by MrFreeze 19 Replies latest jw experiences

  • AudeSapere

    oops! Forgot to answer the question myself.

    Yes. I was an irregular publisher when I started therapy. It took a while to find a therapist that I felt comfortable with. Eventually I found two places that helped me work through and understand some of my issues.

    One of the private therapists was an associate of an elder in my hall who was himself a psychologist. The had a good amount of insight into the JW org and helped validate some of my concerns as they related to children and women.

    The other venue was actually a group that I found. It was an ACA group (Adult Children of Alcoholics). While alcohol itself was not prevalent in my house, the manifestations and issues that my siblings and I had to deal with were surprisingly similar. I fit in really good with that group.

    CoDA was also good for me in that it helped ease me into a group where I could start my journey of self-awareness.


  • sabastious

    I wouldn't say my therapist was because of the JWs, but he surely helped a great deal when I was making my break. As you stated, it is a very intense and drawn out emotional experience for some. A good therapist is life-saving for some; it was for me.

    I have been going to therapy for about 5 years strong once a week.


  • JuanMiguel

    Thanks, Aude.

    I can't say that all that information illuminated my head instantaneously. It didn't. In fact I went walking around with some of those terms, especially the "compartmentalization" one for years after I left the Watchtower, not really able to link it with reality for a while.

    But I took good notes, looked back on what was told to me again and again, and after a decade it all made sense...yep, ten years. Around 2008 or so I started to see how experiencing life as a non-Witness helped me understand what the therapist had really meant. True, I heard all his comments immediately, understood some of it instantly, but other parts just unfolded--and slowly.

    Sounds trite, but when the process was over it was like looking at all flower--all these details had totally unfolded and now completely made sense. I could now turn around and tell it to others without it being words, but by comprehension from experience. That's why after 10 years I am here.

    Lastly, I think I had it far easier than most. I was not born into the JWs. I had no family who was a JW. I had an established career and was somebody secularly before going in (and all the way through, which stayed intact and was still my career upon leaving). And I also had years of religious and scholastic training without JW interference before entering.

    I went in--made quick progress, butted heads, and left--like trying on some clothes that looked good in the window but felt horrible when worn; so I stepped out of them after walking in them for a while. I had another set waiting for me when I got out, and a foundation in life that made it easy to see it was just a mistaken detour I had made. No biggie. I had learned some lessons, but I had a framework to fall back on--socially even. Most people I see or hear from have had none of this. You folks are very brave.

  • Crisis of Conscience
    Crisis of Conscience

    I've wondered about this before as far as people on this board but never thought to start a thread. Thanks MrFreeze !!

    JuanMiguel's 1st post is spot on.

    I am currently going to therapy regularly. The idea came to me a while back to face issues regarding the way I was raised - mainly regarding physical and verbal abuse. I tried to address the situation by confronting my father with these issues, which he basically dismissed. This continued to trouble me to the point that I saw therapy as a necessity. But it wasn't until I had a crisis of conscience with my religion that I actually went for my first visit.

    The therapist I saw initially is a witness. He has been disfellowshipped before and even served as an elder in the past. I went to him because I knew those things and I thought that he might understand my feelings. I must mention too that I chose him because I was trying to avoid receiving "wordly wisdom." However, that wasn't a major concern as I had already began to frequent this site, though not yet a member.

    As far as dealing with the issues with my father, he helped immensely. He even recommended a book that our dear Lady Lee mentioned on this site. It's called Toxic Parents. A great read if you want to understand how your parents have a huge effect and control on your life, even after becoming an adult and establishing your own life.

    He even helped empower me in dealing with my doubts as a witness. I wasn't completely open with him, but he helped me not to worry about things like stepping down as a servant, of which I was terrified of, and not focusing on being a people pleaser, which we identified was a major problem of mine in the religion. Yet as much as he made sense, he continually defended the org. I couldn't understand it but knew I couldn't continue trying to work out this issue with him.

    I took a few months off and then began searching for another therapist. This time I found a non-witness, but a therapist that offered faith based counseling nonetheless. I've really appreciated her efforts in trying to understand what this religion is like. It helps that she has seen other witnesses in the past. I've only been to 3 sessions with her so far but I definitely feel good and look forward to more visits.

    She did give me something to think about. I currently am not sure what my true feelings are on God. She said that many times our view of God is often a reflection of how our parents raised or treated us. My father was a strict man of rules. His word was law. You never questioned Dad and you always saw it his way if you knew what was good for you. I must admit that this is exactly the way I feel about the society in a nutshell. Fortunately, despite realizing that, I am also very aware of the BS so I am not in anyway ready to be forgiving to this organization because of that revelation.

    I agree with what has been said though. How you react to or accept therapy depends on the type of a person you are. But in my humble opinion, if you apply yourself and are practical in the process, you will see benefits. It specifically helps me because as many here know, I have a wife still mentally in. And while she listens and agrees to many things I say, she also often times crawls back in her cave after receiving "encouragement" from the congregation. Being able to totally open up about my feelings without receiving judgement at a therapy session is what keeps me calm and sane. I recommend it to everyone, but especially those in the struggle, whether currently in or out of the org.

    Feel free to ask any questions and I will answer what I can. Hope this can help someone.


  • OnTheWayOut
    With my health insurance I'm supposed to get several free therapy sessions and I thought about going but I'm wondering if it's really worth it.

    Most of us could use a good dose of therapy. Most here, I know they won't go. For many, it's economics that prevents it. For others, they are sure they would be branded as crazy or think themselves that it's only for the crazy people to go.

    Your therapist does not need to be an expert on cults to know that your deep inner way of thinking was led astray and you were jolted to discover something about that. Most of us experience some kind of family/friends fallout due to our change in status from active dubs. While therapy, especially ongoing therapy, is not the right answer for everyone, you have insurance and can see for yourself if it helps you.

  • Found Sheep
    Found Sheep

    had a breakdown last night and my husband said I should look into therapy? I think for the most part I am doing well. But from time to time it's like my entire life comes crashing down on me. I think I have spent too much time home alone this weekend, have not exercised enough and had too much to drink. I feel like I was hit by a truck last night.

  • aSphereisnotaCircle

    My ex and I went to marraige counseling for 8 years while still JW's. At one point our counselor refered to the JWs as a "high control group". That comment really stuck with me. If she had said "cult" I would have just blocked her out, But the term "high control group" got me thinking. That comment was one of the things that helped to open my eyes.

    Since leaving the JWs I have tried a number of therapists, with some success, but the being raised in a cult thing is something most therapists just don't understand.

    For instance the last one I saw, among other things, had me regress back to my five year old self. Then she told five year old sphere "when you grow up, you wont be a jehovahs witness anymore, you will be able to live your life anyway you want and make your own choices"

    Well to a witness child, that is the equivalant of saying, "when you grow up you are going to be a very bad, evil person and you will do bad things and Jehovah will hate you", ... so she wasn't so great.

    But over all, I would reccomend counseling, it can be very helpful. Self help books are great too. As the above posters stated, books about toxic parents, addictions and enablers translate very well to the JW dysfunction.

  • Big Tex
    Big Tex

    When my ex-wife left in 2002, she did it for a year. It helped her a lot. So did posting here. It gave her a chance to debrief and work out issues over and over till she was done with them.

    One thing about leaving is that it is a traumatic event. Trauma requires a lot of talking, to work through what you're feeling. It also takes time. The nice thing about a board like this is there is real interaction. You can hear from folks like me who've been out and settled for two decades, to others just leaving.

    I recommend talking to a professional. Especially if you feel the need. I won't lie, it's difficult and often painful. But it is needed. Don't stuff and don't blow off what's going on inside you. It'll come out in other ways you don't realize and you won't get rid of it ever.

    If it helps, I've been out 21 years. I rarely think of that life, I can't remember most of those people to whom I was once so close and more importantly, I just don't care. The best revenge is a life well led. I've led a pretty damn good life for the past 21 years.


  • Big Tex
    Big Tex
    Sometimes I feel like I've opened Pandora's box or something, and I have a difficult time realizing this life may very well be all there is...and I've wasted so much of it.

    Forgive me, I don't know your story. But your statement reminded me of something my step-father told me right before his death. He had spent nearly 50 years as a Witness, elder, anointed, yada yada. But toward the end of his life he felt he had wasted it because he knew in his hear the Witnesses did not have "The Truth". He knew wasn't going to be a judge in heaven and wreak vengence on all those people who had hurt him. He knew he would not see a paradise earth and that knowledge proved too much for him.

    My point to him, and to you, is your life is still ahead of you. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be 25 again. But I'm not. I'm 48, recently divorced and looking at starting over again. But looking back with regret is not productive. It doesn't help you.

    I submit that you have the power and ability to make your life whatever you want. There's no time limit to this thing. You can start whenever you want, take it as far as you want and make it whatever you want.

    For whatever reason, this life is full of problems and pain. I don't know if there is anything after this life. Maybe there is, maybe there isn't. One day we'll all find out. Until then, my feeling is that I'm going to deal with what is, rather than that I would like to be.

    I don't think you've wasted anything. You've had an experience. Learn from it, use it, take what you need from it in order to grow and improve yourself.


  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    I've been in therapy most of my life for what I call Witness trauma and father trauma. Juan's insights rivted me. I suspected no Witness cares about doctrine, perhaps a few. It was more the moral certainty and sense of identity that attracted them. My mom's family started with Russell. Most of them left before Rutherford. They were prosperous. The JW lot did poorly b/c of concentration on end times and no education. My father's family was Russian Orthodox. My grandmother died giving birth to number 13. Four or five died in steerage and never arrived here. From my viewpoint, too much childbirth is the likely answer. The priest was a relative and very upset that she died. My grandfather queried why and the priest gave his honest answer. Soon, thereafter, a Witness knocked on the door with a five volume explanation and certainty.

    Most therapists said during the initial interview that they could not treat me if I were a devout Witness. There is some prejudice there. When I respond that I hate them, they almost fervently tell me of all the Witness disasters they have seen. Frankly, I think I hated the Witnesses b/c my temprament is curious and I want to embrace life in its fullness. Regardless of doctrine, it was a very bad fit.

    I saw Episcopal priests with special therapy training for a while. Therapists in NY don't tend to have a benevolent attitutde towards religion, esp. fundamentalists. It is funny b/c I heard the Witnesses proclaim, shades of Tom Cruise, that a psychiatrist would sap your will and control you. Right! The trigger for therapy was that only one thing kept me alive through all this tyranny--belief in a better future through education. Despite pressure, I applied with my classmates to Ivy League schools. I was accepted at one with a generous scholarship. No one I knew closely ever attended a single day of college. The media image seemed so glamorous. I started and was almost suicidal. Everyone else had social skills, some had debutatne skils, I had no skills. I felt an odd ball. The difference between my aspirations and reality was too striking. Psychiatry offered a bit of hope. Looking back, I brought much tradition in my own interest.

    My first therapist took me for a ride. I knew nothing about scheduling appts. My terror prevented me from asking. Life served therapy rather than vice versa. I read a mag that described where to get a therapist in Ny and applied. Within a few weeks, I was seeing a leader in the field at a ritzy institute for a fraction of the price. They adore young students for practice. YAVIS-young,attractive, verbal, intelligent and sexy.

    God created me the way I am. I chose a profession where my whole mission is to question authority. Being outspoken and critical thinking skills are highly rewarded. The very things that condemned with the Witnesses have been my strongest assets in life.

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