It's hard to know where to begin, so I'll just... begin.
I had my first encounter with JW in high school when my now ex-husband moved into our small town. (you're doing the math already, aren't ya? :) ) After finding out he was a JW, I did a little bit of reading into it, which he discouraged... told me that that stuff is "apostate" (I had NO idea what that meant) and that he'd give me stuff to read. So he did. He shouldn't have fallen for me, being a wordly girl and all, but he did. Sometimes my past 15 years in JW-land sneaks in and tells me that had we had an "honorable" start, we may still be together. Then the free side of me smacks it down. Anyway.. I went off to college, started studying and was baptized in '89. I think my very beginnings in the "truth" were divided -- I knew that if I was to have him, I'd have to have the religion. But I kinda liked and believed it, too. We married in '90, were re-baptized in '91 because our first one didn't "count" since we'd been fornicatin' before and after our first baptism. I think they even called NY on that one.
Three kids, two moves later he cheats on me. I kick his ass out in Feb '03 because no way am I going to take his crap, nor let the kids see me as an example of being walked all over in the name of being "submissive".
To back up a little bit -- it gets a little hairy here -- he'd started his little affair in '01 or so, and in spring '02 put his ring down and said he was done. I had a pretty rough summer -- lost about 25#, watched out the window countless nights in hopes that he'd come home, tried to keep it all together for the kids, kept going to meetings. But I was dying inside. Enter a somewhat younger Witness who had just had three years of craziness and was coming back to our town to heal, reform, whatever. Right person, right time... we fell and fell quite hard. He filled the loneliness and blinded me to the 'wrong' of it. We blinded one another. Eventually, my "conscience" got to me (after the almost-ex found an email I'd written to another worldly friend about 'rugburns' LOL) and we went to the elders. But, we kinda lied and said that "it" had only happened once.... Little public reproof, done. To save time here -- fast forward to Sept/Oct '03. Another, I thought, REAL attack of conscience and I confessed everything to the elders. I had ended the affair and was counting on some mercy. Nope. DF announcement. For both of us. Now I realize the congregation is made up of janitors and window-washers, but it didn't take a 4-year degree to figure out what went down when they read both our announcements the same night....
After the announcement, I was just plain lost. :( I wanted back soooo bad. I wrote my first RI letter three months later, met with the elders and was told that my skirts had too-high slits, and to prove that, would I please lift it to where the slit ends. "That, Rachel, is how long your dress ACTUALLY is." They also berated me on my choice of vehicle -- a jeep. My freedom, my other child. :) And at the time, all I had and could afford as I was in the middle of a divorce and bankruptcy. But no, it isn't "practical". Now, nevermind that the affair was rekindled... Yes, I wanted 'back', BUT I knew I was being such a hypocrite. That ate at me, but I tried to shove it away. And did successfully as they eventually reinstated me -- Oct '04. During all of this (and actually during the very first meeting where we were just reproved) I started questioning a little bit about this holy spirit, Jehovah's decision blah blah in these meetings. I thought -- if I was reinstated, how could it have anything to do with holy spirit as I was still in the affair and not truly 'worthy' of reinstatement. If no holy spirit, then does Jehovah have anything to do with any of this...? I know the answer a JW would give and that's that the elders can only go with what they're told, to make decisions. But then, I argue, aren't their decisions based on having asked for that holy spirit to be there...? And what's done on earth has already been decided in heaven? Or some such blather. Doesn't matter at this point, anyway. :)
The affair continued for awhile until I started up with another guy... So by now, you're no doubt thinking that I'm just all bad. That's what I was thinking, too.... So I just gave in, figured I was pretty worthless anyway, and to just go for the enjoyment of having a companion, a friend, someone to sleep in with... This stuff that has happened the past three years is NOTHING like I was through my growing ups, through college, through my marriage. I think a divorce and the events that lead up to it can really do a number on thinking, morals, ethics... and that's what happened to me.
Sorry -- I wander around a lot...
Throughout these past three years, my elders have been constantly bugging me about any little thing that they could. Again -- my clothing, which they finally confessed to saying that if it was on someone else (he meant 'large') it would be disgusting. So I believe that their issues with me were really their OWN issues.... Quit lookin, brothers, avert your eyes... They picked on me about my jeep, my job (I'm a 4-year degree holder *gasp*), the fact that my oldest daughter stayed overnight with her wordly best friend. There was always something. :( But I sucked it up, wanting to be in Jah's organization, the Truth. Until.... Just this past month, I called up the PO and gave the short version of the past two years. The years that included my DF and RI.
Cut to the judicial hearing just under a month ago. Again, though I KNEW everything that I had done was soooo wrong and reproachable, I had stopped it all. I had 'turned around'. I felt like David in Ps 51. I sincerely believed my repentence. I believed they would as well. Ohhhh no. I had a fricking FOUR HOUR JC hearing that even then, didn't end with a decision. They felt that my case was so complicated that they'd have to bring in a fourth elder, call the CO and maybe Bethel. Holy crap. I know they wanted to DF me -- I figured I was probably a foregone conclusion, retrospectively, they just needed to gather more brothers to be on their 'side'. I thought "oh, I can just appeal..." But then realized that I'd have to tell my whole damn story AGAIN. At this point, I was completely drained. My heart had been knifed into and twisted and squeezed until there was nothing left of it. I hadn't cried for nearly two years -- big walls. The bastards broke it down and I couldn't breathe for my bawling. I was so frustrated that they couldn't see the good person underneath, the person that just wanted healed and was seeking their help. They countered my feelings of repentence and sincerity with "well you must not be because...." numerous times. They sent me out twice to discuss, so I listened. Words like "deceptive", "rescind reinstatement" etc came through the door. Like I said, I feel that they had made their decision to DF me the day I called the PO to "do the right thing" and confess everything.
24 hours later, after having somewhat come out of the fog, I made my own decision. No longer could I be a part of this THING that beats its lost sheep to within an inch of its mental and emotional life. It wasn't worth going through an appeal. I didn't care anymore. Trying to please the elders, trying to convince them - I was done. Maybe all this was underneath all the time and it took them stripping me down to finally reveal it within myself. This was bullshit. This wasn't "love", this wasn't even remotely "Christian". I spent the next two days writing notes to myself, then compiling it into a three-page letter that ended with "disassociate myself....". They attempted to call me the Tuesday after my Sat JC, but I dodged them. If it was to tell me their 'decision', I'll never know. I gave them the letter the Thurs. Sunday, one of the elders came up to me and asked if they could talk to me after the meeting. I said "probably not". (I'm tellin you, the expression on his face was absolutely priceless -- that alone makes all this worth it LOL). He said "probably not, huh?" I said, "right." and walked off.... score one for me.
We (kids and I) didn't go to meeting until that next Thurs -- my little guy had #2 and we left right after that. That night they read my announcement. Apparently, it's CHANGED now?! They don't say DA or DF, they just say "is no longer one of JW." I've corrected in as many ways as I can those who may think it's a DF. Some knew I was talking with the elders in a JC, some knew I'd written a DA letter. I haven't been back to a meeting since that night (Mar 9th), so I'm not really sure what's going on.
I also sent my DA letter to the CO, along with yet another one directed to him about the elders here and how horrid they've treated me. His visit is in early May, so we'll see if anything happens or not. If not, at least I have my own peace.
It has been a horrible journey "out", but as I sit in peace, finally, it has been worth it. I can think for myself, I don't have the 'guilt' of "what will so and so think", I don't have to worry about my msn music display showing Rob Zombie when the elder's wife signs on (why she hasn't blocked me yet, I dunno). There are just too many things that I feel that I'm unable to put into words.
Retrospectively, I don't think I ever truly HAD the "truth" -- I started out doing it for a person, I ended because of people, I was always in fear of disappointing or being found out by others. Some may say I never 'knew' Jehovah as I was supposed to. I'd say, probably not. But, if there is a Jehovah, it isn't in that organization of men and their man-made rules (so much like the Pharisees they scoff at) and I'm done looking there. I'm just done looking, period. I'm in a rather cynical, questioning, wondering phase. People have said "oh, you can celebrate Xmas now!" or "what church will you go to now?". Frankly, I'm done with ANY sort of religion... anything that TELLS me what to believe gives me hives. I just got my mind and heart back, I'd like to keep it that way.
The kids are my only worry right now. Their dad and his family are all JW. My oldest (12) is an unbaptized publisher and pretty gung-ho for it all. The other two (9 and 8 yo) are more of the roll with it type. They're pretty happy to hang out and watch Sponge Bob instead of go to meeting. ;) So not sure what is going to happen there yet.
So, that is my story. I feel like a butterfly that just came out of the coccoon. I'm not really sure of who I am right now, but know who I'm not. :)
Thanks for letting me write here and join. Sorry about your cold coffee or warm beer after reading all the way thru this. :)