Whilst tidying up the ol' hard drive I came across "the purging of my soul", which I wrote as an intro to the philia group. Sounds very raw (I probably was) and thought I'd share it...
Where do I start? This may be a bit jumbled, as I'm sure this will not be given in chronological order. In fact I've been giving this reply some thought since the weekend and feel this is 'bearing the soul'. That's something I'm not very good at (and being British only compounds that problem.
I'll perhaps go backwards. Basically in May 1993 I was disfellowshipped for adultery. Simple statement - hides a lot. During most of 1992 I looked at my life and wondered where I was going - strange for a JW, as we all know what the future holds. Being brought up as a JW leaves you an incredible naive person. I believed everyone in the organisation was honest and worked with the best intent of everybody else. When asked to do something you always responded with a 'yes', nothing was too much trouble (even when it was) and everyone felt the same way. NOT TRUE!! Early in 1992 I became (?)a Min. Serv. and what should have been a pinnacle became the opposite. When attending the Elders/Min Serv meetings prior to local assemblies (and I only did 2) I was genuinely amazed at the 'old-boys club' (Don't know if that's an English expression)- the CO and DO would ask for volunteers for certain tasks and an Elder from my congregation standing next to me would point at various individuals amongst the many raised hands and identify those that would get the jobs before the CO/DO 'graciously’ selected the volunteers - jobs for the boys - what happened to the Theocracy.
Disillusion part 1 perhaps. Amongst my 'jobs' in the congregation as Min Serv was Accounts and Territory (well someone had to look after the maps!). The accounts were a Revelation (no pun intended) and whilst all the relevant paperwork was passed to me in a box there were transactions I could not account for and which the PO fobbed off as 'these things happen'. To accuse of dishonesty perhaps wrong (and libellous) but in Jehovah’s house shouldn't every penny be accounted for - for what reason the Widow’s mite? Looking at these as I write they appear superficial but it started eating away in me. However I persevered and produced (fiddled?) accounts for 1991/92 and 1992/93 (the last one on the day of the Memorial - 7/8 April 1993? as I'd decided this was to be my last meeting. At that Memorial my family and I arrived at the last minute and sat right at the back (where the disfellowshipped were!). As the Memorial finished I shut my Bible at Matthew 26 (put the bookmark in) from where the last scripture was read and thought, “that’s it - last meeting and last time I look at this bible" - (until I opened it now to remind myself at what book I closed the bible - after retrieving it from the bottom of the wardrobe)
The following week I packed two cases and left home and moved into temporary lodgings close to where I worked. Yes in looking at my life was the realisation all was not well in my married life. I had (have) two children, boy and a girl now 17 and 13 respectively and was married in 1979 (day after my 19th birthday) to my pregnant 18 year old JW girlfriend. We earned a public reproof for that - I should have learned then. JW teenage marriages is only a way of legalising sex - nothing more, nothing less. During the years you carry on (well you have to don't you) whilst watching dozens of former friends from different congregation be disfellowshipped (and appropriately shunned). I soon realised that my wife carried out the motions of being a JW, I felt I was carrying the whole family. I felt my children attended by fear, fear of me I suspect. To my dying day I shall never forget telling my (then) 8 year old son at the meeting we were now leaving the meeting to go home. My wife, daughter and I left (we walked as I didn't drive) and in a rage (as my son didn't appear straight away) told my wife and daughter to keep walking and I would wait. Ten minutes later he dashed out of the hall (been chatting to his friends) and I thrashed him on the KH doorstep. How I continually regret that and it plays on my mind.
But these were the rules - instant obedience or punishment. Monday night - prepare book-study, Tuesday - book study (our house), Wednesday, prepare talk, item (and go out on a study), Thursday meeting (20 minute walk there and back), Friday, Evening ministry, Saturday, Morning ministry and W/T pre-study and Sunday, morning meeting followed by ministry (or did I call it Service....) I think Sunday night was free! Looking back this started to weigh me down - I now did Instruction Talks/Kingdom Ministry items and Sunday Public Talks - the Accounts and the maps. A story about the maps. Where we lived grew in size over 4/5 years - the maps hadn't been changed for 10 (well, amended in biro!). In Jan/Feb 1993 I counted EVERY house in our territory (on bike) some 16,000+ houses and set this up on a database so new maps (of equal size) could be issued. I never finished this task I started - but volunteered to do it without question.
I was born in 1960, my parents becoming JW's in 1960 - therefore I know of no life other than being a JW. We moved in 1969 to 'where the need was great' - Fort William in Scotland. Our house was the congregation! Two families altogether and I had a talk to do every week (even talk number 5 (now where did that go!) at the age of 8/9).School was 'hell', being English and a JW in a Scottish school - not a good mix. In 1972 we move back to Newcastle (leaving a congregation of 60+ behind - I think there was 1 local family). School in Newcastle was fun - a JW with a Scottish accent - sometimes everything’s against you. I was selected for the football and rugby teams - but no, not allowed. In 1975 I was baptised (as many of my age were and many even younger). Although in the 'A' stream at school I was the only one to leave at 16 (out of 70+) because my career was pioneering!
I feel that I've been brought up in life driven by promises that never came true - In this system you'll never leave school, you'll never have to get a job, you'll never have to get married, you'll never have children, etc., etc. When all of this DOES happen how do you support your family having left school with little or no qualifications - no help there on that one. And who were all these skilled and qualified people at Bethel and KH building projects - where did they get their A levels and degrees - Oh yes these were people who got the truth when they were adults - well that's OK then. That actually sounded bitter.
To today. The strange thing after being disfellowshipped (which I thought was the honourable thing to do) I still believed every word of the Truth and that I was now just biding my time till Armageddon arrived - Waiting to die I called it. Then I got a Modem for my PC and decided to try this thing called the Internet. Any faith I have/had was totally crushed (though not sure if totally) once I found the JW pages (and I was
even nervous about reading them!!) I am however very confused. I always remember an Elder saying that even if the JW thing was totally false the companionship, etc. would still keep him as a JW. My problem is I think at times I feel that way. Perhaps I do because the last 2 years have been the loneliest of my life. My infrastructure of life collapsed at one stroke of disfellowshipping. That was/is very painful. You are (and I still am) totally unprepared for the life out there.