Thanks to the strength I got from 1) my fiancee, 2) my sister-in-law, and 3) from an Ex-Mormon group on Reddit at reddit.com/r/exmormon I was finally able to write a letter to my parents about how I feel about them treating me differently since I left the faith. I sent my parents this letter yesterday:
"Dear Mom and Dad,
I've been wanting to tell you this for a very long time, but it seems
every time the discussion of religion comes up, I feel like you don't
listen to me and won't acknowledge how I really feel. You come across as
if you ignore the issue, it will go away. This is not something that
you can ignore. What I have chosen for my life is not a "phase." I need
you to understand that.
My decision was not easy. It was not something I did out of spite or
to purposefully hurt my family. It was an entirely personal decision and
was not intended as an attack on anyone else's beliefs. I do my best to
respect others' beliefs as I would want my own to be respected. Still, I
have had a lot of difficulty with my decision, mainly with my family
and LDS friends. I feel that I am treated differently because of my
choices, when I am really a much happier person. I may have lost every
single LDS friend because I no longer believe in God, but I have made
some lifetime friends that have really been there for me and for who I
am. The reason I don't come around as much to be with the family is
because I feel I am looked down upon and I am treated that I need to
come back to the faith to be fully recognized by the family. It becomes
very difficult to want to spend time with the family when I feel
devalued and disrespected. Please, I don't want to argue I just want to
let you know how I feel. I don't want an explanation, I don't
necessarily need an apology. I just want you to recognize how you have
come across to me and why I no longer feel like a full member of the
The reason I left the faith is in and of itself a complex experience.
It boils down to the fact that in all my research of the faith I found
too many things that are contradictory to the core beliefs of the faith.
I felt that too many points in the history of the church that were
hidden or sugar coated. I was confused and began to doubt myself as well
as the faith. After a long time of being confused, questioning my own
beliefs, and research, I made the only choice I felt was right for me. I
am still a person who strives to be good, kind, honest, and trustworthy
but I no longer choose to associate these actions with a faith. Again,
this is how I feel. Religion has it's place and I am not saying anyone
who lives in said religion is wrong or evil. Each person has to come to
their own decision on what and how they want to believe or worship. The
LDS Faith even teaches this in Article of Faith 11.
I just want you to know where I stand and I want to be treated as an
equal, to return as a full member of the family. If you want to discuss
any specific issues I have as to why I left the faith I am open for
honest discussion- as long as this discussion can be civil, respectful,
and without condemnation. I only wish to improve my relationship with my
family, not to place blame or be hurt.
I then waited for a response. I did not get one until the next morning, today, when my mother texted me. At first she was accusing me. Saying that they didn't treat me differently than my other siblings that are still within the faith. It seemed like my letter was written to them in vain. Then I started to show her where they did and something clicked.
I told her that just asking me to pray when she knows I no longer
believe in God is offensive to me. I told her it would be the same as if
I asked her to read "The God Delusion" because I thought it could help
with something in her life.
I told her life does not have to revolve completely around church and we
can connect just as family. After about an hour she came back and said, "in my
management courses we were told people can't change unless they know
something is wrong. It's time for me to realize I have some changes to
make. I love you. I hope we can connect more because of this
conversation. I sure want to."
I couldn't believe the change. I wasn't really expecting much from the letter. I just had to let them know. It was freeing. It lifted a huge weight of my shoulders and I couldn't contain my smile. I was thinking, "wow, there might actually be some progress with my mom." I really doubt my father will ever come out and say anything to me. I am pretty sure he will ignore the letter and never speak of religion to me again. Which, if even that is all he can do, is better than them condemning me.
With this happening the way it did, I finally feel I am ready to remove my name from the LDS Faith records. Thank you to all of those who have been there for that I have and have not mentioned. I have some amazing friends!