Like a creep, I've popped out of nowhere and I've been throwing my 2¢ around all over this forum. I'm sorry it's such a long post. I hesitated and delayed writing it knowing it'd be long. But, to be less creepy here's me:
My father and step mother started studying with the witnesses when I was 8 years old. At the time, my father, who was raised as a JW but left when he was 16, was a strip club owner and my step mother a stripper. Their kinda life was filled with drugs and alcohol and physical abuse. This left me and my baby sister alone at night to watch "Tales from the Crypt" and raid the fridge, then listen to my father beat the snot out of my step mother when they came home from work. My step mother suffered a lot and she would pour that pain onto me through bitter yelling and just emotional and mental abuse. Of course, every Saturday morning we were a normal family for our bible studies.
Life continued like this for almost 2 years and then my baby sister died. The family was devestated and my family made a renewed vow to do something about ''the truth". It took another 5 years for my parents to shed their bad habits and start living a normal life. My step mother had 3 more children- my 2 young sisters and our baby brother. We also took in our 2 cousins whose father died. My father got a job as a powerline man and worked 9 hours away from us, only coming home on the weekend to rest.
My step mother was the first to get baptized. She hit the ground running becoming an auxillary pioneer, putting in around 90 hrs/mon despite having us 6 kids at home to care for during the week. I got baptized a few months later at the age of 15. Unlike my step mother, I was in the depths of lonliness and had an aching emptiness inside. My step mother loved Jehovah but never got rid of the urge to berate me and remind me what a waste of space and breathe I was. While my step mother was out pioneering, since I was the oldest, I was home with the 5 young kids cooking, helping with homework, bathing, and getting everything ready for the next morning when the kids were to be sent off to school. Meeting nights were a nightmare! We were always walking into the KH late with one kid crying, one kid being chewed out up to the doors of the hall, and one completely disshevled because some how we overlooked them, and of course, my step mother would march us all to the front row.
Life continued like this for 2 years. When I was 17, My father decided to move us closer to him. By this time, my cousins had gone off to live with other relatives after they told the school about my parents' abuse. That's still a sore spot that my parents don't talk about between themselves. When my step mom, myself, and my 3 younger siblings arrived in our new city, we were excited to finally have a dad. I was happy that I wouldn't have such a big responsibility in the house and with the kids however, my step mother fell into a very deep depression because of missing her home congregation. She slept all day and ate very little. The bulk of the household responsibilities again fell to a parent and me. After a few months, I began to become fully aware of the empty feeling I had. The realization that I was simply waking up each day and performing routine tasks like I wasn't even alive at all. I had serious depression.
The summer of my graduation from high school, my father got baptized and he told us children, "if you aren't doing everything you can to serve Jehovah when you're 18 then you need to get out of my house. It's that simple." That September, I started pioneering realizing that was my only option. Pioneering was good for me. It gave me a break from being in our house cleaning or cooking or caring for the kids in some way. By spending time with other pioneers I had finally made deeper connections to people. I had finally started to become an individual, not just 1 of the X family kids. However, I started having questions about the organization and Jehovah. Even despite my activity I felt ashamed that I wasn't doing enough and ashamed over my sexual desires (sorry for the honesty but I think it's a problem the organization doesn't help it's youth with by making them feel guilty)
The first year of pioneering I was in a car accident while out in service that killed 3 sisters, left one in the hospital for over a month with sever head trauma, and myself and another sister in the hospital for a few days with minor injuries in comparison. One of the father's of a young 16 year old sister who died in the accident felt so torn up that he found an Incubus CD in his daughter's room when they were going through her things and probably Jehovah took his spirit away from her thus she died. I felt... an emotion I can't even describe, bitter anger and deep resentment but even that isn't fully it, over his own feelings and statement. I was secretly sinning in my own room and had felt too ashamed many times to pray and yet I SURVIVED! over a young fellow pioneer girl with a CD! It's a feeling that is...
Everyone told me, though, that Jehovah must have some plans for me since I survived and I felt I owed it to him to continue in service.
After 3 years of pioneering I was burnt out. Being a natural introvert, I found it hard to show up to the hall and smile and talk positively about something that was sucking away my joy. I wanted to get a job and travel. I wanted time to read poetry. I wanted to live by myself for a while. I was tired of studiying with people who were looking for a cheap way out of their problems. I felt trapped and frustrated and depressed and most of all guilty for feeling this way. I kept going praying that Jehovah would give me a renewed zeal. I had hoped that with increased activity would come increased desire to keep going. This never happened.
I decided that I would move out at 22. It was a relief to get out from under my step mother's biting words and controlling fist but I still felt trapped in a ''theocratic'' schedule. Some sparkle came when I met a brother. He was from a different city and was active in a foreign language group. We shared tastes in weird music and quality, fresh, home cooked food. We had a secret love of bad cartoons. We dated and became engaged and he moved to my city to be closer to me. We fornicated and had a great time but we were both full of guilt. After a 9 month guilt ridden whirlwind relationship, we ended it and turned ourselves into the elders. The first is the worst. He was the first, after so many years of a numb heart, to get me excited about living. We were both reproved.
I moved around a lot after my reproof. I was so emotionally drained and I wanted so much to simply be hugged and for someone to genuinely want to be close to me. I wanted stimulating conversation and someone to say something deep for once. However, each congregation I went to was a disappointment. I was an outsider in a fringe organization and I knew it. Every "Hello Sister X" and hand shake was so surface and scripted. I started slacking in meeting attendance. And bible reading and prayer, psh! I drank in the evenings wondering I was going to do with my life. I had big dreams of reading a book in a cozy home I created for myself. I'd sing my favorite J-rock songs and cook dinner in my kitchen while my dog looked on confused. I'd smoke a cigar outside while I worked in my garden. My big dreams didn't include Jehovah.
I eventually made my way back to my family's home. We all felt the change in dynamics. After 4 months with them I knew that I had to leave. I had spent 5 years pioneering and never felt any closer to God than when I got baptized. I had a love that was ruined by guilt, a love that would have been totally fine in any other organization. The garden paradise the bible promised didn't appeal to me as much as reading a book that made me think or having friends that wanted more than going to Bethel or marrying a spiritual brother. I had been told that if I prayed for the desire to serve and acted on that prayer the desire would come. I prayed and pioneered and volunteered and I hated my life. I knew I would miss more than anything my young siblings who I had raised. I changed their pampers, potty trained them, cooked for them, helped them with their math. They took away my childhood but seeing them grow up into lively young, bright kids made me happy that I could be such a big part of that. I love them and everyday I have to take a moment to talk the pain down over missing them. I'm so upset knowing my parents will paint a picture that I wanted to party and be immoral more than I wanted to be with them. Before I left I told each of them many many times, "please remember that no matter how much time passes, even if it's years, I love you and will always be here for you. You just let me know and I'll be here for you because I love you. Always." I hope that sticks through the years apart.
The night I left my father told me, "You'll have fun out there in the world. When the fun's over and the world has chewed you up and spit you out, we'll be here." He didn't know me. Even though I had told him how I felt and what I needed to stay in the organization he still allowed the WT skew his thoughts- he'll never know me. I packed my belongings, my father locked the door behind me, I stuffed my car, and I drove away. I'll never forget the sound of the deadbolt in the door.
It's been over a year for me. I'm glad to be out =) I'm an atheist after having become obsessed with what is true and what is reality. I'm prepping for school hoping to study business. I've got a loving, patient, and wonderfully supportive boyfriend. I've got friends in my life who I know will always be here for me. I read a lot like I've always wanted. I've found my creative outlet through pole dancing. The hardest thing about my life is waiting for my siblings to grow up and hoping they'll want to contact me. Other than that, I'm free and excited to help anyone else who needs to make an exit from this joy sucking organization.