Trauma

Yesterday I was talking to my wife, who had been to see a therapist, and the therapist had said it was important for survivors of trauma to recognize what traumas they have had in their lives. So the therapist said to list all the episodes in life that still cause you pain. I was thinking about this all last night and into this morning. I could think of a few things, such as being alone and afraid at night in the hospital as a small boy and the day my brothers died.

But it hit me this morning that the worst trauma that still causes me pain is discovering that the faith I had carried for forty years was misplaced. I’ve talked before about how I found I couldn’t rationalize my belief in Mormonism anymore, and it was devastating. It still is.

I came home that day, and my wife immediately knew something was wrong. I blurted out, “I don’t believe the in church anymore,” and that began three years of a cycle of hurt and guilt, fighting and sneaking around, none of which was healthy. But really it all stems from the pain I was experiencing, the sadness, the loss.

The worst thing about it was that I couldn’t talk to anyone I loved about it. I suppose I was not giving them enough credit, but when I did try to talk about it with my wife and with my parents and sister, the emotions were so raw that it always ended up with hurt feelings all around. So I retreated into blogging and posting on Internet message boards, but I kept the hurt inside around my family. Every so often it will spill out, and there would be a big fight. These fights were never good. Once I almost packed up my things and left, and another time I ended up attempting suicide.

But I’m still here. I was reading today about acknowledging the hurt before you can deal with it, and I think that’s part of my problem. Sometimes I’m asked why I can’t just get past it and move on with my life. I think it’s because, in spite of everything, I have never really dealt with the hurt.

Honestly, losing my faith felt like I had died inside. It still gives me a stomach ache to think about it. Only once did I allow all the emotions to come out, and I remember lying alone on the bed, sobbing harder than I ever had. It hurts so much to know that what I believed in isn’t real. And yes, it does make me angry, but as my wife tells me, the anger is probably just a way of expressing the hurt.

So, yes, I will get over it eventually, but somehow I have to reach inside and deal with the hurt. Maybe acknowledging it is a start.

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8 Responses to Trauma

  1. Aubuchon says:

    Runtu,

    Hugs, It is good to acknowledge the pain, the hurt. It is a first step. I’m proud of you.

  2. Grégoire says:

    I’ll be honest and admit that I just don’t understand the pain some feel when leaving Mormonism. Perhaps it’s because I never really believed it.

    I still consider myself a Mormon (I call myself a secular Mormon, the way Mo Udall did) but I have absolutely no interest at all in the LDS church, and for the most part I’m just glad to be away from it all.

    Anyway, here’s hoping you and others will join me in totally abandoning it soon. Life in the real world is pretty fookin’ great, and I wouldn’t go back for, well, anything really.

  3. Lamanite says:

    Hey man,

    As Steuss would say, ” eat some chocolate”. Preferably Kahlua chocolates or Rum Chocolates. Or just skip the chocolate and drink the Rum and Kahlua together. You might as well get to enjoy being a heretic. 🙂

    Seriously, it just seems like you’re going through the grieving process. Maybe you could write a letter to the First Presidency and just unload. It might help with the anger and the acceptance. Write a letter to God. Write a letter to Mitt Romney. Just do something and be done. Don’t sit in your own shit too long.

    You’re wife will probably not approve, but one of the greatest pleasures in all the world is Hennessy Cognac and a Cuban Cohiba (if you haven’t smoked before just buy something cheap cuz you won’t be able to tell the difference.) Or order a nice buttery Halibut with a glass of Chardonnay from a Restaurant that’s way too expensive. Maybe start swearing excessively. Smile man you followed your heart and now you’re liberated!

    Bottom line. Celebrate your decision. Grieve and get over it. And then just be happy.

    Big UP!

    Lamanite

    P.S. If you really do buy some Hennessy, pour a little out for me.

  4. MK says:

    well my most recent rebellion is my new Xbox live gamertag, Tommy Monson. Now when I kill people, it shows up as you were killed by Tommy Monson.

  5. Simeon says:

    I understand exactly where you are at Runtu. I’ve been experiencing that same pain for the last 3 years. The anger has more or less left the picture, but the pain remains. My brother Ishmael and my other siblings that have since left are not experiencing the pain to the same degree. I think part of it has to do with the fact that they don’t live in Mormon homes with Mormon children to worry about. They’ve been able to excommunicate themselves from everything Mormon. Without removing ourselves fully from a Mormon family and lifestyle, the pain will probably rear it’s ugly head from time to time.

  6. MikeP says:

    Hi Runtu: Losing one’s religion is indeed one of the most traumatic experiences that a person can go through in life and it is real, often times it unravels other issues in the person’s life that might complicate dealing with the original issue (losing one’s religion) because of all the repercutions it carries with family, friends, social circles, etc. I was told by a friend to recognize the pain and even if no one else could possibly understand it never feel like my feelings were invalid. It takes time, but even tually there will be a day when you’ll feel different about it and all will be better, you’ll see.

  7. Sillymo says:

    Hi runtu,

    I enjoy reading your story. I hope the following quotes ease your pain.

    “Unless your heart, your soul, and your whole being are behind every decision you make, the words from your mouth will be empty, and each action will be meaningless. Truth and confidence are the roots of happiness.”

    “The first reaction to truth is hatred”
    Tertullian

    “The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”
    Thucydides

    “The truth is not for all men, but only for those who seek it.”
    Ayn Rand

    “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
    Kahlil Gibran

  8. rebecca says:

    It is! Acknowledging it is HUGE!

    It’s super rough when there’s something so huge and you feel like you can’t talk to anyone about it.

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