Fascinating discussion I had with a former dub on Facebook. We were in the same congregation years ago. Maybe you can relate.
My wake up call came sometime in 1995 when a trusted counselor, who I'd been seeing for two or three years to deal with depression, very respectfully asked me if I believed that Jehovah was going to destroy him at Armageddon simply because he was not a Witness. For the first time, probably in my 25 years of reciting my unconditional beliefs, I heard my own voice and expressions: "yes. Jehovah will destroy anyone who has not become a Jehovah's Witness at the time of Armageddon," I answered. No further explanation was needed.
I remember it somewhat dramatically , today. As if there was some deep, uncomfortable silence with the room suddenly becoming oppressively hot as my consciousness was rent into two complete but manageable halves . It may not have been as conscious as all that, but I know I was changed by the question and hearing my own answer. this counselor was a kind and wise man who, with his colleagues, helped me through a process of seeing the value of my own life, finding my voice, and most importantly, teaching me me "the truth" about choices. I had choices.
It took me a couple of years to sort things out, and when I left in November of 1997, I left peacefully and gratefully. My letter to the elders was rich with thanks for raising me, protecting me, loving me, and being my family for so many years. It also explained that as long as I could not have a voice as a woman, and as long as I was expected to be subject to men, regardless of their lack of spiritual development, and in some cases, abuse of me, I could not stay, and no longer saw my place in the organization. I knew I was finally leaving "home, " something that was both painful and freeing, and really just a natural part of growing up. I've never looked back. I cherish my memories and do miss some of the people who were my family, but am no longer willing to pay the price of my personal identity and spirituality in order to "belong" anywhere. I wrote back:
Thank you so much for the detailed reply.
Your comment about your consciousness being torn into two halves reminds me of a book that I read this past year called "Combatting Cult Mind Control". It states that we have a real self that wants to come out but is suppressed by the cult self.
After being disillusioned about the 1914 generation change I was inactive for years. Then I married a Witness and actually started to believe again. We had a circuit overseer who was really pompous so I googled his name. It turns out there were many others who thought the guy was a jerk as well. It led me to an "apostate" website and I have since read both of Ray Franz's books.
I want badly to disassociate and keep from raising my little girl on false promises. But I don't know how my wife will take it. Hence I am asking you and your husband how you dealt as a couple.
I don't know if you remember (names withheld) but I found their son on the apostate website. I think it's fascinating how many people in our congregation alone have grown up to see "the Truth" for what it really is.
As far as your question about my parents, Dad just recently went through bloodless surgery to have a tumor removed. Mom seems to be doing okay health-wise. Thanks for asking.
Her reply:Dear "Jimmy"...
I just have a huge lump in my throat reading your words.
I wish that my husband and I had a success story to share with you on this. Unfortunately, it was the overall support of the elders of my husband as the head of our household, even though he was a very sick and abusive head, that led to years of depression for me and ultimately seeking help outside the congregation for emotional survival. And I must say that my ex is in no way a bad person; but he is the product of a very shaming and rigid upbringing that taught him to abuse his power and cause harm even while appearing to be applying Bible principals. We just couldn't stay married. Our children suffered from the divorce, but I do not believe they suffered from my leaving the religion. My daughter was 14 when I formally left, and was angry and traumatized, and I agreed to let her continue to go to meetings, but she began to recite the party line that I was "blinded by Satan," and ideas that I had abandoned her spiritually were being maintained by those who were helping her to stay after I left, and it was having a very adverse effect our my relationship with her. She became defiant and disrespectful to me in ways that she hadn't before. I was not willing to have this rift with my own child. It's difficult enough for mothers and daughters during the teen years, and I saw this thing going very badly if I didn't take action. I wrote the local elders and directed that my daughter was not to be contacted by local Witnesses until she is legally of age to act as an adult and chose the religion on her own. I explained that in the mean time I was not willing to allow my daughter to attend meetings and associate with people who were teaching her that I was a bad person, and that my authority was tainted by Satan's influence. My daughter was horrified and terribly upset that I did this. She was certain that I ruined her life and had no concern whatsoever for her well-being. There was lots of crying and talking, and I understood her pain, completely. I knew she was afraid and confused, but I knew that I was not, and that it was my obligation to raise her as soundly as I could. It was so hard, "Jimmy". But I was peaceful. I asked my daughter to trust me. I promised her that when she was old enough to make this decision on her own, I would not stop her, and that I was certain that this was the best thing for us. Tearfully, she said "ok, Mom."
I won't tell you this was all linear and pretty. It wasn't. We all went to scary places and tried out the life that we had been so thoroughly advised against. It wasn't Satanic though. We tried on our humanity and experimented with what felt good and what didn't. There is more to this, it was all I could get on here for now.