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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I make the decision to do what is right, and to accept whatever the consequences may be for acknowledging the truth and living accordingly.
- I begin working through each of my Mormonism-related problems of mind, body, relationships, and (if I believe in such a thing) spirit.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I seek out truth wherever I can find it, whether religious or secular.
- 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.