Why am I paranoid? Because everyone is out to get me. Thats why! If you were in my position, you would be paranoid too.
Imagine that you joined a super secret society. In order to join this secret society you had to prove your allegiance. You did this in many ways, one of which was to promise that you would never tell anyone else about the things you do in secret with the other members of the society. You also give of your own money to help the society's cause. You also attend several hours of meetings a week as well as doing volunteer work and accepting assignments as the leaders of the society feel so inclined. This society stands for something. You are also expected to attend a special worship session as often as you can in order to participate in the secret society's sacred ceremonies and rituals. You used to beleive and agree with everything that the society stands for.
Then, by sheer coincidence, you come across some information regarding the society of which you belong that does not agree with what you have been told. You find out how the society came to be. How it was created, how the rituals and ceremonies were created, and you find out that many of the founders of the society had some pretty crazy beliefs and idea's and were involved with some very bizarre practices that are both illegal and contradict what the society currently teaches and practices.
You feel like you must be wrong. You feel that the things you are learning must be wrong. Someone, maybe an enemy of the society, made all of this stuff up to discredit your society. Yet you continue to read and learn and you are able to find documents from the societies own archives that prove that the accusations are correct. All of the grand stories about how the society was formed and created are are lies. And to make it worse, the society continues to live the lie as if it doesn't matter, yet one of the main characteristics that the society deems most important is truth and honesty. Something that you now understand they do not practice themselves. You make a decision that you will leave the society and look elsewhere for a community that shares your same beleives and standards.
Imagine that everyone you know, all of your family, all of your friends, all of your neighbors, all of your co-works and colleagues from your professional life, are all members of this secret society. You used to have so much in common, yet now it seems that your beliefs and standards are at opposite polarities and the society makes it very clear where your allegiance needs to be. As a member of the society, you followed the creed that this society is the only society that will get you anywhere in life. There were benefits that made it all worth while. You now understand that those benefits are bogus and a lie, yet those within the society are taught to defend those beliefs at all costs.
You try to discuss your concerns with someone you care about and they attack you veamently, accusing you of all manner of gross immorality. They claim you have been taken in by the enemy of the society and that you must become ever diligent and obedient if you are to escape the enemy's grasp. The rumors of your plight spread like wildfire and soon it seems that everyone knows about your demise. The leaders of your society call you in and explain the seriousness of your disobedience and threaten you. You try to explain why you have doubts about the society and they scoff at you. They tell you that it is not true, or that it doesn't matter, and that you need to be obedient and forget all of those things you have read about.
You are at a cross-roads. You can't reconcile the things you have learned with the society that seems to be so good, but is very flawed from the foundation up. You can't just let it go. You would be living a lie and you can't do that. You have to get out. But you have heard stories of those who have left the society. Stories about spouses getting divorced and families broking up. You love your family more than anything. Your spouse is the love of your life and your children are everything to you. You don't want your family to be effected by you leaving the society.
Imagine that everyone you know treats you the same way that the leaders of the society treated you. They think less of you as a person. They look at you and see an enemy instead of someone they love. They treat you as an outcast. They act as if you are the enemy and that you are a sinner and have gone gone crazy. You can't attend parties or family functions without everyone talking about you around your back. When they talk to you it seems as though they are just being polite. Sometimes they tell you how you wrong you are and how great the society is. If you mention any of the things you learned about the society that bothers you they dismiss it and provide some convoluted and illogical and completely inaccurate reason for the subject. They don't take you seriously and only care about bringing you back to the society, not about your personal happiness. They eventually write you off as a lost cause and avoid you from then on.
Imagine if this weren't my imagination. I'm paranoid because the circumstances outlined above happens every day. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, AKA the Mormons, inflict this punishment on their acquaintances and loved ones on a daily basis. Families are torn apart. Friendships lost. All in the name of religion. The religion is more important than the relationship of a loved one. Members are told that loyalty to the society is more important than the ones you love.
Now, imagine if this was happening to you. This is happening to me. I know that many who read this blog are in the same boat. We are in a difficult place and we know what will happen if we voice our concerns. At this point, my wife is the only human I have discussed this with outside of the anonymity of the Internet. I'm lucky in that she shares some of the same concerns. It has only brought us closer together. I know that my wife and children are OK but I don't want them to be hurt because I have decided that I don't want to continue my membership in the church. I'm paranoid because I know what will happen if I go any further and I'm frightened enough to stay in limbo until I can figure out how to avoid the inevitable.