Thursday, July 11, 2013

Other Resources

Here is a list of some of the resources that have been helpful for me, as I've been working to peel off the layers of "programming" that I no longer feel are true or helpful. I use the word programming, not to be extreme or critical, but it's a word that describes well the experience. There are things that when I am in a peaceful, clear place I no longer believe (ie. "The LDS church is the ONE, TRUE church," "I can never be as happy outside the church as within the church," "That it is of Satan, or the dark side, to think critically of leaders, or doctrine" "God is a man whom my actions are offending," "If I am disloyal to the church I will end up in the telestial kingdom (where I am trapped in a place I can't progress, without my loved ones)," "that there even is a literal telestial kingdom (where other people can get trapped without their loved ones").

I don't believe these perspectives anymore. But, when I am feeling more vulnerable. When I'm feeling worn down, When I'm grieving a loss, esp. around leaving the church (i.e. realizing I can no longer attend the wedding of a friend who's preparing for marriage), when I'm longing for love and acceptance from the culture I've known, when I'm searching for certainty regarding something for which there may not be certainty, etc. then it's like a switch, and my mind starts running through the thoughts, and even though I know I don't believe them anymore, they run their "recording." They play through like a recorded tape...bringing up fear, confusion, etc.

After this happens, I usually have to take a little time, sometimes a few days, to re-center. To remember that it is just that...programmed thoughts, and that I can continue to think in a way that makes more sense to me now, and allows me to take more personal responsibility for my own life, and what I want to create here and now.

These resources have been helpful for me when I've gotten off center, they've provided a place where I've felt I'm not alone, I'm not crazy, and where I've been reminded that rebuilding a healthy, beautiful life isn't always easy, but it's possible. And, over time, it gets better :)

This list is in no certain order:

A website by Marleen Winell who has focused her mental health efforts on recovery from literalist or fundamentalist religion. I especially resonated with her thoughts on "religious trauma syndrome," simply a name for symptoms. I don't believe everyone experiences these same symptoms. Because I had based so much of my identity and so many of my life choices on the theology of Mormonism, I found myself experiencing a fair amount of distress upon leaving. Her book and website have helped me keep things in perspective when I was going through my "faith transition" and experiencing many of these symptoms, which often left me wondering if I was crazy and "what was wrong with me." There's also a link to a video of a talk she gave on recovering from a literalist or fundamentalist religion.

A website dedicated to helping those who are transitioning out of mormonism, but want to do so in a healthy way. While there may be anger during the grieving process, the idea is to move through it, and come to a place of peace where one allows oneself to be where they are. At the same time honoring that the religion was once a part of one's life, and that experience will most likely always have some influence on how our mind works. For me the most interesting part was reading the different "exit" stories.

Letter written by a man named Jeremy Runnels in April 2013 to a CES director about the how he lost his testimony. The letter summarizes points of history and deception that were troubling to this man when he discovered them. It's a long letter, but covers most of the points that are of concern for people who face the issues of dishonesty around the church claims of historicity. Many, if not most, of the references are from Church materials themselves.

A blog written by David Twede (a former managing editor, and current contributor and He was raised a 5th generation Mormon, and resigned his membership in Oct. 2012).

The blog of an LDS bishop (Steve Bloor) who resigned his church membership while he was Bishop of his ward.
His letter of resignation to the Stake Pres, and one to the ward can be found at this link:

“Remembering the wives of Joseph Smith.” a series that was written up on the different wives of Joseph Smith. I think it was written by mostly, or all, LDS authors. It was helpful for me to have some of the facts. One question I had for myself while reading was, if I'm going to give Joseph Smith this or that excuse for why he did what he did (or give him the benefit of the doubt), why am I not willing to give Warren Jeffs...or others who've used their power in a such a way to manipulate those who are in a place of submission due to the power differential, the benefit of the doubt?

Podcasts: : Podcast hosted by John Dehlin. The podcast was helpful for exposure to the facts in a forum that was attempting as best it could to be fair and balanced. I will say that I did sometimes sense some slight bias, due to where the host is with his own journey, but considering our humanness and the reality that as long as we have an emotional investment in something we're always biased, he does a pretty amazing job of staying open with his questions. It was also interesting to hear snapshots of people's stories or experiences, from a more “emotional” perspective. While I haven't kept up as regularly as I used to, I'm still interested in some of the podcasts, and it does still help me to go back and listen if I find myself dealing with hurt or anger again.

Living After Faith blog & podcast. For me, it was sometimes helpful to get out of reading and exploring ONLY the stories of those who had left mormonism. It was also helpful to read the stories of those from other faith traditions who had left their faith. This was helpful because I was able to see that the pain, fear, loss, confusion....I experienced in my process was very similar (sometimes identical in certain aspects) to the pain, fear, loss and confusion of someone leaving the baptist faith, or the presbyterian faith, or the Jehovah's Witnesses. I was able to see that the same tactics that held people in a belief pattern in other faiths, were the ones that were employed in the LDS church (I'm not saying it was intentional or conscious). Seeing the patterns outside of myself & my experiences has been helpful (because it's always more difficult to see it in myself).

Authentic Living
You can find this podcast free to download on iTunes. It's hosted by a therapist named Andrea Matthews, and while it's not focused on religion, it does cover on some interesting topics that I think can be influenced by our religious beliefs. She recently added an interesting on "who would you be without your morals," and an interesting one on shame...I forget the title. One that I also really liked was "what's the difference between spiritual thinking and magical thinking."
Mormon expression is hosted by John Larsen. He hosts a variety of different guests, from a vareity of perspectives. It's definitely more openly biased than mormon stories (and the hosts are upfront about that), but I found it a helpful resource for information, as well as a way to allow myself to experience some anger. Because I don't necessarily like feeling angry (and i've always believed it was a “bad” emotion. it's easy for me to put my anger under the rug, and give all the reasons why I forgive and don't feel angry, but for me to really get into a place that felt good for me, it was important to not ignore the things I was angry about (and should be angry about... if I'm wanting to get more clear with myself and what kind of a person I want to be. I have found that my anger has helped me see more clearly where I was closed-minded, hurtful and manipulative...and this has been helpful. When I can recognize this and forgive myself and others, realizing I was doing my best, I find more of the hurt releasing, and the anger then genuinely dissipates). Anyways, I find that when I need some humor and an outlet for my anger it's a good resource.

I also find I have to be balanced with all of this stuff. If I get “addicted” to the podcasts (which I sometimes have), then I start to feel an overflow of anger and confusion, and sometimes I need to break from it to process it and move beyond it, before returning. I also find the need to remind myself that just like the church isn't the authority on my life (like I had given it previously), neither are these people the authority on my life. I honor their work and am SO grateful, but it's always important to come back into my own center and be honest about what's presently helpful and what's not. To remember that above all, since I'm the one that gets to live my life, it's important I'm aware of how I want to experience it, and what I'm doing that's supporting those deepest dreams.