A few days ago, I was contacted by the editor of Salon – he wanted to know if he could use my story about attempting to resign from the Mormon Church for Salon’s main page. I said yes, typing out a reply as quickly as my fingers could manage. But then the doubts began to creep in. He wanted to use my real name. To date, I have been using the online name postmormongirl. Was I ready to go public with my identity? I told the editor to use the name Rachel Velamur, which is only a slight stretching of the truth. Velamur is my husband’s name; legally I go by my maiden name. People who know me well enough will be able to figure out my identity; passing acquaintances will not.
The result is the article “My Failed Mormon Resignation”. My attempts to have my name removed were youthful and inefficient. Nowadays, I would hire a lawyer to draft a letter stating my intent to resign and my request for privacy, have the letter notarized, and then I would send the letter to Church Headquarters via registered mail. But at the time I was young and poor and naive. Now I am older, cynical, and too tired to contemplate a step that might hurt my family. And since the Mormons now leave me alone, I guess I am OK with the situation. I am not happy, but I am OK.
When I started up my blog “A POST-MORMON LIFE”, my intentions were simply to write the story of my life as a Mormon and a post-Mormon. I was terrified when I first started posting my writing – I thought I was going to have to fend off angry people telling me that I was a horrible person and that I was nothing more than just an angry apostate who couldn’t leave the church alone. I was afraid but I was also determined to tell a tale of a girl who grew up Mormon and then found the courage to forge her own path in life.
The reality has been far different. People have been nice. Overwhelmingly nice. Between Donna’s good humor, Carol’s support in the weekly SiOB, and the hundreds of comments I have received in the past few months, I am now at a point where I realize there are a lot of really good people out there. People that have either gone through the same process of leaving or known someone who has. I also had the over-whelming honor of being profiled on a faithful Mormon’s blog – her comment was that I helped her understand one of her high school friends that left the Church. We have since been communicating regularly; I have a deep respect for her willingness to understand the different paths people take in life.
The process of writing has helped strengthen my conviction that people are inherently good. I am sure that if my writing receives more attention negative comments will start coming in. But the comments and e-mails I’ve received to date have been heart-warming, life-affirming, and a reminder of why I do what I do. I am grateful – so very grateful – that there is a vibrant and diverse community of post-Mormons and atypical Mormons that I can take refuge in. I am also grateful that I can reach a few more people with my story – no one should ever have to feel that they are alone.
Thank you all so much.