Date: August 03, 2020 01:05PM
So, within the past month, I have officially become ex-Mormon but the reasons I left unofficially(inactive) are a bit layered. Quick chronology:
• Birth-2008 - BIC, baptized at 8, married in temple at 20, went inactive and husband soon followed.
• 2008-2013 - lived inactive with husband, then divorced after 5 years.
• 2016 - had an artistic awakening and in desperation seeking help from God, started attending church again.
• 2017-2018 - went to BYU-I to become an English teacher.
• November 2018 - stopped attending church and dropped out of school
• March 2019 - still living in Rexburg, had a gender identity crisis and attempted suicide. Returned east to live with parents.
I am an artist and a writer and have always been a bit "spacey" with a deep fantasy life. It's how I cope with stress. Growing up in the church, I didn't really feel a lot of pressure about repentance and cleanliness of thought until after 18. At least, I didn't take it seriously until I was in the adult classes and readying to go to the temple to get married. So, all during my teen years, there were no cages on my fantasies. They were light and dark, fun and juvenile and erotic. Anything goes. When I fell away in 2008, I returned to this unfettered creativity of the mind and dealt with stress and writing without any moral bars or chains.
I am a very genuine person. Once I hit adulthood, I found it hard to compartmentalize my attendance to church. I CAN'T sit there for three hours, listening to the repetition of lessons, testimonies, and songs, smiling in kindness and warmth to the members, and then just go home and 6 days out of the week do "what I want to do" regardless of teachings. I just can't. So, if I'm gonna go, it's going to be all the way.
I have a really bad reaction to repentance. A great bulk of my comfort fantasies involve erotica in some degree. The "It's a stressful day, so, I'm just going to take a moment and check out" type fantasies. Well, purity includes your thoughts, so, that means cages around certain topics or areas of fantasy. Things you just can't think about. It became easier not to fantasize at all because you never knew where the story was going to go and end up having to repent later. And from how I understood it, you cannot engage in sin with a "I'll repent later" beforehand. Like, it's very insincere and irreverent.
So, instead of fantasizing to comfort myself during tough times, I'd throw myself into scripture study and community activities. It became hard to connect to my artistic self. I couldn't write with these cages and restrictions around my thoughts. I couldn't draw or paint. Looking back, it was like my identity had become absorbed by the church. I wasn't an artist or a writer. I was nothing except a "daughter of God".
For a little while, I attempted to compartmentalize. I needed relief. It was exhausting being vigilant of my thoughts all the time, any stray naughty or dirty glimmer being sniped and repented of in order to remain "temple-worthy" and a good vessel of the spirit to work through me. I thought, "maybe I can just let the fantasies run wild and it'll be okay."
The answer is no. I told you already, I'm not a liar. I can't sit in the pew in the temple, carrying around a sexy fantasy adventure that I didn't scrub from my brain and take sacrament over. It feels awful, it feels fake. So, I slowly stopped attending until in November, I finally stopped altogether.
At around that time I also started questioning my gender, suffering with dysmorphic feelings about my body. I was very alone, very scared of the implications, so, decided to end my life instead. After my attempt, I came home to the east coast to live in my parents house and have slowly explored these ideas and feelings.
For the longest time, I have held onto "I believe it's true, I just can't attend." I sort of took the idea that God wouldn't really care about my gender in the grand scheme. If he did, it didn't matter; this is life or death for me. I cannot be in this existence living under the torment of not being free to be who I am, whether that is gender or simply the creative thoughts and stories in my head. It hurts too much. Sorry, God, I failed.
For a time, I told myself that I just desired a lesser kingdom. I was taught that even with the goal in pre-existence being the celestial glory, some of us were always meant for a lower glory. Or rather, for those who are most comfortable here choosing the choices that would earn them Terrestrial, these individuals would feel tormented and uncomfortable in the Celestial kingdom. So, if Terrestrial is what I truly wanted, that is where I could go. I was comforted by the thought that Hell/Outer Darkness was reserved for people who deny the Spirit outright.
I thought I could be agnostic Mormon.
Then I watched videos breaking down the history of the church, and a few detailing the CES letter. I used to defend him and all our past leaders saying "your enemies get to write your biography" in defense against it. But. ..theres just SO MUCH. The Kinderhook Plates, quotes in early church history books by Joseph Smith himself, the polygamy, church leaders getting paid, the prophets contradicting each other even as recently as from the 70's and 80's to now, the Masonic and occult symbols.
I was a part of a cult.
I am still struggling with this idea and it is more painful than it is relieving right now. But I'm getting there.