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.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Power Differential

"Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, these ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
  --  Robert Francis Kennedy

I've been thinking today about an in-service that was taught years ago by a recent graduate who was studying to become a therapist.  During the in-service, I was in a position of power over her employment, to make the decision to have her teach the class, over my employees, over the future of the company, over some of the culture of the company, and over the children I was given stewardship over.  Being a member of the LDS church my entire life I think may have had some detrimental effects on my leadership skills and abilities.  Back then, during the class, I listened to each point made and thought of the staff who cared for the at-risk youth they were stewards over and the power differential, and for a split second, I thought of me, but quickly threw it in my doubt file box I used so conveniently for so many years with church beliefs, which also, unfortunately, became a file box for many rationale thoughts.  

I'm saddened at some of the decisions I made as the leader of this company when I didn't recognize with humility how power and fear have a tremendous effect on each one of us.  My change in beliefs has opened up that file and pointed out how I may have abused power I had been given, and the impact of the power differential.  I prided myself on being a great boss, and for the most part I feel I was a great boss, but there are times when staff offended me that perhaps I wasn't as fair and rationale and objective as I could have been.  Becoming aware of how my emotions can lead to irrational behaviors and becoming aware of disproportions in power are helpful in navigating my journey from this point forward.  

Yesterday, in the morning, I experienced an obvious trigger.  Something ordinary became a snowball rolling down a hill only to become a massive avalanche of emotion.  The doubt file box is what I consider to be the denial part of my grief, and when it's there safely filed away, I can maintain a sense of control over it.  Until, a trigger occurs like the one yesterday.  The trigger was in thinking about how inappropriate it is to have "worthiness" interviews in any religion with minors; at minimum without a parent present.  Even worthiness interviews with young adults who are seeking council typically from a much older male.  What I always considered to be appropriate and normal, with my new lens seems completely inappropriate.  

How would I feel about my daughters' male teacher at school having her stay after school to privately speak with her in a room without any windows about "worthiness" issues?  This hasn't happened, but you can imagine the horror I'd feel if I found out it did.  Yet, this is common practice for the bishop to call a young women as young as twelve into the bishops office, alone without a second adult present, to discuss "worthiness" issues that the young child may not even be aware of are "worthiness" issues at that point.  This practice is simply unacceptable.  I'm thankful that the ward I practiced in as an adult had only the most upstanding and ethically behaved Bishops, but what of the wards that don't, or the wards where the Bishop may not recognize the imbalance of power and control over the conversation?  

As a mental health professional I'm not sure why I never made this connection before...that dumb doubt file box and the brain damage it has caused...grrrr.  But now, it's my belief that it's just plain unacceptable for an older male or female leader in a position of power (Bishop) to discuss "worthiness" issues with little girls and boys, young adults in college, and even young married couples...period.  Even parents should be mindful of the power differential when discussing "worthiness" issues with children.  Hmmm, not sure what the solution is, but perhaps it would be along the lines of what I found recently online about educating children, young adults, and young married adults.

Trauma can occur when a child or young adult who is interviewed by an adult who they perceive is in a position of power at church about "worthiness" issues is not prepared. Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. While these feelings are normal, some people have difficulty moving on with their lives. Psychologists can help these individuals find constructive ways of managing their emotions.

Until the church makes policy changes to protect minors from ecclesiastical abuse, it’s up to parents and concerned leaders to do so.  Here are some practical things we can do to set boundaries and prevent this practice from causing trauma for children.  Remember that trauma is NOT our perception of the interview, but the child's perception of the interview.
1) Insist on being present in interviews.  It’s a no-brainer that “two-deep” interviews should be standard policy, but until such time as it occurs, parents can create a safer environment by insisting on being present in any interviews that occur.  The policy in our family is: there will be no interviews between priesthood leaders and our children unless we are present, period
2) Teach children principles of sexual agency.  Help children protect themselves by teaching them that their bodies belong to them and no one else.  Teach them that no one has the right to ask them intimate questions about their bodies, genitals, masturbatory practices, or personal relationships.  Teach them it’s okay to say, “No, I won’t answer that; it’s none of your business.”  Stand by them if there are repercussions by domineering priesthood leaders who withhold access to religious ceremonies and rights of passage as a result of children’s refusal to compromise their sexual agency.
3) Foster a healthy questioning of authority.  This problem exists in the church because no one has thought to question the practice in the first place; it’s simply “what we do.”  Teach children that as they mature, their objective is to internalize their own spiritual authority and stand before God as fully actualized spiritual agents.  Let them know that it’s healthy and important to question what they’ve been taught and come to their own conclusions.
- See more at:

Friday, April 18, 2014

"I feel the spirit" EVERYWHERE!

There is no way you can ever describe to someone how soft the skin of the stingray is.  You have to touch it and experience it for yourself.  I touched the stingray and felt the spirit.  I watched the stingray swim and felt the spirit.  

Today and every day to come, I'm content and celebrate that I do not know what I believe. I find it acceptable and demand the right to be able to question things and take my time deciding what is right and wrong for me. My religion has become incredibly simple.  For now my religion includes kindness, love, charity, and service and I feel by living these principles and following the dictates of my own conscience the best I can, has made me a better person this month than trying to live by the standards of any organized religion. I have more peace than ever and I still accept many of the teachings that have been instilled in meby the LDS church, but I accept them because they are right for me.  I'm confident that if I was raised to follow my heart and live by principles of cooperation and kindness in another setting I may have become a similar person today.  It's so interesting to me that the actual teachings of Darwin did not focus on competition and the survival of the fittest but of love and cooperation.  I've found what brings me joy and peace and I seize the privilege of finding joy for myself today.

I do not know if I believe in a human God. I do not know if Christ was actually a savior of all man-kind, and I am okay with not knowing.  I hope there is a God so that I can have a chat with him or her or it one day.

I still “feel the spirit” often; I just feel it for different things, yet it’s that same profound sense of peace and knowing.  Yesterday I went on a bike ride to the north end of N. Topsail Island, NC.  I felt the spirit burning in my soul.  I felt an incredible sense of connection to the water, sand, air, and every living thing surrounding me.  I felt like I was completely a part of that spot in that exact moment.  I "feel the spirit" when I watched the animals at the zoo on Sunday, at the Aquarium watching the incredible water creatures two days ago.  I feel in awe of an exceptionally beautiful sunset, when I study history and become in awe of the things people have done for us, and for our country, when I am spending time with my sisters, when I see how I fit into this world. I "feel the spirit" on a regular basis and recognize it much more liberally now that it's not tied with a church I belonged to.

I'm still grieving that for me I will never believe in the church again.  I still wake up every morning and it's still gone.  During all those church leadership meetings as relief society president, when we discussed ways to re-activate those who were inactive, I suspect many of them feel as I feel today.  It's like I've woken up and am that person we've been scratching our heads about for the last year.  Now that I suspect how they feel, I realize that the leaders in my ward were asking the wrong questions?  They needed to ask, "do you believe in the Church anymore?" first, and then if they say yes, perhaps you have a fellow-shipping opportunity.  If they say no, leadership should ask why, and listen to why, and accept that they cannot and will not understand what it feels like to not believe until you actually don't believe.  I can describe this experience on this blog as much as possible, just as I can tell you how soft a stingrays skin is, but until you experience it for yourself, the descriptions are limited.   In my experience, until the mind just let go of the irrational ideas about beliefs I'd been given, until I asked how I knew these beliefs in my mind, and until the doubt shelf and mental gymnastics ceased, there was no way I could understand. 

Up until late February 2014, I was a total believer of the church my entire life.  My doubt shelf was secure and my mind was exceptionally good at boxing up and putting off things that put my mind into rationale thought about religion.  Once my mind said "enough", that it's not true, my mind now says “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”  I don't intend on ever being "shame on me" hopefully.

I loved the church and it was there when I needed it, but the pain I'm experiencing now would not have been necessary had I been raised without it. In my darkest hour of need when no one else was there, God was there, at least I wanted Him to be there and was trained that He was there.  For me now, I trust that my body and mind is fully equipped to succor, heal, encourage, motivate, etc. I've felt an undeniable peace that I've accepted as truly incredible just to be human and to already have "the magic" within me.  I have learned to be more self reliant, more able to stand on my own two feet, and to use what I believe to encourage others to believe also how incredible and capable they are to serve others and to heal themselves and serve themselves.  I did not loose my testimony, I know right where it went...back into my incredible human heart and soul.   Each day is a gift!!!  Today is a gift.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


The hardest thing to reconcile is that there wasn't just one principle or concept, or teaching, or doctrine that caused my faith to fall apart and crumble to bits in early March (last month).  It was almost in an instant, yet was preparing to emerge for forty years, it was the whole package, the entire "plan of salvation", the whole of the church that caused my my religion to crumble.  It isn't a crisis of faith, and it isn't my need to be a "resting saint", or to have a period where I need to "spread my wings".  It is, just very simply, that the belief system, much of which I was taught was fact and history, is just depressing, is not my idea of a loving God, and that conditional love is just not my understanding of love.

The only love I know is unconditional love through empathy.  It hurts that some of my extended family and friends have pulled away from me, but my love for them is unconditional and my empathy for others give me understanding.  My love for every human, my extended family, my husband, and giving birth to my beautiful children is my understanding of love.  Nothing they do will ever change my love for them, and if I'd never set up kingdoms based on obedience, why on earth would the God I've been taught about do this?  If he (bugged that it's even always referred to as a he, duh) conditionally loves me based on my works, or my children, or any of my family members, that's just unacceptable.  If he created those with flaws, and doesn't view them as perfection in the flaws, and then uses those flaws to assign consequences that are eternally based on a blind test, that's just illogical at best, and is certainly not love but terrorism.

To reconcile that there was still a great deal of good taught in the church, while the whole of the religion for me teaches more conditional love, has been difficult to cope with.  The grief is very real that I couldn't figure this out twenty years ago.  That when I attempted to take a stand as a teen and told my father I no longer wanted to attend church one Sunday, and when he said as long as I lived under his roof, that I'd attend.  If I had the courage then to stand up, and to listen to the human mind that is completely a part of me, what would my adult life had been like?  Having empathy and unconditional love for the me in my teens, twenties, and thirties helps tremendously.

One area I was never willing to compromise on was in who I allowed myself to love completely and marry.  On so many levels, my husband was everything I admired in his gifted ability to rationally think and to love unconditionally.  His ability to respect my faith, and beliefs, and best attempts to live the religion I trusted that five generations had to be "right" with, and to attribute every strong emotion, and burning in my heart to the God I was taught about and the religion...well lets just say that my love for him has grown also this past month.  I'm not sure that I could have done it, but perhaps I could have.  I'm not sure that I could have waited for him, but perhaps I could have.  It had to be so isolating and difficult to be unable to share his spiritual beliefs.

For me, with true empathy comes a deep understanding of others.  Every member of the church now, because I love them, I feel myself holding back to varying degrees.  Holding back because I remember how threatening it is to have someone who doesn't agree with you.  Holding back because it is better for each persons journey of beliefs to be their own.  I get it why now it looks as though the ex mormons look dark or that they've "lost the spirit".  I mirrored their grief for me, and the grief that comes from rational thought about the religion.  It's one of the most basic understandings we have of primates; that of empathy.  There is just so much grief in understanding they can't and don't understand how you feel until the curtain falls, and it gets mirrored.  You can see their pain, both conscious and unconscious, both overt and subtle, and you mirror that.  As hard as believers try to have empathy, until they go on the journey of investigating the church out in their rationale minds, that until they ask themselves if there are other explanations for spiritual experiences, and until they are willing to ask if it's possible that just being human can easily explain what we think is knowledge, believers will continue to see that ex mormons have "lost the spirit".  Naturally, I could be wrong, but so could believers.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Unleashing the Passionate, Thoughtful, Rational, Logical, and Honest mind....

A few days ago I stumbled on this web site about rationale thinking.

I admit, about halfway through, it was hard to focus and keep reading it as I found the visual of my hand flat and open in front of my face making a brushing motion over my head...this is way over my head stuff.

But, something about what I was reading spoke music to my heart just as if I'd heard a beautiful piece of music.  I think the natural Emily was always a passionate, thoughtful, rationale, logical and honest thinker, and the natural Emily always had the ability to question how and why I was doing things and believing things?

One of my earliest memories was being taken to a preschool.  I'm not sure if it was the first day, and I'm not sure if it was actually a preschool, but I still remember how I felt when they showed us the bathroom.  There they were, several toilets in a row.  I remember how embarrassed I felt that I would be using the bathroom in front of my classmates.  I remember absolutely refusing to go because I thought it was an injustice to have me go to the bathroom in front of other preschool children, especially boys.  How strange is that?  If memory serves me right, I didn't continue at that preschool, and I vaguely remember being out in the parking lot with my mother and hearing her not happy with me.  I'm not sure if I sabotaged going there, or just downright refused.  Just not sure.

Another memory was an attempt to have me take ballet or some other form of dance.  The requirement to conform was completely against my nature.  I wanted to dance like a fairy, and likely would have done much better in a free dance class.  I still wish I knew how to dance today, and I'm not sure how long I lasted in that class as I remember vaguely sabotaging that experience also.

Being a free thinker at such a young age with a religion that requires so much conformity I think caused a great deal of intellectual distress on me.  I'm not sure how to reconcile this, other than the fact that it was so hard to be taught rationale and logical thinking, and then be taught in church that these truths were correct, except for in the case of religion.  Ghosts don't exist except for the Holy Ghost.  Magic isn't real except for when men use the Priesthood to call upon God to do something.  Evolution, well, my best rationale way to get around this was that the earth was as old as science believed it to be, perhaps older, and that 6000 years was not in the terms of 6000 of our years, but of another time periods' years.  The mental gymnastics goes on and on.  For all the time I spent with the mental gymnastics, I could have been taught to be a purely rationale and logical and honest, and scientific thinker.  I may have been a doctor today.  I may have been a scientist.  Alas, I can't turn the clock back, and I can't blame this on anyone, but what I can do is change the future for my own children.

This is why I've resigned from taking my children to church.  At least this is a primary reason why I don't take them.  Just having them attend for the social connection wasn't going to compensate for the wasted time their little brains would have to spend learning sound principles and the latest story of science and technology, only to have the exceptions taught in religion.  I do, however, need to help my children find a social outlet that will help them grow and develop.  My two youngest have a shot at this.  My two oldest, well, thankfully they are resilient as I've tried to become. They will have to cope with much of what I have to cope with, but also have much more time to make changes in their 20's and 30's.

What about my parents, and my parents' parents?  Well, the good thing is that each generation can celebrate bringing a little bit more good to their children, and their children's children.  Each generation will celebrate women as equal to men in every right, but as just as unique as the spectrum of manhood has been made known in being feminine and masculine.  I celebrate that I truly believe my mother and father likely parented me better than their parents' parented them.  There is hope today, and there is hope tomorrow for the next generation of passionate, thoughtful, rationale, logical, and honest minds and hearts.

Monday, April 14, 2014

G.A.M. and G.A.W.

Growing up is never easy. You hold on to things that were. You wonder what's to come. I think we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what would be. Other days. New days. Days to come. The thing is, we didn't have to hate each other for getting older. We just had to forgive ourselves... for growing up.

Yesterday my hubby had several deliveries from Amazon.  He took the initiative to buy some of his own clothes.  As much as he and I like to admit it, he's always had an aversion to shopping for his own clothes, and I've always naturally assumed the role of getting clothes for him.  With our relationship shifting, with me declaring independence from the faith of my fathers', I've started to identify that my husband is a grown ass man or what I like to call a GAM.  Now, I still rarely, if ever, say curse words just in standard writing and found my tongue to be excellent at preserving curse words for only the most heated of disagreements with my spouse. I still don't prefer cursing in every day language, but this acronym just works for what we're both experiencing.  

My husband is losing the wife he's grown accustomed to.  In many ways, we are starting a new relationship, and are now trying to navigate a new season of life together.  This leaves both of us feeling frustrated at times, but also has had unexpected side effects; that we're finally just friends to each other instead of being in the position of raising each other.  It's taking work and practice, but we're both getting better and better every day!

With us getting married at 19 and 20, and with a devout belief system of mine in the LDS faith, and with my husband's desire to follow his heart and conform despite his gifted rationale mind - we both became parents for each other, and we both conformed to the expectations of an inherited belief system.  To each other, we're both now approaching the age of personal identity and independence from our adopted values and belief systems. With me "coming out" in March about my lack of knowledge, belief, or concerns with anything after this life, he has found himself in a new phase also of getting to be completely himself around me.  

Now, when he says, can I go for a hike, I respond with, "you're a grown ass man, what do you want to do?".  Since I still struggle with curse words, I prefer, "you're a GAM, what do you want to do?"  He's doing the same with me finding the GAW in my life being a grown ass woman.  Much easier said than done.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

"Mom, is the Mormon church a cult?"

Yesterday, on the drive to my daughter's figure skating lessons, she asked me the question, "Mom, is the Mormon church a cult?"  I replied that I think so, maybe, but I wasn't sure.  I told her I've never looked up the criteria of what a cult is, or what it means to be in a cult?

So, with my curious mind, one source had some interesting criteria found online.  Now, when I was a total believing Mormon (TBM), I would have never been able to see the church this way, but on the other side of leaving the church and becoming a post Mormon, the effects become significant as breaking free is tumultuous at best.

 The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
 Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
 Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
 The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
 The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
 The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
 The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
 The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).
 The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
 Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
 The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
 The group is preoccupied with making money.
 Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
 Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
 The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

So, after reading this, in my experience, the church has met every criteria to varying degrees.  That had me questioning again?  How does one recover from a cult and lead a happy life?  Well, since both healthy and unhealthy teachings come from just about every cult, the key is to take the healthy, and recognize the unhealthy and try to use the wonderful brain you have to override the lies.  And, there is also info on recovery from cult involvement.  Here's what I found below.  

Once again, reading the recovery required me to focus on my experience which differs from every other persons experience, but also has many similarities.  Thankfully, my experience did not involve some of the more obvious abuse, and the only abuse I experienced, I feel, was that no abuse happened to me with intent.  Meaning, any indoctrination taught to me was with the understanding of love, and was simply mothers and fathers teaching with love from they'd learned from previous generations.  This understanding leads to compassion and love and tolerance of nearly all of my childhood teachings.

Stages in Recovery from Cult Involvement

There are three main stages in the recovery process:
  1. Realization and Exit
  2. Comprehension and Emotions
  3. Reconstruction and Dreaming
Stage One
This first stage varies in length.  The length is dependent on the method of exiting.  This stage is marked by the time and experience that alerted the cultist to the danger of the group and resulted in the cultist exiting the group permanently.  The key to an effective exit is whatever helps to "jump start" the critical thinking process of the mind.  This process has been on hold for much too long because the cult has told the followers that to question and doubt the group is to betray god (or whatever).  The price for questioning and doubting, they are told, is eternal death.  This is a very powerful fear to overcome.
Awareness of the insidious nature of the cult and the decision to leave comes slowly for some and quickly for others.  For example, someone receiving exit-counselling becomes aware and leaves the cult very quickly as compared to someone who walks out after reflecting over several months or years on "devil-inspired" doubts.
Even after leaving, some ex-cultists are not sure if they made the right decision and "float" between their old cult identity and their new freed identity or pre-cult self.  The more information and support a cultist receives during this stage, the better equipped they are to handle the pain and loss of stage two.
Stage Two
The second phase is full of ups and downs, of feeling like you just returned from Mars, of exciting new freedoms and discoveries, and it is also full of rage and pain.  It involves coming to terms with being raped, emotionally and spiritually.  And for many, it involves coming to terms with being physically raped as well.
I don't know how to convey the extremes of pain possible in this phase.  Perhaps, it is how you would feel standing by helplessly as some crazy person slowly murdered someone you loved.  It seems so incredible to many that because they wanted to serve god and their country, wanted to help people, and wanted to make the world a better place - for this extension of their selves they were cruelly used.  This is a very difficult aspect of the experience to reconcile.  "What ever did I do to be treated like this?" is a question that rings deep in the heart of any ex-cultist.  The answer to this question resides in understanding how mind control techniques work.
It is no wonder, then, that the rage and anger the ex-cultist feels is often overwhelming and frightening.  So much so, that many tend to repress or deny the full expression of their emotions.  But, understanding and feeling ones' emotions in a non-destructive way, I believe, is critical to recovery.  This second phase can be extraordinary journey through pain and loss to learning and mastery.  It varies in length and is dependent on how able the ex-cultist is to experience loss and how disciplined the ex-cultist is to study, think, and work toward a thorough understanding of the experience.
A Big Job
One of the truly tough parts about working through the experience is the very fact that it's a very big job.  The ex-cultist must learn how to trust life again and learning to trust requires learning how to reality test.  Because the cult phobias and teachings often touched on many aspects of life, such as family, government, education, religion, relationships, and economics, the ex-cultist often finds it necessary to examine and reality test most, if not all, of the teachings received in the cult for subtle, residual ideas that continue to manipulate the ex-cultist.
In addition, it is in this phase that the individual must learn how to trust themselves again and their ability to make decisions.  Learning to trust after you have been used and hurt can be very scary, but trust in oneself and in others can be rebuilt with disciplined thinking and with courage.  For those who come from dysfunctional backgrounds, recovering from the cult experience often means acknowledging and recovering from the effects of earlier dysfunctional relationships, such as:
  • Abusive parents, relatives, siblings, spouse or abusing others
  • Alcoholism, rape, incest, eating disorders, drug abuse
  • Difficulties with intimacy, careers, law enforcement
Stage Three
To someone in the middle of the pain of stage two, the idea of having a dream again and building toward it is merely a sad, frustrating, and painful laugh.  Having spent many years in stage two I understand that despondent feeling well.  It is possible to rebuild your life.  You will not be able to make up for all the years the cult has stolen from you, but you can make up for some of those lost years.  I've worked very, very hard to recover from a severely dysfunctional family, a life of abuse emotional, physical and sexual, the death of a daughter, many years in a cult, time on drugs and alcohol to 'forget' and so on.
I'm here to share with you that if you are willing to stick with it, to work at it, to work through and let go of myths that look like truths both from the cult's teaching and from within society's teachings, and if you are willing to acquire new skills and improve others, you can and will be able to build a healthy and well-functioning life with a dream you can work toward.