I was almost as worried as if I was giving a talk instead of my wife last night. I parked and they went in well before me. I gathered my thoughts and realized that it was only proper that way. Coming in together would suggest that we were too close. And in a religion where holding hands during prayer is considered as wrong, it's not too far-fetched to be conscious of something like that. Still, it's just my wife's nature. She seems to be in a hurry about things, whereas I prefer to take my time if possible, especially when it comes to the Kingdom Hall. In my declining years, I was pretty notoriously late for meetings.
I walked the long way to the entrance through the freezing cold. I saw a 'brother' look my way as I approached the entrance. I gave him a slight smirk, but he seemed a little afraid to look at me too long, as if I was Medusa or something. I entered and settled in. I didn't bother singing the song or even closing my eyes for the prayer. It occurred to me just how vulnerable everyone was while doing that. I think perhaps the agnostic in me wondered why we meet in buildings and bow our heads to a being that we have never seen or heard and that indeed no one has heard from theoretically in 2,000 years--back before people even knew bacteria existed.
I managed to squelch the feelings of fear and anger enough to sit through the whole meeting. My wife's talk was good. She was nervous. I'm thankful she used a 'public edition' kind of article and didn't feel the need to mention Mary as part of the 144,000. Her part was about the only I paid attention to. I spent most of the meeting just reading the Bible. Romans is pretty deep stuff. It dawned on me, though, just how little the Bible was actually being used during the meeting.
The 'Bible Study' conductor asked the audience, "What book will help us learn more about Jesus?" or something like that. The inevitable disappointment of knowing that the first answer would not be "the Bible", but rather, "The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived" or "Learn from the Great Teacher"...was confirmed. The second comment said, "Also, the Bible." And that, I believe, is an example of the 'no-brainer'.
I noticed the lesson itself spent three paragraphs summarizing the setting of a Bible event. I thought to myself, why didn't we just read the account straight from the Bible? The other thing, I finally started to see that at the meetings, we jumped around in the Bible so much that it's a wonder we learned anything at all. Our understanding of verses was so often fragmented that I can see how so many misunderstandings had to be rooted out of my head.
But you know, I can see the advantages of being invisible. It beats having to carry the microphone or take what little time I have available as it is to do busy work for this franchise of the Society.
After the meeting, I went out to sit in the car. It didn't seem so bad, really. I think I just felt really sad, because I saw these people who genuinely believed they were serving God and were trying their best to do so. They don't know what's going on. I also missed being able to join with others in worship. Being accepted. But I also knew that this was the only way. What is happening to these people is morally wrong. They don't deserve to be lied to or manipulated. And no one should be going to spread things that aren't true and bring others under a yoke of slavery as well. I had to leave.
I asked myself why I put myself through that again, last night, as I prepared for bed. I did it because my wife was more important to me than my personal feelings about her religious beliefs. That was the only real reason I had to do it. As I sat there at the meeting and her daughter looked up at me, not having a care in the world and not taking any of this stuff seriously, I wished I could be there beside her, to show her that there's more to the world than being behind these Kingdom Hall doors. But I don't really know that myself. How can I?
I spent Tuesday evening looking through my first post here and the others leading up to my marriage and my subsequent expulsion from the religion. Now I understand what so many were trying to tell me. I think what most didn't understand is that I wanted this, no matter how much I knew I was going to complain about it. I needed it, to teach me things that a common sense, man-to-demonic-Internet-people talk would never have accomplished.
That being said, however, I still wish to continue enduring in my marriage. I think last night showed me that if I really wanted to, I could simply go back to them, declare my faith in the 'faithful slave', and pretend none of this ever happened. It would show up in dreams and oft-buried thoughts, but it could all disappear. I think the sense of loss that these choices have resulted in is so deep that I don't think it matters anymore. It's just so hard to endure such ostracism, even though it is for the right reasons.
I haven't fornicated since late 2009, so I am not still a fornicator. I'm married and I've been faithful to my wife. The only thing needed would be to comply with the remaining requests of theirs--meeting attendance, confession of the 'channel of communication', and so on. However, it's not about the religion itself, really. I just...I miss being with my wife. I miss being able to worship with her.
Don't get me wrong. I've been a spineless moron, to say the least, but even I wouldn't go back to them. I guess attending the meeting just reminded me of the pain of it all. That existence had so little meaning for me, in the end. I need the freedom to expand my mind and grow in my knowledge. I can't do that if someone is deciding what I can and cannot read.
It is possible, I suppose, to be reprogrammed by them. But instead of being an unwitting participant, now it would have to be a conscious choice. Good thing I know enough now to make a better choice. I suppose my wife will want me to attend the Memorial with her, if nothing else. I could probably do that. But...socializing with Witnesses was something I mostly avoided even when I was one. I think the burden of having to do it again, of being afraid to talk about whatever's in my head knowing it'll be judged if not in line with 'Jehovah's standards', all that...it wasn't worth it then, and it's not now.
Still, I keep thinking of my brother. I want to visit a museum, photograph a Neo-Babylonian era piece of history that shows Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 B.C., and send it to him. I guess some part of me does miss him, even though we parted on such bad terms (not by my preference as some of you know). But I couldn't just...not tell them what I know. I cared about a lot of those people. They deserve to know what I know. Even if it changes nothing for them.
More than anything, I don't want to hate them. I feel like I want to help them. But I can't.
I'm suddenly thinking of KristiKay's recent threads about being invited to the meetings. I hope she reads this, and understands what this religion can do to people. When people like me tell you to stay from them, it's for a simple reason: personal experience.
I'll get over my issues, of course, and it's unlikely I'd get involved with the Witnesses again. More likely, my anger would return and things would go badly in my marriage as a result. I just needed to talk about it.
Anyway, I hope you all are doing well. Hopefully, not too many people will read this one and blast me to shreds. But...here goes.