This is the agony that faithful members of the church simply cannot understand. We have them visit us here periodically on the forum, challenging us on why it hurts to leave the church, and how everyone is free to believe whatever they want, the church doesn't hold a gun to anyone's head and make them attend or pay their tithing, blah, blah, blah. They have no idea what the real pain is. It's not their fault--they have not had this experience, and from their perspective, it makes no sense. They simply cannot wrap their minds around that which is not real to them.I'd add to this that most people in general don't get this.
The real pain is in the knowledge that in the eyes of your faithful Mormon friends and family members, you have failed. You don't measure up. They may continue to love you, but now you are the prodigal child. You have strayed from the fold, soiled the family name, and because they are good and righteous people, they will continue to extend their love to you, but now it is out of pity, not respect.
It no longer matters the quality of your character. It no longer matters the quality of family you raise, the quality of life you live, the love you extend to others, the accomplishments you achieve, the things you learn, the lives you touch...all that matters is that you failed. You are a disappointment to your parents, to the church, and ultimately to God.
My heart just aches when I read over that, because it's so true. It's been almost six years since I made the decision to leave the church. I'm still dealt with rather... awkwardly by my family. Maybe it's just the way I perceive it, but, nevertheless, that's how it feels.
It feels like they're all uncomfortable around me.