: I first started frequenting this board when I started college in the fall of 2001. I was fairly active here, until May 2002, when I went home and worked for about seven months earning money to come back for the spring 2003 semester. In that interval at home in St. Louis, I never visited this board, because of a promise I made to my mom that I would never visit anti-mormon sites in our home.

In order to live in their house, my parents demanded full church attendance. Over that time, I blended back into the role of the TBM for all intents and purposes, I even helped out with the nursery and taught the sunbeams (nasty little buggers, but more interesting than priesthood meetings at any rate).

Many people I knew already were vaguely aware of my disbelief, but they did not consider me lost, and were always trying to push me back into increased activity. One girl would somewhat flirtatiously ask me to come to institute and firesides with her as kind of a "date", which I politely refused time and time again. But, I was never quite at ease there for one main reason: I was a 19-year-old boy who was not actively planning a mission.

As I said, those who I saw and talked to every week guessed that I wasn't going, but every so often a church leader, a teacher, or a friend who I had known in the past would drop by the ward, and they would always ask, "so, when are you going on your mission?". I usually gave an evasive answer, and sometimes would straight out lie about it ("Yeah, pretty soon").

Even the ones who didn't say it seemed like they were asking it anyway. What made it worse was the fact that the best friend from my childhood left for his mission this past May, and seeing as our birthdays are 10 days apart I think some people were looking forward to a double-farwell sacrament meeting. They did not get it. Real or imagined, I felt like all the eyes of the ward were boring holes in me sometimes.

Living at home for an extended period of time also opened old wounds. Whenever I vocally expressed my disbelief, my mom would go into fits of crying that sometimes lasted for hours. I can see how I hurt her sometimes, but I wonder if they see how much it is hurting me. I don't cry that much, so I guess my emotions go largely un-noticed.

However, I came to a realization recently: So long as I am an apostate, I will always be a failure, using the one measuring stick that truely matters to them. I can be a successful man, a good husband and father, and I will still be nothing more to them than the first-born boy that went rotten, that Satan managed to pluck from their loving embrace.

An exageration? Perhaps. But that's how I feel sometimes; and it is times like these when that nagging voice comes into the back of my head:

"You know, if you believed in the church again, this would all go away. Your parents would love you and be proud. You could face up to all your old leaders and they would be proud of the righteous young man you've become. You would marry in the temple and live happily ever after..."

But then the more rational side of me reminds that my intellect would never be satisfied, that I would always doubt the church in some degree, and even should I live out that promised dream, I would always wonder if I'm living a lie. I would never be happy that way.

I think that in the end, I just have to start being my own man, and stop depending on what others think of me. That is difficult, seeing as my ego seems to feed on the approval of others. I forsee a lonely road ahead for a time, but I guess I just have to trust that it will turn up for the better eventually.

Have any of you been through something similar? I think I just want to hear that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Subject: Once the ignorance is abolished, that is the point of no return. nt

Subject: VERY well stated walrus!
Date: Jan 18 20:02
Author: msmom

You have a clear eyed understanding of what is going on around you.

Good for you for wanting to be your own man. Ultimately your mom's disappointment about you not being the good mromon boy she had hoped for is her problem, not yours. Easy to say, wildly painful to live with as she will let you know time and again how she wishes you could be different.

Growing up does mean breaking away for you and letting go for your parents.

Sometimes it is hard for parents to understand that their adult children have to be themselves and find their own way. Just as we don't change diapers any more, we don't get to know where our adult children are every minute. We have to accept that if they are doing something stupid, it is their problem and not ours (until they come to us for money to help pay off their stupidity, but that is another sotry!)

Maybe if you have kids one day you will do a better job of accepting them than your parents are able to do. Mostly for now, you'll just have to be as loving and understanding of them and the forces that make them the way they are as you wish they could be for you.

Godd luck dear.


Subject: Thanks.
Date: Jan 18 20:13
Author: The Walrus

You are a good mom-away-from-home, msmom.

It's funny, how at home I am an active member from all appearences, and here I'm a rarely-seen inactive. As another poster said, "What we are closest to affects us most profoundly." I think coming back here and reading a like-minded support group has already made me feel a bit better, and the emotional support is appreciated.


Subject: I'm Jealous
Date: Jan 18 20:05
Author: Gallo801

I'm jealous that you figured it out at 19. Man, to go back--not back to TBM, but back to 19 and MY EYES WERE OPENED! Congratulations! You've got the world. Instead of a mission, try the Peace Corps or some other service organization. See the world! Live! You lucky SOB!

Subject: I did -a long, long time ago. But it passed.
Date: Jan 18 21:09
Author: Matt

Just ride it out, we are here for you.

Subject: I once walked a parallel road (long)
Date: Jan 18 21:18
Author: Nick

While I never had to go back and play the TBM role, in order to remain under my parents' roof, the rest of your story (and the feelings and doubts that you report) rings familiar.

In my case, here's the spoiler: there is hope. Things truly can get better. And, it is very definitely worth it.

Here's the long version:

I was raised in a very TBM family, descendants of BY (and other fun-loving polygamist types). I left the church when I was 18, after having doubts for a couple of years, and after six months of a three-year hitch in the Navy (thus, I didn't have to worry about under whose roof I stayed). However, even though I was in the military, doing what most anyone else would say was the work of a responsible adult, I was treated as a child by my family. Because I had joined the military instead of preparing myself for a mission, and had then decided I was no longer Mormon, none of my decisions in life (in relationships, education, etc.) were taken seriously. In each case, my actions were treated as those of a child, and not those of an adult.

Each trip home to Utah, whether on three days weekend liberty or three weeks leave, was a minefield, and there were usually multiple bitter arguments with family (the subject of these arguments was equally divided between my apostasy and my relationship with my non-Mormon girlfriend). Certainly, there were times when, purely on an emotional level, it seemed that it would be easier just to go along with the family. But I had the luxury of spending most of my time away from them, so I never took that impulse very seriously. Instead, I began to estrange myself from certain members of my family - those with whom it seemed I could simply not get along (mainly my mother and stepfather). But that only seemed to increase the pressure from the others - they "picked up the slack" from those from whom I had estranged myself, it seemed. Finally, about a year and a half after I announced that I no longer believed in Mormonism, I cut off all contact with my family.

(Please note that I don't necessarily recommend such a drastic action; it is simply the only option that I felt I had at the time. But if I had it all to do again, and my family was applying the same pressure, I might very well do the same thing.)

Over the next six years, I finished up my time in the Navy, earned my BS & MS (paying my own way almost the entire time - the first post-Vietnam era GI bill was a joke), got married, and became a respected professional in my field. During those same years, my younger brother went on a mission, came home, and ended up leaving the church as well. Also, my youngest sister went through an adolescence that no one should have to suffer: by the end of those six years, she was committed (for a time) to the psych ward of Primary Childrens Hospital.

The years gave me time to become more assured in my own judgement, and my own actions; they also gave my family time to see that they were going to have to accept the fact that some of their number were quite capable of living productive lives without the LDS church guiding them - as well as the fact that doing all the "right" (i.e. LDS-sanctioned) things in raising a child didn't guarantee that that child would be happy.

At the end of those six years, one of my brothers sent me e-mail (he had found my name in Compuserve's user directory), cautiously asking if we could talk. He and I began communicating (he lived in DC, and I in NY, so we even got together a few times), and gradually that extended to the rest of the family. Finally, more than 10 years after I had last seen her, I saw and spoke with my mother again. I spent that Christmas with my family, also for the first time in 10 years.

Things were still very tentative, on both sides. I think many were afraid that if they criticized me, or even dug too deeply, I would disappear again. Also, I had just divorced from my first wife, and I'm sure there was a lot of unspoken "I told you so" floating about. But they couldn't deny some basic facts: the sixth child (me) was the first to finish college, and the only one (still) to get a graduate degree; I had made a life for myself (and, of all places, in big, bad NY - which might as well be on a different planet from Utah), with precious little help from anyone; even as my marriage dissolved, I wasn't coming home looking for anything more from them than that we be a family (and I was asking for precious little on that front); finally, even with the divorce, I was happy.

The rebuilding continued the next summer, when my new girlfriend came with me to the family reunion. We were quite open about our intent to move in together, without benefit of marriage, just as soon as my girlfriend finished disentagling herself from her then-husband. We were also open with our refusal to play by LDS rules. Most importantly, we made no attempt to hide any aspect of our affection for each other, and our happiness in being together. When it came time for us to leave, my TBM stepmother was in tears, telling me (referring to my girlfriend): "Don't let this one get away!" Huh? Not only was my family not trying to set me up with a TBM lady RM, they were actually encouraging me to shack up with this non-Mormon woman, who cursed as much like a sailor as I did!

That was almost ten years ago. That girlfriend and I are married now. My family looks to me as someone who can provide level, reasoned counsel (and occasional financial help) to my siblings and their children. They understand and respect the fact that I always strive to speak and act in a manner that is consistent with my beliefs (though they may not agree with those beliefs). No one tries to give me any guilt trips when I decline to attend baby blessings, baptisms, and missionary farewells. They accept that, while I will happily contribute (when possible) to help pay college bills for a niece or nephew in need, I will do nothing of the sort when it comes to missions.

Finally, there are two recent events which gave me real hope about the future of my TBM family:

The first was on the occasion of the one time I broke my no-missionary-farewells rule. My favorite nephew (I have dozens of nephews and nieces), went on a mission to Mexico a couple of years ago. He asked me and my siblings to sing a song at his farewell; he has been an ardent fan and supporter of my musical projects, so I agreed. Afterwards, when everyone congregated at my sister's house, he was mostly hanging out with his friends. But as I got ready to leave, he asked me if he could talk with me for a minute. Among other things, he said: "Sometimes, my friends and I have conversations, where someone asks 'Do you think it's possible to be happy, without being LDS?' I always tell them that I know it is, because I see how happy you and Jen are, in your marriage and in life in general." Good kid, that one.

Second: About a year ago, my band played a gig in downtown SLC. We don't play out that much (hard to do, when I live in New Mexico, and the other band members live in Utah) - generally about half a dozen times per year - and this was our first gig after releasing two albums in the preceding year. The gig was on a Saturday night, in a bar - Ok, it's attached to a restaurant, and you can get food there, but that's just a dodge, to get around Utah's liquor laws (establishments which are not private clubs can get liquor licenses, as long as they only sell drinks to people who also order food). No denying it: it's a bar. But lo and behold, dozens of members of my family attended. These are people who would usually not be caught dead in the beer aisle of the grocery store, let alone a bar - but there they were. Also, they were there on a Saturday night, when it was virtually assured that they would not be safely home before midnight. Bottom line, they were going to break the sabbath, in order to see my rock band play music in a bar!

My family has come a long way. I know that some other families will never change that much (I suspect Steve Benson's family falls into that category - sorry, Steve); but some will change even more. The simple fact is that it is impossible to know now to what extent your family will come to accept your decisions, over time. The hard part is that it will take time, no matter what. But it is definitely worth it.

Subject: I think my siblings at, least, will understand.
Date: Jan 19 18:26
Author: The Walrus

I don't know if my parents ever will, they seem too steeped in their ways to change it all now. I think my siblings could come around. My brother who is two years younger than me agrees with alot of my objections to the church, but isn't as much of the "political activist" type, so he isn't nearly as vocal as me. My brother who's four years younger (15) is coming around too, I think going to public school (not it Utah) has shown him a bigger world; which is saying alot seeing as we were all homeschooled until age 14, and the others might even do it through high school. I also have four younger sisters, but they're too young to read yet.

Subject: Conditional acceptance.
Date: Jan 18 22:51
Author: Dagny

I sure understand the frustration of conditional love and inclusion.

My husband was talking about this topic just yesterday. He said the price for being your own man is loneliness. The "tribe" will only really accept you and include you if you play along with the tribe well.

Most people have to choose between living a partial lie and fitting into society in some form. For others conditional acceptance is not something they can live with, and being an outsider is the only choice for them.

As you get older, things do get better. Like many of us, you will no doubt find your own way of compromise.

Subject: I have felt that from time to time.............
Date: Jan 19 18:36
Author: stringbean

but then I think how imprisoned I felt. I am still withdrawing from the feeling of BELONGING or being one in purpose with a large contingent.

It is very difficult to be outside of the family culture. At the same time, once the denial is gone, it's gone. I can't will it back.

The final verdict; Hell no, I won't go!

Subject: I miss Mormonism like a TOOTH ACHE !!! NOPE, never go back!!
Date: Jan 19 18:42
Author: SusieQ#1

Mormonism is like going back to kindergarden with juice and graham crackers after graduating from college with a doctorate degree. I am no longer a child and I no longer need supervision! :-)

Subject: No, I don't ever want to go through the "drama" of LDS
Date: Jan 19 19:36
Author: AmyInFL

life again. The cognitive dissonance and the whole emotional drain of it all is long behind me and I never want to experience it again. Fortunately, I won't have to. None of my family members are Mormons (gawd, why didn't they stop me from joining a cult! LOL!).

I think you're a brave young man, Walrus. Hang in there. There's so much more to life than this narrow, pathetic cult of Mormonism and you realized it at a very young age. Bravo! :)

Subject: Not anymore. . . . .
Date: Jan 20 03:14
Author: imaworkinonit

I wanted it to be true SO BADLY, and tried to make it so, even after I stopped believing. But it just didn't work. The evidence was just too overwhelmingly against it.

But with time, I realized that life was better without it. I liked my free time, freedom of thought, CLARITY of thought. Everything made so much more sense. My time, money and my life was mine to do what I wanted to do.

But it was hard to be the black sheep, after being a molly my whole life. I wasn't used to disappointing people. But I got over that. I NEEDED to get over my obsession with pleasing other people, and leaving the church sure did it!

I'm sure you feel very alone right now, though. I had my husband and kids to cling to when we left. And this bulletin board. But it was still lonely. Look for friends outside the church. Get involved in some kind of hobby, group, or club where you can meet people. (But watch out for those CULTS, too!)

Best of luck!

Subject: NOOOOOO!!!!! I have never had even one thought of going back...<n/t>.
Subject: Go back to the kind of judgmentalism that defines your inherent worth by the standards arbitrarily and inhumanely imposed by others? Never!

Subject: The whole conditional love thing is a huge red flag...
Date: Jan 20 09:05
Author: ExMoron

for cult control. It affects you more now than it probably will when you're older. As you get more than enough of the controlling, it may finally piss you off enough that you will no longer desire, or accept, their acceptance.

Good luck.

Subject: I don't think you want to go back. (language)
Date: Jan 20 09:53
Author: brefots

It sounds to me like they want you to go back, and I guess every exmo with family and friends in the morg experience similar things. But it's their problem. And no real problems are simply going to disappear because you do what you think is wrong (i.e. go back to mormondom). I think it's extremely manipulative of your mother to emotionally blackmail you to be dishonest. And to demand of you to go to church and all that is plain insulting. Okey, they have some rights on what behavior you should have in their home, but other then that they are way out of line. You exist for your own sake, not for them. About the wardmembers: What religious beliefs you may have or not is none of their fucking buisness! So if they ask, lie, tell the truth or tell them it's none of their buisness. Holy shit! Don't these people know how incredible rude they are? I get so mad everytime I see this fucking cult-behavior! Sorry for the rant, I just got so upset of this.

Subject: No way, man . . .
Date: Jan 20 10:14
Author: Schweizerkind

Yes I have to endure the disappointment of TBM relatives, but beyond staying pleasant and fulfilling what I consider my duties to them (which do not include buying into their superstitions), I must consider their problems their problems. Conditional love is a two-way street. They withhold theirs, I can withhold mine.

Couldn't-go-back-even-if-I-did-want-to-ly yours,


Subject: I don't think you want to go back.
Date: Jan 20 10:16
Author: liveandletlive

But I know how you feel. It's not easy to be the oldest child, the example all the other (in my case, 6 other) siblings are to follow. I was a disappointment too, and the horrible self doubt and sometimes self hate can really be a heavy load. This is still fresh for you, I've been living on my own for 16 years now. Time heals, but if you're like me, you will always feel like the "black sheep", the "inactive one" or the "other sister" who is a big mystery to the church family.

I don't regret anything, other than some childish teenage behavior. But now I have enough balance with real-life, non-mormon experiences and people that I can put morgism into perspective and see it for what it is.

Sometimes I get sentimental, and wish for that perfect family life that I'm sure my parents tried to project to the world. I feel bad that, because of me, they didn't have that perfect Mormon life that is probably very important to them. But I know I could never have pretended that life, and I'm glad I didn't, for my own sake.

I've accepted that we are different people, and although it was tough, I've accepted that my parents and siblings are in it for life, and they LOVE "the life". OK, whatever keeps you going. It wasn't for me. Now I just lead by example, and I feel I am a good example to my sibs, just not a MORMON example.

Keep your chin up, don't act hostile, and express your love in whatever way you can to your family. You'll be fine, and they will see that people can be good people without having to be mormons.

(I hope)

Subject: I see how you'd want to halt the pain of breaking away.
Date: Jan 20 10:27
Author: Cheryl

The problems with your parents and the people in the ward are not fun. I don't think you want to go back. You understadably want the support and appreciation from them you deserve.

One difficult part of leaving the church is that the exmo must take the more adult role in every relationship with any TBM. You can never expect them to understand you. They're like kids without the depth or experience the carry equal weight.

It's tough being the grownup when you're dealing with parents or authority figures in your life. As hard as is it is, it's better than going back.

Freedom is worth any price.

See similar topic at Mormon188   "Wishing I Could Go Back Home"

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