Don’t waste this life worrying about the next.
I’ve been struggling to write this post for a while. Every time I convince myself to be completely open, I shut down and can’t do it. I’ve kept a lot of these things hidden to protect my family from having to know this secret I’ve kept for 17 years, but I just need to let it be. If they see this post, it is what it is. Family, if you do read this, just know I’m okay. I don’t let these things get to me anymore. I don’t really want to talk about it, because I don’t need to. Bringing it up will just trigger me, and none of us need that.
So, here’s my story about leaving the Mormon church. It all started when I was 8 years old. Just a few short hours after being baptized, I was in the basement of my home being sexually abused by a family member. Who that family member was isn’t important, because he is 6 feet under (kind of a dead giveaway). At the time, I couldn’t really process what happened. It didn’t feel right, but I didn’t understand what had just happened.
Fast forward to my 8th grade health class, where we were learning about sexual assault, abuse, rape, etc. Right then and there it had all clicked. The memories of what had happened all came back, and I instantly shut down. Even then I didn’t know what to call it. He didn’t rape me, or touch me inappropriately, so was it really molestation? Was him forcing me to touch him inappropriately considered sexual abuse? He left a few small bruises on my wrist from grabbing me so tightly, so I guess that could be considered abuse? I asked these questions frequently growing up. All I knew is what he did was wrong, and it made me feel dirty.
This was the time in my life when I really started questioning the church. Why would God let an 8 year old girl who was just baptized and “clean”, experience such trauma? I was never “pure”. How was I supposed to repent for something I had no control over? 12 year old girls should not be worrying about these things. All I wanted was to take my childhood back and start over. I shouldn’t have ever had to be an adult under these circumstances. And I never should have had to hide what happened, but I did out of fear.
As the years passed, I did my best to put that behind me. After questioning the church for so long, at age 13 I officially didn’t believe in it. I tried really really hard to believe in it, but I just couldn’t. I went to church, tried to believe in my “testimony” that I had practiced in my head over and over again because it never “just came to me”, and I made friends with people who any Mormon girl would be friends with. Between the ages of 14 and 16 I was either faking it, or hating myself for not believing what I was taught my whole life was true. I didn’t choose my religion, I was born into it.
This was a very dark period of my life. I was going through a lot at home, school was torture, and church was emotionally stressing. My parents were going through a divorce (which I was very happy about), and my emotionally abusive bishop was making me feel like I was the worst teenager to set foot in his office. I was constantly being told I was going down the wrong path (even though I was going to church every Sunday, and all youth activities), and had church members “watching me” under the bishops orders. I was being pinned as this troubled child with separated parents, but I was just trying to cope with my life.
I continued to go to church to make family members happy, but I was dying inside. I constantly felt like people were staring at me, judging me, and looking down at me. I already didn’t believe in the teachings, but feeling inferior to everyone around me pushed me over the edge. At 17, I was done. I couldn’t let any person or any religion control my life anymore. I went to church every so often with my head down, and tuned everything out. I remember my last day at church. Leaving that building was one of the best feelings in the world.
Since then, I’ve only stepped foot in any church one time. I’ve stopped believing in God(s), and discovered Atheism (We’ll save all of that for another post). I’ve never been happier identifying as something. I live my life to the fullest, and created my new life motto “Don’t waste this life worrying about the next”.
Before I end this post, I just wanted to say that I have nothing against Mormons in general (as long as they’re good people of course). I have Mormon family members, friends, and co workers that I love dearly. I often have to tolerate their preaching, but I respect them anyway. You are free to believe whatever you’d like, but you should also be open minded about other’s beliefs. There are so many beautiful people in this world regardless of their views, and I would have never discovered that if I hadn’t left the church. Thank you to everyone who has accepted me no matter what, and to the people who have opened my eyes to all the amazing things in the world.