New member - my story

by Millions 53 Replies latest jw experiences

  • Millions

    Hello all

    Just a brief introduction, I thought I would try out one of the more established forums, have done some stuff on youtube and other places but thought I would give this a try.

    Potted history: raised JW by mother, in it for 30 years or so, baptised at age 18, regular pioneer at 20, MS a couple years later, MTS at 26 and got assignment to a new cong, elder at around 29, came off pioneering around 31, came off as elder around 32, started to slowly wind down, completely stopped attending about 3 years ago, disassociated Dec 2010. Pause for breath.

    The last 5 years or so have been a painfully gradual process of deconstructing myself and then piecing together fragments of my shattered life that are still valid outside the organisation. The question 'Who am I?' has been a continual investigation; every day for the first couple of years I would realise another subject or issue that I didn't have my own opinions about. Building an identity for 30 years, then - upon discovering its many flaws - purposefully, intentionally, smashing it to dust, is a difficult experience; rebuilding yourself is simultaneously far harder, and far more rewarding. I am by no means there yet, which is why I still seek out the experiences of others that have left the organisation, but I have made a lot of progress, and interestingly most has been made since I disassociated. Breaking the final bond allowed me to shed the fear and bitterness, and to start to live for myself.

    Spending so long in that mindset of self-denial and constant desire to serve 'kingdom interests' meant that I lost sight of what I actually enjoyed or wanted for myself. It will probably take me many more years to fully realise my identity, with embarrassing and challenging and humbling experiences along the way. I find I have returned to some of the things I enjoyed before my baptism, perhaps the time when I was most free in my mind. Of course time spent in the cult is not a total waste of time, we learn many things about life and about people; we just don't learn how to think, question or reason. Only to absorb and regurgitate.

    I think the most surprising thing is how empowering it is to have made the choice to leave and to have followed it through. I managed my own exit in the best way I could think of - fading slowly, almost shunning the brothers before they could do the same to me, then snapping the link quite suddenly once everything had gone quiet. I managed to successfully acquire copies of Bethel's information on me, via the Data Protection Act, at the same time as I DA'd, which proved very therapeutic and closed the circle for me. I'm sure I benefitted from having been in a congregation where the body would not act rashly or cruelly, so I believe they were hoping I would return in my own good time, thus allowing me to complete my exit without issue. I can't describe how good it felt to have actually severed all connection with it.

    I have managed to find employment again, after waving goodbye to the squeegee mop bucket and ladders.... not before time! I have started to make friends out in the real world, through work and through music. And I have a burning desire to return to education finally, after umming and ahhing for several years. Most importantly, I have started to view people as my fellow humans, not as part of 'the world'. It is so damaging to go through life viewing everyone outside the 6 million or so Witnesses as cannon fodder for Jesus. Waiting for the day that fire and sulphur start raining down upon the wicked, while we stay safe in our homes or KHs or in white bubbles of holy protection, whatever. Now it is the witnesses in my town that are the odd-ones-out - not that I ever see them. It is bizarre how those 70, 80, 90 people become your entire existence. Then you wake up and realise there are tens of thousands of people to mix with just in your own area, the possibilities multiply exponentially.

    Like many I have lost contact with family members over this; I have also gained contact with others, my disfellowshipped sister and my unbelieving father. And I have recently had a lot more contact with my sister who is still in the Witnesses, which has been very positive.

    "...But really the little dogs do eat of the crumbs falling from the table of their masters." - got to take what you can get! :D

    If you have any questions or want to know anything more based on what I have said, please feel free to ask here. If you want to check my youtube stuff, mainly me ranting (some may contain brief swearing, one has to vent occasionally) but also more explanatory stuff and observations, then please do:

    I wish everyone a successful exit and 'afterlife' =)

    Regards to all

    'Millions Now Living Will Never Live'

  • cyberjesus

    Welcome, JWN is what the IBSA is for the JWs

  • Found Sheep
    Found Sheep

    WOW welcome! Glad you feel healthy by the way you left. The freedom you now have enjoy! I love hearing about those that were IN got OUT! There is hope for them to wake up

  • Heaven

    Welcome Millions!

    I have a burning desire to return to education

    Do it! Learning is one of our needs as humans. To cut this off from people is to facilitate the decay of the mind. And the body cannot live without the mind.

    Get your mind in gear again. I think you will love it!

  • Quandry


    I certainly agree with you thoughts about not really knowing just who you are and embarking on the discovery of your very own opinions and thoughts, without first looking through the lens of the WTS.

  • Ding

    What prompted you to leave?


    Failed predictions of Armageddon?

    Problems within the organization?

    Personal burnout?


  • exwhyzee
    I managed to successfully acquire copies of Bethel's information on me, via the Data Protection Act.

    MILLIONS.....could you give a little more detail about the Data Protection Act and the kind of information Bethel keeps on JW's. Why it was helpful for you to get this information and how did you go about getting the it from them ?

    Thanks !

  • VampireDCLXV

    Welcome Millions!

    I'm glad you were able to see friendships on the inside for what they really were. I wish that I could cut ALL ties but devout family still inside prevents me. Thankyou for telling us your story. Enjoy this madhouse and stick around...


  • NewChapter
    I think the most surprising thing is how empowering it is to have made the choice to leave

    Welcome Million. I didn't DA, but the day I said aloud that I would NEVER return to the kingdom hall, my entire world brightened. I know what you mean about viewing people differently too. There are so many wonderful people out here.

    I went back to college, and I tell you, it's a great place to make new friends. We have to do that as quickly as possible, as you've learned. Go back if you can, it's a good thing for many reasons. Enjoy learning who you are! As you already know, it's empowering.


  • life is to short
  • LivingTheDream


    Very nice. Interesting observations too. I found that after I left "The Truth", I actually started liking people, even loving some of them, not the fake agape JW's pretend to have for people they actually just distain, but I found that I had real feelings affection for people. I was so nice to find I had that capability. In fact, I have more friends now than ever before in my life and they accept me just how I am because of that alone.

    Another interesting observation you made that I have found too is that we spend years de-compressing from a programmed mind set where we don't even know what we really believe ourselves as we often don't even have real opinions about things. That will be the case with you for politics for example, whether local or state or national. I suggest you get involved if you can. I did and it's fun. You'll find that you still think like a JW for years about nonsense issues and you can't believe you still do, like not saying "luck" or believing it is wrong to make money, or not going to football games or not going to Las Vegas to play some slots with your friends or not smoking a nice cigar with a friend who is celebrating the birth of his child. I do ALL that stuff now. Finally.

    Regarding getting an education, PLEASE READ the thread I just posted on that. I think the Society has done most JWs a HUGE disservice in that regard and I tell my story in detail about how I fought this nonsense of the no higher education mindset even while I was in Bethel.

    Take care my brother, I wish you all the best.

    And yes, you are my REAL brother in this shared experience.


  • leavingwt


  • TotallyADD

    Welcome Millions, I like what you said about those who are not JW. As your fellow humans. I had the same experience and feelings. Good to have you on board. Totally ADD

  • jamiebowers

    Welcome...thanks for telling your story right off.

  • Millions

    Thanks for the welcome to all who have replied so far, clearly this place is very active ^^

    exwhyzee asked about how I accessed my files at Bethel. Some of the information is contained in my youtube vids, including a run through of many of the questions in the MTS application form, some of which are rather embarrassingly naive.

    I am in the UK btw, just for reference. Regarding the Data Protection Act of 1998 I know there is no corresponding act in the States that allows people access to their files, sadly for many of you. I was greatly inspired by jwfacts account of his attempt to access his information ( and thanks to UK law I had very little difficulty in getting hold of copies of the documents they had. His thread above will give you a lot of advice and suggestions on how to phrase your own letter.

    Having read jwfacts thread, which I highly recommend you do, I tried to cover every eventuality with my Data Subject Access Enquiry. I tried to be as nice as possible in the letter. I specifically requested that they did not use the existence of third party identities in the documents as a reason not to copy them, and that they should blank these out. Even though this is a specific legal provision within the Act and organisations are prohibited from using this as an excuse, I wanted to make clear that I had researched the matter and wanted them to adhere to the letter of the law. I refrained from making any attacks on the Society or apportioning blame to them for my situation. The goal was to access the material as efficiently and quickly as possible; once I received it I could do what I wanted after that. So I did my best to appear sincere and humble, nauseatingly so actually, but it was all tongue in cheek :D

    After I sent the initial letter to Bethel containing my statement of disassociation and a relatively simple Data Subject Access Enquiry, I received the standard letter back basically asking for an administration fee of £10 which is the legal maximum amount an organisation can levy under the Act, plus some copies of forms of ID to prove I was the person I claimed to be. I sent the money (ironically it was probably the most money I have ever sent to Bethel in any fashion, one thing I can be glad about! I never had any anyway as a pioneer...) and I just added a few extra clarifications to ensure they would cooperate. For all I know they might be extra compliant anyway, as it is a legal requirement for them to fulfil these requests, but I wanted to make sure.

    I was a good little drone so I hadn't ever done anything requiring judicial committees or reproof or anything, so I didn't expect to receive anything too distressing or negative. I know that has happened to a lot of people.

    So I received copies of three documents:

    - my regular pioneer application form

    - my Ministerial Training School application form, all four pages including the fourth page filled out by the home congregation's service committee

    - and the one I didn't know about which was my MTS Permanent Record, containing the instructors' recommendations and observations about you, your exam results during the course, and a report on both of your Personal Assistance sessions during the course. This was the best one for me as a) I didn't know it existed and b) it serves as a reminder that I did take it all very seriously and went through what is considered by JWs to be a fairly prestigious course. Of course I now realise it was simply two months of intensive indoctrination without any external stimuli to water down the effect, it was like taking witness crack basically. But anyway I can look back at these documents and remember what I did before during and after that course, so it's a memento.

    I suppose that was partly why I wanted to access the info, to get some evidence of how I spent the first thirty years of my life. There was also a part of me that, as I put it in one of my videos, wanted to make some ripples in the pond before I hauled myself out of it. Not exactly major ripples, but at least cause them a slight problem, even if only for ten minutes. And thirdly there was a fairly major psychological aspect to it, one of role reversal, me exerting control over them just for that small moment, them having to subject themselves to the rules and do what I ask in this instant. It would never make up for the years of service, but it would allow me to leave it behind me knowing that I had regained control in some small symbolic way.

    "We gotta take the power back" - Rage Against The Machine

    I did send the same letter to my old congregation, who replied much later than Bethel did - of course they would have had to do the usual thing of send THEIR letter to Bethel to ask what to do, wait for a reply, yawn yawn - and they also levied a charge of £10 to access their congregation files, which would probably only comprise of my publisher record cards. As of now I still haven't pursued this, I don't really feel a need any more, plus I would resent paying the men I served alongside to make a few photocopies. They should feel morally obliged to be cooperative with a former shepherd of their flock... but as if that's ever going to happen!

    If you have an interest in anything Bethel might have on you, if you have done anything particularly 'good' or 'bad' in the cult, I recommend trying it. It's a good way to let go... although it might take you aback if you get something negative from it. But knowledge is power, you will be wiser for it.

  • just n from bethel
    just n from bethel

    Great story - and welcome!!!

    Just one question though: On behalf of all fellow born-again ex-JWs, since you've left - have you found the real Jesus?

    ... nah, I'm just screwing around, congrats on any life path you take away from the cult.

  • Millions

    Ding asked:

    What prompted you to leave?


    Failed predictions of Armageddon?

    Problems within the organization?

    Personal burnout?


    The decline started when I came off as an elder. Not because I was burned out or bitter, in fact I started out intent on getting back into the heart of things, sitting at the front, commenting loads, etc. As time went on I realised how you get carried along on the crest of a wave of responsibility as an elder especially, everyone expects you to be there at meetings and ministry, smiling and positive and enthusiastic. Once that responsibility was no longer there, I found myself thinking, 'I actually have a choice this Sunday morning, I can choose whether to go to the meeting or not!' So I started to miss meetings now and then, deliberately. Once the flow of indoctrination is stemmed, the mind starts to work by itself again, rather than moulding around the teachings it's being filled with. I started thinking about some of the very real and rational concerns I had always had as a witness but always had put up 'on the shelf' out of sight and out of mind, the illogical stuff, the 'what if's, the doctrines stretched to breaking point, the changes to official teachings. I started looking at other people's experiences on YouTube, how their life in the WT had affected them. How people had been mistreated or damaged. I also used to notice people going into town to work every morning, I used to think, 'These people aren't witnesses, yet they have a life and a purpose and dignity and fulfilment!' It just snowballed I guess to a point where I knew I didn't want to have anything more to do with it. Spent a while bluffing my way past any attempts by brothers to encourage me - "oh yes I still believe it, I'm sure I'll be back soon!" - cowardly? Probably. It was a tough year or two. A lot of time isolated, trying to make sense of it all. Help from girlfriends both ex-JW and 'normal'. Masses of thinking. Wildly fluctuating emotions, anger, depression, grief, hope, fear, relief, bitterness. Eventually telling family members that I was no longer attending meetings. More emotions! But you work through it, and all the while you know it's the right decision. Even on the days where you are gripped by fear that it might be true and that you have got it wrong, it is a very quick transition to telling yourself not to be stupid and that it's the old conditioning surfacing again.

    I found two things helpful on those days. One was realising that even if it WAS true, I did not want to spend eternity with JWs and the systems they employed. Death would be preferable. The other was learning to rely on yourself, to look inside and know what you honestly feel and believe. Developing a strength of conviction based on personal experience and direct observation. And recognising that any irrational residual fears were always short lived and easy to control.

    Doctrinally, I have never seen the point of making a thorough investigation of the teachings. For one thing, the reality of life as a witness should be enough to put anyone off it. And for another, at least for me, it would be about as valuable as triumphantly pointing out the spelling errors in your five-year-old's school work. People don't need to see what is inaccurate about the Society's doctrine, they need to wake up to the damage it is doing to them, to the vice-like restraint their life is under, and to the crippling guilt and fear they carry with them at all times. A man can stand next to you swinging a hammer around all day but it's what it does to the side of your head that matters, not whether he was holding it correctly. (still can't stop using bad illustrations -.-)

  • nolongerwaiting


    NLW's wife

  • Broken Promises
    Broken Promises

    Fascinating! And welcome.

  • smiddy


    Glad to have you with us


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