Fascinating discussion I had with a former dub some time back on Facebook

by JimmyPage 16 Replies latest jw friends

  • JimmyPage

    Fascinating discussion I had with a former dub on Facebook. We were in the same congregation years ago. Maybe you can relate.

    She wrote:

    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.
  • jamiebowers

    WOW! Woud love to

  • cantleave

    I'm so glad I haven't subjected my daughter any more years of indoctrination, she is 9 and is looking forward to her first birthday in march.

  • JimmyPage

    She continues:

    It's a long story. I won't tell all of it now. There aren't easy answers here, "Jimmy".

    All the talk within the organization is that a parent that leaves simply throws their children away; is unforgivable selfish, and blinded by Satan. Outside the organization, if you ask former JW's who are fixated on deriding the organization and spend their waking hours telling stories of how false the religion and it's people are, you will only get distracted and confused. I stay away from those sad people. My heart goes out to them though, but they seem to be stuck in their own misery.

    I made my decision to leave in somewhat of a mental health context. My JW family, in-laws, parents, siblings, were all very unhealthy emotionally and in some cases substance abusers and people with untreated mental illness. They used the religion to cope and control me. I reached a very very emotionally unwell place in my mid 30's and knew that it was my responsibility to find wellness. Once I identified how deeply effected by life had been by out of control people using religion to control me, it was as if I'd put on the decoder glasses. Things really jumped out at me and became clear, and I was able to calmly, peacefully, gratefully leave. I knew it would be messy, and the losses would be huge. But I was certain the payoffs would outweigh those losses.

    We are free to fully experience our humanity. Life is not lived in a vacuum of black and white, good and evil. It's very complex and lovely. We've been lonely, sad, disappointed, scared. But not because we left the religion. But because that is the human experience, and I want it all! I don't want to live hoping in "false promises" as you say. I will take the pain with the joy, knowing that one day I will die and the world will go on. It's my world, not Satan's. I won't let anyone ever take my experience away from me again.

    How old is your daughter? Is your wife very committed to staying in the congregation? Does she understand your 'crisis of conscience'?

    My reply:

    I really appreciated your account of how your daughter reacted when you left the Watchtower. That must have been very tough for you but I'm glad it all worked out eventually.

    My little girl just turned (deleted). I threw a little birthday party for her. She had a cake with candles, balloons, and we listened to the Beatles' "Birthday".

    As far as my wife goes, she is fully brainwashed by the Watchtower. Her family all live in the same town as us and are brainwashed as well.

    I've got to get out of the Witnesses, though. It's so hard to listen to the baloney at the meetings. At the same time, I really care about them as people. However, I know their love is conditional. When you have a child you should teach UNconditional love.

    One thought I might add, the online ex-JW community has actually been a source of therapy for me. Most of them can relate to the experiences you and I have had and instead of being miserable have gotten on with their lives in a positive way as you have. I have learned a lot from them.

    She goes on: Hi "Jimmy",

    Wow. You're going through a lot. I'm glad you have some good support via the online ex-JW community. I'm glad to hear that it's not entirely the "miserable" little bunch I happened upon in the late 90's. It makes sense to me that it isn't. I think I was pretty angry myself, but also still deeply loyal in ways that I didn't consciously recognize. I didn't understand the Watchtower to be a cult until I was out for a while. It just hurt too much to think of it that way. It was kind of like admitting that my mother is an alcoholic. Just too hard!

    So, hang in there. My heart goes out to you as you straddle two worlds with your precious little child in the middle. Confusion is hard, but it's part of the human experience, right? Your little girl will figure it out like you are figuring it out. The most important thing is that you love her and follow your gut instincts about her well-being. If she has to be a JW for awhile, well, worse things could happen. We both know that. But you will love her so soundly that no matter what they say about you, she will know in her little heart that you love her and nothing can come between you.

    Please keep in touch and feel free to talk with me when you need a little support or just chat. It helps me to talk about it,too. Maybe I could be part of your online ex-JW support?

    Take good care!
  • Heaven

    It is good to read about other's experiences. Thank you for posting this Jimmy. When is your friend going to sign-up to JWN?

  • JimmyPage

    One thing I found really interesting was her take on ex-dubs online. May we never eat our own!

  • JoJoJones

    I once asked a former Witness about people in parts of Africa who have never heard about God and the Bible. He said they would be destroyed, because they should know what's right or wrong or something like that. There's no way I can believe God would destroy them! That would be so cruel, and I just don't believe a merciful God would hurt these people! I can't get over it that there are people who believe God would destroy them! How cold, callous, and stupid. This person who told me this is actually a decent, nice person, which makes it all the worse that he would believe this.

  • Slayerbard

    wow sounds like my story being all depressed and confused with family using the religion to control me.. Glad she got free of it.. there is hope!

  • JimmyPage

    Yes, Slayerbard, I think it was great the way her therapist emphasized that she did indeed have choices.

  • sweet pea
    sweet pea

    Thanks for sharing this with us Jimmy. Sounds like your friend is a strong one with her head together.

    I'm glad you helped her see that all ex-JWs aren't busy wallowing in sorrow and bitterness and are moving on nicely (albeit spending a little more time on here than is maybe ideal . . .)

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