It has been 4 years to the day since I read the CES Letter and my shelf collapsed. It has been a wild, wild rollercoaster of change. I would say they have been the most transformative 4 years of my life. Let me list out a couple of the most noteworthy things:
- Became an Atheist
- Tried alcohol, tea, coffee, and weed
- Made (exmormon) friends as an adult
- Became suicidal for the first time
- Realized I was bisexual
- Became polyamorous
- Started getting mental health help
- Became Buddhist
- Moved to Utah for 3 months (but then moved back to Boise cause Utah is terrible)
- Enrolled in a Buddhist lay ministry class
- Met my girlfriend
- Lived with a neo-nazi
- My wife went to the mental hospital twice from suicide attempts
- Came out to my family as bi and poly
- Was banned from r/Exmormon (double apostate status!)
- Got a tattoo
Now here’s stuff just from 2018-now:
- My girlfriends mom (and basically my mother-in-law) got pancreatic cancer
- Went on the Exmormon themed cruise, The One True Trip, and had the time of my fucking life
- Met Sam Young and went to his march
- Left my wife because we got married at 18 and had grown into different people by the time we were 24
- Was homeless for a month
- Joined a KICK-ASS men’s support group chat with some noteworthy men on this sub (you know who you are!)
- Went to my first music festival and feel like I found the place I belong in healthy non-Mormon social circles
- Got my first apartment on my own
- Decorated my own room for the first time ever
- Adopted a dog who was abandoned by his previous owners
- Lost the job I had for 4 years
- Got a job that barely paid bills
- My car died, and somehow managed to find enough money to resurrect it
- Mother-in-law is cancer free
- My parents got divorced
- Reconnected with family I never got to see
- Decided I didn’t want to have kids
- It came out my dad cheated on my mom
- Overcame suicidal thoughts
- Applied to over 200 jobs and eventually found one where I’m making great money at a great company
- Pierced my ear
I never expected my life to take so may twists when I was a TBM. When I left the church it was devastating. I knew that the path laid out for my life just went up in a puff of smoke. That uncertainty, that undiscovered country, that NEW that life had dropped into me when I didn’t ask for it was terrifying.
I struggled for quite a while. The fire in my soul burned bright and hard for about 2 years. Like everyone who frequents this sub, I was angry that I had been raised in a lie that actively hurt me. I tried everything in my power to hurt it back. There were months where I spent 40+ hours a week researching Mormon stuff because of how deeply it hurt me finding out that the church was false. All things Mormon enveloped my life. I ran a public meet up and helped 40+ people find the Boise Post-Mormon Support Ward, and became known as the Boise Exmormon. I started taking all those little facts I found and making The Brutally Honest Mormon Coloring book. I started doing crazy research into what the church was doing, and became noteworthy in how the church deals with finances with my good friend /u/Hiking1950. I transcribed all of /u/Kolobot‘s kangaroo court the day after it was released. I was asked by /u/FearlessFixxer to join the groundfloor of Mormon Leaks, but declined (because I thought for sure they’d get their pants sued off of them).
The 3rd year I found that my anger was subsiding after I started to fill it with other things I loved like friends and hobbies. However, whenever I met another Exmormon I instantly felt a kinship with them. I figured this Mormon identity would likely be around with me in one form or another the rest of my life, so it would be healthy to come to terms with everything in my past and use it as a way to bond with others. I began work on a project that shows how being Mormon is a matter of ethicity, not strictly religious observance. That project naturally lead to my Jeffersonian Book of Mormon project. It’s been slow-going because of my crazy year last year, but I am 400+ pages into updating The Book of Mormon by removing the supernatural, making it modern English, and updating the morals. I hope it’ll be a good compromise for mixed-faith couples to read The Book of Mormon together. If not, it will be a version that Exmos can read when they’re feeling nostalgic for Mormon stories but don’t want the supernatural aspects.
The 3rd year also showed me how my ex-wife and I’s lives were no longer compatible. We weren’t happy in our relationship, so I left despite not having a place to go. It was just as hard and mind-warping as leaving the church. When you spend 18-24 with someone, you really grow into an adult with them. You trade a part of your souls that is hard to ever lose. There was a lot of hurt, resentment, and anger in the initial months of the seperation. However, her and I have talked and come to the conclusion that we don’t want nothing to do with each other. We want to be friends, just not partners. We have a play date scheduled for the dog her and I adopted and the dog I alone adopted this Sunday where they’ll meet for the first time.
During all of this, my girlfriend’s mom had cancer. I supported her through some of the darkest moments of her life, as she did the same for me. We were able to give support to each other like how I always needed. It’s hard to describe how complete and whole the love and support that I feel from her is. We were close before, but the crucible of 2018 has galvanized her and I’s relationship into a healthy long-term one. She supports me and loves me where I am, and encourages me to do better without being condescending, and I do the same for her.
The community of people I have found and made friends with IRL is the most supportive, wholesome, and caring folks I’ve ever met. We show up for each other on hard days, we go camping together, we talk through the hard shit, we help each other process and move on from past traumas as we laugh, sing, and dance.
I never expected to be this happy with my life. This type of happiness is fundamentally incompatible with the LDS church because they prescribe your life path to you and tell you that following it is the only true way to happiness. The life I have lived is one that I have trailblazed and found genuine, authentic happiness that very few people get to experience. In the words of Tyler Glenn, “I found myself when I lost my faith”.