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Posted by: Claire Ferguson Benson ( )
Date: May 03, 2023 02:11PM

When I read the quote below on FB a moment ago it reminded me of the early days (months) after leaving the church. I didn’t have many opinions of my own. For most of my time in the church, when anyone asked for my personal opinion I would often begin my reply with “Well, my church teaches…”.

I recall one particular time at work, soon after my departure from mormonism, when my colleagues were discussing euthanasia. I was shocked to realise I didn’t have an opinion. Not one. I had no idea what I thought about the subject.

I had been extremely devout, until I wasn’t. I did what the church told me to do, as best I could, and felt huge guilt when I failed to live up to what I considered a good LDS woman should be doing. I thought what the church told me to think. And I believed.

I’m incredibly grateful to all of you on RfM all those years ago, I left the church in 2004 and found you a year later. I’m indebted to you. Thank you.


"Abusers take everything away from you. I don’t just mean your money or your home or your children, although they take those as well. I mean everything, including your sense of self...

Two years on from this relationship, I still don’t know who I am. Someone recently asked me what I like to watch on TV. I have no idea. I surrendered all TV-watching decision-making to my ex-partner because he had a tantrum if I put something on that he didn’t like. I don’t know what I want to do for a job. Up until recently, I worked in my ex-partner’s field, even though it is a field I know little and care less about, because that’s what he wanted me to do. I don’t know what I care about.

Why am I telling you this? Because I am certain that I am not alone, but sometimes I feel very alone. And if you out there reading this also feel this terrible confusion about who you are and what you want to do, and you also feel alone, I want to tell you something… You are not alone.” ~Lily Carroll

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 05/03/2023 02:45PM by Claire Ferguson Benson.

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Posted by: blindguy ( )
Date: May 03, 2023 03:46PM

...of how different livving Catholicism (my former church) and Mormonism (yours) really were.

To parse this into what you wrote, while you had a whole host of opinions thrust upon you by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that you were expected to mirror yourself after, that wasn't quite true among Roman Catholics. Yes, while the Pope and Catholic church officials speak a lot about the opinions they have and that they think others should have, they never once, in any public setting, tried to force me to verbally change my mind about something with which they disagreed. In other words, I was allowed to have opinions on issues outside of church control and no official representing that church ever told me point blank that I didn't have a right to disagree with them or it.

Of course, my ideas, especially in the early days, were heavily influenced by my mom (who was Catholic) and my dad (who was a runaway Protestant who still kept holding to many of his evangelical beliefs even though he never attended church outside of special family events). However, as I have aged, I have learned that no person or group of persons with the same beliefs has all of the answers.

There was a film that was featured in my 10th-grade religious class in my Jesuit-run high school (funny the irony of this) that I think says it all. I can't remember the film's title, but it was about a Catholic priest who was sent to South America to work with some native American converts in a rural setting. During his first religious celebration (Mass), he told his congregants (I think I remember the quote correctly): "We're building a boat here that will take you all to the city and there you will learn what real values are." After several experiences and learning that he was nearing death from a disease whose name I can't remember, the same priest said at his last Mass (and I think I remember this correctly too): "I told you in my first service that we were building a boat that would carry you all to the city. I was wrong. We are building a bridge between you and the city. Yes, there is a lot that the city can teach you, but there is also a lot that you can teach the city." In other words, holding fast to a set of dogmas and opinions thrust upon you by a church is not how you're going to learn new things.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: May 03, 2023 05:30PM

Is it called "The Mission" blindguy?

Funny coincidence if so because Mormons also go on missions!

Here's a link to an article about the film:

If that doesn't work, it's in The New York Times and the article is called 'The Mission' Carries a Message From Past to Present.

On a quick scan (I don't have time right now to read the whole article but it looks interesting), it sounds like the plot you are describing.

I can't find that exact quote (building bridges is such a common phrase that far too many hits come up on a search).

It looks like it's Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons in the starring roles in this one.

I look forward to reading more about it. Sounds like an intriguing story.

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Posted by: blindguy ( )
Date: May 03, 2023 10:14PM

...for a couple of reasons:

1) The movie I saw had just one priest involved (unless the other one was mute so he never spoke); and

2) I saw the film I was describing in 1978 during my sophmore year in high school. "The Mission," wasn't released until 1986.

Good try, though.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: May 04, 2023 01:33PM

It's a challenge, blindguy. I want to find it. So far, when I Google Catholic priests The Exorcist pops up.

Some things just stick forever. Haha.

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Posted by: blindguy ( )
Date: May 04, 2023 02:48PM

The film I keep thinking of (and it was based on a book by the same name written by Margaret Craven) was "I Heard the Owl Call My Name,", though for location reasons, I doubt it was that.

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Posted by: Done & Done ( )
Date: May 03, 2023 05:34PM

Same. Ditto. Me too.

When I left the church after the mission and while at BYU I had no personality outside of my learned Mormon personality which is no asset in the real world. I had trouble making non-Mormon friends. I had no preferences. If someone asked what I wanted to do, I'd say, "Whatever you want is fine by me". Took me years to even realize how much I had lost in the way of personal development as a Mormonism tends to keep you in embryo. I would never hang out now with someone who was like me back then. I was so boring.

Moved to Los Angeles and couldn't even fit in the sizzling gay community I was still so lost. And lonely. Some therapists were telling guys to steer clear of the Mormon gay kids as they were "messed up and stayed that way".

I hope most figure it all out quicker than I did. I finally started reading a lot of very varied material on a lot of different subjects. Lots of magazines reflecting normal life. And then what really helped was working with a gang of people none of whom knew a thing about Mormonism or any religion and were just out to have the best life--including accomplishment. You could say anything unlike today and that opened me up. When those important "formative years" are formed-- as a Mormon-- good chance you'll end up with stunted growth spiritually and emotionally.

A lot of us were robbed of our youth by Mormonism. That is worse than grand larceny. The theft of cash, cars and Rolex watches pales to what I felt I lost.

Now I'm mercilessly opinionated, have my passions and must-haves, and love some dark, cutting humor.

Figuring out the lie of Mormonism is only the first half of getting out.

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Posted by: cl2 ( )
Date: May 03, 2023 05:51PM

hell that was mormonism for me, especially the abuse I went through because of my gay/straight relationship/marriage, I found out a lot of things about myself, but then when I went through the mess, then I lost myself again. I had no answers as to how to handle all that I lived through. I just kept moving and somehow I made it where I am now, age 65, and looking back and thinking "what a waste."

I guess you could say at least I got out and my "husband" is out and one of our kids of the two.

I was lucky to run into some very wonderful people at my job I had in my 20s and many of them were actually mormon, but we worked at a very not mormon company with a lot of nonmormons. One of my best friends there had the last name of Pacanowsky. He adopted me right off the bat. He was in his 50s. These men mostly treated me like a queen. I started developing some of my own likes and dislikes.

I was also raised by a father who was a free thinker and he raised 6 of us, even our disabled brother. We weren't raised as typical mormons. I was the extreme mormon.

I'm more at the stage that I realize my #1 abusers were the leaders of the church and not my "husband" and others. I used to blame him more than anyone until I came to this board. By the time I knew he was gay, I had a lot of likes and dislikes, etc. Both my husband and the boyfriend I ended up with after we separated didn't like the same movies or TV shows as I did and they are/were obnoxious about it. What is it about that issue? My dad watched football all the time and my mother hated it, so I learned to like football and the two men I've been with don't like football.

Even though I thought I had figured a lot of it out, here at 65 I really am looking back and thinking if only I had done this or this or this. I've been in therapy for over 25 years with the same therapist. I just keep going through something new and when i get one figured out, I move to the next. My therapist did point out to me the last time I went in to look what I have done. I have somehow made peace with my past as far as gays and my marriage go. I have my ex's support to help with our kids and they have a relationship with him, which they didn't for a while. Somehow I made it here. I should enjoy what I have accomplished.

I don't think we ever completely overcome the abuse we went through as mormons.

Oh, one that has bothered me a lot lately and I've talked about before is that I was told back when I married my gay "ex" that it was up to me to keep him satisfied sexually so he wouldn't go out and have sex with men and when he cheated, I was told it was my fault and IT STILL IS per a leader I talked to who was a friend in the past. How they handled women where sex is concerned (and men) and then made it our fault if our husbands cheated even if they are gay is really abusive. They wanted to own our sexuality. And for many of us they did. I feel like by having an old boyfriend back and having sex with him helped me deal with that issue, but it still bothers me.

Save yourself, which I did out of FEAR, but then sacrifice yourself for a man. It isn't much better for men no matter how others talk about it. My brothers aren't assertive, leaders, etc., they are quiet and extremely brilliant and my youngest brother still feels guilty for having a porn "addiction" in his teens (he only told me about it about 3 years ago and he is in his 50s) and he doesn't have the internet in his house so he won't be tempted. He has been out of the church since his teens and he still carries that burden.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/03/2023 05:55PM by cl2.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: May 03, 2023 06:21PM

I can relate to your feeling that you were not entitled to have opinions. I felt the same way as a young woman, and well into my 30s, especially with regard to my relationships with men. My then boyfriend recognized that whenever he asked what I wanted to do, I never stated my opinion, and to his credit, he worked with me on that. He wanted to hear my thoughts and feelings.

One of the end results is that this very sophisticated man willingly sat with me through all of the "brat pack" movies of the era, because that's what I wanted to see. :) I still love that I was validated in that manner.

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Posted by: bluebutterfly ( )
Date: May 04, 2023 01:20AM

I moved out at 18, while simultaneously 'quitting' Mormonism. I literally felt like I had to escape. My best friend at the time was going through something similar. She moved out and into her boyfriend's parent's house. I moved out and in with my boyfriend. I remember how vile we were treated by our families, especially right after moving out. I remember talking to my friend on the phone and saying, "Geez, it feels like we left a gang!" Unfortunately, after a few years she did a 180, went back, married in the temple, had 5 kids. Now she's divorced, struggling, and miserable. She shoulda just stayed out.

The abuse I incurred went on for years because I was 'living in sin'. My mom would say this about me in front of my younger siblings who were still kids. They tried so hard to damage my reputation. It is really hard to let that go. Luckily my siblings never let that garbage mess up our relationships.

One thing that was really hard for me after quitting, was trying to live authentically. The way I was raised completely paved the way for living a double life. It drove my boyfriend (now husband) crazy. Understandably so. It took an insane amount of years to get over that and stand strong in who I am and what I want to do. I had to somehow break away from the fear of judgement from my parents. It took years for me to be comfortable shopping on a Sunday, or even admitting that I went somewhere that wasn't church on a Sunday...even though I was 'out'. It got easier once I had kids. I think a lot of Mormons live double lives. The ones who really want to watch R rated movies, drink coffee, and all the other no-no's, but still 'pretend' to be good Mormons. It's all about image, which I cannot stand! I find it comical that the Mormon women (at least where I live in California) have found the garment loophole...just be in 'workout' clothes all the time!

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Posted by: heartbroken ( )
Date: May 04, 2023 06:00PM

Abusers build you up and then tear you down. LDS is masterful at this. One moment you're told you're special and that Heavenly Father loves you and the next you fall short of the required perfection by breaking one of the many, many rules, or by not doing everything requested, from giving a talk in church to accepting/fulfilling a demanding calling. Unable to meet all the church demands leads to feelings of unworthiness, despair and self deprecation. The only way to feel "clean" and a lightness of spirit again is by confessing all to the bishop. It's a constant roller coaster of feeling good one moment and like an unworthy sinner the next. It also creates a dependence on the organization that creates the problem.

LDS Inc. caused lasting damage to my already fragile self esteem. I would have been so much better off without its psychological abuse.

When I tell TBMs why I won't return to church they tell me the church has changed. Has it really? Have the interviews with the bishop ended? Has the missionary program ended? Have the Sunday School lessons changed? Have the endless demands on members' time changed?

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: May 04, 2023 08:36PM

heartbroken Wrote:
Very good points about the ups and downs, hb.

> LDS Inc. caused lasting damage to my already
> fragile self esteem. I would have been so much
> better off without its psychological abuse.

Many exmos, especially BICS, mention this. It's not what you'd expect, or hope for, from a church. It's mind-bending to be told by leaders and members alike that it's the most fabulous thing when that's not how you're experiencing it. You think you're the only one so therefore there surely must be something wrong with you.

I didn't experience this, as a very short-term convert (so-called) but I somewhat get the point from all the promises they made about how the temple is the be-all and end-all. Every time I asked a question, especially about doctrinal beliefs, the answer was that I'd know once I got to the temple. Uh....nope. I felt permanently confused. It can be a mind-bender when everybody's saying what a beautiful robe the Emperor is wearing and you're saying what robe?

> When I tell TBMs why I won't return to church they
> tell me the church has changed. Has it really?
> Have the interviews with the bishop ended? Has the
> missionary program ended? Have the Sunday School
> lessons changed? Have the endless demands on
> members' time changed?

A good question would seem to be why does the most perfect church and all God's chosen people need to change? By saying it's changed and thinking that might entice an ex-member to return they are (likely inadvertently) acknowledging that there was/is a problem (or two) with the church.

When you read some of the missionary stories here and the accounts of time spent in the office with the bishop where you're expected to spill your guts (for small infractions, if any at all) and forever feel bad about yourself it's a wonder there's anybody left still trying to please the Mormon God. Merely leaving is a boost to the self-esteem at some point, if not immediately because it's a learned attitude, to accept that one is fine as they are and don't have to forever confess and grovel because they're not perfect but merely (beautifully) human.

When I was upset about the way my baptism went (understatement), but the bottom line is "not so good", and my Mormon "friend" who got me into the tank in the first place stated "it's all your fault", I was shocked at the blunt brutality of that reaction. I felt that's what many others thought too. I did feel shocked and upset about the incident but more by that comment of his. *My* fault? It's your bloody church that you got me into by promising the earth and heaven too and when it went sideways that's MY fault?

I can still occasionally hear that echo in my head "It's all your fault". Very destructive it can be too as a general rule.

That's why I feel so much for BICs who have left and struggle to find their own path after a rocky start in the so-called church. (I used to be too polite to use that phrase but a lot of BIC exmos here use it often and it seems quite apt at times).

So with that prevailing attitude of "it's all your fault" it's easy to understand why it can be a tough slog to overcome the disadvantages of being born to observant Mormon parents and being ground down by the Mormon machine for the first two decades, plus, of one's life before you can grab a minute to have a think about what on earth is going on.

Everybody takes time to figure out where they're going in life but to be placed on a single path without choice and managed and directed by family members and religious overseers all through childhood and on up into one's 20s can be a special kind of hell. As many have said, not only can it feel like you have to start life all over again from scratch but you also have to shed the unneeded, unwanted, weighty baggage that accumulated through those first two decades and more. Often it's not as simple as just laying down the bags and walking away, as we see by the glimpses of life so many share so generously here. Their stories can help others to learn, understand and come to terms with their own experiences and situations.

hb: You mention "endless demands" from the church/leaders/members - no kidding. I was dumbstruck to see how much time, money and autonomy the church extracts from its members. There is nothing voluntary about Mormonism if you want or feel you need to stick with their program.

While the only thing ex-BICs get is nagged for leaving and more of their lifetime taken up in trying to figure out what the hell *that* was all about when they emerge into the non-mo world. The good news is that Mormonism isn't "true" and one can be free to choose one's own path. Not to say it isn't strewn with Mormon baggage along the way as exxies have to start over from zero, a bit late, to see what *they* want from life and how best to achieve it.

It can be quite the journey but it's worth it. Sorry for the pain though. I wish it didn't have to be so difficult. Somebody somewhere has a lot to answer for.

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