|Subject:||I did not want my children to be raised with the lies and deceit of Mormonism|
|Date:||Sep 24 10:09|
|When I left the Mormon Church, I was not sure I had
done the right thing, I was not sure this was fair to my children, so I
let them go and hoped that the people in my Ward would take them in and
make them feel apart. I did not want to interrupt their lives.
I knew that the church was wrong for me but I was not sure it was wrong for them. I knew what it was like to be on the outside of my family and my culture. I had an idea of the ostracism they would experience.
My girls continued to attend. They were both still in primary. The boys happily stayed home with me.
I did not tell anyone in my family that I had quit going. I did not want to go but I also did not want to face the judgment and condemnation I feared when my parents and siblings would find out.
I am not sure how long I thought I could hide that fact that I was no longer active. I had stopped wearing the sacred under garment. Soon people would notice even though I continued to dress in the conservative style of Mormon women.
One Sunday Michelle came home and told me that she would be giving a talk in primary and wondered if I would help her prepare and come and hear her give her talk. That week I wrote out a talk and practice it with her just like I had done many times before for her or a sibling.
On Sunday I got up and put on a dress. I immediately started to feel uncomfortable. The girls went ahead and I waited for the time when I knew Primary would be starting.
I walked over to the church. It was a beautiful spring day. I wondered what I would feel. Would I want to come back, would I feel like I could come back? Maybe the church was a good place to raise a family.
As I walked into the building I started to feel a little light headed and then I started to feel like I was having trouble breathing. It felt like my neck was swelling and cutting off my air passage. I checked. I was OK. I was breathing, I was not going to pass out.
I went into the primary room and sat down. The sisters I knew all smiled and acknowledged me. The children started to sing songs and I felt more and more uncomfortable. I had been the music leader in Primary and I knew all the songs and all the words. I had always loved the beautiful melodies and simple versus.
Today the songs enraged me. I now recognized the simple words as part of the indoctrination process. The same message was given over and over to these children at their most vulnerable and suggestible age. The message was obey and be saved. Conform and be lovable. Think and risk losing your salvation.
Michelle gave her talk and then the children sang Jesus Once Was a Little Child. The song was about how loving, meek and mild Jesus was. It admonished the children to be like him, to try to show kindness, be gentle and pure.
I was overcome with anger.
The Jesus I had read about was strong, bold, sarcastic, and opinionated. When he confronted the Pharisees he was combative and angry. When he cleaned the temple he was forceful and adamant. When he reached out to the Samarian woman he was brave and going against convention and tradition.
The story of Jesus had many facets and lessons, but the songs and talks carefully portrayed him as obedient, compliant, and conforming. I cringed. How did these songs and sermons make my strong willed opinionated daughter feel? How did the other children feel? Everything about the primary program was designed to mold and shape the children into a narrow, limited caricature of a real person.
I did not want my daughters to think that it was wrong to feel human emotions. I did not want them being forced into the being and doing of what I had been forced into. I started to feel like I could not breath and that I had to get out of the building. I started to feel dizzy and sick. I thought I might throw up. I got up and almost ran for the door.
Once outside, the quiet, the sun, and the fresh air started to calm me. I walked home and never wanted to go back. When Michelle and Erin came home I emphatically told them that what they had learned was misleading and that I wanted them to embrace their emotions, thinking, desires. I talked about Jesus and the other side of the story. I talked to my girls about being true to themselves and that the first person a young girl should honor in her life was herself. I did not want my girls to be me. I am sure they thought I was a little crazy and wished I could just be a normal mom; pretty, spiritual, and ordinary.
Just a few weeks later, it was Motherís Day and the younger children had prepared a special song for Sacrament meeting. Once again Michelle wanted me to come and hear her sing. Once again I got up and put on a dress. I walked over with my girls and was greeted nicely by the many people that I knew. I sat down in the back of the chapel and many of the people I had gone to church with for years acknowledge me with smiles and welcoming comments.
I sat by myself. I felt uncomfortable and vulnerable. I could almost here the thoughts as people wondered what had happened to me. What had gone wrong that I had left the church? What sin had I committed? A few months earlier I was welcomed as an insider, today I was an anomaly, a bit of a curiosity, to some I was already a pariah. I had been measured and found lacking first as a Mormon and now as an apostate.
I refused the Sacrament and waited for the children to sing their primary song. The talks were focused on the role of the Mormon Woman. Obedient, kind, long suffering, faithful, prayful, worthy, virtuous, modest, soft, quiet, behind the scenes, self-sacrificing, a good homemaker, a wife, a mother, spiritual, sensitive, guided by the spirit, pure, gentle, lovely, gracious, soft-spoken, long-suffering, friendly, sweet and mostly nice.
Mormon women are nice all the time. They are nice while they lie, deny, criticize, complain, are victimized, unhappy, overwhelmed, frightened, angry, sad, depressed, unfulfilled, mad, powerless, and always obedient.
I started to feel the pressure, the force of a lifetime of Mormon indoctrination start to scream in my head. You are not righteous, you are different, you are too loud, too opinionated, too strong. You are weak, lazy, not good enough. It was these perfectionist, unrealistic teachings that had engulfed my life and made me feel unworthy and incapable. I had learned my whole life about this Mormon woman I was to become. This portrayal was a silhouette, a paper cut-out of what it was to be a woman. It was limiting, defining, and confining.
There was no insight into how to live life, how to love, how to think, how to decide. There was no room for difference, tolerance, creativity, growth, humanness, fallibility, and fragility. Just a paint by numbers portrait of womanhood. This ideal had been my model for how to live. A model that was impossible, ridiculous, and unyielding. I recognized this as the source of my emotional instability and mental illnesses.
I started to feel angry and once again my head started to feel light. I could not breathe. My air passages grew tight. I felt like I needed to throw-up. I was not even sure if I stood up I could get out of the building. My daughter sang her song and I bolted for the door. Once outside I started to feel better and slowly my head cleared.
I went home furious at what they were teaching my girls about what it meant to be a human and more importantly a woman. I did not want them to learn that their only choice was to get married and have children. I did not want my children to feel that they had no say in their lives, that any difference was wrong and caused through disobedience. I did not want them to learn that perfection was a worthy goal, that they needed to be sweet and kind all the time. I did not want them to live with a veneer of nice covering their unacceptable humanness, because who they were, was not, would never be, and could never be good enough.
I felt like Scarlett in Gone With the Wind as she held the dirt in her hand and swore with all her courage and determination. With all my courage and determination I committed that this church would not claim my children. This church and their lies about life and living would not addict my girls to a cycle of personal rejection and ceaselessly seeking approval from others. There was no longer any indecision. I did not want my children to be Mormon.
I realized that I not only thought the Mormon Church was not true I thought what they taught was wrong and dangerous. I did not the church was a great place to raise a family. I thought it was a terrible place to raise a family. There were no profound utterances, spiritual insights, or significant life lessons offered except those cloaked in the constant, persistent message of obedience and conformity.
The church offered only the voices of the church leaders, all others including my childrenís own voices were condemned as unworthy. I wanted my children to have real say in their lives. I wanted my children to not battle depression daily, feel worthless and flawed. I wanted them to embrace who they were, embrace life and be joyously, amazingly happy. I wanted them to think critically, make decisions that were right for them, get married and have children if and when they wanted, and to contribute to worthy causes they believed in not because some man told them they had to in order to gain eternal life.
I wanted them to pierce their ears or get a tattoo or take a drink or laugh loudly or wear a bikini or make love or go to some foreign country or be nice if and when they decided to. I wanted them to get angry when they were angry, to say no to something they did not believe, and to live their lives according to the dictates of their conscience. I did not want them to turn their lives over to old, selfish, bitter men teaching hate and fear.
I had left hoping that maybe I would see things differently one day and be able to return. I had hoped I might find a kind of truce and could at least attend the way Bishop Forbes did. I now knew that would never happen. The church was not innocent or innocuous in my life. It had played an active role in my self destruction and it would continue to destroy people like me. People who were different. People who were thinkers, creative, and free-spirits. People who did not fit their perfect and rigid prescription for life and could not make themselves submit. We were the refuse of the church, the throw always, the rejected. They only wanted the nice and pliant.
The next day I sent a letter to the Church Office building and told them to remove my name from their records. From that day on I actively resisted my children going to church or participating. I told them how I felt and hoped that they would never choose to be Mormon. I now told my family my decision.
About a month after I sent my letter I was contacted by my new bishop. For the last time I would submit to an ecclesiastical leader. We met briefly and he attempted to determine if I was leaving because I no longer believed or to avoid a church court because I had committed some wrongdoing.
He thought he still had the right to determine my worthiness. He did not realize that he and the whole host of the Mormon Church would never again be given the right to judge me. I guess I answered his questions to his satisfaction. He made it official. I was no longer a Mormon woman.
|Subject:||That was beautiful. The church really does do a lot of harm to children n/t|
|Subject:||Re: I did not want my children to be raised with the lies and deceit of Mormonism|
|Date:||Sep 24 10:42|
I, too, WAS a mormon woman who experienced so much of what you so wonderfully described, and, I too, finally determined that enough was enough and that it WASN'T a good place to raise my kids.
|Subject:||Escaping Mormonism is like waking up from a nightmare|
|Date:||Sep 24 10:46|
|I related with your story at so many levels. I wish
I could get my 3 girls out of it, but my TBM wife has them firmly on her
As a Mormon I felt like a cardboard cutout, just a shadow of my authentic self. I was often depressed and thought I was going nuts. When I realized it was all a fraud, it was like I was given the keys to a jail I had lived in my whole life. When I left that prison, I found myself in a beautiful field, with colors and smells I had never imagined - in contrast with the uniform grayness of the uncompromising walls of thought that is Mormonism.
I realized I had been going through the motions of life without being in control. I was a puppet on a string. It was a living nightmare that I couldn't wake up from.
Thanks for your story. This is one for the archives.
|Subject:||Re: I did not want my children to be raised with the lies and deceit of Mormonism|
|Date:||Sep 24 11:10|
|Thank you for voicing what I have felt since I came
from California to Utah at the age of 18 to attend BYU (many years ago).
I have struggled with depression, feelings of worthlessness, and have
never felt like I fit in here. I left the Mormon church 2 months ago and
am moving out of the state.I have had experiences similar to yours and
can relate to the self-destruction, feeling like your flawed, and all of
the suppressive, destructive attitudes towards women. My children are
glad to be out of that church, especially my teenage son who will now
not be expected to go on a mission!!! You've done the right thing.
Thanks for sharing with us. From a former very strong TBM.
|Subject:||Re: I did not want my children to be raised with the lies and deceit of Mormonism|
|Date:||Sep 24 11:16|
|I took my kids out at age 8 as I knew that once I
became a single mother, they WOULD BE ostracized. I'd seen enough of it.
Our "tragedy" would not occur under the glaring eye of the
Now--my daughter has gone back--not only to the LDS church, but to my ward (though she doesn't live here). I felt/feel compromised. She surely thinks I have gone nuts. We chose to quit discussing it. She is a FREE SPIRIT--she is very free thinking and I hate her having any association with the church. She has told me before, "but people don't realize what the church did to our lives so they don't understand why we left." AND now she has gone back. Been to see the bishop at least twice (one of my biggest concerns). She will be here soon so she can go to this ward again today.
My boyfriend tells me that she is what he can see I WOULD HAVE BEEN had I not been indoctrinated when he knew me before. I NEVER fit in--I could never play the cultural game of a female in mormonism--and now I have to watch and wait to see if they destroy my daughter like they did me. I'm still a mess--I know I'll never be okay because of what I went through because of them. I tried to get them out--and she is choosing to go back.
|Subject:||These are all really powerful stories in this thread,|
|Date:||Sep 24 11:47|
|Thank you all for writing them, and being forceful
enough to stand up for who you are as human beings. Tol and c12, your
stories are very poignant as you are trying to respect the individuality
and self-determination of your daughters, and right now they don't see
the same crimes against women that you have seen. Stand strong and stick
to your convictions, and hopefully someday they will also realize why
and how you became wiser. Sometimes it is an epiphany, sometimes its
only a realization that they have been living inside a thick flannel
environment suit and haven't ever really FELT anything. Then you'll be
there to help them claw their way out of it! It will be an advantage you
yourselves never had.
|Subject:||Arguing with my five year old|
|Date:||Sep 24 13:43|
|I have 4 kids ages 12, 10, 7, and 5. In the car when
we were all together my 7 year old asked me why I didn't go to church. I
told him because it wasn't true. But you went on a mission he said.
Thats because I didn't know, they lied to me. Then my 5 year old said
Dad the church is true. No it's not. Yes it is. No it's not. Then my 10
year old says just leave dad alone. He turns around and tells him
"stay out of it" Dad its true. No it's not. Mom came back with
the pizza. They were quiet. No more discussion
Later I told her about the argument we had and how our 5 year old told his older brother to stay out of it. She thought it was kind of amusing.
As they were getting ready for church this morning my 7 year old kept saying he couldn't wait until he was 8. He wants his own scriptures. That is what we did for the older ones. Almost every Sunday he says I don't want to go to church but then he gets into this church loving mode.
I hate it. I often take them places on Sunday. The water park, a movie, or a restaurant. They have come to accept it. My wife justifies it because it's my only day off work.
She is a convert and cant see how the church could possibly affect someone adversely. I told her my own experiences which are much the same as what you described. She seems to think I'm an exception and that church is good for our kids.
|Subject:||I love when 4 and 5 year olds testify of the truthfulness of the church|
|Date:||Sep 24 13:57|
|In my old ward, kids who could barely speak were
heading up to the podium to bear their testimonies. That shows you how
effective the brainwashing is. For these kids who are too young to go to
school, all they have to go on is thier weekly indoctrination at church.
And the primary teachers tell them that Gordon is a prophet, its never I
think he's one, its HE IS A PROPHET no questions asked. These kids are
too young to second guess their teachers.
|Subject:||Ask your wife what she thinks happens to the psyches of children in Mormon families when...|
|Date:||Sep 24 17:43|
|they're told that there was a 'War in Heaven' in the
'Pre-Existence', Lucifer (Satan/the Devil) and his spirit 'wicked'
followers lost the war and were 'cast down to Earth', God gave them the
power (as spirits unseen to mortals) to tempt people, they do so because
they seek the 'eternal damnation' and 'everlasting misery' of all
'mankind', and the age at which 'Heavenly Father' allows Satan and his
evil spirit followers to start tempting children is 8.
Ask your wife what she thinks happens to the psyches of Mormon children who are indoctrinated in the LDS Church's teaching that ONLY Mormons who are obedient to all of 'God's commandments' (as defined by Mormonism) and 'spiritually purified' of all their 'sins' (according to the BoM and church doctrine, no 'unclean thing' can dwell in God's presence)will escape 'eternal damnation' and be found 'worthy' enough of 'Exaltation'. According to church doctrine, 'unworthy' Mormons will be separated from their 'righteous' family members forever. According to Mormonism, a child who does not pay a full tithe on their allowance or money that Grandma gave them for their birthday has sinned (one of many examples of 'sins' that children can commit, according to LDS doctrine). Another is not wanting to go to church (because it's boring!) and playing in the park by the chapel instead of attending Sunday School.
Ask your wife what she thinks happens to the psyches of Mormon children who are indoctrinated in the LDS Church's teaching that 'Heavenly Father' (who is all-powerful, according to LDS theology) becomes displeased, saddened, and even angry when people disobey 'His' commandments and when Latter-day Saints don't comply with all of the church's teachings.
In each case, the answer is fear. Mormonism psychologically conditions children, youth, and adults to fear (God's punishments, God withholding blessings, 'trials and tribulations' from God, Satan and his devils, the 'Great and Terrible Day' of the 'Last Judgment', etc.). People can be psychologically coerced (manipulated) more effectively through fear than any other emotion.
|Subject:||"he thought he still had the right to determine my worthiness"|
|Date:||Sep 24 14:17|
|That statement was one of the most profound I have
ever read. When I think about all the men in my life who thought they
had the right, no, the OBLIGATION, to judge me, it just makes me
This church is NOT a good way to raise a family. I totally agree with this! But how, HOW do I convince my own family? My children, all grown with families of their own, totally discount their parents. They completely dismiss anything their father tells them because he left the church only to live a sinful lifestyle, in their opinion.
I hung onto the church for a few years after our divorce but felt like a pariah the whole time. Wives clung to their husbands arms tightly if I spoke to them...fearing that this divorcee was after their man. No one knew how to talk to me. We'd been stalwarts in the ward. Husband was a brilliant scientist and professor at BYU. But, he had fallen so far. I'd been right in divorcing him because he was "gasp" gay. But they still avoided me. I was so alone.
I finally could not attend anymore because I was having the same panic attacks as you describe, TOL. But, I didn't prevent my then teenage children from going because I rationalized, it would be social suicide for them not to be active while living in Utah County.
Now, my grown children also dismiss anything I say about mormonism because they think I left the church only because of the divorce and my acceptance of my ex husband's homosexuality. What they do not understand and will not hear, is that he clung to the hope that the church was true much longer than I did. He simply stopped attending when he moved to CA because there was no acceptance for him in the church. He still wanted to believe it, however. I was the one who started researching and telling him what I found out about the foundational claims of mormonism.
How do we keep our family close while trying to help them understand that mormonism is false and even dangerous? They seem totally afraid to hear it and find it easier to dismiss us as sinful, untrustworthy, and morally corrupt once we've left mormonism.
thanks for writing ,TOL. It certainly leaves me much to ponder.
|Subject:||gemini--esteban made a point to me|
|Date:||Sep 24 14:31|
|when I talked about my daughter going back to church
that does she really understand that she is supporting a religion who
preaches hate for her father.
Somewhere along the line they are going to have to hit the brick wall we did over understanding our husbands' pain and how we were treated because of it, and supporting a church who condemns us.
That worthiness statement got me, too--as I just told my daughter a year ago--about the time of my 21st anniversary as we drove by the Logan temple--that even if I thought it was the most wonderful place on earth, I would never go in there again because no MAN had the right to determine my worth. The fact they think they have that power over us is devastating. I think it was the most damaging aspect of my entire life.
And, like your husband, my husband will even find himself defending the church sometimes. I have told people before that he wanted THE DREAM more than I did, but there was no dream to be had.
My son made a really good point to me this week--thank goodness he is agnostic. He celebrated when I allowed him to stop going ot church at age 8. Anyway, I told him my daughter is probagly going back because she is really wrapped up in her happy childhood--before her dad left. He was a really good father and they did have a happy childhood up until then. I see us sitting in church and how happy I felt we really were. I know that is part of why she is going back--her happy memories of her happy family. My son pointed out to me "does she not realize that those memories are about THE FAMILY and not about THE CHURCH?"
I think most of our children will hit that brick wall one day. It may be when they are 38, like I was, but it does cause a HUGE VOID in our relationships. I feel I have to tiptoe around my daughter now.
|Subject:||Re: gemini--esteban made a point to me|
|Date:||Sep 24 17:03|
|I think my children would be happier with me if I
had totally distanced myself from their father because it would have
been easier for them to be more bigoted toward him. As it is, they act
like he is important to them but they forget his birthday, father's day
and sometimes Christmas and he notices! The family dynamic is so f***ed
up. They can say anything they want about their churchy activities but
if I bring up anything about MY life outside the church, they don't want
to hear about it. When I told my youngest son I was going to the
exmormon conference in Salt Lake in October, his reaction was swift and
I really hate this religion of mormonism.
|Subject:||Tol - You are my HERO!|
|Date:||Sep 24 19:47|
|You described what I felt today in my first day back
at church in over 2 months. I went to support DH but I as I walked past
the primary doors hearing them chant "Follow the Prophet", I
swiftly walked in and yanked out my 4 year old. We spent most of the
rest of primary playing outside the church looking at seeds, plants and
flowers and enjoying the gorgeous day. DH wasn't pleased. I think he was
hurt and has the hometeachers coming over Wed. I also left early from RS
because after spending the lesson (all about the boring BOM) reading
through the church hymnal and counting all the songs that talked about
priesthood and brotherhood and contrasting them against how few were
about womanhood - like 4 - all about home, family, and sisterhood. I had
to keep myself from runnning outside to vomit. I couldn't stay for the
last song which openly talked about rejoicing in our prophet. I feel
alive again like I ever have before and poor DH can't see it. I have
hope though and your post gives me hope. My girls are still young - 4
and 2 and my son is a baby. I pray to God that we will be out before it
is too late. Thank you again for being such a beacon of inspiration and
hope for so many of us recovering from church-inflicted mental illness.
Once I finally let go of the belief in Mormonism, I literally feel
Healed!!! No more black cloud of depression, no more guilt. I feel
|Subject:||YES!! Nice is not the same thing as Good, and Good is not the same thing as Happy...|
|Date:||Sep 24 20:17|
|Great essay! As Tol said, "Mormon women are
nice all the time."
We are/were victimized into giving up our voices, into appearing "nice"...at all costs..."nice" or we were not "good" women. But underneath the nice mask is deep, unexpressed anger, and hidden anger becomes depression.
No surprise that Mormon women can't even admit to being depressed until it overwhelms them.
|Subject:||reality vs. the mormon blinders|
|Date:||Sep 25 00:38|
|I am so relieved that my sons and I left the LDS
church in 2003. I prefer to experience life on my own terms and with
complete use of my brain and conscience. I'd rather feel the full force
of life; the ecstacy, the pain, the hilarity, the wonder of it all, than
to be a depressed and supressed zombie in the mormon church. I'm happy
for my sons because they are free to experience life unencumbered by
guilt and lies and myths...
|Subject:||observations about children attending church . . . .|
|Date:||Sep 25 02:31|
|My young children attended church for a couple of
years after my husband stopped believing (unbeknownst to me). I was TBM.
The oldest was 5 when I also stopped believing and we all left at
together. I don't think those years made a deep impression on them
because I don't think the brainwashing takes hold until they get a
So for our family, it worked out fine not to have a confrontation over church. My husband quietly planted seeds of information and thought, and that plus life circumstances helped me see the truth on my own. I think we were actually very lucky the way things worked out.
Once we stopped believing, though, I felt it was my DUTY to take the kids out of church. Even though I was tempted to stay to retain the social connections. I felt I needed to protect my kids from being indoctrinated with false ideas. Even THEN I didn't realize that false ideas weren't the biggest problem with staying in the church.
I know of families with both unbelieving or fence-sitting parents who still attend church (in one case I've been told it's because they think it's still the best thing available to help them teach morals to their family). These children are older, some are even teens. And some of these children are MUCH more devout than their parents. It's scary to me to hear that these kids are pushing their parents to read scriptures together, or do whatever program the church is pushing. Or it's the kids who are sucking up the new ERA stories and asking MY kids to come to church with them.
The church takes over the parental role in some ways, and it's really troublesome that KIDS are trying to promote church programs in their home.
I can't understand how the parents are willing to surrender their parental role to the church so willingly, and then let their kids get so involved and convinced of something the parents have serious doubts about. Perhaps it's because the church has always had such a respected parental role in their own lives that they don't recognize it as an imposition.
Now back to the thing that worse than the fact that the church teaches false ideas:
I think it's really hard for lifetime members to see the "dark side" of the church and recognize how the church manipulates and shackles members with perfectionism, guilt, fear, conformity, etc. The church is emotionally manipulative and controlling, and teaches people to behave either as a victim or a perpetrater of controlling emotional abuse.
Think of all the boundaries the church crosses: The interviews and judgments made therein, telling people how to spend their time, how they should FEEL, how they should live their lives and their money. What they should eat and wear, and think. Mormons grow up without adequate boundaries. They don't know where their own boundaries begin and end, and that's why they allow people to step all over them, and then they go and step all over someone else's. It's a toxic society if you ask me.
I could write a whole post on that, but I'll save it for another day.
I just know how crippling it's methods of control can be to a person. That's the real danger of staying in the church.
Recovery from Mormonism - The Mormon Church