I was never firmly convinced that JWs had the 'truth' (but had not yet realised Christianity itself is a pack of lies), and the primary reason I stayed with it as long as I did was that I did not want to lose the friendships I had (which was a strong reason to not question my beliefs). I did not have many friends on the 'outside' and was not especially confident (that's a whole other story), and after much peer pressure, I was goaded into 'baptism' in 1997. Thereafter, I rose to the giddy heights of occasionally reading paragraphs at the 'book study', handling microphones, and even being an 'attendant' at a few 'conventions' and 'assemblies'.
In April 2004 I began a Bible study project about the 70 years (supposedly from 607 to 537 BCE). Though my intent at the outset was not to disprove JW doctrine, after examining the relevant scriptures in more than the cursory JW fashion I very quickly came to the conclusion that the JW chronology is quite impossible. After realising JW doctrine directly contradicts the plain reading of Jeremiah 25:11-12, I decided to study the matter in greater detail. (My examination involved only the Bible, JW literature, and encyclopaedias, Strong's concordance and the works of Josephus, but not any so-called 'apostate' material. At this stage, I was not aware of any 'JW forums' online.) I talked to my JW father about my concerns, but not in detail, and he suggested I write to the Society, which I did in August 2004.
Throughout this time I was sharing a house with 3 other JWs who I considered close friends (one of them got married and moved out during this period), but I did not discuss my concerns with them, to avoid an outright charge of 'apostasy'. Prior to any of this, I had never enjoyed 'field service', because I would get very nervous at the doors, and generally did the accepted minimum to avoid being hounded by the 'elders', but I started to avoid it as much as possible, despite (well-intended) 'encouragement' from my housemates. I also missed many of the 'meetings', and when I did go, the jargon and fallacies made me uncomfortable; it was difficult even getting through the propaganda-filled songs. Because of the anxiety of knowing I could not continue going along with false JW beliefs, my health suffered--chronic reflux, sleeplessness, fatigue, diarrhoea, fungal mouth ulcers, weight loss, which the doctor confirmed were all caused by stress.
A few weeks after I wrote to the Watchtower Society, I received a reply from them, which basically said, "this is what you have to believe, or face the consequences". A few days later, the local 'elders' came after me. The 'elders' were unable to provide any valid response to the issues I had raised, and I provided further information showing that the Society's claim of being God's chosen 'organization' is inextricably connected to their false chronology about 607 BCE. By the end of the 'discussion', their response was that I had not convinced them to 'leave the truth', which I thought was a pretty stupid rebuttal. Because I had not discussed my views with anyone else, they could not 'disfellowship' me for 'apostasy', but they were clearly uncomfortable with the information I had presented.
I hadn't been to many 'meetings' up to that point, and things were already fairly tense at home. A couple of weeks later, my housemates gave me the ultimatum that if I wasn't going to the 'meetings', that I would have to move out as soon as possible. I found the first available rental accommodation--a 2-bedroom flat in a bad neighbourhood (I've moved 5 times since then, including 9 months overseas, and now have my own place). My former housemates helped me move (which left them without a lounge suite or television), but they left as soon as the furniture was unloaded. One of them visited briefly (with another JW friend) a few weeks later, and I saw them again at a JW funeral in December 2004. They were civil but not especially friendly. After the funeral service at the 'Kingdom Hall', an elderly JW started giving me a lecture about how I should go back to the 'meetings'; after trying to be polite, I had to bluntly tell him that his comments weren't appropriate at a funeral. My father phoned me a few times during this period, always to talk about how bad 'the world' is and the 'short time before Armageddon'. One of the deceased's sons who also escaped the JWs moved in with me for a few months, and I'm told his mother blames me for him leaving the religion. Another 'sister' phoned me during this time (presumably she got my new phone number from my new housemate's mother), to tell me a pathetic anecdote about how a 'medium' told Oprah Winfrey (conveniently, off camera) that "'demons' are 'out to get' JWs"; I assumed this was meant to 'scare' me back to 'the truth'.
The local 'elders' wanted to have another meeting with me, so I wrote to them, stating that I did not consider my baptism valid, specifically because the claim that they are 'God's spirit-directed organisation' is tied to their false doctrines about 607 and 1914, and that I therefore do not consider myself subject to any of their procedures. I explicitly directed in the letter that no statement was to be made about me to the congregation, and that if any such statement had already been made that it must be retracted, with a statement that I am to be regarded in the same way as any person who has never been baptized as a JW. I heard nothing from them for a few months, but received a phone call in late April 2005, where they told me they'd decided I'd 'disassociated'. I told them they were acting against my explicit direction, that I don't recognise any validity in their procedures, and hung up. I learned that they made their standard ambiguous congregation announcement a few days later, ignoring their own policy for right of appeal. In hindsight, it probably would have been simpler to not bother sending any letter at all, but since none of them were talking to me anyway, it makes little difference.
Earlier this year, I saw a JW former-friend at the supermarket. He was talking on his mobile (cell) phone and didn't talk to me at all but gave an enthusiastic smile and a friendly wave. I'm not entirely sure whether it was the phone call, or his gradual realisation that I'm 'evil', but he then went hurrying out of the store. I also saw his wife (who I went to school with) on a couple of different occasions this year. On the first occasion, she either ignored me or didn't recognise me; the second time, I said "hello" in passing and she just smiled politely.
My father (and step-mother) still talks to my brother (who was never baptised, also has no interest in the religion, and has referred others to my information about their false beliefs), but with only a couple of exceptions hasn't spoken to me at all since 2004. (The exceptions were when I was going on an extended overseas trip (only because he happened to turn up at my brother's place while I was visiting), and when there was a possible tsunami threat). My brother's wife and other non-JWs have pointed out this distinction of baptism is nothing short of bizarre. I learned a couple of years ago that my father actually tells people that I don't answer his phone calls. In another incident, a co-worker saw my father in the building where I work (he was there as a client, and mentioned his son works there, possibly prompted about the surname in common). He told my colleague that he would visit me while he was there, which was a lie, and he made no attempt to do so.
My mother and I have never been close (there's that other story again), but things have been improving in the last few years. She disassociated from the JWs (and re-married) about 15 years ago, but she nominally believes the religion is true and expressed a desire to return after her mother died (because she wants to see her in 'the new system'). Last time I saw her, she gave me a gift for my birthday, but she also used a few JW-isms. I haven't heard anything from her for a couple of months and I suspect she may be getting involved with them more.