My parents were baptized when I was three years old. So, you could say that I was "born and raised" as a JW. I was baptized at age 11. I was a regular auxilary Pioneer from age 14 to 15. My parents became inactive at about age 14. It was very hard trying to be a "good young sister" especially after being told you're a burden to the Pioneers that have to always provide rides in service and to/from the meetings. I was turned down for parts because elder's daughters lied about me and my conduct with boys. I put in 70+ hours every month but in 12 months of regular auxilary pioneering, I was never announced. I never fit in with the brothers/sisters my age because, most of them were leading double lifes and I was "too good" for them. Ironically, they were all elder's children. Eventually, I grew tired of trying. I becamed frustrated that I was not being rewarded for my good behaviors. I was hurt that my efforts were not acknowledged or praised. At the age of 16, I gave up. I started living up to "my reputation". Why not? Everyone already thinks I am, so why not do it? I lost my virginity at 16. I was reproved twice. I eventually attempted suicide. My head was so messed up. My parents had left altogether and were out every night of the week partying. I wasn't allowed to go to public school yet they didn't school me at home either. The last grade I completed at 6th. I spent most of my time on the internet, chatting with who ever would give me attention. I even met many boys at our home who I met on the internet. Thank god nothing serious ever happened to me, they were all legit teenaged boys. I was at the end of my rope... until I met a 24 year old brother in great standing...
He was a good friend to me. He listened to me. He met me in parking lots when I was having my nervous breakdowns. He let me cry. He shared scriptures with me. He comforted me. I was 16 and he was 24. The week I turned 17, he confessed that he was falling in love with me. He was everything I wanted in a husband. His family was very rooted in the "truth". He had great relationships with his extended family. He had so many friends, all of them accepting of me. I knew he was my savior. He would provide what my parents did not. I agreed to date him. A month later, we had sex. Filled with guilt, we knew we had to get married! We had to confess. If we confessed before we got married, then we would be split up. My parents could care less, they just wanted to be done being parents. They signed the papers and at age 17 and 5 months, I was married. A few months later, we confessed and were privately reproved.
The next couple of years were good. We attended all the meetings and met our 10 hours of service per month. Eventually, we earned our privledges back. It wasn't until I became pregnant with our second baby, my husband's new job and the new year's meeting time change that it all fell apart. We became irregular and eventually, inactive. My husband's family gave us a very hard time. They would guilt trip us and even plant seeds in our oldest child's head. They would tell her things such as "tell you mommy and daddy that they need to take you to the meeting, they need to read you the bible stories, they need to pray with you" and when we would say "no" she would cry. All of my husband's friends stopped talking to us. They completely cut us off. His family minimized their association with us. We had done nothing immoral or "wrong" yet we were treated as though we had been disfellowshipped. As more time passed, we became more bitter and hurt by the treatment we were receiving.
After the birth of my third child, I decided to give it another go. I contacted the elders and even met with them. I went to a couple of meetings. My in laws were causing a lot of problems for me eventually, enough was enough! For being "Christian" they sure didn't act it. They showed no love, no forgiveness, no empathy, no heart. They gossiped and slandered and meddled. They overstepped their boundaries and crossed the line in so many ways, that I finally said "I'm done!" In August 2005 I decided to celebrate my oldest child's 5th birthday. I celebrated my first Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, Easter, Mothers Day and finally, my own birthday. I felt no regret in doing so either. It was fun. I built true friendships with people who don't judge me. I'm not afraid to tell my friend that I watch rated R movies or that my husband smokes. I had a weight lifted off my shoulders.
Yet, my husband and I are still suffering. My husband cannot bring himself to celebrate the holidays or birthdays, although he does smoke, has gotten tattoo's and has expressed interest in smoking pot / going to strip clubs. He battles more so than I do because his family wont let up. They bring us the magazines and preach to him everytime they talk. I have told them not to talk to me about it and have threatened that if religion, god, holidays, etc is mentioned to my children, they will not be allowed to see them. They do, now, finally, refrain from talking to me or the kids about it. But my husband wont stand up to them. He is confused. Sometimes he says he will celebrate and other times he says he wants to go back. I feel for him because I know he is battling inside. I still battle with what I was taughter. In recent news, with all the religious wars and what not, I have had panic attacks thinking "they were right. This is bible prophecy. I am going die. My children are going to die." I am confused because I don't know what to believe. Is their a heaven? Is their a God? What is my purpose? Still, I march forward and continue to rid my mind of the programming.
I am looking forward to my second season of holidays, but I definately need support and advice on how to handle these thoughts. As well, how I can help my husband move forward.