Today is my 2yr anniversary since being DF'd - and my life has CHANGED a lot!!! This is a letter I wrote to my parents...I did see/talk to them in Feb when I had my surgery, but of course as it goes, now that I'm 'better' - they are back to shunning me. So this was sent to THEM both, so that they understood that despite all the JW bull ish, and how they are treating me now - I'm ok and happy!
My therapist has been working with me on love and forgiveness this past year - forgiving myself for all the mistakes I have made in my past AND also forgiving (letting go of) all the injustices done towards me. In that lesson, she has encouraged me to write down all my feelings in a journal, which I regularly do! But in keeping notes on things, I wanted to take a few minutes to write you both.
The other day I was cleaning out old papers, and found this card (dad) that I got for you. It had this beautiful poem in it and I had every intention of reading that card to you at my wedding. :-( Of course that wedding never took place - and for that I am VERY grateful!!!! Still, finding that card reminded me of how different things are now; how different I am now. As I sat there reading, I kept trying to remember WHO I was at that point...where my head was at. So I looked at pics (from 2yrs ago) desperately wanting to know that girl in those pics. Admittedly, I don't recognize her anymore - and that is something I am extremely proud of. Where those in the org may see a change for worst, I see and feel 10x BETTER then I ever have - even when I was little. Can't explain it, but I feel like I'm finally making my own choices and have the freedom to do so. Please do not think that I'm taking tha 'freedom' and running wild...that is nowhere near the truth. No matter what assumptions are made over me and what my life is like now, the truth is that it's peaceful for the first time EVER! Although my lifestyle has changed and grown, the 'inner' person is and always will be the same. Still very independent (even moreso now...), still very stubborn - like you dad, and still have a very big heart and want to help everyone I can (like you mom). That core person is someone I continue to hold onto and will never change...THAT is the person that keeps me grounded and out of 'bars and beds' that I have no business in! (haha - that was a cheap joke...sorry)!!! :-) Point is, that I'm sure no matter what religion our family would've been, the same morals would've been instilled in us, and for that I thank you. Respect, compassion, love, humility - all things that you guys taught me - all qualities that I NOW demand from others in my life because that is what I freely express.
Then it dawned me on that I never really have THANKED either one of you for all you did. The loans when needed, paying for the wedding and engagement party, supporting me by going to court with me when I needed it most...and many many more things too numerous to mention. Granted we can't pick our family like we pick our friends, and YES there were times I was so angry at you for your decision to shun me the way you did, but after some time and really putting forth the effort to comprehend why you made this choice - I can honestly say to you both: 'its ok'. What I mean by that is it's 'ok' that you don't call me, see me, allow me to see the kitties, (my niece), or speak to me. It's not that I don't care, because I DO care about you both feel about what's gone on up to this point, but in the end I have to respect your decisions JUST as you also have to respect mine. It's unfortunate that our blood relation is ursurped by a 'belief' - but that is how things are, and as I said, it's ok. We all have different personalities (although I know mine resembles dad and (sis)'s mom) but they haven't always mixed well and probably never will...it's no longer the child/parent dynamic but adult parent/adult daughter in place, and that seems to have always been misunderstood by all of us on so many levels over the years. Respect does not mean that you have to LIKE that person or what they do! It just means that you allow them to be/do as they see fit (within reason of course) and make a CHOICE not to force your ideas/opinion/belief on them as they do the same for you. Taken me such a long time to let that sink in because that's not what I was taught...but it's now what I've come to believe is the true meaning of that word.
In the past I would've apologized for everything I've done, for every choice I've made, or for doing anything - IF it meant that everyone would like me or that you guys would 'approve' of me as a person. Well, the beauty of working on myself is coming into my 'own' so to speak. The only person I owe any apology to is Jehovah...he has an always will 'hear' my prayers begging for forgiveness for hurting HIM in any of my actions! On the flip side, my thanks goes out to you both for instilling in me qualities and values that so many people in the 'world' do not have the faintest clue about. Those values make me 'special' and I honor you both for those. Thankfully I'm at a point in my life where I'm accepting a lot of things that used to scare me in the past, most importantly, that I don't NEED to have everyone 'accept' me or my choices. Kinda funny, but my therapist would tell you that THAT statement alone "I don't need to have everyone accept me or my choices" too me forever to say out loud!! LOL!! Doesn't mean I don't love others, or that people and their 'rights' don't make a difference to me...no...it signifies that I need to accept (babygirl) as a whole, and with that came a freedom from feelings of guilt and low self esteem that I will never be able to explain to you or anyone else. Accepting myself gave me power - strength to let go of things and baggage that I've allowed to dictate my reasoning and thought process all these years. It's ok to use my head and not my 'looks', it's ok to NOT like everyone - and not deal with those that are not trustworthy, it's ok to be discerning, it's ok to dig 'deeper' into things that I don't understand, it's ok to question things and to use my God given critical thinking ability. The last thing I remember you (mom) saying to me through tears was "you are not living up to your dedication". For some reason that has stuck with me all this time, and instead of falling back on my usual 'acceptance' of whatever was told to me - I stopped and broke that down. It was made clear that no grown unbaptized children would live in the Vaughn household - so at 14 I made my 'dedication'. What's amazing to me is that back then...I believed it, never questioned it, went with it cause THAT is all I knew. But now, at 32 with a year under my belt of hard work, I can't believe I did that. Think of it this way: at 14 I couldn't legally drive, couldn't get married in ANY of the 50 contiugous States, I couldn't buy a home, can't even work FT because of being considered a minor. AND YET, at 14 I was somehow 'qualified' to make a LIFELONG dedication to a belief that I didn't know anything about...nothing past the fact that it was 'all I knew' and had ever known. Even crazier, that I am held TO a decision that I made as a minor and that has affected my life right down to this day. Breaks my heart to think of kids who were even younger then me taking that leap with NO real knowledge of all that weight entails. That lightbulb moment doesn't for one minute shake my belief in Jehovah, Jesus, the holy spirit, and the this system of things is going down the drain! All it did was give me my power, the power to think and reason, and the opportunity to question everything I thought I knew in this life. To me, that is what adults are supposed to do, isn't it?
In closing, I used to always believe that someone getting DF'd meant they had a bad attitude or that they were just a horrible person and so NOBODY should be nice to them or love them...but the (babygirl) of today knows better!!! Sometimes I think back to how I used to wrinkle my nose up at someone who had been DF'd, or gossip about what they 'probably' did ... and now I AM one of those DF'd, and I pray for forgiveness over my mindset towards those I wrinkled my face at - and see a clearer picture of how THEY must've felt or what they went through on a daily basis. IN the org, it must be difficult emotionally for you 2 in acknowledging that you daughter is no longer a JW, and in stating that, you must know that it was never my intention to put either of you in that type of situation. Nobody should ever look down on you guys for MY decisions. But ironically, nobody should look down on ME either. A year ago it hurt to have my entire world ripped from me in 1 night...and to lose all the 'friends' I had. But in the end, I need to thank all involved - cause this scenario has taught me SO much about me as a person, and also about 'conditional' relationships in my life. My relationships now are based on unconditional qualities, and that has helped me develop into the person I am today. Our relationship as parent/child sadly has been affected by my decision not to return as a JW, and if that is how things will be till the day one of us passes away in death, you MUST believe that I love you with all my heart and I forgive you. All mistakes in the past are just that - in the past. Not angry at Ben anymore, not angry at the elders, never EVER was angry at Jehovah as this is not his fault, and can't bring myself to stay angry at you both for your choice. My faith relies SOLELY in Jehovah and the fact that he and only he, can read my heart - not a judicial committee, not a congregation, and not my mom and dad. That may be my only saving grace, and that's ok with me. As human beings, we make sacrifices, it's a part of life! As bothersome as is the sacrifice of my family for the decisions I've made, it would be a dishonor to myself to go back to living a life of 'don't ask - don't tell' that I always thought WAS the way to go. Trust that I will continue to grow and mature everyday, but even though that journey cannot have my mom and dad behind me as a support - you will both be in my heart and on my mind because I love YOU unconditionally.