I won't grow up. So what if I'm going to be thirty-five in two weeks and have taken on adult responsibilities? (job, committed relationship, kids, mortgage...)
I don't ever want to stop reinventing myself. And reinventing myself requires knowing the raw me that I'm starting from; constantly reassessing who I am, what I've done, who I've been.
That's why I'm never been partial to the recovery model in which "recovering" means getting to the point of never thinking about or speaking about Mormonism again. I don't feel like I need to forget my past in order to move forward.
Changing your world-view always entails some difficulty, pain, and disorientation. If you're in a state where Mormonism is haunting you against your will -- in your home, in your family, in your mind -- then "recovery" is the best word for what you need. And a support network of fellow exmormons is a good place to turn for help. But for former Mormons to continue to contemplate Mormonism on their own terms is normal and healthy. To believe otherwise is to grant that those who leave the church must leave it alone and have no right to their own past.
I think that recovery is only one part of why exmos befriend each other online. To me it's one of three main facets of exmormonism on the Internet: recovery, self-discovery, and community.
JLO's fun new "Know your blogger" feature is a great illustration of how these three aspects of Internet exmormonism work together: by sharing feelings and experiences related to recovery, we build friendships and community. Check out his first three installments: Fiddley Gomme, The Sinister Porpoise, and A New Eric.
(And while you're at it, don't forget to check out the last few installments of "Carnival of the Veil": here and here.)
Making positive social connections with interesting people is a big part of what blogging and forums are about for me. So it always surprises me to see how many people see the word "exmormon" as a negative way to identify yourself (as JLO discovered here -- not to pick on that one blogger or anything, I hope she'll join our community).
It's true that the first part -- "ex" -- is a negative, but the second part -- "Mormon" -- isn't. Many people who have been Mormon refuse to identify as anything that has anything to do with the word Mormon. So to identify as "exmormon" (or "exmo") is as much a way of saying "Mormonism has been a part of my life" as it is a way of saying "I am not Mormon". It means admitting to be a type of cultural Mormon along with active Mormons, jack-Mormons, etc.
Another reason that "exmo" is seen as a negative term is because a lot of exmo bonding looks like bonding over griping. But I think it's typical for friends to bond over griping when they have shared gripes. It's a way to share sympathy and solutions.
If you follow my blog, it should be pretty obvious by now how self-serving this three-pillar model is. I never had much to recover from -- Mormonism has caused me very little grief compared to the exmo average. Yet Mormonism has been an important part of my life, my formative years, my family, and my family history. And I love navel-gazing (I mean, y'know, self-discovery ;-) ), and loooooove making friends and exchanging ideas on the Internet.
Particularly with people I have something in common with, such as fellow cultural Mormons.