Everyone who leaves the church has an extraordinary journey. The kind of journey that should be made into a Focus Feature Film with slow emo music and contrasting dark and bright lighting. Although all of our stories are different there are a few common experiences. So without further ado I wanted to introduce the 7 stages of leaving the Mormon church.
#1 The Big Bang: You’re on the threshold of a nervous breakdown. You have done everything right. You are trying to "feel" the spirit but the pressure to satisfy your innocuous curiosity finally gets the better of you. You want to know (definitively) why you must live this way. The fear of the bishop is just not strong enough to stop you.
#2 The Never Ending Story: Your head is spinning as your eyes scan page after page of history. You cross reference everything you have ever learned at church with the facts you have now discovered. You spend hours reading and neglect your responsibilities. You keep going over it again and again. How could they do this? How could you be so blind?
#3 The Experiments: Eventually you toss the books aside and, like a maimed corpse, you just can't look at it anymore. Though it takes time, you eventually start getting your life back together. You can't get the thoughts out of your head. You try and bite your tongue but you can't help it. Everything you say is laced with bitterness about the church. You can't even look at a temple without putting one finger in the air.
#4 Survivors Guilt: You wake up and look at all of your Mormon friends. Your heart breaks as you watch them struggling with all these "problems" put on them by church culture. Dating and marriage seem to be the only things they can think about. You wonder what made you so special that you got out, and perhaps even try desperately to help them. Send them links to website or post things on Facebook. It won’t matter though, they won’t listen. Your life is still a mess of cognitive dissonance but at least you see the light at the end.
#5 Hey I'm Normal!: You start to meet other people. Many of whom have never heard of Mormonism. You mouth runs wild with stories of your crazy cult up-bringing. You enjoy the attention but feel alone. These people really can't understand you. You may start to miss your old Mormon community. But soon realize going back is not an option for you. You go out of your way to meet other Ex-Mormons like yourself. They are the only people who can understand what you have been though...at least that's what you think.
#6 Oh I'm Normal: You have learned to control your motor mouth about the church. Slowly a night drinking at the bar does not feel so out of place. You realize that though many people won’t understand the constraints of Mormonism they do know what it is like breaking away from expectations. You still have much to learn about the real world but at least you feel like you belong.
#7 Somewhat Freedom The dust is settling in your life. You have begun to think of Mormonism as something in your past. It will occasionally creep in but you are learning to pacify your anger towards the church. You still feel bad for those who are still trapped but you have so many new friends that it lessens the pain. You remind yourself you were smart enough to question. You were strong enough to fight back. You were brave enough to stand tall. Not everyone can be as brave as you