People who have never been JWs seem to think we can simply walk away from it "get a life" and move on (as if we dont have a life or something). I was wondering what consequences you peronally suffer for having been a JW? Depersonalisation, depression, keeping people at a distance, none...etc?
I've been looking at depersonalisation recently since someone told me I can make a comment on some big issue and yet seem totally none emotional about it...huh? Like most things dont phase me yet everyone else is getting in a real wiz over things I am totally laid back about.
Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to respond.
I was never a JW but my association with one had a deep effect on my life for a long time and a lifelong effect on my views of religion. I might have once thought it should be easy to walk away from something if it maks you so unhappy but after having read a lot of the stories of people here who were actually in the organization and not just on the outside looking in, like me, I can see how it can be very hard to break free.
Actually it is true... after leaving the JWs, I felt that I can trust no one. I have now only a couple of close friends, but I am very careful as to what I say, and I certainly do not take friends for granted.
I have been stabbed in the back so many times by 'fickle jw friends' that I am now very very wary of people. Though I do find that I speak up more for myself now, and I feel more sure of myself, and that if I want to speak out about something I will, where as before, I would not speak up in fear of upsetting someone (stumbling). I was the queen of tact.
So I am now in the process of finding myself and liking what I am finding. others may not like it, but so what who cares.
Very thought Provoking. Depersonalization – I never knew the word. But it is what I am. I too can speak about a subject that others are passionate about without a twinge of emotion. My whole family (myself and eight grown children) are anti-social. We are content within our group but have trouble reaching out to others in any meaningful way. We talk about it. We are aware of the problem but are at odds with fixing it. Two of my sons are trying to venture into the unknown world of "dating" outside of the WTS box. They are so unsure of how to approach the whole idea.
It’s as though we as JW’s lived by a script. Now we have to write our own script. We have no social skills. We do not know how to interact with normal human beings.
The conversations at the KH were meaningless chit-chat. I said the same thing to the same people week after week for too many years. I went door to door and gave my "scripted" presentations to uninterested people that I did not give a flip about.
I believed that I knew a lot about a lot of things thanks to Awake and Watchtower. Now I have to search and research everything to learn the real truth about everything. My self-esteem is at a dangerous low because I know that I know very little about everything.
I have to discover at the age of 55 who I am and try to encourage my children to venture out into the unknown world, a place I had warned them was a wicked dangerous place.
There is so much damage that is caused by living in slavery for so many years.
I am trying to rid myself of the depersonalization complex. I am slowly developing a real personality of my very own. Someday I hope to have a passionate, spirited conversation with another equally passionate person.
I have been diagnosed with depression since my family recently told me that if I had "turned my back on Jehovah," they would never speak to me again. I used to be a very happy-go-lucky sort of person, and I wish I could get that back.
I also find that I have trouble making decisions. I'm always worried that I'll make the wrong decision. I think this is because when I was a JW, all decisions were made for me.
charmed, it's nice to meet you. i hope you are finding support here among people who care.
i related to both charmed and loris. having always been the odd one, in school the oddball who didn't salute flag, celebrate holidays, yet the one who always preached to everyone....also the one who because i lacked appropriate mothering (i would often be dirty, wearing same clothes for weeks in a row) i suffered a lot of rejection. strangely enough, i felt this rejection to a degree at kh also, the child of an elder, someone looked up to in cong. - i always seemed to be more serious and steadfast than my peers at kh. somehow these feelings follow in life - oh i can barrel through situations and never give a hint of what im really feeling, but often have felt still like the oddball, just not fitting in. so this has resulted in a somewhat solitary life, i work alone now by choice - just more comfortable....so apart from a few good friends and my wonderful husband my social circle is small. -- i know that feeling of being anti-social and not wanting to be hurt.
perhaps this is why i love being here so much as it seems most everyone is understanding and friendly.
i also related to charmed's fear of making decisions. having been so profoundly mistaken about something so important causes much questioning and second-guessing. sometimes i drive my husband crazy!
We have no social skills. We do not know how to interact with normal human beings.
Me too. I am learning though. It's hard for a 42 yr. old, it's sort of like starting kindergarden. My kids have an advantage at their age and I'm so happy for them. I've met so many kind and loving people who have reached out to me (mainly Christians) and yet I still am on my guard. I suppose it will take time. I'm having a terrible time articulating here........lol....I guess it's my lack of social skills. One day at a time, I guess. Hey, Rome wasn't built in a day. Growing up believing that the world and everthing in it is evil and that nothing is pure is a sick twisted way for a child to learn to love or trust. There is a scripture that says, "To the pure, all things are pure but to the defiled all the are defiled" So true. We were taught by the defiled minds that all things are defiled and disgusting and prohibited. Such an unhappy way to be. A small child is a perfect example of a pure mind. The other day I asked my son who will be 6yrs. old next week what kind of dinner he would like and what kind of cake would he like me to bake him. He answered me in such a sweet way that it brought tears to my eyes. He wanted the cake to be his sister's favorite so that she would like to have some too. He asked for a bone for his dog for a gift. Surprisingly, he asked for no be-headings. I am blessed with my son and I am so thankful and I celebrate his birth. He is the fruit of my womb and a gift from above. The unconditional love that I have for my kids is the love that I want to have with others. Maybe someday.
I agree with you. It is extremely difficult to build friendships at anything more then the shallowest level.
The aftermath for me was:
But today I am doing so much better. When I look at myself 13 years ago when I first left, compared to where I am today...I am VERY proud of the growth in my life. I am VERY proud that I've survived the pain. And now I feel I contribute more to society than the average Joe because of those very experiences.
Do I relish my past? No. But I am thankful for it. If it weren't for being disfellowshipped, shunned by my family, struggling to just stay alive...I wouldn't be the person I am today. And today I like myself pretty well! I couldn't say that as a JW.
I think I did this whole Witness thing backwards. I was depressed and suicidal before I left. After I left, Nina was still going so that kind of created a wall between us. It took a couple of years, and I was in therapy anyway, but gradually the depression lifted and I began to feel better about myself. I doubt I'll ever have high self-esteem, but I think that has more to do with my dysfunctional family than Jehovah's Witnesses.
As to depersonalization. I too find myself doing that. I've always chalked it down to having my family treat me badly, but perhaps it's a microcosm of how others are treated by the Witnesses. Consider that we were only allowed to associated with other Witnesses. We were told we're all one big happy family. But then one day we left that family and that family cut us off. We found out that it was a conditional love, and perhaps there was never any love there at all. I think that creates a hardness around the heart, whereby it's easier to let people drift out of our lives because we've already lost friends and family that were very precious to us (and perhaps still are).
lots of things here I would agree with. Having given up our way of life in our early 20's to become dubs, we now find ourselves 20 years later in that same situation again.
The friends we thought we had are are gone. The ones we were persuaded to drop so as to be good dubs have moved on and we have nothing in common. Yes it is hard to trust people again. We are very wary of getting involved in anything that might need commitment and/or lots of time, because we have already had too much time taken away. Fortunately our children who were brought up in the org are getting over it and building their lives on their terms, and we dont have any other relatives in.
But we will survive. I left a way of life behind once and I can do it again. The first time I thought I had jhvh's help in doing it and that is why I suceeded, but now I know I did it all on my own. The help was in my mind and they havent taken that from me.
We have been out for about 2 years having faded for about 3. We have moved on. We dont care about meeting any dubs now, even though I used to try and avoid them to start with as I could cope with all the explanations.
You do move on although it can take time.
We even had xmas decks in the front garden this year, and we are still not DA or DF.
An elders wife called when we had my sons birthday cards and a banner up and didnt make any comment!!
It does take time to loose the guilty feeling about xmas, birthdays, not going to the memorial etc but that sppeds up once you have proven to yuorself that the 'troof' is a LIE.
Thanks for responding y'all, I wont address each post individually as I will end up writing a book instead of a response! However I can relate to something out of each post and this has been theraputic and an eyeopener for me ((Group hug)) just sorry that you all have to experience the after effects.
I was discussing the depersonalisation aspect tonight with a counsellor freind of mine who wanted to understand things, while discussing it I realised that exjws and those who have been involved someway have spent a life time having to dis-associate from one thing or another, when inside the WT we had to disassociate our feelings from our "worldly" friends and family, when we left we had to dis-associate our feelings from the JW family, we lose our own history when we leave the WT so we dis-associate from our past..etc no wonder then that we do have an aftermath and a great ability to depersonalize and become emotionally unattached from feelings or events that others consider to be a big deal. We have had a lot of practice and its a learned behaviour. I am only just realising these things even though I have been out of the WT since the 90s..
Its food for thought!
I appreciate you guys & gals!
Brummie. It was quite some time ago: 19 years ago this month.
I think the best feeling to describe my predicament back then was: Stranded
No where to turn. You defend the WTBTS to the teeth. You can still rattle scriptures off the top of your head like a nursery rhyme. You do not trust the worldly people.
Back in the early 1980s, any means of locating a support group, were simply out of the question. Remember, I was still defending the very organization that was bent on having me not only removed, but judged for destruction at Armageddon.
In my head, contacting ex-JWs, was like being in the midsts of disfellowshipped/disassociated JWs comparitive to when you were an active JW. It's an odd existence.
NO ONE, but a former Jehovah's Witness would truly understand. Some come close to understanding, but no one as good as a former Dub.
19 years later. Things are much different. I don't feel the way I did then, now. We have the internet, and we have access to a wealth of information re: WTBTS and those that have left for one reason or another.
To think I was so scared, frightened and timid way back then.
Now, I'm happy, easy going, happy-go-lucky and not as bitter and jaded.
Not lost anymore. I have Found my way again.
Not lost anymore. I have Found my way again.
Encouraging little statement Razor, I feel the same, I have dealt with the WT thing way back but occasionaly something pops up and I realise there is a connection to the JW mindset, then I can just scrape off another JW layer that I didnt realise was still there. Its a good tonic to get on here and hear all of your experiences. Thanks matey
Depression-depersonalisation-guilt feelings-ANGER-fear a lot of problems come up when one leaves a cult. Some of these things exist in a dysfunctional family. Some exist in a family with severe illness or mental problems in one of the members. Especially if it is one of the parents. Divorce or a death can trigger these situations also.
Throw a cult into the mix and It exacerbates the problems several times over. In all the posts I have read here, that deal with mental or emotional issues, triggered during the exit from the jw religion, they have not addressed an issue I felt, was a big part of my problems at that time.
That is the loss of ones own identity. Loss of identity happens a lot in divorces. It involves our own image of who we are. A big part of our lives in the cult was "I AM A JEHEHOVAHS WITNESS" and we are a special people. If we leave on our own it is hard enough to answer this question of "who am I" now? If we are disfellowshipped "thrown out" it is even more difficult to answer. Now who am I?
I faded away over a period of aprox.12 yrs. and was df'd on the 13th yr. So I had a gradual situation to deal with and I think that helped. I wonder at times if I would have survived a sudden df'ing at the beginning of that 13 yr period.
When the depression hit me, this issue of loss of identity was brought up the the psychiatrist. If one is born into the cult, we have no previous healthy identity to return to. We have to start almost from scratch. This is one reason we see so much chaos in our lives at that point. We may start to do things we never dreamed we would do. Smoking-gambling-sexual experiences-beards-long hair- almost everything we once thought were wrong. We are searching for ourselves. Who are we?? Who do we want to be??
It takes some time, but it can be done. That is, finding out who we really are and want to be. In some of the previous posts I think I sensed a degree of fear, from some, that they were very troubled over this and worried about how to become a functional person. The kind of person we some times know and admire in another. Remember, we almost never truly know what troubles and problems and self doubts linger in the lives of others. We only see what they want to display. So don't put yourself down with the idea that we can never be as functional as others seem to be.
It takes a little of our time each day to work on this issue and it can be done. It doesn't happen overnight but it does not take forever either. A good counselor- self help books on this issue- pushing ourselves to make friends. You know, trial and error learning. Joining a charitable group. Opening ourselves to others and the risks of not succeeding. You know, living a life. All of these things and after a time, not too long, we will begin to see a relaxing in ourselves. We will find friends, we will get over it.
After all, learning is a lifetime endeavor, If you were not learning," Who I am", you would be learning something else. If we are not continually learning during our lives, we are really in trouble.
What I really want to say to those who seem troubled over this issue is, it will not be this way forever.The old saying of "time heals all things" is correct in that it takes time for the healing to take place. You will see better times and you will see improvements in your social abilities and your self confidence. You can and will visit some of the more wonderful things in life. Just kick back and LIVE and LOVE and LAUGH. Choose your path in life and spirituality or agnostic or athiest or what ever you damned well want to do with your life.
Hey I did it, and I am not special in any way. So you can do it too. This is life kids, get with it and make the most of all your good opportunities in life. Don't let that damned cult take all the joy out of your lives.
Outoftheorg. Love you guys.
Thats how I felt when I was in! The aftermath for me was:
The aftermath for me was: