Not Getting Over It! Ex-JWs Face Residual Psychological, Physical Damage

by TMS 44 Replies latest jw friends

  • TMS

    This is not an essay or "my story". These are just a few personal observations from someone who lived, breathed and
    slept the JW religion for over 50 years. Leaving the JW religion is not like leaving town, quitting a job or getting a
    divorce, all stressful situations in their own right.

    Leaving the JW religion of your own volition is a rejection of your core values, a destabilization of your psychological
    foundation. If your departure is the result of injustice or oppression from the organization itself, it's not just a matter
    of rethinking things. You have to erase the blackboard of your life.

    Let me compress my so-called story into a concise mass with atom touching atom: We were/are a family of three with our son
    df'd in 1993. Instinctively, I asked my son to move back with us. The day after his announcement of df-ing, my wife visited each
    each committee member at home or job, basically saying: "I will not break contact with my son. DF me, if you must." We both
    fell from the top of the theocratic ladder to the bottom in a heartbeat.

    That was 17 years ago.

    In the first year, my wife and I experienced health issues. My wife lost the sight of one eye to glaucoma and I almost totally
    lost energy to hypothyroid. In 18 months we aged like two-term presidents.

    My wife and I would be interesting studies for mental health professionals although neither of us believe in talk or
    chemical therapy.

    Wife: ANGRY. . . .angry at the subordinate, submissive role she was forced into for decades, angry that she/we didn't
    give our son the best shot at happiness because of the suppressed life of our belief system, angry that the man she married
    42 years ago couldn't smell cult, angry at the loss of the family she could have had if not so cult-oriented.

    me: I relive my life in my dreams. I angrily react to all of the situations i experienced in JWdom. I relive my entry
    level job of 30 years. My anger is for things I didn't say, thing's I didn't do. In daytime hours my mind constantly
    wanders to living my life over again with what I know now. The irony? I allowed JW's to steal my youth and, in a sense
    steal my last years.

    I know. . . . "Get over it!"


  • dgp

    TMS, I wish I could do more than post here and say I hope you can have as much happiness now as you can.

    I commend you on your decision not to break ties with your son. You had balls, man.

  • BackRoomBilly

    I got angry reading that.

    I'm sorry they decived you brother. They lied to you and stole your turn at life.

    I hope you will find peace.

  • TMS


    Thank you for the kind words. Please don't think we're not having some happiness. My point was that we ex-JWs carry considerable baggage, post-traumatic syndrome, regrets. . . . all for living the "non-life" of those who choose or are persuaded to exchange control of their current physical life for the promise of a lieing fairy tale. The members of this board are among the few who understand.


  • Caligula1


    Great post. I love it. Just being on boards and going to Meetups is not enough for complete (if complete recovery is possible for all).

    I started to put together a list of mental Health professionals to help with this issues, but I could not find a lot, only 1 which I believe was in Philadelphia PA USA.

    I personally met Randy Waters and Steve Hassan, and they were great starting points. I would like to see a 6 month to 24 month clinical mental health program just for JW's. I think it is needed.

    Where are you located? I would like to meet you.

    The entry level jobs, especially in this economy, is distateful to me.

    I gave up a 4 year college schollarship, at a high ranking university.

    One of the things I have considered putting together, is a group of "programs" (going back to college, getting higher paying jobs, getting a divorce, getting married, etc.) to jump start or boost the pleasures, income, and experiences that normal life has to offer.

    Keep us posted....and keep us posted on your progress.

  • cameo-d


    You are an overcomer. Anger can be a great catalyst and used for good. Just your testimony here may help someone who is questioning and reading. I hope you and your wife can channel your anger into making a positive impact and that you can find some satisfaction in that. We all could have done greater things had we not been held back for some reason. But, as many things in this life are empty vanities anyway, what you can do as a result of this horrible life-sucking experience you have had...may indeed, turn out to be your greatest accomplishment.


  • Broken Promises
    Broken Promises

    TMS, I left after being a born-in JW for 30 years, and I agree fully with your post.

    I think there is a great deal of post-trauma syndrome experienced by people who leave the JWs. Many say they stopped being depressed or having health problems when they left the JWs, but think there are just as many who develop health problems as a result of living and leaving the JWs.

    For one thing, leavers have their complete spiritual path ripped away from them, and many wander around lost, without direction, after having surrendered their entire spiritual life to the whims of men.

    I don’t need to go into details of the physical and emotional losses ex-JWs experience but this whole board is a testament to the pain and suffering that results from leaving that cult.

  • blondie

    I am a survivor of sexual abuse by my father, an alcoholic jw mother, and finally escaped the abuse of the WTS. Strangely enough I sought professional help for the sexual abuse, dealing with my mother's alcoholism but not the abuse of the WTS. Eventually I did talk to my therapist about the religious abuse and lo and behold found that she too had escaped an abusive religious group (not jws though). This therapist has helped me to heal from all 3 areas of abuse. I have been able to move forward and find happy times and good friends. That's not to say that I have forgotten certain nasty actions by some but only to the point of learning from it and how to protect myself for it happening again.

    As to medical conditions, I'm sure they would have happened to us even if we had stayed: heart attack and a destroyed liver...but we have done what we can medically to deal with those situations too.

    I try every day not to live in the past, I can only live in this moment.

    Love, Blondie

  • Mad Sweeney
    Mad Sweeney

    Amen everyone. It is perhaps the hardest thing I've ever gone through. While I wish it happened 20 years ago I'm also thankful that it didn't happen 20 years later. My family is still young enough to grow up normally and get a good education and career. I still have half a lifetime left, assuming medicine continues progressing well. I am trying to look forward with hope rather than look back with regret. It isn't easy, but this board helps. We have each other, don't we?

  • Coffee House Girl
    Coffee House Girl

    Thank you for sharing TMS, reading this thread is reliving what I have been thinking for the past couple of weeks. I finally said to a friend on Tuesday night (not a jw or exjw so they dont understand), I have lived for 30 years waiting...waiting for something to happen- waiting for my life to happen & it was just passing me by. I was waiting for my parents to die before I could start a life (I feel sad and ashamed that I felt that I had to stay in it for my family) I lived for 30 years in shame, guilt, and regret. That was WAY TOO LONG. I refuse to waste any more time on that, I resolve to say no to fear, guilt, and regret and enjoy life and what lies ahead for me. I now have a life of my own making, WOW...that is exciting.

    Thank you


  • Masterji


    Hang in there.


  • OnTheWayOut

    Great post, I salute you for doing the right thing with your son.

    My wife and I would be interesting studies for mental health professionals although neither of us believe in talk or
    chemical therapy.

    I understand that many cannot or will not seek therapy, but I have not heard of ex-JW's not believing in talk therapy.
    Would you tell us why that is? I respect your rights not to participate, but I would like to hear what's up and hear what approach you do recommend.

  • Think About It
    Think About It

    TMS......bravo for putting your family ahead of the WTS rules. You are a true man & father.

    Think About It

  • tec

    I commend you for standing by your son! You lost a lot of time to the WT, but you refused to let them take your son from you. That is something to be thankful for.

    I don't usually respond to the threads that discuss the results of leaving after so many years. I never joined JW's. I studied, I thought they were inspired by God -and only them -but I changed my mind just before joining. So I don't have that experience to draw upon to answer someone who has had the experience.

    I can only tell you that for all the mistakes I have made in my life, I never ever look back. No matter how great the loss. If I can learn from a mistake, great. But looking back and regretting what I lost would drive me to heartache and bitterness and depression.

    Be proud that when push came to shove, you did what was right. And you don't ever have to regret not standing by your son.


  • Darth plaugeis
    Darth plaugeis

    Remember all those things we experienced make us better people. Yes heartbreak, the years stolen from us. Things we allowed our families to suffer thinking it was for their own good. We blame ourselves. Yet some how we became stronger going Thru these things. to say "I know. . . . "Get over it!" No you will never get over it. You and your family are SURVIVORS. Hold your head high you lived thru it to tell your tale. Thanx 4 sharing.

  • Quandry

    Your story is mine-just change the son to daughter. She was 16. Df'd for petty teen stuff. Yes, we fell from grace, also.

    Hubbie elder. Me-super elder's submissive wife.

    Yes, health problems for us both. Did you know that a person can have shingles and not even be aware? The stress was such that I don't know how long I had it until finally one day I realized that my back was stinging under my bra strap. When I finally looked, it was as if I was burned all across my back.

    Husband-angry. Wanted to hurt five-man JC. Angry at not saying things he wished he'd said. Angry at being in an entry-level job never saving for retirement. Angry for losing over thirty years of his life.

    Me-in college at 58. Probably will never see a degree, but love to learn. Angry at being in an entry-level job. Angry at losing over thirty years of my life.

    Yes, it gets better. Never goes away. It is always there like a suitcase filled and ready to be carried, and sometimes jumps onto your back when you don't expect it.

    We have finally gotten to the point, though, where we find a bit of humor in our years as JWs.

    No, we can't "get over it." Glad you are back to some happy times. Strive for more! We can't let them have any more of our time!!!!

    Yes, only others like us can understand, and I do.

  • Quandry

    I wanted to is your son? My daughter went through such trauma. Still does from time to time. She is in college studying Biology.

  • cskyjw.sun

    i am currently on medication

  • millions now living are dead
    millions now living are dead

    I hear ya with the entry level job thing. That is my biggest depresser/shame spiral/rage inducer. I think about all the advantages I could of had if they would of just let me be, not mentioning being supportive. You have to get at the bottom of all this stuff and it's not easy. I don't believe you have to carry this shit around for the rest of your life. Be sincere in your intent to heal and things start happening. One thing I was doing and still do to a degree is that I feel somewhat isolated and superior. Like I'm special still. Like I have the "truth" even if it's just my truth. It stopped me from progressing, going to therapists, and the like. Realizing you are just a human like every on else is very liberating. You can connect with those we were taught to shun and look down on. You can even begin to understand those who wounded you.

    Choosing your son over some f*cked up machine, soul sucking, life killing mirage means you chose love and it opened your eyes. What's the bumper sticker say, "The truth will set you free but first it will piss you off"


  • wobble

    I don't think we should ever expect to "get over" it, if we have been in for a long time.

    I was born in ,and stayed in for 58 years.

    I think it is like a Concentration Camp survivor, the memory is always with you, but you do move on, you have to.

    The problem is for us with most of our family still in, the pain continues.

    For example. at the Weekend the first of my great Nieces had an Engagement party. Great Uncle Wobble and Great Aunt (Mrs Wobble) knew nothing about it, were not invited.

    My Uber-Dub sister told me about it last night, saying "Oh you would have enjoyed it because......"

    Now the reality is we probably would have made excuses and not gone as it would have been all the Dubs we have known for 60 years that were there. But there is a degree of hurt.

    We have to ignore the past and some of the present to remain happy.

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