Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Don't Let the Door Hit You On Your Way Out...

Last night, stricken with insomnia, I was browsing the boards at Recovery From Mormonism (I think), and came across a thread where the original poster was asking what prepared people for their ultimate exit from TSCC.

That got me to thinking. What got me prepared? Because finding out Joseph Smith wasn't the gilded saint that he is proclaimed to be by the morg was just the last straw, not the first one.

One of the straws was my sisters, and when I say sisters, I mean not only those who are born or adopted into my family, but my closest and dearest friends. I had a crisis of faith several years ago, and managed to pull through it thanks in no small part to my husband.  But my sisters taught me to speak up for myself, to explore, to find things out on my own instead of letting people spoon-feed me pablum (ahem, milk before meat, anyone?).

Another straw was, yes, I was offended.  Deeply offended, in fact. On its own, it was not enough to get me to leave, but it definitely got me partly out the door.  It offends me (heh) when TBM's automatically assume that people leave the church either because they were offended, or because they want to sin.  But I can't help but wonder why that's a problem if it is part of the reason.  One of my sisters (A.) moved in with me and my husband back in '04, I think. No one in my family wanted me to let her move in, due to her habit of using people and her drug habit, among other things, but I stood firm.  I flew out to Utah and drove back with her. She was pregnant, and initially indicated that she wanted me to adopt the baby.  Then she was going to place him for adoption through LDS social services. Then she was going to keep it.  Through all of that, I consistently told her to do what she felt best about, and I'd support her. Yes, I'd have loved to have a baby. But if she felt that he would be better off in another family, I didn't have a problem with that at all.  Anyway, she decided to move back to Utah before she gave birth, because, she said, she didn't want me to bond with him afterward only to have my heart broken when she ultimately moved out, as would happen eventually. And I supported her.  Then on Father's Day that year I called my stepfather (hereafter referred to as The Whale, for reasons that will amuse my sister E.) to wish him a happy father's day, only to be informed that (a) my A. had given birth; (b) the adoptive parents were at the hospital with them; and (c) the adoptive parents were from my ward. It turned out that not only were the adoptive parents from my ward, the father was our home teacher.  Yes, the home teacher whom I had told before A. moved out with us that she was going to let us adopt the baby, the home teacher who knew how heartbreaking the infertility nightmare had been for us, the home teacher who, coincidentally, quit coming to visit our home.  Let me be perfectly clear: I was NOT offended that A. placed the baby for adoption, even with that family. I WAS offended that neither A. nor LDS social services nor our home teacher bothered to tell us. I don't know the reasoning. All I can tell you was that I would have recognized that baby the first time I laid eyes on him, as he looked exactly like his half-sister. Finding out the way I did devastated both me and my husband. I didn't talk to A. for a year, and when I was ready to talk to her, she got killed in a horrible chain of circumstances that I will not go into here and now.  So yes, there was deep offense because of that. And I don't think it's wrong for me to have been offended. It was painful beyond anything I can describe.

Another straw was me finding my own voice. Previous to and immediately after the IVF failed, and I lost my babies, I was trying to be perfect. I mistook the culture of the church for the gospel and doctrine of the church. So I tried to be Molly Mormon incarnate. I had cutesy crafty crap all over my house. I can't bear to look at photos of myself from that era, because they make me gag.  But one Sunday, post IVF failure, I was sitting by myself in sacrament meeting, listening to another excruciatingly boring talk. All of a sudden I felt this burst of inspiration, and I got out a pen and scribbled all over the sacrament meeting program.  Basically I was told to quit wasting my time waiting for something that might never happen (I'd put off a good many things because I was "going to be pregnant then, and would have to give it up/drop out/etc."), and figure out what I wanted and do it.  I realized that I loathed all the cutesy crafty crap, and got rid of it, much to my husband's dismay. I threw out the clothing that made me look like I don't know what, but anything but attractive.  I hung a Picasso print in my bathroom and a Dali print in my hall. I wore leopard print skirts and/or scarves. I changed my name (a process that took several years, and was finalized by my incredibly awesome sisters as a birthday gift a few years ago). And I started speaking up for myself.  Needless to say, all of my so-called morg friends, with two notable exceptions, dumped me.

Another straw is people's judgments of my husband.  Now he drives me up the fucking wall, and I'm still trying to figure out a way that we can amicably separate and probably divorce. But, and this is a huge but, I really, really love him. He's got some issues that make being married to him painfully difficult, issues that have garnered some really negative judgments from people who claim to be holy and worthy of temple recommends and worthy to become gods and goddesses in the mormon celestial kingdom.  As he used to frequently say, in regards to why he doesn't go to church, who wants to hang out with people who hate you? Does this come under the "being offended" category? If it does, then two strikes there. We're offended.

Some other straws include how horribly boring the meetings are, how you have no input as to where you worship, the stupid word of wisdom that prohibits some things that have actually been scientifically proven to be good for you, but the members focus on those clearly delineated things and ignore the things that really would make them far more healthy (every now and then I'd do a homemaking class on vegetarian meals, and no one came to them).

The final straws, as I say, were the things I just recently discovered. Joseph Smith being a sexual predator and a hebephile. The fact that the book of mormon was not "translated" per the images presented by the church, but by Smith sticking his head in a hat. The fact that the book of mormon was not "translated" at all, but written by Smith and perhaps others, and plagiarized from other sources. The lying under oath pertaining to plural marriages. Changing doctrine. Changing the temple ceremonies. Changing the text in the book of mormon. The poor treatment of women and blacks and homosexuals. The church overstepping its boundaries as a religious/charitable organisation and doing everything possible to push prop h8 through (I still want to know why it hasn't lost its tax exempt status over that).  The fact that while there are people in the world who have no food, no clothes, no shelter, and instead of feeding, clothing, and sheltering them, TSCC is spending billions of dollars on malls, temples which are so poorly attended as to make them serious leeches of funding, luxury condos, etc. There are more straws, and the more I study and learn, the more straws I will find. But they won't matter, because this camel's back has been broken and I will never believe in the morg or TSCC or Joseph Smith as anything but a loathsome person who perpetuated great evils.

I'm finding myself moving more and more to an agnostic point of view.  I don't presume to know or understand the nature of a god, if god there be. I see people doing good, even those who aren't motivated by fear or pride, and I see people doing evil, even those who proclaim to worship their god. If there is a god truly telling people to do such evil things, then I want no part of that god. I remember in the last book of the Narnia series, where a warrior from the bad guys is in heaven, searching for his god, and Aslan tells him that no good deeds can be done in that god's name, just as no evil deeds can be done in Aslan's name, so that goodness brings you to Aslan and evil takes you to that other god. So I'll just keep doing my best to do good according to the dictates of my conscience, and hope that whatever god there be, if there is one, will account them to my credit in the reckoning of my life.


  1. I used to believe that I studied my way out. But I think it's fair to say I was offended too. I was offended by the pre-metabolic syndrome and Type II Diabetes folks who snobbishly judged and assumed they were more righteous than coffee drinkers. I was offended when they didn't like my healthy smoothies at an RS activity because they didn't have any sugar in them. I watched one woman who was Type II waiting to happen pour 1/2 cup of refined sugar in a 12 ounce smoothie. Blech.

    So many other examples. But most of all I was offended when I learned my trusted church leaders had carefully fed me only the "useful" truths. Assholes.

  2. Yeah, I'd say I stopped participating in religion because I was offended too. I'm offended by illogical sexism and homophobia. I'm offended by a God who commands and commits and approves of genocide and other atrocities. I'm offended by people who say that other people are going to hell for using a condom to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. I'm offended by people who proclaim the evil of abortion while simultaneously supporting sex ed policies that lead to unwanted pregnancies, sexual abuse, and bad relationships. I'm offended by people who say they're pro-life but advocate for broader use of the death penalty. I'm offended by people who claim to believe in Jesus' teachings but who actively oppress and abuse minorities, the poor, the imprisoned, infants, and children. I'm so offended, it makes me sick.

  3. I've been following your blog for a bit. Can't remember how I got here. I, too have gone from Mormon to agnostic. I just wanted to say that I'm so sorry for the pain you went through with the IVF failure and the people who betrayed you.

    The things you say resonate here. I was on my way out before I came across the disturbing historical facts. They were just the last straw.

  4. Great post. I can relate so totally with all the straws. Being born and raised as a Mormon, I just went along for far too many years even though I had many issues from my teenage years on. And yet, I stayed until I was 52 years old. Although there were many straws over the years, which included the way in which women are treated, Blacks and the Priesthood (which was a big thing for me back in the day), Polygamy (or rather its whitewashed version), and some other doctrinal types of things, my final straw was the history of the church itself. I didn't discover the truth about the history of the church until the Summer of 2001 when I went on a Mormon Church History Tour with my then-husband. Before going, I decided to do some research so I would know more about what happened in key places (since I hadn't studied that much growing up)... and that was the beginning of the end for me. While uncovering the sordid details behind it all, I became more and more upset that I hadn't studied this much earlier in my life, that I had just gone along for so many years, essentially wasting my life on a religious organization that plays so fast and loose with the truth. Once I decided that I couldn't be associated with such a religous organization any longer, I continued doing research... and in the process discovered Polyandry, which completely sickened me, making me almost physically ill. Of course, I could go on and on, but I think you get the drift.

    In the process of all this, my marriage broke up, not specifically because he is TBM and I am not anymore, but also because of many other factors, including the fact that, as it turned out, he is an alcoholic, a porn addict, and a sex addict, but also very TBM. And it really floored me that he could rationalize it all out so much. As I discovered each horrible detail, I would talk to him about what I had found, and he would tell me that he already knew all that stuff and it didn't make any difference. He prescribes totally to the Rough Stone Rolling explanation of Joseph Smith's Prophethood vs. his human nature (which I think it a total cop-out). He was my third and last husband (long story on all three marriages), and I doubt I'll ever get married again. My personal identity was stifled so much over the years, and when I finally found my own voice, I also discovered that I cannot run the risk of ever having it squelched again.

    Good luck in your decision on your marriage. As you can probably tell, I can relate totally to where you're coming from.