I’ve been a member of this board for just over four years, and I have never posted an introduction. I mostly stick to the "fluff" threads, because they are safe. I won’t be attacked for an unpopular point of view, or hurt anyone else’s feelings.
I have been PMing with a long-time member who encouraged me to go ahead and post my story, despite the gap in time. I am basically anonymous on this board, because I don’t contribute in depth, and no one knows my background. I would like to try to change that, but I am shy, and it may take some time to truly "get into" posting meaningful advice or opinions. This introduction is my first step. Sorry it’s so long, but it was cathartic for me to write. I have tried to do this a gazillion times, and never have the guts to hit the "submit" button. So thanking you in advance, here goes:
Hi! I am Gwyneth, and I left the WTBTS in 1994.
My parents met and married in 1968. About the time my mother was pregnant with her first child (me), she learned her mother, age 45, had a brain tumor and lung cancer. My mother went into labor in the same hospital that her mother was lying comatose. The day after I was born in January 1970, my grandmother died. I cannot imagine how horrible it would be to have your mother die the day after you give birth to your first child. My mother didn’t have time to grieve, taking care of a newborn. We knew to never, ever ask our mother about her mother while we were growing up, because she would automatically burst into tears. (She finally visited her mother’s grave and properly mourned 30 years later. We can ask questions now.)
Later in that year, my mother answered a knock on her door. It was a girl she knew in high school. Jennifer was a Jehovah’s Witness. Jennifer spoke of the resurrection hope, and the hope, coupled with the promise that it was to arrive in a mere 5 years, appealed to my mother greatly. She wanted nothing more than to be reunited with her mother in the New System. She began studying, and unbeknownst to her, her older sister had also started studying.
My father opposed, so I have one picture of me in my footsie jammies, touching the pretty ornaments on the Christmas tree my father erected and decorated by himself. He would lock my mother out of the house when she went to meetings. (Makes for good assembly experiences on the stage.) She used to slam cabinets and fight with my dad, but since learning how to become a
submissive subjective wife, she displayed the fruitages of the spirit, and eventually won him over. My sister was born about a year before my dad got baptized. He barely got baptized at the prescribed assembly, because he was still struggling with smoking. However, they went ahead and baptized him in 1973.
In 1978, my dad got in a motorcycle accident which broke his back. He was in great pain and out of work. My mother had to get a job to support the family, and it was tough. My parents heard of Shands Teaching Hospital in Gainesville, Florida who would perform surgery at a lower cost, so we packed up our car with no air conditioner and moved down here in the peak of the summer season. We moved to Kissimmee, where some people from our old congregation in MA had moved. We lived in a disgusting rental house off of Orange Blossom Trail, next to a liquor store. The cockroaches were enormous, and we encountered our first rattle snake in the back yard after living there one week. It was a totally foreign land.
A visiting sister in the congregation there told my parents about Mount Dora, a quaint little town in Lake Co. that resembled New England. My parents took one look, and we moved there immediately. We settled into the Eustis congregation. My dad had his surgery, and they fused bone from his hip to three of his lower vertebrae. It was a long recovery, but eventually he went back to work after about three years of convalescence. After awhile, my dad became MS and then elder in the Eustis cong. My dad was a very empathetic elder, and gave really good talks. He would take a lot of things to heart, and the committee meetings would just kill him, because he would be the only dissenting vote for leniency. He believed in forgiveness, and the elders in the congregation were mostly small minded, harsh older men. He saw favoritism and nepotism and rushing through appointments for obviously unfit brothers, and then of course, watching them getting bit in the ass with these appointments, wondering how the Holy Spirit failed them.
I was very bright, my sister was very pretty, and we were in a congregation that was made up of 75% elderly people. My sister and I had worldly friends, and our parents carefully monitored our association with them. It was then no surprise when I met my first real boyfriend in public school at age 16. He was Mormon. I tried to hide my relationship as much as possible from my parents, but it came out (I was ratted on by the one other JW who went to my school, of course) and they were horrified. Counseling, punishments, my father "stepping aside" as an elder (because he was obviously not spending enough time with his family to keep them in line) ensued. I refused to give the boy up—he as my world. I questioned doctrine and scriptures, and said I didn’t want to be a JW anymore. My parents said as long as I lived under their roof, I had to attend all the meetings, and they would provide room and board, but that was all. They were no longer going to provide for clothes, school supplies, etc. I got a small part-time job, but it barely covered the gas and insurance on the car, much less for other essentials. My Mormon boyfriend scorned me for giving up my religion to be with him, disgusted with my lack of conviction. This struggle lasted about 6 months, and then I just gave into the cult. My boyfriend broke up with me his senior year, and I had a total meltdown. Since I had been taught that dating was for marriage, I was totally convinced he was going to be my husband. I was beyond devastated, tearfully told one of my friends that I wish I would die, and she reported it to the school guidance counselor. She recommended some kind of therapy to my parents, but since outside help other than "pray harder" was frowned upon, my parents packed me up and sent me to Massachusetts for a month to stay with my JW godparents. They spent the month trying to whip my wrong way of thinking into shape.
I started studying with an older sister who moved into my congregation, and I just adored her. I brought up all my questions, and she would either answer them with some degree of sense, or give me the "wait on Jah for light to get brighter" answer. I progressed spiritually, but still held back from baptism.
I went to a D.C. in Daytona Beach in 1987, and met my husband. (Yes, trolling.) I was 17 and he was 22 and came from a "worldly" upbringing. He was studying, so this was looked down upon also. The relationship moved at a quick pace, and I was engaged in the fall and we set a wedding date for April 1988. We both got baptized two weeks before the wedding. I am surprised they let us get married in the Hall. I hadn’t even finished high school yet. All my teachers were "weeping and gnashing their teeth" at the fact that I wasn’t going to college. I got extreme pressure from them. I invited certain teachers to my wedding, and one boycotted it for that reason.
I was a virgin on my wedding night, and it was the most horrible experience EVER. I was totally ignorant, and so was he. As I got older and wiser, I said to my mother, "Two words might have saved my marriage: KY and Jelly." It scarred my soul. (There was probably some external scarring, too.) I had married an uncaring, unloving, selfish person, and now it was too late to do anything about it. (To be fair, he married an immature, manipulative, stubborn person.) We moved to Winter Garden and started attending the congregation there. The elders wanted my husband to strive to be an MS, but he was just short a few
marbles skills. I resented that he couldn’t live up to everyone’s expectations, including mine. I stared pioneering, was totally accepted into the pioneer clique, was used for impromptu talks and demonstrations in the Service Meeting, got a bible study who got baptized as a result of door to door work (Sorry, Melissa!) During this time, I felt completely at peace; I felt that Jehovah was blessing me and I was happy to be his slave, and this peace was a safe place to hide from my marriage.
Our marriage unraveled quickly after my daughter was born in 1991. He was being more controlling, and I actually started to rebel, head of household be damned. I left him in 1993, but tried a reconciliation in 1994. The reconciliation lasted about 8 months. I asked the elders to have a meeting with me, as I had something I wanted to discuss. There were three elders, and I don’t know if that was really a judicial committee, but we talked. I told them of all the mental and emotional abuse I had been putting up with for 6 years. I told them that I was no longer going to provide "marital due" to my husband, and that they might want to meet with him also to help him through this difficult transition. I said that I finally thought enough of myself to stop letting someone hurt me, and they said that sex was something that I would "just have to endure as a ‘thorn in your side’ until the end of this system of things." I said, "I will decide who puts what into my body, and I KNOW in my heart that Jehovah understands." I walked out, got a divorce, and never turned back. I didn’t DA myself and I wasn’t DF that I know of, and it wasn’t really a "fade." I was just—gone.
At the same time, my parents got divorced, my dad was DF for smoking, my mom said she was just "worn out" from the endless years of meetings and service, and my sister faded. My mom’s sister and her elder husband and their Bethel/pioneer children are still going strong in MA. We don't speak.
So, I originally left because I was stumbled by the insensitivity of the elders. For several years, I considered myself an "Ex-JW" and not an "Apostate," so I still believed it was the "truth," that I was just plain evil and would be first on Jehovah’s list to zap with the thunderbolt. Looking for--or at--apostate websites was not even a half-thought in my mind. I accidentally found Randy Watters website, and was intrigued. I knew my eyeballs would melt from reading anti-JW propaganda, but I couldn’t help myself. I saw references to Discussion Boards, and when I put that in the search engine, this board came up. I am sure H2O did too, and I did visit there, but I infinitely preferred this board and the way it was set up. I lurked for awhile, and signed up July of 2002.
The things I learned on this board simply enraged me. I felt betrayed and duped by the WTBTS. Then I became bitter and resentful--that I missed out on my childhood, that I didn’t go to college, that I married too young. Angry about the UN scandal and the child molestation policy and the blood issue. But, the bitterness was far more palatable than thinking that I was worse than dog vomit to God. I am still locked in the bitterness, and I am jealous of the people who have let it go. My mom and sister have both moved on with no looking back. It’s the bitterness that drives me to be an active opposer of JW’s. My mom and sister have no desire to participate, overtly or subtly, in the demise of the WTBTS, and my dad thinks it’s sacrilegious. I live for it.
I have come to know so many of you on the board, even if you don’t know me. I have favorite posters. I enjoy the insights, sense of humor, and dogged determination shown on this board. I cringe when arguments arise, and sympathize with people’s pain. I come here for validation that I’ve made the right decision. You fill a void. I appreciate each one of you, and look forward to becoming a more regularly contributing poster in this community!