Hi, I've been lurking for a few days reading the site, interesting stuff ;)
I've been out of the org for 23 years, I was 27 I left an agnostic and became an atheist many years ago. I knew I was going to leave for 7 years before I did but had stayed in because I didn't want to hurt my family, it hadn't occurred to me that they might shun me. I was very close to my family, they were the only people I trusted. I've always been one to follow the rules so I didn't find org too burdensome, except the no sex, I was a virgin when I left. I always kept my own council and never was what you would call strong in the faith, I only did the absolute minimum necessary in witnessing etc. I had always been interested in science, astronomy and geology especially. As the information I read showed the complete fallacy of the JW's belief in the world only being 48k old I finally began to examine the beliefs I had been spouting since I was 11 (when my family entered the "Truth") and realised what a complete lot of rot it was and christianity as well. Eventually I could no longer live with being a complete hypocrite and I decided to make the break and just drift away, it wasn't to be.
I lived alone and hadn't been going to meetings for about 3 weeks. A brother from a nearby congregation who I had known since he was 13 dropped over to say hi, he had also never been strong in the faith. He made a comment that he had been suprised to see me pursuing a sister at a the circuit assembly about 3 months previously as she was a pioneer (my smaller brain had been in overdrive ;). We ended up talking about the org and I told him that I had decided to drift away and never come back. He then told he was gay (no suprise) then floored me by telling that he'd been in love with me for years - then the phone rang - it was the elders. When I took the call my thoughts were a little scattered ;).
The end result of the call was that I told the elder I had decided to drft away for awhile, that I had doubts. I then made the mistake of my life, I mentioned that the brother was there visiting. After the call I let the brother down gently and then had a serious talk about his situation - being a gay jw. He was a emotional mess who admitted to me he had attempted suicide once after being publicly reproved but found by his family. He still believe the religion and was scared of dying at armagedon. This was Saturday.
On Sunday I visited my Mother and Sister to tell them I was leaving and why - I basically said I just don't believe it and I can't live with myself living a lie. They were very teary visits. My brother was a suprise, he lived interstate so I called him, he said "your a fool" and hung up. I never spoke to him again for 8 years.
Monday night the elder turned up unanounced to tell me they were going to have to hold a committee meeting to find out if I was apostate and that they would have to call in my family and the brother. I wasn't about to let the brother have to go through another meeting with the elders, he would confess that he had told me he was in love with me and even though nothing happened the elders would assume something did and make his life unberable. As far as I was concerned I wasn't going back, I was apostate and proud of it. I didn't think I would be shunned by my family, the only people I cared about. I knew they were upset but I was sure they would get over it. I was wrong.
So I asked the elder what I would have to do to not have the meeting. He told me I would have to disassociate myself. I told him ok I'd drop off a letter that night. I wrote the letter and dropped it off and he called and told me I had 7 days to change my mind. Best decision I ever made.
I received what I assume are the usual number of called from ex friends asking for comfirmation that I had really left, strangely it didn't really bother me I was just glad to be free. I wasn't immediatly shunned by the family it took them 6 months but I could occasionally call them and stay in contact, which was the norm we never lived in each others pockets. But after couple of years my sister moved and didn't give me a forwarding number. Mum would occasionally call but it was always about coming back and would never give me the contact details of some cousins who had also left. In the end I just ended up feeling very betrayed and angry and told them in a letter to xxxx off.
Things are much better now but I will leave that to a future post...
btw it took me 6 months to lose the virginity ;)