I haven't been a JW for a number of years but have taken an interest again in examining their beliefs compared to that of the Bibles. I have taken the opportunity to read opposing points of view (compared to JWs) and have found it an enlightening experience.
I have concrete convictions re the faithful and discreet slave and that how for most of their history JWs have been guided by only one or two men. If the witnesses really do have that class why are the many thousands who still claim to be of the annointed never listened to or asked for their input by the society ??
The other firm belief I have is regarding their inflexible legalism which closely mimicks those who they and Jesus denounced , the Pharisees.. It's only when you realise that the Pharisees were trying be righteous in God's eyes by doing the same thing as JW's (excessive cleaness by duties) with the same intent (that of serving God) that the similarity really crystallised for me. At other times I feel I am still working things out.
One postive thing I have found though is that reading only the Bible without the accompanying literature is the simplicity of the Gospel message,while I wouldn't call myself religious (yet??) I do appreciate the simple message of the Bible compared to the complicated reasoning by the WTBS.
I would say that if your former friends are true friends they will understand you and let you return. I still regret deeply rejecting many close friends when I found the "truth" , many of which have taken years to repair. I have a daughter who is 14 and is rapidly approaching the time when she will be pressured to have as little association with me as possible, even now at times I feel that she is uncomfortable spending time with a "worldly" family.
While you should make your own decision please do it with knowledge. I do encourage you to read Raymond Franz material and reflect particularly on the "time" that elders take to disfellowship people , particularly where ones have given a lifetime of service but at best have only received a few hours of "correction" .