Thursday, January 18, 2007

Who cares what other people think??!?

Emerging from the ashes wrote an interesting post about deciding what to tell her family about leaving mormonism.

In response to her post - it has taken me a long time to stop caring what people think of me. I'm not always good at it.

But it was a major breakthrough for me when I realized I no longer needed to care what the people I grew up with thought.

Because in the end, you're not going to please everybody. That's just life.

I realized (as I was leaving my former religion) that I was too caught up in what those people thought of me. I'm speaking specifically the other ward members.

I remember one of my sisters (who was still active at the time) told me some of the things my peers said about me. While no one likes to hear that they are being talked about - I found it very hard to care. Yes, at first it was hurtful. When I was a true believer mormon, I had searched and tried (in vain) to win the approval of these so called friends. I valued their opinions. They seemed to have it all together.

As I was leaving, I realized I had no reason to care about what they thought. I just spent more time with my friends and activities that had nothing to do with that religion. It's hard to care what other people think if you don't see them on a daily basis.

I already felt a distinct separation between my friends at church and friends outside. I really have no idea if they know why I left. No one talked to me about it. I'm sure they thought I had sinned or that I had been offended. I too emerging have been told (since that time) that I didn't give it a chance.

(quick tangent - it wouldn't matter if I had graduated from BYU, gone on a mission, married in the temple, had lots of kids and been published in the ensign - I still wouldn't have given it a chance).

Things are a bit more difficult when you are related to the person. Most of us search for acceptance from parents and family members all our lives.

I'm not suggesting that a person simply ignore any feedback or comments. This input can actually be quite valuable. And I feel it's important to re-evaluate your actions and decisions on a regular basis. What might have been right for you five years ago might not be right for you now.

In the end, I found that I was the person who was living my life and who needed to be happy with it. If someone thought, for example, that I shouldn't live with my boyfriend before we got married - that was their opinion. If they were disappointed in my choice, that's their problem. Not mine. I would have to live with the decisions I make - so I might as well decide to do what makes me happy.

I still value the relationships with family members who remain part of that religion. We disagree on many things. We try to focus on the positives of our relationship and not discuss religion. We have an unspoken rule that we don't discuss religion or spirituality. So far, it's worked pretty well.

I'm not advocating lying or deception by any means. If someone wants to discuss some of these issues with me, I'll discuss them. Yet I'm almost certain they will not want to hear my evidence.

And if they want to be disappointed in another person's decisions - that's their choice, not mine.


Freckle Face Girl said...

I think that is a very healthy approach. I haven't had the difficulty leaving that many people do. It became known about the time of my parents' divorce and everyone was too re-occupied to care. Now, a decade later, one of my brothers (an RM) mentioned that he knows that once you stop going it is just easier not to go back. I just chuckled because that is not a bad way of looking at it. I don't know how they felt about my years of living in sin with a boyfriend. I do know that they love my non-Mormon husband.

Aerin said...

Thanks FFG. It gets much more difficult when you are related to someone than just going to church with them.

It's not easy. And it takes a long time. I left at 16. I found out at 21 when I was dating my current husband that my parents were disappointed because it meant I wasn't coming back.

It seemed pretty obvious to me (I didn't go to BYU or on a mission - I had no interest in attending church whatsoever.) But they were still floored. Go figure.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

My sister is still "in" and tells me when someone asks about me. It's strange. We both laugh and snort over it. Come on! As if you REALLY care about me...we think they are just digging for the latest dirt on me from my sister.

Aerin said...

SML - chanson let me know on her blog that you were in our grandparents ward.

no WAY!! I was in that ward for a year or so when I was 10. I don't remember too many people. But I remember some.

It is a small world. When I read that you were from Montana - I thought you might know of them, but I thought there was little chance of that.

And - if I know my uber tbm grandparents, they are asking about you. ;)