I never gave up on finding true love and found it, earned a college degree and made friends with apostates.
What is the best thing you did to recover after leaving the JWs?
I went back to school, and I worked hard on expanding my social circle. That was a big one because when I was in I was a "good boy" and did not maintain worldly friendships. I have a nice set of friends now who are kinder and more humble (and funner to be around) than 90% of all JWs I've ever known. I still deal with issues of distrust and shyness that are at least partially a result of my JW upbringing. But I'm getting better at being more outgoing.
I've considered getting therapy, just to talk out some sh!t that's rattling around in my head, but most of all what's kept me sane is the fact that I took up Muay Thai kickboxing and MMA. I love sparring and (as weird as it sounds) taking a punch and getting a little beat up. I guess after being cushioned from reality for so long I felt like I needed to see what I was made of. The training and conditioning that I do just to be able to hang in the ring for 3 or so rounds keeps me fit and mentally sharp. And now I'm in the best shape of my life. And it's one HELLUVA stress reliever.
Seriously, for any exJW dealing with the stress and anxiety of a difficult exit needs to get into an excercise routine. ASAP. And stick with it. I cant emphasize enough the mental benefits that you'll receive, from stress relief to self-esteem. To me thats actually more important than the physical benefits.
I could use all the advice I can get. I'm trapped in the "WOE IS ME" stage..
The best thing for me was losing 70pound in weight. When I was in, I ate because I was miserable and they had control of my life. Once I got control back, I could control my eating too. Dropping 70pound was a fantastic confidence booster. Those that shun me walk past me doing a double-take now and its a real "up yours!!" to 'em all.
I figured I should probably answer my own questions
What is the best thing you did?
Educate myself. I read everything I could. I bought books. I read online. I read about cults. I read about spiritual abuse. I read Ray Franz, Steven Hassan, Festinger, Lalich and Tobias, Schnell, Johnson and Vanvonderan, Langone, Martin, Freed. A lot of it was academic but some were bios.
The WTS controls people by controlling the information they get. Well they could no longer control what I read. Educating myself about all the ways I had been controlled helped break the lock on my brain.
I got involved in life. I went back to school and immersed myself in learning. I took my program courses in counseling but I also took ethics, philosophy, sociology, psychology, and religion.
I also took the Alpha Course an into to Christianity given by the Anglican Church (now many churches are giving it). It was free, no pressure and provided an open discussion by the group members.
And I found the internet and read read read.
Was there something you did that wasn't worth the effort?
As a JW I wasn't much into the beliefs. Kinda an odd thing to say but I wasn't one who was busy researching what the Bible/WTS taught. My husband did enough of that for both of us. So while I did do some reading about beliefs I found it a waste of time for me.
What would you recommend for others to try?
Become a sponge for learning. The WTS kept your world small. Open it up. Let the wind of information whip through your mind and clean out all the cobwebs of a WT-trained mind
Yep, the "woe is me" stage is a toughie isn't it? We've all been there.
Do something, ANYTHING that makes you feel good about yourself. For some of us its diet and exercise, others its been getting an education, therapy or doing things for others. Probably for most of us, it a combination of all those things. But whatever works to build your self-esteem and makes you realise that you are better, smarter, kinder and luckier than the trapped dubs still in can only be a good thing. And lets face it. anyone who leaves the control of the Society has shown more courage than every single bum still sitting on a KH chair.
LADY LEE- I was like you. I read many books to re-educate myself about cult mind control. Especially I recommend Steve Hassan's books on mind control " Combatting Cult Mind Control " & " Releasing the Bonds- Empowering People to Think For Themselves". I feel those and Ray Franz's books should be must-reads for ANYBODY getting out of Jehovah's Witnesses. It's been a scientifically proven fact that in spite of our brain synapses being ingrained in a certain mind set thinking for years - with time we can re-program those synapses and nerve endings to receive NEW information which will gradually reimplant our brains with more information helpful to us to enable us to develop critical thinkng ability.
Also what assisted me was STOPPING using the cult expressions and jargon. I've been out 6 years and it took me about a year to 2 years to not say " the truth " or " brothers " and " sisters " or call people who weren't witnesses " worldly ". I feel it is very important to try consciously NOT to use those expressions to break the thought patterns in our minds forced in their by the witnesses.
Another thing that helped me was to develop enjoyable hobbies to make life interesting . My wife and I enjoy listening to music, live or recorded , blues, rock & roll, reggae , you name it. We love hiking, camping, photography, our animals, reading , I collect early 1900's landscape art, mountains, streams, waterfalls , western scenery's, etc. Enjoy golfing, fishing and great sunsets and sunrises. Lots to live for ! Something I discovered AFTER getting out of the witnesses
Here are some books that I highly recommend:
As a man thinketh. (I LOVE this book).
The three boxes of life.
What color is your parachute?
Soar with your strengths.
For me it was and still is, reading an deducating myself. The information control strategy that the JW-cult uses can only be overcome by informing yourself. TBH once I realised I had been lied to the whole JW-Cult concept crashed down and they no longer had any hold on me. When my wife joined and I knew there was no chance of my kids being indoctrinated my Jobn was done. I now need to work out what I am going to do with the rest of my life!
I became a hermit. I just went to work and saw my kids. I needed therapy, i was really really low.It probably saved my life literally. After 2 years i went out and took dance lessons, made a new set of friends, began going out to shows, bars, whatever. began dating as well. I also threw myself into oil painting and resoration of an old cadillac. I explored more lifestyle choices as well as finding a scene i feel comfortable in with really genuine good people. Today i only work 3 days a week most of the time, devoting the rest of the week to spending time with my new wife, the kids when i have them and pursuing hobbies.
It was a long, well worth it journey. It taught me so much about my self and how to recognize when it was time to withdraw a little at times to self heal and move on again.
Today i am the most happy and content i have ever been.
i am happy to share stuff in greater detail but thats for PMs...
ps. lady lee, great subject too.