Expert Ex-Mormon

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  • user warning: Table './exmo_08072012/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p>runtu May 2014</p>\n<p>Yes, I am an expert in how to leave the church and do it the wrong way. A little background:</p>\n<p>I wrote this a while back and thought it might be of some use for people who are new to the board.</p>\n<p>I have always been a history and knowledge junkie, and when I worked at the Church Office Building in the early 90s, I would go down to the historical library on my lunch hour and read whatever looked interesting. Around 1995, when I was no longer working for the church, I got invited to participate in an online listserv group, alt.religion.mormon. I moved on to other places, such as the ironically named FAIR board, where I was a defender of the church but tried to be fair and honest and kind with people who disagreed.</p>\n<p>In 2005, I took an 8-month break from all Mormon online participation, and during that break, I realized that I’d known for quite some time that the church wasn’t true, but I just hadn’t let myself admit it. Literally, everything fell apart during a phone conversation with a friend who was distraught about Joseph Smith and polyandry.</p>\n<p>When I got home, my wife could tell something was wrong, so I blurted out that I didn’t believe in the church anymore. For 2 years I tried to get her to listen to what I knew. I sent her articles, quoted books, asked questions about her beliefs, and generally challenged her as much as I could. Needless to say, we fought for 2 years. My sister, to whom I’ve always been close, began having long conversations with my wife about how to “fix” me. Our marriage nearly broke up, and I sank into a deep depression. In 2007 I attempted suicide and ended up spending 3 days as an unwilling guest of a psych ward in Houston.</p>\n<p>That was a turning point for me. I realized that I’d been pushing my wife to hear things she didn’t want to hear, and she had been pushing back just as hard to get me to step back in line. We both changed because of my suicide attempt. We learned that it was OK to disagree, that it was OK for her not to want to know what I knew, and it was OK for me not to bow to her religious wishes.</p>\n<p>So, here are some of the things I’ve learned:</p>\n<p>1. Why do Mormons take it so personally when you state the facts about their religion?</p>\n<p>Mormonism was part of our identity, perhaps even the main part. The LDS church is designed to be the center of a member’s existence; without the church, there would be a huge, gaping hole (which we all experience when we leave). So, whether they realize it or not, most Mormons predictably react as though a criticism of the church is a personal attack on them. No, it’s not rational, and in a perfect world, you could get people to step back and separate the church from themselves. But in reality, they do not draw a distinct line between the self and Mormonism.</p>\n<p>2. Why is relatively uncontroversial information so threatening to a lot of Mormons?</p>\n<p>The church has done such a great job of packaging its history and doctrines that anything else, no matter how trivial it may seem, is jarring to believers. Take the “rock in the hat” episode. It’s well-established that Joseph Smith used a stone he found in a well to pretend to find buried treasure, long before the Book of Mormon project began. And there is plenty of eyewitness testimony that he used the same stone to “translate” the Book of Mormon. But it’s not part of the approved narrative, so people get horribly offended and assume you’re just telling lies.</p>\n<p>3. Why do my family and friends treat me like I’m an enemy?</p>\n<p>The church has long taught that people who leave are apostates, and such people are evil. They are the kind of people who killed Joseph Smith. They have evil in their hearts and are motivated by hatred of truth and goodness. Heck, they’ve even had priesthood and Relief Society lessons about us rotten apostates. So, when you challenge their beliefs with new information, they assume that you are attacking them personally, that you are making things up, and that you are doing so in a dishonest attempt to make the church look bad.</p>\n<p>4. How do I get through to them?</p>\n<p>Unfortunately, the answer generally is that you won’t and can’t. But being confrontational just plays into the church’s script: angry apostate can’t just leave it alone but must attack God’s true religion.</p>\n<p>5. So, what should I do?</p>\n<p>There’s no right answer, but I’ll tell you what works for me. If I am tempted to discuss my loss of belief with someone I care about, I ask myself two questions: 1) What do I hope to accomplish with this discussion? 2) What is the likely outcome of the discussion? If the answer to 1) is “I just want them to know the truth,” that’s not good enough. The second question comes into play: How likely is it that they are going to know and accept the truth because of your discussion? If it’s unlikely, why bother? In my view, it’s fine to share your feelings and knowledge with anyone you wish, but when it comes to loved ones, make sure you have a definite goal in mind and that your conversation is likely to achieve that goal.</p>\n<p>6. How do I convince my family and friends that my unbelief is not a personal attack on them?</p>\n<p>This one is simple. As I said in question 1 above, the church makes itself the center of your life, your relationships, your marriage. One day my wife said to me, “Our marriage has always been built on the church and the gospel, so now I wonder what’s left?” I realized that both of us needed to recognize what our marriage was without the church at the center. We discovered that our relationship was about love, commitment, friendship, intimacy, passion, and so on. None of that depended on the church. Once we started focusing on building those non-church aspects, we started to heal as a couple.</p>\n<p>You are going to have friends and family who insist on making the church the center of your relationship. If that’s all there is to your relationship, you don’t have a relationship with such people, so there’s no big loss here.</p>\n<p>Let them be the nasty ones; let them be the ones who value loyalty to the church over love and truth. Don’t let it be you.</p>\n<p>7. Does this mean I have to just shut up and endure the crap from my Mormon friends and family?</p>\n<p>No, not at all. But what it does mean is that we must choose our battles wisely. Have you ever known someone who can’t talk about anything other than a specific topic, usually their religion or politics? I had an Aunt Helen who was a Scientologist, and when she visited (thank God she lived in Ohio, and we were in California) all she could talk about was her stupid cult. Pretty much everyone ignored her and avoided contact with her. My father incessantly talks about Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, so I judiciously change the subject because I’ve learned that arguing back is pointless. He’s not changing his mind, and neither am I. I realize that I can’t be the ex-Mormon version of my nutcase aunt because it does no good and just makes people want to avoid me.</p>\n<p>Of course, someone inevitably brings up the subject of why I left the church. Again, what I share depends on who I’m with, what I hope to accomplish, and what I expect the outcome to be. My wife doesn’t want to know anything, so if she asks a specific question, I answer succinctly and leave it at that. An old friend of mine was constantly harping on me about my apostasy, but he wouldn’t listen to anything I said but would just argue and call me to repentance. Eventually, I sent him a link to MormonThink.com and told him that I’d rather he educate himself on the issues before we got back into it. To my complete shock, reading that on his own without my interference led him to question everything he believed. If I had kept up the defensive arguments we’d been having, nothing would have changed for either of us.</p>\n<p>8. My Mormon friends tell me I’m bitter for being angry. Is it wrong to feel so angry? How do I get past the anger and hurt?</p>\n<p>I’ve been told by countless Mormons that it’s wrong to feel angry and hurt, that it just means I’m “bitter.” They say, “You can leave the church, but you can’t leave it alone.” Screw that. Losing your belief is a loss, and that involves grief. Ex-Mormons go through all the stages of grief), and anger is one of those stages. It’s not healthy to suppress that anger. You’ll make yourself crazy. Get it out, but get it out where it won’t damage your important relationships. Message boards, such as the Recovery from Mormonism board, are great places for venting. One thing you’ll notice is that most people post for a few months until the anger passes, and then they move on. There’s no timetable, obviously, but the anger does subside. The time to talk to your family about your beliefs is not when you are angry and hurt.</p>\n<p>So, what’s happened since 2007? Well, for one thing I’m not depressed anymore (a good therapist and medication did wonders). My wife and I don’t fight about religion anymore, and I find that I can appreciate the good she gets out of it without forgetting the bad. She understands that I’m sincere in my beliefs and not some evil apostate. My sister, who once thought I had lost my mind, respects my opinion about the church enough to ask me about things she feels she can’t ask other believers. My parents don’t agree with my reasons for leaving, but we have had good conversations about why I believe what I do.</p>\n<p>Because I haven’t been in my family’s faces about my beliefs, my children have felt comfortable talking to me about their questions and doubts. Of my 6 kids, 3 were absolutely relieved to know that I don’t believe because they didn’t. One was married in the temple a year ago, though I would say she is very liberal in her understanding of church history and doctrine. The other two haven’t quite decided where they fit.</p>\n<p>So, in short:</p>\n<p>1. Find non-destructive ways to vent your emotions.<br />\n2. Recognize that what you see as truth will likely be seen as an attack by your Mormon friends and family.<br />\n3. Choose your battles wisely. Don’t be Aunt Helen.<br />\n4. Have a purpose for the information you share.<br />\n5. Focus on strengthening the non-church parts of your relationships. Don’t make the church the 800-lb. gorilla in the room.</p>\n<p>One last thing:</p>\n<p>I’ll bet you’re saying to yourself, “That’s not fair! Mormons get to treat me like crap, and I have to be all nice and forgiving.” No, it isn’t fair. Someone posted yesterday how sad it was that we are grateful for people being less nasty to us. If you need to be nasty to Mormons, join a message board and argue away with believers. But don’t return the nastiness from people who are important in your lives. I often have to remind myself that they are behaving that way because the church taught them to behave that way. That stuff has been pounded into their heads all their lives, and we can’t hold them entirely responsible. To steal a line from the church,if you have to, “Hate the Mormonism, but love the Mormon.”</p>\n<p>And by no means am I saying you shouldn’t stand up for yourself. When you are attacked and maligned, you have every right to defend yourself and your beliefs. But be smart about it.</p>\n<p>I hope this helps. Like I said, I believe these things work because doing the opposite didn’t work for me and changing my approach has really helped. There are no guarantees, and there are no right answers. Do what you must do, but I hope what I have said helps in some small way.</p>\n<p>researcher<br />\nRe: Expert Ex-Mormon<br />\nExcellent points. I wish I\'d known this when a friend of mine got groomed into Mormonism, we might still be \"friends.\"</p>\n<p>I agree that Mormonism warps people\'s basic personalities, turning people into a Mormon-approved version of who they really are. Which is why Mormons will never have real peace in their hearts, because Mormonism will never allow them to be their true selves. Truth is the pathway to peace.</p>\n<p>BeenThereDunnThatExMo<br />\nRe: Expert Ex-Mormon<br />\nThanks for this hard-fought wisdom Runtu.</p>\n<p>It\'s a confirmation of how i am constantly reminding myself to exemplify \"good behavior\" around the TBM\'s i love and care about and especially to \"choose my battles\" with much wise forethought.</p>\n<p>Very much appreciate you sharing this with me / us.</p>\n<p>Or so it seems to me...</p>\n<hr />\n<p>untethered<br />\nRe: Expert Ex-Mormon<br />\nRuntu,<br />\nI have read a lot of the stuff you have posted over the years, both on the boards and on your blog. I have admired who I perceive you to be. This post is meaningful to me and I feel like telling you I love you, even though that seems weird. But just as a human being, I\'m glad you\'re around. I really am.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>runtu<br />\nRe: Expert Ex-Mormon<br />\nThank you for that. I don\'t know you, but I can say I have met so many good people since leaving the church and I have developed a genuine love for them. I feel like I can love people for who they really are, and I can be loved for who I am, without having to meet anyone else\'s expectations.</p>\n<p>So, I may not know you personally, but I love you, too.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>lilburne<br />\nRe: Expert Ex-Mormon<br />\nGreat post.</p>\n<p>This is why i find all of the name calling and posts mocking TBMs as having learning difficulties or whatever as unhelpful and probably even mean spirited.</p>\n<p>Getting angry proves their right in their minds. Yet showing the reality, that most of us were TBMs that were deeply wounded by the discovery of the truth can be far more helpful in my experience. I don\'t try to force educate, it\'s a waste of time. Don\'t play into the stereotype of an anti mormon or you become their self fulfilling prophecy.</p>\n<hr />\nSurrender Dorothy<br />\nRe: Expert Ex-Mormon<br />\nAnger is part of the grieving process. For some people, this is the only place they have to go to vent and express that anger because they are doing exactly what runtu suggests in keeping their interactions with their Mormon family and friends on a more even keel.\n<p>People here don\'t need to put on a happy, shiny, Mormon-approved facade to \"prove\" Mormons wrong or to shut up the exMo finger-waggers who disapprove of others\' allegedly inferior grieving process. The best method for an individual to work through his/her grief is for him/her to decide. It seems it\'s difficult for some exMos to get off their I\'m-superior-to-you-and-KNOW-the-one-true-way-to-do-everything-including-leave-Mormonism high horse.</p>\n<hr />\nruntu<br />\nRe: Expert Ex-Mormon<br />\nExactly. Anger is part of the process, and it must be dealt with. The trick is getting it out of your system without your loved ones becoming the recipients of the anger. RfM is a great place to express the hurt, the anger, the fear--whatever we\'re feeling--without damaging IRL relationships.\n<hr />\nquinlansolo<br />\nRe: Good to see U here again Runtu.....<br />\nI didn\'t know the extent of torture you went through, I am sorry to read them...<br />\nBut you are a good man for hanging in there for your Family....\n<hr />\nRecovered Molly Mo<br />\nRe: Expert Ex-Mormon<br />\nThis was a great post! As another \"Expert Ex\" I wanted to say THANKS for sharing this!\n<p>There were a few bits that jumped out and hugged me!</p>\n<p>**most Mormons predictably react as though a criticism of the church is a personal attack on them. No, it’s not rational<br />\n...they do not draw a distinct line between the self and Mormonism.</p>\n<p>This is so true. I have seen people react more harshly to MY decision of leaving than someone incringing on THEIR territory of home, kids, etc. The defensiveness over my choice was fierce.</p>\n<p>***The church has long taught that people who leave are apostates, and such people are evil.</p>\n<p>Yep, and as soon as I left. I had people tell me directly they were worried for my immortal soul and that I would become a drunken whore. I was blown away by that one, because it assumed I had no morality without the church.</p>\n<p>*** I realized that both of us needed to recognize what our marriage was without the church at the center. We discovered that our relationship was about love, commitment, friendship, intimacy, passion, and so on. None of that depended on the church. Once we started focusing on building those non-church aspects, we started to heal as a couple.</p>\n<p>KUDOS to you and your wife! I wish I had this happy ending. My ex TBM spouse saw nothing to hold on to if I was not Mormon.</p>\n<p>***You are going to have friends and family who insist on making the church the center of your relationship. If that’s all there is to your relationship, you don’t have a relationship with such people, so there’s no big loss here.</p>\n<p>YUP. Well said. It was easy to let go of those shallow relationships. It hurt, but the process of closing the door was simple.</p>\n<p>*****Let them be the nasty ones; let them be the ones who value loyalty to the church over love and truth. Don’t let it be you.*****</p>\n<p>This was my motto. I had my boundaries, but I was gentle and direct. This attitude served me well, because it brought the nastiest out of the people who were trying to convince me THEY were \"Saints\". I would point out to them that the only one yelling, angry, etc...was not me.</p>\n<p>***I’ve been told by countless Mormons that it’s wrong to feel angry and hurt, that it just means I’m “bitter.” They say, “You can leave the church, but you can’t leave it alone.” Screw that. Losing your belief is a loss, and that involves grief. Ex-Mormons go through all the stages of grief), and anger is one of those stages. It’s not healthy to suppress that anger. You’ll make yourself crazy. Get it out, but get it out where it won’t damage your important relationships. Message boards, such as the Recovery from Mormonism board, are great places for venting. One thing you’ll notice is that most people post for a few months until the anger passes, and then they move on. There’s no timetable, obviously, but the anger does subside. The time to talk to your family about your beliefs is not when you are angry and hurt.***</p>\n<p>Everyone going thru the process should print that statement out and carry it in their wallet, tape on your mirror, etc.</p>\n<p>RMM</p>\n<hr />\nbrandywine<br />\nRe: Expert Ex-Mormon<br />\nRuntu,<br />\nThank you so much for sharing. This post meant so much to me. I am so grateful for you sharing your wisdom.\n<hr />\n<p>Kendal Mint Cake<br />\nRe: Expert Ex-Mormon<br />\nRuntu - your post has really made me think - especially the \"hate mormonism but love the person\" bit. It often takes love and patience to help people out of the church, rather than just bombarding them with facts.</p>\n<hr />\nruntu<br />\nRe: Expert Ex-Mormon<br />\nIn my experience, it also takes stepping back and letting people get there on their own.\n<p>With my wife, for example, I finally had to let go and realize that she doesn\'t want to know what I know, that she\'s happy in the church and has no interest in leaving. That was hard to do, but eventually I learned I had to be happy to let her be who she is.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>Kendal Mint Cake<br />\nRe: Expert Ex-Mormon<br />\nI find stepping back extremely difficult with my closest TBM relative. You\'ve reminded me that I should tread more sensitively. With the other TBM relatives it\'s still a polite ignore the elephant in the room situation, even though they\'ve been sneakily trying to indoctrinate our children. Mormonism stops you from having normal natural honest relationships. I\'m sick of it. Thank goodness for this Board!</p>\n<hr />\nruntu<br />\nRe: Expert Ex-Mormon<br />\nIt\'s extremely difficult, especially if they keep pushing. I\'ve found it better to have natural relationships with people who are willing and able to have such relationships. With people who keep pushing, openly or sneakily, I just keep the interaction to the minimum required. And I let a lot slide that I wouldn\'t have a few years ago. Like I said, I choose my battles.\n<hr />\n<p>expatexmo<br />\nRe: Expert Ex-Mormon<br />\nRuntu,</p>\n<p>That you could get thru all you\'ve been thru and stay with your wife is so inspiring.</p>\n<p>The ability to let others walk their path even when it conflicts with ours and yet walk together - wow. I chose to join my husband in leaving...years later, and in some respects I admire your wife\'s choice to as that too is hard. Thank you for sharing your expert advice. Pure gold. xx</p>\n<hr />\nredpillswallowed<br />\nThis was perfect for me right now. Thank you!<br />\nI\'m still learning the \'dos and don\'ts\' of interaction with all of my TBM family. This was just the post I needed and it could not have come at a better time for me. Love it!\n<hr />\n<p>lilburne<br />\nRe: Expert Ex-Mormon<br />\nAgain I agree with runtu.</p>\n<p>Surrender, I\'m not talking about not getting angry in this place, venting is not the same as aimlessly mocking, but free speech says that you can say what you like. Behaviour reflects on the individual.</p>\n<p>There\'s no need to assume its people attempting to choose the high road, they are choosing the high road.</p>\n<p>Some people can suck it up and deal with the crap lives bring, others breakdown and can\'t cope. We all respond in different ways - but the outside observer can spot who can hold it together and who can\'t.</p>\n<hr />\nsmo<br />\nRe: Expert Ex-Mormon<br />\nLove ya runtu,<br />\nThanks so much for sharing, you have no idea how much it meant. -smo\n<p>\"Recovery from Mormonism - www.exmormon.org\"</p>\n', created = 1493422998, expire = 1493509398, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '2:1c257dd717db967f15a4b3b42efe6424' in /home/exmormon/public_html/d6/drupal/includes/cache.inc on line 112.

runtu May 2014

Yes, I am an expert in how to leave the church and do it the wrong way. A little background:

I wrote this a while back and thought it might be of some use for people who are new to the board.

I have always been a history and knowledge junkie, and when I worked at the Church Office Building in the early 90s, I would go down to the historical library on my lunch hour and read whatever looked interesting. Around 1995, when I was no longer working for the church, I got invited to participate in an online listserv group, alt.religion.mormon. I moved on to other places, such as the ironically named FAIR board, where I was a defender of the church but tried to be fair and honest and kind with people who disagreed.

In 2005, I took an 8-month break from all Mormon online participation, and during that break, I realized that I’d known for quite some time that the church wasn’t true, but I just hadn’t let myself admit it. Literally, everything fell apart during a phone conversation with a friend who was distraught about Joseph Smith and polyandry.

When I got home, my wife could tell something was wrong, so I blurted out that I didn’t believe in the church anymore. For 2 years I tried to get her to listen to what I knew. I sent her articles, quoted books, asked questions about her beliefs, and generally challenged her as much as I could. Needless to say, we fought for 2 years. My sister, to whom I’ve always been close, began having long conversations with my wife about how to “fix” me. Our marriage nearly broke up, and I sank into a deep depression. In 2007 I attempted suicide and ended up spending 3 days as an unwilling guest of a psych ward in Houston.

That was a turning point for me. I realized that I’d been pushing my wife to hear things she didn’t want to hear, and she had been pushing back just as hard to get me to step back in line. We both changed because of my suicide attempt. We learned that it was OK to disagree, that it was OK for her not to want to know what I knew, and it was OK for me not to bow to her religious wishes.

So, here are some of the things I’ve learned:

1. Why do Mormons take it so personally when you state the facts about their religion?

Mormonism was part of our identity, perhaps even the main part. The LDS church is designed to be the center of a member’s existence; without the church, there would be a huge, gaping hole (which we all experience when we leave). So, whether they realize it or not, most Mormons predictably react as though a criticism of the church is a personal attack on them. No, it’s not rational, and in a perfect world, you could get people to step back and separate the church from themselves. But in reality, they do not draw a distinct line between the self and Mormonism.

2. Why is relatively uncontroversial information so threatening to a lot of Mormons?

The church has done such a great job of packaging its history and doctrines that anything else, no matter how trivial it may seem, is jarring to believers. Take the “rock in the hat” episode. It’s well-established that Joseph Smith used a stone he found in a well to pretend to find buried treasure, long before the Book of Mormon project began. And there is plenty of eyewitness testimony that he used the same stone to “translate” the Book of Mormon. But it’s not part of the approved narrative, so people get horribly offended and assume you’re just telling lies.

3. Why do my family and friends treat me like I’m an enemy?

The church has long taught that people who leave are apostates, and such people are evil. They are the kind of people who killed Joseph Smith. They have evil in their hearts and are motivated by hatred of truth and goodness. Heck, they’ve even had priesthood and Relief Society lessons about us rotten apostates. So, when you challenge their beliefs with new information, they assume that you are attacking them personally, that you are making things up, and that you are doing so in a dishonest attempt to make the church look bad.

4. How do I get through to them?

Unfortunately, the answer generally is that you won’t and can’t. But being confrontational just plays into the church’s script: angry apostate can’t just leave it alone but must attack God’s true religion.

5. So, what should I do?

There’s no right answer, but I’ll tell you what works for me. If I am tempted to discuss my loss of belief with someone I care about, I ask myself two questions: 1) What do I hope to accomplish with this discussion? 2) What is the likely outcome of the discussion? If the answer to 1) is “I just want them to know the truth,” that’s not good enough. The second question comes into play: How likely is it that they are going to know and accept the truth because of your discussion? If it’s unlikely, why bother? In my view, it’s fine to share your feelings and knowledge with anyone you wish, but when it comes to loved ones, make sure you have a definite goal in mind and that your conversation is likely to achieve that goal.

6. How do I convince my family and friends that my unbelief is not a personal attack on them?

This one is simple. As I said in question 1 above, the church makes itself the center of your life, your relationships, your marriage. One day my wife said to me, “Our marriage has always been built on the church and the gospel, so now I wonder what’s left?” I realized that both of us needed to recognize what our marriage was without the church at the center. We discovered that our relationship was about love, commitment, friendship, intimacy, passion, and so on. None of that depended on the church. Once we started focusing on building those non-church aspects, we started to heal as a couple.

You are going to have friends and family who insist on making the church the center of your relationship. If that’s all there is to your relationship, you don’t have a relationship with such people, so there’s no big loss here.

Let them be the nasty ones; let them be the ones who value loyalty to the church over love and truth. Don’t let it be you.

7. Does this mean I have to just shut up and endure the crap from my Mormon friends and family?

No, not at all. But what it does mean is that we must choose our battles wisely. Have you ever known someone who can’t talk about anything other than a specific topic, usually their religion or politics? I had an Aunt Helen who was a Scientologist, and when she visited (thank God she lived in Ohio, and we were in California) all she could talk about was her stupid cult. Pretty much everyone ignored her and avoided contact with her. My father incessantly talks about Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, so I judiciously change the subject because I’ve learned that arguing back is pointless. He’s not changing his mind, and neither am I. I realize that I can’t be the ex-Mormon version of my nutcase aunt because it does no good and just makes people want to avoid me.

Of course, someone inevitably brings up the subject of why I left the church. Again, what I share depends on who I’m with, what I hope to accomplish, and what I expect the outcome to be. My wife doesn’t want to know anything, so if she asks a specific question, I answer succinctly and leave it at that. An old friend of mine was constantly harping on me about my apostasy, but he wouldn’t listen to anything I said but would just argue and call me to repentance. Eventually, I sent him a link to MormonThink.com and told him that I’d rather he educate himself on the issues before we got back into it. To my complete shock, reading that on his own without my interference led him to question everything he believed. If I had kept up the defensive arguments we’d been having, nothing would have changed for either of us.

8. My Mormon friends tell me I’m bitter for being angry. Is it wrong to feel so angry? How do I get past the anger and hurt?

I’ve been told by countless Mormons that it’s wrong to feel angry and hurt, that it just means I’m “bitter.” They say, “You can leave the church, but you can’t leave it alone.” Screw that. Losing your belief is a loss, and that involves grief. Ex-Mormons go through all the stages of grief), and anger is one of those stages. It’s not healthy to suppress that anger. You’ll make yourself crazy. Get it out, but get it out where it won’t damage your important relationships. Message boards, such as the Recovery from Mormonism board, are great places for venting. One thing you’ll notice is that most people post for a few months until the anger passes, and then they move on. There’s no timetable, obviously, but the anger does subside. The time to talk to your family about your beliefs is not when you are angry and hurt.

So, what’s happened since 2007? Well, for one thing I’m not depressed anymore (a good therapist and medication did wonders). My wife and I don’t fight about religion anymore, and I find that I can appreciate the good she gets out of it without forgetting the bad. She understands that I’m sincere in my beliefs and not some evil apostate. My sister, who once thought I had lost my mind, respects my opinion about the church enough to ask me about things she feels she can’t ask other believers. My parents don’t agree with my reasons for leaving, but we have had good conversations about why I believe what I do.

Because I haven’t been in my family’s faces about my beliefs, my children have felt comfortable talking to me about their questions and doubts. Of my 6 kids, 3 were absolutely relieved to know that I don’t believe because they didn’t. One was married in the temple a year ago, though I would say she is very liberal in her understanding of church history and doctrine. The other two haven’t quite decided where they fit.

So, in short:

1. Find non-destructive ways to vent your emotions.
2. Recognize that what you see as truth will likely be seen as an attack by your Mormon friends and family.
3. Choose your battles wisely. Don’t be Aunt Helen.
4. Have a purpose for the information you share.
5. Focus on strengthening the non-church parts of your relationships. Don’t make the church the 800-lb. gorilla in the room.

One last thing:

I’ll bet you’re saying to yourself, “That’s not fair! Mormons get to treat me like crap, and I have to be all nice and forgiving.” No, it isn’t fair. Someone posted yesterday how sad it was that we are grateful for people being less nasty to us. If you need to be nasty to Mormons, join a message board and argue away with believers. But don’t return the nastiness from people who are important in your lives. I often have to remind myself that they are behaving that way because the church taught them to behave that way. That stuff has been pounded into their heads all their lives, and we can’t hold them entirely responsible. To steal a line from the church,if you have to, “Hate the Mormonism, but love the Mormon.”

And by no means am I saying you shouldn’t stand up for yourself. When you are attacked and maligned, you have every right to defend yourself and your beliefs. But be smart about it.

I hope this helps. Like I said, I believe these things work because doing the opposite didn’t work for me and changing my approach has really helped. There are no guarantees, and there are no right answers. Do what you must do, but I hope what I have said helps in some small way.

researcher
Re: Expert Ex-Mormon
Excellent points. I wish I'd known this when a friend of mine got groomed into Mormonism, we might still be "friends."

I agree that Mormonism warps people's basic personalities, turning people into a Mormon-approved version of who they really are. Which is why Mormons will never have real peace in their hearts, because Mormonism will never allow them to be their true selves. Truth is the pathway to peace.

BeenThereDunnThatExMo
Re: Expert Ex-Mormon
Thanks for this hard-fought wisdom Runtu.

It's a confirmation of how i am constantly reminding myself to exemplify "good behavior" around the TBM's i love and care about and especially to "choose my battles" with much wise forethought.

Very much appreciate you sharing this with me / us.

Or so it seems to me...


untethered
Re: Expert Ex-Mormon
Runtu,
I have read a lot of the stuff you have posted over the years, both on the boards and on your blog. I have admired who I perceive you to be. This post is meaningful to me and I feel like telling you I love you, even though that seems weird. But just as a human being, I'm glad you're around. I really am.


runtu
Re: Expert Ex-Mormon
Thank you for that. I don't know you, but I can say I have met so many good people since leaving the church and I have developed a genuine love for them. I feel like I can love people for who they really are, and I can be loved for who I am, without having to meet anyone else's expectations.

So, I may not know you personally, but I love you, too.


lilburne
Re: Expert Ex-Mormon
Great post.

This is why i find all of the name calling and posts mocking TBMs as having learning difficulties or whatever as unhelpful and probably even mean spirited.

Getting angry proves their right in their minds. Yet showing the reality, that most of us were TBMs that were deeply wounded by the discovery of the truth can be far more helpful in my experience. I don't try to force educate, it's a waste of time. Don't play into the stereotype of an anti mormon or you become their self fulfilling prophecy.


Surrender Dorothy
Re: Expert Ex-Mormon
Anger is part of the grieving process. For some people, this is the only place they have to go to vent and express that anger because they are doing exactly what runtu suggests in keeping their interactions with their Mormon family and friends on a more even keel.

People here don't need to put on a happy, shiny, Mormon-approved facade to "prove" Mormons wrong or to shut up the exMo finger-waggers who disapprove of others' allegedly inferior grieving process. The best method for an individual to work through his/her grief is for him/her to decide. It seems it's difficult for some exMos to get off their I'm-superior-to-you-and-KNOW-the-one-true-way-to-do-everything-including-leave-Mormonism high horse.


runtu
Re: Expert Ex-Mormon
Exactly. Anger is part of the process, and it must be dealt with. The trick is getting it out of your system without your loved ones becoming the recipients of the anger. RfM is a great place to express the hurt, the anger, the fear--whatever we're feeling--without damaging IRL relationships.
quinlansolo
Re: Good to see U here again Runtu.....
I didn't know the extent of torture you went through, I am sorry to read them...
But you are a good man for hanging in there for your Family....
Recovered Molly Mo
Re: Expert Ex-Mormon
This was a great post! As another "Expert Ex" I wanted to say THANKS for sharing this!

There were a few bits that jumped out and hugged me!

**most Mormons predictably react as though a criticism of the church is a personal attack on them. No, it’s not rational
...they do not draw a distinct line between the self and Mormonism.

This is so true. I have seen people react more harshly to MY decision of leaving than someone incringing on THEIR territory of home, kids, etc. The defensiveness over my choice was fierce.

***The church has long taught that people who leave are apostates, and such people are evil.

Yep, and as soon as I left. I had people tell me directly they were worried for my immortal soul and that I would become a drunken whore. I was blown away by that one, because it assumed I had no morality without the church.

*** I realized that both of us needed to recognize what our marriage was without the church at the center. We discovered that our relationship was about love, commitment, friendship, intimacy, passion, and so on. None of that depended on the church. Once we started focusing on building those non-church aspects, we started to heal as a couple.

KUDOS to you and your wife! I wish I had this happy ending. My ex TBM spouse saw nothing to hold on to if I was not Mormon.

***You are going to have friends and family who insist on making the church the center of your relationship. If that’s all there is to your relationship, you don’t have a relationship with such people, so there’s no big loss here.

YUP. Well said. It was easy to let go of those shallow relationships. It hurt, but the process of closing the door was simple.

*****Let them be the nasty ones; let them be the ones who value loyalty to the church over love and truth. Don’t let it be you.*****

This was my motto. I had my boundaries, but I was gentle and direct. This attitude served me well, because it brought the nastiest out of the people who were trying to convince me THEY were "Saints". I would point out to them that the only one yelling, angry, etc...was not me.

***I’ve been told by countless Mormons that it’s wrong to feel angry and hurt, that it just means I’m “bitter.” They say, “You can leave the church, but you can’t leave it alone.” Screw that. Losing your belief is a loss, and that involves grief. Ex-Mormons go through all the stages of grief), and anger is one of those stages. It’s not healthy to suppress that anger. You’ll make yourself crazy. Get it out, but get it out where it won’t damage your important relationships. Message boards, such as the Recovery from Mormonism board, are great places for venting. One thing you’ll notice is that most people post for a few months until the anger passes, and then they move on. There’s no timetable, obviously, but the anger does subside. The time to talk to your family about your beliefs is not when you are angry and hurt.***

Everyone going thru the process should print that statement out and carry it in their wallet, tape on your mirror, etc.

RMM


brandywine
Re: Expert Ex-Mormon
Runtu,
Thank you so much for sharing. This post meant so much to me. I am so grateful for you sharing your wisdom.

Kendal Mint Cake
Re: Expert Ex-Mormon
Runtu - your post has really made me think - especially the "hate mormonism but love the person" bit. It often takes love and patience to help people out of the church, rather than just bombarding them with facts.


runtu
Re: Expert Ex-Mormon
In my experience, it also takes stepping back and letting people get there on their own.

With my wife, for example, I finally had to let go and realize that she doesn't want to know what I know, that she's happy in the church and has no interest in leaving. That was hard to do, but eventually I learned I had to be happy to let her be who she is.


Kendal Mint Cake
Re: Expert Ex-Mormon
I find stepping back extremely difficult with my closest TBM relative. You've reminded me that I should tread more sensitively. With the other TBM relatives it's still a polite ignore the elephant in the room situation, even though they've been sneakily trying to indoctrinate our children. Mormonism stops you from having normal natural honest relationships. I'm sick of it. Thank goodness for this Board!


runtu
Re: Expert Ex-Mormon
It's extremely difficult, especially if they keep pushing. I've found it better to have natural relationships with people who are willing and able to have such relationships. With people who keep pushing, openly or sneakily, I just keep the interaction to the minimum required. And I let a lot slide that I wouldn't have a few years ago. Like I said, I choose my battles.

expatexmo
Re: Expert Ex-Mormon
Runtu,

That you could get thru all you've been thru and stay with your wife is so inspiring.

The ability to let others walk their path even when it conflicts with ours and yet walk together - wow. I chose to join my husband in leaving...years later, and in some respects I admire your wife's choice to as that too is hard. Thank you for sharing your expert advice. Pure gold. xx


redpillswallowed
This was perfect for me right now. Thank you!
I'm still learning the 'dos and don'ts' of interaction with all of my TBM family. This was just the post I needed and it could not have come at a better time for me. Love it!

lilburne
Re: Expert Ex-Mormon
Again I agree with runtu.

Surrender, I'm not talking about not getting angry in this place, venting is not the same as aimlessly mocking, but free speech says that you can say what you like. Behaviour reflects on the individual.

There's no need to assume its people attempting to choose the high road, they are choosing the high road.

Some people can suck it up and deal with the crap lives bring, others breakdown and can't cope. We all respond in different ways - but the outside observer can spot who can hold it together and who can't.


smo
Re: Expert Ex-Mormon
Love ya runtu,
Thanks so much for sharing, you have no idea how much it meant. -smo

"Recovery from Mormonism - www.exmormon.org"