Disappointment is a recurring thing when you leave the church. First comes the big one--the disappointment that the church you've invested your life in is a crock of shit. That's pretty disappointing. Then you're disappointed at the way people react to your leaving--to their disappointment. It's just kind of a sad cycle of disappointment for everyone.
This has recently been thrown into sharp relief for me when I announced my engagement. My fiancé is, like me, an atheist. We have no interest in a temple wedding. We're not terribly invested in the concept of "marriage" at all--were it not for family pressure, we would probably wait a few more years and just live together for a few years first. We'd have a nice wedding when we're able to pay for it ourselves. But to keep the peace, we're doing it now. Four months from now, actually.
My mother's disappointment has been hard for me to deal with. Years ago she told me that her greatest wish for me was for me to get married in the temple to a worthy priesthood holder. Turns out I'm not doing that. I'm getting married in a courthouse to an atheist. The only thing worse, in her mind, would be "shacking up" together (which, ironically, would be my preference if I wasn't taking anything else under consideration). My fiancé was a worthy priesthood holder, at least until he left the church. I think he's a nicer person than most "worthy priesthood holders" I've known. He doesn't judge people. I'm never afraid to be myself or say what I'm thinking around him. That's a luxury that I never had with anyone else, least of all the Mormons I've known (including my family and the one Mormon guy I dated). I am far happier than I would be if I were living her dream for me. She says she's happy for me. But she's still disappointed. And that makes me sad. The librarians at my local library showed more excitement when they heard I was engaged than my own mother did. That stings.
I can't blame her too much--I'd probably react the same way if I were in her shoes. I blame the church. This sort of thing isn't exclusive to the Mormon church; former Catholics and Jews face the same problems, as do people from many other religious denominations. Ex-Mormons have a unique spin on it, because their families believe that they're sacrificing "eternal marriage" for "til death do you part." But the fundamental problem isn't all that different. You're getting married, but the package isn't good enough for your family.
So how do you deal with it? It's hard not to let it all get to me. I've found that the most helpful thing has been talking with my fiancé and sympathetic friends. It's nice to know that there are some people excited for me. It's also nice to feel like I'm not crazy.
Also, you just have to let some things go. I have to accept that my mom is only capable of being so happy for me, and be happy with that. In the end, I know that I'm making the right choice for me.