Collette’s incredible journey covers betrayal in her first marriage, genetic illness in two of her children, financial ruin leading to a multi-million dollar business, and advancement through and eventual separation from Mormonism.

Part One: 

Born and raised in Rexburg, Idaho in a devout LDS family, the oldest of 10 children, Collette and her first husband had five children, two of whom were born with Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease. At 14 years old, Collette’s daughter passed away after a rejected double lung transplant and medically-induced coma.  Collette describes rushing into her first marriage at a young age because of guilt induced from clergy interviews when she confessed to youthful indiscretions. Her second marriage also ended in divorce.

Part Two: 

After three months of intensive care for her daughter and her second daughter who was also living with CF, Collette had accrued over $1,000,000 in medical bills. Collette describes her first time seeking help from the State Welfare Office. That year, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation provided Christmas gifts for Collette’s children.

Collette found great success working with Usana, a new career opportunity that allowed Collette the chance to earn an income from home while taking care of her children. When the company expanded to Australia, Collette moved there for a year with her children. From there, they spent time expanding the market in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Korea.

Collette’s third marriage unfolds like a fascinating movie script. Listen to the interview to hear how Collette and her husband, the love of her life, found each other.

Participation in LDS-led Prop 8 advocacy in California gave Collette the opportunity to exercise her faith and obedience, but standing on California street corners holding pro-Prop 8 banners forced her to question her actions and faith. The “Exclusion Policy” of November 2015 was a final straw for Collette.

Links to other topics referenced in this interview:

Part 1 – “Sometimes My Heart Is So Full, It Leaks Out My Eyes”

Part 2 – Building a New Life and Career in Her 40s, Plus Advice for Her Younger Self and the Rest of Us

Part 1

Download MP3

Part 2

Download MP3


  1. Donna August 29, 2018 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    Hi. I just watched your Mormon story and I also saw you talk to Sam Young. I felt your inspiration. I am 55 years old and my life exploded over the last 2 years. I Was a TbM for 48 years and have a son on a mission. I sent 3 dins on missions. My 36 year old temple marriage fell apart a year ago after the son left on his mission for similar reasons as your first divorce… except my husband was better at hiding it. He was my high school sweetheart who I married because of guilt, shame and external / internal pressure from the church similar to you . We had 4 kids and I was determined to prove myself worthy. I was relief society and yw president Etc. I grew up and lived in north San Diego county for 35 years. I might have been in your ward /stake at some point. Our stories are so similar, except I was sexually abused as a child and when the bishop was told he did nothing to the perpetrator. In my marriage my husband used patriarchal /emotional/abuse/control and Mormon doctrine to keep me stuck in the marriage .. . Recently, finding the protect LDS children movement led me to the Rabbit hole. I am devastated and need someone to talk to. Are you willing to talk to me. My divorce was just final. I feel I broke the abuse chain as recently My daughter got the courage to divorce her temple marriage husband because of my courage. Her ex was engaged two months after their divorce and she had to give him a temple clearance. She wishes she could warm his 19 year old fiancé abt him. Anyhow, My shelf broke. I have spent thousands of hours now studying and listening to podcasts and discovering church isn’t true. I am so confused on how to handle my situation.

    • Anna September 4, 2018 at 6:07 pm - Reply

      Donna, my heart goes out to you. I just wanted to send my love your way. You are brave! You can do this!

    • Laura Long September 8, 2018 at 11:01 am - Reply

      Hi, Donna. I don’t know you, but I wanted to tell you that I respect your courage! Do you have a way that you can find a therapist to talk to? I think it would be helpful if you could have somebody with lots of experience in listening to help you process everything you’ve been through. Best of luck, and there IS life on the other side of the Rabbit hole! Sincerely, Laura

  2. Lisa August 30, 2018 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    Thank you Collette for telling your story and sharing your bravery. I could relate to so many parts of your life’s journey. Prop H8 propelled me into my personal search and rapid journey away from the LD$ church. As a nurse who has worked with many CF children over the years my heart is with you knowing the very difficult path you have walked and the deep love you have for all your children. I am so sorry for the loss of your precious daughter Lexi.

    • Collette Larsen September 2, 2018 at 12:38 am - Reply

      Thank you Lisa – for listening to the podcast…but even more for your care of CF children. As I’m sure you know, they are very special. I have so much love for the incredible doctors,nurses and other caregivers who helped us over the years – truly the most selfless people on the planet.

      I hope you’ve found peace and fulfillment in your post-mormon life. Prop 8 was such a wake-up call for me but unlike you…mine was not a rapid journey. I had so much fear! It does feel like doing the interview with John is helping me finally move through some of that fear of exposure to the point where, hey…it’s my life and I’m too old to not live it authentically! All the best to you, Lisa – and thanks again…


  3. D&C August 30, 2018 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Hi Collette!

    What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. We went to junior high and high school at the same time, we were a couple years behind you. We always shop in your dads clothing shops. He was a wonderful man! My dad had a hardware store just two doors to the west from your dad’s stores. You are right…Rexburg is “The Fine Center of The Universe “. We also went through a faith adjustment and resigned from the corporation in March of this year. You talk about the freedom you now have and that is so true. Thank you!

    FYI…We pulled out our junior high year books and saw your picture as a cheerleader in the 9th grade!

    • Collette Larsen September 2, 2018 at 12:43 am - Reply

      Oh my goodness, D&C…I’m dying to know who you are! Yes, of course I remember the hardware store…but I’m blanking on the name of it. I know Anderson’s Photography was right there along with a jewelry store…Grants? All so long ago. Yes, my dad was just awesome. He passed away in June of 2015 and I miss him terribly.

      Congratulations on finding your truth and living an authentic life. I love that you said “resigned from the corporation” – so true.

      Yes, that was me…a cheerleader in 9th grade. Good old Madison Junior High.

      Thank you for reaching out to me…always so fun to run into someone from Rexburg.



    • Collette Larsen September 2, 2018 at 12:59 am - Reply

      Okay, D&C – this is the second time I’ve replied to your message, so if you get two responses…just know I’m not that technically savvy!

      I’m dying to know who you are. Of course I remember the hardware store – I just can’t remember the name of it right now. Was it a Western Auto store – that rings a bell. There was also Anderson Photography and a jewelry store – Grants? It was all so long ago.

      Yes, my dad was amazing. He passed away three years ago and I miss him terribly. Such a fun sense of humor and did he ever love working in Keith’s and the Classic Shoppe! Such great memories.

      And yes, I was a 9th grade cheerleader. Go Bobcats!

      Congratulations on your “awakening” and I hope you continue to enjoy the freedom.



      • D&C September 3, 2018 at 1:09 pm - Reply

        Yes, you are correct, it was Western Auto. I have included our email (hope you see it in this response) because we’re not really tech savvy either. I believe Bob was your brother, right? We were in the same class. Please reach out to us. It was so good to hear your story. Let’s reconnect!

        Yes…Go Bobcats!

  4. Survivor too August 31, 2018 at 3:27 am - Reply

    Mormon Stories are its best in interviews like this. Thank you John and Collette. What can I say – During my LDS membership I never heard any woman being so authentic. One thing I found uncomfortable thou is that your ex husband is worthy to work in temple. Shouldn’t judge anyone but still…

    • Collette Larsen September 2, 2018 at 12:48 am - Reply

      Yes, I get it. Seeing him in the temple after being told by an apostle that would NEVER happen if he should commit adultery again was difficult. A crack in my shelf for sure. And you’re right…it’s not for us to judge. It has taken me years but it honestly doesn’t matter to me anymore because the significance of the temple no longer matters to me. I actually hope he is happy – and I’m beyond grateful for the five beautiful children we had together.

      Thank you for your very kind words – they mean so much to me. You call yourself a survivor and that makes me very happy. I hope you’ll do more than just survive. Let’s get the last laugh and THRIVE!



  5. TJ August 31, 2018 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Your a beautiful soul Collette, thank you for your story. Great podcast John!

    • Collette Larsen September 2, 2018 at 12:49 am - Reply

      Thank you very much, TJ. I truly appreciate you listening – and reaching out to me.



  6. Pat August 31, 2018 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    I’m your age 66 and learned the truth about the church just 2 years ago. Late in life just like you. I loved your podcast as your experiences were much like my own. The Temple description before 1990 and your reaction to it was very much my own feelings. I laughed when you were horrified and furious when your Bishop asked if you masterbated after age 60. That was so inappropriate and wrong for every reason. So happy to hear you have found happiness and love after years of bad experiences and the loss of your daughter. Thank you for sharing your life experiences.

    • Collette Larsen September 2, 2018 at 12:54 am - Reply

      Oh Pat – It means so much to be understood, doesn’t it? I listen to so many stories of young people coming to the conclusions we’ve come to and they bemoan their twenty years (or whatever) and I just want to bang my head against the wall! But Pat…we figured it out. It might have taken us awhile but we finally figured it out!

      Thank you for listening, to relating and for reaching out to me. I hope your transition has been as smooth as possible and that you’re thriving now. We still have a lot of good years in us and darn it – we deserve to live them with joy and authenticity.



  7. Garth September 2, 2018 at 2:11 am - Reply

    John, Collette, and Rick (For me, it was like Rick was right there in the interview),
    I just want to thank you all for another wonderful Mormon Stories! Each Mormon Stories episode helps me be more mindful and intentional as I navigate my own journey. This one was powerful for me. I feel so blessed to be part of the Mormon Stories community. Although my monthly contribution is small, it is a spiritual practice I look forward to each month. Thanks again!

    • Collette Larsen September 22, 2018 at 10:45 am - Reply

      Thank you Garth. I’m just going back over these comments today – September 22nd! I appreciate you reaching out to me – and I had to smile knowing you’d included my wonderful husband, Ric, in your comments. Ric didn’t even know I did the interview but when I returned back home from my trip to Utah I asked him to listen. He couldn’t believe I’d been so authentic and honest about so many things – but as I knew he would, he was completely supportive. Our relationship has honestly become so much more vibrant and beautiful since we left the church. We LOVE our sundays together! Like you, I feel blessed to be part of the Mormon Stories community. It’s so nice to know we’re not alone!



  8. Anna September 4, 2018 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    Wow this interview knocked my socks off! Thank you for this, and your beautiful outlook on just LOVING because that’s all we really can and should do.

  9. Square Peg September 5, 2018 at 8:11 am - Reply

    Loved this interview! You are an amazing woman Collette! I was so inspired by your story, your honesty, your sincerity! Thank you for sharing your beautiful perspectives with us.

    I will continually remain jealous of couples who are able to exit the church together. Those of us stuck with a spouse who still believes makes a very uncomfortable relationship with barriers that will be there for life I guess. I envy being able to have a spouse who can see things from the same perspective. I constantly feel “lesser than” because I don’t believe as he does. I constantly feel like a failure for having “led 4 of my 5 kids astray”. I get tired of being seen in such a pitied light all the time. If he was with me in my disbelief, it would make it far easier for me to handle having other family and friends think that we were wrong, but at least we’d be “wrong” together. This is a painfully lonely road to walk without the one I love the most by my side. It makes me very sad that our differing beliefs will continue to create such a gulf between us.

  10. The Red ite September 5, 2018 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    I admire your “Go For It ” attitude you take in your life; relationships, entrepreneurship , church membership, openness. I too had trouble with church history but I feel Mormonism is still the crown jewel in Christian Religions. The essays & new historical books, are fine but my real issue is with the present. The non-disclosure of finances, the omnipotent attitude of the church leaders and Joseph Smith writings, and the refugee embracement programs and humanities center. The leaders have bought into the “Demographic Winter” (New Economic Reality: Demographic Winter BYUtv). But I think the Automation by smart cars/trucks, food preparation etc will be the greater effect. The withholding of the priesthood from black linage you say is a problem, Your children will have a more sobering decision as to sending food aid to Africa after they have killed off the white farmers, and they continue a population growth rate of 2.8% a year. (that’s doudling every 26 years from the present 1.25 Billion. (Africa is currently 3.7% but falling )),
    Mark, “red ite” episode 700

  11. Naomi Botha September 5, 2018 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    Corlette, Thank you for sharing your story, I could really relate to you, being almost in the exact same position that you found yourself in with five children, almost 40, not sufficiently educated and very little work experience, financial trouble, not living the life I wished I had, not feeling fulfilled in my marriage (even though my husband and I are good friends and get along well) and not feeling fulfilled in my life but feeling trapped and torn over whether to keep what I have going or whether to put myself in a horrible situation where I cannot take care of myself and my children or having to leave my children with my husband in order to find fulfilment in my life. Sounds very selfish to do that and I love my children and want what is best for them, so I’d rather stay in this hermit dungeon of despair and wonder whether my children will not be better off without me because unlike you, I do not see myself as a good mother or wife. I never wanted children to begin with but had them out of duty and do not know what to do with them half the time, so I am not the homey type, but like you, love learning and would have loved to concentrate all my energy on academics. I have tried MLM’s in the past, but unfortunately, they did not work out for me. Your story is very inspirational and I love how positive you have remained through all of the events you had to face in your life.

  12. G. Kallen September 6, 2018 at 10:51 am - Reply

    I enjoyed your story. Just wanted to say that my 44-year old son-in-law is the current band teacher at Madison Junior High. My daughter is 42 and they have 5 kids. Their last name is Klingler, a family that has been in the Rexburg area for several generations. I wonder if you have heard of them. But my daughter’s family are all very active and I dropped out 6 years ago after reading Mormon Think, Fawn Brodie, and watching episodes of Mormon Stories. Thanks for your story. Living on the edge of Mormondom, it sure helps to assure me that I am not alone.

  13. BJ September 6, 2018 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    Collette, your story was absolutely wonderful! THANK YOU so much for your honesty, authenticity, courage, and vulnerability. Were we all more like you. All the best to you.

  14. John Bernhisel September 10, 2018 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    Collette, My name is John. I have a daughter with CF who is 21 years old. The new medicine she’s been taking the past 2 years has dramatically changed how we look at the future. She’s a senior in college accounting and thriving. I’d love to talk to you about cystic fibrosis as well as about your faith transition and how your process life’s challenges today. How can I private message you?

  15. Collette Larsen September 11, 2018 at 9:43 am - Reply

    Good Morning John –

    I would love to visit with you! We will be traveling all day today and tomorrow but perhaps we could talk on Thursday. My cell number is: 619-750-7532. If I don’t answer, leave a message for me (reference CF) and a good time tocall you back. We’ll connect soon!

  16. Lisa Michelle September 12, 2018 at 11:57 am - Reply

    Collette, I want to thank you for sharing your story. I am a mother of three young kids. I was also a great student–“Hope of America” and a National Merit Scholar. I did manage to get a masters before I started having babies, but as soon as I did, I stopped working and almost lost my mind in the process. An active mind like mine was not meant to stay idle. I had doctors and therapists recommend I not be a stay-at-home mom, but being as believing as I was in the Proclamation to the Family, I thought that was blasphemy and I just needed more faith. By the time I had my third son, I really struggled and ended up losing my faith while doing my daily scripture study and noticing the testimony of witnesses basically saying they only say the plates “spiritually.” Anyway, I eventually got out of the church and my husband has left as well. But I don’t think he fully appreciated the grief and loss over what my life could have been if I hadn’t been raised in a church that told me that as a woman, my life should consist of being a wife, mother, and active church member.
    Then one day last week, he came home and asked me what I wanted out of our marriage and what I wanted out of life. And he’s started encouraging me to take classes again. I asked him where all this amazing and insightful empathy was coming from. He said it was from listening to your podcast. So thank you! When you were talking about not wearing garments, you wish your younger self could be experiencing these things. I just wanted to make sure you knew that by sharing your story, you have helped make my life and marriage better. So thank you. <3

    • Collette Larsen September 13, 2018 at 10:45 am - Reply

      Good Morning Lisa –

      I simply want to thank you. You have made my day today. Sharing my story so openly – with the understanding that it might harm some of my relationships – was a stretch for me. So far, I think the only members of my immediate family who know about the podcast are the ones who are part of the Mormon Stories Facebook group – and who are either out or transitioning out themselves. However, regardless of the potential fallout, it is messages like yours that give me hope and confirm to me that speaking up is the right thing to do.

      I’m so happy to hear that you and your husband are on the same path – leaving your old beliefs behind. That he is supportive of you realizing your potential is absolutely wonderful. He’s a keeper! I hope you’ll tap into the grief and loss you’ve felt at what seemed to be lost opportunities and use those feelings as the fuel to propel you into living your very best life. You have a Master’s Degree – wow…that is so commendable – and you’re moving forward to keep that bright mind of yours learning and engaged in enhancing not only your life but all the lives you’ll touch. I’m so proud of you – and I feel certain your children will be proud of you as well.

      I’d love to keep in touch – to hear about your schooling, etc. Please feel free to contact me at any time. My e-mail is: And give that great husband of yours a hug for me!


      Collette Larsen

      • Lisa Michelle October 24, 2018 at 2:28 pm - Reply

        Oh wow. What an incredible reply. There is no doubt that you episode has positively impacted so many lives. I will definitely keep you updated on the good things that happen ahead! The masters degree that I got is not a great fit for my personality (accounting–I got it as a safety net in case I didn’t get my “MRS Degree.”) I’m currently investigating other careers and masters programs. I have also already forged ahead in forming new friendships with more supportive people who don’t side-eye my desires to make contributions outside of the home.
        And you’re right about my husband. He’s a keeper. I’ll definitely be giving him that hug. I forwarded him a copy of your sweet response. Honestly, he was so impressed by your interview, I bet he’ll be a little star-struck that you personally replied to me. ;)

  17. Emeline Goodwin October 5, 2018 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    I just loved your story.. Your so brave..

  18. Leanne October 8, 2018 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    I have so loved listening to your interview today. It is fantastic. I relate on SO many levels–especially the high school shame and the obsessive obedience throughout life. I feel so much joy seeing how far you have come, and I so relate with the pain of strained family relations. Thank you for sharing Collette, and thank you, John, for making sure Collette shared all the details of her transition. It is crazy how much comfort I feel from knowing that a “stranger” relates to my own story. Thank you!

  19. Betty October 17, 2018 at 6:59 am - Reply

    Hi Collette
    My name was Betty Flamm, we both grew up in Rexburg and in the same 5th ward. I was 5 years older then you. I remember walking past your house, seeing you, Seeing you as one of the most beautiful oldest of 5, playing in your front yard and that you were called Cocoa. In fact your name was one of my favorite names beautiful perfect and such a good nick name. Washington elementary, Madison Jr. High and Madison High School the potato harvests, your family clothing stores, your father who would always buy the candy bars that I would go door to door selling for Madison pep club. My husband joined the church because I wanted to be married in the temple and he loved me. He went to BYU we had 12 children. First 3 died within 3 days of their birth from not mature enough lungs (same as Jackie Kennedy baby Joseph and I accepted this because I could tell military friends that it was okay because I understood the plan of salvation and some joined the church. I was so happy for this result even though I was sad because I wanted to be a mother. Then my tenth child was born with these immature lungs but because of the invention of ventilators she lived for 9 years struggling for life. I also did percussion techniques. She had track and my other children were so helpful and would help with her care even suckioned mucus from her airways. We had excellent insurance. When Rebekah was 5 they had paid out over 8 million dollars. We had 24 hour nursing care when our insurance said they would not pay for her care but that they would continue to pay for supplies for by now I should be able to care for her. This was impossible so had to to South Davis Community hospital in Bountiful. I took her to Oakhills Elementary and paid for daycare for the two children born after her. I took her to handicapped primary in Bountiful. During this time my wonderful husband who helped with the children worked hard at making a living but could not take advantage of work advancements because we needed to stay in Utah. My family learned sign language for medical treatment had robbed Rebekah of her hearing and because of the tracheotomy and oxygen and ventilator could not talk. My husband left the church. I prayed that Rebekah would get better and she stayed the same. I prayed that she would die and she stayed the same. A month before she died I was in sacrament meeting and the speaker talked of what a good missionary tool a mormon funeral was and how important it was. I would not let Rebekah’s funeral be a missionary tool so we had a family service in our home. Before my husband joined the church I arranged for Dr. Sellers at Ricks College to teach John about the church. I gave him poems by Karol lyn Pearson. Took him to hear Paul Dune speak (Paul was my favorite speaker; I could remember in seminary the teacher would play recording of Pauls life experience like one where his best friend died during World War II and that friend asking Paul to tell people how the church was true then the teacher asked the class to bear their testimony…later learning it was all a lie.) I got a book from the library that had mormon essays and read about Joseph Smith using the stone in the hat. All these years I had been lied to. My testimony was based on lies. Rebekah has been dead for over 20 years and I have no faith. I only have hope and have been inactive for over 15 years. This is so uncomfortable to write about.

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