It's been roughly a month since I decided that I was done with Mormonism. Before, when I had thought about leaving, I was always full of guilt and fear. "What if it really is the truth?" "What if I go to hell?" "What will people think of me?" I kept attending church, even though my heart wasn't in it, because it seemed, as my mum is fond of saying "the right thing to do". Every week I would go, and every week I would come home angry, tired, and bored.
Looking back on this past month, and all I am is grateful that I left. My days used to be filled with guilt. I didn't read my scriptures, I didn't pray before every meal, I didn't keep a clean and tidy house, I didn't revere my priesthood husband adequately, I didn't go to the weekly temple trip, I didn't do this, I didn't do that. Today? I feel guilty for stuff I did years ago that I haven't made right. I feel guilty for blogging and not exercising. I feel a bit of guilt for being snarky with the cat or the husband. But I don't feel spiritually guilty.
The interesting thing about studying Wicca is that it's considered a journey, and that journey is up to me. If I want to take a break, that's fine. If I want to study one subject like crazy, that's fine. There is no one prescribed way to get there. Coming from an extremely structured church experience, that's bizarre to me. There are 101+ things that Mormondom expects people to do often. It's a nice reprieve to not feel obligated to do something ineffective for me, just because it works for other Mormons.
On an exMo site, I read an interesting analogy. It said, basically, the Mormon church is like a pair of narrow shoes. Narrow shoes work great for people with narrow feet. But people with wide (or really really wide) feet are in pain. You go to church doctors (leaders), and they say, the problem isn't with our shoes-it's with your feet! Change your feet! See how well everyone else does in our shoes? So the people with wide feet (usually the more intelligent and deeper-seeking) are left to figure out if it's them or the shoes. And after 27 years of walking in narrow shoes, it feels amazing to be barefoot!
Another thing I'm happier about, as a former Mormon, is money. Mormondom requires 10% of your income, plus a generous amount of money for fasting on a certain Sunday. For us, this meant about $500/month was given to the Church. I'm unemployed, and my husband has a decent job, but we were really, really stretched. We bought a house hoping we'd get foster kids quickly. That didn't happen, so we've had 6 months of paying for a house that is really far too big for us. $500 a month is like an amazing bonus. We can pay off our almost maxed credit cards! We can put money into *gasp* savings accounts! It's amazing how simply stopping going to church has had such an impact on our lives.
And as to my earlier fears? I don't think that Mormonism is the only truth. It might have some elements of truth (especially those of hard work and personal improvement), but I don't see it as the end all be all. I think spirituality is a journey, not a rulebook. I don't believe in a hell, except for what we create for ourselves by our choices, or the will others impose on our lives. But certainly not an eternal one!
I still haven't told my mum and step-dad. I know she'll be crushed. I was the "good child" that did things right. Temple marriage, steady relationship, etc. It will crush my mom to know that I've gone "astray". I'm still deciding whether to go inactive or formally have my name deleted. I keep going back and forth.
So overall, my first month as a former Mormon has gone really well. I'm happier, less guilty, and slightly richer. I wish I had done this years ago, when I had first thought about it. But at least now I can articulate my reasons for leaving, and I have a husband who loves and supports me regardless. Hooray!