Hey there. How’s it going?
When I left the LDS Church three years ago, I vacillated between feeling great—even euphoric—that I didn’t have to keep grappling to convince myself that false things were true anymore, and feeling deeply hurt after losing my God, my community, and my entire worldview.
I don’t know exactly where you’re at right now, or how you’re feeling, but I do think there are some general trends you’re likely to align with. And whatever’s going through your mind and heart right now—just know that you’re not alone. You’re about to begin a journey that will be yours and yours alone, but one that plenty of us have gone on. You’re going to survive, and you’re going to come out on top—especially if you have that attitude about it all. 😉
In the interest of offering a helping hand and all that jazz, here are four things I want you to know.
Maybe you feel angry. Maybe you don’t know how to even begin telling your loved ones what you’ve been going through and how you feel. Maybe you’re scared shitless. Maybe you feel amazing one day and terrible the next. However you’re feeling, chances are it’s totally normal. Losing your worldview is a big deal, and your brain is going to need some time to recover and unpack your life experiences with this new perspective you’ve gained. You’re likely to experience a whole range of emotions in the coming weeks, months, and even years—and that is, say it with me, NORMAL!
In case you don’t know this already, you are not to blame for losing faith in a demonstrably false church. But if you grew up Mormon, you’ve likely been conditioned since birth to believe that there is no good reason to leave the LDS Church and that Satan is capable of sophisticated trickery, so you might still experience random feelings of guilt and “but what if it IS true?”—even if they don’t make logical sense to you.
You’ve probably seen other people leave the LDS Church, and watched it cause pain to your community. I imagine you hate the thought of putting your loved ones through that pain. But it’s not your fault. You are not responsible for people hurting because you don’t believe something they believe. It still sucks to watch people you care about suffer, but DO NOT blame yourself in any way. Just try to remain loving, and if someone’s treatment of you is damaging, be strong enough to distance yourself from it.
There are certainly strategies I’d advise when talking to Mormons about your faith transition—remaining calm, using a lot of “I feel” statements, and avoiding attempts to convince THEM that the church is false being a few of them. (They will almost certainly double down when confronted with evidence that their beliefs are false.) But at the end of the day, you’re human. Unless you’re an absolute wizard in mindful communication (and are somehow able to emotionally detach yourself from what is likely one of the most emotional things you’ve ever gone through), you’re not going to say all the right things. You’re not going to be able to generate a perfect response in everyone. So don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. Just do your best to be authentic and non-accusatory, and forgive yourself for the ways you will inevitably fall short.
If I could go back in time and tell people I was leaving the LDS Church all over again, I’d do it completely differently. But you learn through experiences, and I don’t think it’s healthy to delay being authentic with your loved ones just because you’re worried you won’t be able to say everything perfectly. (By all means, give yourself the time you need to feel strong and stable enough to enter a potential lion’s den, but don’t burden yourself with the task of becoming a zen master before opening up to people you care about.)
I’m not suggesting that by the time a year or two has gone by you won’t give a flying fuck about Mormonism. I don’t think that’s realistic when it was something that meant so much to you—especially if you grew up in it and it’s still a huge part of your family’s lives. But the more you live your life without Mormonism, the less significant it will feel. You will learn things about yourself and the world that make it seem smaller, and you’ll likely recognize what a tiny drop it is in the ocean of global ideologies.
Now that you’re (hopefully) ready to expand your worldview and learn more about life, here are some books that have made a huge impact on me since leaving religion!
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Idiot Brain: What Your Head Is Really Up To by Dean Burnett
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle