I don’t know why I all the sudden went “on the road”, I thought it was all because I did what I had to do. In early 2002 after the company I had been with for 3 years went bankrupt and was sold, for several reasons that were all BS, I had to go to Houston to keep my job. After being there a couple of months our biggest competitor hired me because we were kicking their teeth in. I hired on all excited because there was a local office in Orlando and I could work out of it, 2 days after I was hired the company’s contract with the local cable provider was terminated…it was horrible. So I started cold calling and wound up with a gig in Atlanta…6 hours away. The company had promised me resources galore and I was confident I would be able to get back to FL after a few weeks of start up time…but as soon as I got there…it all disappeared and it was just me. I found myself handling 3 people’s jobs at one time, dispatching, data entry, warehousing, client relations, payroll, hiring and firing…all at one time. I remember getting back to my crappy hotel room at 2 in the morning just to drag myself out of bed at 6am, 6 days per week. The money was ok and they gave me a Lexus and a Silverado Quad Cab to drive, but I was killing myself and didn’t know it. For some reason, maybe it was because of the fatigue, I think I had the second mental breakdown of my life around the end of December, and for some reason I just knew I could never go back to my life as it was. Back home, I was surrounded by people that were even more dysfunctional than I was. My “friends” were losers, and only wanted to party all the time, and my in-laws were all either witnesses or fence riders that don’t know who they are. I remember one of the times I went back for the weekend, I just felt sick the whole time and wanted to sleep. I was drinking myself to sleep every time I went home. The hardest thing I’ve ever done is realize I could never go back…it wasn’t a conscious decision but it was still difficult.
The first year on the road was harsh to me, I was using drugs and alcohol to get away from reality, later I figured out I was using it to get away from myself. I hated myself, I felt like I had left my kids out in the cold, and ruined my ex’s life. I was sending all the money I could down, usually keeping enough to eat instant oatmeal and other crap, sometimes decent food, people always provided me with booze or drugs. I remember I was at my lowest point, hating myself so much I couldn’t even stand to see my own face. Literally I wouldn’t shave for days because I would have to look in the mirror. It’s probably good that the work was so intense, literally 18-20 hours per day, 6 days per week kept me from being able to think.
About the time I was figuring out it was ME that had a problem, I met April who still impresses me on a damn near minute by minute basis. She knew who she was and what she wanted, and I thought it was amazing. For the first time in forever I was actually interested in what a person had to say, because it was all real. I don’t think I ever before had known someone so brutally honest and unafraid to have her own opinion about something, even if it pissed everyone else off. Nothing she said was from training or a life of being told what to think.
She gave me inspiration to figure out why I was the way I was, made me open my mind up and pick out the things that made me hurt myself and others so much. In return I gave her hell. My double life training from the Org was still full on. I had been “fading” from my marriage just as I had done the truth, and in both cases I didn’t realize I was doing it. I was trying to move on gently I guess, maybe hoping my ex would find someone else and be done with me, not wanting to hurt her anymore than I felt I already had. In any case, I still couldn’t believe someone like April could really be interested in someone like me, but I was determined to soak up every second until the last…she became my next addiction. But like any addiction you try not to get too hooked, so I kept plenty of other friends around, which I see now made her insecure about me. It’s crazy how people can be so self-destructive. I changed companies again and over the next three years would live in over a dozen cities in three different time zones, all the time trying to maintain a relationship with April and neglecting my kids dreadfully.
After a while I figured out what I wanted, what kind of life I would like to have and the kind of father I wanted to be for my kids. I was not really there for them when they were little, looking back I regret that more than anything. My dad taught me to work and womanize, and not a whole lot else. I had been learning how to change that with a great teacher. Eventually, this would force me to face the demon I had been avoiding so long, my beliefs.
In January of 2005, I logged onto Google and typed the words “Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses” and it pulled up a link to a post on JWD. I started reading and read for hours every day, probably 30+ hours per week. What I found shocked me, excited me, and then angered me. Every decision I had ever made in my life had been based on lies. From my priorities in life to my very worst self-abuse had been some reaction to the lies I had been fed since I was born. I had neglected every aspect of my life. After learning the real truth, I saw myself change drastically. It hit everyone in the face, from my ex to my kids to April, and beyond, everything changed. I became bitter and consumed with hate for the Org and what they did, I couldn’t discuss it with April because by this time she thought I was the most untrustworthy person in the world, and I had pretty much earned that because of the way I sheltered myself, exactly like I used to do in the Org to keep people from really knowing me. Eventually the strain was too much and we parted on bad terms and I jumped right into another relationship, which was a HUGE mistake.
After that relationship ended, I was determined to get to know me and get my act together. Knowing now the real truth, I had to talk about it. I referred my ex to the site and let her know what my screenname was so she could read what I wrote…good and bad, and it was a good thing because she had been having doubts and it was a big help. I was very happy for my kids, too because their grandparents are hard-core dubs…but with both parents OUT they have a better chance. In any case, I was alone for a while, I still talked to a few friends and even tried a (gulp) dating service, but it was all crap. I wanted what I had with April, and I didn’t really expect to ever find it, something you can’t really explain, but it’s great.
This is a long way to get to the point, but for the entire time of all of the above…I was traveling for work, going from town to town every 3-6 months, staying in hotels or sometimes renting a small place here or there, always with suitcases packed up and ready to go at a moments notice. Today, April and I are back together. It’s still hard sometimes, but I’m a better person these days and that makes a difference. I’ve been making real progress with regard to spending more time with my girls, and with recent events, it should get even better.
Tonight, I put my suitcases in the back of my truck to go into storage. My last day with the Company is tomorrow, and I’m done traveling for work. I’m starting my own business doing something I love, and hope to be able to spend more time with my girls, and show them another way from what I showed them up until recently.
I good friend of mine one said being an ex-witness is like starting a race with the rest of the world, only you’re about 20 feet back from the starting line when the race starts.
33 years later…and I finally feel like I’m pretty damn close to where I need to be.