H i Everyone. I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am to you! You reassured me while I was one of the walking wounded. You know that line from the movie "Shadowlands", when the student says to C.S. Lewis (Anthony Hopkins) - "We read to know we're not alone"Exactly how I feel.
When I came across Free Minds, I read well into the night and of course, Net Soup. I was so afraid that I may catch "spiritual Ebola"(to quote ATJeff), that I only read Net Soup for about 6 months. It was ok to take in the fraction but to cross over to JWD/N, that was surely a sin!!
Apart from the discussions on doctrine, the posts that touch me the most are those that involve the way young women are treated by elders, as it reminds me of my own humilation and the devastating effects it had on my family. I, unfortunately got involved with a young man from another congregation. I was 17 at the time and unbaptized. The elder handling my case (older than my Father) was so insensitive and asked me the most intimate questions during that meeting. (so, where did he touch you, was there penetration, etc. etc). It has taken many years for me to confront that period in my life. I felt so guilty and so unwothy that it forever changed the way I felt about myself. Any feelings of low self esteem and worthlessness were re-enforced. My Mother was present during this meeting.
My Father never attended another meeting again, and sadly he died a few years later. Can you imagine the guilt I felt. For many years I thought that he was so ashamed of me that he couldn't face going back, and now I was responsible for him being spiritually dead. Through therapy I came to understand that he actually supported me. If only we could have spoken about it! And yet, I still continued because this was "the truth"and I wanted to see him in the New System.
My relationship with my Mother has been very volatile over the years. For me the ultimate betrayal was her lack of intervention. Doesn't a parent instinctively defend your child? Although it's a very long time ago, I still, in moments of despair confront her. Her last response was "perhaps he (the elder) did not know what he was doing" I was shattered, but through reading here I realize that their loyalties are to the organization.
Anyway, I have taken a few of the stories from Free Minds to my therapist to read. I wanted her to understand where I was coming from. I have also read COC (on your recommendation) I was particualry touched when Ray Franz said "the effect of our decisions was considerable in its impact on the lives of others". After lurking for about 3 years, I feel that I am on the way to a place of healing and I no longer go to therapy!
Of course I could lament about lack of higher education, the negativity towards treatment for depression but this would be too long winded for now. Must just mention that my Dad suffered from depression but never went to a therapist. I cannot know for sure whether he would have. One thing I do know is that both my sibling and I would have studied further. I do find it interesting though, that sometimes we are drawn towards "the truth" because of our sensitivity (wanting the world to be a better place) and yet sometimes we leave because of our sensitivity too.
I left in 2001 and never attended another meeting. I took drastic measures so that I could fade as I still have family who are in. I will tell you about this at a later stage.
Once again, thank you to all and to those ex-elders who apologized for the way they dealt with people and for those that did deal with others in a sympathetic way. OTWO, your post made me cry because my outcome might have been different had someone like you been involved.