Welcome to My Continuing Online Journey!

Perhaps you've read my book by now, or maybe you've only heard of it and were curious about me, or maybe you're even just surfing the web and happened on one of my posts, but please take your time and wander around. I've got enough to say, I'll be posting for some years yet! Lots of resources, personal entries, and discussion to be had; please contribute (respectfully) to it without fear of being lambasted. (Read: all comments will be moderated for relevance and basic appropriateness.) Finally, if you are here because you have heard my story or one like it and are willing to lend your support to us indoctrinated folk entering the real world, Thank You. With love, Regina

Friday, June 28, 2013

Coming Out of the Closet

Yup, I did it. I came out of the proverbial no-longer-a-Mormon closet...on facebook, of all places. Curious? I thought you might be...but only because I'm nigh unto obsessed with people's "I'm leaving" manifestos. So...enjoy?


While it's likely no great surprise to anyone, it is important to my sanity to disclose that I'm leaving the Mormon church. Because I know what this means to members (having been one my whole life!) I apologize for any emotional upset this may cause...though I cannot apologize for leaving.

I realize many will believe they saw it coming; already I have been told that I left "because I'm a pothead," because I have a proclivity for sin (as evidenced by my wigs, shoes, and now my bare shoulders), because I'm lazy in seeking a testimony, because I've been offended by gossip, or because I "think too much." To those people, the truth won't matter, but for those to whom my thoughts and feelings mean something (which I assume is why you're reading this, and consequently, THANK YOU), I would like to explain my struggle.

I was born and raised in the church to convert parents...which actually made being Mormon pretty easy. My dear parents have always respected the individuality of their children and allowed us to be who we were, provided we were good and kind people. I am grateful for how they raised me, and I think I'm much better off than some of my peers as a result.

At almost 8, I hesitated to be baptized because I hadn't felt a spiritual prompting about the "truth" of the church. After much counsel, I did as I was supposed to do, hoping the feeling would come later. At 13, I prayed to know that the BoM was true and get my promised Moroni 10:4 answer...and received no reply. I figured Joseph Smith got his revelation at 14, and should try again then...but we didn't study the BoM in seminary 'til I was 15, so I waited, read, studied, and prayed. No answer. I tried again at 18 and 19 at BYU, (two separate BoM classes) and at 21 and 23 (right before I got temple-married), and hoped my answer would come...but after going through the temple, I still felt no spiritual confirmation. But I kept trying! I served as a YW president, Gospel Essentials teacher, and finally as a Gospel Doctrine teacher for 2 years, hoping that 20 hours/week studying would prove to God that I was ready to receive a testimony. Instead, 2 years of studying brought up serious issues...everything from a sadistic OT God to conflicting NT accounts to additional conflicts in the BoM, D&C, and Pearl of Great Price. So I went to CHURCH LITERATURE to find answers...and what I found caused my doubts to spiral out of control. I had no one to turn to as I watched the entire foundation of my life unravel...and not because "Satan" had gotten to me, but because I was finally willing to seek and find truth instead of confirmation for beliefs I'd been born to.

Trust me when I say it was the SINGLE HARDEST THING I've EVER done. Unless you've been there, you cannot imagine what it is to realize that everything you had ever been taught and ever believed was NOT true, as you'd been assured...and worse, that to give it up meant potentially sacrificing everything and everyone in your life that meant something. My marriage nearly ended, my children would've been caught in the middle, I've already had friends turn away from me (because my ENTIRE social network is LDS), and I've faced the possibility of disappointing extended family to a point of no return...all while trying to figure out what IS true.

See, whether Jesus is the Savior or not, He said something awesome: that the truth would make us free. I sought the truth, yearned for it, and - this is key! - I was willing to follow that truth wherever it led, even if it meant sacrificing everything I held dear.

If you were to ask yourself the same question I asked myself when I began to scrutinize my faith the way I've asked others to scrutinize theirs in the past - Hypothetically speaking, if my religion were not true, would I want to know? - I wonder what your answer would be? It's not as easy as you think. When you're Mormon, it's your entire world, and in my case, all I'd ever known. It would be SO MUCH EASIER to "just believe", considering how much I had invested...but God made me as I am with the brain He's given me, and I couldn't just shelve it and "have faith." But that meant I had to study and learn and be willing to accept things I might not like about my faith.

And there are lots of things. I won't bother with them - if you're devoted, they won't matter, and if you're not, you can find a wealth of them on your own from books on your shelves! - but many really got me down. I was told the feelings of grief and anger I was experiencing were Satan, but that wasn't true; in fact, it's what my therapist (because yes, it's hard enough to leave Mormonism that I need a therapist!) terms "Adjustment Disorder," and being both mad and sad come with the territory.

I was informed the other day that the church is about to "come out" with some glossed-over talks and essays that deal with some of the historical and modern issues those of us leaving tend to have with the church. I confess, I appreciate that; my world might not have unraveled so quickly had I known that Joseph Smith was both polygamous and polyandrous, or that the church had the "translated" pages from the Book of Abraham that actually were simply from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, or exactly what current church finances entail, general authority pay, City Creek Mall and all. I hope those talks help other people continue to live happily Mormon if they choose, and that they help others be more educated about the foundation of their faith so they can make an educated choice about whether or not to stay. After all, you don't know what you don't know. You may think you know everything, but BOY, is it freeing to accept that you don't!!!

Please know that I feel no ill will toward the general membership. Many of the Mormons I know are among the very best people on earth. I may be a bit angry, but not at you guys...it's at the organization, and I CAN and DO separate the two. I don't judge you for believing...but I ask that you do not judge me for leaving. I assure you, pot, wigs, tank tops, coffee, laziness, and a bit of obnoxious (but sometimes justified!) gossip really has nothing to do with it. I only seek the truth, and I cannot find it in the church. It sure would be easier if I could, though!

So what am I looking for? Very few people want to engage in conversation about all this, and I get it, but I'm open to it. I'll try not to vent on FB anymore, but can't totally guarantee it. (Just hide me!)  I don't need any more Ensign articles to read; they're over-simplified and frankly insulting. I also don't need to be convinced, or to have you bear your testimony. I love you, and I appreciate that that shows how much you love and value me, but I'm well-decided. I haven't removed my name from the rolls, and don't currently plan to, but again, I'm done. Don't blame yourself. Don't blame anyone else. This is my choice, and I make it freely. Please leave my parents be. If you know the gospel, you know they're hurting and don't need any reminders that I'm "lost", nor do they need assurances that my free will will be overridden if they endure faithfully to the end. Just love them.

And know that I'm okay. In fact, I'm happy! I know I get angry or sad about all this sometimes, but that's normal. My world was turned upside down, and it's okay for me to struggle with that. The reality is, though, that my life is better and happier and more honest and more free now than it's ever, ever been, and I have the support of a spectacular husband and wonderful children, a loving extended family (on both sides!) who continue to support me, and most of all, I'm being true to truth wherever I find it, including being flexible enough to change my understanding of truth when more or greater truth comes along. I'm learning at the speed of light, and the world seems so infinitely much more beautiful and marvelous and amazing than it ever has. It's like I'm a kid in a candy store, and God, if He/She/It is there, has given me His credit card. ("Hey, check that out! QUANTUM PHYSICS!!! Ooh, and Buddhism! And...and...plant biology!!!")

Love to you all, and if you've stayed with me this long, thank you. I'm good. In fact, I'm GREAT, and I'm happy and in love with my husband and still doing my darnedest for my children, and still a moral, ethical human being with a capacity for love and learning that I've heretofore never known was possible. Life is beautiful. Thank you for being part of mine.

Yup, that's it. That's me. I'm out, I'm done, and I'm relieved. No, I can't imagine what it's like to have to come out of the closet as a homosexual, which must be infinitely harder in many respects, but I imagine it's at least a little bit like coming out as a now-non-member: some will curse you, some will come to your defense, but most just shrug and say "We figured that one out already." In other words, it's QUITE the experience, and I'm glad it's done.

Does this mean I'm going to tell you my real name? No. I'm getting there, true, but I'm still not ready to be ex'd, so I'm holding off for now...but it's coming. I swear, it's coming. Just hang in there with me a little longer. Love to all, Regina

Tuesday, June 4, 2013