A year later, yes, I'm still not Mormon

I had the closest thing I've ever had to a panic attack last night. It's actually a little unsettling how close I've felt to losing it - again - all day today. Fortunately, my sweet boyfriend was with me at the time. I think it freaked him out a bit (it freaked me out too!), but he let me cry and wiped my tears and listened and put his arms around me while I hyperventilated.

He even offered to take me to Canada, which made me smile, mostly because that was exactly what I wanted. To escape.

I think the attack was precipitated by the slow cumulation of mini-stressors, including incidents like the following:

A couple weeks ago, while talking with a loved one, the individual began to cry and told me they still loved me but missed the "old Sarah." I reminded the individual that the old Sarah was very unhappy. They knew. And I understood. But I didn't know what else to say. And it put a damper on my morning, to say the least.

Yesterday, while spending time with another loved one, the individual told me that the seeming 360-degree change I've made during the last year is surreal, and that they and others who love me constantly feel worried for me and don't approve of the decisions I'm making. They also suggested that my therapist did her best to convince me that I should leave the church, which I found highly offensive considering I was already inactive when I started therapy, we hardly talked about my relationship with the church, and I consider myself smart enough to have made the decision on my own.

Shortly after that conversation, I came across a gift left for me from another close loved one: a conference Ensign, with love, and a p.s. about the person's favorite session. I returned the gift with another post-it: Thank you, but I'm really not going to read it. Love, Sarah.

Damn it, I know better! N O T H I N G could ever entice me to look for wisdom or understanding from leaders or teachings of Mormonism.

It just SUCKS to realize that those who've loved me the longest would rather have me be insecure, unfulfilled, lonely, and depressed, but "SAFE" sharing their same perspective -- than accept me as the confident, happy, and self-determined woman I am as an atheist.

I know most who might read this blog understand what I'm talking about, and that many of you have endured far worse. I'm finally getting a clue of what you've gone through too. I've been brainstorming for my resignation letter...I find that makes me feel better.


Urban Koda said...

In many ways I think Mormonism is like a drug. I think the manipulation and other techniques used to keep everyone in line have a physical chemical reaction in our bodies, and so when we leave, it's not just emotional and spiritual pain we feel, but there is a very real withdrawal process which has to take place as well.

As my wife and I have struggled with leaving, occasionally we'll have similar experiences, and in those times, we just have to remind ourselves that 30 years of brainwashing takes a while to work it's way out.

Glad to hear your boyfriend was able to help you through it too! The blogosphere is a huge support, but a virtual hug only does so much!

Reuben said...

arah, I hope you are remembering to have the same respect for those that DO believe that you'd like them to have for your decision NOT to believe. I'm sorry your friends and family are having a hard time respecting your new belief system. I am sure it's very frustrating for everyone.

I am a little concerned about your decision to return the Ensign. It's fine if you don't want to read it, but I hope you are fighting to retain as many of your friendships as possible. Is it possible your friend was just as offended by your actions as you were by theirs?

I'm not sure I really understand what you mean with this paragraph:
"Damn it, I know better! N O T H I N G could ever entice me to look for wisdom or understanding from leaders or teachings of Mormonism." One of the most frustrating parts of Mormonism is that some members of the church dismiss anything produced by any other church or belief system. I'm sure I don't need to tell you how frustrating the closed-mindedness and "we're always right" mentality espoused by some church members is. Equally closed-minded, however, is the person who believes that all of Mormonisms teachings are automatically wrong or of no value - just because of their association with Mormonism.

simplysarah said...

Hey Reuben! It's been a while. :)

Yeah, I feel like I've been trying to be respectful of other's beliefs but the mental gymnastics of "Ok, what am I allowed to say this time?" is definitely wearing on me.

It was the third ensign I've received from that person in the last seven months or so. I accepted the previous 2, but it's getting to the point where I simply don't want to encourage false hope.

You are right - some teachings of Mormonism have value. There is no way I'd be the person I am without my mormon upbringing. But the main reason I looked to the leaders for wisdom previously was because I believed they had authority. Now that I don't believe they have the same authority, I prefer what seem to me more credible sources of wisdom. Of which there are plenty out there.

It doesn't even make sense to me that I would take one person's word against another person's evidence. I'll take the word backed by more than anecdotal evidence.

Dave P. said...

I recently asked to be released from a calling that I've come to really dislike and, frankly, felt like the only reason I got it was because I was the only person to ever show up for said activities on time. I don't have the charisma to be in a leadership position and would rather do things behind the scenes anyway, but when there are several weeks where everything falls on my shoulders, it's hard to continue to give the gift without doing so "begrudgingly."

Lisa said...

just found your blog :D

same boat. kind of. so far my husband's family (i'm a convert) have been pretty laid back. his father makes comments about every time we see him, but everyone else (it seems) either totally respects our decision or is just waiting for "the phase" to pass. we'll probably be writing our letter sometime soon. just want the both of us to be ready at the same time and so far we haven't.

oh--just in case you haven't seen this hilarious letter, go here. I'm considering something of a similar sort.

anyway, we let his family and our friends bear their testimony to us and all that, but we draw the line when they decide they know why we left.

My husband's grandfather gave us a subscription to the ensign before we decided to stop going completely. pretty much goes from the mailbox to the trash. i just can't do it.