Sunday, October 19, 2014

Some Loved Ones Will Let Go

Today is a beautiful October day.  The October leaves are changing and there is just enough cool air outside to make just about any activity pleasant.  Today I've been thinking about what it must be like to see a loved one change rapidly, and how much it might hurt if that loved one doesn't view the changes as more desirable than the earlier version of self.  Eight months ago, I left my lifelong religion and began to live more authentically and in line with who I've always been inside.  Granted this process takes trial and error, and at times, this process I'm guessing has left loved ones confused, angry, and possibly craving stability and control.

The community after the religion I left is vast, and the challenges seem to follow a similar pattern. Many who leave their childhood religion end up in a kind of second adolescence as they try to navigate and discover who they are without the dictates and rules of the religion. Many will find that the values and moral codes they practiced so diligently in religion have wonderful applications and uses outside of organized religion.  Others find that as the process is unfolded that all the worlds' religions start to show a pattern that emerges.  I've found this has occurred for me in its entirety.  The patterns that have emerged have been beautiful and wonderful and scary and mysterious.

So many wonderful souls have come into and out of my life during this very difficult process of change.  Other souls have come into my life and are here to stay as lifelong friends.  I've also found that people who I initially meshed well with me at one point, I've felt limited by in another stage as I found myself working through differing stages of my own grief, and in trying to accept that rapid change, while it's not a typically healthy path just happens that way in nature sometimes.  Sometimes asking for help and guidance from others who have been on a journey not mine, but with similar traits has been hugely beneficial in developing maturity and wisdom and also being willing to forgive myself for the lessons I've had to learn only by application.

In eight months, I've become a largely different person, yet I remain the same person in complex ways also.  I'm also the person I've always been meant to be, and feel more comfortable in my own skin than I've ever felt.  I love the person I've become, and I'm also patient that the process of change leaves much need for improvement.  I strive to view nothing I do, or nothing that others do as mistakes, but only opportunities for growth.  I also view all my actions as having positive and negative consequences and a measurable impact on the people I love most, the environment I live in, and the community I'm a part of.

I'm so excited for life every day.  I'm frustrated by myself daily and also find myself in the height of joy.  The process of rapid change also teaches lessons rapidly.

So, back to the universal elements I've started to see in many great religions.

One is gratitude.  I seek to demonstrate how thankful I am for today, right now, right at this very second in time.  I seek to express enough gratitude for every person who has been a part of my journey of life.  I seek to be thankful to every person who is in my life today, and who will be in my life tomorrow.  I seek to thank those who have been a part of my life who provide a moment of significance for my life today and for the lives of my children.

Onto my children!  I'm so thankful today for the individuals who are an integral part of my children's day today.  All my children are fortunate to have their devoted and dedicated father.  My oldest son and his wonderful, beautiful girlfriend.  For my daughter and her teen friends who's smiles light up the room.  For my youngest son who's neighborhood buddies light up his life every day, and for my youngest daughter who has her little friend literally run to greet her each morning.

I'm thankful for my patient and long suffering extended family both on the Kunz side and the Schofield side.  I'm thankful that I've got strong and involved parents who think about me and pray for me and my family.  I'm thankful for my strong siblings who have shown unconditional love for me and my family.  I'm thankful to Kelly for a wonderful, beautiful and growth filled twenty year marriage.  I'm thankful for our friendship now and for the opportunity to try again in our new roles that we're both having to navigate with the goal of a lasting friendship.

I'm thankful for all my friends.  Each friend has been so special to me in my life.  My close friend who passed away four years ago left an imprint on my heart that helps me honor October with joy and a celebration of life.  My friend today teaches me about setting goals to make friendship last.  My friends a few days ago who have taught me about making marriage work through unconditional love and loving compromise.  My friend of last week who taught me about love, and some of the complexities of love that you don't often hear about.  My old high school friend who called last week who taught me that friendship might come and go, but it takes a long time to grow and old friend, and once they have been grown, the roots are so strong that you can simply pick up where you left off.

I've always been a sunny person.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that's my baseline.  When I'm hurting or frustrated or angry, you will see the human side of me and positivism isn't my strong suit during those moments, but as I'm getting older, I'm seeking to weave positivism into my struggles too.  I'm seeking to feel the feelings I'm feeling, to make mistakes and be able to move forward with a positive attitude, and to be able to have a positive attitude about some of the more difficult parts of life which include losing loved ones, and the process of letting go.

My mind feels most at home when I'm happy for others.  I'm most at home when I can share in others joys and see the tiny moments of joy they experience.  I'm most at home when I'm around positive people, or people who are human but can also laugh about the rocky moments, and move forward with optimism.

Life is tremendously hard, and relationships with people I love have been very hard, so every day I'm finding that choosing to be optimistic and positive is the best antidote to despair.  And when despair hits me, just as I've said in my earlier posts, I try to ride it out like a wave.  No masking it with booz, junk food, or distractions.  My goal has been to experience it head on.  To let the wave hit, or sometimes it just hits without any warning when I'm not paying attention, and to feel it, and to wait patiently for it to pass.  It always passes.  Lately, it passes usually quicker than I think it will.

Love Towards Others - Sending Prayers - Positive Vibes - Good Energy
I've learned that sending love through your mind and heart to someone today may not be scientifically explainable yet, but I believe with all my heart that science will not only understand it, but will be able to scientifically explain it.  It really doesn't matter because in the interim, I'm welcoming when others offer to pray for me or a family member, and I'm using my goal of positivism to actively think of others and specifically make wishes on their behalf.  Doing so changes the nature of a person.....I believe.

That's all for today.......

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Leaving the nest and learning to doubt and to embrace wonder.

First off, I want to thank all of you for reading my posts about this completely unexpected experience that left me with the choice to choose honesty and integrity or comfort and security. Over 5000 of you have come to visit and read my posts in the last ten weeks.  To some, that number may be small, but to me, that's a huge number of curious "ducks".  You've been patient and looked past the fact that I'm not a professional writer, but just another average person who's jumped out of what I was taught was the only true nest.  If you are visiting any of my posts, you are either curious, or are at some stage of where this duck in this picture is in leaving the nest, or perhaps you have watched a loved one jump out of the nest, and you are sitting in the warm, cozy, adequately lit space where you feel all your needs are met and you are happy?  Why on earth would my brother or sister ever jump out of this nest that meets all my needs?  Why does any bird ever leave the nest?  If you think about it, we get all their comfort, food, warmth, protection, security, entertainment, answers, trust, and safety given to us - so why leave?  What was missing?

The truth is that the past ten weeks don't even have words to describe what the experience has been like.  Unless a person jumps themselves to find out their own beliefs and the truth about beliefs they've always taken for granted, there is no way it can be described what the experience is like... just as a wood duck cannot explain to the baby ducklings inside the nest what the world is like outside the nest.  The truth is that I'd do it all over again, and forty years sooner if I had wings to fly back then.  The truth is that I've felt joy and peace, and a light and calm that I can't describe in words.  I've felt more connected with being human to everyone on earth, and especially to everyone I love in my life than I've ever felt.  The truth is that I've felt more connected than I've ever felt to nature and the world I now have the privilege of exploring with a lens of appreciation and reverence.  

I've also crashed into a few trees, I've bruised myself, in my pure moments of finally having no doubt shelf, no mental gymnastics anymore, ever again, I've sometimes run into other birds also learning to fly for the first time.  So far, I've only made it to that tree you can see in the background in these pictures but I can see the sky and the forest from the trees now in a panoramic vista all around me and it's beautiful beyond comprehension.  Every person is incredible and beautiful and creates this incredible mosaic of diversity and beauty.

Now that I'm sitting on that tree in the background and I'm looking back at my nest and the family of ducks that are still inside, I realize that I love them just the same as I did when I was inside the nest with them.  The difference is that out here with all the other birds, I'm viewing everyone else differently now.  Many other birds with different nests, and different looks, and different upbringing seem to have the same choice; stay in the nest and doubt your doubts, or to jump by really exploring what it means to claim to know something, what you believe and not what others tell you to believe, and what you simply hope for?

To each of my children, you are amazing!  You are naturally inquisitive and are brave, and are going to have beautiful lives!!!  You are my beautiful baby ducklings.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Waves of Emotion and a 12-Step Recovery Program from Mormonism

Today is Friday and is a good day so far emotionally.  Wednesday as a tough day emotionally.

If I was an element, it would be water.  I love the ocean.  I love anything that involves water.  I love the lessons the ocean teaches me about life.  Being out in the ocean reminds me how to cope with the emotional aspects of recovery from Mormonism.

Waves = the emotional impact of leaving Mormonism

During tough days or moments the past few months, I try to visualize the way I feel as a wave is coming at me in the ocean.  During a surfing lesson, I was taught never to turn my back on the waves.  The most ideal thing to do has been to ride the wave by letting myself experience all the feelings as they rise and then fall in intensity.  When it's a wave that's too large, I can take a deep breath and gently go under the wave and let it pass over my head.  I try not to avoid my feelings by turning away as I think this would be analogous to avoiding or putting off the experiences and emotions that are common and expected with leaving Mormonism.  Just as turning my back on a wave can do harm, trying to ignore how I feel or mask it doesn't seem to help with recovery.

Lastly, trying to jump over the experience also doesn't seem to work and usually leads to me being humbled by the power of the wave at some later point perhaps through disrupted sleep.  This grief is very real.   The initial personal impact of the tsunami of emotions that followed losing my religion seems to be settling.  However, just as the ocean still has waves both big and small, some days are just harder than others emotionally.  I found this 12 step program online, and wanted it posted on my blog.  Having this blog has been very helpful in keeping a journal of my experience and the recovery process, and hearing your feedback and stories of your own recovery in response to my blog has been priceless.

Twelve-Step Program For Recovery From Mormonism

Those leaving Mormonism usually are dealing with similar problems of recovery, and the following is an adaptation of the Twelve Steps for help in recovering from Mormonism.
  1. I admit that I am powerless to change the fact that I have been Mormon for a good part of my life, whether because I was born to Mormon parents, or because I voluntarily converted.
  2. I realize that I have within me the power to free myself from the harmful part of my Mormon past (with the help of a higher power if I believe in one), and that I am no longer bound by promises or covenants which I was induced to make based on the false promises of Mormonism.
  3. I make to myself a firm promise to listen in the future only to reason, rationality, and factual evidence in making decisions about how I should live my life, rejecting all emotional appeals, guilt-inducing threats, myths, pretty stories, promises of castles in the air, and superstition.
  4. I make a searching and fearless moral and intellectual inventory of myself with the purpose of recognizing in myself those weaknesses which induced me to remain Mormon for so long.
  5. I itemize (preferably in writing) to myself and to a trusted loved one (and to a higher power if I believe in one) the specific reasons why I can no longer be Mormon.
  6. I make the decision to do what is right, and to accept whatever the consequences may be for acknowledging the truth and living accordingly.
  7. I begin working through each of my Mormonism-related problems of mind, body, relationships, and (if I believe in such a thing) spirit.
  8. I make a list of those for whom it would be important to know of my decision and the changes I am making in my life, and prepare myself emotionally to discuss my decision with them all, realizing that many may react with hurt, anger, emotional outbursts, or other unpleasantness.
  9. I discuss my decision with them (except in those cases where I think it would cause greater harm to do so than not) in a calm, friendly and loving way, without argument.
  10. I continue to take personal inventory, and where I find artifacts of Mormonism, I carefully consider whether they should continue to be a part of my life, or whether I should discard them.
  11. I seek out truth wherever I can find it, whether religious or secular.
  12. Having had an awakening and renewal as the result of these steps, I try to be helpful to other recovering or doubting Mormons, and to practice these principles in all of my affairs.
-By Matt B and Richard Packham (with permission to re-post)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Relief Society Resignation Letter - Rough Draft

Since I consider myself a very average writer, edits or suggestions are most welcome.

04/30/2014 (two months after "discovery")

Dearest Sisters (and Brothers) of My Ward,
First off, may I express my deep and abiding love for all of you. What an amazing year this has been serving as your relief society president!  I'm deeply humbled by how incredibly beautiful, giving, and loving each of you are in serving one another behind the curtain.  I just knew the Church was true, and I loved every aspect of my faith.  I especially enjoyed the time set apart as sisters to meet in relief society!  Meeting as a united society of sisters was a highlight of my week for years.  My hope is that my friendships with you will continue outside of church attendance.

My husband and I have been in the CH2 Ward since its beginnings.  I have loved serving as a nursery teacher, junior and senior primary teacher, gospel doctrine teacher, temple cleaning coordinator, relief society teacher, relief society 2nd counselor, and most recently as your relief society president.  My view has been and always will be that the people are simply perfection in their imperfections.

It is with heartfelt regret that I write to you at this time.  I realize my decision may cause an emotional upset for some of you which I can truly empathize with as I've had to endure the emotional turmoil personally with having my own son turn away from the church, and now as I explored my own views on God, on the afterlife, on being a human here on earth, and on the history of the church doctrine.

My understanding of love is that love is unconditional, and that any belief I have in a God is of an unconditionally loving God without judgement.  With this belief, a long and securely held and symbolic shelf of doubt crumbled leaving my religious views and doctrinal world open and also shattered upon looking at sources both for and against the LDS church.  There are dozens of historical facts that have been covered up that are found on, and many other web sites.  One recent document summarizes many of the conflicts I've had on my doubt shelf for many years.  see

To maintain my honesty with all of you, and my own integrity, I resigned as relief society president to the bishop on March 30th.  I loved and honored my membership with the church.  I trusted the church in providing me the whole truth.  It has truly shocked me how quickly my testimony of the Church unraveled when I began to become an actual investigator of the church, and to think for myself about what I really believe?  I put my own beliefs on trial, and the church on trial, and the end result was beyond what I ever could have imagined last year.

I have not come to this decision lightly.  After my religion was not what I'd been led to believe it was, I tried to come up with ways to keep this wonderful calling, the best ever, and still hold onto my new beliefs.  I wanted my pride and dignity kept in tact, and my community of friends unaltered.  I struggled for days on how to talk to my best friend who is also my husband about my change in beliefs.   I suspected that there were many like me in each congregation with family members they didn't want to hurt by coming out about beliefs that are different from  

I knew that keeping this a secret to others could only happen with a serious compromise in my own integrity.   In doing unbiased research on the church which I've believed all these years to be a college level education in the Mormon religion while attending and preparing for all my church classes, I've discovered that it wasn't a college of critical thinking, but a church of indoctrination with plain and precious truths that likely have been covered up to "preserve" my testimony.  My option to choose was taken from me which has led to feelings of betrayal.  I feel betrayed and I'm saddened that so many of my friends and family have this information kept from them to "protect" them also.

It hurt to discover that I had gained a testimony of things as they were made to appear as the truth and facts, rather than the actual truth.  The church has changed many facts to beliefs and testified of this in court recently.  Accepting that my feelings and convictions and testimonies are similar to many other devout dogmas, faiths, religions, and philosophies has been helpful in accepting that the range of human emotions is vast and spans all seven billion+ of us, and not our select group of active Mormons.  

Most importantly, I've become completely average, 
and completely a part of the human race, 
with nothing extra or special to offer other than my love.

I did not resign as a result of sin, or weakness or being offended by anyone. I loved the gospel and the Church, and loved serving you in every capacity I've had the privilege of serving you with my completely unchallenged, loyal, and believing testimony. I has hurt to find that there are many others who share my views now who remain active in church due to other believing family members and who feel trapped with fear that coming out about their beliefs will compromise their most cherished relationships.

"When faced with indisputable evidence, that I would rather accept the uncomfortable truth than a comforting fantasy."  
President J Reuben Clark said “If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”
 I am now just beginning to enjoy the benefits of being able to think for myself and am starting to feel the joy of discovering my own views on the universe, the current and ever expanding views of science and the universe, or perhaps multi-universe,  on love, and on cooperation and service to others.

My hope is that some day each of you will understand my decision and the reasons why I've made it.  One source I found said that only 5% of people entrenched in a religion such as ours by the time they are my age, will leave it. My hope is that perhaps some day all members will encouraged to truly investigate both the pros and the cons the church as they do with so many other life altering decisions.

I'm always here if anyone needs support on their journey of investigation and truth.  All the best on your journey, and may your path be as individual as you are.

Only love,
Sister Emily Schofield

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Thank you!

Dear husband and my children,
Because of you, I'm free.  Because of you I can grieve this tremendous loss and put it behind me instead of having to be this faithful husband and father who must keep his personal truths quiet to keep his family in tact.  See letter below in the link.  Because of you I'm free to devise my own belief system and also watch and listen to and appreciate yours unfolding.

There are many of these husbands, wives, young adults, and teens who remain silent without the freedom to stand up and figure out your own values and beliefs.  You husbands and wives, young adults, and teens who go along waiting for your faithful family members....  hang in there.  In time, more and more of obedient, strong, and faithful member missionaries will understand your point of view.  Ultimately, the truth always has a way of coming out.  Even Al Capone was caught!  Us tiny ants (yes I feel like the tiny ant protesting an elephant) will rise up and find the truth in our own time, at our own pace.

As a postMormon, I love weekends!

"Every path is the right path. Everything could've been anything else and it would have just as much meaning."
- Mr. Nobody

Kelly and I finished what took us several days to watch Mr. Nobody on Netflix.  We sometimes get a small window of time to chilax at night after kids are all in bed which seems to get later and later during spring and summer. Mr. Nobody is one of the first rated R movies I've watched since I was in my early twenties during a brief rebellion, but with my belief in tact.  I've lived the principle of not watching rated R movies with an A+ grade until now.  I prefer to check reviews for why it's rated R because I've never preferred excessive violence in movies, and I turned down a movie the other night because one review said it included the F word hundreds of times, a word I also don't prefer in every sentence.  So, Mr. Nobody it was.  What a beautiful part of the movie at the end when he gives the quote above.  

Our family has now had four weekends without church activity.  Active membership in the church slowly increases as a person ages until one day, you realize that every day involves worship of the church in some way, multiple times a day, and one day my mind must have said...wait a minute here.  This trajectory is not improving and appears to only celebrate more and more and more and more. As a totally believing and dedicated mother with an active husband, and four children it sort of sneaks up on you.  Granted, being relief society president is especially demanding as an unpaid volunteer job, but once that job is done, there is another, and another, and another unpaid volunteer job to take its place, or it may be your husbands turn for a super demanding unpaid volunteer job.  As the children age, having a large family starts to show the cumulative effects as demands increase with each child.  One reason why I'm so thankful for this job is that I think it helped my secure doubt shelf to become unstable..... which was a good thing.

Weekends are a kind of trial and error for us at this point.  A few days ago, on Sunday, Kelly and I each had a five hour block of time to leave and just "be" while the other cared for our children.  To do anything that we wanted or needed to do..within reason.  We used to do this one afternoon a week on alternating weeks during another chapter of our marriage many years ago when my hubby was in med school and I was running a group home (long story), and it seemed to help.  For my G.A.W. (see an earlier post for what this is) time, I elected to go for a  long walk and hang out at my office which I rarely visit as I do most my work from home with children all over and distractions in abundance.  Even as I type this my 2 year old is temporarily occupied with a toy.  Kelly, during his G.A.M. time, elected to go for a walk down UNC's Franklin street to see what the street we've known about for years had to offer, but never had the emotional space to explore.

So far, there are moments when our tension is high as we try to settle into a new pattern for our weekends.  With children, and especially with having a two year old, we likely won't settle into any hard and fast routines, but having so many more options has been wonderful.  I'm finding myself enjoying time with my children more.  
Do I miss church and the edited doctrine?  No.  
Do I miss seeing people I love every week? Yes.  
Do I want to go back every week?  No.
Will I ever go back to visit?  Maybe to say hello.  
Would I want to see the members I love again?  Sure, any time they'd like to do lunch, or a movie, or a night out.  
Do I miss the organized way to serve others?  Yes. 
Have I found another avenue to do this?  Individually yes.  As a group venture, not yet.  
Do I know there are other options in my community for service without religion?  Absolutely.  

I don't miss the stress of going to church meetings at the break of dawn on Sundays, and having my husband in charge of getting all the kids in their Sunday best by 8:30 AM, or better yet by 12:30 so they could endure a long afternoon during our babies nap time.  I also don't miss trying to "help" my kids keep the Sabbath day Holy, and how much I dreaded Sundays for that reason for two decades.
Sunday evening I've been rested and ready to start the week.  Our family time has increased.  Time with each other alone has increased.  Weekends seem to last in a good way, and the start of the new week is met with being well rested instead of roasted.  

Is it still a day of rest?  Sure, I like setting apart a day for rest, or my interpretation of what that means for me and my family.

Alright, my 2 year old just discovered mommy is on a screen, so gotta go.  Thanks for reading ya'll!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

LDS "Apostasy"

Feeling the LOVE and LIGHT of my soul today.

Lots of people in general, and online, I guess try to put what I've been through, and what many others have been through into stages or steps.  Maslows Hierarchy of needs, Fowler Stages of Faith, Kubler-Ross Model of Grief, etc. etc. etc.  While it's nice to see parallels to what my experience has been, the frustrating thing is that while there are themes, but that everyone has experiences that are completely different.  I DO think I'm in a stage where I'm frustrated I didn't figure out my own set of beliefs a long time ago, but I'm trying every day to be patient and forgiving to myself for not becoming an apostate sooner.  I'm also trying to be forgiving to others around me who could have helped me "see" their point of view sooner.   But, being a "TBM", I'm not sure that would have worked anyway.  It's frustrating that I can't rush the journey, and when I try, I usually end up missing beauty and flat on my face.

Such loving and Christlike quotes:
"Remember, when we see the bitter apostate, you do not see only an absense of light, you see also the presence of darkness, do not spread disease germs."  Boyd K. Packer 
The Mantle is Far Far Greater than the Intellect.

More loving Christlike quotes from the church I dedicated half my life to:
"Latter-day Saints and their leaders.  A parade of anti-Christs, anti-Mormons, and apostate groups have appeared on the scene.  Many are still among us and have released...convert had fallen under the influence of a very dedicated apostate who was successful in destroying the convert's testimony.