Just another experience

by bradford 17 Replies latest jw experiences

  • bradford

    Hi everyone! I just wanted to add another piece to the puzzle that is the exile from the organization. A little background about myself first. I was not born into the religion, technically. I think my mother started studying off and on for years prior to me entering the world but had some issues giving up smoking or staying consistent, or a combination of the both. I remember birthdays, Christmas, Halloween, and all that when I was little. It may have been around 2nd or 3rd grade where it became mandatory from my mother that we were going to meetings, not doing holidays, and that I was going to study the bible stories book with a brother from the hall.

    Looking back now, I don't understand why my dad allowed this to happen. I think it was presented as a "choice" and my parents would let us pick what we wanted to do but my mother was always the disciplinarian and the one who was pushy, as most newly baptized JWs are. So it really wasn't a choice for a 7 year old kid as much as my parents thought it was.

    I don't think I ever became an unbaptized publisher, but I did join the theocratic ministry school. It was about that time I realized I loved sports, and was pretty good at them. I also loved the friends and camaraderie of being part of a sports team. My mother said I couldn't play sports on the school team. When I turned 13 my sister told my mom she didn't want to go to meetings anymore, and I quickly followed suit. At this point it really was a decision we could make and my dad was happy we did. I joined the basketball team, baseball team, football team, and I'm sure I had a much more enriching high school experience had I not left when I did.

    Fast forward to me at 19, when I thought I was invincible. I was living at my college dorm, got arrested twice. Once for alcohol and another time for marijuana possession. I came home from college, and had a hard breakup with my girlfriend, one of my best friends was going to fight in the Iraq war, and a few other things in my life had me at a crossroads. I was vulnerable.


    The witnesses came by one day to see my mom who was now inactive for three years. I thought to myself, I will study with this guy and play devil's advocate to disprove it all. I don't know if it was the love-bombing, the shady reasoning and manipulation, or what..but I was baptized six months later, pioneering after a year, and appointed as a ministerial servant after two years.

    I was being pushed towards ministerial training school and probably would have gone. But I then met my lovely wife. I had never dated as a witness so the whole chaperon/dating thing was kind of foreign. Anyhow, we dated secretly for like a year, got in trouble, were disfellowshipped, got married, and then we were reinstated in the standard fashion a year later.

    After six years of marriage and being your exemplary Christians, the new God's Kingdom Rules! book came out. I wanted to make it my goal to study the book thoroughly. I got to page 11, where it talks about the Generation that wouldn't pass away and the new understanding of two overlapping generations. I thought to myself, okay, I guess that makes sense. But why the need to change it? So I started researching the development of the teaching in the WT library. I don't remember how it happened but this led me to researching 1914, 1919, and 607 teachings. The reasoning and resources used in the articles were not adding up and I had this horrible feeling inside that something was wrong.

    I told my wife I wasn't sure about some things, and she just said.."like apostasy?" I was just like "I'm not really sure I think I'm going to talk to the elders." I attempted to schedule a meeting with them. I told my service group overseer (because there are no longer "book study" overseers) that I was having some doubts and needed to talk. He just asked me what my doubts were in a nutshell to give him an idea. So I told him I had doubts about the teachings above, and how Jehovah's spirit can direct false teachings. That was the extent of the conversation, and it took them over a month to finally meet with me.

    My research at that point had already taken me to JWFacts.com because I was trying to research original quotes referred to in articles regarding 607. On the train to NYC I found and read entirely Crisis of Conscience. In order to not put myself in a compromising situation right away, as I wasn't sure what my exit plan was, I kept the conversation very light with the elders when we eventually met. Their basic message to me was that we know this is Jehovah's organization, that I needed to be humble, and I needed to put these doubts on the back-burner and come back to them later with a different viewpoint. I said okay I would try, but at the same time asked to have all my privileges revoked, no longer a reader, no talks, no prayer at meetings, no doing the sound, etc. They were fine with that but clearly disturbed at my though process.

    As fearful as I was, I love my wife, and I had to tell her what I had found. She surprisingly said she would support whatever decision that I made because she trusted I would research enough to not be misled. That was a relief. For months I battled over whether I was going to just fade away, or tell the elders straight up what I thought. My many close friends knew something was up and I gave them some crumbs of where I was heading and what I was thinking to prepare them for the inevitable. Some friends just steered clear of me just like that, while others wanted to have serious talks so they could either understand or try to sway me.

    I always said I was going to grow a beard in the "new system" so by this time, no longer going to meetings or in service, my beard got pretty nice and thick. I was playing basketball with some friends at a nearby school late at night where someone's dad was a coach and got us access to the gym. A member of my previous congregation was a security guard who now as ministerial servant, and interestingly enough, was someone I had studied with, and found in the door-to-door ministry when I was an unbaptized publisher. He was definitely one of those crazy JWs, like super strange..you know the type. There is some in every congregation.

    So he saw me with the beard and asked "What are you doing with a beard?"

    "It's just hair, Andrew, it grows on your face." I said back.

    "Why aren't you home with your wife this late hour?" He replied.

    "I'm playing basketball..."

    He said "With THESE people?" and his eyes scanned the people I was there with.

    We had words after that but he helped me see the elitist mentality that is right below the surface of most JWs. I probably had it myself at some point and was ashamed. That week I wrote a letter to the elders to formally disassociate myself as one of Jehovah's Witnesses.

    For whatever reason they have had the letter for over a month, and not made an announcement. I've heard through some friends that still talk to me despite knowing I actually wrote the letter they are planning to have an elder or two talk with me first. I think I will meet with them if they are respectable enough former friends who I was close with. There were definitely some elders who were pretty chill and some who weren't. I really don't know what they are trying to accomplish and I'm looking forward to how it all plays out. My wife is still sitting on the fence, but mostly inactive. She wants me to go to the memorial with her just to see our old friends and make them feel bad or something for how they have just cut us both off so quickly. I don't know what she is thinking fully but hope to see her fully on the right side of things soon.

  • The Searcher
    The Searcher

    Welcome Bradford!!

    If the guaranteed flak doesn't bother you, have your "5 minutes of fame" with your Elders' inquisition.

    You can be sure of one thing - they will not care two hoots about what you say or think - they simply want more fuel for their fire, because it sounds like you never supplied them with enough damning evidence for them to vilify you in private with!

    I'd give them a body-swerve!

    Best wishes, whatever you do.

  • cappytan

    Welcome! and thank you for sharing your story.

    Nice to hear how supportive your wife is being!

  • FeelingFree

    Very interesting! I love reading people's experiences and their wake up moments, it makes me realise I have made the right choice as there are so many new people continuing to join the website with the same issue's etc.

    Welcome and I hope your wife continues to follow in your footsteps!

    FF x

  • ABibleStudent

    Welcome bradford, Have you read your wife "Crisis of Conscience"? Until your wife can critically think for herself there is a danger that she may be swayed to love the WTBTS more than you.

    You can always feel out your wife's feelings by showing her the following videos from Steve Hassan Being a Smart Consumer today. (5:46), How Big is the Phenomenon of Undue Influence? (2:01), and Strategic Interactive Approach explained 2003 (1:23:23).

    Best of wishes for you and your wife successfully fading from the wTBTS.

    Peace be with you and everyone, who you love,


  • FayeDunaway
    Wow, great story. Thanks Bradford, and welcome!
  • Bigdummy

    Welcome from me also Bradford. I've been in "the truth" going towards 60 years.

    Take a piece of advice from The Searcher and me. Stay clear of any meeting of

    an official type. They don't care what you have to say they just want a little more info

    to hang you. I've never been the recipient of a JC meeting but my wife and I sat

    in on one with our 15 yr old son. He took a sip or two from a beer at a concert and

    one of the other young JW brothers felt compelled to tell the elders about it. They

    all tasted it and it was wrong. They were all underage. I was told about it from my

    son so to me it was over. Big deal he tasted some beer. The elders weren't as

    forgiving as me because they wanted ALL the details. We go to the meeting and

    these elder brothers who I had known for years took on a different persona. They

    weren't the helpful and loving type I had recognized in the past. One of them asked

    my son if that was all he ever did wrong . What a question! If I admitted everything

    I did wrong by the time I was 15 I'd still be making a list to this day. But anyway one

    of the elders accused him of lying. He said we know and we have witnesses of

    past sins. I thought really I had no knowledge of these additional wrongs. He kept

    badgering to come clean and they would be easier on him. After several minutes

    of this crap and my sons repeatedly denying any other sins the elder gave up and

    said " we really don't have any other accusations or witnesses. We just wanted to

    see if you would admit to anything else". My blood pressure must have surely

    spiked. I was mad. So this elder flat out lied to try to get more info. I told an elder

    friend of mine about it and told him that elder lied and my friend said " well some-

    times they have to do that to find out other things. Went my son got 18 he never

    went to another meeting. He's in his mid 30's now. The elder that was lying faded

    out of the truth and was living with another woman. I heard they are married now.

    Bradford, I know how you feel and what you want to say but if you want to

    fade and keep your family relationships in tack, I would steer clear of a frontal

    assault on the doctrines. You won't win unless you count showing them up on some

    crazy doctrines and you getting kicked out is a win. You can show them some-

    thing wrong with a particular belief but leave it at one or two and let it simmer.

    That's what I did but I got tired of doing that because whatever I said was wrong

    even if I showed them and reasoned with from the Bible.

  • DesirousOfChange

    Welcome to the JWN Club.

    I remember having lots of the same doubts and feelings. You will find that ONLY the people here can begin to comprehend what you are thinking and feeling. Your Elders WILL NOT understand nor will they be sympathetic.

    Personally, I am totally against Disassociating oneself, but you have already written the letter. JMHO, but to DA is to play by their rules. If they have held the DA letter in abeyance this long, it may be because you only "questioned" doctrines and they don't feel you've been a "threat" to others in the Cong.

    IF you want now to try to avoid the complete shunning and loss of friends in The Troof, you may be able to sidestep the DA if you say you wrote the letter in haste and at a very stressing time. Blame confusion about the New Lite. Say that you are "waiting on Jehovah" to clarify things. You must state that you "know this is Jehovah's Organization" and no one else is doing what Jesus commanded about making disciples. Do a short term "fake" and then start a gradual "fade".

    IF you don't care about the punitive effects of DAing, then just totally ignore that previous paragraph.

    Good luck!

    Learning TTATT is one hell of a ride! (Emotionally)


    [EDIT] In response to the earlier post that posted ahead of mine, you CANNOT ignore them if you have sent a DA letter and want to try to stay "in" and do a "fade". The DA letter, if it is damning enough, is all they need to make the announcement that you "are no longer a JW".

  • Bonsai
    Welcome Bradford. Our stories are very similar. Too bad (because of distance) we couldn't shoot some hoops and talk about stuff over a beer. I don't recommend disassociating yourself if it's an angry emotional response to what you've learned recently. But if it's killing you mentally not to cut ties... each must do what he thinks is best. Hang in there man. Your wife will need you to be there for her emotionally and mentally now more than ever.
  • bradford

    Thanks all. Just got done work for the day and was glad a few people chimed in. Perhaps I wasn't very clear in my story..

    I considered fading and ran my thought process by my wife. She is all about being decisive in life, as I am. She actually encouraged me to just rip the bandaid off instead of slowly take it off bit by bit. I have been fading for the last six months so my "friends" have already started treating me differently. Not getting the invites, the texts, the tags on instagram, etc. My only family that are witnesses is my mom and my aunt. She faded when I left as a teenager, I think she can fade again. My aunt..who knows. We aren't that close.

    When it all comes down to it I do not want to be a witness. I want them to know that I don't. The only thing I don't like about being announced is that no one would know why. Did he cheat on his wife? Is he doing drugs? I bet he was abusing alcohol! People will come to their own conclusions, which is why I called or visited (depending where they are these days) each and every single one of my "close" friends who know me and told them I made a decision and I am sorry if they think I am abandoning them but I am not to blame. The organization is. I hope they realize that some day.

    A few wanted to know more. I wasn't shy about telling them TTATT. I have had 2 former elders randomly stop by in street clothes saying they heard some things and wanted to know what was going on. They appear to be genuine, but I feel like I can sniff out if they are on a fact finding mission to implicate anyone else.

    Thanks again everyone.

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