WT scars that run deep

by man in black 15 Replies latest jw experiences

  • man in black
    man in black

    My son who is 26 yrs. old recently confided in my wife and myself that he is having a rough time moving on past the jw mindset.

    he was associated with the witnesses for the first 24 years of his life, and he really tried to do the whole witness thing correctly, yet he was and still is a shy person. Now that he has been out for two years, he is having a lot of anger toward people who believe in God. he spends quite a bit of time arguing with people online about how unrealistic a religious belief can be. I can take just so much of his negativity, he made the comment on Saturday, " well jesus walked on water, yet mankind has walked on the moon". I just had to walk away.

    My wife believes that he is slowly working his way out of the wt mindset, in which he spent most of his life following because of his parents./

    Has anyone out there dealt with this type of anger, or actually worked through the anger phase with yourself, or a family member ?

    We think that perhaps seeing a therapist might help, but with his anger toward religion, I think that he might just ignore our suggestion.

    Thank you for your comments, I may not get around to read them for a few days !

  • skeeter1


    The International Cultic Studies Association might be able to provide you with alot of information and healing for your son. There are countless articles and conferences aimed at ex-cult survivors. Steve Hassan books too. And, find a personal therapist/psychologist to talk with your son. It's really traumatic to change one's views, and to realize that what you once held to be absolute truth, was a big, fat lie. One psychologist said, "It's like being a stranger in a strange world, when you come out of a cult." All cult members go through assimilation problems when they come out. And, not believing in God or changing one's religioius views is very commonplace. He's been spiritually raped, and its very hard to believe. I know.


  • StandFirm

    Don't similar things happen to people who leave any religion they've been with the total of their life so far?

  • Lunatic Faith
    Lunatic Faith

    StandFirm-- I think the damage may be directly comparable to the level of control a religion has over ones life. Mormons probably feel similar to Jw's. But I have met a lot of ex-Catholics who seem to have gotten on with life quite easily. That's just my opinion...which is actually not worth very much.

    Man in Black-- Thank you for posting this! I am going through the same thing as your son. My husband is in awe at the level of resentment I have been able to build up. I have a lot of anger and can be quite open about expressing it. I don't want to have anything to do with Christianity and am tired of the terms, God, Jehovah, Jesus Christ, the Bible, Etc. I am leaning toward atheism because of my disgust at religion in general. My hubby and I have discussed this and all we can assume is my scars go much deeper than his. I spent my life, not just believing the lies, but being kicked by the liars. My own mother expressed concern of my remaining a witness when I was only 12 because of the level of anger I felt toward the brotherhood, and especially the elders. I am very "in your face" about the injustices and lies and exaggerations I am only beginning to understand. Do I need therapy? Likely. But I think I also need time. Time to heal and come to grips with a whole new world view. We were taught so many negative and destructive things and many of us have given years to an ideal we will never regain.

    Don't be angry at your son. Yeah, he may choose to believe differently from you but it will be his choice. That's the beauty of no longer being a JW. We have choices. Let him work through his pain and resentment. Let him rediscover the beauty in the world we were always told didn't exist outside the Watchtower society. But most of all give him room to process the deep scars caused by the cult.

    I hope this helps.

  • sizemik

    Lunatic Faith's post is a very good one . . . I have a 23 year old son who has had issues getting past WT . . . but he has worked it through now. I think the level of trauma is not only a reflection of the depth of control by the cult . . . but also the depth of belief on the part of the individual.

    It's really traumatic to change one's views, and to realize that what you once held to be absolute truth, was a big, fat lie.

    This trauma can be worked through in time. My experience leaves me wanting to encourage you as follows; Familiarise yourself with information that will help your son through this . . . so you can be the greatest possible support for him . . . and avoid criticising his views . . . they are valid in respect to where he is at the moment.

    Also, trauma of this type carries with it a high risk of mental illness. Be aware of how this might manifest itself . . . and be ready to respond EARLY if necessary.

    Hope this helps too.

  • Anne Marie 1925
    Anne Marie 1925

    My oldest son was so full of anger, and he was spewing such negatively and just plain nastiness that many times I just could not listen to him, but when there is a deep infection, one that has been festering for a long time, it is going to take a long time for that poison to drain out.

    The depth of the damage of trying to come to terms with your life having been a lie, and to try to recover from the "programming" of being in a cult, AND to try to figure out who you REALLY are, while also trying to figure out how to live a normal life is something that we must understand can be very difficult for many...

    I would say to just be supportive, and express that though you "get" where he's coming from, there is only so much you can listen to. He has to work through this himself, and all you can do is love him through it.

    My son still refuses to believe in God; he's burned out on anything to do with God, or religion, or prayer or even looking at a Bible, because it is all connected to that "cult" prison time of his life, and all the lies and pain that went with it.

    Take care of yourself, and know that your son is suffering in a way that you cannot understand...that is why unconditional love is so important; it can't be based upon what WE think or feel one should be like or do. He is working through his lonely pain and personal anger of hurt and betrayal as best he can.

    And a loving hug goes a long way...

    Anne Marie

  • Nickolas

    I started a thread yesterday positing that the Watchtower creates atheists, MIB. Some of the comments made are interesting, consistent with what your son is going through. While some folks agree with my contention, others do not, and their perspectives are valid. I became an atheist at least to some extent because of my aborted association with the WTBTS, but there are many others who saw the lies, endured the pain of leaving and still managed to keep their faith. Your son has an option. Not everyone is disposed to being atheist and happy with life. Therapy may help but in the end he needs to find himself again. I suggest you acquire a copy of Raymond Franz' book "Crisis of Conscience", copies of which are still available on Amazon.com and through freeminds and by all means read it yourself, but it may be something your son would benefit from too. It provides remarkable insights into the Society by one of its former inner circle who, despite the pain of having had his eyes opened about the Society, managed not to lose his faith. If your son has already closed that door for good, he might want to focus instead on expanding his mind by seeking greater understanding of the world. He is still very young, and the time he spent in the Watchtower was not wasted now that he has escaped it. He sees clearly now because at one time he did not, and that is a lesson he will never forget.

  • KingArthur

    I spent 32 years of my life being duped by a mind control cult. My parent and all my older friend who claimed to care about me taugh me lies about my self and about reality. You are not good enough, you are insufficeint and defecient, unclean weak, etc. I left at age 45 cause I could't take it anymore, yes I was angry for a while too. It takes time to get over it, and he we work his way through it in his own time and own way. I may take years, so don't hold your breath. I laught at it often now, humor helps a lot.


    Just ask Karl

  • OnTheWayOut

    MIB, I feel for your son. I was a full believer, although a convert of sorts. (Exposed to JW religion by my mother as a youth, but didn't become one until my 20's, then spent two decades as a JW.)

    Finding out that everything you know is 100% wrong is tough. It takes not just time, but examination. Willyloman said we studied to get into this religion, it takes study to get out.

    My problems were compound, way beyond just being a newly enlightened ex-JW, but I couldn't imagine I would be too far down the recovery road without therapy. Some, perhaps most, eventually do work it out without the therapy, but it can help if it's available.

    I highly recommend that you tell your son how so many of us have said we absolutely needed therapy then offer to help him find a therapist.

  • corpusdei

    MIB>> I was in a similar situation to your son, I was raised as a Witness from a very young age until I finally started cutting ties around 18 or 19. For a very long time, when it came to the the idea of religion in general and the Witnesses in particular it wasn't just anger I felt, it was outright rage. I felt abused, I looked back at all the pain and shame and confusion and the lost childhood that resulted from my witness upbringing and I hated. And sometimes it didn't really matter who, I just hated.

    I talk a little more about why here, but ultimately the Witness upbringing, particularly the seperation and isolation is abuse - it's abuse in the most insidious form because the WTBTS convinces parents that what they're doing to their kids is right, it's good, and parents do it because they love their kids and want the best for them.

    I can only really speak for myself, but I don't think that anger ever really goes away. More than a decade later, I refuse to see my mother who remains a Witness primarily because of the religion - I refuse to allow her the opportunity to poison my family as she poisoned hers. But time does give distance, and the opportunity for that anger, perhaps not to fade, but become something that we can come to terms with.

    Having him spend some time with a therapist would be a good idea, but I do agree with some of the other comments - first, be prepared for him to reject the idea to begin with and second, it needs to be a therapist that has training or experience in working with religious cults and the psychological consequences. If he's unconvinced, then point him over here. Growing up in the Witnesses is a unique experience - it really is one of those cases of if you haven't been through it, you don't know what it's like. With that, I know I and many of us would be more than willing to talk to him, even if it's just about what he's been through. Compare battle scars as it were ;)

    In any case, I'll keep my fingers crossed for him (and damnit, I'll enjoy it too, because even that is a defiance of the Witness "there's no such thing as luck" BS). Let us know how things turn out.

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