cult survivor and just me if thats possible
Are you an 'Ex Witness' or just you?
I am an ex-JW , in the same sense that had I been a long time member of a band ,and had left the life of gigs, and being on the road, and recording behind, I would be an ex-band-member. not an ex-musician.
I am not an ex-believer in God, just I now believe in nothing much that the WT teaches, certainly I do not believe ANY of their unique teachings.
My 58 years in, inevitably, affect who I am today, but I am still, and always was , me. I was me when I was in, not just a JW.
A very good question though, it does us good to turn the spotlight on ourselves, and see the progress we have made since our exit.
thanks for the responses so far. Iagree, coming on here doesnt mean you havent left it behind, but yes its just that there are people with whom you can share an affinity, - like having old workmates on your facebook, doesnt mean you havent moved on, - but I think for some it defines them completely but not in a healthy way, just a friend i have concern for, all she knows are her family or some bitter ex witnesses, - (not even positive ones, well except me lol) -but I told her she needs to open up and not just look for friends who used to be witnesses, as by definition thats all she will ever be..
Sometimes, there have been some insensitive threads started trying to identify the (one) main "trait" of ex JW's. As if there were one.
Frankly, that is a JW trait. The one thing we all have in common is that we used to be JW's. (or are heading in that direction).
The first lesson is that you don't have to be a JW to be happy in life and have a future.
The last lesson (it seems) is that you have all the permission in the world to be you, and not to apologize to anyone about it.
(likeability or the lack therof not guaranteed )
In between these bookend lessons are all kinds of angst, experience, therapy, good and bad decisions, mistakes, relationships, arguments with others and with yourself.
I gave further thought to this question yesterday.... Perhaps it would be more precise to say, do you define yourself by your JW past, or are you comfortable enough in your own skin to acknowledge where you come from without it traumatizing you day to day?
"Yeah, I used to be a Republican, but now I am a Democrat."
"Yeah, I used to be a member of JW's, but now I am not."
I like Wobbles answer, I was always me. I think that the Genesis of me leaving was the maturity of realizing how limiting it is to be a JW, how stupid it is that you can't research anything but WT pubs to learn the bible. (dumb) That lives were at stake. That because I made one mistake when i didn't know any better didn't mean I had to live with it for the rest of my life....
I did have a "spiritual" epiphany at Gilead. But ultimately, it would have been wasted if I wasn't emotionally mature enough to act on that.
Grown ups realize, imo, that the past we carry around can just as easily be stored. We can choose to reference it from time to time, or we can carry that weight with us wherever we go. We own it in either case, but it is a lot easier to move forward when we can come to a place where we can unload, and go on.
Edited: For many, it isn't easy to store our past, and I apologize for saying that. I realize that isn't always the case. However, it can be done.
yes thats a really sensible view. of course your past has a part in shaping your future, but it doesnt have to be everything. - you have a choice. learn from it and move on. - I used to be a JW. its not the first thing I would announce to new people i met - people are very wierded out by witnesses at the best of times and I can see why - its like banging your head against a brick wall. - my good friends through time who have never been affiliated with the religion, and even when I was a member, I mixed closely and went on holiday with, feel like scales have fallen from my eyes, and even though I thought we were close, I see now that they held back from giving everything.
I refuse to accept the labels, for example other than somewhere like here, I would never refer to myself as DFd. that is their label and I am not one of them., - therefore I am just me. - I am just wondering because I have seen some people who still refer to themselves by a witness label, even though they have no affiliation. its as if I were to come up to you and say, you are a mongoose according to my beliefs, and then you accept that label..
I suppose I would class myself as a non practicing JW,well that's what my partner calls me. She is an athiest but is open to talk about what I was and who I am now. I'm still me,but.....I can indulge a bit more openly in things I enjoyed before but was always concious of what it may mean to being a JW. Like music for instance,I've always loved music and at one point sold a load of albums through pressure from others......
I do have them back now of course. I don't really associate with any other ex JWs,I have made a new circle of friends where I live now and non of them know I was a JW.....yet. I'd be quite happy to talk about it to them if the subject ever arose.
I like me in my skin at the moment,it feels good.
It depends on the context. Here on JWD or other websites where leaving the WTS is the main theme, I can see it helping to know where people are coming from. When I meet people, I don't announce my religious affiliation any more than they do theirs. I have to tell some people that I am no longer adhering to the WTS rules who knew I was in the past who bring it up, non-jw family for example and a couple of people at work. But if they don't ask, I don't bring it up. But I haven't changed the inner nature and core of myself.
I don't think of myself as an Ex-JW. I'm just me....part of me is because of the way I was raised.
When it comes up in a conversation, I say I was raised as a JW, but left as a young adult.
Usually, I do not think of myself as an ex-jw. Yet, when something big in life happens, I do, at least for a while. This should have something to do with the fact that born-in jw's are not very well equipped to cope with personal losses etc, since those were not supposed to be so final or important... we were supposed to live forever...
I guess on some level I consider myself to be an exjw even though my mother says that since I was never dipped I shouldn't have a problem with the bOrg since I was never a real jw thereby discounting the fact that she and my father raised my siblings and I in the madness since birth and had to deal with the label of being a jw during our primary and high school careers and all the crap that goes along with that.
But in my present life no one can tell that I used to be associated with the bOrg unless I bring it up (or my hubby rats me out - love that man ). I just like hanging with exjws and the web affords me that pleasure.
So I guess I'm not really an exwitness or am I?