My life as a Jehovahs Witness

by iamfreenow 50 Replies latest jw experiences

  • iamfreenow

    Life is never perfect, but at the beginning of the 1970's, mine was as near - perfect as it was possible to be. I had a wonderful, loving husband, two lovely children, and a supportive family. I was a happy pioneer, with several progressive bible studies and, best of all, the new system really was just around the corner. The Watchtower Society had all but said the end of the wicked system we were living in was coming in 1975, and we were all living in a state of great excitement and expectancy. It was a time of growth for the organisation on a scale never seen before, as people were flooding into the truth as 1975 drew ever closer. Just about every active publisher had at least one bible study, meeting attendance was at a high level, and rising even higher with every passing week, it seemed. But there was a cloud on the horizon, for me at least...

    I have never been a smoker, though I tried it a few times as a teenager, and my husband gave it up just after we were married, but quite a few JWs, including my parents and my JW sister, were smokers. It had been tolerated, but frowned upon, for years by the Society until finally, in 1973, they announced an outright ban on smoking, and gave everyone 6 months to quit, or face disciplinary action. Around 25% of my congregation were smoking when the ban was announced, and the more addicted ones, including my sister, would nip out halfway through the meetings for a quick cigarette. It used to be quite amusing, seeing this posse of people heading for the door before the speaker had even left the platform at the end of his talk, pulling a cigarette out of their pack before they even reached the exit, and some of us were almost sad that that little distraction would soon be drawing to a close. I don't know about elsewhere, but there was more than a little murmuring in our hall when the ban was announced.

    At the end of the 6 months, most people had managed to quit, including my mother and sister, although I suspect she still had the odd one in private, there was a slight smell of tobacco smoke in the air sometimes when I visited her, but my dad just couldn't stop, and he was eventually disfellowshipped in 1974. This, of course, brought great heartache to us all, especially with Armageddon now so close, and dad was more upset than any of us, but he just could not give it up. I suppose if there had been the kind of suuport available then that there is now, he may have managed, but there wasn't. Even worse though, mum never really got over what had happened to dad, and started to miss meetings herself. and although she kept off the cigarettes, by 1975 she had stopped attending altogether. I was distraught, as were the rest of the family, because I just knew armageddon was so close, and I was afraid that they would both miss out, despite so many years of faithful service. I did manage to get mum to come to the odd meeting, but dad was still smoking, so there was no way back for him.

    Of course, 1975 came and went, and nothing much happened, apart from the Society tring to cover it's back by blaming the brothers for all the expectancy and excitement, and many were disappointed, and left the truth, but I was relieved, mum and dad still had a chance. I never shunned my dad, and tried to visit at least once a week, usually 2 or 3 times. We were still living in a state of expectancy, but without as much urgency as before, and I actually wanted the system to carry on for a few more years in the hope mum, who had completely stopped attending by 1976, and dad, who was still disfellowshipped, could get back in. I did get them to come to the 1977 Memorial, and mum came in 1978, but that was the last time either of my parents ever set foot in a Kingdom Hall. Dad told me he still thought it may be the truth, but there seemed so many unscriptural rules nowadays that he was no longer sure, and mum was coming round to his point of view. I thought at the time that he was just using that as an excuse because he thought he'd been unfairly treated, but I now see how right he was.

    Although I kept trying to get them to "see reason" and come back, they never did, and my dad died in 1986 after a massive heart attack, and mum only survived him by 4 years, losing her battle with leukaemia in 1990. My dad was 65 when he died, and mum was 67. For long after their deaths, I used to lie awake at nights wondering if I could have done more to get them back into the organisation. They had died knowing the truth, but not in the truth, and although I had done more than anyone else to get them back, I still blamed myself in some ways that they hadn't. I hoped that they would be back in the resurrection, but had my doubts, and wondered if I would answer in some way for them leaving Jehovah and missing out on everlasting life. Those thoughts have haunted me for almost 20 years, since my father's death, and I am so happy that I now know the truth about the Organisation, and I have been able to finally lay my guilt to rest.

    Linda is about to serve our dinner, so I will be back soon for the conclusion of my story. Thankyou for reading it so far, I hope you have not been bored,as it is a bit on the long side love Marion xxx

  • Dansk
    I hope you have not been bored

    BORED! We're glued!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1975. Oh, yes! Pity I hadn't known about it before I joined I believe there's an old KM that DOES say 1975 is the time of the end.

    When I lived on Anglesey, I visited a fellow JW and his wife, who were Welsh through and through (he learnt English late in life). There was a painting of a farmhouse on his wall and I asked him what it was. He told me that he used to own a farm - THAT farm!!

    I asked him what had happened.

    "I was an idiot!" he replied.

    "Why?", I asked.

    "1975." said his wife.

    I visited the farm with the gentleman. It was beautiful.

    Now, here they were living in a crummy semi in a built-up housing estate - all because the Society said Arma was coming - then denied they said it!

    They are still JWs.


  • Gill

    Hi Marion and Welcome.

    Hi Dansk!

    You know, you read stories like these, just when you/I start losing my interest in bringing the WTBTS to its knees, and it makes you realise why that idiot book company has to fall!

    We were fooled. But I suspect they KNEW that they were doing the fooling!

    Ready to hear more Marion when you're ready! Isn't it wonderful to know that they are full of BS! and everything they say is a pack of lies!

    Dansk - I'm very, very sorry to hear about your farmer friend.

  • done4good
    I believe there's an old KM that DOES say 1975 is the time of the end.

    I believe the November '74 KM more than implied it. Does anyone have a copy to paste on the board?

    Marion, Great Story!


  • Hecklerboy

    Welcome Marion!!!

    My dad couldn't give up smoking either when they banned it. He was disfellowshipped and later died in 1978. My mom still holds out hope that he will be resurrected but still wonders since he was disfellowshipped when he died. I remember the brothers telling my mom afterward that Jehovah knows what was in his heart and he will resurrect him. Well then, why was he disfellowshipped in the first place if Jehovah thinks his heart condition is good enough to be ressurected?

    It really makes me mad that they would give people 6 months to stop smoking and then not offer any help such as counciling. I'm totally against smoking, but it is a real addiction that people need help in quiting. You just can't tell people to stop or else we will kick you out of our club. Just goes to show you how out of touch they are with the real world.

    BTW: I'm patiently waiting for your next installment. What a wonderful story.

  • moshe

    Well done story- Bravo! can't wait to read the next installment.

  • xjwms

    Hello and welcome


    thanks for sharing

  • jambon1

    Welcome. Looking forward to the rest of your story

  • iamfreenow

    I've had a wonderful lunch thanks to Linda, and now I'm ready, so here's the final part of my story:

    By 1992, both our boys had left home, and Ron and I were all alone in our 3 - bedroom house, so we decided to apply for something smaller. We had never bought our home, a decision I regret now, but 3 bedroom counci houses were, and still are, very much in demand, and within a few months we had been offerred. and accepted a ground - floor flat quite near our kingdom hall, moving in there in early 1993. I had been pioneering then for almost 26 years, and expected to carry on until the end of the system or my own death. I was busier in the truth than I had ever been, even during the pre - 1975 influx of mambers. There were very few pioneers in our circuit then, and only 3 in our congregation, so we all had plenty to do. By that time I had brought 18 people, excluding family, into the organisation, and apart from one couple who left after the 1975 disappointment, all of them were still in. It was about this time that I conducted my strangest - ever study, with an elderly couple living on the street we had moved on to a few months previously. They were a little eccentric, to say the least, even unconventional. They were animal lovers, and in their two bedroomed house they kept 4 dogs, 9 cats, numerous mice and rats, which made me shudder, even though they were caged, at least 6 canaries and a goat, which they said was for keeping their lawn short! The goat was mainly outside, but came in the kitchen at night, and whenever I went to study with them, we had to sit in a room with all the animals, apart from maybe a few cats, present, including the goat! It was like a visit to the zoo,and the smell was pretty bad, but they were keen on the study at first, but stopped it abruptly when the sister I took with me told that them animals wouldn't live forever in paradise, only humans. They had assumed that because animals survived the flood, they would survive armageddon, and dead ones would be resurrected, and wouldn't accept that when their animals died they wouldn't see them again. We tried to show them from the scriptures why this was so, but they wouldn't budge, and our zoo visits were curtailed! Ron commented later that perhaps they brought all their pets in on the study to learn the truth as well, an angle which I hadn't considered, but quite possible nonetheless. They were still friendly towards me after that, but never resumed their study again.

    Desoite losing that study, things were still going well for me on the pioneering front until October 1995, when Ron sufferred a stroke, and though he made a partial recovery, he lost the use of his left arm and was never able to speak properly aterwards. He was understandable, but his speech was slurred, as though he was drunk all the time, and I had to give up pioneering to look after him. He was unable to work, so I took a part - time job in a shop in Derby city centre to help make ends meet, as we had very little in terms of savings, having always put kingdom interests first. I had plenty of support from friends, Linda in particular, and Trevor was a huge help then, as he was still a JW. He used to drive us to all the meetings, and help me with the shopping almost every week. Ron did recover a bit, and still had a reasonable quality of life, and we all hoped that he would make a complete recovery. I still managed to put in a fair amount of service time, other sisters helped out with my calls, and we were coping fairly well unti December 2000, when Ron sufferred another stroke, more serious that the last one. He was in the hospital over the Christmas period, but seemed to be getting a little better, and we had hopes of getting him home in a few weeks, but in the early hours of January 1st 2001, he had his third and final stroke, and passed away peacefully a few hours later. He was only 59, and we had been married just over 35 years.

    I was totally devastated by his death at such a relatively young age. All the plans we had made, for me to pioneer for as long as the system lasted, and him to join me when he retired, had been scotched by his first stroke, but we knew the new system was near, when Ron would be restored to perfect health, and that thought had sustained us during the years after his first stroke. Now he was gone, and I knew I wouldn't see him again until the resurrection. I had a great deal of support from my many friends and family in the orgamisation at the time, and I was rarely alone for more than an hour during the days immediately after his death, but nothing could help with the terrible loneliness I felt at night, whne I went to my bed alone, after so long with Ron. The only thing that sustained me during that time was the certain hope that I would see him again in the resurrection once Armageddon was over, and now I know that the watchtower is a man - made religion founded on a falsehood, I no longer have that hope. I feel cheated by the liars that taught me those false promises, and encouraged me to keep striving for their interests under the guise of serving Jehovah. They have a very great deal to answer for.

    As time went on, all but a few people stopped visiting me, but I expected that, and feel no bitterness because of it. In some ways I welcomed it, as I neede some time to myself, and I started to get out on the service more as the year progressed, while still working to help make ends meet. Just over 2 years after Rons' death, I had a shepherding visit, and the elders suggested that, now I had had time to gather myself, maybe it was time for me to consider rejoining the ranks of regular pioneers. While this was something of a goal for me once I had retired, I didn't feel able to do it while I was still working, and the elders accepted this, but as the months passed started to exert a little pressure on me to try and at least auxillary before I reached retirement age. One elder used the line "don't you think that this is what Ron would have wanted you to do? He supported your pioneering all those years, don't you owe it to his memory to at least try?". I thought that was an unnecessarily callous remark to make, as I was still missing Ron very badly, and that whole period, with the pressure from the elders and the circuit overseer, who had also suggested a pioneering "comeback" to me, was a diificult and unhappy time. I did not, however, return to pioneering at the time, but promised the elders I would sign up again once I'd retired, so they were satisfied, if not entirely happy with that arrangement, and backed off.

    The pressure they had put me under, distressing as it was, had not shaken my faith. I was still absolutely convinced that I had the truth at this time. I knew people were leaving the truth, Trevor had gone by then, and I could sense that there were some problems within the congregation, and perhaps with the organisation as a whole, but I felt we still had Jehovahs blessing, so on I went. The first real seeds of doubt, and ones I couldn't ignore, as much as I wanted to ignore them, surfaced last year, when the elders dealt very badly with a child abuse scandal within our congregation. I know that ths issue was the catalyst for the doubts Linda had been having for some time that got her to examine the JW teachings again, and eventually to leave the truth, but I ignored my feelings, reasoning to myself that the elders are imperfect men, and thus susceptible to errors.

    I was very concerned last summer when Linda started to miss meetings, and really upset by her subsequent disassociation last November. In some ways, I saw it as the second - biggest loss of my life, after my husband, as she had long been one of my dearest and most supportive friends, and now she was gone. She was gracious enough to send me a letter explaining why she had left, which I still have, and I was most distressed when the gossip started about her last year. Many malicious, untrue rumours were circulating the hall, the main one being that she had left so that she could commit fornication with Trevor, which I knew was untrue at the time, though they are together now, and to my great delight, truly happy. I challenged the PO about the rumours, and he was most discourteous in his dismissal of my concerns, saying "well, what does it matter if they are true or not? she's abandoned Jehovah, so what do you expect us to do, praise her?" I was shocked by his attitude, and looking back, I know it was that conversation, short as it was, that set me on the road out of the organisation.

    In the spring of this year, I decided to defy the elders rules, and try to contact Linda, so I wrote her a letter and gave it to her mother, a lovely lady who has never been a JW, and thankfully Linda replied, so we started meeting discreetly at her home. I read some of the articles on this board, and watched some of the videos on silentlambs, and was stunned at the extent of the cover - up by the organisation regarding child abuse.. Trevor lent me Crisis of Conscience, and I started to miss meetings. Once I'd finished COC, it was obvious that all my years in the JWs had been spent in a man - made religion, and I knew I could no longer be a part of it, whatever the cost. I am not a liar, so how could I knowingly preach lies on the ministry? Iknew my conscience would not allow that. I wanted to fade, but the elders started hounding me, despite my request, in writing, to be allowed some time to myself. I would have thought that was a small thing to ask after a lifetime of faithful service, but I was wrong. My JW son visited me, and saw the copy of COC, which I admitted to have read, and a few days later he phoned me,asking me to go to his home on the pretext of a family emergency. I rushed round there as quickly as possible, to find, instead of an emergency, the PO and another elder waiting for me, my own son had set me up! I was furious, but spoke to the elders long enough for them to establish that I was having a crisis of faith, and then left. Later that week, the PO called to invite me to a meeting with 3 elders at the hall the following friday -a judicial committee! I decided to save them the trouble by writing a letter of disassociation, which they didn't want to accept, but which I informed them would be forwarde to the UK HQ, so they announced me as being no longer one of Jehovahs Witnesses a few days ago.

    So after almost 60 years, 28 of them as a pioneer, during which time I have guided 25 people into the organisation, many of whom are still in, I am no longer a JW. My son rang me the day after the announcement to inform me that he would now be shunning me, and I would no longer be permitted to see my grandchildren, and I am expecting a lot more of the same in the coming weeks and months. It is,of course, heartbreking to be denied access to my family, and to lose friends, but nonetheless I feel that I have made the right decision in leaving. I don't feel that all my years in the Organisation were a waste of time, after all I had a wonderful husband, 2 fine boys and made many, many friends, but I do feel I could have used them better if I'd never been a JW. As for my future, apart from retiring in November, I have made no real plans. I will take each day as it comes, and enjoy it as a free person. I am very happy to be on this forum, and looking forward to meeting some of you at nexr month's Apostacurry. I have of course lost most of my friends now, but still have Linda and Trevor, the best two friends I have ever had and will ever have. I owe those two far more than I could ever even start to repay, they have helped set me free after 60 years of slavery, and I can never thank them enough for that.

    that's my story, I hope you enjoyed it, I certainly benefitted from writing it

    all my love

    Marion xxx

  • iamfreenow
    Marion - how has your younger son reacted to your DAing? Or am I jumpign ahead to part 3 now!

    My younger son, who has never been a JW, is delighted that I've finally seen the light, as is my youngest sister, who was never fooled into joining either. My older son has already outlined his position, and as for my brother and sister who are both JWs, I haven't heard from them yet. I suspect my brother will shun me, but my sister, who has always been a more liberal JW, may still speak. I used to counsel her to take the "truth" more seriously, but I may well have cause to be pleased that she ignored me in the coming weeks. I am a little surprised she has stayed a JW in some ways, none of her children ever joined, and her husband has been irregular for years, so maybe I will get them out as well, one can hope.

    all my love

    Marion xxx

Share this