Untangling the Knot

Three years ago this month, I mailed my resignation letter to Greg Dodge at Member Records in Salt Lake City. There was nothing special about my letter. I used the generic resignation letter from Kathy Worthington’s website, www.MormonNoMore.com. I didn’t bother to explain all the reason’s I don’t believe. They’ve heard it before. I didn’t bother to notarize it or send it certified mail. Why? Quite honestly, I believe the church has nothing to gain by keeping me a member and I felt confident they would honor my request quickly. And they did. My resignation went smoothly and it was processed within 2 weeks. There were no phone calls, no missionaries and no one contacted my extended family. They completely respected my wishes.
For me, resigning was more of a formality. My heart and mind had left the church years prior, so it wasn’t a situation where I felt unsure about my decision.
Prior to finding Kathy’s website, I had contemplated asking my local Bishop to excommunicate me. It sounds strange, but I didn’t realize people could resign. The only thing that held me back from asking for excommunication was my family. I knew if my mother thought I had been excommunicated, it would break her heart. I still can’t face the rejection from my extended family, either. Being an “inactive” member is bad enough, but telling them I voluntarily resigned would be like announcing a terminal illness.
Before my grandmother passed away she said, “Caryn, I miss you. I worry about you, Eric and your children. I wonder if you’re going to be part of my family circle in the next life…” How could I look her in the face and say, “No Grandma, I won’t be with you in the Celestial Kingdom; I don’t believe it exists. I love you with all my heart. It’s time that I be true to myself and do what’s best for my family.” That’s what I wanted to say. I wanted to be completely honest. It’s how I was raised and it’s who I am. But when I stand back and examine the situation, I wonder who will my honesty be hurting? In reality, I can take the disappointment, the yelling and the looks of pity. I’ve been dealing with that for years now. I just can’t fathom losing my family completely because of this. So, instead of telling her I don’t believe, I smiled and truthfully told her, “Thank you for your concern Grandma. I know you worry. I love you so much. I’m confident that we’ll be together again. Thank you for loving me.”
After she passed away, I was thinking about what Boyd K. Packer said, “Some things that are true are not very useful.” I thought about what I’ve been doing. Like the church, I’m not telling them the facts because it’s not “useful” or productive. It’s not going to benefit them in any way once they find out I’ve left the church. On the contrary, they are going to be very distressed and hurt. It’s something that is with me constantly, in the back of my mind. When my parents call me I wonder, “Is this it? Do they know I’ve resigned? Are they calling to express their concern and disappointment with my decision?” I know that if my family asks me, I won’t be able to lie to them. It will eventually come out. I feel like the time is drawing near and I need to tell them soon. I would rather that they hear it from me. I don’t want them to stumble upon it; it would be too painful for them and I feel like I’ve caused them enough pain.
I have felt inspired these last few weeks after reading Lemon Blossom’s blog. She wrote her family a letter and let them know about her choice to leave the church. I applaud her strength and I appreciate her for sharing her experience.
Then this evening I was reading someones blog and they mentioned Pete (Fiddley Gomme) had told his TBM wife about his blog. Damn! You rock, Pete. Hell, if Pete can take that step, so can I.
I’m gathering my strength and my nerve so I can tell my family. I don’t want to hide behind my Sacred Sister moniker. I have avoided socializing with and meeting my fellow bloggers because I worry the word will get back to my family. It’s all absurd and I’m tired of worrying about it. This is the final thread in the knot that links me to the LDS church. However, I’m keeping in mind that this is also the thread that connects me to my family. I will be struggling the next few weeks to untangle my thoughts and pull that thread free… hopefully without permanently damaging that relationship.
Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated!

cross-posted from my blog, The Sacred Sister

The Sacred Sister

I was born in the covenant and raised in an active Mormon home. I made the decision to formally resign from the church in 2004. I consider myself agnostic. I'm married to an atheist and "nevermo". We are raising our children in the beautiful, Pacific Northwest.

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4 Responses

  1. fta says:

    Good luck with that, SS. I also just resigned, and have had many of the same concerns as you regarding family. I’d rather my parents hear about my resignation from me than from seeing my ordinances canceled on a family group sheet. But I also don’t want the pain of telling them. I also want my own religious convictions to remain private. I am torn.

    There’s no manual for this, is there?

  2. Hellmut says:

    Better an end in terror than terror without end.

  3. When I came out as a non-believer, I took the time to let my family know. I told them why. I also explicitly stated how important family still was to me and then asked for their help in keeping the family together. I have found that when we ask for help, people generally respond well. It makes us partners and allows them to exercise their own freedom of choice to come to our aid. They feel good about helping you. If we make it a confrontation, then their pride may force them to do things that they don’t really want to do: ostracize you.

    I found it much easier to organize my thoughts in written form so that I could say all that I needed to. I’m even less eloquent in person. 🙂

  4. JOOM says:

    It’s like getting into the pool. You can torture yourself by slowly getting into the pool and freeze second by second or you can dive in and get it over with in an instant. I really just came out and said we’ve left and if you want to know why you can ask. Nobody ever asked! It’s been a year and things are looking up. I am true to myself…and that is something they can’t take away.

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