I read that this morning over on the Recovery from Mormonism message boards. Yes, the author tells a harrowing story (a lot of Mormon stories are harrowing), but I can’t relate to the idea that the religion can destroy you. Yes, it can cause a ton of damage and pain, and it is devastating to realize that it just isn’t true.
But it can’t destroy you–unless you let it. I came up with a bad joke today:
What’s the difference between Mormonism and a Dementor?
One is a hideous creature that sucks all the joy out of your soul, and the other is a fictional character in the Harry Potter books.
All kidding aside, no one can take your soul away from you. No one, no organization can take what is uniquely you away from you, unless you give your soul to them. But even then, you can take it back. I gave forty years of my life to Mormonism. I believed in it, heart and soul. I had a testimony. And I did everything I was asked to do. I made decisions based not on what I wanted to do, but rather on what I had been told I should do. And I regret a lot of those decisions.
But they never got me. When I left, I took ownership of my life again. I had to dig deep down and figure out just what I believed in and what my morals and values were. It was easy as a Mormon to simply adopt the teachings and beliefs and values we were taught. We didn’t even have to think about it. I suspect that a lot of Mormons wouldn’t have a problem with legalizing same-sex marriage if the church had not taken a position. Think about it this way: if the church had come out in support of same-sex marriage, very few Mormons would have voiced any objections.
So, the process of taking your life back involves making your own decisions and learning that certain things are right because they are right, not because someone standing a pulpit in Salt Lake City told you they were right. You realize that you don’t have to believe that it’s OK for a prophet to marry teenagers and married women behind his wife’s back. You can admit that it’s wrong, and you don’t have to make any more excuses.
I honestly felt like my life was over when I admitted to myself that Mormonism is not and never was true. But I have a life. I enjoy my life, and in many ways my life is richer and fuller now than it was when I was a believing high priest in the LDS church. My life is better because it is my life. Not theirs. That they couldn’t destroy.