Date: October 04, 2011 07:05PM
First off, I think I've had a relatively pleasant exit from TSCC considering how engulfed my entire life has been in it, and continues to be. I think I learned some really good things from being mormon (mostly through observing what NOT to do and such) and it has made me into the person who I am today, and I like myself. Those responsible for entrenching me in the cult for most of my life were well-meaning victims themselves. But through education and even through church source I learned open-mindedness, and learned many things about life and the world that are still true and good that still are and have nothing to do with the church. Now I have a whole new set of things to learn that were kept from me, and it's exciting and fulfilling.
But of course I have had to take some flak from family members, whose opinion of me has suddenly and unexpectedly dropped from being one of the smartest and most level-headed of the family, to the most prideful and deluded (perhaps not the most accurate words, but you get the idea). And of course, my wife, who is determinedly a TBM, has had a very rough time with it. I went from being the single greatest person she has ever known in her life (even after nearly 4 years of marriage) to someone that she has to work hard to maintain love for (and she is doing a wonderful job by the way, but the change is there).
During this process I have lost my patience with many of these people as they keep insisting to me that the church is true, and for the few who have actually been willing to look at my reasons semi-objectively, I have caused a massive amount of stress, to the point that none of them have been capable of continuing any kind of study with me (basically, I point them to some sources, and they never respond until enough time passes that they can change the subject). I feel pretty bad every time I set them straight on the facts, because not only does it raise the stress level on their already-hectic lives, but all the other family members who aren't part of the discussion rally to their aid, indicentally seeing me as a negative influence without actually looking at what I've been saying.
But I can't bring myself to be dishonest or subversive, it makes me feel rotten inside. If someone asks me questions I have to give it to them straight. I do my best to keep emotion out of the discussion. I just want to look at the facts, but I can't help it if the facts and reason are damning against almost everything mormon. In fact, it was me overcoming my (positive) feelings about the church that enabled me to leave it, and overcoming my subsequent negative feelings that have allowed me to maintain a good relationship with my wife. You get the picture.
So here's my point. In my discussions with my family members I seem to hear a lot about how a few of my family members (all of which are TBM) have gone to counsellors and seen remarkable improvements in their lives from what they've realized. They are so much happier now. Only my mom has outright encouraged me to do the same. The others have hinted at it. My brother, who works as a public official of sorts, told me, after describing the benefits of counselling, that he was going to try to get our dad to do it (which is a good idea) and wanted my help. So he didn't even outright recommend it for me, which I found to be a pretty cool approach, if that even was his intention, and lent him my support.
Well, my mom offered to at least pay for marriage counseling. So I did that and went to a few sessions with my wife. It wasn't life changing or anything. I was already as respectful of my wife's cherished beliefs as I possibly could be, and knew how important they were to her. But I felt that she was taking advantage of my respect by silencing and oppressing me. Every time I opened up a little I made the marriage worse, and every time I opened up a lot I almost destroyed it. Being silent only amplified the effect when I did open up. I might have learned to be more careful when I did open up with her, I don't know, but after seeing the counsellor things got better. I don't know if it's me or her, but her love doesn't seem to be dependent on my view of the church any more, so if that came from the counsellor, then props.
I'm totally open to meeting with a counsellor personally to see if I'm doing anything unhealthy or am being hampered by any harmful or hidden emotions, even with regards to my views of the church. I know I've had emotional things in the past that I feel that I've made peace with. Perhaps I'm still peeved by being screwed up by my mission, which I will admit was instrumental in my leaving the church - mostly due to what I learned, though, and not what I felt. I actually harbor much less ill-sentiment toward the people involved, if any, than I did for a few year afterwards while I was TBM. Perhaps I'm still fuming that my family judged me about my views without giving my reasons for them a hard look, and that I have nobody besides you digital folk to turn to about it. I don't think I care about it any more, but I'd be okay with a shrink probing to see if that's actually true.
But there's a side of me too that wants to say "I feel fine. I'm happy, the church is a lie, and leaving it is not a product of some unknown raging inner-turmoil. In fact it has helped me conquer more demons than I knew I had and brought me to a state of remarkable inner peace, coupled with a huge thirst for knowledge. My only demon is all you folk who insist that I'm the one that there's something wrong with and won't rest until I admit it."
But maybe that would be too much an expression of my real feelings, which could be clouding my rational judgment. After all, what do I have to lose? Well, besides a lot of my hard-earned money, of which I don't have much at my disposal at the moment.
Still, I find it interesting that they would make such a push.