One of the reasons that I think Mormonism resembles a cult is because it 100% envelops your life. Your weekly plans, your friends, your free time, it all links back to the Church. In many ways, this can be positive (no ways come to mind immediately, but I’m sure they exist). It also means that when you leave the Church, whole aspects of your life disappear. And some little habits… they linger. Here are a few.
Church services. I’ve gone to a couple Christian services with family. It always astounds me. What do you mean it’s only an hour? Why are these women wearing pants? You can do that? And what the hell is this music? This doesn’t sound like a hymn. It sounds like a garage band rendition of a Dave Matthews song with dramatic lyrics. And where are the screaming children? In Nursery? What is that? Like, I could fill a book with all the nuanced differences between a Mormon service and a non-denominational service: it still confuses me.
Early modern English (AKA “thee” and “thou”): I might be reading Beowulf or teaching Shakespeare. One of those early modern words pops up and I expect to see bowed heads and crossed arms or Books of Mormon.
A group of young men in white collared shirts. I always expect them to start singing or bring me torn bread on a tray. Or wearing those black badges. Usually, it turns out that it’s a group of students doing a band concert. But that initial glance, it brings on a flashback.
That first tank top of summer. This happens every damn year. The thermostat hits 80, I put on a tank top and go to the store. And the whooooooooole way, I feel like I am wearing lingerie at an Amish gathering. My damn shoulders are showing! Cover those babies, quick, before someone knows your shame! Lucky for me, this passes after a few days of anxiety. It re-surfaces every time I am trying to impress someone. I am still nervous to wear something without sleeves to work.
That first bikini. Oh man. I borrowed it from my sister. I wore it on the beach in Florida. I felt like everyone was looking at me. No one was looking at me.
Short-shorts. I still don’t wear these. Not only because I can’t pull them off, but what if someone knows I’m not wearing my garments!
Going into the liquor store. I am twenty-five and going into a liquor store still feels like something naughty and forbidden. I literally shake. Try to act cool, Molly. Act cool! You can imagine what I looked like visiting a pot store in Colorado.
“It’s Sunday, so such-and-such is closed.” This brings on Idaho-flashbacks, when the entire town shut down on Sunday. Except for Wal-Mart. But if you risked going to the Wal-Mart, the odds were high that you would run into someone else who “shouldn’t” be at Wal-Mart (AKA someone from your ward). That was my weekly walk of shame. Not to mention, we smuggled those Wal-Mart bags into our apartment building like they were drugs and all of our neighbors were DEA agents.
Ring-checking. I still ring-check people. I was in a singles ward for SIX MONTHS, I have been married for over six years, but the ring-check skills I learned at the YSA: it’s Jason Bourne-level. I can’t help my training!
Coffee. Waking up to that sweet, sweet sin in the morning. It took me several months to learn to use a coffee pot. And to resist the urge to hide it.
Guilt. This one is common for us “ex-mo’s”. We don’t feel guilt for leaving the Church necessarily, but we find other ways to be guilty. Mormonism basically teaches that if you do something right, it’s secretly God working through you, and it you do something wrong then it’s you, you filthy heathen. As a result, we find ourselves on the constant quest to second-guess ourselves and feel guilty over stupid shit. Seriously, ask an ex-mo. This next one doesn’t help…
Feeling like everyone is talking about you. Mormons are seriously the most gossipy/judgey people I’ve met. They judge your family, your fashion choices, your extended family, your family-history, your praying, your public speaking, your testimony-bearing skills, your parenting choices, your scripture read-out-loud, your decorating style, craft skills, cooking abilities, gospel knowledge, calling, occupation, and whether your undergarments can be seen through your clothes. It’s no wonder that I tend to think everyone is judging me.
Celebrating the little things. I get to sleep in on Sunday. I can wear appropriate clothes during the summer. I don’t have to worry about my pronoun usage if I choose to communicate with a higher power. Exmormonism is the best. *Fist pump*