Leaving Isn't Easy

About a year ago, I posted about why I left the Mormon church. In the past year since that blog post, I have experienced a vast array of emotions surrounding the church, ranging from all out rage and hatred to simple indifference. I often find myself reflecting on my life up to the point I realized everything was a lie, and wonder how things would have been different. Would I have gotten married so early? Would I have had a career before children? Would I have experienced more life? Don't get me wrong - I believe the universe had a hand in everything my life has been up to this point - I believe I'm where I'm meant to be, with the people I'm meant to be with.
But I do wonder. I wonder why it took me so long to leave - why it took me so long to question things. I wonder at the type of people who stay in the church. I wonder why. I wonder, If they knew what I knew... would they stay? I wonder how I didn't see the gaslighting, the clear "us versus them" separation mentality, the indoctrination, and the manipulation.  I wonder how I ever thought true happiness could be found in fear. Because fear is what fuels so many members' faith. What kind of religion threatens eternal separation from your family if you leave? How did I ever think that was okay? What kind of religion encourages you to practice conditional love? I never realized how conditional so many people's love for others is until I left the church and saw it firsthand. "I love you, but only if you live the way I live. Only if you believe what I believe." As a member, I constantly heard the phrase, "Be in the world, but not of the world." Boom. Us versus them. We are superior - we have something no one else has. Stay with us, stay in the boat, don't stray or you'll be separated from your family for eternity, doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith, research isn't the answer, etc. etc. As humans, we all crave community - we all crave the feeling of belonging and of love. As members of the church, we know that if we leave, we lose our community, our friends, and many times the love of our family members, and that fear drives our faith. 

Leaving the church is hard. It's lonely. It's ostracizing, especially if you are in a primarily Mormon community. I feel so much love and empathy for anyone who has ever undergone a faith crisis and subsequently left the church in one of those communities. Their whole lives are turned upside-down, and many times they are left alone, with no friends or community to speak of. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly people can turn their backs on a person simply because they chose to forge their own path. Parents who stop speaking to their children, friends who are suddenly nowhere to be found, and neighbors who avoid eye contact. No, leaving the church isn't easy, because if it was... I have the feeling a lot more people would leave and never look back.