Why I Left the Church Is Also Why I'm Going Back

by | Aug. 05, 2017

Mormon Life

Spiraling to Rock Bottom

So that's when I gave up. After months and months of trying, after working myself to physical and emotional exhaustion, after giving up on my writing, and after walking away from everything that made me me with little to no results, I was done. I had come to one conclusion:

Some bones will never set. 

Some wounds will never heal. 

And, no matter how hard you try, some mistakes can never go back to the way they were before. 

It was over. The damage--on a grand, eternal scale--was irrevocably done. I had failed my personal mission, and there was nothing I could do about it. I had to accept my reality...

       "You can't do this, Misty.
You aren't good enough.
       And you never will be."

I walked away from everything I believed in. If I could put my trust in faith and make the "right choice," then why did it continue to hurt so badly? Why were things still so very, very messed up? Why, when I was doing everything I had been told and everything I was supposed to do, wasn't the repentance process working? What was wrong with me? That's when I decided I had been entirely too much of a disappointment. That I had fallen past the point of no return. And that's when I quit. I no longer had a testimony. Of anything. I had no idea who I was, what I was doing, or why I was even here. I gave up, not just on the concepts I'd known and believed in my entire life. I gave up on me. I gave up on mortality. I was done.

My love for my family was the only thing that kept me going. Regardless of what I believed, I had still made commitments to them. So I tried my best to keep myself, my home, and my family together. But I had to do it with little to no motivation, little to no faith in myself or anything else, and eventually--like an engine running on nothing but fumes--I burned out. I sputtered and I choked and--through a downward spiral of unrealistic expectations, depression, anxiety, and uncontrollable mood swings--landed myself in an Intensive Care Unit for three days. That's when I had to admit I wasn't just emotionally and spiritually done. I was physiologically done as well. I'd literally ran myself into the ground. Into a deep, dark, dingy hole. And there was nowhere left to go but up.

Starting to Rebuild

It was then that I finally began to heal. The ultimate diagnosis? Severe panic disorder, spotted with bouts of high anxiety, and exasperated by radically fluctuating hormones. I'd become so preoccupied with living up to everyone's expectations (including my own) that it, quite literally, terrified me not to meet them. I somehow talked my way out of inpatient care, promised to see an OB, a therapist, and a psychiatrist. I scowled my way through sessions, subjected myself to rather uncomfortable testings and treatments, showed up religiously (sometimes several times a week) to therapies to discuss my "sordid childhood" and "just how it made me feel" and practice "coping" techniques, and endured roller-coaster results. I acquiesced to letting others make decisions for me, put on a happy face so as not to tip anyone outside of my husband off to my struggles, and took my various medications like a good little patient.

And eventually, to my great surprise, it began to work. Slowly I got my life back. I had to make sacrifices, alter my lifestyle and diet, change perceptions, and let go of expectations, but it was working. I was feeling better than I had in a very, very long time. After a few months the panic attacks had all but stopped, there were very few triggers left, and everything seemed to be coming together. 

Well, almost everything.

Something was still missing. No matter how much better I felt, my husband was still miserable, and we still struggled to get back the dear, sweet connection we once had. Not that I didn't know deep down inside what the culprit was. Josh had expressed several times his desire to go back to church, to have that spiritual reinforcement. But as far as I was concerned, I was doing better than I had ever been as an active member and the last thing I wanted to deal with was more obligations and expectations, especially when I had finally found a balance to the ones I already had. Or, at least, that's how I thought I felt.

The truth was, I still didn't feel worthy. Sure, I could run a house like a well-oiled machine, "mother hen" like nobody's business, and look smokin' hot in curls and a Wonder Woman t-shirt for date night, but I was no longer "Molly Mormon" enough. I could no longer get through a Relief Society discussion without crumpling into panicky fits of hyperventilation. I could no longer feel the Spirit during Sacrament. I was no longer one of the "elites" that the Bishop "didn't have to worry about." Inside I had accepted the fact that I was never going to make it to the Celestial Kingdom. As far as the outside world was concerned, however, I was Super Woman, and I didn't want to have to admit I really wasn't.

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