“I could give you a long story about how the Mormon church screwed me up, got me so that I needed all the positive feedback coming from them to feel good about myself and so on, but I’ll skip it in the interest of brevity.”
I would be interested in hearing your story, if you are willing to share. My curiosity stems from being raised Mormon. Feel free to e-mail me off list at [address deleted].
Well, let’s see:
It starts when I was 10. My father had gotten a better job in Atlanta and we moved down there from Nashville. There were four of us at that time, me, my mother, father and my 3 year old sister. Mom was pregnant too.
I had always been the odd kid, the one without any friends or companions. I spent my time reading and thinking about the metaphysics stuff my grandmother had been teaching me and some of the truths I had found during that time. I was also effectively raised by my grandmother, whom I had seen everyday after school (I went over to her house till my mother got off work).
I had also been going to a Christian Private School called “Pioneer Christian Academy” and had been learning things like “Pilgrim’s Progress” in Second grade (we read it to reinforce our faith, class project).
Well, the move was traumatic, and I was jealous of my sister and the new baby. Not too long after the move, my mother had her child. Then the missionaries showed up.
We took the classes, listened to the discussions, the movies and so on, and learned about Joseph Smith and so on. I didn’t think anything in particular about the Church, and I didn’t have a voice whispering to me about how the Church was true, or anything like that, but I knew that it was important to my mother. She was in her element. The Relief Society and so on were just what she needed.
So, when Mom decided to join the Church, I did too, to make her happy. I didn’t have any testimony of the Truth or anything like that, but I could fake it with the best of them. The tears and so on, getting choked up at the right time, and the standard stock phrases. I felt so special because here I was as one of about three Mormons in my HS, and I could look down on everyone else for their low moral standards, and I even got to be judgmental of my father because he was a bad man.
See, my father didn’t join the church. He tried to understand and took the discussions, joined in many of the activities, but he had NO feeling of the truth of anything. He drank and smoked, He worked, he really tried to do what the Church told us was “right” but he couldn’t.
Meanwhile, I’m going through puberty. I don’t know how it is with the girl’s side of things, but just about every Priesthood meeting I had to attend had elements of sex in it. How non-marital sex was bad and evil, how masturbation was evil because it killed unborn babies (all that sperm being wasted you know), how feeling like you wanted to touch yourself and make love was of Satan, sent to make you fall away from the Church and so on. I began to have nightmares and I tortured myself for natural sexual urges.
Looking back on it, I was pathetic. I am so angry at the Church and how they take something natural and normal and twist it around into something evil and make you feel guilty over just thinking about having the feeling, much less actually feeling it. I was fascinated/repelled by sex and all the manifestations of it. My mother thought it was simply a phase, but this became an obsession. The best way to get someone obsessed about something is to forbid it. Like “Don’t think of gray elephants”, pretty soon, that’s all you can think about.
So, I wallowed in guilt for about 6 years, my mother and father got divorced (infidelity and non-priesthood holder problems). Come to find out that the professional counselor that they were seeing trying to save their marriage told my mother that if she wanted to save her marriage, to give up the Church. That was a MAJOR sticking point in their problems. Well, no good Mormon would consider that at all, so she got the divorce.
All during this time, I still had no testimony. What I had was no life. Between school, my after-school duties (photo editor on the school paper and only photographer). The Church was starting to eat more and more of my free time. I became the president of the Teacher’s group, and then the Priest’s group. I had activities, bishopric meetings, meetings with the Young Women, dances and mixers with the social side of everything, work in the Washington Temple for the dead, blessings to bestow, boy scouts and many other things. I was doing enough for 5 people, and starting to get stressed out.
That’s when pressure started being put on me to become the “man” of the house. Since my father was no longer in the picture, I was the “priesthood holder” of the family and I was expected to be the MAN. About all I was not expected to do was to have sex with my mother. I was supposed to lead them, teach them, show them by example how GOOD and HOLY I was simply because some person had put his hands on my head. Like it was an automatic thing that I was a good person. I knew that I had a lot of flaws, and I knew that I could not deal with them.
But all of my life had been sublimated into the Church. I lived, ate, breathed, worked, sweated, and did everything I was supposed to do for the Church. All of my thoughts were for the Church, and there were very few that were not of the church. I still didn’t have a testimony, but when I confessed this to the Bishop, he told me to study and pray more, and all would be revealed. But until then what I was doing was good enough.
So then we get into a few other areas, like the fact that I had two female friends in the Church, none of them with the ward I was in, and both of whom were looking at me like I was potential husband material. One eventually got pregnant and left the church in disgrace, the other was a National Guard Reservist and I lost track of her. But the few times I tried to make my interest known to them, either of them, I literally got slapped in the face.
I had women weeping on my shoulder for a broken heart, I was seething with sexual tension, I was hopelessly addicted to both girls, and wanted something that no one would tell me about. Feeling this way was completely my fault, since if I really didn’t want to feel this way I could choose not to. Since I did feel this way, I was wallowing in things of this earth and I was a horrid person to do so.
So, I gradually stopped doing what I should have been doing. I didn’t go to Church as often, I stopped taking on callings, I stopped reading the BoM and the Bible and going to Seminary and so on. It was gradual and a little bit at a time, but it happened.
I was living my life by default, waiting for something to happen to make it “all better”. I thought that would happen after my Mission, after my marriage, after I got laid. I had hoped that would be the case, since I didn’t have the foggiest clue what was going on in my life.
So, I existed in this state for a while, unpopular with the girls at school, unpopular with the girls in Church, and unpopular with just about everyone on my own level of society.
So, at the urging of another Mormon boy, I joined the Army. I got a nice talk from the Bishop, a set of red scriptures (minus the KJV Bible) and was off.
It’s here that this story takes a real bad twist. Five weeks into Basic, the recruits were supposed to get leave to go off base to attend their worship services. Until that time, I had been being ministered to by the local Bishop who would come out to the base to take care of the 14 or so Mormons in our group. Well, the platoon, through some real snafus, didn’t get that permission ever.
Sunday came, and the bishop didn’t show, we called him. There were three of us who didn’t get the Sacrament that day, and we were all upset. He told us that we had permission to go off base. We said that we didn’t and that we couldn’t. He said “oh well. See you when you get off base.”
Which finally broke me out of my trance.
I remembered all the rumors and actions that I had seen and dismissed as being “just” or “deserved” or so on because it’s what the Church said it was supposed to do and be. I knew that details of some parts of the Scripture were being covered up and changed, and I looked at them objectively now.
I never set foot into a Mormon church again.
Looking back, I was just as brainwashed as anyone else in the Morg (degrading nickname for the Mormons, Mormon + Borg = Morg). There was an entire undercurrent of “Pay, Pray, Obey” that sets my teeth on edge now, intentional glossing over of facts, dismissal of any objection being raised as the questioner being unworthy of an answer.
I mean, if they could tell me that my normal human desires were evil and that I should turn to god more, pray more, and study more, what the heck kind of help could they give me for real problems? If they could make me ashamed of myself to the point where I was in a year and a half depression because of how evil I am, what good was it?
It’s taken me 15 years to get over the Morg, and I am still battling portions of it to this day. I was only in the Mormons for about 8 years, and I did it all because I knew my mother would like it. But, my entire identity was tied up in the Church and I HAD to have their approval, just as a starving person needs food, to make me feel good about myself.
I’m part of a list now for those who are recovering from Mormonism, and it’s helping. I recently requested that my name be taken off the rolls of the Church, and I found out that my story is not unique. In fact, looking at it objectively, it’s rather mild compared to some of the horror stories out there.
Such as a woman who lost her husband to suicide because of the doctrine of blood atonement; the woman who was abused every way possible and was told by the bishop that if she learned to cook and dressed sexy for him, things would be fine; the boy who was sexually assaulted by the priesthood leader of the primary classes, and then told nothing happened and to ignore it (the incident was covered up turns out he was a convicted child molester); and many other stories out there similar to these.
There is not one person on the list that can look at the Church and say “Okay, so JS lied and wrote the BOM, he falsified many different documents and that’s okay. The Church is still true.” There is also not one person on that list that doesn’t have a story like this one.
Just to think about. You asked for this. LOL
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