Well I figure since I have been posting on this site, I might as well share my little bit. It's in no way unique or special, it just is what it is.
From the time I was a tot, my parents took us to meetings. They were never very pushy, never forced us to go in service or comment. They did what they could to try and help us learn- family bible study etc. When I was little, I had many happy memories of other JW children throwing dressup parties (non bible characters) having family BBQ's and picnics... As I got older though, things started to change.
When we moved, the new hall we were in had a lot of young kids. Many of them left. My sister and I were left with no one our age, except the zealous elder/pioneering mother kids. We didn't fit in. In school I desparately tried to fit in and prove to the other kids that I wasn't like the other JW kids (who would sit during the national anthem, made a fuss about the Christmas songs and decorations). It worked, I had a lot of school friends- but found it frusterating I couldn't go to their houses, or school dances, or stay afterschool to watch sports. My parents allowed us to be friendly with kids from school, but when it came to extra activities we were denied. In highschool I became friends with a new girl who moved to town who was a JW- it was pretty good. Between the two of us, we were able to convince our parents to let us go to one school dance a year and be in plays. Then after graduation, she got a 'worldly boyfriend' and was disfellowshipped, and I was alone again. (She didn't want to get me into trouble, so she stopped talking to me and moved away- we have since resumed communication, and I am happy! I had lost 3 years with her and that makes me really sad, I never believed or liked that rule. How could anyone feel happy going back, and then their friends could talk to them again? What kind of a friendship is that? What kind of incentive?)
Enter elder's son. I was so lonely. We started dating, and I tried really hard to fit the mould of his family's 'ideal daughter-in-law'. I began going in service regularly, commenting 2-3 times per meeting, studying... I was making good progress, but didn't feel the need to get baptized. My ex confronted me with an ultimatum- either get baptized or be dumped (as it didn't look good for him or his family). I got baptized. I should have realized then he wasn't a good person, over the course of a year and a half he became really manipulative, controlling, and abusive (verbally, emotionally, then physically). I eventually got out of the relationship (much to my parents happiness), and tried to move on with my life.. About a year after that, I was called for a Judicial Committee meeting re. some 'wrong conduct' during our relationship. It was the worst experience of my life, explaining myself in front of 3 strangers and my father and sister. Like many others, I got asked really personal questions, was made to feel like a complete creep and piece of trash. I ended up getting privately reproved, and got a stern lecture on my choice of associates, moving out, moving out of their territory... It was awful, I felt like a guilty child unworthy of respect and love.
In the meantime, I met my wonderful (now)husband. The elders sensed something was up, and came to my workplace several times during their service time. They called me every week, came by and buzzed my apartment. I became fearful of them parking outside, waiting for me after work. Fortunately after a few months we were able to move. I thought I was finally able to have some peace! No more looking over my shoulder whenever we went out, no more screening calls, leaving work early when they said they'd come back to chat.
In the new city, I was seeked out at work. I had to go to another Judicial Committee meeting, because they found out I lived with and married an 'unbeliever'. I didn't see the point, but they pressured me, and told me that 'they needed to see if Jehovah approved of me going and forgave me'. It was insulting, when you think that some pedophile off the street can go, and be shown kindness by the elders. Again, I was asked awkward questions, which I didn't see the point of since we had already been married a year. When I was 'privately reproved' again I decided maybe this time would be better, but realized I had left for reasons and spending two months going to meetings and being studied with by a sister was just not something I wanted. They called many times, and the sister even called my parents to ask why I didn't want to study anymore. I didn't ever call them, or explain myself. I didn't think I owed anyone an explaination. Since then, they have left me alone- and I am glad.
The more I have been checking out this site, the more I see how blind I was. I feel cheated because I spent 20 years 'studying' and 'learning' the bible, but I feel like I know nothing- and the few things I did pick up on, I question. I am really happy with my life now, and with the freedom and peace of mind. It's just been a struggle, but that is what many people face.
I am thankful for every one of you for all your wisdom, experience, and humor! I am glad to have become a member on this site . I know time will heal all wounds, and life will go on. (Thanks for listening to me!)