Thank you to JWN member Confession

by Steve_C 6 Replies latest jw experiences

  • Steve_C

    Confession, thank you so much for posting this: You and your wife have certainly taken the high road in this situation, and you've inspired me to do the same.

    I'm a born-in who's been out for about 7 years; consequently, my mom and sister shun me. They both live in the same town, about 800 miles from where I had been living. Last April, while I was preparing to move out of the country, I wanted to use the opportunity to visit my family, or at least, my mom. My 72-year-old mother has many medical problems (emphysema, congestive heart failure, etc.) and, since I didn't know when I would be returning to the US, I felt this could be the last time I might see my mom alive.

    When I phoned her, she had that cold, businesslike voice that JWs tend to use with former members. When I told her that I was leaving the country, she softened her tone, but would not allow me to come visit her. We did manage to talk for about 20 minutes, though, which is the longest conversation we've had since I've been out. It ended with her crying and assuring me of her love (likewise on my side) but, of course, she had to add her hope about me "coming back to Jehovah." She would not, however, allow me to come visit her before I left.

    The conversation with my sister was even shorter and colder. She basically wanted my new contact information. I knew she wouldn't be contacting me, except for the JW-sanctioned "necessary family business" which I'm sure translates as her telling me when mom dies. My sister didn't even want to know why I was moving, etc. Anyway...

    After I moved, I sent a couple of emails, but these were never responded to. Since that time, I have not tried to communicate with them, even though I would love to share my experiences here in my new country, and--even more importantly--find out about my mom's health situation. I didn't continue the emails because I felt that if I did send regular updates on my life, they would be enjoying my communication with them, but I would get nothing. They could continue to feel good, following their shunning rules, but would not feel any negative consequences from it. I guess I felt that, by my communicating with them, they would be "getting their cake and eating it too."

    After reading Confession's experience, however, I realize that I've been guilty of my own form of shunning. So, I'm going to start sending emails again, and I'll just have to get over the fact that they won't respond.

    Confession and his wife seem like amazing people; again, thank you for sharing your inspirational experience.

  • BabaYaga

    Interesting, and good on ya, Steve C.

    You know, folks usually only regret the things they didn't do.

    Furthermore, if love is going to do any "breaking through", you know it has to come from our side... the outside... the "dark" side. Ha.

    Here's hoping. Keep reminding yourself you are doing this in love, and realize that they live in fear. Otherwise, it will hurt you.

    Love and best wishes,

  • beksbks
    Keep reminding yourself you are doing this in love, and realize that they live in fear. Otherwise, it will hurt you.

    You're very insightful Baba.

    Good for you Steve C for coming to this conclusion. I truly believe most of them hurt over this as much if not more than we do.

  • Confession

    Hi Steve... Thanks for your comments about my wife and me.

    I suppose our shunning family members do deserve to receive the consequences of their own actions. Not necessarily because we have gone out of our way to bring them, but simply because of their own decision to abandon a loved one (arrived at either personally or by institutional manipulation.) I don't know if the following makes sense to you, but I'll try to put my perspective into words.

    I know the life I left.

    In it there are lots of congregation meetings, going door-to-door, assemblies, conventions, elder responsibilities and preparation for all the above. Further, there is constant pressure to "have a full share" in these things--and pressure to diminish involvement in almost everything else. There are Watchtower Society talks, "discussions" and "question and answer" sessions that themselves provide all the questions AND all the answers. It is a testament to the power of human potential that some can continue to find more and more ways to say exactly the same single thing over and over again. And it's kind of beautiful to me that--even though life was meant to be a vigorous adventure--some can still find ways to extract joy out of a self-imposed world of spiritual imprisonment to a life-limiting, kooky religious publishing company.

    I'm not kidding about this: There is really nothing you and I need to know about the lives of our family members. There's unlikely to be anything that happens with their stories that we couldn't pretty much write beforehand.

    My brother's wife is apparently suffering from something that sounds like the "environmental disease" I used to hear about. Some healthcare practitioners thought it was the mercury from her old fillings. Now they think it could be something in her walls or carpeting. Now this fifty year old woman, who used to weigh around 160 or so, is down to 90 pounds. Funny... She never struck me as one of those frequent sufferers of (I believe Scully once called it) "the malaise du jour." But I've always thought of her as the family member with the most potential to "wake up" about the religion. Perhaps "environmental disease" is precisely what she's suffering from. (Subjecting herself to the sick, sad "environment" of a world that is not real and a life purpose that gets harder and harder to stomach.)

    It is we who have the real opportunity to live. And, since it is they who have chosen to turn away from us, and since we know we are not doing anything wrong in leading our own lives, we have hereby been released from any and all guilt or responsibility where they are concerned. While they consider it a type of discipline, you and I should consider it a gift!

    We are free to read what we want, travel where we want, get involved in things that we want, learn about what we want, talk about what we want, love, rejoice and play with whom we want in the ways we want! Holy shiznit, Steve, WE are the ones who have something to talk about!

    What do we want to hear from our JW family members??? What the latest book release was (containing, let's face it, only things that would make us want to vomit) from the summer convention? How some major announcement meant to frighten these poor, pitiful souls into subjection is about to be made? How another one of them has figured out a way to spend even more time going door-to-door, speaking to people who don't want to hear it, in order to convince themselves and others just how committed they are to something we know is untrue? Do we want to keep hearing about their lives so that we can continue to be stupefied by them?

    I guess what I'm saying is they don't have much of a life anyway, so if they're determined not to share their lives with us, it is no great loss and probably spares us some frustration. In making the attempt to share our lives with them however, we rise above the immaturity they are threatened to impose--and give them a glimpse into a life truly worth living!

  • scotsman

    I too was impressed by your approach Confession, there's a lot to admire about "heaping burning coals"! I wonder what you would do in my situation...

    2 years after I'd stopped attending meetings my mother told the CO that I was in a same-sex relationship and judicial moves were made. I ignored them and it came to nought so I'm not disfellowshipped. My eldest brother immediately cut contact but my mother and other brother with whom I was in business remained in almost daily contact. My family had been close, they were good company and we socialised, holidayed etc etc but the closeness dwindled as I no longer shared their beliefs or social lives. They refused to spend any time with my partner, now of 7+ years. The business relationship ended and my brother still wanted to meet for lunch occasionally but it was chat-lite and all about his life and I stopped meeting him 2 years agobecause I found seeing him rather depressing. My mum I still see about once a month, she's in her 70s, and alone. We had been very close but her instigation of having me disfellowshipped seriously fractured that. We have worked through it and while she's interested in knowing about my life, wont be part of it. She's lovely but devout, and would cut contact if I were disfellowshipped.

    So, I've cut my elderly mum some slack, but not my brother... does it seem harsh?

  • Confession

    Sounds like you have a reasonably good situation--given the circumstances. I suppose if I really only felt depression in meeting my sibling, I'd avoid most contact too--although I'd never want to completely cut off all contact. Maybe it gets reduced to a phone call every couple of months. If a lunch is too much, maybe a coffee. How 'bout a beer? Would that "loosen" him up a tad?

    I understand your mom instigated judicial action, but she appears to have drifted from that mindset, and there's nothing she can do about it now. The relationship with either she or your brother is never likely to be ideal as long as they are strongly involved in an authoritarian high pressure group.

  • Steve_C
    You know, folks usually only regret the things they didn't do.
    Furthermore, if love is going to do any "breaking through", you know it has to come from our side... the outside... the "dark" side. Ha.Here's hoping. Keep reminding yourself you are doing this in love, and realize that they live in fear. Otherwise, it will hurt you.

    Very well said, BabaYaga.

    And thanks, Confession, for your further words; I think I'm going to have to print them out and refer to them often.

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