Recovery from Mormonism

 
     

 

 

 



The Road to Recovery from Mormonism


Why is “recovery from Mormonism” is such a difficult, lengthy process for many people? In the early days of my leaving the church I had a simplified view of recovery – stop attending all Mormon church functions, find some non-Mormon friends, figure out some fun activities to do on Sunday, and generally just start living like a typical non-Mormon.

But I see now that this is an over-simplification. Over a period of months, I have been attempting to get in touch with the real nature of “recovery from Mormonism”. This has led me to a new theory of recovery, which I describe below.

Life is a process of growing and maturing from an intellectual and emotional perspective. We go through many stages of growth. Pre-teen children must find their place in the family and with their friends and schoolmates. They struggle to learn about the world and learn how to interact socially with their peers. Through the teenage years, the process of socialization is paramount. People struggle to find their own identity, to become comfortable with their own sexuality, and they work on making the transition from childhood to adulthood. Education and learning are emphasized, as teenagers try to determine what career or job area they will take up. The world with all its political and social problems, becomes an area of interest and concern for teenagers.

As people reach adulthood (say age twenty-one) many are still struggling with and working on issues that became known to them in the mid- to late-teen years. The decade of one’s twenties is normally a period of major growth. Very few people are stable, mature adults at age twenty-one. People usually make major decisions such as marriage, family, and career during their twenties. Such decisions are fraught with problems and anxiety, and life often does not go smoothly. So people have to learn to handle problems and disappointment, and they must develop and refine their coping skills.

The growth and maturing of people continues through their thirties and forties, and even afterward. Hopefully a person is reasonably stable and squared-away in life by age thirty, but not necessarily. They should have learned to think and analyze, and should have good coping and survival skills. Problems of raising a family and job-related issues often come to the forefront during the thirties and early forties. As people grow, issues of marriage and relationships frequently arise. People who fell in love as teen-agers and married in their early twenties often discover that the fires of love have cooled and they need to find real world reasons to be happy and content with their spouse. Differences in viewpoints on politics, religion, and lifestyle must be faced and resolved.

Now, let me relate all this to Mormonism. The Mormon Church tries very hard to be the end-all answer to all its members. It is much more than just a set of religious beliefs. It tells you both what to believe and how best to live your life. It is a social organization, to which members turn for all their social needs. Mormons meet and date members of the opposite sex, and usually marry within the church. The young men often go on a mission, which usually serves to solidify their beliefs and participation in the church. Women are groomed to become mothers and rise the next generation of Mormons. The church preaches a lifestyle which is outwardly simple – live a righteous life, trust in God, be humble and prayerful, follow the teachings of the church, and then your life will be on track. If problems arise, it is just the Lord “testing you”, and He will help you to get through the problems.

In all of this the Mormon Church is a self-contained approach to life. The members obtain all their religious opinions from the church and they have all their social needs fulfilled there. Independent thinking is discouraged, as the church emphasizes obedience and unquestioning faith. This creates a life for members that is, in many ways, effectively cut off from the rest of the world. It is a form of social and intellectual inbreeding. There is no need to look further than the general authorities and the stake and ward leaders for truth, wisdom, and enlightenment.

The problem that Mormonism creates for its members is that it greatly interferes with the normal, healthy maturation and growth process that I described earlier. By providing a complete life for its members, by answering all of life’s questions, the Mormon Church stunts the intellectual and emotional growth of its members. By spoon feeding them all the answers, the church keeps the members in a dependent, child-like state. Instead of becoming healthy, independent adult thinkers, Mormons learn to look to the brethren for all the answers.

Most Mormons manage to find a reasonably stable life for themselves within the confines of the church, although it is not without its challenges. Many (probably a majority) of believing Mormons experience mental health problems because the answers provided by the church are frequently inadequate to deal with real world problems and challenges. The philosophy of “grin and bear it because the Lord is testing you” does not always work.

But when an adult Mormon decides, for a variety of reasons, that the Mormon Church is not “true” and is not the great answer to life that is claims to be, then that person faces a major challenge. In leaving the Mormon Church, the person needs to learn to think, analyze, and deal with the world and its challenges. No longer are all the answers handed to the person on a silver platter. That person needs to go through the growth and maturation process that was stunted for so long by Mormonism. Not all people are the same – some find the transition to ex-Mormon relatively easy, while others have a very difficult time.

So here we have the essence of the challenge of recovery from Mormonism – to learn to become a confident, self-reliant, independent thinking person who has the knowledge and self-assurance to trust in his/her own judgment. No longer is there an outside source (the Mormon Church) which provides all the answers. The person must learn to see oneself as he/she really is, to learn to see the world as it really is, and learn to successfully deal with and thrive in that real world.

The person who is leaving Mormonism must make up for all the years that were lost while being spoon-fed the answers to life by Mormonism. That is why recovery from Mormonism is often such a difficult, protracted process.




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