Some Conclusions I Have Reached
I wonder if everyone here who has kept up with me since I left JW's realize why I have been coming on here. It certainly has been cool to know that some of my experiences and opinions have helped some. I hope they know that I have been equally helped by others.
I come here primarily for me. It has been over 3 years since I left. I knew it would be a process. I made a few good decisions by blowing up the bridge. You have no idea at my lowest points how I wished that I could go back and think that JW's were right, that I could be an elder and have that purpose in life that being a JW gave me. (pioneering, not so much)
Amazingly, even though I knew that my 1st marriage, if not toxic, was certainly hijacked by the cult, I still had fantasies of us working out again.
All I needed was a little guidance as a teen, and I got none. I was turned loose in cult land, told at 16 I was essentially grown up (I graduated high school at that age) and from then on, I made a go of it. This cult took a talented, driven to succeed 16 year old, and molded him to their own insidious purposes. That hurts me more then anything else. It also hurts that not one person who knew better didn't try to talk some sense to that dumb kid, and watched him turn into an egotistical idiot, hellbent on rising in a religion that really tried to better the organization at the expense of the flock, instead of trying to benefit the flock with the resources of the orginization.
So I try not to be to hard on myself, realizing that there isn't a 16 year old I know who in similar circumstances would have made different choices. If there are, I congratulate them, they are better then I was.
It was like painful surgery to blow up everything because in the long run for me, if I left a path open to go back, I was scared that I would go back. I am glad that I did, in spite of the regrets and wasted time.
So I come here, I have posted TONS of opinions, not all of them about JW issues, because I need to catch up and sort through what I really am about. Each comment I have made I was sincere about at the time. But time, and time away from all of the negative emotions associated with being and leaving JW's has caused me to change. That is what I wanted. I think that healthy.
Mostly, I want to feel better. I haven't always felt good. I suffer from depression and anxiety related to my experiences in Cameroon and my JW exit. That settled feeling that I would be ok has been missing.
It's been a fascinating dynamic to look at those who leave and who seem to do so in a healthy manner. There isn't a mental health professional who would tell anyone reading this that STAYING angry and bitter is good for you. Those are honorable emotions upon exit for sure. No one here needs to apologize for feeling angry at the borg. I sure as hell don't. But after a while, that anger can only hurt you.
I think it the greatest challenge of all former Jehovah's Witnesses to put their own unique JW experience into some kind of healthy context that can benefit the rest of their life, even if they have left in their 50's and 60's.
So what about me? I thought I would share my conclusions, and what I hope to do from here on out.
For me, I have a personal view of spirituality. It isn't worship or devotion of a god specifically. It is somewhat rooted in faith. At times it sounds New Agey, although it is far away from the Sylvia Brown's of the world. lol In short, I feel like a deist, and that speaks best to me. I have and will probably continue to argue on certain points that I agree with atheists and agnostics, because the battlefield on those debates seem to be the idea that spirituality can be contained within a group dynamic, i.e. organized religion. I am very much for people to do whats best for them, regardless of religious affiliation.
But frankly, those debates are done for me. I do feel that I function best as a person as a person of faith. Faith in what? Who? Couldn't tell you, and wouldn't argue my position at all. It is extremely personal to me. It isn't superstitious per se. It is an acknowledgment of what I observe that people of faith, spiritually minded people who live and let live with other peoples beliefs or non-beliefs, are less angry and bitter.
When I see debates on this board (and I know more will come) between angry theists and angry atheists, I understand. That is why I think it important for each of us to come to our own conclusions about how we feel, and to not feel the need to apologize for them, so long as they do not harm others.
I don't feel my beliefs harm anyone, and I feel they give me a platform to move on, go forward, and actually help others.
Because that is the last part of this journey. I would like to come to these boards, not for myself, but for others, and help them whenever I can. That is part of why I come here, but not primarily why I do so. I am closer then I ever have been to that though. It seems silly to me to offer "help" when I am the one who has needed it more then anyone.
So to those who I have engaged in passionate debate, I thank you in all sincerity. You have helped me flesh some things out. I esp thank the atheists and agnostics on this board who with their (sometimes) brutal honesty, have helped me to examine my motives and thoughts.
I thank the people of REAL faith, who are spiritually minded and worship god in their own fashion, and who are willing to express their beliefs among other competing beliefs. You also have helped me very much.
It is my goal to move on and reach out, to help others and make that the main reason why I come here. In fact, I hope in time to talk and meet some of you fine people if I can.
In short, in spite of my own weaknesses and mistakes made, I do believe most of all in love and forgiveness without reservation, whenever it is merited. I believe that is how god would want it, whoever she is.
Well, I always enjoy your balanced and well- thought out posts. And as I am on the beginning of my journey, and not really sure where it will take me,I appreciate learning from those who went through it before me. So again thank you for your input on this board.
Thank you for your thoughtful expressions, ATJ. I am new to this forum, but always enjoy your ideas as expressed. I applaud your future goals and the details you have shared about the process you went through to get where you are today. Ditto to your expressions of appreciation to the posters here that have helped you flesh things out. It is so wonderful that we are all free to go through the process, each at our own pace and in our own way, as members of this board. The freedom of expression here is energizing and empowering. All the best to you!
Nice post, Jeff.
Life is like floating down a river...
Jeff, I haven't been on here for a while, but I've really enjoyed your posts that I've read and the fact that you shared such a powerful part of your life with us.
Your story is very similar to mine, and I've learned a good deal from it.
Wishing you the very best.
Jeff, The corrosive effect that the cult has on our lives is, for sure, a reason to be angry. I think also the fact that we were duped and wasted so much of our lives doing silly things, for a small group of self delusioned people, adds to that anger. But we have to move on, if we don't, we can develop gollum like attitudes and get eaten up from the inside out, by the bitterness and resentment.
You are still young enough to get your degree and make something of your life, be a success in whatever field you decide to enter, and at 43 so am I. If I don't make a success of my life, it is because of choices I make from now on, not because of what happened to me whilst I was enslaved in a cult. Fantasize about what might have been as much as you like, but that aint going to change a thing. Visualise the future and you may achieve something great, something you can be proud of.
You say you come on here for you, I know what you mean, coming on here is cathartic and helps the healing process, but it is not going enable your potential. There 1000's who leave the cult who never post anything or even visit sites like this, they just get on with living a life outside the confines of the WTS.
I agree that we all are on our own personal journey as regards spirituality and we all come to different conclusions. Some reject the concept of an all powerful god others still seek a deity. What is great is that all of us have the opportunity to make our discoveries and share them on the board without anyone claiming the one and only truth.
Good post. I see a lot of parallels in your account to my own. Though my own stance on religion and spirituality has changed drastically, I also don't feel the need to expunge spirituality, of a sort, from my life entirely. At the end, I think its a matter of not 'throwing out the baby with the bathwater'. As far as feeling better, I'll defer to a CO's garden illustration: If you have a garden and you plant weeds, you'll grow weeds. If you plant nothing, you'll grow weeds. If you plant flowers, you'll get flowers and some weeds. ;)
Jeff, I really get a lot out of your thoughts posted here too. Some of them, like the 607 issue, I can't really grasp yet. Not because it's over my head but because my mind is still in too much anxiety to focus right now. I'm in a situation similar to your brother's. I hope you continue to post for a long time.
An it harm none (closer to ye than a 3rd cousin) do what ye will.
Thanks Jeff. You ARE in a position to help others, whether you think you are qualified or not. And you have.