In a cult, the society of the cult tries everything in their power to keep one in that society, as well as keeping one ignorant of any information that would sever the guise of legitimacy. Given a version of the Bible, not being able to read any other version of the Bible is just one example of this kind of inflicted ignorance. In a cult, it's impossible to get out without a fight. I am so happy that my mother got out in time, but it made me a very confused teenager, and left me with a lot of inner turmoil. I realize now that what we were in was a cult, and it's horrible to think that a child had to be subjected to a childhood that was so lacking of the joys that normal children get to experience.
A child's life that revolves around such adult activities makes a child grow up much too fast. I didn't know what i was missing out on, but I had no friends to speak of, and the other JW kids weren't really interested in me anyway because I've always been a bit eccentric. Kingdom Hall was the same for adults as it was for children. I remember in Bible Study, having to sit quietly while the topic of oral sex was discussed. I was not told to wait in another room, I was to participate as all others were to participate. I didn't know what oral sex was; I assumed (at the age of six) that it meant 'talking dirty' to your partner. Regardless if the definition wasn't plain in the discussion, it was still inappropriate for a child to be subjected to.
Children in the "Kingdom" were expected to behave a certain way, a way that I found to be inhibiting to a child's nature. I understood this, even as a "youngster" (as I was so often referred to as). Children who misbehaved were promptly taken into one of the bathrooms for a beating, that could be heard throughout the KH. Children aren't privy to sitting still for two hours, but sure enough, I was diagnosed with ADD. What a shock.
Children are the most sheltered, as born into the faith, they no one other way than the way of the faith.
In Watchtower publications, the children and teenagers were always shown dressed in crisp, dull clothing, and with boring Ken doll hair, whereas the "worldly" kids in the illustrations were depicted wearing clothing that looked cool, longer hair, more "in style". I often found myself staring at these pictures in books; Young People Ask, Watchtower, Awake, even You Can Live Forever, and thinking to myself that if Witness children keep being depicted in books as "nerds", I didn't have much to look forward to in the future.
I remember hiding things, my rat tail, for example was rolled up, and pinned underneath my hair. I remember losing a "Motley Crue" button, and then finding it later in the "lost and found" box. I grabbed that sucker, and stuck it in my pocket. If the elders would have found out who that button belonged to, I most assuredly would have gotten talked to. I use to love new wave and heavy metal music, and so did my mother. I had a cousin who was a JW, and a teenager. We used to love getting paired up for going out in service, because between stops, we'd crank up the Howard Jones, INXS, Information Society, New Order, Motley Crue or Def Leppard. My mom and her sister (a devout witness, to this day) used to make up dance routines to George Michael songs (including I Want Your Sex), and they'd go out to the local dance clubs to hang out at night. Yes, my mother probably deserved to be disfellowshipped... but thank GOD she rebelled the way she did.
I don't really know what went down during the meeting of my mother and the council of elders when she was officially kicked out. My first clue that something was going down was when she consistently started faking sick during going "door to door", and when we got home, she'd automatically be fine. She started to tell me that if my Grandma, Aunt, or anyone from Kingdom Hall called, not to say anything, to just hang up the phone. She moved a "Praise Jehovah" woodcarving from it's prominent display in the living room, to a more discreet spot (in her bedroom, usually covered up with clothes), and if we saw someone from the congregation, we'd either leave, or try to hide from them. I admit, it was kind of fun. I did miss my family thought, and tried to make some ties with them... but I soon realized that if I didn't remain constant in my attendance, I would be shunned the same way my mother was being shunned.
Escape seemed all the more impossible, having to actually cut ties with everyone in your inner circle. I never actually felt much camaraderie with other kids my age, however it's hard to make a life for yourself without everything being in someone Else's control. What would we do on Tuesday nights, Thursday nights, Saturday mornings, and Sunday Afternoons? It makes you feel quite useless, add to that, your brain marinating in thick and sticky guilt.
I've spent almost twenty of my thirty years on this Earth avoiding Jehovah's Witnesses. Isn't that some way to live? I am afraid of being questioned, chastised, judged, and above all being sucked right back in. So what if it wasn't my decision to leave the faith, it doesn't stop me from feeling the same things as my Mother has, and she has actually moved over 1000 miles away. No one knows her whereabouts, (I do) and it's these extreme measures that ex-Witnesses have to go through in order to get out from under the madness.
A few years ago, I stumbled upon another "apostate" site, and checked out an AWESOME book from the library. It practically mirrored the experiences my mother had as a JW, and I told her that I thought it was very important that she read it. We never discussed the past, and this was the first time I had brought it up in years. Throughout my teens, I never once mentioned the name Jehovah, and my mother basically let me do what I wanted (and I suppose this was also out of guilt).
When I told her about the book (the name of it escapes me now), she quickly came back with a response that SHOCKED me, even to this day. Even my own mother, a smoker, a drinker, living with a man whom she was not married to, the most worldly of the disfellowshiped replied "I don't like you reading that apostate literature... don't you know you're not suppose to do that?" I get tears in my eyes, thinking of her telling me that... how it rolled off the tongue, how it proved that The Watchtower still had her in it's relentless GRIP! I can't even begin to explain how that makes me feel... what is in her heart? It's still with her, and it's an internal struggle that she has been fighting with for twenty years.
I'm actually tearing up now... so I think I'm going to leave it at that. I may add more to this later. Thanks everyone for reading.